A Captain for Hans
post written by Emma Filbrun
Title: A Captain for Hans
Author: Rebecca Martin
Series: Rebecca Martin Heritage series, book 1
Major Themes: Anabaptists, Persecution, Switzerland
Synopsis: Hans wants to become a captain in the army—until he sees what the army is doing to his friends and learns more about their faith.
I’ve been trying to read books to the children every so often about Anabaptist history. There are a lot of books written from other points of view about the Reformation, but we greatly value what the Anabaptists stood for and want our children to learn about them, as well. Our most recent story set among the Anabaptists during the Reformation was A Captain for Hans. Rebecca Martin has done a good job of imagining what life would have been like for the Anabaptists in Switzerland and their neighbors.
Hans and his friend Stefan are sledding on the mountain when their friend Rudolf appears with news that the captain of the army of Zurich is dead. As the boys discuss this, Stefan wonders out loud if there is ever a good reason to fight and kill. Is he an Anabaptist sympathizer? But weren’t all the Anabaptists killed or driven out long ago?
Soon, Stefan’s family stops attending the local church—and then one day, as he is in school, he sees his father amongst a group of men being led away to prison. Hans’s father does all within his power to free the men. When they are arrested over and over, he searches for more and more ways to help them. Will Stefan have the courage to join the persecuted group his family is part of? What will Hans end up doing? Will he be able to become a captain in the army, as he has always dreamed of?
This story is very worth reading. The history is sound, and shows the Anabaptist’s values clearly. It’s not a very gripping story, as a lot of the books we read are, so was not quite as popular among the children as others. At the same time, they did seem to really enjoy it and are looking forward to reading the sequel. I appreciated the way nonresistance was clearly taught and shown, and standing up for your convictions though you are being threatened and tortured. While some of the persecution is described, it is not graphic enough that I felt it needed any censoring.
Read Aloud—Ages 8 – 12, 10 – 13, Family Read Alouds
Reading Independently—Ages 12 – 15, 15 and Above
Links to buy A Captain for Hans:
AbeBooks: View Choices on AbeBooks.com
Keywords: Anabaptists, Persecution, Switzerland