Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Race for the Park Street Treasure, by Sigmund Brouwer

Written in the tradition of Christian youth fiction, the Accidental Detectives series by Sigmund Brouwer feature young teenagers who get into adventures and scrapes, get out again through inspired audacity and friendship in action, and learn a few important lessons about God and themselves along the way. This is not a bad formula; it is one you expect from this type and level of fiction, and it works well, particularly if the author creates interesting characters to people his action-driven plots. Race for the Park Street Treasure wasn’t fantastic or hugely original, but it was a quick, fun read, with a couple quirky characters and a satisfying conclusion.

Reading Race for the Park Street Treasure brought me back to the days when I would constantly read similar youth fiction series, some of my favorites being The Northwoods Adventures by Lois Walfrid Johnson and the Cooper Kids series by Frank Peretti. These books are pure entertainment; even when I was in junior high I never considered these types of books with their moral/spiritual lessons to be the first or last (or any) word in Christian guidance. But even if Christian fiction doesn’t draw you closer to God, you can always point out that at least they are clean.

I would recommend the Accidental Detectives to Christian kids, but only as candy reading. I would hope that their parents insist upon them reading classic literature first. A well-written story with life lessons woven into the character development will take a young person a lot farther than a handful of tepid young adventurers who occasionally mutter a prayer of help.


At 9:37 AM, Blogger Queen of Carrots said...

I was rather disturbed, in a book that is no doubt meant to be good moral fiction, that the main character unilaterally engaged in a complex deception in order to right a wrong that he had merely surmised. I did not think that was the right thing to do *at all*. Maybe it's the lawyer in me coming out.

At 11:06 AM, Blogger Carrie said...

I couldn't find this book anywhere I looked so I missed out on it. I can say, for Rose, (in case she doesn't leave a comment!) that she spent a great deal of time reading solid classical literature and I imagine this IS a very fun read. (I typically love her picks.) So I was disappointed that I wasn't able to get my hands on a copy of this one.

Thanks for the review, Alaina! I really appreciated hearing your thoughts. And yours also, QOC. ;)

At 8:17 PM, Blogger Rose said...

Good insights, Alaina. I always considered Accidental Detectives a notch above the run-of-the-mill Christian YA fiction, because the morals are usually sound and the Christianity is woven through the stories fairly effortlessly. So many YA Christian novels inject a few studied doses of Morals, which would be very easy to edit out and hey presto! you have the secular version. Race for the Park Street Treasure is one of the better examples of this: natural, without sounding preachy.

The quotes, characters, and situations make for an enjoyable read. QOC, I don't blame you for feeling that way, although that angle never struck me as so egregious in this book. Funny, because usually I HATE uppity snippets sneaking around being much cleverer than the oblivious grown-ups. Now that you mention it, I think it's a recurring theme in these books, but perhaps what redeems it for me is that the main characters treat their elders with respect (Ricky's parents are never presented as clueless dolts). Also, the adventures are always so, well, accidental: they don't usually plan to sneak around behind the grown-ups' backs.

I've always liked Ricky's dad's theory on the Blues. =)


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