Friday, June 26, 2009

Mission Trip Impossible

Challenge your kids' idea of a mission trip by reading Mike Thaler's Mission Trip Impossible, another in the Thaler and Lee fun "Tales From the Back Pew" series.

This puny book is narrated by a young boy whose church is sending him on a mission trip. He's pretty nervous because he knows all about mission trips. "They search the world for the worst places they can find...the more dangerous the better." There are wild animals to eat you, poisonous plants and snakes to kill you, there's no tv, no roof, and no hot water. Sometimes when you bring the needy food,
"you wind up on the menu. Those folks are called cannibals because they can-nibble on you. They love to have missionaries over for dinner. It's called a potluck. You're in the pot, and you're out of luck."
Our narrator recalls what the apostle Paul went through on his mission trips: He was stoned, jailed, shipwrecked and bitten by a snake. Wouldn't it be easier to just send folks an email? Can't you go to Disneyland to tell people about Jesus?

Despite his concerns, our narrator willingly goes on the mission trip. He tells us Jesus has really changed his life, and he wants Jesus to change other people's lives, too. So early one morning he gets on the church bus...but they only drive for twenty minutes. They don't end up in the jungle or dessert; they go to a place with regular houses and a "Pizza Mut." They get together with some other kids and sing songs, do a puppet show, and hand out toys. Following Mark 16:15 ("Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation.") is really cool.

What I Like: Mike Thaler and Jared Lee are a genius team. This book, like the others in the series, is fun and creative. Thaler gives us lots to giggle at, while still driving home an important message. Lee's sketchy drawings, full of bubbles allowing characters to speak outside the main text of the book, are wacky, too. I especially appreciate that Thaler has the narrator admit he's afraid of traveling all over the world to tell people about Jesus, but that he'll do it anyway. Too, the idea that we should include mission trips close to home is a welcome one.

What I Dislike: Nothing.

Overall Rating: Excellent.

Age Appeal: 4 to 8.

Publisher Info: Zonderkidz, 2009; ISBN: 0310715903; paperback, $4.99

Buy it Now at for $3.99

Or at for $4.99

OR buy all four books in this "Tales From the Back Pew" series for $14.99.

Special Info: Read our other reviews of books by Thaler and Lee. Visit Mike Thaler's website for Q&A's and author visit information; visit Jared Lee's website for samples of his illustrations and free activities and teaching ideas.

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