John Newton (book review)

Never in my life have I read a testimony that brought to mind my own life as the biography of John Newton. From the near-death experiences displaying the providence of God to the conversion of a hateful sinner into a preacher of God’s love, I was moved on nearly every page by the demonstration of the power of God. I am sad that I hadn’t before dug deeper into the life of John Newton until now. But, boy oh boy, is my heart ready for more.

From the Back Cover

John Newton’s life was full of adventure, danger, travels, exotic places, and romance. Young readers will encounter each of these things in Simonetta Carr’s carefully narrated and charmingly illustrated book. But more importantly, readers will come to appreciate the way Newton’s life was changed for good, even when he was attempting to run as far as possible from God. In spite of Newton’s rebellion and sin, God’s grace finally won—a grace that Newton recognized as amazing, invincible, and completely undeserved.


John Newton’s mother had lofty aspirations for him to be a Christian preacher. But when she died while he was just a boy, those influences were overtaken by worldly things. As the back cover states, his life was full of an appealing variety of excitement that makes for a good biography. The author of Amazing Grace, possibly the most famous Christian hymn, was indeed a trophy of God’s grace. A former transporter of slaves, he was instrumental in the abolition of slavery in England in the 19th century. His life was transformed from hating God and other men to clinging dearly to the Lord Jesus Christ and loving men with the preaching of God’s saving grace.

His near-death experiences, rather than being fodder for thrill-seekers, are presented as wonderful providences of God. His love story with his wife is portrayed throughout as well. I always find reading the personal aspects of biographies to be helpful as they bring heroes of the faith down to a level I can understand. John Newton was just a man. He was used mightily by God, but we must remember the same Holy Spirit indwells us as was guiding him.


As she has so many times, the author Simonetta Carr takes a long life and condenses it into important highlights that are edifying to adults, yet apprehensible to little ears.

Recommended without reservation for everyone age 7 and up, especially at only $10 as of September 2021 at the RHB website.

Carr, Simonetta. John Newton (Christian Biographies for Young Readers). Hardcover. Reformation Heritage Books, 2018. 64pp. $10. Purchase at RHB website.

Biographical Sketch of Author and Illustrator

Simonetta Carr – Author (from Amazon)

Award-winning author Simonetta Carr was born in Italy and has lived and worked in different cultures. She worked first as an elementary school teacher and then as a home-schooling mother for many years. Besides writing books, she has contributed to newspapers and magazines around the world and has translated the works of several authors from English into Italian and vice versa. Presently, she lives in San Diego with her husband Thomas and the youngest of her eight children. She is a member and Sunday School teacher at Christ United Reformed Church.

Amal – Illustrator

Amal, a native of Baltimore, is published in traditional and educational children’s books and magazines with work in international collections and museums. She is an MFA graduate from the Academy of Art University, San Francisco, and teaches at the Art League of Long Island. She lives in the pleasantly strange village of Port Jefferson with her husband, daughter, and a thousand giant mushrooms.

Series Description (From the Reformation Heritage Books website)

This series introduces children to important people in the Christian tradition. Parents and school teachers alike will welcome the excellent educational value it provides for students, while the quality of the publication and the artwork make each volume a keepsake for generations to come. Furthermore, the books in the series go beyond the simple story of someone’s life by teaching young readers the historical and theological relevance of each character.

See all posts about Simonetta Carr’s books.
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