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Book Review: 'Tales of the Kingdom'

Updated on June 15, 2018
tamarawilhite profile image

Tamara Wilhite is a technical writer, industrial engineer, mother of two, and published sci-fi and horror author.

Introduction

“Tales of the Kingdom” is a children’s book by David and Karen Maines that recently released its thirtieth anniversary edition. The cover for the 30th anniversary edition is shown below.

Disclaimer: The publisher has provided me with a complimentary copy of the book through BookCrash.

The Cover of "Tales of the Kingdom"
The Cover of "Tales of the Kingdom" | Source

The “Tales of the Kingdom” is a Christian fantasy series of stories encapsulated in a single 80 page book. This means each story is five to ten pages, something that seems even shorter given the many illustrations. But what are the pros and cons of this children’s fantasy book?

Pros

  • Beautiful, engaging illustrations. Those were done by Zhivko Zhelev.
  • Reflects Christian values without being preachy, and accessible to non-Christians.
  • A dozen stories contained in roughly eighty pages makes each one a suitable bedtime story length for younger children.
  • It is the right reading level for elementary school children second through fifth grade who want to read it on their own.
  • If you’re Christian, each story is a strong allegory for general Christian principles without rehashing the standard set of Bible stories.
  • You’ll spark a lot of conversations with the kids on general concepts that are hard to explain otherwise.

Cons

  • Wow, there are some literally and emotionally dark places here. Maybe readable to a five year old but will give a three year old nightmares.

Examples and trigger warnings: Mom of the two main characters dies in the first chapter/story, and then they’re fleeing from Orphan Keepers who round up orphans to work in the fire pits and steam engines that fuel society. And then they’re still fighting for their freedom and defining themselves once they find seeming shelter.

  • There are points where it is repetitive, whether repeating adjectives, the bad memories of the characters or entire themes. Even my children when reading it complained of that.

Observations

My school age son was turned off by the main characters being named “Scarboy” and “Little Child”. That, to him, distracted from the story more than some of the repetition. I understand using generic stereotypes / titles as names to avoid readers assigning assumption to named characters.

The 30th edition of the book includes websites you can visit to discuss these modern Christian parables.

Related Reading

If you like this book, you’ll be glad to know it is the start of a trilogy. “Tales of the Resistance” follows “Tales of the Kingdom”; the third book in the series is “Tales of the Restoration”.

If you’re looking for Christian fantasy, my first recommendation is the classic “Chronicles of Narnia” series. Madeleine L'Engle's “Wrinkle in Time” is arguably fantasy. I’m recommending the book here, not the secularized and deteriorated movie. The Harry Potter series certainly echoes Christian themes, but how Christian it is depends on your perspective.

If you want Christian science fiction, Karina Fabian’s “Rescue Nuns” stories and tie-in novel “Discovery” is a good choice. Orson Scott Card’s “Folks on the Fringe” and “A Canticle for Leibowitz” should be on any Christian sci-fi list.

Summary

I give “Tales of the Kingdom” four stars out of five as general family-friendly fantasy. If you’ve been searching for Christian fantasy that’s safe to give your kids in more ways than one, this is a five star start to an entire book series. Expect to discuss a lot of themes and concepts with your kids as a result, which is why this book is often used in children’s Bible study.

© 2018 Tamara Wilhite

Comments

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  • Tim Truzy info4u profile image

    Tim Truzy 

    2 years ago from U.S.A.

    Loved your review, Tamara. I remember reading"Tales of the Kingdom," and I think I will glance the updated version. I remember those "dark" places in that book, but considering Grims' fairy tales are incredibly violent, I wasn't put off by encountering them in "Tales of the Kingdom."

    I suppose the last books of the Harry Potter series has a Christian theme, where the main character is somehow brought back to life to defeat the bad guy, but I thought the series borrowed too much from C. S. Lewis and the classic "Narnia” books. I agree with you: the Narnia” books would be my first choice for Christian fantasy.

    However, your review of this book is fabulous and it's worth a read.

    Thanks, Tamara.

    Much respect and admiration,

    Tim

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