Two recently published books, Queen Abigail the Wise and Vanessa the Wonder-Worker, are helping to fill a gap in Orthodox Christian fiction for “tween” readers between the ages of 9 and 12. Bookended by heavily illustrated readers for toddlers and serious tomes about dating for teens, the world of Orthodox Christian fiction hasn’t had much to offer tweens. But the new series of chapter books from author/illustrator Grace Brooks, a parishioner at Saint Paul Church, Las Vegas, NV, promises to change that, engaging tween readers at an age when crucial long-term ties to the faith are formed.
The intersection between Church life and “real life” is fertile ground for adventure to the books’ tween characters who encounter each other at church once a week. They start as acquaintances, become friends and find themselves learning about their faith and themselves in ways that are engaging, thought-provoking and easy for young readers to relate to.
In Queen Abigail the Wise, 10-year-old Abigail is having trouble paying attention in church, prompting her priest makes a deal with her. At stake is an icon she knows will help her focus, but to get it, she’ll need help from four other friends. She starts the “Every Tuesday Club” so they can go to work on this and other problems. Over the weeks of Lent leading up to Pascha, her adventure ends up bringing them closer to their faith, their family and each other. In the sequel, Vanessa the Wonder-Worker, 12-year-old Vanessa turns to the Club when her older brother is going through a crisis of faith. Vanessa must learn how to express matters of faith in ways that a skeptic can understand, and she gets help from a pious stranger who seems to just know things. If Vanessa wants to find the miracle she’s looking for, she will have to learn more and confront her own desires to be successful in the world.
Both books have enjoyed strong reviews in the Orthodox community, and Grace is planning least two more volumes in the series.
“Queen Abigail the Wise is a delightful read for kids and a wonderful resource for parents looking for engaging Orthodox literature to include in their family’s home library,” said Molly Sabourin, author of Close to Home: One Orthodox Mother’s Quest for Patience, Peace and Perseverance. “This book is a treasure!”
Elissa D. Bjeletic, host of the “Raising Saints” Orthodox podcast and author of Blueprints for the Little Church, had similar praise for Vanessa: “My ten-year old absolutely loved this book! She could not stop talking about how great it was. I recommend this whole-heartedly!”
Archpriest John Dresko, Rector of Saint Paul Church, Grace’s Pastor, and proofreader of both books, said that “Grace has captured the essence of a pre- and young-teen’s struggles, which mirror in a small way the struggles of all of us. Her writing is vibrant and captivating. I have the highest recommendation to pastors and parish bookstore managers — your parish young people will love these books.”
Both volumes are available on Amazon, as indicated below. Wholesale pricing is available directly from the author for orders of three or more copies. Order at the links below or by calling the author directly at 816-985-0305.
Queen Abigail the Wise
Amazon price: $14.99
Bulk price (3 or more) from the author: $10 plus shipping.
Vanessa the Wonder-Worker
410 pages, illustrated
Price on Amazon: $16.50
Bulk: $12 plus shipping
Additional discounts are possible for orders of 10 or more.