Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Imagine...The Great Flood (Homeschool Review Crew)

Jude is making up for his later start in reading by devouring nearly any book he can find. When I researched the story of Imagine...The Great Flood from Barbour Publishing, I found a book that fit right into his preferred genre: kids who time-traveled into history. Jude was very happy for the package man to arrive with something new to read.

 Imagine...The Great Flood is the first of a series by Matt Kochich. The series brings stories of the Bible to life for children in the 8 to 12 years range, traveling back and imagining what life would have been like during the event. (The next book, Imagine...The Ten Plagues is slated for a March 2018 release.)

The story begins with the Max family preparing to move from Texas to Florida, and ten-year-old Corey is most definitely not excited about the move. To say he's "disappointed to have to leave everything familiar behind" is like saying the Great Flood was "a little bit of rain." His mom tries to reassure him that sometimes living requires blind trust, like their faith in God. As they're talking, thunder rumbles and Corey's dog, Molly, disappears into the woods. When Corey goes after her, he falls and is knocked unconscious.  His subconscious transports us to ancient Mesopotamia; the talk with his mother and the fledgling storm have reminded him of the Great Flood.  Corey "arrives" just in time to help load animals onto the ark. The story isn't, however, about the flood itself, but rather coming to trust in a plan you may not agree with, or even understand.

Jude seemed to enjoy the book. At only 110 pages, it was a fairly quick read over the course of a couple of days. Chapters averaged about six pages each, making it an easy book to pick up and put back down again. As I said, time-travel is one of his favorite book genres, but he was clear this was not truly a "time travel" book; he pointed out, "It was just a dream sequence." Ok, then, kid. I agree - it was a "dream sequence." I'd liken it to Dorothy's unconscious dreaming in The Wizard of Oz. Corey imagines he is helping Shem, then being lured by the "power" of a wizard, and then finding himself realizing that maybe his parent's were right and he should have just believed it would all work out.

However, Jude also got confused at the time jump back to present day. When Corey fell, he was still living in Texas. He appears to begin regaining consciousness (hearing a voice that he thought sounded almost like his mother) at the end of Chapter 14, and Jude figured they were still in Texas. However, while Chapter 15 jumps to back to the present day, the setting is Clearwater, Florida. It is three months later, and Corey has adjusted to the change and made a new friend, named Noah. I agree that there was a disconnect there. It could have used a transition chapter, of him waking up and realizing that everything was going to work out and setting off to Florida, followed by the final chapter where it all was OK. Imagine a literary plot diagram.  The book follows it fairly well, but jumps from the climax to the resolution, with no falling action.

I felt that the "God is in control" message was not really conveyed well.  As an adult, I understand the idea of sometimes you just have to do things, make the best of it, and know God will sort it out all in the end. As a parent, that's sometimes a difficult thing to explain.  We have had many situations where we've had to say, "The only answer is that it's time to 'Let go and let God,' and trust in His plan."  In the story, Mom says to Corey, "I think it's time you try to understand where your father is coming from," but never says where he actually is coming from. The book says that his father "dropped the bomb" announcement of the move, and Corey doesn't "understand why Dad can't find another job here," (p. 8), but it doesn't really explain why they were moving. Saying, "It's a new path for our life," or "A new career," or something that a 10-year-old can relate to would help identify with Corey's uncertainty.  Her "But we're going to live at the beach and go to Disney World!" comes across as more of a Pollyanna-esque bribe to make it all OK, as if the parents are in control and kiddo is along for the ride.   Telling a 10-year-old, "You're moving across the country," and then giving (the reader) no explanation why makes it hard to decide if Corey's being overdramatic or not. As Jude said, he didn't know whether to feel bad for Corey, or just say "Look, dude, move on and deal."  It became less about Corey giving himself over to what was beyond human understanding, and more about trying to find a logical reason for something very human.

 The title is Imagine...The Great Flood, and this is definitely an imagining of the time. Though there are some parts based on the biblical story, It's not a "retelling" of the Great Flood, but rather an imagining of what might have happened while the Ark was being loaded up and how the people God was not saving may have acted. The author does use some great descriptive imagery to help the reader feel as if he is just on the sidelines observing what is going on, rather than it being "recounted" by a 3rd person narrator.  However, with all of the added details, I'd call this more of a "character-building" book that happens during the time of the Flood, not a theologic retelling of the story.

 Overall, I think it's an "OK" book. Koecich's strong descriptions help to set the scenes, but the story is skimpy on plot structure in enough places that I felt like it was hard to understand the characters well.

Read about what other Crew members thought of Imagine...The Great Flood by clicking the banner below:

Imagine. . .The Great Flood by Matt Koceich {Barbour Publishing}

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