Thursday, August 20, 2009


I think I got Spindles & the Mystery of the Missing Numbat from a used book store, probably years ago. Its cover advertises itself as "wild adventures for a young Australian boy." If I had paid close attention to the back, I might have noticed that Spindles will learn about "faith, friendship, and relationships" through his incredible adventures. And that the author, Barry Chant, is a pastor. So I didn't, and was completely gob-smacked when the talking emus and gum trees began leading Spindles to Jesus. Which was actually sort of interesting, in a bizarre way, but I resented when they started teaching him how to bring his parents along as well. His parents were the sort of misguided people who store their bibles in the darkest corner of the darkest bookshelf, and who would sooner believe in bandicoots surviving locally than in the resurrection.

I usually like books with talking animals and trees, but I didn't like it when they give boys bible verses to look up and meditate on, or when they explain to the child that letting him try to climb a cliff was God's plan because the fear may encourage his dad to attend church more regularly. I don't think I'll be offering this one to my kids -- the didactic tone spoils the story, and the demands of the lesson to be learned warp the plots of the short stories. As recreational reading it fails, although if I were trying to teach some of the bible lessons the gum tree covers I might use the stories to start a conversation. C

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