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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Mr. Pipes

Are you ever embarrassed by your reading selections?

I am not talking about the old bosum heaving in Fabio's arms kind of romance novel.

I am talking about one your children's books.

Not a secret pleasure in reading I'll Love You Forever....but one of your older kid's books.

An older, teenager kind of book, like the book, Moxie.  It is considered a young adult, fantasy novel....that I thoroughly enjoyed.  Sort of embarrassing, but not horrible.  (I am happy to report that A-girl is reading it right now  - she is much closer to its target audience that I am. She is liking it just as much as I did!   I feel a bit redeemed.)

I have also thoroughly enjoyed the Harry Potter books, but, regardless of their marketing, I stand firm in my conviction that they are not children's books.  I just let D-man read this in the last year....and only after he had read, This Present Darkness by Frank Peretti.

But, I just had the opportunity to review a book that wasn't really intended for me and I am sort of embarrassed by how much I liked it.  It was one of those ones where even if I had the chance to stop reading after a chapter, I would usually read just one more....just to see what happens.

It is published by Christian Liberty Press and it is called Mr. Pipes and the British Hymn Makers.

It is a fictional novel that uses a small town church organist (Mr. Pipes....get it?) to teach about how some of the most famous hymns came to be and who the people were that wrote them.

No offense to author, Douglas Bond, but, it doesn't really sound like it would be a great book, does it?

However, (and this is where the slightly embarrassing part comes in), it was really interesting and ended up being one of those books that I knew I was learning something, but it had me so relaxed and caught up in the characters that I didn't care.  You know how sometimes you are in the mood for mindless reading?  Well, this certainly wasn't mindless reading, but it left me with that same sense of relaxation as those types of books usually do.

It sort of reminded me of the Mitford series.  Nothing really scandalous happens.  Just every day people living their everyday, hum drum lives.

But, still fascinating and relaxing somehow.

It is intended for grades 7 through 10. 

Or, in my case, a mom in her 40's.

The author, Douglas Bond,  did a really good job of weaving the hymn makers lives into the story of an old church organist teaching some visiting children about the history of hymns that many of us have been singing for years. 

Each of the twelve chapters focuses on one hymn writer or a group of hymn writers (like the Scots).

Although it is a 298 page book....which may scare off some young didn't drag for me.

I am having L-girl, A-girl and D-man read this as part of music history/reading exercise.

The only down side for us, is that we don't have an e-reader and are having to read it from a PDF file on our computer screen.  Not ideal....but doable.

Actually, I probably should be doing this book as a read aloud and include my littler ones too. 


Anyway......the book has charming illustrations (by Ron Ferris) too.  To me, it feels like a book from a bygone that your grandma would have sitting on her shelves that you don't really want to read....but when there is nothing better to do at her give it a shot....and end up liking it.

This book also pointed out something to me.  More on this after I give you a little history.

I grew up attending a very traditional Methodist church.

Through the years, I have tried out other styles of worship and even various denominations.....but, I am a Methodist.

My kids have attended a lot of contemporary worship services with me.  Some in denominations other than Methodist...but mostly Methodist.  We currently attend a contemporary worship service at a Methodist church.  I am actually one of the singers in the praise band.

So, what did this book point out to me?

It meant that when I read the book, I knew instantly which hymn they were talking about as soon as I read the lyrics.  I could sing along in my head with the songs as their origins were revealed.

My kids didn't have that instant recognition....because they are used to singing mostly praise and worship songs....not hymns.

It made me sort of sad.  Not sad enough to start attending a traditional service every Sunday....but, maybe more often than we do now.

I have certain songs embedded in my head with events from my past....obviously, there are "funeral" songs in my head....but there are other happier memories from church events and Christmas programs that all have the background music of traditional hymns.

My kids will not have that same background music playing inside their heads.  I am not sure how I feel about that.  I think maybe they will be missing out on some beautiful music and lyrics. 

Anyway, embarrassing or not, I loved this book.  The kids are working through it, like I said as a combination music history/reading.....and their younger siblings may be hearing this book soon too.

Christian Liberty Press has a lot of other stuff available on their site, if you want to go take a look around.  Mr. Pipes and the British Hymn Makers is available as a PDF download for $8.79. or get the real thing in your hands for $9.89.  You know me, I would have preferred the "real" book in my hands.

Douglas Bond has written two other books in the Mr. Pipes series that I may have to check out.

Mr. Pipes and Psalms and Hymns of the Reformation

Mr. Pipes Comes to America

See what other members of the Review Crew thought of Mr. Pipes.

Disclaimer:  I received a free PDF copy of Mr. Pipes and the British Hymn Makers in exchange for an honest review.