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Walking with Frodo Review by Tony Silva

By Sarah Arthur
Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.
351 Executive Drive
Carol Stream, IL 60188

Finding a devotional that is challenging and focused on building character can be hard. Finding one that engages young people where they live is harder still. In Walking with Frodo, author Sarah Arthur has accomplished both.

Arthur points to J.R.R. Tolkien himself in explaining that the Lord of the Rings (LOTR) trilogy is neither allegory nor overtly Christian. However, she finds in the books and movies a clear relationship between Tolkien's faith and the literary world he created. She explains that she wears two hats in her writing of this book: literary critic and teacher. She further explains that the teacher hat is merely a student's hat turned backward. It is from this perspective of seizing teachable moments that she has turned a great literary classic into a means of engaging young people in serious devotional consideration of their own faith and character.

The book opens with an explanation of its purpose and how it can be used. Though it is designed to be nine weekly devotions on opposing character traits, we found that it could be extended beyond the nine weeks; one could also incorporate the devotions into a family reading of the Tolkien stories or viewing of the movies. However, the devotional texts do not follow the order of the storyline. Instead, the Lord of the Rings trilogy serves more as a backdrop than a road map.

The 18 devotions are divided into contrasting pairs such as darkness and light, pride and humility, betrayal and loyalty, etc. Each zeroes in on an aspect of the LOTR storyline in view of the devotional topic. Then Arthur challenges the reader to consider the topic in light of Scripture with a section of verses under the heading "The Word On . . ." These Scriptures provide a Biblical view of the topic. Each devotion ends with a section of discussion questions called, "Going Further." These can be thought provokers for an individual or icebreakers for a family or group reading the book together. They end with the most important challenge: "What are you going to do about it?"

Walking with Frodo, which sells for $9.99, is a well laid out and readable break from traditional devotionals that kids sometimes see as preachy or "stuffy." Yet it does not compromise depth or purpose. If you or your child is a LOTR fan, take this character-building walk with Frodo.

Product review by Tony Silva, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, September 2010