The Christian Biographies for Young Readers series introduces children to key figures from church history. Author Simonetta Carr and illustrator Matt Abraxas offer a compelling and beautiful historical account of the life of each Christian figure profiled in the series. To date, the series includes volumes on John Calvin, John Owen, Augustine of HIppo, Athanasius, Anselm of Canterbury, Lady Jane Grey, and now, John Knox.
The life of John Knox
John Knox’s life has action and adventure enough for any young reader. His story is told with an eye to historical accuracy and with an eye to a child’s mind. From humble beginnings, Knox finds himself as a bodyguard to Reformer George Wishart, who is captured and killed. Knox goes from hiding out in St. Andrews Castle, a Protestant stronghold, to cowering in the belly of a French galley as a slave. He finds unexpected freedom and returns to pulpit ministry in England, but soon has to flee in exile to Geneva where he comes under the tutelage of John Calvin. He returns to Scotland in time to help lead the Reformation movement there. Knox the fiery preacher, delivers a sermon that sparks an all-out revolt and ultimately wins Scotland’s religious freedom. Knox’s life is not only eventful, but it provides teachable moments for children to study the Reformation and to learn what was wrong with the Roman church. It also teaches children the sacrifice that people faced to follow Christ in years gone by.
This book is a joy to page through. Full color illustrations, photographs, portraits and maps, buildings and vistas appear at the appropriate time on each page. After the biographical sketch, a time line of Knox’s life is included, as is an excerpt from the “Scots Confession of Faith” that Knox helped author. Also included is a “Did you know?” section for interested young readers. There we learn that Queen Mary Stuart may have been the first female golfer; John Knox is buired under parking stall number 23 at the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh; and preachers back then were limited to one hour (and timed by an hour glass) to protect the Sunday schedule.
As a lover of chruch history, I appreciate Simonetta Carr’s attention to detail and focus on historical accuracy. Rather than painting an impossibly perfect picture of a higher-than-thou saint, she gives us the true John Knox, doubts and weakness and all. He was like any of us, and because of that we can learn to mimic his faith and grapple through the same questions he did.
This book deserves a place of honor at the coffee table, but might end up in the kids’ bookcase, more often than not. It also should find a place in church or school libraries. If you haven’t picked up a title in the Christian Biographies for Young Readers series, now would be a good time. You won’t be disappointed with John Knox. Read also this earlier review of some of the previous titles in the series.
About the author and illustrator
Simontta Car was born in Italy and has lived and worked in different cultures. A former elementary school teacher, she has home-schooled her eight children for many years. She has written for newspapers and magazines around the world and has translated the works of several Christian authors into Italian. Presently, she lives in San Diego with her husband, Thomas, and family. She is a member and Sunday school teacher at Christ United Reformed Church.
Matt Abraxas has traveled from California to France, studying different approaches to art. He enjoys creating and teaching art and currently exhibits his work at the SmithKlein Gallery in Boulder, Colorado. Matt lives with his wife, Rebecca and two sons, Zorba and Rainer, in Lafayette, Colorado.
Bob Hayton has a BA in Pastoral Theology with a Greek emphasis and a MA in Bible from Fairhaven Baptist College and Seminary in Chesterton, IN. He is a happily married father of seven who resides in St. Paul, MN. Since 2005, he has been blogging theology at FundamentallyReformed.com, where he has also published over 170 book reviews. He can also be found occasionally at KJVOnlyDebate.com.