post written by Esther Filbrun
Title: Hartly Manor
Author: Amanda Tero
Major Themes: Children’s Books
Synopsis: When an old man who is well known as grumpy and irritable shows up at the orphanage asking for children to share his life with, can anyone learn to trust him?
Amanda Tero recently asked for a few beta readers for a children’s book she was preparing to publish, so when I saw her request I jumped on the offer. I’ve enjoyed all of her books that I’ve read so far, and although some might feel almost simple they generally have an excellent “moral-to-the-story” which is always encouraging. Hartly Manor is no exception—and, perhaps, is made even more fun because it’s intended to be read to the little guys in your household!
Six children from the orphanage have formed a strong bond with each other. In order to survive and enjoy life, they make sure to include and support each close individual. Whenever one goes out, they generally all go out. One day as they are going to town with Mrs. Doen to get some much-needed groceries, they decide to study the manor of old Mr. Hartly. They’ve always been intrigued by this gentleman, rarely seen but often spoken of in whispers due to his harsh manners. As they slowly walk by his house, they all come to the same conclusion: Since he has no children, he must be a stern, grumpy old man. Later that day, they even see the famed gentleman—and what’s more, he’s getting after a boy not much older than them for no apparent reason at all! Then, the most unexpected thing happens. He comes to the orphanage to ask a few children to come live with him. Will anyone take him up on his offer? Is the nice personality he shows just a trick so he can be unkind to them later?
I really enjoyed the simple message contained in Hartly Manor—that of the fact that even if God seems stern and harsh at times, that often isn’t really the case. What He really wants is to have a relationship with us—to show us His love. The harshness only comes in when we turn against His perfect plan. In all, this is a great children’s story, one that I’m sure my younger siblings would enjoy as well as learn from.