Summer Reading Preview: The Shadow and the Promise

Are you trying to find books for your middle graders to read this summer? The Shadow and the Promise by bestselling author Marty Machowski follows the adventures of the animals who witness the events of Genesis and Exodus unfold before them. Join badgers in the Garden of Eden, an array of animals in the Ark, groundhogs at Babel, Abraham’s donkey, sheep from Joseph’s herd, the cats in the palace in Egypt, and a dog and oxen present at the Passover.

The story begins as two newly created rock badgers explore their growing world, they encounter a dark foe, the great dragon, the serpent of old. The sinister creature interrupts the badgers’ joyful exploration of the growing landscape to reveal his wicked plan to destroy God’s creation. When the enemy takes flight, the badgers race to warn Adam and Eve of the impending danger. With every thunderous flap of wings, the serpent draws closer to his perch in the forbidden tree. Will the badgers make it in time to expose the evil plan?

Enjoy this preview from the first chapter of The Shadow and the Promise.

dragon garden

Before sin’s curse fell upon earth, two young badgers chased each other through a row of trees. In their excitement to explore their new world, they didn’t notice a shadow pass over them. They didn’t hear the flap of a dragon’s wings overhead. They didn’t see the creature descend into a tree above them. The dragon, however, saw the badgers and watched their every move.

“You can’t catch me, Badge,” shouted Rock playfully.

Rock sped along a path that wound along a ridge. He wove through the trees and over the valley of Eden. Then he crouched between two trees to hide and catch his breath. His heart pounded loudly—so loudly he thought Badge would hear it.

Suddenly, Badge sped past his hiding place, and all at once, stopped. She turned her head this way and that and called out, “Rock? Rock, where are you!”

Rock didn’t make a sound. As he stood still, hidden under a bush, he watched the trees along the border of the garden. He could see them growing. A vine tendril spiraled around a sapling, which pulled the vine skyward. Rock felt the tree behind him expanding. The scratch of the bark on his back felt good as it stretched and cracked. Rock waited, looking for Badge so he could catch her by surprise, but she didn’t come back. He listened closely, but she had run on.

Rock called, “I’m hiding!” But there was silence. “Badge?” he called again. Why doesn’t she answer?

Meanwhile, from above, the dragon watched Badge circle back toward her friend. He noticed her stealthy approach. A girl after my own heart, hoping to catch him by surprise, he grinned. A sinister laugh grew from his core. It rumbled from the depths of his belly and up his long throat. It vibrated through the bones of his clenched jaw. But he held it in.

Badge crept quietly and saw Rock behind a tree. She caught the slight movement of his head as he peered toward the path. Then she leapt toward him without warning and shouted, “Gotcha!”

Rock jumped a foot into the air and screamed, “Yeoww.”

Badge fell to the ground, laughing.

Rock looked at her sternly. “Very funny,” he said, while Badge continued rolling on the ground. Then Rock smiled and started laughing, too. “Alright, you got me!”

“I got you to squeal!” she laughed. “You had it coming, trying to trick me first!”

“I guess I did,” Rock laughed.

The badgers loved life. Each day brought delight and discovery. They lived in a perfect world, free from evil. Until today . . .

Today the dragon entered the land, determined to dethrone Adam and take up his crown as the god of this world.

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Rock had an idea. He shouted, “Badge, race you to that tree!” He pointed, then took off toward the very tree where the dragon was perched, hidden high in the canopy. The dragon watched as Rock approached, and Badge trailed close behind.

Just as they reached the tree, the dragon dropped from above. Neither badger heard the ripple of dragon wings as he descended legs first, claws spread wide, ready.

The dragon landed with a thud on the ground. The badgers, stunned, looked at the beast who was as tall as Adam. With an outstretched wing, the dragon snatched Badge, gripping her tightly in clasped claws.

“Put her down!” Rock demanded. “Put her down, or I’ll . . .”

The dragon interrupted, “You’ll what, little furball?” “Put her down, or I will tell Adam! He’s the ruler here.”

The dragon’s chest rumbled in a deep, low mocking groan. “Adam . . . you’re going to tell Adam on me? Funny, I’m actually on my way to see him now. I’ve got something to tell him myself.”

“Who are you, and what do you want with Adam?” Rock asked.

“Call me Serpent,” he replied. “And as for Adam, I’ll leave him alone for now; it’s the woman, Eve, I’m after.”

“Leave her alone!” screamed Badge, as she struggled to escape the dragon’s grip.

“Feisty thing,” mocked the dragon. “No need to fight.” The dragon dropped Badge to the ground. “I meant no harm.”

Badge stood tall and demanded, “Why are you after Eve?”

“To introduce her to the forbidden fruit. She’s been told that if she eats it, she will die. But I say, instead, she will become like God! The fruit of that tree looks so good, so ripe and juicy. That my furballs, is a temptation you can sink your teeth into. Now, you’ve delayed me long enough. destiny’s calling!” the dragon sneered as he spread his wings, thrust them downward, and soared over their heads.

As he rose and his shadow fell on the badgers, he hissed, “May the shadows of darkness fill this land!” Two serpent fangs popped from the front of his upper jaw. The hollow spikes dripped. “The time for death has come!” With a flap of wings, he sped into the center of the garden.

“We must warn Adam and Eve!” Badge shouted. “Let’s go,” said Rock, plowing ahead.

But soon, the new thick growth of the forest slowed their progress. They fought their way through the tangle of plants and vines. Giant leaves blocked the sunlight. They ran downhill toward the garden’s center, but once the land leveled, they lost their sense of direction. “Which way, Badge?” Rock asked.

“I think we’re lost,” she moaned.

Badge pushed two tall ferns apart, hoping to see the sky above. But the trees hid any hint of the sun’s angle. She could not tell east from west. “Some of these trees were only saplings yesterday. Now everything looks different! We’ll never make it!”

“Perhaps I can help,” a voice called from above.

Badge looked up and saw a white dove perched on a branch. She said, “Hi! My name is Badge, and this is Rock. Who are you?”

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“My name is Daniel,” said the dove.

“Daniel,” said Rock. “We’re trying to get to Eden. The serpent is on his way to tempt Eve.”

Badge cried, “Something is terribly wrong. The deceiver has overtaken the serpent! We must stop him!”

“I will show you the way,” said Daniel. “Turn left. Move as quickly as you can.”

The badgers followed Daniel’s lead until they reached a pond surrounded by ferns.

The dove extended a wing and pointed to a tall tree across the pond. He said, “That tree stands on the edge of Eden. In the center of the garden, you’ll find the woman and the serpent. Even as we speak, the serpent is trying to deceive her. He hopes to turn her against the Creator. Only Adam can help her now.”

“How do you know all this?” Badge asked, but the dove was gone.

Excerpted from The Shadow and the Promise © 2024 by Marty Machowski. Used with permission of New Growth Press. May not be reproduced without prior written permission.


The Shadow and the Promise

The Shadow and the Promise follows the adventures of the animals who witness the events of Genesis and Exodus unfold before them. Join badgers in the Garden of Eden, an array of animals in the Ark, groundhogs at Babel, Abraham’s donkey, sheep from Joseph’s herd, the cats in the palace in Egypt, and a dog and oxen present at the Passover. 

About the author

Marty Machowski

Marty Machowski is a Family Life Pastor at Covenant Fellowship Church in Glen Mills, PA, where he has served on the pastoral staff for over thirty years. He is the author of a number of family devotionals, curricula (including the Gospel Story for Kids), children’s books, and parenting titles. He and his wife, Lois, have six children and several grandchildren, and reside in West Chester, PA.

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