Book Review -
The Disappearance of Old Kal
Zillah Williams has written a book that I like. "The Disappearance of Old Kal" is a book that models Christian behavior for normal teenagers. Very Australian and wholesome with a credible but low key Christian story line. It is children's/lower teenage fiction mainly for 11-14 year olds. It reminds me a great deal of the "Famous Five" and "Secret Seven" adventures that I grew up with. There is a simple clean plot around an "adventure" that young people could reasonably be involved in. Plenty of talk about food and friends and no sex, violence or drugs. Its a welcome relief from some of the very dark and twisted teenage grunge fiction around today.
At 96 pages the book is slim and readable and not daunting for young readers. The pace of the narrative is good and it is never boring. There is a reasonable tension to the plot and a happy ending. The Christian values are there but God is not lectured down people's throat. Christians are interdenominational "Scripture Union" types who love God first of all and are still very normal people. My only reservation is that it is a bit quaint and does not feel like it was written in the 1990's (which it was). Only the mention of mobile phones gives away that it wasn't written in the 50's. I don't think it does any harm though it may limit the readership a bit. There are plenty of teenagers who come from homes which have both parents and who aren't on drugs or sexually involved.
The plot revolves around a disappearing steam engine called Old Kal and four Christian teenagers called the Wonders Farm gang. I won't give too much away but its a well spun yarn that is easy to follow. The vocabulary and concepts are not too abstract or involved and the sentences are short and readable. The Disappearance of Old Kal would be an ideal book to get a reluctant reader going for the first time. Will it convert anyone? No, I don't think it's meant to, but it does make Christianity seem credible and interesting and it may start the process of asking vital questions.
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