Book Review: “The Basics of Heathenry: For Kids” By Jennifer Lohr
It’s entirely possible I went into this review with unreasonably high expectations, but “The Basics of Heathenry” was mostly a bit of a disappointment. While some of the more philosophical lessons found in the book are both solid and helpful for children, overall the book is disorganized, lacking in detail, and reads more like an overly ambitious powerpoint presentation than an engaging children’s book. While I don’t believe it deserves to be completely dismissed with a 1, I’m giving it a rather unfortunate rating of 2/5.
“The Basics of Heathenry: Confusing your children for just $12…”
It should really speak to how much I wanted this book to be a success that I personally spent $12 of my own money just so I could write a review on this book which a few of our readers asked about. Right from the off, two impressions struck me simultaneously. First, the intro page had some nice art that looked hand made. (Very encouraging!) Secondly, it’s in Comic Sans MS. (Oh dear…) It’s a children’s book though, so I pushed on in the hopes that perhaps the latter could be forgiven. No such luck was to be found.
Past the cover page, several things become apparent. Gone is the pretty art of the intro page, replaced by low quality (and occasionally rather confusing) clipart. The pages are written in large Comic font with multiple pieces of clipart scattered around the text. Later pages make use of some nice looking photographs, but the application makes them feel more like something a Jr. High student pulled from a Google Image search to fill up page space on their essay. The permanently centered aligned text jumping about the page also lends the impression of reading someone’s notes for a book rather than the book itself.
Content wise, “The Basics of Heathery” falls short. The topics are disorganized, slapping in random pages on a couple of the major gods right in the middle of sections on ‘making an offering’ or ‘cultural traditions’. The intro tries to explain in just a few lines that there were many polytheist civilizations, that Heathenry comes in many forms, and that most of these were wiped out or repressed by Christianity. What actually comes out is this vague and baffling page which seems to say that the whole world used to be Heathen (including the Native Americans if the clip art is to be believed) but that other cultures just called our Heathen gods different names. Then the boogyman (which looks like a Templar) came and stomped it all out. If your four-year-old is confused by this message, I don’t blame them. That’s to say nothing of the section on holidays, which includes only Midsummer and Yule, offers little explanation for either, and then proceeds to attach them to solstices which were not in any way related to the dates of those holidays.
The only really redeeming qualities of this book are a wonderful page on the value of questioning and investigation, and a beautifully concise and child appropriate description of ‘offering’ or ‘sacrifice’ which I think many would appreciate. 2-3 pages out of 26, however, is not exactly redemption-worthy.
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