Jenna and Shanna Strackbein, Katharine von Bora: The Morning Star of Wittenberg, illustrated by Emily and Jenna Strackbein, with maps and illumination by Elisabeth Strackbein, and a forward by John and Marlene Eidsmoe (Aransas Pass, Texas: Unbroken Faith Publications, 2017)
I unwrapped the manila packaging, surprised to find a children’s book inside. I pulled out a strikingly beautiful, smooth matte book that I simply couldn’t help running my hand over. “I don’t remember ordering this!” I thought to myself, running my finger over the title, Katharine von Bora: The Morning Star of Wittenberg. Later, as I read it aloud to my children, it struck me that the theological and historical contents of Katharine von Bora were just as pleasing as all of the intricate illustrations inside.
As a teacher-trained homeschooling mom, the practicalities of reading a book aloud are important. This book is large enough to be seen by a group, but small enough to hold on one’s lap. It took my family around thirty minutes to read its forty-five pages aloud, and examine the lovely artwork. The reading level is about upper-grade school, but when read aloud it is understood by younger children (though my kindergarten and preschool students lost interest after about five minutes—however, they later picked up the book and paged through it, taking great interest in the pictures). A glossary is provided in the back of the book. It is helpful to explain some theological words, but it is not exhaustive. For instance, my children did not know what the word “recant” meant, nor was it in the glossary. The book also provides a very beautiful map of Germany in the beginning and a timeline of the Luther family at the end.
As for the story itself, the genre is children’s historical biography, but the reader should take note that there are some (fun!) liberties taken with the story. The authors create a few animals as minor characters, sharing what they might have observed or heard as the story line progresses through Katharine’s life. There are several suspenseful episodes in the tale that will have the children on the edge of their seats!
Although the book does not explicitly highlight the traditional “solas” of the Reformation, it does emphasize the importance of following God’s Word in it’s truth and purity. It also reiterates the importance of Luther translating Scripture into the common language of the people. Subscribers to the Hausvater Project’s email newsletter (see the sidebar to join us!) may also be encouraged to find a beautiful portrayal of the love of a husband and wife and emphasis on the Christian family. “Their home was one of the first examples from this time of what a Christian family should look like” (41). Both illustrations and text exemplify Martin and Katharine as peaceful and cordial spouses, sharing daily Scripture readings and hymn sings, welcoming the blessing of children, and opening their doors of their home in charity to others.
Katharine von Bora: The Morning Star of Wittenberg ends with a quotation to inspire even the most timid of children (p. 45):
So now, this is what we must remember—even in the darkest days of history, God is always at work, and He will never allow His truth to be lost. And in small ways, or sometimes big ways, like with Martin and Katharine, God uses His people, who seek Him with all of their hearts, to advance His Kingdom and change the world forever. The End.
May God grant it to be so for each child, encouraged by the examples of Katharine and Martin Luther.
Mrs. Marie K. MacPherson lives in Mankato, Minnesota, with her husband Ryan and their children, whom she homeschools. She is a certified Classical Lutheran Educator (Consortium for Classical Lutheran Educators), author of Meditations on the Vocation of Motherhood (2018), and editor of Mothering Many: Sanity-Saving Strategies from Moms of Four or More (2016).