HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: In Search of the Lost Missionary, Book #1 of “The Missionary Adventures of Bob & Arty”
Author: Jeff Barth
Illustrator: Livy Hitchcock
Publisher: Barth Family Ministries, 1997
Language level: 1 (nothing objectionable)
Reading level: Suitable for anyone.
Rating: 5 stars (EXCELLENT)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Barth, Jeff. In Search of the Lost Missionary, Book #1 of “The Missionary Adventures of Bob & Arty” (published in 1997 by Parable Publishing House, 339 Parkhill Rd., Middlebury, VT 05753). Several years ago I remember reading an article or news item in some homeschooling publication about whether homeschooled children should read “Frank & Joe” (the Hardy Boys) or “Bob & Arty.” I really do not see why they cannot read both! Yes, “Bob & Arty” are more specifically geared toward emphasizing faith in God but “the Hardy Boys” are still good role models who stand up for what is right and even are said to attend church. Some time ago, I purchased three of the five “Bob & Arty” booksthis one, Mission Alaska! (#3, 1998), and The Storm! (#4, 1999) and did them as read alouds for Jeremy, then age 11. He really enjoyed them. The other two volumes are not carried by the homeschool suppliers with whom I checked, and used book searches turned up nothing of value.
There is much to like about these stories. Set in 1965, the books tell how homeschool graduates Bob, 21, and Arty, 20 (were there actually religious homeschoolers back then–at least, out in the public?) use their DC-3 plane (dubbed Old Gabe), given to them by their father who runs an air freight company, to do “missionary” service work. In their first adventure, they go in search of a lost missionary in the South Sea Islands and end up being captured by pearl smugglers. In the second book, they fly up to Alaska to deliver supplies to a missionary among the Eskimos and help bring to justice a vicious group of dog-sled gamblers. Volume 4 finds the family heading to assist some missionary friends in South America where they are forced by a huge storm to land on a deserted beach and marooned for several weeks before finding a beached boat which they can refurbish to sail to their destination. In every situation, they pray for God’s guidance, trust in His power to help them, and talk about the gospel to everyone who will listen.
There are a few concepts and terms here and there with which those of us who are associated with non-denominational churches of Christ would not agree (seeing miracles, instrumental music in worship, church fellowship meals), but I found that these were easy to edit out or explain in reading aloud. What I liked about the books was the obvious emphasis on striving to please God in everything we do and also the loving family relationships that are portrayed. The books could have used some editing for grammar (Mr. Barth, whom I have heard speak, seemed to have the usual trouble with the differences between lie/lay, rise/raise, and such like) but this is a minor complaint. Compared to much of the junk that passes for children’s literature today, these books are exciting stories that have generally wholesome reading. Jeremy wanted me to see if I could find the other two–Trapped in an Abandoned Mine, and The Lighthouse Mystery! So I did an Internet search for Parable Publishing House. Apparently, they do not have a website of their own, but I found a few which had listings about how to contact them, so I called them at (802) 462-2002, and they had the books ready for me to order.