A World Full of Ghosts

Written by Charis Cotter

(Annick Press, 2008)

Reviewed by Colin Kerr

ghosts

Kids like books about things that are scary and creepy, at least that’s the impression I get when I survey the endless number of them that appear on bookstore and library shelves these days.

This particular book is quite interesting. But it’s simply not appropriate for someone, say, under 15. It is aimed at a younger crowd, but I believe that it’s not well conceived in this regard. You might think that I am being too cautious. I love stuff like this myself, but I don’t think kids need to be too frightened to go to bed. I am not suggesting that this book overdoes it, that it glorifies evil. It is primarily descriptive. It looks at all the types of ghosts according to their place of origin – Ireland, Hawaii, China, etc. It’s really quite an interesting piece of sociology. The art in this book is exceptional. It’s just not for kids!

Desmond and the Very Mean Word: A Story of Forgiveness

Written by Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Douglas Abrams

(Candlewick Press, 2013)

 Reviewed by Colin Kerr

mean word

Tutu is the darling of liberal Christianity, of course, but conservative Christians are understandably leery of him – not in relation to his work against South African apartheid, but for his views on other critical issues.

Yet this book is just perfect! It is a touching presentation on the theme of forgiveness. It is autobiographical, and thus set within the context South African racial tension. It concerns just one incident in the young life of the future Anglican bishop. It is touchingly presented. It is very interesting that the ‘sage’ upon whom the young Desmond draws guidance in the story is a white priest named Trevor Huddleston. This Huddleston was the hero of Tutu’s childhood and a future archbishop himself.

Wonderfully illustrated. A book from which everyone can benefit. No better choice for a bedtime story for kids 5 to 10.

Uncle John’s Electrifying Bathroom Reader for Kids Only

Written by the Bathroom Reader’s Institute

(Bathroom Reader’s Press, 2003)

 Reviewed by Colin Kerr

bathroom

Not for the scrupulously hygienic.

For people with voracious appetites for knowledge, but with limited attention spans. The Bathroom Reader books are a favourite of many families, with good reason. Despite the loutish title, they are both entertaining and educational.

The big question, of course, is are these books appropriate for kids, because oftentimes the adult ones have things in them that don’t make them ideally suited for youngsters. So I looked carefully. I didn’t find anything objectionable in this one; there is nothing in it too ‘mature’ for anyone who is capable of reading at this level – say, ten years old, or thereabouts.

Of course, one of the things that we always have to keep with mind is that books either are or are not written from a Christian perspective. That this book is free from any objectionable content is great, and essential. And yet, what kind of view of the world does it foster? It talks about ‘the environment,’ and things like that, but it doesn’t focus heavily on stuff like this and thereby ‘preach a secular gospel,’ so to speak. Generally, it is full of harmless, interesting information.

It would be great if someone wrote a Catholic version someday. Hint, hint.