The day Carine Mackenzie wrote her first book was a typical one in her household. Two girls had been packed off to school and a little red-headed toddler was crawling around on the floor.
She was a bit noisy and constantly demanding her mother’s attention, but there was something else on Carine’s mind that day. It had seemed a good idea at first. She and her husband William, and his brothers, had recognised the need for children’s Christian books that were true to the Bible. On more than one occasion their young girls had asked, ‘Does the Bible really say that?’ And the answer had had to be ‘no’.
The time came when enough was enough. ‘Why don’t we publish our own books?’ William and his brothers suggested. ‘You can write them Carine, and we’ll publish them’.
Now facing a stack of blank paper, Carine clutched a pen while a toddler clutched her. The plan was to have two full colour children’s books ready for the next Frankfurt book fair.
William’s colleagues knew that to finance this project publishers in other languages would have to be involved, and they would need to work together to print it in the Far East.
All this was a far cry from a family kitchen in Inverness, but there was a definite need for such books for children across the world. However, it was the needs of one particularly vocal little girl that Carine had to focus on for the moment.
Quickly she took a basin from the sink, half filled it with water and left it on the floor. She sat at the table and got to work. When she lifted her head an hour or so later, there was one soaking wet toddler grinning up at her and a 24-page manuscript on Gideon, the soldier of God ready for illustration.
It was the first of many books to come from that pad and pen, but, of course, Carine had no idea about that at the time. One thing she would tell you is that on that day, 30 years ago, manuscript number one was as daunting as manuscript number 150 is today. In fact, the idea of writing 150 books for Christian Focus had simply never entered her head.
This July sees the launch of her 150th title: 365 great Bible stories — the good news of Jesus from Genesis to Revelation. And the subtitle sums up well what Christian Focus children’s books are about.
They are written so that children and families will understand the Bible and discover how to apply God’s Word to their lives. The good news of salvation is not just New Testament teaching. Throughout Scripture, we see that salvation’s plan and fulfilment is in Jesus Christ.
The one and only Saviour is its key focus. It may be the 150th book, but this is still the same message. 365 great Bible stories takes the reader from Creation to Revelation. You’ll read familiar stories like, the Flood, David and Goliath, and the feeding of the 5,000. But you’ll also read stories that don’t always make it into children’s books.
There are Huldah the prophetess, Paul’s epistles, major and minor prophets and John’s Revelation. Throughout, children are taught about sin and salvation, God’s Word and the Trinity. Each story has a specific point of application or a suggestion for prayer at the end.
A year’s worth of Bible stories in one book is great, but you are not restricted to just reading one story a day. One section gives suggestions about thematic reading, focussing on stories connected to salvation or the Holy Spirit.
Bible Time, Bible Wise and other such Christian Focus series have all been brightly illustrated. 365 Great Bible Stories is illustrated by David Lundquist from Minnesota. He is a Christian and his artwork is biblically accurate.
Writing children’s Bible stories and teaching the truth of God’s Word has been a huge part of Carine’s life. Now it’s not only her children that read her books, but her grandchildren too.
The little red-head is a mother of five little red-heads and there are three other grandchildren, also avid readers.
Today these children’s books have been translated into many different languages. Countries like China, Indonesia, and Pakistan have the books in their own languages; and children can read Bible stories in Urdu, Setswana and Chechawa first written in English by a woman in a kitchen in Scotland.
God spreads his Word to children from surprising places. I’m sure Carine would agree as she submits her 151st manuscript for publication!