Arnold Ytreeide Strikes Again!

Last year, I read Jotham’s Journey with Turkey and Bunny every day in Advent. I had heard about this book from, I don’t know, *every* homeschool forum I frequent (and that’s not an exaggeration!). Everyone has loved reading that book with their children, and there was also a big stir because the two follow-up books, Bartholomew’s Passage and Tabitha’s Travels, were being reprinted after several years of being unavailable. And everyone that raved about the books wasn’t kidding–they’re excellent stories that I would recommend every family to read, homeschoolers or not (but do be aware that they’re best read with children who are probably at least 7 or 8). Actually, I would even recommend the books for adults to read on their own–even though the main characters in the stories are children, they are such compelling books that I think adults would also benefit from adding them to their busy Advent schedules (I know I sure have!).

Jotham’s Journey is a cool story about a shepherd boy who gets separated from his family after they think he has been killed by a wild animal. He spends the remainder of the book trying to find them, trying to get away from some bad men who are after him, and making new friends he otherwise would never have met. Two of these friends, Bartholomew and Tabitha, are the main characters in the follow-up stories. Oh, and of course the ending–well, I won’t ruin the whole surprise, but remember, I said we read it every day in Advent–so what event do you think Jotham got to witness firsthand?

Of course, this is a fictional book that just happens to be set around real events. But it is such a real book–it really makes you feel as though you’re in Israel with Jotham, experiencing the things he’s experiencing. There are some tense, even scary parts, and because you read a section every day, there are days that leave you wondering what will happen next, if Jotham will ever be reunited with his family, if he’ll even survive! Not to imagine the twists the story takes–there were some revelations that shocked even me! It’s an excellent story.

We’ll be reading Bartholomew’s Passage this year, and Tabitha’s Travels the next, then we’ll start over again with Jotham. I think it will make a nice three-year cycle (somewhat similar to the lectionary), and put enough time between each reading that we don’t get bored with any of the stories, and might even forget some of the more interesting twists and turns.

But the Jotham trilogy isn’t even what I’m excited about today (although I am ecstatic that we’ll be starting Bartholomew’s Passage in less than a month!). What I’m really excited about is that, while nosing around on Amazon this morning, I discovered a new book by Arnold Ytreeide, set to come out January 31, 2011, called Amon’s Adventure. And while this book is an Easter story instead of a Christmas story, it appears that it is set up in the same way, with a reading for every day in Lent, leading up to Easter. It focuses on some familiar characters from the original books, as well as some new characters. I can imagine which events will be witnessed by those characters in this book, given that it’s a Lenten story.

I have sorrowed every year when we put our Advent wreath away–we have our family prayer time around the candlelight every night in Advent. I have wished for some kind of similar Lenten wreath, even though I know it wouldn’t be the same, and really, wouldn’t be as meaningful, anyway. Well, we may not have the same candlelight for Lent this year, but we will have a story to read every night, that will remind us of Jesus’ great sacrifice for us, and help us better understand the events of the Passion.

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