Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Shepherd, Potter, Spy--and the Star Namer Book Review

I love books based off of Biblical History. I was intrigued when Shepherd, Potter, Spy--and the Star Namer by Peggy Consolver – Author came up for review. I received a physical copy of the book. Having been to Israel and around this region I was excited to share this story with my kids. 

Peggy Consolver-Author has done some archaeological trip with the Associates for Biblical Research. You can learn more about her trip in Israel .

Shepherd, Potter, Spy--and the Star Namer is a paperback book with 375 pages and 46 Chapters. 

The first few pages are dedicated to Characters and Relationships. The characters are broken down by Canaanites and Hebrews. This was extremely helpful in the first few chapters. It sorted out the characters until we remembered who was who in the story.

The end of the book has a brief discussion questions for small groups. You can also have access on the website for a free downloadable twelve unit Study Guide and can also buy a more extensive Study Guide  Digging Deeper Into HIStory for the book and an extra unit on archeology.  
 Modern Day Jericho

The Study Guide takes you to web pages and there are also a few videos available to watch.

Unit 1:
The Bible Dictionary: Gezer Calendar
The Syrian Brown Bear: A Brief Overview
Unit 2:
Alpha Centauri: The Closest Star System to Our Sun
Israel Mammals
Unit 3:
Instruction for Plaiting and Braiding
Unit 4:
Google Search: Aerial Views of Jerusalem
Sacred Destinations: Dome of the Rock, Jerusalem
Unit 5:
Honey: It’s Medicinal Property and the Antibacterial Activity
How to Make a Tripod Lashing
Unit 6:
Tutankhamen’s Senet Board
Unit 7:
The Jewish Virtual Library: Jericho
Unit 8:
Google Search: Mount Hermon Pictures
Unit 9:
Weapons Universe: Bronze Age Weapons
Unit 10:
Smokey Bear: Elements of Fire
How to Make a Fire
Unit 11:
Israel’s Nature Site: Mantids of Israel
National Geographic: Praying Mantis Overview
Unit 12: Wild Fibres: Linen and Flax
Unit 13: Bible History: Biblical Archaeology News 2016

The videos cover:

Square Lashing
Captainjohn on the Wadi Mujib Nature Preserve
Intro to Bow Making
How to Use a Sling


The setting of the story is just prior to the Hebrews entering into the land that God promised Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The inhabitants of the land have heard of the Hebrews and some unbelievable stories.  They hear tales from the caravanners who pass by often with excited tales from faraway places. Lately, the news has been about the Hebrews. As they get closer it has caused fear among the inhabitants of the land. Everyone around them is preparing for war against the Hebrews.
 Olive Trees in Jerusalem.

What if you lived in the land that was promised to the Hebrews and are hearing the stories of these people and then you see them camped just outside of the boarders of the land? That is what makes this a unique Biblical read as the Hebrew people are not the main characters. You see the events from another perspective. How would you perceive a God who feeds his people food every day, water from a rock, what about the strange fire and cloud in the midst of the camp?  

The story is told through the eyes of Keshub, the Gibeonite. Keshub is a young shepherd boy. Keshub comes from a family rich in history and his family is known for making quality pottery. He has wonderful adventures every day as he defends his flock from lions and helps his cousin scare away a bear. He is the fifth son in the family and he is also the youngest. He wants to be like his older brothers who are brave and can do so many things. 

His life is about to change when the Hebrews start to move. He finds himself suddenly in the role of spy, friend, potter, and defender.  Does his father cave into making an alliance with the King of the Amorites? Will they get caught helping his son and one of his wives escapes this evil King. Will they discover who the Star Namer is? Is the Star Namer the same God as the Hebrews God?

I think you know the rest of the story if you have read through Joshua. I don’t want to give away too much of the story.

How did I use this in my homeschool?

Wow, what a beautiful story. I was delighted to do this as a read out loud with my 11 and 14 year old. It was a slow start getting into the story for several chapters. After we were able to put the vast amount of characters together it started flowing nicely. 

We liked how the story went back and forth between the Hebrews and the Canaanites. My kids liked that the main character was a young boy close to their age. They could relate to him and the concerns he has with everything going on. My kids are familiar with sibling rivalry, and bullying. They love archeology thanks to a good friend who is one in Israel and lives there for six months out of the year for the last 8 years. There was a lot of things going on that kept them interested.

The author did a nice job of pulling so many characters together and bringing it to a close at the end. 

We looked over the Study Guide and watched the videos. I pulled together my pictures of Israel and showed the kids pictures of the region. I pulled out some of the maps and brochures of certain areas from my trip and we used these while reading the story.

I pictured Keshub and his family setting around their father and sharing a meal out of the same bowl like we did in Israel.
Enjoying the hot delicious tea.

Overall, this was a beautiful story. I really enjoyed the story. The author is a wonderful story teller. I loved how she often explained mealtime and other daily events. She painted a beautiful picture of the Biblical story.

I did have a few things that made me want to cringe. Reading the story and I came across the word “Mr. and Mrs.” being used in the Hebrew camp? This term wasn’t used until around the 16th century. I did see a few other words and things like that that didn’t fit into the context of the time period or the Hebrew people. 

That is small but, it made me cringe. Maybe, I'm just zealous when it comes to the Jewish people and eretz Israel. It didn't take away from the story. I guess I am a bit bias when it comes to the Jewish people and the rich culture that I enjoy. I still enjoyed this story and was glad to share this with my children. I highly recommend it!

Social Media:
Others from the Homeschool Review Crew have a lot to say also about this story. Stop by and pay them a visit.

Hashtags: #hsreviews #siblingrivalry #geography #Bible #survival



  1. You are so right about how to address the Jewish relationships in the story. I struggled with that.

    In the end I decided I would try hard to not include any English words or phrases more modern than the 1600-1700s.

    Thanks so much for the insightful review!

    1. Thank you Peggy. This was a delightful read.


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