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Reviewed by Hilary Hawkes for Readers' Favorite
Secrets of Shiloh by Jill Watson Glassco is a short Christian adventure/mystery story for children. Sixth grader Rachel suffers bullying at school, but when she gets to know an elderly man called Solomon, who tends the gardens at the Shiloh estate, the two, along with schoolmate Martin, become good friends. Solomon shares his faith and tales about his life in the US army with the children. Rachel and Martin enjoy helping out with the garden work. Then when Solomon passes away, he leaves Rachel a mysterious letter in which he sets out cryptic clues that will lead her to discovering the key to a happy life.
Secrets of Shiloh is a gentle story that will encourage young readers to think about the Christian faith and the messages in the Bible. Between chapters are Points to Ponder: questions inviting us to think about the story so far, and our own lives and spiritual path. I liked the way these were included and made to feel personal to the reader. Jill Watson Glassco’s story is competently written and her characters are likable. The interaction between the children and their elderly, wise friend is realistic. There are some good messages about friendship, trust and growing through friendship – Solomon develops the courage to share more about his personal faith as the three become closer. And Rachel realizes that, while situations may remain the same, they can have a very different feel when she has a genuine relationship with God.
The inclusion of the cryptic clues and the mysterious letter gives added mystery and intrigue. There are references to various chapters of the Bible and the messages within biblical verses become more and more relevant and meaningful to the characters as they uncover facts and truths. I love the way the story ends with a jump forward in time – the past influence of a kindly and wise friend still evident in the lives of Rachel and Martin. Secrets of Shiloh would make a lovely gift for a child at a significant point in life, and as a story to share and discuss for Christian families or groups.