When I was growing up and attending public school, history was not my favorite subject. While I loved learning about events in history, I had a hard time grasping facts and remembering events just from reading black and white textbooks. One thing I love about homeschooling history is the opportunity to mix traditional textbook learning with books that bring history to life. Over the last several weeks we’ve been reading Shepherd, Potter, Spy–and the Star Namer from Peggy Consolver – Author.
About The Book
Shepherd, Potter, Spy–and the Star Namer is a historical fiction, soft-cover book of 375 meaty pages. My middle school boy was assigned the book, but with his reading comprehension issues, he wasn’t able to finish it on his own. About two weeks in, I had to take over and quickly catch myself up. I was a little overwhelmed at first with the all of the different characters encompassing both Canaanite and Hebrew names, but thankfully there is a cheat sheet in the beginning of the book that I referred to often.
The story follows a young Canaanite boy of 13 years old, Keshub, who resides with his family in Gibeon. As the fifth oldest son of Ishtaba, a potter, Keshub dreams of praise from four older brothers and longs for his father’s approval and affection. As a young shepherd boy, Keshub daily defends his family’s sheep from predators but longs for adventure at every turn. As caravanners stop at his family’s way-station, Keshub is filled with an intense desire to experience life beyond his own family home in the midst of Canaan. The biblical story of Joshua unfolds as the Hebrews threaten to invade his homeland. One quest for adventure will have Keshub befriending the son of the evil Amorite king. Another has him acting as a spy, keeping watch over every movement of the Hebrews as they roam the Jordan Valley. As young Keshub moves from Potter’s son to Shepherd, to spy, there is one hope that his father has instilled in him, and that is of the Star Namer, the Creator God. The Biblical account of the Hebrews’ last 40 years in the wilderness as told in Numbers, Chapter 20 through the book of Joshua is told through the eyes of this young, adventurous boy.
How We Used This Book
Initially I assigned this book to my son as daily reading, but about a week or so in, I realized that the book was not an easy read for him as he struggles with comprehension and it was apparent that he was becoming frustrated that he couldn’t easily makes sense of it all. I then took it upon myself to read the book on my own. This book should be read with a clear mind, at a slow pace, so as to grab a hold of all of the different facets of history woven throughout the story. There is so much more of this book that my mind still has yet to absorb. I’ve found myself reading and re-reading, and I have yet to come to the end of the story. I know this book is historical fiction, but what I wasn’t prepared for was that my mind has a hard time absorbing history with all of the facts, people and places. Let’s just say it’s been a good, but slow read.
Overall, I am enjoying this book. I wish I knew how meaty it was, but then again I’ve never ventured into historical fiction before, let alone biblically-based historical fiction. I believe this book to be more suited for a high school aged student, or perhaps a younger student who has a natural appetite for history.
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