Great Waters Press, which published the practical guide to Raising Real Men by Hal and Melanie Young, has two new books coming out. Schoolhouse Crew Members were given an opportunity to review a copy of Children in Church: Nurturing Hearts of Worship, or A Cry From Egypt. I reviewed A Cry From Egypt.
A Cry From Egypt was written by Hope Auer and illustrated by Mike Slaton, both recent homeschool graduates themselves. Hope Auer has been writing stories and plays since she was very young. She began writing A Cry From Egypt, the first book in The Promised Land Series, as a school assignment when she was only thirteen and her family was studying ancient Egypt! This historical fiction book deals with the period before the Exodus, when the Israelites were still in slavery.
How would you feel if you had been a Hebrew slave living in ancient Egypt? What would your life have been like? Furthermore, what would it have been like to be a Hebrew child in slavery in ancient Egypt? I think that pondering this question really brings the truth of what happened home to children. After all, of the adult Hebrews who left Egypt, only two entered the Promised Land. The children who walked out of Egyptian slavery were the ones who later established the nation of Israel.
My children and I really loved this book. We used it as a read-aloud leading up to our study of ancient Egypt. I have always loved historical fiction, and I use it quite a bit in my homeschool. It gives us a chance to put ourselves in the shoes of someone living in that time period and that situation. I think it gives us a greater understanding of what we are studying. I especially like historical fiction that is accurate in all the facts that we do know. Many times, writers take a lot of literary license with history, changing the facts for the sake of the story, and for me, that kind of ruins the experience. I'm not really identifying with the characters in history if the history is fictitious. Hope Auer did her best to stick to the facts she had learned from the Bible and from history, and I was impressed by the extent of her research. She did an excellent job of staying authentic. My kids and I discussed how much of the book was factual, how much was likely, and which things were actually not likely to have happened.
For instance, my oldest pointed out that the Hebrew children probably would not have been calling their God "Yahweh" in general conversation, since the Jewish people traditionally have refrained from saying that name because of the admonition in the Ten Commandments not to use the Lord's name in vain. In fact, our modern Jewish friends write "G-d" rather than writing out "God" and taking the risk of breaking that commandment. I then pointed out that before the Exodus from Egypt, the Ten Commandments had not yet been given, so the tradition of not saying the Name could have actually come much later. I'm not even sure that those children would have known the name "Yahweh," as that proper name seems to have first been given to Moses, and the people would not have known it until he taught them. The Scriptures generally said, "The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob" before that time. The Scriptures, however, do not say definitively that the name "Yahweh" was not used prior to the burning bush, and so the story may be entirely accurate. We really cannot know that answers to these questions, and my point is not to take issue with the book at all. My purpose was to get my kids delving into their history and discussing such questions, and it worked!
I think this was a good learning experience. We look forward to reading the rest of the series when it is published!
In addition to accurate historical content, I enjoyed knowing that Hope had begun this book when she was a child herself. Reading a book about what children would have experienced from a child's point of view is enlightening. I hope that even more than learning about history, that it has made my children think about their own faith, about the identity of the God we worship, and about their place in His plan.
If you would like to read this delightful book for yourself or with your children, advance-reader copies are available for $12.50 each, and currently with free shipping, at http://acryfromegypt.com/store/. The book is recommended for ages 8 and up.
A Cry From Egypt is being published by Hal and Melanie Young of www.RaisingRealMen.com.