Editor’s note: Serge author and missionary Dr. Jennifer Myhre offers 10 reasons to buy her brand-new African adventure story A Bird, A Girl, and A Rescue. Learn more about the first book in the series A Chameleon, A Boy, and A Quest.
10. You have someone in your life in the 8-14 age range whom you love. These books were written as Christmas-present family “read-alouds” when my kids were that age. As a parent or grandparent or aunt or uncle or neighbor or teacher, we value a solid piece of writing that grabs our kids’ imaginations. And we value a birthday or Christmas gift that becomes a friend, that can be read and re-read and shared.
9. You love words. The vocabulary of the Rwendigo Tales pushes us a bit. They are written with the confidence that kids want to be challenged and stretched.
8. You love illustrations. Acacia Masso, who grew up with our family and is now studying art at Arcadia University, created original line drawings for each chapter.
7. You don’t live in Africa, but you care about those who do. Literature offers us the opportunity to love our neighbours as ourselves, the first step of which is to see them. To be transported to a part of the world you would not otherwise experience is a gift. A friend posted this review by Jeffery Overstreet of the movie Timbuktu that really resonated with this point:
Instead, I was inspired by the great Presbyterian minister Frederick Buechner, who in his book Whistling in the Dark reminds us of Jesus’ commandments: “If we are to love our neighbors, before doing anything else we must see our neighbors. With our imagination as well as our eyes, that is to say like artists, we must see not just their faces, but the life behind and within their faces. Here it is love that is the frame we see them in.”
Christians can choose to dwell on — and invest in — movies that show us what we already like, tell us what we already know, assure us of our own salvation, and make us feel happily entertained. That isn’t wrong. But might we make better use of our time? Might we exercise courage and conscience, step outside of our comfort zones, attend to our neighbors, and learn from their experiences?
6. You do live in Africa, and there is a dearth of literature for kids that actually relates to their experience. One gift of story is to communicate to a child that they are not alone, that there are others who have lived through challenges like theirs, that they are normal and there is hope.
5. You look for stories with female leads. Because half of humanity is female, after all.
4. You appreciate encountering hard realities like human trafficking, and the connection between environmental exploitation and funding conflicts, but would prefer to do so in the context of a story. This isn’t just for children. Most of the Bible is story too . . . we need truth, but we absorb it best when it comes to us connected to characters.
3. You want to help your kids ponder how to live with bullies, how to face evil, how to forgive. This book does not shy away from violence on a personal and societal level, and the protagonist must search within her own soul to respond.
2. You like a book grounded in historical events, but you’re also open to a bit of magical realism. This series subtly weaves both genres. The climax event of A Bird, a Girl, and a Rescue actually happened not far from where we lived, when a rebel army invaded. In the book, however, the spiritual world breaks into the material, and unexpected plot twists occur. You have to read it to see.
1. You believe in changing the stories that others may be trapped in. I saved the best for last, because this is my favorite thing about the series and the reason I’m willing to beg you to buy it. All of the above is true and worth your investment. But if you need one more justification to spend so much money, it is this: half of all the royalties (the portion paid to me, not the portion the publisher retains to cover their own costs of printing and distribution) goes into a Rwendigo Fund that actually supports kids like the ones in the stories. So you get a good book to read, and a girl on the other side of the world gets an education. In other words: read a story, change a story.
>>> You can buy A Bird, A Girl, and A Rescue from New Growth Press, for 30% off on the new book and 40% off on the dual purchase of both A Bird, A Girl, and a Rescue and the first book in this series: A Chameleon, A Boy, and A Quest.