A Book Review from Books At a Glance
by Kristin Stiles
When it comes to writing biographies of influential Christians for young readers, in my opinion, you cannot top Simonetta Carr. She does a masterful job of presenting the lives and the circumstances of these men and women of the faith. Many writers of this genre start their books with what they identify as the big defining moment of that person’s life, and then they leave it as a cliffhanger and you have to wait several chapters feeling bored by the minutia of his/her life until you get back to the “action.”
Carr starts at the beginning. She weaves in how so many experiences shaped who this person would be and how God would use him/her. This technique demonstrates God’s sovereignty and providence in the mundane things of life – the kinds of experiences that children have.
This is exactly how Simonetta Carr presents Charles Haddon Spurgeon. She begins with his early childhood and the effects of being sent to live with his grandparents for several years. The impact of living with a grandfather who was a minister and allowed him to explore his library would be felt his entire life. There are stories of people he met along the way and how each of them was used by God to direct him to become one of the greatest preachers.
Carr doesn’t hide or downplay the struggles that Spurgeon had to deal with, both financially and emotionally. The Spurgeons had many difficult years dealing with supporting a family on very meager funds, and Charles also suffered terribly with depression that was almost crippling at times. Over and over again, though, God provided for them and used Charles Spurgeon to spread the gospel throughout London and well beyond.
Beyond just the words that Carr penned, there are other facets to this book that make it a very valuable resource as a biography. The book is filled with photos, reproduced artwork, and illustrations which not only bring the story to life; they add a true sense of the reality that this person existed in time and space. Seeing a photo of the tabernacle still standing today that Spurgeon preached in or a reproduced portrait of his wife and sons helps to drive home the message that this is a historical figure who really lived. Sometimes these figures take on a mythological quality and these types of images help to dispel that.
Also included in this book is a timeline, a “Did You Know?’ section, and “Words from Spurgeon.” I like these additions that provide an option for going a little deeper. The “Did You Know?” sections of Carr’s books always include interesting historical facts and other snippets from the person’s life that didn’t fit neatly into the narrative.
I always highly recommend any books from this Christian Biographies for Young Readers series, and this one on Charles Haddon Spurgeon is no exception. This book is an excellent introduction to the Prince of Preachers and provides a look into how God used the experiences and interactions he had to fashion him into the man he would become.
Kristin Stiles is a home-school mom, a Sunday School teacher, and helps lead the “Young, Reading, & Reformed” children’s ministry at Reformed Baptist Church of Franconia, PA.
Buy the books
CHARLES HADDON SPURGEON, by Simonetta Carr