This fourth Christian suspense book in the "Cooper Kids Adventures" series by Frank E. Peretti is published by Good News Publishers, Crossway Books.
Trapped at the Bottom of the Sea is written for kids ages 8 to 12. The age range reflects readability and not necessarily content appropriateness.
While in Japan on a teaching assignment, Dr. Cooper and his daughter, Lila, have a huge disagreement about her mother. Dr. Cooper puts her on a military plane to return to the States and stay with his sister. When the plane does not land, and seems to have disappeared, Dr. Cooper and his son, Jay, set out to find her. They discover that the plane was carrying a laser with the capacity to shoot down enemy satellites and missiles from hundreds of miles away. The American Navy and a Russian agent, who employed the help of Philippine rebels, race to find the device. With the help of a trading store proprietor, a missionary, a reporter and Sutolo natives, the Coopers find the weapons pod, where they hope Lila is safe. While awaiting rescue from the bottom of the ocean in the pod, Lila realizes she should consider the needs of others first, and she forgives her dad. Dr. Cooper learns to stop hiding the hurt he feels from the loss of his wife and rescues Lila.
The Coopers demonstrate their strong Christian beliefs. Even though Dr. Cooper and Lila have a falling out, they still look to God for guidance in their situations. While trapped in the pod, Lila spends her time talking and arguing with God. She knows that she can go to God even when she is angry and tell Him anything because He will still love her. Eventually, God leads her to a place of repentance and forgiveness. Mrs. Flaherty, a woman helping Dr. Cooper find his daughter, also reveals her strong Christian beliefs by telling Dr. Cooper that he needs to change his attitude about his wife's death. God uses Mrs. Flaherty to show Dr. Cooper how much he is hurting his children by not grieving. Dr. Cooper and Mrs. Flaherty also acknowledge many times that God is in control of the situation. Regardless of what happens, God's plan will be carried out, and they trust in Him. Lila also comes to this same conclusion while trapped in the pod.
Dr. Cooper is doing his best to raise his children as a single father. He is also trying to be a godly influence in their lives. However, because he does not want to deal with his wife's death, he refuses to talk about her with his children even though they want to talk about her. This alienates them and hurts Lila deeply. She ends up lashing out at her father and accusing him of not caring for her mother. As God works in both of their lives, Dr. Cooper eventually realizes what he is doing to his children. God shows him how to grieve, and Lila and Jay have the chance to talk about their mother with him. Ivanovich was a negative authority figure because he was only interested in what was best for himself. When taken prisoner on an island of cannibals, he bargains for his own life. When they let him go, he quickly leaves without a thought for the members of his team who were still captured.
Other Belief Systems
Cannibalism is mentioned.
If your children have read this book or someone has read it to them, consider these discussion topics:
- How does Lila feel when her father refuses to talk about her mother?
What does she conclude about his love for her mother?
How does her heart change while she is trapped in the pod?
Is there someone in your own life who needs forgiveness?
Why is it difficult?
What should you do if the person does not apologize first?
Is it okay to hold a grudge against the person?
What does Romans 5:8 say about Christ's love for us?
How can you show this type of love to those who have not asked for forgiveness yet?
- How does Dr. Cooper deal with the death of his wife?
How does his attitude affect his children?
What issue in your life do you refuse to deal with?
How does this attitude affect those around you?
- What consequences occur as a result of Ivanovich's false assumptions?
Have you ever jumped to conclusions without knowing all of the facts?
How can you tell if your conclusions are grounded in a biblical worldview?
What does James 1:5 say about wisdom?
Book reviews cover the content, themes and worldviews of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. A book's inclusion does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.