Friday, August 24, 2012

Schoolhouse Review: Mr. Pipes and the British Hymn Makers

I was very excited for the chance to review the e-Book Mr. Pipes and the British Hymn Makers from Christian Liberty Press.  This school year, I have decided to cut back on some of the extra-curricular activities and have more time at home to spend on some projects with the kids, including music.  One of the things I specifically wanted to cover this fall was hymnology and some of the histories behind the hymns, which have always fascinated me.  This book fit right into the lesson plan!

“Now then, now then,” came the Cabby’s voice. 
“I think the best thing we could do to pass the 
time would be to sing a ’ymn.” And he did. 
He had a fine voice and the children joined in. 
C. S. Lewis 

Douglas Bond, the author of Mr. Pipes and the British Hymn Makers, had me from the beginning with this quote from The Magician's Nephew by C. S. Lewis.  I love C. S. Lewis, I love The Magician's Nephew, and I love hymns!  From there, he drew me into the story of two fictional American teenagers who are spending their summer in the small town of Olney in England.  I could do a unit study with my kids (it would follow well after the Olympics in London this summer) about the British culture, and then about the organ that was played by the children's new acquaintance, Mr. Pipes.  Later still, they were introduced to the harpsichord - one of my very favorite instruments!  The real story, however, is in the hymns and hymn writers about which Mr. Pipes teaches the children.  While sitting out the rain, taking them fishing, and showing them around Olney during their summer vacation, he tells them stories about the history of the area, the Church, and the hymn writers who lived in England.  The writing is engaging, and the stories of the hymn writers are interspersed throughout the rest of the story.

"I like that fact that it's, like, a story that's actually fun to read," said my daughter about the book.  (I had to get in that extra "like" so that I did not misquote her!)  "You learn something, but it's like you are just reading a book."

Mr. Pipes and the British Hymn Makers is the first in Douglas Bond's series of four "Mr. Pipes" books written to teach children about the hymns of the Christian faith.  An English teacher at a Christian high school, he has a passion to share this part of our history with young people.  The books are recommended for 7th-10th grade.  I believe my 5th-grade daughter may enjoy them as well, but for this review I only used the book with my older children.  I plan to buy the other books in the series and use them with her as well.

A children's choir director and former piano teacher myself, I love all different kinds of music, and I love teaching children about them.  I love hymns and contemporary choruses equally - any music that is used to praise God!  I have always been fascinated by the stories behind some of the old hymns.  Mr. Pipes and the British Hymn Makers is a unique and entertaining tool for teaching these things to the next generation.  I highly recommend this book.

Here are the important facts:

Product:  Mr. Pipes and the British Hymn Makers, available as hard copy or PDF download
Author:  Douglas Bond
Ages:  7th-10th grades
Price:  $9.89 hard copy, $8.79 PDF download

See Christian Liberty Press for the rest of this series and other homeschooling curriculum.

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Disclaimer:  I received a free downloadable PDF copy of Mr. Pipes and the British Hymn Makers in exchange for a fair review.  No other compensation was given, and all opinions are my own.

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