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John Newton (Christian Biographies for Young Readers)

By Simonetta Carr
February 2019 | Review by Ruth Burke
  • Publisher: Reformation Heritage Books
  • ISBN: 978-1-60178-616-6
  • Pages: 64
  • Price: £13.83
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Christian Biographies for Young Readers seek to introduce seven-to twelve-year-olds to some important characters from church history.

This addition to the series is well researched and documented. The author takes care to set John Newton in his historical setting, explaining events and customs likely to be unfamiliar to modern readers.

Illustrations are used on almost every page. Some are scenes from Newton’s life, such as you might expect to find in a child’s story book. Others are pertinent contemporary illustrations which help bring the eighteenth century to life. Maps and modern photographs of places associated with the story can also be found.

In a work of this length, the author has had to pick and choose events on which to focus. That said, the book provides a comprehensive account of Newton and covers his early life, his hymn writing, his preaching ministry and his involvement in the abolition of slavery. His life at sea, his love for Mary, ‘Amazing Grace’ and his relationship with his two adopted daughters are some of the things which should appeal to younger readers.

At the end of the book some finer details of the story are added. A couple of letters written to one of his daughters are also included.

Throughout, there is an emphasis on God at work in Newton’s life and this challenges the reader. It is a beautifully presented book and would make a lovely gift. A seven-year-old might require help with some of the language and concepts, but readers much older than twelve would find it a fascinating introduction to the life of this great figure.

Ruth Burke


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