Reading books aloud together is a cornerstone of life with my children in our home. It is something we strive to do every single day. Next to time in God’s word, read aloud time is nonnegotiable. We love reading aloud great stories, like Shepherd, Potter, Spy–and the Star Namer from Peggy Consolver – Author that bring history to life! I read this book aloud to my two boys ages eleven and nine as well as their younger sister who is six years old. It is a story of Biblical history during the time of Joshua (from Chapters 9-10 of the book of the Bible) when the Israelites were conquering Canaan. We follow the tale not of the Israelites but on a young boy from Canaan. His name is Keshub, and he is the son of a potter from a village of Gibeon. He is all of 11-13 years old from the beginning to the end of the story and, like many boys his age do, he dreams of great to have great adventures, to be trained for battle, and the opportunity to get away from his mundane chores.
The novel begins with the story of Keshub’s life with his family. We get a great picture of the daily life for the people of Gibeon. Soon the story takes a turn as Keshub’s people learn the Hebrews are near. The village starts to prepare for invasion. As the story continues, Keshub does realize his dream of travel and adventure. He finds himself a spy and is there to see the fall of Jericho. This book is exciting! It is full of great battles and fantastic yet intense cliffhanger type moments. There is such detail about life, war, and faith in the pages of this book. We see the brutal conditions in which the Gibeonites’ and the Hebrews lived. Afterward, reading scripture itself feels differently as this book leaves you with an image of life during Biblical times that no other book I have ever read does.
You will love the excellent descriptive language and characters that, so lovingly come to life as the story unfolds. You will grow to adore and alternately dislike the various characters as the scenes jump off the page at you and you become completely engrossed in their lives.
If you are like me and you enjoy a little help digging into books a bit deeper than simply reading them, then Pegg Consolver has provided you with a couple of tools to do just that. First, she has listed some great discussion questions at the back of the book. These will help you and your children relate your modern day lives to those in the book. Some themes tend to be universal. For example, in one section of the book, Keshub faces a terrible bully. His experience is a great jumping off point for discussing bullies in our lives.
There is also a study guide available called: Digging Deeper Into HIStory. It is rather detailed with 13 separate units and a page of links, maps, and youtube videos which will develop your child’s sense of life during the Biblical times.
What Did We Think Overall?
We adored this book. It was hard to put down. My kids usually begged for… “Just one more chapter! PLEASE!” This was edge of your seat kind of stuff. My children were fascinated by the rich detail about the world during Biblical times. The story writing and descriptions were so vivid. The coming of age story was very timely for my boys about Keshub’s age. I am pretty confident this is a book that will be read time and again by all of my children.