Abigail and the Big Start Over

Switch Schools. Make Friends. Fix All the Mess!

By Bethany McIlrath, illustrated by Katie Saunders
from 9 reviews

Fun, absorbing novel that helps kids aged 7+ to engage with the Bible as they learn that God’s grace never runs out.

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New house. New school. New problems!

Like many kids, adventurous and creative 9-year-old Abigail experiences lots of ups and downs when it comes to school life, making friends and getting on with parents and siblings. Through both the humorous and serious challenges that arise, Abigail finds herself in one new mess after another. But as she learns all about how Jesus forgave Peter when he messed up again and again, she sees how Jesus can forgive her too.

Readers will explore the Bible alongside Abigail and learn that God’s love for us and his grace to us never run out. So we can start over again and again!

This fun, exciting novel for kids aged 7+ features short chapters with illustrations that really bring the story to life. It explains grace in a kid-friendly way that is relevant to their lives, and it provides a great way for kids to engage with the Bible.

This is the first book in the Abigail series, a fictional series for readers aged 7 and up that follows the adventures of 9-year-old Abigail as she figures out what faith means for her everyday life. Young readers will be inspired to read the Bible, talk to God and apply what they believe to their own lives.

Includes book club kit with questions for discussion.

Visit the Abigail series website for free downloads, worksheets from the book, games and more!

Product details


  • 1. Hurry Up, Headband
    2. Mrs. Hennig
    3. Don't Forget the Fishing Pole
    4. Brown, Slimy Sludge
    5. Uh Oh!
    6. Flora Flores
    7. Big Mouths
    8. A Very Good Friend
    9. Kids' Club
    10. Peter's Big Adventure
    11. Fisher of Men
    12. Nana and Grandpa's
    13. Sticky-Duct-Aids
    14. Walking on Water
    15. Greg Again
    16. We Need to Talk
    17. Adventure Central
    18. A Good Grace Story
    19. Fantastic Flora
    20. Not Such a Mess
    21. Adventuring
    22. Second Chances

    A Note from the Author

    Book Club Questions

Free extras


Age range: 7+
Contributors Bethany McIlrath, Katie Saunders
ISBN 9781784988982
Format Paperback
First published June 2024
Dimensions 129mm x 198mm x 18mm
Weight 0.22 kg
Language English
Pages 208
Publisher The Good Book Company

Laura Wifler

Cofounder, Risen Motherhood

Bethany has created a delightful series that helps young readers connect their faith with their everyday life. Abigail’s adventures are fun and relatable, delivering valuable lessons for all kids and making this series a great one to add to your bookshelf.

Caroline Saunders

Author, The Story of Water and The Story of Home

While plenty of books for kids this age have ‘good guys’ and ‘bad guys,’ Bethany McIlrath has crafted real-world characters in real-life settings who exhibit both vice and virtue and desperately need God’s grace for a fresh start. Honestly, that was my favorite trait of this book—how all the characters demonstrate their need for grace, from Abigail to her new friend Flora, to their irritating classmate Greg, to Abigail’s mom. This engaging book will help kids honor others, seek to understand others, extend grace to others, and grow in grace themselves.

Abbey Wedgeworth

Author, Held

Delightful. Relatable. Entertaining. Accessible. True. Meeting Abigail in these pages felt like discovering a friend for the fifth-grade ‘new girl’ inside of me, who was desperately lonely and felt like she was blowing it at every turn. I am so eager to introduce Abigail and the Big Start Over to all of my elementary-aged friends so that they too can adventure with her, identify with her, and discover the incredibly beautiful and immensely applicable power of the gospel in their own very real lives, right alongside her. These stories about Abigail will doubtless impact the stories of their readers in a powerful way.

Customer reviews

June 29, 2024

“Wholesome and Fun”

This a shortened version of my review. You can read my full review at

This is the first installment in a new chapter book series. Bethany McIlrath wrote this story from Abigail's point of view, and she represented a child's perspective and reactions to things in a convincing way. The story is cute and upbeat, while also dealing with realistic life challenges, and there is lots of humor throughout. The art from Katie Saunders also enriches the story, since there are lots of expressive illustrations throughout the book.
I wasn't sure what to expect from this, since Christian children's novels can be really preachy, but this was great! The author incorporates Abigail's church experiences and thoughts about God into the story in a very natural way, and through this, she represents the lives of her readers. The different life situations and conflicts in the book are very realistic, and the message about grace comes across clearly through Bible teaching and Abigail’s experiences.

This book is ideal for Christian families who are looking for cute, engaging chapter books aimed towards elementary-aged girls. The story and characters are wholesome and fun, and the book teaches an important life lesson without getting too preachy. I would recommend this for kids to read independently, and for parents to read aloud to their kids. However, this will definitely appeal primarily to girls, not only because of the feminine cover design and female main character, but also because the boy characters in the story appear in a mostly negative light. Since Abigail resolves conflict with a boy from school before the end, I hope that he will become a recurring character and add some appeal for boy readers. Overall, I enjoyed this book, and I look forward to future books in the series.

I received a free copy from the publisher, and am leaving this review voluntarily.

June 7, 2024

“love a chapter book for my avid reader”

Abigail and the Big Start Over by Bethany McIlrath

When I saw that the good book co was coming out with this series I was so excited to read this with my daughter. She is an avid reader and its sometimes hard to find books she will enjoy while making sure the content is appropriate.

Abigail and the Big Start Over is a sweet telling of a girl named Abigail as she starts over at a new school. I loved the character of Abigail. All the events that transpire are relatable to kids today and you see how Abigail responds in a biblical manner. I truly enjoyed this book and we are both looking forward to the next one.

Thank you to the Good Book Co. for this copy for my honest review.

June 5, 2024

“Great chapter book for homeschool!”

📗 Abigail and the Big Start Over is a sweet book about a 9-year-old girl and how she handles the ups and downs of moving to a new home and a new school. It is fun story of how Abigail learns about Jesus' grace as she faces new adventures. It is going to be an AWESOME addition to my 9-year-old's reading curriculum this year!

I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

June 5, 2024

“Perfect for younger girl readers”

This is book #1 in the Abigail series targeted for girls ages 7-10, approximately.

From the back cover: Meet adventurous, creative Abigail, and discover what it means that Jesus’ grace never runs out!

👧🏻 I appreciate this series is rooted in God’s Word and feature characters who love Jesus, that have real life struggles and emotions. While being challenged, Abigail learns all about God’s grace!

👧🏻 I gave this to my 11 year old daughter. She enjoyed parts of the story but her overall thoughts were the story was too young for her. 🤷🏻‍♀️ I tried! I do consider her reading more advanced so keep that in mind if you have an advanced reader, this may be a bit too simplistic of a chapter book to keep them engaged.

May 29, 2024

“Grace-filled story for all ages!”

Meet Abigail. She’s 9-years-old and loves to go on big adventures using her imagination. Her family has just made a big move, and now Abigail must start a new school and make new friends. This new adventure quickly turns into a big mess where she’ll wonder if she’s used up all of God’s grace. She’ll quickly discover that you can’t use up God’s grace- it is a free gift that we don’t deserve. “Because of who Jesus is and how much grace He gives when we sin, it’s never too late to start over again with Him.”

This is a wonderful grace-filled story perfect for ages 7 and up. I love how the story kept coming back to Peter, and that when we misunderstand grace, we miss out on the gospel and what Jesus did for us. Once Abigail understands God’s grace is never-ending, she is ready to face her new circumstances with joy and love. Chapter 18: A Good Grace Story is a chapter you’ll return to again and again to explain God’s grace in a comprehensive way that does not take anything away from the gospel. I found Abigail relatable, and I’m sure any kid that has experienced first day nerves, a big move, and anxiety over making new friends will find themselves understanding Abigail’s big start over and big mess!

*I received a copy of this book from The Good Book Company in exchange for my honest review.*

May 23, 2024

“Wonderful chapter book!”

It is so encouraging to find chapter books that will encourage our children to grow in godliness.

The story and characters in this book are engaging, and relatable!

My daughter commented on the font size used in this book, and the ease in reading it.
I also appreciate the frequent illustrations throughout the chapter book, which is great for kids who like to visualize what they are reading.
I love the amount of biblical teachings integrated throughout the book!
We are excited to read more books from this series!

May 21, 2024

“My Daughter Loved It”

What a blessing to hand my daughter a novel that I know will encourage her in godly character development. She enjoyed the story & characters. I'm glad to see there are more Abigail books, too!

May 17, 2024

“Grace Filled Book”

Review from my daughter, age 9:
Abigail & the big start over is a very good book. Abigail is very patient, for example when her brother mixed all her favorite colors together and poured them on the floor she was kind. She is a really awesome character- she loves adventure, reading, art, making new friends, and is really positive. I want to stand up for my friends like Abigail does. Plus the book isn’t too short and it isn’t too long. The book taught me a lot about grace and had a lot of information about the Bible. There are more books coming in the series, and I really want to read them. This is an excellent book.

Thoughts from mom:
With so many books to choose from I love the ease of handing my daughter a book from the Good Book Company. I can trust that it will be a reliable source of truth and light. Don’t forget to check out their website (at Adventure Central) for fun games & activity pages related to the Abigail series!

I provided this review in exchange for a free copy of the book.

May 16, 2024

“absolutely wonderful”

I was beyond excited to read this book alongside my 8 year old daughter. We are always on the look out for great, christian based books for older elementary and middle school kids. They seem to be far and few between compared to young children, teen, and adult. So I was happy to see this new series and had high expectations for it.

The book is a solid chapter book and geared towards upper elementary and middle school. It's structured with twenty-two chapters, each being a reasonable length.

The story revolves around the main character, Abigail, and her journey through fourth grade. Everything Abigail goes through is relatable to every fourth grader. She goes through real life struggles and emotions and decision making but all while learning to obey and follow the Spirit.

Both my child and I thoroughly enjoyed the book all the way through.

She also includes a book club section that allows readers to come together and discuss questions relating to Abigail's journey. I appreciate this option as it provides young readers to talk about their faith together and make it normal to discuss Jesus.

We are so excited for more books to come in this series!

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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Abigail and the Big Start Over | Bethany McIlrath, Katie Saunders |