Monday, October 31, 2011

Showdown with the Shepherd (Imagination Station #5)

Attacks by ferocious wild bears, a near miss with a legendary giant, secret messages, and outsmarting a bad guy who wants to change history. Kids will discover all this and more in Showdown with the Shepherd, book #5 in The Imagination Station series written by Marianne Hering and Brock Eastman.

In this installment, Mr. Whittaker sends young cousins Patrick and Beth back to Bible times to ensure bad guy Hugh (from book #4) doesn't succeed in altering history. Upon "landing," the kids are immediately attacked by a bear. Just when it seems they'll be the bear's lunch, however, a young shepherd with a sling shot scares the bear away. Beth and Patrick soon realize this is David - who will someday be King of Israel.

David is on his way to the army camp to give food to his brothers, so Patrick and Beth go along with him. But David isn't well received by his brothers - even before he says he will defeat the giant Philistine called Goliath if no one else is brave enough to do so.

Yet before David can do battle, Hugh appears, wanting to speak to King Saul. He is working with the Philistines. After threatening the Israelites, Hugh throws fire powder into the torches, creating smoke that makes it easy for him to grab Beth and take her to the Philistine camp. There, Beth sees Hugh has helped create a weapon unknown in biblical times: A catapult. Using her harmonica to play the "ABC" song, she sends this message to Patrick, still in the Israelite camp.

Late that night, Patrick steals into the Philistine camp to rescue Beth. When David shows up, too, they try to disarm the catapult - but they're not sure Patrick's plan to do so will work.

The following day, David faces Goliath, knocking him out with a stone from his sling, then killing him with his own sword. But the Philistines - led by Hugh, who imagines lording over the Philistines once the war is over - throw a fireball into the Israelite army. Patrick feels defeated; his plan didn't work. But when the Philistines try to throw a second fireball, the catapult won't shoot and soon burns beyond use.

Their mission completed, Beth and Patrick head back to where the Imagination Station can take them back to their own time. But Hugh is there, too. To top it off, the bear attacks again, and Patrick, Beth, and Hugh barely escape inside the machine. When Beth and Patrick look up - Hugh, who entered the machine with them - has disappeared.
What I Like: Here is an action packed page turner any kid is sure to love. I read it to my 6 year old daughter in one sitting because she kept saying, "You've got to read what happens next! Read more! Read more!" I also really appreciate how the authors depicted David. As they write: "Patrick admired David's faith in God. He wished he could be more like the shepherd."
What I Dislike: Nothing, really, although I am not a big fan of the black and white illustrations in this book. (There are about 11). Illustrator David Hohn's work here is a bit too stylized for me; I don't like how the people look like walking skeletons. However, this is a minor issue in an otherwise outstanding book.
Overall Rating: Excellent.
Age Appeal: According to the publisher, 7 and up, but kids as young as kindergarten will also enjoy having this book read to them.Link
Publishing Info: Tyndale House; 2011; ISBN: 978-1589976313; paperback, 120 pgs., $4.99.

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Special Info: Read our reviews of other books in The Imagination Station series.
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