cover image My Angel Named Herman

My Angel Named Herman

Elmer Townes, Elmer L. Towns. Thomas Nelson Publishers, $7.99 (36pp) ISBN 978-0-8499-5839-7

Angels are as popular a topic as ever these days, and Towns's brief novel introduces children to the idea that they may be ""entertaining angels unawares,"" never knowing when a meeting with a guardian angel could occur. Sixth-grader Jacob could never have imagined that a grandfatherly school janitor named Herman could be his guardian angel. But Herman knows an awful lot about God and Heaven (especially the stars and the universe, a subject of great fascination for Jacob), and appears at opportune moments (he saves Jacob from drowning at one point). However, no one but Jacob has seen or heard of Herman--is he real? While Towns's premise is promising, he fails to build for readers a believable emotional connection to Jacob. Many of Herman's conversations with the boy come off as wordy science lessons spun out of control. Readers also know little of Jacob (except that he is coping with his parents recent divorce and spends much of his time alone) and may find Jacob's first meeting with Herman a bit ominous (while Jacob waits alone after soccer practice for his mother to pick him up, Herman startles him by stepping out of the darkness). These drawbacks will likely keep this volume from capturing readers' attention. Ages 8-12. (June)