I highly recommend this book for 4th grade to middle school and high school aged boys and even girls. There is plenty of imagination, humor, mystery, and action to keep any kid reading well into the night. Parents of younger children could even use this book as a positive and encouraging read-aloud.
The story brings us into the family of the Igibys, three siblings, a mom and a grandpa. All is not right in the world, as the Fangs of Dang have taken over and are terrorizing the countryside. The main characters in the book are the three siblings, Janner, Tink, and Leeli Igiby. They lead a fairly uneventful life, protected from the hard truths by their mom and grandpa. They start realizing their situation pretty quickly though, as they have a run in with one of the meaner Fangs. The conflict builds until escape from the town they know and love is the only option.
As a Christian author, Peterson fills his story with true truth that helps form that moral imagination of kids. One major plus in this book is the peace and life that exist in the family relationships. Yes, there is evil without, but the sanctuary of the family is very much intact in this story. Missing in many books for young children is the truth about God’s gift of family and how a God honoring family works to honor each other and the Lord Jesus. Boys will be encouraged to reach out to those younger than them by Janner’s actions in the books as well. Growing up is shown to be a needful process filled with care and sacrifice for others. Life is not a meaningless quest for self-actualization or more stuff.
I am floored at the power that media has over the character and thoughts of young children, as my perspective changes with age. Many books have a worldview and tone about them that give me pause as I recommend them. This series by Peterson is a breath of fresh air. Kids are free to read and parents are free to trust that kids will be getting ideas and fantasies that come from a moral grounding. The parents in the book are not dumbos or idiots, the kids don’t get into all sorts of innapropriate situations just because it sells or is controversial, and good triumphs over evil. It triumphs not just on the outside, but within the hearts an minds of the characters as well. The words that Andrew Peterson shares with us do a service to kids by pointing them to the true words that are spirit and life. (John 6)
Amen, Come Lord Jesus!