New Book for Orthodox Tweens/Teens: Voyage to the Rock {giveaway}

Xristos Anesti! Christ is Risen!


One of the most difficult thing as a parent to a tween boy that loves to read is finding books that are on his reading level yet still has appropriate content.  I feel like we’ve gone through most of the good series that are out there and we recently began dipping our toes into other book series.

Like the Percy Jackson series, for example.  There were a few romantic references I wasn’t too thrilled about but luckily they went right over Ace’s head as he raced through them to get to the good parts, like the poisonous swords and magic horses.

However, after he finished The House of Hades, the fourth book in The Heroes of Olympus series, I was… appalled? shocked? disappointed?  All three really.  I found out that one of Ace’s favorite characters Nico Di Angelo comes out of the closet at the end of the story.  Luckily, this also slipped right past Ace.  Due entirely, I believe, to the fact that we got a blessing from our spiritual father before he began reading the series.   Now, I’m not getting into the g a y debate in this post, but I am going to say how ridiculously inappropriate that is in a MG/YA novel.   I’m definitely not one to encourage the banning of books, regardless of content, I believe it’s a person’s freedom of speech to write whatever he/she wishes but if publisher’s are going to make it a habit to publish this sort of garbage in books other people’s children are reading, they need to have a LGBT category (they have one for everything else) for them.  Parents need to know beforehand if a book contains this type of inappropriate content, and it IS inappropriate.  Because we, parents, also have the right to decide when/where/how we will introduce and discuss these types of issues with our children.

Anyway, after that incident I have been EXTREMELY careful what he reads.  When he was younger, I would read the books before he did.  Easy peasy.  As he got older, I skimmed them.  Still not too difficult.  But now that he is reading books with word counts over 100,000 I usually just read the jacketflap and flip through it to see if anything jumps out at me.

Which brings me to today’s post.  The FANTASTIC new book out by Fr. Matthew Penney (sister of Mat. Constantina Palmer, author of The Scent of Holiness and the blog Lessons from a Monastery).

Voyage to the Rock is a terrific new book out for Orthodox young people.  It is full of adventures and mysteries and danger-everything young boys (and girls) love!    I was sort of nervous to give it to Ace at first because he is really, really picky about what he reads.  Unfortunately, he judges his books by their covers and if it looks at all preachy or boring, he exes it before even hearing what it’s about.

So, first I played the trailer for him and Lucky, reading the captions in my most adventurous voice.  It must’ve worked because he shrugged his shoulders and said, “That sounds pretty good.”  Then he shoved his nose back between the current book he was reading in the backseat.  Now, any moms of tween-aged boys knows that’s a major win!

A few days later, he asked if the book came in yet.  Finally, when it did, he grabbed it off the counter and took off in search of a quiet spot to read.  He was on the porch reading for over an hour that first night!   Yay!!


What’s even cooler is that he took the book to school to read during quiet time and told me a few of his friends asked what it was about and one asked to borrow it when he was finished!  What an awesome way for young people to share their faith quietly and naturally.

I hope to come back and post some of Ace’s thoughts on the book, but I can tell you know it is already officially kid-tested and approved!

Official Description of Voyage to the Rock:

    “To be like St. Herman of Alaska!” These words – only a family joke once, were now turning Martin’s world upside down. Catapulted from his ideal teenage existence in Boston to Newfoundland, Canada – a place affectionately called “The Rock” by its inhabitants, he doesn’t want anything to do with his father’s missionary dreams. Accompanied by his parents and his all-too-perky younger sister, a dismal summer of hard work and early mornings is all that awaits Martin. Or so he thinks… 

      But all that changes the day he finds a bronze cross at the site of the historic Viking settlement, L’Anse aux Meadows. A whole new world opens to Martin then, one of trans-Atlantic voyages, unanswered clues, suspicious antique-dealers, narrow escapes, mysterious deaths, and at the center of it all is an  ancient cross and a manuscript poem.

      A burning question begins his search: Is the cross Viking, or could it be from the fabled voyage of St. Brendan the Navigator?

      Now with the help of his sister, Brigid, and a local Newfoundland boy, Ashley, the three of them race to unlock the mystery of an ancient Christian treasure. But with the Old Wolf, Sullivan O’Connell hunting them, it isn’t just about treasure anymore… It’s about survival.

Mat. Constantina also posted an interview with the author and Ace was pleased to hear that Voyage to the Rock will become a three book series!  Woo-hoo!

A huge thank you to Fr. Matthew and Lumination Press for filling this ginormous gap in Orthodox literature and tending to the needs of the most impressionable members of our Faith!   We are already anxiously awaiting for your next release!

Voyage to the Rock is available here through Lumination Press.

To enter to win your copy simply:

1.  Leave your name (with a VALID email address) in the comment section.

2.  Tell me what you wish there was more of in Orthodox children’s literature.


3.  Why you’re excited about this book!

For extra entries:

1.  Tweet, Facebook, Instagram or Blog about this giveaway.  Be sure to leave a link to your post!

Winner will be announced on Wednesday!

*WINNER IS MARIA! Congrats!! Email your shipping info to and I’ll ship out your copy of Voyage to the Rock!

29 thoughts on “New Book for Orthodox Tweens/Teens: Voyage to the Rock {giveaway}

  1. Tammy/Olga –

    I wish there were more day to day stories based on kids today. While we love reading about the various saints they also want to read “regular” and “popular” literature to which there are rarely any references to Orthodoxy (much less any religion). It would be great to see series in which there is an on-going story in which the family is “simply Orthodox” and that fact affects the decisions they make and how they handle situations. I know being a convert (12 years now) with only one child being a true cradle Orthodox, living in an area where there are few and far between Orthodox, makes it difficult to see Orthodoxy lived out day to day. (We live 35 miles from our Church and other parishners.) While I do my best, I’m learning right along with kids. You might say a baby was raising babies when it comes to the spiritual side. So as a mother who has a love for YA fiction, I would love books like that myself. I need examples as well!

    I’m also excited about this book because it sounds like it could be something my youngest son (13) would want to delve into! That makes me very excited as I can barely find something like this that would interest him. Thankfully, he loves the Church but still, to have just one more thing pointing in the right direction just gets me giddy!!

  2. I’d LOVE to see more fiction for the younger reader that was Orthodox friendly. My kids loved to read the Magic Tree House series. I wish I had something like that that talked about Church History instead.

  3. I’m very excited about this book. My children are not quite old enough to enjoy it yet, but I’m sure I will, and it would be nice to have books like this around when they’re ready for them. I feel like there is a nice selection of Orthodox books for very young children, but I haven’t seen much for older ages so it’s encouraging to see books like this one being published.

    lisa (dot) amer (at) att (dot) net

  4. As the parent of three young boys I think this would be an awesome addition to our library even though they are too young for it right now. I would like to see more elementary age books for my children because that’s the stage I am at but I know we have a need for Orthodox books at all school levels.

  5. Like Lisa, I also wish there were more young adult books available for Orthodox Christians. Many of the young adult novels on bookshelves deal with themes that might not be appropriate for that age group. Furthermore, though as kids get older I feel it is important that they are not necessarily sheltered from some mature topics, having books that teach readers how to look at these topics from an Orthodox Christian perspective can help them understand how to grapple with these issues if they ever face them in real life.

    I am excited about this book because I am a teacher in a Christian school, and I am always looking for new books for my students!

  6. This book sounds amazing (yes I know I’m 25 but I can’t wait to read it).I wish there was more (for lack of a better word) regular fiction my friends’ kids like to read but most of the orthodox lit they have are lives of the saints which is wonderful but it would be nice if there were other options.

  7. Wow, sounds like a great book. I wish there were more Orthodox books for this age group available…my daughter is 10 but reads at a much higher level, and I would love to have some Orthodox fiction for her to read.

  8. I would love to give this to my grandson! He loves the Percy Jackson series, as well as Vikings! I agree that there are not many “ordinary” books that include “ordinary” Orthodox families. I loved Rumer Godden’s “Kitchen Madonna” when I was a child — my first introduction to icons. When my daughter was young, I searched for books that subtly included such things as icons in the background (like some of Trina Schart Hyman’s illustrated fairy tales or Russian folk tales). There are many more children’s books available now for young children, but not many for older readers.

  9. I am just like you in that I used to read or preview everything my son read, but 3 kids later, homeschooling, and the fact that my son can polish off an 8oo page book in just a few days, this is no longer possible. I wish there were certain book series, publishing houses, or authors that I knew produced quality Christian literature in the fantasy/adventure genre that had been ‘vetted’ for content so I could feel comfortable giving them to my kids. I had my sons watch the book trailer and they both were very excited! Thanks for bringing this book to our attention! Kim

  10. As a middle school teacher, I am familiar with the general tastes of teens and tweens today. I would love to have some books to offer those readers that were based in Church history or missions.

  11. I have a love of children’s literature. Having homeschooled for 14 years and teaching preschool before this we have read many, many books. As a recent convert (2010), I would love to see Orthodox literature for teens that teaches them how to live their faith daily. A story shared that will let teens know they are not alone in this struggle. We have found strong characters and role models in classic literature, but for our faith we have turned to Scripture and the Synaxarion for encouragement. Our boys long for adventure and tend to love fantasy (like C.S.Lewis and J.R.R.Tolkien). I think there is more available for our girls. Thanks for the post, the new book will be a blessing for our family!

  12. I am super excited about this book, as my kids love reading and I’m finding there isn’t enough variety in Orthodox books. We’ve found some fantastic lives of saints books, plus a handful of others, but that’s all.
    My son read the Percy Jackson series also and I was horrified when I read your comments above! Thankfully, after questioning him about the book, it seemed to have gone over his head too!
    Our faith is full of heroic saints and beautiful miracles, it would be wonderful if these stories were used as the basis for adventure stories for kids.

  13. I wish there were more books with orthodox children in adventures, showing the orthodox approach of life. And the old siants stories to be done ina modern way to be appealing. My daughter is fascinated by the royal diaries series talking about different royals. I wish there was something like that for orthodox saints. Emohasis on teh series also.

  14. I would love to see more Orthodox Church history told in a creative way for children. I believe this would help them to love and appreciate their Faith on a deeper level.

  15. My almost 12 year old would love this book! I have the same problem- I tried to read every book (I did read the original Percy Jackson series) but it is hard to keep up with his reading.
    We have so many wonderful Orthodox Children’s books for younger children- and some of the adult Orthodox books are too theological for the 12 year olds. I would love to see more books for the age group.

  16. Alithos Anesti! Truly He is Risen!

    I’m really excited that I found your blog!We really need to hear from more Orthodox moms and their experiences in raising holy & Orthodox children. Thank you for that!

    I’m excited about this book as well because of two reasons: 1) My son, although too young right now to read it, would love to read this book eventually and 2) I work in the Mission field in Africa and we need more literature in Orthodoxy for our youth. Things that are exciting, inspirational and fun :).

    Thanks for letting us know about this and so much more.

    Dalia Fam –

  17. Books like this are so important for the life of Orthodoxy and our children as they are raised in Orthodoxy. This new book will be an excellent resource in our classes at the Parish.

  18. Christ is Risen!

    I’m a new mother, with my second on the way and I realize it’s specific to the season I’m in but I wish there were more Orthodox Board books for Children. My daughter is only 10.5 months old and notice the lack of orthodox books that I could introduce her to that would be able to withstand her not-so-gentle treatment of them. I know it’s a short period of time in a childs life but I think providing little ones access to orthodox stories and icons is so important, even at this tender age. I just recently discovered a really great series by “Athos Childrens Books” that contains three board books full of icons. I cannot express how pleased I am.
    You can view them here,

    This is a great start. I’m very much hoping they will expand and add more lives of the saints.

  19. Christ Is Risen! Indeed He Is Risen!

    my email:

    I would like children’s literature that is geared towards early readers. I would absolutely love for my daughter to be able to read stories of the saints on her own but I haven’t been able to find any that are geared towards young readers.

    This book would be a great addition to our Sunday school library! Or book club!

  20. More personal, colorful, joyful true story books like those written and illustrated by authoress Patricia Polacco.

  21. We are intrigued to read a book that seems to be well written and which respects both the reader and the topics it approaches. Most importantly, a novel for this age group that takes the faith seriously and makes no attempt to dumb it down or make it so “cute” it is dishonest. We have only read the first chapter, and, if it’s any indication of what’s to come, then it’s a good read for adults, too. Congratulations to Lumination Press and to Fr. Matthew – and, thank you. (Very much looking forward to their next pubication!)

  22. My Church School students love it when we tell them stories of saints, healing icons, Holy Fire, etc. Would love to have this book and incorporate into a lesson, retreat or just add to our library and promote it to are Church School.

  23. I am excited to share this story with my step son! He is an inspiration to me! He is so devoted to the Orthodox church. His journey was a tough one because he fell in love with Orthodoxy and then had to convince his mother (a on again off again Baptist) that being baptised and being baptised in the Orthodox church were two different things! I am prod of him for making that decision and fighting for it! It has now been 2 years since he was baptised and he is such an awesome kid. He enjoys serving at the altar, and going to Sunday School. And I would love to share this series with him!

  24. my two girls, 7 & 14, are in a mixed faith – orthodox/protestant – home, and surrounded by entirely protestant extended family. anything that helps ‘tip the balance’ toward orthodoxy is welcome.
    i’ve often thought it would be nice and not too difficult to extract books from the lives of saints made up of their encounters with animals….think what it would be if some kid that read one, later as an adult reading lives of saints discovers the “source” material and connects the two…
    thank you

  25. Christ is Risen!
    Hi all,

    I just wanted to thank Sylvia for doing this give-away, and to thank everyone for expressing so much interest in ‘Voyage to the Rock’.
    Congrats to Maria! I hope you and your girls enjoy the book.
    Blessings in the Risen Lord,
    Fr. Matthew

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