Thursday, February 23, 2017

Prayer is the ultimate act of REBELLION!

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" 'Prayer is the ultimate act of rebellion'?  Really?"  That's what you are thinking, isn't it?  I know it is, not because of my amazing Professor Xavier mind-reading skills, but because that's exactly what I was thinking when I heard it.

Back up a little, the article I ran across was "Prayer: Rebelling Against the Status Quo" by Professor David Wells.  (Christianity Today, Vol 17, issue 6, Nov 2, 1979)

Rebels, man, REBELS!  Interesting tidbit, some of most famous TV rebels of all time, the Dukes of Hazzard, would premiere only two months later.

Dem Duke boys: that I have no problem seeing as rebels (after all, they were "in trouble with the law since the day they were born"), but... praying?  Okay Dr Wells, you're going to have to help us out with that one.
"What then is the nature of petetionary prayer?  In essence, it is rebellion -- rebellion against the status quo, the state of the world, and in its sin and fallenness.  It is the absolute and undying refusal to accept as normal what is completely abnormal.  It is the rejection of every agenda, every scheme, every opinion, that clashes with the norms that God originally established."
Back in the 1980's the band Petra sang "Get on your knees, and fight like a man!".  The more I think about Dr Wells' words, the more this strange, quixotic saying holds true.

He goes on to point out that this is not the case of all religions.  Far from it.  Most worldviews accept things the way that they are, rather than even suggesting that they could be any different (let alone crying for them to be changed).

Consider the Chinese yin-yang philosophy.  Like the swirling symbol suggests, light and dark / good and evil are forever part of the picture -- forever in balance.  Only Christianity has the audacity to say that even death and Hell itself will one day be destroyed! (Revelation 20:14)  There is nothing natural about evil.  Evil is an enemy that can be, has been (in part), and will one day be (fully) conquered.

So knowing all this, what then has changed?  What practical difference does it make?

A lot, I think!  Before we had an image of prayer as some cutesie Precious Moments figurine with folded hands.  Even the famous Arnold Friberg painting of George Washington kneeling at Valley Forge has an ethereal sereneness to it.

But now we have a different (and I daresay, more accurate) picture.  Now Washington isn't enjoying the peace and stillness of a crisp January morn, but is instead fighting furiously on the field of battle!

When we pray we aren't peacefully succumbing to what the world has to offer, but actively defying it!  We're declaring "This thing is NOT right and we actively oppose it."  More than that, "Using our new authority as sons and daughters of the King, we are calling out all the forces of Heaven to fight against it as well."

That's important, so I'll go ahead and unpack it one more level.  Prayer immediately taps us into exponentially more power than we could ever have on our own.  James 5:13-18 makes some pretty intense statements about that, but none so bold as Jesus himself, when He said, "truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you."  (Matthew 17:20)  Full disclosure: I'm not there yet.  Not even close!  (But we'll work on it, yeah?)

So how else can I end a post like this, but to admonish us all to take a bold stand against the pain and injustice of this world by laying it before the court of Heaven.  No more pushing prayer off into a corner as a last resort, or relegating it to the "if I think about it" portion of our day.  It has to be a top priority.

Let's fight back against the darkness.

Grab you're switchblade, Jimmy, and crank up the Harley, cuz the Devil's gang is in town and we're ready to rumble!


--E.L. Fletcher




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Saturday, February 18, 2017

Juggernaught: Chapter 15 - Gran Prix, Bosnia

In the confusion that washed over the dig site, the teens all scattered.

Wendell, Jack, and Misty made for the archeologist's Jeep.  The all piled in, and Jack cranked the waiting key.

"Buckle up!"  he cried.

"There are no buckles." observed Wendell.

"Then hang on!" Jack shouted back as he slammed the gas pedal down.

Despite the advice, Wendell wasn't hanging on, and found himself thrown down into the ridiculously tiny back seat.

As Jack made his way through successively higher gears, Misty could have sworn she heard a buzz noise.  Michael had repeatedly told the kids to listen closely to their senses, but they were still no good at it. 

The noise grew louder until it was too loud to be ignored.  Misty finally turned to her side to see Howell zipping along on one of the mo-peds from the security shack.

Steering with one hand and gesturing with the other, he gave her the universal  "pull over" gesture.

She shook her head, "no".

A quick glance to the opposite side showed Lola and Irmgard a little behind but closing fast.

Pinning a wind-blown hair back, Misty called over to Jack, "We got company!"

He nodded and jammed the fifth and final, gear into place.

Their British counterparts may have been right about leaving the situation well enough alone, but any lingering doubt was replaced with the thrill of the hunt when they saw the back end of the thieves' truck drawing closer.

Actually, it was drawing closer, fast!  Jack realized all too late that the thieves hadn't counted on persuit and were going only a fraction as fast as the speeding Jeep.

He almost stopped in time.

Almost.

In the back of the truck sat three para-military dudes in baggy camo, but none were facing the Jeep so they never knew what sent them flying.  It would take several seconds for them to get their limbs and guns sorted out enough to pose a threat.

Jack looked over to ask Misty what their next move might be, but she was already out on the hood, arms extended for balance, and riding it like a surfer catching a wave.

She gestured for him to get closer, which he did (more slowly this time).

Misty was into the truck bed in a flash, but it took a lot longer to get back being such a small person encumbered by such a heavy stone idol.

Wendell stepped into the front seat and leaned far out over the windshield to help her with it.

A bang was heard and the Jeep balked.

Misty fell, and the last thing Jack remembered seeing was the hideous stone face of En coming through the windshield right at him.

Misty kept tumbling, slipped up and over the windshield like a wet fish, and was barely  snagged by the ankle by Wendell in the midst of taking flight.

He fell back, bumped the (now unconscious) Jack's arm, which, in turn, jerked the wheel.

The Jeep turned, knifed, and flipped, throwing the Bible Study in all directions like popping corn kernels.

Wendell remembered landing, palms-first, in a loose patch of gravel, pain raking his forearms and flinging a spray of rocks into his vision before all went black.




Wendell groaned.

"Pain" was the first part of his brain to come back online, but "fear" was a close second.

Roll-over accidents, he knew, could be very dangerous.  Rich Mullins, one of the greatest Christian musicians of the century, had died in a similar accident.

"Misty!??  Jack!??" he called out, mustering every bit of strength to pull himself onto all fours.

He heard a pair of footsteps behind and was immediately relieved.  He looked back under his quivering arm.  (Because dropping his head was easier on his aching neck than raising it.)

Army boots.

"Oh.", he said in disappointment, just as a savage kick to the ribs knocked him back into unconsciousness.

NEXT CHAPTER ... COMING SOON!


The preceding has been a chapter from Juggernaught: A Moast Unusual Bible Study
(Copyright 2016, Edmund Lloyd Fletcher.)

For more on this story, please visit its main page.

Also, don't forget to subscribe to the email list so you never miss a thing!

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Juggernaught: Chapter 14 - Stolen Artifact

They were supposed to tour an archeological dig.  That was the plan.

Misty could see that Howell's eyes seemed to grow far off as they pulled into the dirt parking lot of the dig site.  In fact, they had grown more and more so during each passing mile this morning, almost as if the ghosts of the past were calling to him.

The bus pulled up next to a shack marked security, in several languages with line of half a dozen mo-peds out front.  What kind of security a rent-a-cop on a mo-ped could provide was up for grabs.

"Archeology.  Must be pretty boring, huh?", she probed, trying to bust Howell out of his shell.

He turned and gave a curt smile.  "On the contrary.  Nothing could excite me more."

She couldn't tell whether he was being sarcastic or simply British.  Still, the fact that something was going on inside his mind was self-evident.  Rather than dwell on it, she simply took his hand as he marched off the bus, but even that was cold and unresponsive, almost like it belonged to another man.

The group followed Yvonne as she walked up to a topless WW-II Jeep with the dig's official tour guide waiting inside.  She wore heavy laced boots, knee-length cargo shorts, and had hair every bit as light brown as the sandy soil in which she dug.

She sprung lightly out and, and no sooner had her boots hit the ground when Yvonne was already introducing her to the group.  Avani was her name, and after a brief run-down of her academic qualifications, Yvonne handed over control of as guide.

Avani guided them along the official tour route of the archeological dig.  She transformed an otherwise dull subject with her infusion of personal passion.  Here was a woman who loved sifting the dust for the forgotten secrets of the past, and it was hard not to feed off her zeal.

Soon the group halted to look into one particular pit, in which the majority of the archiologists seemed interested.  Even the indefatigible Avani seemed to take it up a notch as she spoke of it.

"And here", said the archeologist with no small note of pride in her voice, "was the site of an ancient battleground where we unearthed many important finds, including the prize of the project, a rare sculpture of En, god of the Sardeate, or perhaps Daradanian people group who lived in this region, in their day, known as Illyricum."

Jack raised his hand.  "Illyricum?  Weren't those guys into human sacrifice?", he asked.

At the time, he'd questioned the extensive amount of study that Dr Puttery had been pounding into his brain, but now it was finally taking on a practical relevance.

"Some were..." began the host. She was truthfully a little impressed by the question.

As Avani explained the nuances of the Sardeate subculture, Howell shifted his weight uneasily, and exchanged glances with another member of the tour group who was doing the same.

When the questions ran out, Avani directed them to the next step on the tour.

"Up next, we'll have a rare look at En himself.", she said with excitement.

Wendell turned to the others and whispered, "Why bother?  You've already got a guy who's chiseled, right here."  He flexed to (allegedly) prove it.

Irmingard stuck her tongue out at him.

As they made their way to a large canvas tent nearby, the tour guide continued her running commentary.  "The idol you are about to witness is being painstakingly restored by a team of six world-renown archeologists as part of the Seebeck team.", she pulled aside the tent flap, "You'll notice with how much care it takes to properly clean and preserve such an important find like..."

All at once her prepared and oft-repeated speech died on her lips.

"How strange.", she said, "Looks like nobody is here at the moment."

She looked around behind her as if looking for confirmation that all was right with the world.  She got none.

Even as she said it, her stomache filled with butterflies. 

She swallowed them back down, put on a professional face, and continued,  "Well, what you would be normally be seeing is how carefully they..."

Yet again, she found herself at a loss as she noticed an even more disturbing absence.

Though the tables were littered with all the tools of the trade... En himself was missing!

"Perhaps he is being studied elsewhere." she ultimately decided.  She was trying her best to lie to herself, but this time not even she could make herself believe it.

"Excuse me", said Avani, and ran outside to yell for the nearest security guard.  She was about to open her mouth to do so,  but found that somebody else had beaten her to it.

"Help!  Somebody help!  Professor Kolo is murdered!" came a cry from the other end of the site.

The tour guide held up a hand that the group should remain where they were.  The Moast  and Howell teams made for the direction of the shouts anyway.  Young and eager for action, they were not to be dissuaded when there was trouble afoot.

Out of clueless curiosity the other tourists followed as well, leaving poor Yvonne bringing up the rear and shouting very good advice that nobody was listening to.

They soon arrived at the scene, an outdoor parking area with a man in a white coat soaking the hard earth with his own blood.

The professor was not actually dead, but the bleeding was quite serious.  Howell immediately ordered one of his team to fetch a first aid kit while he did his best at staunching the flow.

Wendell and Misty did their best to quiet the hysterical undergrad assistant who had found him that way.  They knew full well that her going into shock could be even more deadly then the other man's bleeding.

The professor's eyes suddenly opened, so Jack moved closer to ask him some questions.

"What happened here?"

"Somebody took it in the truck.  I tried to stop 'em.  Maybe I shouldn't have."  The professor laughed a little at the last statement but immediately winced in pain.  "Guess now's not the time to make jokes." he observed.

"Who was it?", asked Howell. "Have you ever seen them before?"

"No.  Never.", said the professor.  "They looked like pretty average guys.  Five of 'em.  They just lifted the statue into the back, pretty as you please, just like they had a right to it.  When I tried to say something, they just shot me and drove off."

"Which way?", asked Wendell, who had apparently left the assistant to Misty's care and had been listening in.

The professor pointed.

They thought they might be able to see a plume of dust in the distance, but it was so faint that it could be no more than their mind playing tricks.  Either way, the truck was now too far gone to even think about catching on foot.

On... foot? Jack's mind raced.

Lola placed a hand on his shoulder and pleaded,  "No, don't!"

In retrospect, he should have probably listened to that.

Instead, he grinned and ran off.



The preceding has been a chapter from Juggernaught: A Moast Unusual Bible Study
(Copyright 2016, Edmund Lloyd Fletcher.)

For more on this story, please visit its main page.

Also, don't forget to subscribe to the email list so you never miss a thing!

Friday, January 27, 2017

Juggernaught: Chapter 13 - Pagan Lands

The barbarian camp was just what Mac Crieche had come to expect from a barbarian camp.

Though no one objected at the sight of their uninvited guest, he still gave them a wide berth.  The men around their bonfires were both drunk and dirty in more ways than one.  He had no interest in the sorts of things that interested them.

...Which isn't to say they weren't religious.

Quite the contrary, some of the more devout had set up a commemorative shrine to their pagan deity.  To this, they offered sacrifices of food and wine, which Mac Crieche could at least tolerate.  He had to turn and walk away, however, when they began offering up gory souvenirs taken from the enemies' personages.

The maiden from earlier stood watching the holy ceremony and was surprised when she saw Mac Criechie walking the other away.

He sat so far from the fires that the night began to chill him and he had to pull his cloak tighter to keep warm.

At once he heard a voice, "You no worship En?"

He turned and saw her standing over him.  He was a little surprised that she spoke more Latin than the Illicrians. 

He asked about this, but he was ignored. 

"You..."  she waved her finger in the air as if to circle his entire person while she thought of the right words "...religious."

"Yes."

"You no worship En?" she said again.  Her words made it sound like this was an illogical contradiction to be both a holy man and not worship her peoples' bloodthirsty pagan deity.

"No.  I worship The Lord God in Christ."

Her eyebrows furrowed.

He tried again.  "Jesus, the Christ, of Nazareth.  Have you never heard of Him at all, then?"

She shook her head, still visibly confused.

Is this it, LORD?  Mac Crieche silently prayed.  Is this truly the quest you've called me to?

He was more than a little disappointed.

In the background he heard a commotion -- heard the archers rush for their weapons. 

Probably spotted an animal of some kind.
  He dismissed the noise and returned to his thoughts.

No!  Mac Crieche couldn't grasp it.  Sure, the Lord wanted all people to be saved, but he, Mac Crieche, was supposed to go to Jerusalem.

Lord, this canna be from you!  He protested.  You called me out for a holy pilgrimage.  I've no time to stop and be bothered by every unwashed heathen person along the road.  Lord, if this is you, give me a sign or I'll follow that wild goose till his wings fall off or my feet do!

He didn't realize it, but the woman had spoken again while he was lost in these thoughts.  She watched his heavy expression as he absently scratched something in the dirt with a stick.

"I'm sorry.  What was that?"  he asked.

"I was asking if you will talk more if I get you some food for to eat."

He stood and was about go with her when something caught his eye.

There, carried on the cool evening breeze, was a single white feather.  He watched it spin on an unseen up-draft and be carried away into the night.

"Oh look." she said happily, "It looks like the men shot a goose."

Mac Crieche's knees gave out from beneath him, and he felt himself sitting in the dirt, eyes growing full with tears.

He snapped the stick and threw it dramatically aside.



The preceding has been a chapter from Juggernaught: A Moast Unusual Bible Study
(Copyright 2016, Edmund Lloyd Fletcher.)

For more on this story, please visit its main page.

Also, don't forget to subscribe to the email list so you never miss a thing!

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Juggernaught: Chapter 12 - Barbarians!


One day while marching East, a scout returned with some rapidly-uttered words to say.

At once a crown of fragrant flowers was placed on Mac Crieche's head.  He was deposited in an open sedan chair and lifted high on the shoulders of the soldiers like the guest of honor.  The guest of honor, that is, only thoroughly tied up.

It was done with such haste that it could only mean one thing.  War had come.

A drum was beat and the battle-scarred and savage army fanned out like the seasoned fighters they were.  Once the commander was happy with the formation, he gave the musician a wave and the tempo changed into a good marching beat.

On they went, Mac Criechie's head bumping right along with marching feet of those who carried him.

Color drained from his face, as, from his high vantage point, he was the first to see the enemy appearing over the boulder-lined crest of the hill.  What he saw made his jaw drop.  Fur-lined barbarians clamored over the hill, so snarling and brutal looking that they made the heathen Illicrian horde look like Saints on parade.

As soon as the one army caught sight of the other, they ran toward one another at full tilt, shouting their snarling war cries all the while.  They flowed past Mac Crieche and his bearers like an angry tide, which was all the better for him, he thought.

At once they clashed and the brutal, limb-rending, spectacle of ancient warfare unfolded itself before his eyes.  Blood flowed freely.

He was so very nearly ill from what he could see, that he wished and prayed that the bearers would bring him no nearer the action.

One stray arrow swished past his ear before a second granted his wish.  One of the standard bearers, fell fatally wounded, causing the entire Sedan to topple over and land partially upside-down in a muddy brook.

He felt one of the other three men tugging on the sedan's pole.  The other two shouted at him and together they all ran to join in the battle.

The top of Mac Crieche's shaven head was quite cold, being pressed nearly eyebrows-deep into the black mud.  Water trickling in from above splashed into his eyes and nose, and, bound as he was, he could do nothing about it.

For many hours the unseen battle raged on around him.  At first, he hoped that yet another wayward arrow would not strike him dead.  After a long time inverted and under extreme pressure, his neck began to grow stiff and scream for such a relief.

Dusk had fallen by the time only one army was left on the field and the other, either dead or fled.

Soldiers, and a surprising number of non-combatants combed the field.  The pagans treated each fallen alike.  Whether friend or foe, the bodies were stripped of their weapons and valuables and then left for the wolves.

Mac Crieche was so out-of-sorts that by the time the sedan was righted, he didn't know what was going on.  Chilled to near hypothermia by the icy stream, and brain jumbled with blood from being upside-down all afternoon, he could do naught but stare as the strange, dirty, pagans came to inspect him one by one.

One very hairy individual with a wild, unkempt beard got all up in his face.  He looked behind him for some sort of confirmation, then turned back. 

He jabbed Mac Crieche's ribs with the handle of his battle axe and then shrugged and turned away.

Several other men looked him over as well, but it was clear that none had any idea what to do with him.

At last a maiden came up.  She was filthy dirty in her plain smock, with hair just as wild as the others.  Yet her strange pale blue eyes seemed to have a latent wisdom behind them.

She scrutinized Mac Crieche just as the others had done, even turning her head sideways to try and see if he would make sense from a different angle.

The men laughed.

"TurrĂº!" she turned and shouted at them.  Then she launched into a tirade in whatever language that was.

Of the body of men leaning on their weapons, the biggest and hairiest spoke up.  Whatever he said was so insulting that she turned away.  "Baaah!" she spat, waving the group off.  Her plain one-piece dress shuddering with the angry footsteps as she stamped off.

The hairy barbarian smiled and jerked his head in a "let's go", gesture to his comrades.

Though Mac Crieche was certainly not "all there", the thought somehow got through to his brain that he didn't know where he was.  Only that he was in the wilderness, in barbarian territory, with no supplies, night settling in, and, no doubt, wolves being drawn in by the scent of blood.

All at once being alone didn't seem like such a good idea.

He looked up to Heaven for guidance.  He was surprised to see his goose there.  For some reason he was always surprised when he saw it.  This time, he saw which direction it was headed and steeled his nerves.

As the barbarians slowly drifted off, he trailed behind them.




The preceding has been a chapter from Juggernaught: A Moast Unusual Bible Study
(Copyright 2016, Edmund Lloyd Fletcher.)

For more on this story, please visit its main page.

Also, don't forget to subscribe to the email list so you never miss a thing!

Friday, December 23, 2016

Juggernaught: Chapter 11 - Friends

Though Howell seemed to thrive on misinformation, there was no longer any doubt to the Moast group concerning who was part of his team and who was not.

The boy he had sat next to on the tour bus was a complete red herring.  He had somehow convinced the lone traveler that this was all some sort of ongoing practical joke at the expense of Jack and his friends.  (Which was partially true, after all.)  The other kid ate it up.

It didn't take long to expose this deception because, like Jack and his friends, Howell's group was also supposed to be a trio.

With a little more digging they found out that the two girls across the isle from him on the bus were really named Lola and Irmingard Rabishaw, and not "Jane" and "Mary" as their nametags claimed.

It was Misty's idea.  " 'Jane'?  Seriously?  Nobody would have names that generic." she'd concluded.  And she was proved right, (notwithstanding the muddy logic of it).

Over the miles, at various stops, the teams took turns testing eachother with various exercises in the covert arts.

It was during one of these, that Jack and Wendell exchanged a wink and immediately switched to using Lola and Irmingard's real names.  It was epic!  The girls were so flustered that they completely blew cover!

Score one point for the Yanks!

From the moment of Howell's phony phone call, pranks like were going on non-stop. 

Due to the fact that all luggage was kept out of sight in the cargo compartment under the bus, one never knew what would be in their bags when they arrived at their room for the night.

One time Wendell found that the entire contents of his toothpaste tube were swapped with clotted-cream scone filling - a very British gag, as if the culprits were not already obvious.

Wendell, the walking stomache, thoroughly approved of the switch.

By the next morning somebody had added a photo-reactive agent to Lola's makeup. The chemical was designed to change color when exposed to direct sunlight. 

On the bus, the results were compounded when she fell asleep against the window.  The entire left side of her face turned fluorescent orange!

Munich saw its first Oompa-Loompa tourist that day.

This one even earned Misty a high five from Lola's sister.

Soon, as the two groups became friends, the planned exercises became less of a rivalry and more of a nuisance.  They were more like a chapter of elementary school math that the teacher wanted to get through before recess.

Even Misty, who adored the spy games, found that she would rather see the sights with Howell.

One night the tour bus turned off European highway A-57 in Venice, but the "budget tours" did not allow for an overnight stay in the islands.  Rather, they put into Marghera for the night.

Who came up with the idea, nobody could remember, but a rough tally of the number of boys to beautiful girls led somebody to the idea of going out to a nice restaurant for a triple-date.

Misty had no problems in the world if Howell wanted to ask her out, but their surprising level of enthusiasm told her that Jack and Wendell were just as taken with Lola and Irmingard. 

The spy girls reciprocated their attraction in their own way.  Although according to the unofficial itinerary, they were supposed to poison the boys' meal that night, they decided not to spoil the mood.

Long after the other patrons had left the restaurant, Howell, Misty, Jack, Lola, Wendell, and Irmgard sat around the table laughing and talking.

"What time do you suppose they throw us out?" asked Jack to no one in particular.

"Nah, not in a classy joint like this." said Wendell.

Howell smiled, "I wouldn't have said it as American-ish as that, but spot on, my friend."

"I think I have just the thing."  Lola was up in a flash and gone before anybody could ask what she was up to.

Moments later she returned with a tea trolley following close at her heels.  Atop, a beautiful silver tea set.

A waiter, who showed all the signs of wanting to go home. (even in a "classy joint" like this) put out a place setting of small cups.  Into each, he poured hot liquid from a silver pot.

Lola nudged her sister and whispered, "I though we agreed not to --"

But Irmgard waved her off.

Once the waiter was done and on his way, Howell raised his ridiculously tiny cup, pinki extended in proper fashion.

"To good friends!" he declared and lifted it even higher in toast.

"To friends!" all agreed and swigged back their drink unanimously.

"Chqqaqqq" gagged Wendell.

"Okay, 'zing!' " agreed Jack.

Misty merely covered her eyes to keep them from popping out and rolling away.

Irmingard laughed.  "Cappuccino", she stated.  "Can't go to Italy and not try a cappuccino."

"Next time, warn a guy!" croaked Wendell.  But he wasn't angry.  He was too busy smiling at her.

And she was too busy smiling back.

It was a good evening - the sort of evening that never really ends because it lives on in your memory the rest of your life.  Good friends and good fun.

The trip passed like in a happy dream.

But all that changed when they reached Bosnia.




The preceding has been a chapter from Juggernaught: A Moast Unusual Bible Study
(Copyright 2016, Edmund Lloyd Fletcher.)

For more on this story, please visit its main page.

Also, don't forget to subscribe to the email list so you never miss a thing!

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

(Reluctant) Book Review - Larger Than Life Lara




Larger-Than-Life Lara
Author: Dandi Daley Mackall
Cover Price: $9.99 USD 
ISBN: 978-1-4964-1430-4 
Release Date: November 2016 


Cover Synopsis:
This isn’t about me. This story, I mean. So already you got a reason to hang it up. At least that’s what Mrs. Smith, our English teacher, says.

But the story is about ten-year-old Laney Grafton and the new girl in her class—Lara Phelps, whom everyone bullies from the minute she shows up. Laney is just relieved to have someone else as a target of bullying. But instead of acting the way a bullied kid normally acts, this new girl returns kindness for a meanness that intensifies . . . until nobody remains unchanged, not even the reader.

Review:
I've been dragging my feet about writing this review for some time.  I didn't really like it and momma always said, "If you don't have anything good to say..."  Yet, unfortunately for me I also promised the publisher that I would give an honest review in exchange for the book.

So, it comes down to momma going head-to-head verses the Tyndale publishing team.  Cage match, live on pay-per-view!

But seriously, the premise is that the story is being written by a 10-year-old girl for a school project.  And I guess, in that regard you'd call it a success.  The rambling, disconnected thoughts, as well as grammatical and spelling mistakes all combine to give it the feel of an elementary school class assignment.

Of course there are two sides to that coin.  The opposite being: I want to read a good quality book, not some kid's class assignment!!!

This 10yo writer's goal is to write a story about something that happened in her life.  Intermingled with that she is also learning how to write, so we get little writing tips and suggestions sprinkled throughout.

As a homeschooling father I first I thought this could be used as a teaching tool, but as the story progressed I decided the teacher's methodology wasn't the way I would want to do teach it anyway.  And, of course, I've already graduated from elementary school (somehow against all odds), so I have a hard time seeing how this information does anything but slow us down.
Plot:
Laura, the new girl in school, is fat.  Really fat.

Even in the face of some pretty brutal bullying, she is able to remain sweet and maintain a great positive attitude.

Bullying is really what the book is about.  It is really where the book shines.  It doesn't glorify it, nor does it shame the bullies!  Rather, it tells it like it is -- all the emotions, the pain and hurt, as well as the peer pressure aspect.

Best of all, it holds a message for the bullies themselves about how they can change.
It really is a great book on bullying!

I just... don't need a book on bulling.  (I homeschool, remember?)

Conclusion:
This might be good if you need a book about bullying and the general meanness of kids, written in stumbling language that might make it easier for younger children to relate to.

If, instead, you're looking for a book to teach creative writing, I'd sooner recommend a more complete dedicated resource such as How to Write (And Sell) A Christian Novel by Gilbert Morris

Finally, if none of that applies and you just want a good story to read, well, you know what momma says...


Disclaimer:  As stated above, I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an hones,t unbiased review.  (Right about now they may be regretting the "honest, unbiased" part of that arrangement.)