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Concord Cunningham: The Scripture Sleuth Review by Heidi Shaw and Dena WoodA Mystery Series by Mat Halverson
By Mat Halverson
Focus Publishing, Inc.
502 Third Street NW
Bemidji, MN 5601
Meet Concord Cunningham, an average pre-teen boy with a thirst for mysteries and an amazing appetite for Scripture! These fun books are written in an engaging narrative style and really catch the readers' attention. Concord lives with his parents in a mid-size northwest town called Pine Tops. He loves solving mysteries and he loves reading his Bible. With this somewhat incongruous combination, the reader is hooked.
Designed and laid out in a style similar to the Encyclopedia Brown stories we all grew up with, Mat Halverson has a great idea here. The three volumes each contain 12 short stories. The reader travels along with Concord, and sometimes his reporter father, as they encounter everything from a stolen vase to disappearing raspberry bushes. Concord knows his Bible, loves using a concordance, and all the stories can be solved by reading specific verses to which the reader is introduced. Solving the mystery is up to the reader after they have read the applicable verses. However, don't worry, if you are stumped, the answers have been supplied in the back of the books. As Ecclesiastes says, there is nothing new under the sun. Mat Halverson and Concord show in a delightful way that reading the Scriptures and memorizing verses can be absolute fun! Anytime we can get our youngsters reading the Scriptures and being engaged with them, it is a winning situation. These books are winners.
My eight-year-old son loves them and so do I. They are short and easy to read. They are believable and engaging. The characters are just like folks you probably already know and the settings are comfortably familiar. A great idea for bedtime or devotional reading, these stories are perfect to pack along to a waiting room or with you in the car. I highly recommend them for boys and girls aged seven to 12, but don't be surprised if you catch mom, dad, or older siblings sneaking a peek and then reaching for their Bibles! Great fun, thanks Mat! We have been pleased to meet young Concord and look forward to many more encounters. Watch for more to come, but in the meantime you can check out sample chapters and find out where to get your own copies at his website, www.ScriptureSleuth.com.
I don't think I can overstate how much I enjoyed Concord Cunningham: The Scripture Sleuth by Mat Halverson. My children and I started off this school year reading one chapter each morning as part of our devotions, and we relished that time. In fact, we were running a bit behind one morning, and I was hit with forceful protests at my suggestion that we skip our morning adventure with Concord.
Concord Cunningham is an elementary-age boy living in the wholesome, friendly town of Pine Tops, where there is always a mystery waiting to be solved. (The fact that Concord's father is a reporter for the local newspaper and in on breaking news is also a benefit.) Concord's ability to search out the truth and crack a case is so renowned, even the local police chief welcomes his involvement when trying to pin a crime. Perhaps the most intriguing fact about Concord is that he finds the truth in each situation through his knowledge of the Bible, resulting in his nickname, "The Concordance."
Each chapter is a quick read, usually 5-6 pages, and involves a mystery to be solved or a fact to be proved. At the end of each chapter, Concord reflects on the clues and turns to his Bible, referring the reader to a specific verse as proof of his solution. (If you still can't solve the case after reading the verse, you can find the answer in the back of the book).
My children love listening to the clues and trying to solve the mystery before Concord gives his solution. I love that they are learning critical thinking and listening skills and that my daughter is waiting eagerly with her Bible open to look up the listed passage. Even more, I love that my children are learning that the Bible holds answers relevant to our lives in more ways than we tend to imagine. Concord shows us the importance of being familiar with the Word and using its wisdom in our day-to-day lives.