Mary Weeks Millard
Day One Publications
Star Rating: 1
The ‘Syding Adventures’ are a Christian fiction series, broadly aimed, I think, at 8-12 year olds. Tyler is from a, now stationary, Romany Gypsy family, while Theo is from a more privileged background, with a castle home.
The story helpfully addresses the issue of bullying, with the two boys finding friendship and adventures together as a result. The plot skilfully covers the themes of forgiveness and reconciliation, and introduces people to a loving God who is actively involved in our lives.
The action moves along at a reasonable pace and the plot is refreshingly unusual. However, compared to what secular fiction has to offer, the narrative is not especially colourful, and I wasn’t convinced a young person would be gripped enough to read beyond the first couple of chapters.
As a parent, I was uneasy about the inclusion of child kidnapping and a rather relaxed attitude to talking to strangers in a real lifestyle novel. Despite what the children learn through it, I would prefer authors to steer away from anything that might put unwise ideas in children’s minds.
The story is punctuated with spiritual content, but I didn’t feel this was particularly cleverly or adeptly done, nor did I find its message especially faithful. The testimony of the Gypsy parents is rather overly supernatural, and a bit weird rather than wonderful, despite being rescued to some degree by the biblical teaching they receive to explain their experience.
Throughout the story many prayers are offered up, but as all are answered positively, I was left feeling that it would present our young people with unrealistic expectations of the Christian life and teach them a needs-driven gospel, rather than a Christ-centred one.
Overall, I was left disappointed, both imagining myself as a younger reader and as a parent hopeful for another way of teaching biblical theology to my children.