Saturday, August 27, 2011

The Peril of the Sinister Scientist

As Christians, in any given circumstance we often ask ourselves, what would Jesus do? The question serves as a reminder to us to make good choices. In The Peril of the Sinister Scientist, author Janet Collins explores a new twist on this idea: What would you do if you actually were a clone of Jesus made from blood taken from the Shroud of Turin?

The story starts with Joshua’s mother spotting someone from her past—a scientist she obviously fears might want to kidnap her son. However, anxious to get to work on time, she doesn’t explain the situation to Joshua. Instead, she leaves Joshua with the impression that Joshua is Jesus’ clone. As he wrestles with this idea, Joshua decides he must act like Jesus and wonders when he will be able to perform miracles. It soon becomes clear that Joshua does not have a church background. (Indeed, as it ends up, he knows very little about Christ.) His misconceptions about how Jesus might behave end up landing him in trouble at school.

Meanwhile, Joshua feels certain the scientist is stalking him. He avoids him by running and hiding in various places. On one occasion, he uses the library as a refuge. While there, the librarian directs him to some books about the Shroud of Turin. Through his research, Joshua discovers that the Turin was the burial cloth that was supposedly wrapped around Jesus after he was crucified. The image of a face and blood remained in the cloth.

Later, Joshua gets help from the school crossing guard, a man named Sam. Sam also happens to be the youth pastor at a local church. Joshua confides his troubles to Sam, who gives him a Bible and prays for him.

As the story progresses, Joshua’s mother fails to explain what’s going on, and Joshua continues to both go to school and dodge the scientist. Later, he learns he cannot be a clone. Joshua decides he must be a king instead, and that’s why the scientist is after him. He also notices that his mother and others don’t seem to fear the scientist. Joshua concludes that the man has somehow managed to get them under his control. Will Joshua be able to save everyone he loves from the sinister scientist?

I don’t want to spoil the end of the story, so to find out what happens, you will need to read it yourself.

The book ends with seven detailed questions to think about and discuss. For example, the first question says, “Joshua wondered how Jesus would act in school. Did Jesus go to school? If so, how was his school different from yours? How would Jesus really act if he were a kid in your class? Do you think you would like him? How might he seem different from the other kids? How are you different from other people?”

What I Like: Janet Collins brought subtle humor to the story through Joshua, and kids always enjoy humor. The story also featured a child in a wheelchair and showed ethnic diversity in the other characters. As a teacher and parent, I appreciated the discussion questions at the end of the book. I also think the large print and quick pacing of the story makes it well-suited for the “reluctant reader” audience.

What I Dislike: While it did not affect the story, there were several punctuation errors in the book. Also, the librarian should have directed Joshua to find information about the Shroud of Turin in the 200 section instead of the 100 section of the library. Finally, I thought some of the conversations sounded stilted. But overall it was a good read, and, as I mentioned, the storyline was not affected by these very minor details.

Age Appeal: 7-12

Publisher Info: Guardian Angel Publishing, 2009; ISBN:978-1935137795; Large Print Paperback (also available in KINDLE), 98 PGS., $7.95

This book is not available at
Buy it at for $7.95.

Special Info: Visit this author’s website. Note to parents: Both the Shroud of Turin and cloning can be controversial subjects. You may want to research them prior to reading the book. Also, this is a single parent situation.

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1 comment:

Janet Ann Collins said...

Thank you for the review, Lori.