Thursday, August 23, 2012

{Crew Review} Christian Liberty Press: Mr. Pipes and the British Hymn Makers


Christian Liberty is a long time supplier of quality Christian materials for both homeschoolers and Christian schools. As a result, they began publishing their own products over 25 years ago through their own Christian Liberty Press (CLP) company. 

I have been homeschooling now for ten years. Over those years, I have slowly picked up some of the CLP history readers. I found them great to use as read alouds and I enjoyed the style of writing. It was well done and conveyed accurate facts in an engaging manner that made it easy for adults and children alike to enjoy and learn together.


It was for that reason that I was glad to have a chance to review a book from them called Mr. Pipes and the British Hymn Makers. I was given a copy of their eBook to review. This comes as a pdf and can easily be placed on eReaders. I have it on my Kindle Fire. It sells for $8.79 in this version. A paperback version is also available for $9.89.

The author, Douglas Bond, has created a series of four books. The British Hymn Makers is the first in that series. Each book follows the adventures of two American teenagers named Annie and Drew who befriend a man named, Mr Pipes, while on vacation in England. Through their time together, Mr. Pipes shares the stories of the great hymn writers from various time frames. For instance, the book that we had the joy of reading covered the lives and hymns of such notable British hymn authors as Isaac Watts, Charles Wesley, and John Newton to just name a few. 

The remaining books cover different time periods and locations. Volume Two is called Mr. Pipes and Psalms and Hymns of Reformation. Volume Three has Mr. Pipes and his young friends traveling to America where they learn about more hymn writers and American history (Mr. Pipes Comes to America). The last volume entitled Accidental Voyage: Discovering Hymns of the Early Centuries has Mr. Pipes and Annie and Drew traveling back to Europe where they learn about hymns from the early church. All four volumes can be purchased for $38.99 in paperback

Before I share much more about this wonderful book, I have to stop for a minute and share this. Over the last two years my boys & I have been taking piano lessons from a godly young woman. Her mom is a wonderful homeschool mom who has a heart for teens and a talent for writing. Over the last few years they have performed something they call HymnStories.

The mom researches and writes out the program sharing the story behind why the author wrote the hymn, some history about that time period that may have inspired the writing, or something that can be learned from the hymn. The teenagers and young adults memorize the script and then perform the hymns. I've been blessed to attend two of their presentations, one just last week, and I have been truly blessed each time I go.

I felt the same way while reading this book. It's a wonderful resource that shares not only the stories behind the hymn writers and the hymns, but it also shares the history of what was going on in that time - the leaders, the culture. This is not just a simple story book. It's a history book about our faith and one that I feel every Christian should read. Mr. Bond has a talent for weaving the history in to a more modern adventure story seen through the eyes of Annie and Drew.

Interspersed throughout the book is the music to some of the actual hymns discussed. There are also lovely pencil drawings as well that illustrate the story.

One thing I learned from reading this book is where the "Doxology" comes from. I grew up in a church that ended every single service with singing....

Praise God from whom all blessings flow;
praise him, all creatures here below;
praise him above, ye heav'nly host:
praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

What I didn't know until reading this book is that the words are  written by Thomas Ken and it's the sixth stanza of a larger piece of music called the Tallis Canon. The actual music was written by Thomas Tallis. I have fond (and not so fond) memories of singing that each Sunday in church. 

The richness of the history and the depth of the knowledge shared makes for a very enlightening read. However, this is not a dry, boring book full of facts. Mr. Bond has taken the lives of Annie, Drew, and Mr. Pipes, along with the rest of the supporting characters, and created a fun adventure story as well. We all thoroughly enjoyed this book and I look forward to adding the rest to our collection.

Be sure to head over to the Schoolhouse Crew Review blog to see what other Crew members had to say about this book. 


Disclaimer: I was not paid for this review.  All opinions shared are my own. Schoolhouse Review Crew members  are given the product free of charge in exchange for our unbiased opinion of the product.     

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