Lions to the Rescue (Book Review)

Happy Tree Street Tuesday! Today is release day for Lions to the Rescue and Mystery at Crooked Tree Woods. I am delighted to recommend these excellent books for middle grade readers an I am happy to offer these latest releases, plus some fun freebies, as a giveaway. (Thanks to the author and publisher!)

Scripture Connection

Hate evil and love good, and establish justice in the gate…

Amos 5:15

Spiritual Themes

Jack attends a Christian school, so the adults on campus pray before classes and games. At the game, the coach doesn’t pray that the team will win, just that they’ll play their best. There’s a reference to a verse about friendship in Proverbs (18:24), quoted on a banner. Jack’s dad talks about how the Lord will provide, and about God working everything together for those who have been called according to His purpose (Rm. 8:28).

There’s also some content that affirms the importance of justice (like the Amos verse), which I discuss in depth in the “Representation” section.

What I Liked

This is definitely my favorite book in the series. In my review of book two, I talked about how I enjoyed getting to know the characters better, since first books need a lot of exposition. This is even more true in book three, as Jack’s relationships with the characters are even more solid, and the reader gets even more insight into the experiences of the side characters. And, like in book two, there are even more new characters.

School Story

I really enjoy school stories. Honestly, I’ll read school stories even when they aren’t very well done, but this is an example of a quality school story, with a bit more depth (like Andrew Clements’– what a great author! or even R.J. Palacio, although a bit lighter).

After reading two summertime stories, I was excited to join Jack for the beginning of the school year. Even though he’d been in the new community for two books, this felt like more of a “new kid” story, since Jack was unwilling to make friends in book one, and only now made an active effort to meet new people. I do like new kid stories, because they ‘re stories about people who feel like they’re on the outside, which is a universal experience for children and adults.

Characters

Jack and Ellison join a library club, which I really enjoyed, being a library professional, myself. I also really liked Mr. Simpson, the school librarian.

Ellison is now my favorite character, followed by Midge. I really relate to his preference for books over adventures. I enjoyed getting to know Ellison in a new way, this time, and it was SO NEAT to see how he advocated for literary representation in his neighborhood.

Midge continued to wow me with her scientific knowledge. I feel like she should be working in a laboratory, somewhere.

As with the other books, the characters contribute fun and educational tidbits of information. But this time, there were joint notecards. For example, we get “Ellison and Roger’s Bookish History,” and “Jack and Midge’s Science of Sports.”

Representation

As much as I enjoyed the storyline and narration, in general, my favorite part hands down was the REPRESENTATION theme. Ellison, an African American character, is an insatiable reader. During Lions to the Rescue, he reads Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, by Mildred D. Taylor, and declares it “the best book [he’s] ever read.” According to Jack, that’s something Ellison often says, but this time, he means it in a new way. “Stories like this help me understand where my family came from,” he explains.

The plot also illustrates how books like Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry can combat racism. And, at the end of the book, there’s an appendix, Ellison’s Unbeliebable Unlibrary Recommendations, with books Ellison would recommend, including various titles by black authors.

It is so refreshing to see this theme, not only in a Christian book, but in a Christian book for children. Cultural representation does matter, because our country is founded on oppression. Christian children need to read books that advocate for social justice, and I’m delighted to recommend a title that raises social justice questions in a gentle way, without the deplorable content you’ll find in many mainstream books, even for kids.

I’m also happy to see this theme in a book from Moody Publishers. One of my favorite childhood series (from Moody_ was published in the same time period this series is set. However, as I reread it, I realized that there’s some content, pertaining to different cultures, that I can’t uphold. So, I do want to commend Moody Publishers on this new title!

Illustrations

This is a chapter book, so there are just a few illustrations. However, I do want to note that these are great! I like the visuals of the characters– and of Midge’s zany costumes/outfits.

Content Notes

There’s one use of the phrase “Lord knows.”

Jack “jokes” that you can read, even if you can’t see.

Recommendation Status

Minor discretion for the above content, but this is a book I would highly recommend. I am so delighted to see a Christian children’s book that discusses the importance of representation in literature! The book is also a fun read, and I would recommend it for home, church, or school libraries.

GIVEAWAY

It is my pleasure to recommend the Tree Street Kids series by Amanda Cleary Eastep and published by Moody Publishers.
If you’re looking for more fun, funny, and faith-based reads for your kids, ENTER FOR A CHANCE TO WIN the newest books in the series: Lions to the Rescue! AND Mystery in Crooked Creek Woods.
The winner will also receive book-themed goodies like:

  • Character bookmarks
  • A TSK pencil
  • A build-your-own fruit snack slingshot kit
  • A TSK clue notebook and pen
  • Stickers

TO ENTER:

Follow Amanda Cleary Eastep on WordPress OR sign up for her newsletter. Then comment “Done.” Earn an additional entry by answering the question on this post– and my other Tree Street Tuesday posts, throughout July. Giveaway deadline is August 1st.

This giveaway is sponsored by Moody Publishers. Learn more about the books at treestreetkids.com.

QUESTION: As a kid, which year was your favorite “first day of school?”

Published by Stephanie Agnes-Crockett

Hi, there! My name is Stephanie and I’m a Fresno, CA native. After studying at Biola University, I received my MLIS (Masters in Library Science) from San Jose State University. I live with my mom, poet Kimberly Vargas Agnese, and serve as her unofficial agent. We reside at MeadowArc, a food forest in its infancy. I am called to, and passionate about, purity. In fact, the name Agnes means “pure.” Before I was born, my mom felt led to include the name Agnes in her name, and in the names of her children. My full, hyphenated name includes 26 letters (but not the whole alphabet).

3 thoughts on “Lions to the Rescue (Book Review)

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