Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Wednesday Book Review: Pinocchio Vs the Real Boy

I just realized how late in the day it is and I haven't put up this week's review yet.  Shame on me!  This is one I've really been looking forward to too!  In my defense, I got home from Florida and immediately caught my son's killer cold.  So nice of him to share. . . I spent today lazing about and watching TV.  The extent of my productivity was the couple loads of laundry I did.  But, it's still Wednesday and I want to get this review up because this is another book authored by someone I know! So here it is!

Pinocchio vs the Real Boy by Marv Nelson

Marv Nelson is a youth pastor and first time published author.  I've known him for quite a few years now and have had the pleasure to get to know him and his family fairly well.  In fact, his younger sister was our babysitter for years and we were happy for her, but disappointed that we lost our best sitter ever when she graduated college and became an R.N.  Marv's wife and sister-in-law are both dear friends of mine and his son and mine are buddies. I can vouch for the background of this guy.  He comes from good people.  I'm not just saying that to be nice. That all has nothing to do with the review whatsoever except to point out why I was so excited to be able to review this book and so proud to hear that it published! It's also just really cool to review a book by a friend because you get to hear so much of their voice in it and you can see where much of the content comes from.

Pinocchio vs the Real Boy is a "Youth Worker's Guide to Authenticity."  It covers how to be authentic in your own life and how to encourage authenticity in youth, despite living in a world that encourages people to put on a good show and try to keep up with the Jones'.  Nelson also covers why authenticity is important. While the book is geared toward youth workers and I feel it's most appropriate for that demographic, it has a great deal of helpful information in it for anyone in ministry. It isn't a heavy read and is accessible for anyone- not just pastors and/or the "theologically savvy."

Nelson is a young, first time author who could use some polishing, but overall this is a great first effort.  He has an engaging voice and tells some energetic stories that hold the reader's attention.  He has a great testimony and stays true to his call to authenticity by being very up front about his struggles and past.  I've noticed of late that many books are including reflection/discussion questions at the end of each chapter and that popular format is used effectively in this book.

A great deal of this book was, in my hands, preaching to the choir.  Marv speaks out about not just teaching kids behavioral modification and about the trouble with judgmental churches. He has a friendly voice as an author (and as a person), but is bold like Timothy.  Unlike so many voices out there today, he is also willing to  admit, "I know I have tons to learn and am dedicated to that learning."

You just can't go wrong with a book that has great quotes like, "If the Spirit doesn't move you to change, but He moves you to roll around, it probably wasn't real."  That's truth a Presbyterian like me can really appreciate.  (I'm sorry if there are any "Holy Rollers" reading this right now getting offended, but he's got a really good point there.) This would be a great book to consider handing out to youth leaders or using as a jumping off point for a youth leader seminar or training.

I look forward to reading more from Marv in the future and I encourage you to check out his blogs at and  I consider it an honor to be his peer, working with youth on the Northside of Pittsburgh.

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