Focus on the Family

The Carjackers

A book review for parents

This second preteen mystery in the "Rugendo Rhinos" series by Shel Arensen is published by Kregel Publications.

The Carjackers is written for kids ages 8 to 10. The age range reflects readability and not necessarily content appropriateness.

Plot Summary

Fifth-grader Dean Sandler and three buddies form the Rugendo Rhinos Club. They live in Kenya where their American parents serve as missionaries. The boys' adventures include shooting doves with an air pistol and cooking the meat, capturing and eating flying ants and riding their bikes off of a ledge and into a river. When money for the mission is missing and cars are being stolen, the Rhinos search for the culprits. The daughters of missionaries in Kenya form a girls' club called the Cheetahs and beat the boys to solving part of the stolen car mystery. Not to be outdone, the Rhinos solve the rest of it.

Christian Beliefs

All the main characters are Christians, and together they attend church services as missionaries. They pray about troubles, such as when cars are stolen. When missionaries in Zaire are in danger but are able to leave the country safely, the characters call it an answer to prayer. Dean's dad edits a Christian magazine, which includes stories of personal testimonies, and he shares the publication with nonbelievers.

Authority Roles

Dean's father and mother guide him when he makes mistakes. A couple of the Rugendo Rhinos initially don't admit to accidentally triggering a car alarm. When they confess, the car owner readily forgives them. Dean borrows his dad's favorite camera to photograph the car thieves, and his dad grounds him from using his bike for a week because Dean did not ask for his permission to use the camera.

Other Belief Systems

There are many Kenyan words used and defined in this book, but the belief systems of the culture are not mentioned.

Profanity/Graphic Violence

After the boys shoot a dove with an air pistol, it tumbles from the tree and moves about in the dirt. One boy decapitates it.





Discussion Topics

If your children have read this book or someone has read it to them, consider these discussion topics:

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.