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The Hedge of Thorns Review by Nancy Mayes

John Carrol, Rewritten by Mark Hamby
Lamplighter Publishing
Lamplighter Ministries International

I have a tremendous love for old books. There is something about old fabric covered hard back books that simply draws me. It is as if I can hear them whispering my name, calling me to discover the wisdom of the ages locked within their yellowed pages.

When I first received the Hedge of Thorns, my heart leapt. I ran my hands over the cloth covered hard back book and traced the embossed lettering of the title. It just felt important and seemed to scream wisdom.

This book is part of the Lamplighter Rare Collector Series and retails for $15. It is only about a 5x7 and maybe a half inch thick; almost small enough to be easily tucked away into a small purse, but not quite small enough to be considered pocket-sized. Its mere 86 pages makes it an easy afternoon read.

I had to withhold my desire to curl up and read this book in its entirety as we had planned to include it as our next family time read aloud. It only took us five nights, reading two chapters at a time, to work our way through the story. Every night, the kids begged for me to read more. It was difficult for me to say no and stick to it. It was even more difficult for me to avoid reading ahead (which I did do one night).

Hedge of Thorns was originally written in 1611 by John Carroll. He recounted memories from his own life about the development and growth of his faith and how God places about us all a hedge of thorns not to keep all that is good away from us but to keep us away from the things that are not good for us. It was rewritten by Mark Hamby and published by Lamplighter. It is easy to assume that a story originally written in 1611 may seem historical or fanciful but not necessarily relevant to today, however the timelessness of the story did not disappoint. The story is identified as appropriate for ages 9-14 and although there were parts that seemed to be just a tiny bit beyond our children's understanding (they are six, eight and eleven years old), we found ourselves pausing and sharing about the parallels of the story to our current day and age.

Beyond our conversations during our reading, were the conversations that took place throughout the day. I was surprised at how relevant the children made the story to their own lives. My six year old son made a connection to the story as we were locking the gate on our property and how it keeps the roaming cattle off of our property (we live rurally in the middle of a large open grazing ranch). Another time our eight year old reflected upon how she hopes to remember how to trust us when we put hedges around her such as the time that we guided her in deciding if a book would be a good one to read or not. There were also a lot of parallels drawn by the kids about how mom is always putting hedges around them when it comes to eating sugary stuff. They fully understood the author's desire to share how the hedges placed around us are for our benefit and protection. Moments like these make a mother very happy and bring life to the verse that there is nothing new under the sun.

Hedge of Thorns is a book that I believe we will return to and read again and again.

-Product review by Nancy Mayes, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, April, 2017