Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Mary Mae and the Gospel Truth

Mary Mae and the Gospel Truth

Sandra Dutton
For ages 8 to 12
Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, 2010   ISBN: 978-0547249667

Mary Mae has grown up going to church, going to Sunday School, and singing hymns with her Granny. She loves the messages she finds in her bible, and is comforted by the knowledge that God and Jesus are a part of her life.

One day Mary Mae’s teacher at school starts to talk about the fact that the world is millions of years old. She shows the children pictures of creatures that lived in the Ordovician period, some five hundred million years ago. The children in the class even go digging in the ground to look for fossils, and Mary Mae finds an honest to goodness trilobite fossil – which thrills her. Mary Mae does not have a problem with the idea that the world is very very ancient, but her mother does. So do some of the people at the church. As far as they are concerned Bible scholars have figured out that the world is six thousands years old, and that is that. If the bible doesn’t talk about fossils and dinosaurs, then fossils and dinosaurs simply do not exist.

Poor Mary Mae soon finds herself in the middle of a battle between the Book of Genesis and the words of scientists. Mary Mae’s mother refuses to accept that what Mary Mae is learning in school has any legitimacy, and she takes Mary Mae out of school, which makes Mary Mae utterly miserable. Will Mary Mae ever be able to show her mother that science is not something to fear, but that it is something to embrace?

With humor and sensitivity, Sandra Dutton explores the idea that faith and science do not have to be kept separate. Instead, they can be brought together in a meaningful way, and there is no need for people of faith to feel threatened by science or for people of science to feel threatened by faith. Like Mary Mae, we can combine what science teaches us with our religious beliefs to give us a picture of the world that is both fascinating and miraculous.