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To a Different Drum

post written by Emma Filbrun

To a Different Drum by Pauline G. HamiltonTitle: To a Different Drum
Author: Pauline G. Hamilton
Major Themes: China, Formosa, Missionaries, Pauline Hamilton, Taiwan
Synopsis: Pauline Hamilton relates her life story, both the humorous parts and the challenging and dangerous things that happened to her as a missionary in China and Taiwan.

One of our best-loved books for many years has been Granny Han’s Breakfast. When I wrote a review of it a couple of years ago, I noticed, in researching the title, that it was based on an account in the book To a Different Drum. Well, that got my curiosity up, and I just had to get the original book. Unfortunately it is out of print—but I found a used copy. We recently finished reading this wonderful book aloud together; it took us a long time to get through it, partly because we took an extended family trip after we started it and never had time for reading aloud while away. Everyone looked forward to getting back into it, though!

In To a Different Drum, Pauline Hamilton tells her life story. She begins with her attempt at suicide when, as a medical student, she was diagnosed with tuberculosis and then her fiance broke up with her. She could see no future for herself and decided to end it all—but then a miracle from God intervened! Eventually, after becoming a Christian, she decided to become a missionary, and spend the rest of her life in China. Very little worked out the way she had planned, but her life was one adventure after another.

We thoroughly enjoyed the humor Pauline sprinkled all through her story (who can forget the frog-catching story, or how thrilled she was when God provided her with a rat?). We were also very challenged with her close walk with God, and I, for one, could identify with her arguing with God at times (you really want me to do THAT?). Of course, one highlight of the book was the chapter telling in great detail the story rewritten in Granny Han’s Breakfast!

I was astounded by the ministry Pauline had among the gangs in Taiwan. Some of those boys—in fact, many of them—were very rough and killed people without a second thought. Once, at least, one of them was going to kill her, and only God’s grace and her quick thinking saved her life. We loved the story of the night the police told her that there was to be a gang fight and asked her to stop it!

We highly recommend this book for any family to read aloud. There are a few difficult places, such as the suicide attempt, and some of the gang fights, and a few times when Pauline was in danger. God’s hand is so evident in each of these situations, though, that all except young, sensitive children should be all right listening. If you can’t read it to your family, get this book and read it yourself!

WARNING: As mentioned in last paragraph of review.

Age Levels:

Read Aloud—Ages 8 – 12, 10 – 13, Family Read Alouds
Reading Independently—Ages 15 and Above, Adults


Links to buy To a Different Drum:

Amazon: Paperback

AbeBooks: View Choices on


China, Formosa, Missionaries, Pauline Hamilton, Taiwan

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