If you're looking for stories of real people to inspire your children to serve God, school teacher Sharon Yoder's Annie Funk: Lived to Serve; Dared to Sacrifice is a good choice.
Yoder uses straight-forward storytelling to help us learn about the first female Mennonite missionary to India, Annie Funk. She begins with Annie's birth in 1874, and sequentially moves on to Annie's aspirations as a child in school, when she dreams of being a missionary in Africa or China. Annie then goes to school to become a teacher, and once she earns her teaching certificate, she attends a Bible training school. Although she yearns to be a missionary, she feels people in American slums need her help, so she moves to Tennessee, then New Jersey.
By the time Annie is thirty, she's been praying a long time to be sent abroad as a missionary. Finally, she approaches a mission board, who agree to let her go to India...if she goes with another missionary woman. At the last minute, the other missionary woman becomes ill and cannot make the trip, so Annie decides to go on her own. When her family expresses fear for her long voyage, Annie says: "Our Heavenly Father is as near to us on sea as on land. My trust is in Him. I have no fear."
Annie serves well in India, and when she learns females are poorly valued in the country, she sets up a school just for girls.
Five years after arriving in India, Annie receives a telegram saying her mother is very ill. Annie must go home, at least for a time. She sails to Liverpool, where she is supposed to board a ship called the Haverford, but a ship company is on strike, and the ship isn't sailing. The ticket seller offers her a ticker on the Titanic, instead.
When the doomed Titanic begins to sink, Annie is offered a seat on a lifeboat. She climbs aboard, but a moment later, some children in the boat begin crying for their mother, who has been left on deck. Annie climbs from the lifeboat and helps the childrens' mother aboard.
There are no more lifeboats.
"[Annie's] hands and knees trembled. Then Annie remembered that she was not alone. She knew that her Heavenly Father was with her on the sinking Titanic. He had promised never to leave her or forsake her. She was comforted and closed her eyes to pray. The Titanic with its bright lights began tilting into the water. Suddenly a very loud crack startled Annie...Then the ship broke into two...Then the ship slid out of sight. It disappeared in the dark, cold water. Morning dawned. The Titanic could not be seen anywhere. However, all was well for Annie. Her Heavenly Father had been near to her on land. He also had been near to her on sea. Annie was home with Him."
What I Like: Annie is nothing if not an inspiring character. She strove to be well educated, served the poor, and fought against the tide to educate the girls of India. Her story peaks with her Christ-like behavior on the Titanic.
What I Dislike: Overall, I think this is a worthwhile book. Still, Yoder's writing isn't quite as strong as I'd like, and the illustrations by Jolynn Schmucker, while pleasant, sometimes seem awkward and amateurish.
Overall Rating: Because the Annie's true story is so compelling, I give this book a "Very Good" rating.
Age Appeal: According to the publisher, 4 - 8, but I'd say it's most appropriate and interesting to children 6 to 9.
Publisher Info: Faith Builders Resource Group, 2008; ISBN: 0981656919; paperback, $5.99.