I have officially dubbed this month “Crazy July.” The craziness is resulting in a pushing of the limits on just about every deadline on my calendar, including this review of Marie Durand by Simonetta Carr. But, I must say that this is definitely a book worth making time for!
My family has grown to greatly love Simonetta Carr’s Christian Biographies for Young Readers series, published by Reformation Heritage Books. The beautiful picture-book style format makes them great for use with young children, but the depth of content engages older students – and even adults - as well. Although none of these books will offer the extensive details of a full-length biography, they are perfect for challenging glimpses into the lives of Christian heroes. And those glimpses will, in many cases, drive readers to further study.
Marie Durand introduced me to a name I’d never heard before. Born in France to a Protestant family in an age when Protestants were not tolerated, young Marie’s life was anything but easy. Marie’s mother was arrested for allowing her property to be used for a Protestant worship service. That same night, Marie’s brother Pierre had to flee for his life for actively recruiting worship attendees. Marie was only seven years old.
Ten years later, Marie’s father was arrested in an effort to force Pierre, now a pastor, to come out of hiding or stop preaching. Only two years after that, nineteen year old Marie and her new husband were both arrested simply for being related to Pierre. She would spend the next thirty-eight years in prison.
Marie Durand chronicles the conditions Marie and other Protestant French women endured during their imprisonment. Over the years, Marie wrote many letters in an effort to attract the sympathy of officials and the public and secure the prisoners’ release. She also bolstered the confidence and spirits of her fellow prisoners and their children.
Aimed at a target audience in the seven to twelve age range, Marie Durand deals with tough topics, yet keeps the content appropriate for the age at hand. I love this, because it stretches the minds of young children, presenting age-appropriate content while not talking down to children. The book is also divided into manageable chapters and includes interesting additional time-period information, making it easy to turn this book into a short daily reading or even a unit study.
Bottom Line: This most recent addition to the Christian Biographies for Young Readers definitely lives up to the quality established from the beginning of the series. I heartily recommend it for readers of all ages.