If you were to ask me, "Who is the greatest Christian children's author of all time?" I would answer you, "Without question, Patricia St. John." Born in Southhampton, England in 1919 to the famous missionary and Bible teacher Harold St. John and his delightful wife, Ella. The third of five children, Patricia was one of many in a missionary-studded family. Her brother, Farnham, founded a missions hospital in Algiers, Morocco where Patricia worked for many years. She also served in her younger years as a house mother at her aunt's Christian boarding school.
Patricia's childhood was full of fun. Her siblings were lively and highly devoted to one another. Her mother was a modern-day saint putting up with her husband's travel and vision for ministry. Because of her father's travels for the Gospel, Patricia's parents were separated for long periods of time. Her mother never complained, but maintained a joyful outlook no matter what!
When Patricia was a little girl, her mother realized it would be cheaper to live in Switzerland than in England while her husband was circumnavigating the globe. She moved herself and her children to a small village in Switzerland for a year. It was out of that experience that Patricia wrote her most renowned book Treasures of the Snow, which was also made into a beautiful film. It was filmed on location in that very village, many years later. Patricia and her siblings had a delightful and adventure filled childhood. She retells many of their stories in her books.
Because Patricia St. John has had such an impact on my life, I was thrilled when I discovered her autobiography Patricia St. John Tell Her Own Story. She was a missionary of the old school. Her experience of bringing the Gospel to unreached people groups in Morocco, living in very primitive conditions, and suffering for Christ with joy, is incredibly inspiring. In her autobiography, she also shares the lives of her brother and her parents. It was delightful to discover that Patricia had written a biography of her father's life entitled Harold St. John A Portrait by His Daughter. I was not able to put this book down. Her father was a Colossus in the Kingdom of God! Rarely have I read of anyone who has so thoroughly inspired me. I have heavily marked many pages in the book. What a wonderful book to give a young person in ministry, it cannot help but shape their destiny.
As you are savoring time with your children this summer, what a joy to sit on a porch swing or lay under a tree and read the full repertoire of Patricia St. Johns children's books. Some of the titles could include Tanglewood Secrets, Three Go Searching, Rainbow Garden, Where the River Begins, Star of Light, The Secret of the Fourth Candle, and her biblically set books The Runaway, and Twice Freed. Look for older Moody Press editions as the most recent editions have been abridged. Avoid them at all costs.
Patricia St. John shares deep spiritual truths without the clichéd sermonettes. Her insight into the struggles that our sinful nature bring upon us is second-to-none. I know of no adult author who addresses these issues as well as she does. If you had to choose one author to bring with your family to the proverbial desert island, she is the one!