Review by Paul McQuien of Book: Trained Up, by Melissa Urtiaga

Local author Melissa Urtiaga has recently published a clever and charming children’s book titled “Trained Up: A Book about Trusting in God” (2017, Franklin Scribes Publishers). Appealing illustrations by Katie Paul, an Abilene Christian University alumna, accompany the text.

“Trained Up” takes its inspiration from a pun found in one version of a familiar passage, Proverbs 22:6, “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it” (ESV). The pun works because the main character, Johnny, is a literal “train,” a locomotive whose mother has taught him to trust in God through the process of growing up. The narrative could thus be considered a Christian version of “The Little Engine That Could.”

Much of the plot is dedicated to the careful instruction provided by Johnny’s mother to teach him the things he needs to know. She compliments his successes and patiently corrects his mistakes, constantly encouraging him to trust in God as he matures.

Eventually, he reaches early adulthood and goes to work for the Union Train Company. One day Johnny is required to carry a heavy cargo over a steep mountain pass. The grade is steep and the cargo is heavy, but Johnny places his trust in God and feels a “mighty wind” blowing behind him (the Holy Spirit?).

Johnny’s success at completing this challenging task with divine help reminds me of the famous “Little Engine That Could.” In one version he successfully pulls his cargo over a steep hill with the help of a larger locomotive pushing from behind. But instead of the Little Engine’s mantra, “I think I can, I think I can,” Johnny’s motto is “I trust in God, I trust in God.” While this clause is not explicitly stated in the text, the emphasis on trusting in God, instead of relying solely on our own strength, is the underlying theme of this affirmative little book.

Melissa Urtiaga formerly lived in San Antonio and attended Clark High School for three years before she moved to nearby Adkins, where she presently teaches at Salem Sayers Baptist Academy. Her book is available at the Twig Book Shop in San Antonio and at Amazon ($16.99 hardback, $9.99 paperback). She can be contacted at http://www.franklinscribes/melissa-urtiaga/. Follow her on Facebook at Melissa Urtiaga–Author.



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