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The Carpenter of Zerbst

By P. de Zeeuw, J. Gzn
Inheritance Publications

PO Box 366
Pella, IA 50219

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.

Product review by Melissa Cummings, The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, LLC, January 2011

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