Erich Maehler was a carpenter living in 16 th century Germany
whose hometown was welcoming the presence of Johan Tetzel, a seller
of indulgences in the Catholic Church. Maehler's family learns
the consequences of standing up for the truth and proclaiming the
Gospel of Christ even in the face of opposition. This was just
the beginning of a journey that would not only affect his son's
participation in things with schoolmates but also would shape the
family's religious beliefs and ultimately uproot them completely.
This fictional story is a fun way to teach children about history
and the way that the events of the Reformation affected towns,
families, and even children. It can be hard to tell where fact
ends and fiction begins. The story line is smooth, although it
has to cover many years in quickly in just 82 pages. Readers will
learn about Johan Tetzel and the Catholic Church's fight against
Martin Luther, who preached Christ alone and proclaimed indulgences
a heresy. Many of Luther's doctrinal statements are included, and
his theology is emphasized. The book does not come across as unbiased
about the schism. Rather, it overtly claims Luther's doctrines
as biblical truths.
Occasional footnotes are helpful, especially for younger children
who might not understand some of the terminology included. Illustrations
sprinkled throughout the book are simple and striking. The end
of the story comes somewhat abruptly, and the reader knows there
must be more to learn. Thus, the book could serve as a springboard
for anyone wanting to delve deeper into the history of the Reformation.
Ideal for anyone over the age of eight and economically priced, The
Carpenter of Zerbst would be a great addition to any curriculum
covering the Reformation in Germany.