Friday, June 21, 2013

Augustine: The farmer’s boy of Tagaste

by P. De Zeeuw 
93 page, Paperback

Augustine might be called the father of the Reformation - though he lived a thousand years before them he was an influential figure to both Luther and Calvin.

Augustine: the farmer’s boy of Tagaste, aimed at Grade 3 and older, is an age-appropriate look at what a man without God is really like. Author P. De Zeeuw shows us that Augustine was not a nice young man – he stole from his parents, lied repeatedly to his mother, was lazy, and didn’t care about anyone other than himself. For our children, many of whom have been blessed to be born into the church, Augustine’s early life may be an eye-opening look at wickedness and its consequences. They likely will not have met a man with the past of this fellow! The time De Zeeuw spends looking at Augustine’s sinful young life is what makes his redemption, and the use God made of Augustine, that much more awe-inspiring. God took a rebel and made him a key figure in the Church, both in his own time, and in the Reformation one thousand years later.

Now it should be noted that the cover is bad – this is not a cover that is liable to make a child pull the book off the shelf. I'm not sure what the pictured broken statue has to do with the story. I'm presuming it is a statue of Augustine, but again, why a drawing of a statue of him? Why not just draw him? However inside the book are some helpful simple line drawings, about one a chapter or so, which are a great addition.

The story is excellent, and the writing is okay – it is a translation of the Dutch original so there are a few rough spots where the sentences don't flow quite like they could, but the writing is never so rough as to get in the way of the story. So when you add it all up - lousy cover, great story, solid, yet unremarkable writing – you've got a book that would be great for children who love reading and are able to handle these "rough spots."
De Zeeuw’s Augustine focuses primarily on the church leader's pre-conversion life, spending only a third of the 93 pages on what happened afterwards (Pelagius is mentioned just once!). So Simonetta Carr’s Augustine, which focuses on his post conversion life, would be the perfect title to read right afterwards.

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