New author M.J. Thomas has written two fantasy adventure novels for children. The Secret of the Hidden Scrolls: The Beginning (Book #1) and The Secret of the Hidden Scrolls: Race to the Ark (Book #2) were just released by WorthyKids/Ideals. These are the first books in the series, The Secret of the Hidden Scrolls.
In The Beginning, we meet nine year old Peter and his sister Mary, who is ten. They, and their dog Hank, have just said goodbye to their parents. They're spending a month with great-uncle Solomon. I am supposed to tell you now that the punks think he looks like Albert Einstein. Uncle Solomon doesn't know much about children, but he has a big, old house full of cool archaeological finds. He also has a locked library and a secret that involves a glowing earn full of sealed scrolls. He can't open them, only the chosen ones can. But a poem tells him there is great adventure for those who follow the lions roar.
In the middle of their first night, the children are awoken by a lion's roar in the hallway! They find that the library door is now open and the hidden scrolls in a secret room. Maybe Uncle Solomon can't open the scrolls, but they accidentally do, and are immediately transported to... Where? They don't know. It's pitch dark and they are floating! Until a voice booms. "Let there be light!" Now brightness fills the... everywhere?
After another day and night of floating, the voice booms again, and they splash into the water! There's no land in sight! Now what do they do? Well, thankfully, the angel Michael has been dispatched with a little rowboat to rescue them. And that's when he lays out the rules.
- They have seven days to solve the secret of the scroll or they are stuck "there" forever.
- You can't tell anyone you are from the future.
- You can't try to change the past.
The children have adventures with dolphins and a shark, a charging (playful) rhino, a mischievous monkey, the loss of the scroll, and a snake. Thanks to Mary's book smarts, the kids' karate lessons, and a reappearance of Michael, the snake is defeated and the puzzle of the scroll is solved. They're whisked back to Uncle Solomon's house and find that they've only been gone a few moments. He is excited that the children are the chosen ones, then tells them how the story in the garden ends.
In Book #2, Race to the Ark, we find bored children several days after the first adventure, waiting for the lion to roar again. We don't have to wait too long, but this time Uncle Solomon has quickly packed a bag for them to take. Too bad he didn't send them any food.
They end up in the woods and decide to walk north, using the compass in their bag o' stuff. They find a walled city full of angry people. When they mention God, they find out that the Dark Ruler who lives in the temple in the center of the city doesn't much like for people to talk about God. Jakar and Darfus, two child-thugs with a wolf, try to steal Hank and the bag the children are carrying (which now holds the scroll!). Using Uncle Solomon's hatchet, they are able to get away and God sends a strong wind to blow a gate closed, protecting them. The angel Michael, helps them find a safe place to sleep in their tent, also from the bag. The same three rules apply, but this time, they have to puzzle out SIX words.
That night, they hear a lot of loud noises and in the morning, their tent is surrounded by hundreds of footprints. They follow them to Noah's ark! Noah and his family all welcome them and the help they offer, and they are happy to feed these children, finally! The children learn that the earth has become covered with darkness and evil, and that God is going to wash it clean.
The LORD saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time. Genesis 6:5 NIVThe children can't help but think about how beautiful and perfect Eden had been. As the ark is prepared and God tells Noah the time is near, they help the family load the animals into the ark and care for them. (There's a lot of poo scooping with that many animals.) But wait! The door has been broken by an elephant and Noah needs a new hinge. The children go to the city to get one and are captured by Jakar and Darfus and taken to the temple where the Dark Ruler rewards them and locks the children in his dungeon. He tells Peter he met them before. He had been a snake.
Michael frees the children, grabs the hinge, and they get to the ark only to have to battle the Dark Ruler and retrieve the scroll before the rain comes. As the water swirls around them, they struggle to figure out the last word in the scroll. As soon as they do, they return to Uncle Solomon's library, where he gets out his red Bible and tells them what happened during and after the flood.
The prologue in book two gives a brief synopsis of book one, so it can be read as a stand alone story and still be understood what is happening. Each of the books is a paperback, just over 100 pages long. After the stories, there are Bible references so your children can read the actual accounts in the Bible. M.J. Thomas wrote these books for his own son to learn about the Bible in a fun, exciting way. I would say the 6-10 year old range is a good age to enjoy these stories, but I don't know if a six year old could actually read these books.
The punks had a lot of fun trying to figure out the words in the secret messages. They would get so excited when they guessed right. I am teaching a spy training class at co-op and I bet the kids would enjoy solving puzzles like these.
I think the stories would be a fun, safe way to explore about the Bible's exciting accounts. I would definitely recommend discussing the factual details against the fantasy aspect of these books. The stories are easy to understand, not scary for the littler listeners, and they get to see good overcome evil again and again.
Find Worthy Kids/Ideals on social media.