- The Secret of the Hidden Scrolls: The Beginning (Book #1)
- The Secret of the Hidden Scrolls: Race to the Ark (Book #2)
The Secret of the Hidden Scrolls series is written by M. J. Thomas. It is a chapter book series aimed at children ages 6-9. The books were created to imaginatively bring Bible stories to life. There are sample chapters of Book One available online. However, I felt like the sample chapters are not indicative of the story and almost felt as though they were written by a different person than the remainder of the book.
If you are going to allow your children to read these stories, please be certain that they are very familiar with the entire account directly from the Bible prior to reading. These fictionalized accounts add many plausible details that could be misleading to a child that does not know the true story. While I would wish these were at the beginning of the book, there are suggestions of where to read in the Bible found at the end.
Meet Peter, Mary, and their dog, Hank. They are stuck with Great-Uncle Solomon for a month while their parents are in Africa. They think it is going to be the worst month of their lives. Until they start seeing all that Great-Uncle Solomon has collected and discovered in his time as an archaeologist. Suddenly, things become much more interesting. Especially when Great-Uncle Solomon tells them about his surprising discovery – scrolls, ancient scrolls. But he doesn’t know what is in them because he can’t break the seal.
As you have probably guessed, Peter, Mary, and Hank get to interact with the scrolls. In fact, the scrolls are able to magically transport them back in time to Biblical history. When they hear the lion roaring, they run to the library and find the scrolls. Hank knocks them over and when Peter picks one of them up, he finds the seal broken. Suddenly, the world rattles and shakes.
Book One: The Beginning – Peter, Mary, and Hank find themselves floating in nothingness and darkness. Suddenly, a voice speaks “let there be light” and light appears. This is the first interaction they have with the creation of the world. They find out that they have 7 days to solve the mystery of the words on the scroll. Each day, they are a part of the creation that God is doing. They interact with Satan; in fact, Satan attacks them physically because he doesn’t want them to interfere with his plans. Off and on, Michael (an angel of God) appears to offer help to Peter and Mary, often getting them out of a situation they couldn’t get themselves out of. At the end of the book, Peter and Mary are able to stumble across the words required to complete the secret of the scroll and are returned home. Once there, they share their adventure with Great-Uncle Solomon who is stunned that they are the ones chosen to solve the mystery of the scrolls.
Book Two: Race to the Ark – Peter and Mary are tired of the rain and keep waiting for the lion to roar again so they can go on another adventure. This time around, they are a bit more prepared and are able to take a bag with them when the lion roars and they break the seal on the scroll. They find themselves transported again and this time they wander into a civilization. They struggle against a couple of rough boys with a wolf/dog. In escaping from them, they meet Shem and go to the ark. Meeting Noah, they learn about his faith in God and they are able to help with the final preparations of the ark before the flood. When a latch fails, they also help get the replacement part, having to escape the Dark Lord/Satan. When the flood comes, they have one last word to solve for the scroll. With moments to spare, they find the right word and are sent back to Great-Uncle Solomon’s. The rainbow in the sky reminds them of their escape.
While these books are truly an imaginative look at Biblical history, the distortions of the historical aspects of it are significant. The basics of the creation account are even altered, adding God speaking in places He does not in the Bible. For example, God does not speak the words “It is good.” in Genesis. Yet each of the days of creation have God speaking those words. It may be seen by some as a minor thing but even that can become something confusing to a youngster learning the truths of the Bible.
And that brings me to the significant concerns that I have. Book One placed people in the beginning with God. That immediately changes all of history. You cannot place people in the beginning with God and have the Bible remain what it is. Michael comes to their rescue in a boat during the separation of the waters on day 2 of creation. A boat? That is something that as an adult I can look at and know is an imaginative addition but a child may not know the difference. When you get right down to it, these are the types of things that make people doubt the Bible’s historical accuracy.
Due to these and many other concerns, we did not let any of our children read these books. The reason is simple. Children are easily led in their thinking. When you add plausible ideas and people to a historical account, you change the account. When that history is the Bible it becomes relevant to salvation. It changed the creation account and that changes the Bible. We have to protect our children’s understanding of God and we felt these strayed too far from the truth.
These are imaginative books and have story lines that are very popular right now – solve a mystery while encountering people and things that will try to stop you. These will be appealing to many for that reason. I will caution you again, though: please have your children be VERY familiar with the truth of the Bible accounts before you allow them to read these fictionalized versions.
Please visit the Homeschool Review Crew to read what other families thought about these books.