By Stan Friedman
OMAHA, NE (March 1, 2012) – Lavern Holdeman remembers the fear and paranoia that gripped the world in October 1962 when the United States and the Soviet Union played what is probably the most dangerous game of chicken ever.
Holdeman, who works with Covenant Trust Company and attends First Covenant Church, was 12 years old during the Cuban Missile Crisis – the same age as the hero in his book N.U.K.E.S., which recently earned the Silver Seal for juvenile fiction in the Character Building Counts Book Awards.
The book tells the serious and, as one reviewer notes, “laugh-out-loud funny” story of Shawn Stucky and his friends who form Nuclear Undercover Kids’ Espionage Service in order to investigate and expose their science teacher as a Russian spy. Holdeman never investigated his instructor, but he does want to impart the lessons he’s learned over the years.
“I am concerned that young people today are losing a sense of the importance of history,” Holdeman says. “I am also dismayed by the negative values portrayed in popular literature and media, targeted specifically at them.
“I want to promote positive ethical and moral values through a humorous, engaging story, without being preachy. Although the book is written for a broad audience, the values it portrays are both as old and as current as the teachings of Christ.”
As the story progresses, the characters discover and grow in their understanding of the values of people who are different than them and what it means to love their neighbor, he says.
The story has important themes that adults would do well to consider as well. In a world where spreading fear pays more dividends that encouraging hope, the characters learn to take time and investigate evidence before jumping to conclusions. They also demonstrate real heroism.
Holdeman decided to write the book after the Oklahoma Department of Education chose one of the two stories he wrote for “Cricket” magazine to be in its statewide testing program.
Holdeman has long been interested in history, especially the 1960s and 1970s as well as the Civil War. “I loved biographies and works of historical fiction and non-fiction,” he says. “I believe that history is important, not only for what it teaches about the past, but also because it serves as a guide for the future. In addition, as a Christian, I see the fingerprints of God all over human history and believe studying and understanding it gives us a better comprehension of God’s continuing activity in human affairs, up to our present day.”
To help his young readers better understand the facts in the book, Holdeman includes an afterword about the crisis and the Cold War as well as a personal remembrance of how those days in October have impacted his entire life. He was especially mindful of the events because his brother was in the Navy at the time.
Click here to purchase a copy of the book from the Covenant Bookstore.