Ayal the Arrow Boy
Erik M. Steidl
CrossLink Publishing (2020)
Reviewed by Chelsy Scherba for Reader Views (04/2021)
Erik M. Steidl writes a fast-paced biblical adventure for teens titled, “Ayal the Arrow Boy.” We’ve all heard of the great biblical heroes like Abraham and Moses, but have you heard of Ayal? Ayal is a simple orphan boy with a talent for running very fast. He delivers messages for King Saul’s soldiers and even food and packages when called upon. Ayal never thought of himself as important or needed until he overhears a dangerous plot to kill David, the greatest warrior in Saul’s army. Ayal must now make an important decision. Does he risk angering those in power to thwart the plot, or remain silent?
I really enjoyed the themes in this story. At the heart of the book, this novel is about a young boy realizing that no matter how small and insignificant he sees himself, God sees something more. Like David who slew Goliath, Ayal becomes the most import piece in the puzzle because he’s the only one who can perform his duty. I loved seeing Ayal’s confidence in himself blossom and found it inspirational. I also really liked how the author incorporated animal motifs to match the names and traits of some of the characters. Oren is big and burly, like a bear, and Ayal, like his namesake, runs as fast as a deer.
This book is also illustrated with what appeared to be simple pencil sketches. I like this style of art for the book because it reminded me of what art would have looked like during the times in which the story is set. The illustrator is Kelly P. Harrison, and I felt her sketches helped me visualize the story better. In particular, some of the locations and rooms were helpful to see since those are so culturally different from today.
The book has a professional appearance and is well written, I would only suggest that a proofreader sweep away the lingering errors. The errors didn’t interfere with my reading, but there were enough of them present for me to give mention. Nevertheless, the book is a solidly-edited story from start to finish. There was no boring filler or anything that was too difficult to understand.
If you or your teens love Bible stories, “Ayal the Arrow Boy” is an enjoyable read with a likable protagonist. It gives a name and a face to a person that is merely swept over in the biblical accounts. The book is a combination of suspense, thrills, and educational material. I would highly recommend it to Christian and Jewish teens and anyone who enjoys a fun, inspiring adventure from the distant past.