It can be tricky finding engaging, age-appropriate chapter books for emerging readers, looking for historical fiction can be even more challenging! Which is why I was so excited to receive two new books from WorthyKids (an imprint of Hachette book group) – “The Secret of the Hidden Scrolls” series by M.J. Thomas for review. We were not disappointed, both books took familiar Bible events and turned them into fun and easy to read stories my son devoured. We chose to use these two books as our bedtime read aloud.
These books are the newest in the Secret of the Hidden Scrolls series. We have not read the first two books (yet, though we plan to) but we had no problems diving right in to these. They read great as stand-alone books.
The books follow the adventures of Peter, Mary, and their loyal dog Hank as they try to solve the Secret of the Hidden Scrolls – magic scrolls that transport them back in time to witness events in Bible history. The brother and sister duo, with the help of their dog and the angel Michael, have 14 days to reveal the hidden message on each scroll by experiencing God’s power and learning more about who He is through witnessing these amazing stories that unfold around them.
In each story they encounter problems to solve and work overcome the forces attempting to thwart God’s plans. They must solve the scroll in time to return home or they will be stuck in another time and place! The “secret” of each scroll reveals something foundational about God’s character.
Book 3 – The Great Escape
The Great Escape (Book #3) takes place in Ancient Egypt, during the time of Moses and his God-given mission to free His people from slavery under pharaoh. Peter and Mary explore the pyramids, spend time in pharaohs palace and Goshen, witness the encounters between Moses and Aaron and the hard hearted pharaoh, and witness the plagues first hand. They receive help and protection from Michael the archangel. They encounter pharaoh’s Great Magician (aka the man in black) who tries to steal the scroll and prevent them from solving its mystery on several occasions. They travel with the Israelites out of Egypt and cross the Red Sea alongside them. The fact that they experience all this and the events are retold from a modern day child’s point of view makes them more real and relatable!
Book 4 – Journey to Jericho
In Journey to Jericho (Book #4), Peter, Mary, and Hank travel to the Desert 400 years after the exodus, just before the Israelites are about to enter the Promised Land. They follow the “spies” Caleb and Phinehas on their scouting mission to Jericho, meet Rahab and enlist her help, hide in the mountains, march around the city of Jericho with the Israelites, meet and escape the man in black again, and witness the crumbling walls of Jericho. This book in the series takes on a fun spy theme, and we find situations where the kids have to hide things they brought with them, like a flashlight and walkie talkies, from their Israelite friends. This made for some humorous moments in the book!
“I really liked the books because of the action and adventure. Hank is my favorite character because I love dogs. Hank is a good dog because he is very loyal. My favorite part of Journey to Jericho was when Hank ran away to distract the guards so Peter could get away. He saved Peter, he was a good boy.
My favorite thing about Peter is that he is adventurous. My favorite thing about Mary is that she does karate. I hope my mom gets the other books because I really want to read more!”Joey – age 10
This series is written for ages 6-9 and each book is just over 100 pages long. In my opinion, they are a great fit for these ages! The author has done a great job of using easy to read words, short chapters, and familiar vocabulary without making the stories feel too simple or bland. The main characters are relatable and colorful. There is enough danger and suspense to keep things exciting, but not so much that they are scary or unbelievable.
I love how the author uses the events and experiences in the stories to reveal and reinforce characteristics of God and his love for his people. The message of book 3 is “God is powerful and will set you free”. In book 4 we learn “God always keeps His promises”. These are foundational truths that are important for my children to know.
As with all historical fiction, liberties are taken in order to develop characters and the story surrounding the events. This is done in a tasteful way and provides a great opportunity for your child to practice discernment in separating the fact from the fiction.
To wrap this review up, I wholeheartedly recommend this series!! We will definitely be ordering books 1 and 2, along with any future releases from the series. Even if you have kids a bit older than the suggested range, the stories are still fun and engaging and the books are perfect for family read-alouds! But don’t just take my word for it, make sure to click the graphic below to read more reviews from the crew!