Mr. Pipes is back with Annie and Drew on a wild adventure in Italy as they simultaneously learn about the ancient church and its music.
The Accidental Voyage: Discovering Hymns of the Early Centuries (Mr. Pipes Series #4) by Douglas Bond. P&R Publishing, 2005. 258 pages.
Reading Level: Middle grades, ages 10-12
Recommended For: Middle grades, ages 8-12 (and their parents!)
Mr. Pipes, beloved church organist, is taking his young friends, Annie and Drew, to Italy on an sight-seeing trip to Italy. In the previous volumes of the series, Annie and Drew not only came to saving faith in the Lord, they learned a lot about the history of church hymnody in Europe, England, and North America. While in Italy on their touristy excursion, though, Annie, Drew, and Mr. Pipes are suddenly thrust into an adventure when their hotel rooms are robbed and they are pursued by unknown villains. Attempting to shake their pursuers from their trail, Mr. Pipes and the children board a ship-advertised-as-a-B&B only to find it embarking the next morning with them on it. The only other person on board is a mystical vegan who is scornful of all things Christian, practices yoga, and is searching for true freedom.
The Mr. Pipes books offer adventure as well as a strong dose of church music history and theology mixed in. The writing is not difficult, but the concepts might be over some young readers’ heads, particularly when Mr. Pipes gets into discussions with Abdul on board ship. Still, the book doesn’t come off as too preachy, despite the dialogue-as-vehicle-of-truth that Bond frequently employs. Families and church members who enjoy traditional, hymn-based worship will enjoy these books more than those who would rather be singing more contemporary-style Christian music (Bond’s opinions on this are quite clear), but all believers can benefit from learning about the early Christians who sang in fellowship with one another for their encouragement in the faith. Hymn lyrics are included. Douglas Bond also has extra resources on his website for those who want to learn more!
Note: There are some implications about Abdul’s lifestyle that may come across too strongly for some folks. For instance, Bond implies that vegetarianism is wrong; in and of itself, the practice of eating no meat needn’t be a spiritual issue. Still, Bond offers much helpful criticism of Abdul’s mysticism and search for truth.
Cautions: violence (mild; references to what the early Christians suffered)
Overall Rating: 4.25
Worldview Rating: 5
Artistic Rating: 3.75
For more church history reading, see our Church History October list! We’ve also done several interviews with Mr. Bond, most recently about church history.