Why did I not know about John McNichol until I was passed a review copy of The King’s Gambit for the Catholic Writers Guild Seal of Approval? Because, it seems, I have had my head in the sand for the past ten years. That’s why. Nobody to blame but selfie, self.
Anyways, John McNichol is the author of the Young Chesterton Chronicles… which I’ve not yet read, but I plan on remedying that shortly. I wanted to review Gambit because I have a pair of young chess players for whom it is increasingly difficult to buy reading material. Both read at a high school level but are nine years old. (That’s not bragging. They also still can’t get through a meal without flinging food everywhere or remember where they left their toothbrushes. We all have our gifts. Academics are theirs.) You try finding books for young minds eager for literary adventure without digging up something that’s dumbed down, morally offensive, suggestive, or all three and then some.
“Send them to the classics,” you say. “Boring,” they say. I can’t even get them to read Little Women. I’m about to try Dickens. Pray for me.
Back to Gambit. We have an unlikely hero who conquers impossible–like, literally impossible–situations with the help of… wait for it… HIS FAMILY AND THE HEAVENLY HOST. ::gasp!:: What a novel idea. I was delighted to read the story of Edward and his battle against life-sized chess pieces. I was even more delighted to pass it on to my “biggns” without having to explain why Catholics don’t believe that what this character did was right, and why that character’s choice was wrong, and so on. Nope. None of that. I was able to share it with them, confident that they would see their faith upheld, not put down with flimsy characterizations or weak philosophies.
Best of all, they loved the story, too. Well done, John McNichol! You have yourselves at least three new fans.