A Day In The Life Of A Pair Of Trousers And Other Stories: 48 Stories For Use In Christian Worship And On Other Occasions, by Brian A. Curtis
[Note: This book was provided free of charge by BookLook/WestBow Press in exchange for an honest review.]
As I read this book, I was reminded of the sort of stories that were popular among ministers and other religious leaders in charge of youth education when I was a child, and the sort of overly heavy-handed and didactic approach taken to instructing youth in God’s ways. This book, make no mistake, is an unpleasant trip down memory lane, filled with terrible punny names, an over-indulgence in rhetorical questions and generally coercive reasoning, and a generally disrespectful approach to dealing with young people. This is not the sort of book that would be popular or appealing among young people, but rather is the sort of book that people buy or want to read because they desire to mold and shape young people into what they view as godly ways. At times the intentions are good, the stories in general are competently written, some of them are amusing and some are quite tragic, but although some of the stories are worthwhile on several levels, other stories demonstrate a lack of compassion for the reputed audience and also a lack of biblical knowledge, such as those stories that relate to heathen festivals like Christmas and Easter as well as unbiblical conceptions of God like the Trinity .
The stories of this book are not arranged in any kind of order, except perhaps in the order that they were written. It should be noted that the stories themselves are fairly short, a few pages apiece, and many of them make explicit parallels to scriptures that the author wishes to cite in order to bolster his own stories. There are some stories involving a mission of interplanetary exploration that is divided into several parts rather than being seen as one longer story, perhaps as a way of padding the amount of stories as a whole. Many of the stories relate to animals who are used in the tradition of the beast fable to teach lessons to children in the manner of Aesop, but nowhere near as light in their touch. In reading this book, one is struck by the possibility that the author may have never attempted to talk with young people as an equal. It is easy to wish to write children’s books because one has something one wishes to teach, but it is also not hard why this book did not find a publisher, given that is really aimed at Sunday School teachers and perhaps parents rather than to children themselves. It’s hard to imagine any child asking their parents to read them anything from this book.
Despite the fact that this book fails in its purpose, it is not without worth. The main worth of a book like this, aside from being fairly short and easy to read, is the fact that it serves as a document of how people write to children. This is a cautionary tale. It is possible to write very good literature for children , but one has to think of children as people one can have a conversation with and who can follow a point without having to be hit over the head with it, assuming it is at least of some interest to them. This book does not manage to succeed, its failure is a relatively common one, and it is instructive to learn from such failures so that they are not frequently repeated. After all, if one is writing a book that one hopes will be of encouragement and instructive value, one does not want to go off in a patronizing or insulting fashion. It might even be worthwhile to see how this author approaches other types of writing to see if this is a more widespread fault, or rather the result of writing from a point of view that perhaps unconsciously reveals a certain contempt for his audience.
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