As a boy mom, I really enjoyed this book and the truth and the growth that was subtle woven throughout it. I liked getting to watch as Mpengo met his situation with growth and honor and how even a little boy can impact a strong man.
The book was first published in 1945 but you wouldn’t know it because it the story line is just as true today. The boy handles moving to a new place just as any child might, but with hope and curiosity as his family moved to spread Christianity. There are good values, and they are on an honorable quest, but it didn’t feel preachy. There was also humor when I wasn’t expecting it.
This book appeals to the whole family and is a great read-aloud. Despite being a shorter read, there’s great character development and a strong story line, rich in tribal Congolese culture and Christian influence. Furthermore, the story’s setting, in both place and time, is fascinating. I’m sure this is a book we’ll read over and over again.
My kids and I really enjoyed this book. We read it separately, but I could tell from their narrations to me how much they enjoyed it. My kids were caught up in the adventure of the story, but as we discussed it, it’s clear that they caught the positive messages embedded in the story as well. We also enjoyed learning more about the Congo and the challenges early missionaries faced in spreading Christianity.
Young Mpengo has lived his life in his safe and beautiful village with his father, mother, his little sister, Ekila, and most recently, Baby Bula. He has friends in the village, and he gets to attend school. However, his whole world changes when his family moves to Hidden Village. First, they must travel down the dangerous river and then walk many miles. Then, they will need to set an example as Christians to help convert the villages, even though Mpengo’s grandfather is the village witch doctor! Will Mpengo’s faith and Christian values help him find a home in Hidden Village, or will he and his family remain outsiders?
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