A brief prologue brings newcomers to the series up to speed by introducing the main characters, cousins Patrick and Beth as well as Imagination Station inventor “Whit,” and trouble-making Amelia. From there, Hering wastes no time in launching Patrick and Beth’s latest adventure of and takes the cousins and readers on a trip to 1961 USSR. Their mission: to help Pastor Lars Spens deliver Bibles to the Christians there.
The author helps young readers understand the time period by describing the children’s “snazzy” and “groovy” getups, the decorative beads hanging in the pastor’s classic Volkswagen van, and by referring to the US/USSR space exploration race. She helps readers visualize the place by describing Soviet rubles and St. Basil’s Museum. Early on, Patrick and Beth learn the “Royal Way’ of approaching tasks, as described in Luke 10:4. Throughout the story, they pause several times to pray. With an emphasis on taking comfort in the fact that God watches over us, trusting Him to provide, and showing empathy and compassion to others, Hering incorporates these themes into the story.
When Patrick and Beth find themselves separated, Hering goes back and forth, telling the story from each character’s point of view until they’re reunited. By doing so, Hering provides just the right amount of suspense and intrigue to keep readers turning the pages. At the end, she hints at the next adventure so readers can begin to anticipate reading the nextbook as soon as it’s released. The interactive back matter – a fill-in-the-blank Bible verse puzzle – combines geographical information (e.g., names of several USSR cities) with a spiritual takeaway.
Big Risks in Russia is recommended for kids looking for an exciting action-adventure story, presented from a Christian perspective.
Sue Irwin is a children’s book author and educator. She reads funny stories, mystery adventures, and fascinating nonfiction for fun, but more than anything, she enjoys sharing the story of God’s love with kids.