Have you ever re-read a book and been sorely disappointed in it the second time round? This is exactly what happened to me when I read Teddy’s Button by Amy LeFeuvre in preparation for this review. I first read this Lamplighter publication many years ago. I remember being delighted with the mischievous little Teddy and his amusing ways. I thought he was charming and delightful.
Now the book has not changed, but I certainly have. And my perspective on what makes a book a great read has changed too. Don’t get me wrong, this book is well written and entertaining, fitting our definition of a great book. It weaves a biblical perspective throughout the book. It certainly has a satisfying conclusion, with Teddy learning spiritual lessons that we all need to be reminded of. However, I cannot with complete honesty call it a good book.
If you have been reading here on Sheep Among Wolves for long, you will know that we are committed to promoting books that are both good and great. If you are unfamiliar with our definitions of these terms, I encourage you to read our post on this topic.
The one thing that stuck out to me again and again as I read through Teddy’s Button this time was that there were far too many examples of ill behavior. A great deal of the text is taken up with describing Teddy’s “escapades.” He is seen as a scamp, an overly-energetic boy, mischievous, impulsive, but at the same time he is the hero of the story: not only at the end when he begins to apply God’s truth to his life, but in the midst of his misbehaviour.
This is not the kind of example I would want my 6-year-old emulating. The book that I found amusing as an adult looking at the antics of a young child, is not the book that I would want to use to ‘train up a child in the way he should go.” This was a very difficult review for me to write because there is something endearing in the character of Teddy, and a wonderful lesson to learn about living for God and not ourselves, but it is not a book I can heartily recommend for the reading of younger children.
- Title: Teddy’s Button
- Author: Amy LeFeuvre
- Publisher: Lamplighter Publishing
- Genre: Fiction
- Number of Pages: 150
- Theme: Small town England in the 1800’s
- Age Range: 6-11 *see the last paragraph of this review for a qualification
- Source: Lamplighter Publishing
Summary of Teddy’s Button
Teddy Platt is the orphaned son of a soldier in the Queen’s Army. He and his mother live with his father’s parents in a small town in England during the 1800’s. His life revolves around the memory of his father’s courage and valour as a soldier, and he is smitten with the idea that one day he will follow in his father’s footsteps and join the army himself.
Teddy’s ability to get his own way is capsized when a new girl moves into town who is not easily influenced by Teddy’s bold and flamboyant antics. In his struggle to deal with the frustrating and precocious Nancy, he learns many lessons that a soldier needs to learn.
Teddy comes into contact with many real soldiers in the story and realizes that it is not quite the same thing to be in the Queen’s army as it is to be under that superior Captain that all believers learn to march under—our Lord himself. Which will have greater sway in lively Teddy’s life?
SAW Rating System
- Good Qualities – 3/5 for adults and 2/5 for children
- Great Qualities – 4/5
Items of note
- Romance and morality—No issues
- Disturbing content—Teddy’s story of his father’s final battle is quite descriptive including the “gushing of blood” and the “slashing” of limbs. His continual references to fighting include many ways a soldier can kill someone. His story telling focuses on the maiming of people.
- Language—No issues
- Alcohol and drug use—Reference to “tipsy” man. Two soldiers struggle with their ability to overcome the addiction of alcohol.
- Spiritual content—Teddy’s family are Christians. They don’t condone Teddy’s behaviour and his mother continually points him to Jesus with the help of their minister. There is church going, prayer and two conversion scenes. There are some significant spiritual lessons learned.
- Family roles and Behavior—Teddy’s family is a little indulgent toward his failings. Sin is seen by some of the characters as amusing and playful. A sleeping fisherman is tied up with his own fishing line. A dairy maid is jumped upon causing her to spill her milk. Frogs are placed in the teacher’s desk. Many other misdeeds take place throughout the story.
- Mature subject matter—References to soldiers lives include some of their struggles with sin as well as the disturbing content mentioned above.
I loved the idea of serving in the army of the Lord, seeking to obey him as our heavenly Captain and standing firm for the banner of love which Teddy’s Button portrayed. However, with the continual focus on the daring feats and activities of soldiers, young boys reading this story will only be encouraged to seek out such play.
There comes a point, I believe, when finding amusement in “naughty” behaviour crosses a line from entertainment to an acceptance of evil. When we call lying “telling tales” and meanness “being an imp” I think that we are reinforcing the wiles of the devil to lead our little ones astray.
It is with sadness that I have to give this book such a critical review. I hope that it will help others to think about what we want to fill the minds of our children with. A great book can still be a great harm to our children if it is not also a good book.
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