Saturday, February 24, 2018

Annie Kate Aarnoutse Reviews Reformed Children’s Books from Inheritance Publications

Wednesday, December 1, 2010, 0:01
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[Editor’s Note: Annie Kate Aarnoutse publishes the blog Tea Time with Annie Kate, which recently featured reviews of several children’s books published by Inheritance Publications of Neerlandia, Alberta, Canada. Inheritance Publications features many English translations of books originally written in Dutch, and from a Dutch Reformed perspective.
If you desire to find books for the children in your life that reflect biblical precepts, are interesting and educational, and provide glimpses of Dutch culture normally unfamiliar to the anglophone world, please read these reviews of just a few of the titles offered by Inheritance Publications.]


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Rob and Roland Readers

How often haven’t I opened an easy reader at the library and returned it to the shelf in disgust! Many of them are silly, and some are also ugly. That’s why I’m so pleased with these two little books about the adventures of Rob, a grade two boy living in the Netherlands.

Rob and Roland on the Farm

Rob and his dog Roland spend a few days on Uncle Dirk’s farm with cousin Nanna. After Roland frightens the cows during milking, Rob worries that Uncle Dirk won’t like his dog. Children will love to read how Roland turns out to be a hero after all.

These sweet little hardcover books, written at a grade two level, will be sure to captivate the early readers in your family. Author Piet Prins understands children very well, and his stories have just the right blend of tension, humor, and exploration. They also are undeniably Christian in a refreshing, matter-of-fact way.

The Rob and Roland stories are the first two Piet Prins titles in the proposed Inheritance Reader Series. Paulina M. Janssen, a homeschooled teen, has done a remarkable job translating from easy-reader Dutch to easy-reader English while keeping the charming flavor of old-fashioned Dutch life.

To see if these books would appeal your children, check out the table of contents and the first chapter of each book at the Inheritance Publications website. You can also buy the books there for US$6.90 each.

Disclosure: I received Rob and Roland from Inheritance Publications in order to review it. We already owned Rob and Roland on the Farm. My reviews represent my honest opinions and I am not compensated in any way.

Rob and Roland by Piet Prins

Inheritance Readers Series #1

Subject: Fiction Age: 7-8

ISBN 978-1-894666-32-9 US$6.90


Rob and Roland on the Farm

by Piet Prins

Inheritance Readers Series #2

Subject: Fiction Age: 7-8

ISBN 978-1-894666-33-6 US$6.90


Bobby’s Friends! by Phia van den Berg

Aug 17th, 2010 by Annie Kate.

Bobby and his siblings were full of excitement when they finally flew from their home country, the Netherlands, to Pakistan. Although they were used to adapting to different cultures because of their father’s flood control work, settling into Pakistan in the 1950’s proved to be a challenge. Ten year old Bobby really struggled to understand the boys he met: wealthy Sadiq, subservient Jahja, mud-slinging Mahmoud, and others. Dignified Hafiz, who ran the house, also had secrets. Just as Bobby was adjusting to life in his new town, he was caught up in a dangerous mystery and his friendships took on life and death significance. I’ve devoured Bobby’s Friends! by Phia van den Berg twice in the last month. Now I’m reading it aloud to the children. The little ones laughed when Bobby confronted spoiled Sadiq during a tantrum, frowned when boys threw mud and manure at Bobby’s mother, and sighed longingly about the camel ride. Even my older children are enjoying the story, although it is clearly not written for teens. Besides being a well-written children’s book with some thoroughly lovable characters, Bobby’s Friends! is also an insightful look at how culture shapes behavior. Children enjoy it for the excitement and the humor, but any parent who reads it out loud will be moved by natural way that Bobby’s parents relate cultural issues to God’s Word. I understand why Bobby’s Friends! is the publisher’s favorite juvenile story. Although the original Dutch version of this book was written in the 1950’s, the appeal of the story is still strong, and the message of the book still valid. As Mother said to Bobby in a serious moment, “Besides our normal work, there is also the task we have as Christians toward everyone God puts on our path. And that task becomes doubly heavy when we stand before someone who does not know the Lord Jesus. We are His messengers, and if we pass on His message in a wrong manner, it would be better if we had stayed home, right?” I highly recommend Bobby’s Friends! both as an exciting story as well as a vivid illustration of Christian living in a different time and place. It has exactly the right combination of humor, excitement, and reflection for reading out loud to a wide range of ages. On the other hand, most nine year olds could easily read it on their own. Bobby’s Friends!, recommended for ages 9 and up, is available in paperback from Inheritance Publications for US$9.95.

(When you order this book, also be sure to request the free catalogue, available near the bottom of the home page. It contains a complete translation of a best-selling Dutch youth adventure that I read many times as a youngster and that my children now also enjoy. )

Bobby’s Friends! by Phia van den Berg

The publisher’s most favourite juvenile story

Subject: Fiction Age: 9-99

ISBN 9780921100515 US$9.95


The Scout Adventure Series by Piet Prins

Sep 30th, 2010 by Annie Kate.

After very busy days, I’ve been slipping into the Dutch countryside of dunes, mills, castles, canals, and swamps with teenaged Tom, his amazing dog Scout, and his two friends Carl and Bert. In Piet Prins’s seven-book Scout series, Tom and his friends help free their village from the Nazis, save lives, track down smugglers, burglars, and poachers, and get themselves into many other dangerous adventures. The friends are authentic Christians as well as adventuresome boys. They try to obey their parents, struggle with their consciences when tempted to do wrong, depend on God, and treat the everyday details of Christian living matter-of-factly. I love being able to hand my children thrilling books with good morals, language, and worldview. Piet Prins, Christian, concentration camp survivor, teacher, politician, and best-selling Dutch author, wrote these fast-paced novels many years ago, but they are still beloved today. English translations are available from Inheritance Publications.

Scout: The Secret of the Swamp

Only a year after the end of World War Two, Tom, his friends, and his sisters are invited to vacation at a Dutch farm near the German border. Scout, Tom’s well-trained dog, accompanies them on their rambles through the woods and to the mysterious castle ruins nearby. In fact, due to Scout’s keen nose, the teenagers are able to help the police in their search for robbers and a large smuggling ring. When Tom takes things into his own hands he finds both excitement and terrible danger. This exciting story is full of elements of everyday Christian life. Bible reading, prayer, trust, repentance, obedience, and church attendance are not discussed but rather mentioned in passing as parts of everyday life. The castle’s ancient mystery brings reformation times to life, but even this is quickly pushed aside by present excitement. This matter-of-fact approach to Christianity is refreshing different from mainstream evangelical youth literature where faith is either the main focus or an obvious addition to a rather secular story.

Scout: The Flying Phantom

After completing their school year, Tom and his friends, with Scout of course, set off for a sailing trip through the Dutch canals and lakes. When the three boys meet some characters who live in a horse-drawn caravan, their troubles begin: they are thrown in jail for a crime they didn’t commit. From one dangerous adventure to another, the boys race through the lakes to clear their names and find the true criminals. I loved sailing along with the boys, enjoying their cooking and the people they meet. When it got to the adventures, however, I was very glad this is fiction! Again Piet Prins portrays Biblical values and lifestyle in an exciting story without being either preachy or unrealistic.

Scout: The Treasure of Rodensteyn Castle

This time Tom, Scout, and their two friends are spending a holiday at Uncle Kees’s farm in the Dutch countryside. They help with the haying, discover an abandoned mill, take care of Aunt Lena’s menagerie, and befriend Dick, a young boy whom Scout saved from drowning. They also meet a nasty man with an even nastier dog. Unexpectedly the nasty man not only knows Dick, but also about the treasure his family lost during the war. Inevitably, Tom and his friends are drawn into danger while trying to find the treasure before Mr. Nasty does. I found this novel very exciting, and am glad my children do not get into the situations that Tom, Carl, and Bert get into. The three friends are so eager to do good that they recklessly get themselves into trouble again and again.

Scout’s Distant Journey

Tom and his friends unexpectedly bump into Tom’s long lost Uncle Bob and soon realize that they have found a fascinating relative. Uncle Bob has lived an adventurous life and, to the boys’ frustration, thinks modern youth are pampered. When the boys are invited to visit the castle Uncle Bob and Aunt Alice are renovating, they try to prove their toughness by walking the enormous distance rather than taking the train. Unfortunately, one disaster after another overtakes them. Most unnerving of all, Scout no longer reliably warns them of danger. This well-written story clearly conveys the frustration the boys feel when they seem helpless against injustice and evil. It also portrays the exhilaration they experience when they make their own way and the joy of meeting fellow Christians on their travels.

Our Opinions

Even after completing all of these books in a month’s time, I’m still not tired of the adventuresome friends and their amazing dog, Scout. My children and I love these books and we recommend them highly. The Scout Series would make a great Christmas gift for anyone age nine or older. Note that the first book, The Secret of the Swamp, contains the Inheritance Publications Catalogue and is free with any order.


I received The Sailing Sleuths and the Mystery of the Abandoned Mill from Inheritance Publications for the purpose of this review. Four of the other books are from our personal library and one is from our church library.


Annie Kate’s daughter wrote the following:

My Mom has just had a wonderful opportunity: to review books for Inheritance Publications and I thought I would post my reviews about them here. I just want to tell you a bit about Inheritance Publications. It is my absolutely favourite publisher. It was started quite a few years ago by Roelof A. Janssen to sell church music and records. Now he and his wife Theresa, who homeschool, publish historical fiction/church history books, books on doctrine and theology and music DVDs, CD, and sheet music. I haven’t really read any of the theology or music books but I have read a lot of the historical fiction/church history books and they are really, really good. The one I’m going to tell you about right now is: The Heroes of Castle Bretten by Margaret S. Comrie is an amazing book. Set in the Late Middle Ages, its main character, Guido, son of a Protestant nobleman, is almost fifteen at the beginning of the story. His life quickly changes when he is taken as a hostage for the good behavior of Kalmit of Komorn to the nearby Castle Bretten. But Castle Bretten is a maze of deceit and conspiracy. Eleonore, the widowed, aging chatelaine is professed by her smooth-tounged nephew and heir, General Ruprecht, to be almost gone mad in her old age. Guido finds the real Lady Eleonore very different. After she befriends Guido he resolves help her. But, thanks to Ruprecht, all her old friends are enemies and she is friendless, save for the Black Eagles of Bretten, her faithful soldiers, and Guido. But Guido, thought to be the son of Kalmit of Komorn, is not what he seems. And he is not the only one……… I heartily recommend this book. It is explicitly Christian. There was NOTHING I didn’t like about it, except that it it isn’t very clear about the country its in and the timeframe and it’s not long enough. I liked it so much that after I read it once I started at the start and read it over again. My Mom liked it a lot too. I’d think it would be for people no younger than 11 or 12, but still very interesting for older people.

My mom and I got The Heroes of Castle Bretten for free from Inheritance Publications to review it but I would have bought it anyways. It is CERTAINLY worth getting. To buy it click:

and scroll down a little. It costs $12.90 US. (This review has been published online on a blog.)

The Heroes of Castle Bretten

by Margaret S. Comrie

Time: 1618-1648 Age: 11-99

ISBN 1-894666-65-8 US$12.90


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