Lizzie Bright ... by Gary SchmidtLizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy
by Gary Schmidt, Calvin English professor, New York, N.Y.: Clarion Books, 2004, 217 pp.

The plot of Gary Schmidt’s newest novel for young adults is rooted in a shameful historical event: the eradication of a small African-American community. Yet the redeeming aspect of the story is a friendship between two teenagers.

Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy tells the tale of Lizzie Bright Griffin, a girl from Malaga, an island adjacent to the town of Phippsburg, Maine, and Turner Buckminster, the son of Phippsburg’s new minister.

Turner hates Phippsburg, while Lizzie loves her island. When the two meet, Lizzie’s friendship opens up a whole new world to Turner. In fact, the two discover that the town elders, along with Turner’s father, want to force the people to leave Lizzie’s island so that Phippsburg can start a lucrative tourist trade there.

Schmidt credits his wife, Anne, with unearthing the Malaga story in a guidebook while on a family vacation in Maine. In 1912, Phippsburg evicted the mostly African-American community from Malaga, placing many of the residents in a mental hospital, razing the island’s homes and digging up the graveyard.

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The eviction was intended as a beautification measure for the town, which planned to lure in more tourists with the construction of hotels, but the hotels were never built.

Schmidt said that while the book is based on an unusual historical scenario, it also expresses a common struggle for young adults.

“It’s what I always write about — what it is that makes a child move from childhood to adulthood,” Schmidt said. “It’s when a child starts to say, ‘This is my decision. I make this call.’ It’s the message a child has to get — that there’s a moment when you have to become your own person.”

The novel’s message came through clearly to book critics. It was named one of the top books of 2004 by the American Library Association, winning both the 2005 Newbery Honor Award and the 2005 Michael L. Printz Honor Book Award.

“Steeped in imagery and laced with surprising humor, Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy explores powerlessness, possibility and the profound impact individuals can make,” said Susan Faust, chair of the Newbery Award Committee. “We spent a year studying the universe of eligible books, and it a thrill to name this as one of the honor books.”

Schmidt, who has authored several other books for children and young adults, was humbled by the award. “This [book] is very close to my heart,” he said. “It took three years to write — longer than I’ve ever spent on a creative book.”

The Bride's Handbook book coverThe Bride’s Handbook: A Spiritual and Practical Guide for Planning Your Wedding
by Amy Leep Tol ’00, Grand Rapids, Mich.: Revell, 2005, 245 pp.
This wedding planner not only gives practical ideas and advice, but also presents spiritual reflections on what it means to be a bride of God. Inside you’ll find everything from planning checklists and cost-cutting tips to scriptural encouragement and applicable stories from brides in the Bible.

Preacher, Can You Hear Us Listening?
by Roger E. Van Harn ’54 BD’57, Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans Publishing, 2005, 143 pp.

In his book, Roger Van Harn asks preachers questions from listeners: Why should we listen to sermons? Does every sermon need a Bible text? How can a sermon be the Word of God? Do you preach for the church or the world? This format provides preachers with fresh insights into the needs and desires of congregations and develops an ongoing dialogue between the pulpit and the pew.

A More Profound Alleluia book cover A More Profound Alleluia: Theology and Worship in Harmony
edited by Leanne Van Dyk ’77 MDiv’87, Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans Publishing, 2005, 155 pp.

Convinced that worship and theology are integrally related, the authors show in practical terms how liturgy and doctrine fruitfully illuminate each other. Each chapter pairs an element of the worship service with related Christian teachings, demonstrating how the great doctrines of the faith find their natural expression in the drama of worship and how liturgy finds its corollary in doctrine. The Calvin Worship Institute web site includes a longer summary and a companion guide for this book.