Obviously, we are a Christian family and enjoy reading both nonfiction and fiction, but it’s not incredibly often that you get to combine Biblical nonfiction with fiction. WorthyKids/Ideals has found a way to do that with their book series The Secret of the Hidden Scrolls, and we received both of the first two books for the purpose of review. The Secret of the Hidden Scrolls: The Beginning (Book #1) and also The Secret of the Hidden Scrolls: Race to the Ark (Book #2) are written toward the 2nd or 3rd grade level reader and include the historical Bible stories woven throughout a fictional story about two children.
Secret of the Hidden Scrolls
Because of the age and reading level of these stories, my intention was to have my middle son (who is dyslexic) read these. He did start them but hasn’t yet finished the first book; he’s had some distractions including his co-op class requiring him to read some other things. So instead, I garnered some help from his older brothers and myself and we read through these books in very little time – less than an hour, and probably only about a half hour for me (but I cheated with some skimming). They are definitely for reading students, not students who need to do a lot of sounding out, but the words are big and the chapters are short and very easy to understand.
Book 1, The Beginning, tells the story of the creation of the world by God, but it doesn’t start there! It starts by introducing us to the main characters. Peter and Mary are siblings whose parents are leaving for a month, and they are staying with their Uncle Solomon. They also brought their dog Hank, who is smarter than the average dog; he can even tell time! (For those that might wonder, the dog doesn’t speak. He just helps to alert the children by barking, including barking the correct number of times for the hour of the day.)
Uncle Solomon is an archeologist and has some very interesting artifacts. His most interesting artifacts are in the library, which is secret and the children can’t open it. The door is big and heavy, with a lion on the handle. (Sound familiar? The books are very much a mixture of the timeless Chronicles of Narnia, combined with the more recent but well loved Magic Treehouse series. The only magic in these books is the travel to the past.)
Uncle Solomon tells of his discovery of the legendary “Hidden Scrolls” and how he hopes that they, too, will help him prove that the stories in the Bible are real. But, he can’t open the seal; part of the legend says that the “chosen ones” are the only ones who can open them and travel into the past. Of course, the children find the scrolls and are able to open them, and they are suddenly in the ancient past, right inside the Bible stories!
The story happens just as it does in the Bible, kind of around the children. The author does take some artistic license, such as having the Angel Michael assist the children when the earth consists of only water and they aren’t great swimmers – plus the scroll is getting wet. The children also have an encounter with the serpent, before the creation of man and woman. It’s here that Mary cries, “Help!!” and Michael appears with his flaming sword and sends the serpent away. When Mary realizes he’s been there longer, she asks why he didn’t help sooner. “I was waiting for you to ask,” he says. I appreciate this type of lesson being included, as it means these kids (and mine, too!) learn important life skills for kingdom living.
The scroll itself is important. It has a message, but it’s written in Hebrew and the kids must solve it in order to get back to their own time period. They have 7 days to translate the scroll (in both books), and they do it in a fashion which basically aids the literary device of teaching morals.
The second book, Race to the Ark, is about the story of Noah. When the kids travel using the scroll in the hidden room in Uncle Solomon’s library, they are in the pre-flood world and interact with Noah himself. Again, the same Biblical story happens around the children. They exit both scenes before their sad endings; in the first story, there is the fall of man and in the second the whole world floods. Uncle Solomon tells them how their story ends, and reads to them from the Bible. There are also scripture references for my own children to look up and read to know these stories for themselves.
Even though a little bit of artistic license has been taken in these books, I think that they do retain the full, complete, and unaltered Biblical accounts of the events portrayed. There’s only the travel (“Narnia” type) magic involved and it’s never actually called magic. The kids learn the lessons that I want my kids to learn, and are pointed to the Bible through hints, direct reference, scriptures, moral lessons, and specific passages where the story originates. We’ll be keeping up with this series, for sure.