WORLD’s 2018 Books of the Year
The Crescent and the Cross
None of Sinbad’s first seven voyages are as important as his eighth—for on his eighth, he finds Christ. This account follows Sinbad and his companion Selassie—master and slave, Muslim and Christian—on a daring adventure at sea. Although imprisoned in a city under the sea and nearly torn apart by apes, Selassie and Sinbad wriggle their way out of danger just in time—all while maintaining dialogue about their religious beliefs. The book’s overtly Christian message and discussion of the differences between Islam and Christianity will please parents of children ages 7 to 14 who aren’t put off by its didactic tone.
Jon-Lorond Saves the Day
Swashbuckling boy Jon-Lorond wants to fight off the vicious pirates he imagines all around him. His mom tells him to leave his sword at home and stop jumping on the furniture. That’s hard: “Pirates didn’t leave their swords at the door just because their moms said so.” He learns that loving his mom is more important than catching pirates and being a hero. Engaging, crayonlike illustrations accompany the text. The ending is a little abrupt, but the storyline is true to a day in the life of a typical kid—imagining playmates, making messes, and getting in a bit of trouble. (Ages 4-8)
The Body Tithe Devotional
For Pryor, fitness is not just a health issue, but a heart issue: Christians should be good stewards of physical health because our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19). He offers a 90-day workout plan that includes spiritual exercises, prayers, and daily devotionals to encourage readers in their fitness goals. His advice: Don’t expect perfection, but do accept challenge. Pryor shares about his own weight struggles as a child, but convincingly shows that fitness victory is not about a number on the scale. It’s about honoring God with our bodies.
A Plymouth Pilgrim
Donald W. White
White offers a modern paraphrase of William Bradford’s Of Plymouth Plantation, Bradford’s lengthy history of 26 years of Plymouth Colony. White stops after one year—and simplifies the language to make it friendlier for modern readers. He explains how he changed Bradford’s third-person narrative into first person to draw readers into the story. His entries illustrate tales of disease, starvation, encounters with Squanto and Samoset, and tension between the Mayflower crew and its passengers. While easy to digest, the simple language nearly causes readers to forget they are reading an account written centuries ago.
The reviewers are graduates of the 2016 World Journalism Institute
In Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War (W.W. Norton & Company, 2016), Mary Roach applies her fearless, brash reporting skills to questions facing military planners, equipment designers, scientists, and psychologists who want to know how to keep soldiers safe in perilous conditions. She travels to scientific labs and testing facilities where scientists constantly test and improve equipment in response to changes in the ways our enemies fight.
No subject is off-limits, including the diarrhea soldiers experience in East Africa and the research into repairing psychologically and physically debilitating genital wounds. Roach’s reporting method often puts her into the story—tasting, carrying, hunkering down with soldiers—to better understand her subject. Surprisingly, her focus on gritty details far from battle makes the horror of war more vivid. Not surprisingly, some soldiers use R-rated language. —Susan Olasky