Maria Fearing: The Girl Who Dreamed of Distant Lands – K. A. Ellis and Taylor Barron

Maria Fearing: The Girl Who Dreamed of Distant Lands by K.A. Ellis, Taylor Barron
Also by this author: His Testimonies, My Heritage: Women of Color on the Word of God, Fannie Lou Hamer: The Courageous Woman Who Marched for Dignity
Series: Do Great Things for God #8
Published by Good Book Company on June 19, 2023
Genres: Children's, Children's Educational
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Extraordinary real-life story of missionary Maria Fearing, an inspirational role model for children.

Read the true story of Maria Fearing, a missionary who shared Christ’s love with children in Africa and protected them from slavery.

Once freed from slavery on an Alabama plantation, Maria Fearing went to Africa to show children Jesus’ compassion and protect them from being sold into slavery. She even helped translate the Bible so that the children could read it in their own language. Her patience and grit in overcoming incredible obstacles to heed God’s call make her a great role model for young children.

This beautifully illustrated children's biography of Maria Fearing (1838-1937) features stylish and quirky illustrations and extra facts at the back, including a biographical timeline with historical photos. It is part of a series designed to show kids that God uses ordinary people to do extraordinary things.

This new installment in the Do Great Things for God series is about Maria Fearing, an African-American woman who survived slavery, supported herself as a seamstress, and fulfilled her dream of becoming a missionary to Africa. At the beginning of this picture book biography, K. A. Ellis introduces children to basic concepts related to slavery, and she emphasizes the humanity of the enslaved and their dreams for a better life. She also conveys Fearing’s missionary spirit in a vivid and inspiring way, showing how she made sacrifices and took risks to follow God’s call to Africa and serve children there.

At the end, the book includes a historic photograph of Fearing and quotes one of her favorite Bible verses. There is also a timeline with more information, a map, and an advertisement for the free activity sheets that adults can download from the publisher’s website to use with children. My one critique of this book is that the story glosses over the amount of time that passed between the end of American slavery and Fearing’s trip to the Congo. According to the timeline, she was twenty-seven when the Civil War ended, but she was fifty-six when she began ministering overseas. The story doesn’t adequately reflect this huge gap in time, and I think that is a missed opportunity to teach kids about patience, showing how long some people work and wait to fulfill the callings God has placed on their heart.

I would highly recommend Maria Fearing: The Girl Who Dreamed of Distant Lands to families, churches, and Christian schools. It is informative and inspiring, and it will especially appeal to people looking for biographies about Black women in church history. Taylor Barron’s illustrations are colorful, gentle, and engaging, and K. A. Ellis shares important information about American slavery and oppression in Africa without making the book too grim for young children. This is appropriate for most independent readers to explore on their own, and parents can read this aloud to younger or more sensitive children. This will also appeal to adults, since it introduces a little-known historical figure’s story in such an engaging way.