Reviews of the latest books, resources and albums.
ÜberHeroes Vol 1: Genesis
by Hope for Life NI and Revolve Comics
ÜberHeroes is an interesting take on the issues our children face in their day-to-day lives. The aim of the comic is to present tricky issues such as self-harm, low self-esteem, pride and substance abuse in a way that young people can relate to and engage with.
The comic is based around five ‘ÜberHeroes’ whose job is to spot young people in danger and, of course, take down the baddies in the process.
While the writing isn’t the slickest, the content really hits home. The charcters in the comic are placed in situations our young people will (sadly) find all too familiar. Where I feel the comic really hits the mark is after the action has all taken place. The comic takes time to address the feelings and signpost young people towards what to do if they resonate with the topics discussed.
ÜberHeroes tackles some really important issues that our young people face and could be a lifeline for struggling teens.
Charlie Day is a children’s, youth and schools’ worker in Cumbria.
By Nikki Grimes, artwork by Bryan Collier
Based on Psalm 121, Nikki Grimes leads us into a story of one bully and her victim. Through poetic language, the reader delves into a world that glimpses at social issues and prejudices, with faith and culture running through, which adds to the depth and interest of the story.
The reader enters the minds of the two young characters to discover why Tanya is attacking Jordon with words of spite and actions of stealing. Jordon is convicted to help Tanya and to build bridges that will lead to friendship, forgiveness and reconciliation.
The American terms add flavour to the written word and make it a culturally different read for children, though it could be quite a challenge for some. The artwork is brilliant and emphasises the underlying messages of the story.
The Watcher could work in literacy lessons at key stage 2 due to its clever use of the poetic form, ‘Golden Shovel’. Within a church setting, this book could be useful as a dramatised reading or within children’s group sessions on bullying.
Bridget Down is family and children’s worker for West Devon Methodist Circuit.
Pens Sticker Books (CWR) Let Your Light Shine and God’s Wonderful World
What parent doesn’t appreciate a good sticker book? Stickers find themselves everywhere, from breakfast bowl to toilet bowl, reinforcing the cheeky adventures of talking trains or overexcitable pink piggies!
Step forward the latest offer from a long and successful heritage, this time with the added advantage of having Christian teaching and reflection aimed at 3 to 6-year-olds. We meet Gloria Glitter-pen, Charlotte Chalk and, my personal favourites, Squiggle and Splodge. Readers are invited to follow these friends through a series of simple adventures.
For our 3-year-old, the stickers proved robust and of good quality (if a little tricky to extract for younger fingers), and each page contains a simple question to engage a child when the sticking commences. The characters weren’t particularly memorable for our daughter. We’re still at a stage where a fluffy woodland creature will beat an adventure-seeking pencil. Perhaps school-aged youngsters may start to appreciate their pencils and erasers more.
At the younger end, some of the verses can be a little difficult. A recommended age-range of 4 to 5 could iron out most of these gripes, but the quality of the product does shine through.
Chris Saunders is youth worker for the South Cotswold Team.
Noah and an Almighty Flood (ebook)
by Keith Rowlands
This is excellent! It may particularly interest young people who like acting. You could use it for a performance or just as an interesting way of telling the story.
It’s written like a diary of how Noah creates the ark. This monologue style makes the story come alive. It also made me imagine what it would be like if I was in Noah’s position with his calling from God. The perspective it is written from makes the story more interesting than if you were reading it from the Bible, which could make it a great resource for young people, particularly if they have heard the story many times before.
It’s very long, so if you wanted something short that could be used as an overview of the story this may not be suitable. But because it’s a diary, you could easily just use extracts.
Hannah Pratten is a trainee youth worker with South West Youth Ministries (SWYM).
Rebecca and Jade: Choices
by Eleanor Watkins
Brilliant storyline with two very contrasting main characters and plenty of interesting turns for both of them; however, having read the blurb before the book, the storyline was predictable as it was clear which character would be pregnant.
I also found it clear that she would keep the baby at the end of the book, as the alternative would have been rather a dull and abrupt finish. However, Eleanor Watkins did keep the plot entertaining to read and it would have been extremely difficult to prevent the reader from jumping to this conclusion.
I particularly like the setting and description of the club Adam takes Rebecca to, as it is presented as a normal and happy environment rather than the typical church setting usually described in books. The relationships between all the characters were very well portrayed and described. The bond created between Rebecca and Adam seemed a bit too sudden for my liking but as the book continues, this is developed positively. Rebecca and Jade are shown as brilliant friends.
I was conscious throughout that I was reading fiction; the characters didn’t seem real outside of the context they were put into. However, I loved the characters, relationships, and storyline.
Ruth Corris is a sixth-former from the Cotswolds.
My Good Man William – The Far Country
Loretta Andrews produces and presents Unsigned on Premier Christian Radio and Premier Gospel. Here’s her artist of the month:
My Good Man William are an alternative-pop duo from London. Although the core members are Will Jackson and Josh Carpenter, they are often joined on stage by additional musicians.
Storytelling is at the heart of the group, who write refreshingly honest lyrics. Listening to The Far Country, you get the impression that every word counts: none are throwaway, and not a sentiment is wasted. Skillfully addressing important issues relevant to today’s generation, this album communicates clearly and evocatively to young people in particular. Their song ‘Poison’ addresses the destructive power of addiction, ‘Ghosted Away’ charts the painful journey of bereavement, ‘The Scam’ (which features spoken word artist Joshua Luke Smith) takes a frank look at our selfish nature, and title track ‘Far Country’ invites those who have wandered away to come back home.
Having successfully toured their debut EP, The Ark, they managed to crowdfund £5,000 towards this album, which is testament to their growing fanbase. The production on The Far Country has noticeably gone up a level (it was produced by Matt Weeks), and is filled with evocative lyrics, lo-fi synths and organic soundscapes.
My Good Man William have a heart for young people and, with their clear passion, high-quality musicianship and lyrics that draw in the listener, not to mention their impressive live performances, they will quickly become a popular choice for youth groups and events.