Thursday, April 29, 2010

The American Girls Collection - ADDY LEARNS A LESSON: A SCHOOL STORY - Book 2

In this second installment of Addy's story she learns what real friendship and true freedom mean.  Addy and her mother arrive in Philadelphia after escaping from slavery.  Addy is excited to go to school for the first time and she meets her first friend, Sarah.  In this book Addy realizes what genuine freedom and a sincere friend means.

AGE RANGE: 1st grade and up

POSITIVE: Addy and her mother's integrity and strength shine through this story.  It will show your child how Addy handles difficult situations with strength.

EDUCATIONAL: You will get a peak into how the school system worked in the 1860's for freed slaves.  At the back of the book "A Peak Into The Past" gives more details on schools for freed slaves.

  • Using examples from the book role play with your children on how to handle difficult situations biblically
  • Do more research into how freed slaves were taught compared to white children during the 1860's
As always any feedback or comments are welcome!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Damon, Pythias, and the Test of Friendship - Retold by Teresa Bateman Paintings by Layne Johnson

This beautiful picture book tells a lovely story of true friendship.  This is based on a true story in ancient Italy on the island of Sicily.  Pythias and Damon are best friends.  When a harsh ruler sentences Pythias to death their friendship is put to the test.  This story is powerful and inspiring.  Bateman vividly retells the story while Johnson's paintings bring this story to life.

POSITIVE:  Pythias and Damon's friendship is a compelling example of trust and loyalty. The story also shows the meaning of forgiveness and love.  Their friendship is a great example of John 15:12-13 "This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends."  Pythias and Damon are a good illustration of true love between believers even though this is not a Christian story.

EDUCATIONAL: This book is a good introduction to the island of Sicily.  You can talk about geography and ancient customs of Italians.

  • Teach about Sicilian culture - make an art piece or sicilian recipe
  • Look up other Sicilian stories of that time
  • Simple bible study on friendship

As always any comments or suggestions are welcome!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Garden Of Eve - K.L. Going

Michael L. Printz Honor Winner

The Garden of Eve  is a coming of age story that tells of a young girl who is a going through the painful loss of her mother.  Going is able to bring to life Evie's (main character) story.  It is an engaging story and I couldn't put it down.  In this book things are not always what they seem and the author does a good job of tying up loose ends.  One of the things that bothers me as a Christian is that K.L. Going makes it seem as if the creation story is a fairy tale.  Children 4th grade and up will enjoy this book.

POSITIVE As I mention before your child will not want to put this book down.  It is a complex story that does a good job of delving deep into the main character.  The story line is continuous and captivating.

EDUCATIONAL It is a well thought out story and there is good character development


  • Talk about how the character changes through the book
  • Teach your child how the Bible is also a historical book
  • Do a bible study on Adam and Eve and what they can learn from the story
As always any comments or suggestions are welcome!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

The Pied Piper of Hamelin - Deborah Hautzig & S.D. Schindler

 The Pied Piper of Hamelin is a folk tale originally from the Grimm Brothers.  The author writes as if this story could be true.  Apparently some aspects of the story happened in Germany many years ago.  Hautzig embellishs the rest.  It is a dark story especially for children in Grades 1-3.  Like a lot of original folk tales the Pied Piper is a familiar story.  Be prepared to explain concepts of death, missing persons, and kidnapping to your children.

POSITIVE:  It is an interesting story.  You children will want to know what happens at the end.

EDUCATIONAL:  The book is set in Germany and the time period seems to be in the 1800-1900's.  It is well written with a clear beginning, middle and end.

  • Talk about what to do when a stranger approaches them
  • Do a beginning, middle and end with your child and have them draw pictures
  • Find Germany on a map and play a German game
  • Explain what a folk tale is and show them different books in the genre
As always any comments or suggestions welcome!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

An American Girl - Meet Addy Book One (1864) - Connie Porter Illustrated by Melodye Rosales

"Meet Addy" is part of the American Girls collection.  Addy is a spirited African American slave who lived during the Civil War. In book one we meet Addy and her family who are trying to escape from slavery.  When I was younger I loved the American Girls books and this book does not disappoint.  It took me back to those times when I couldn't put these books down and I couldn't wait for the next one.  Your children will want to read the whole series in one sitting.

POSITIVE Addy's parents model what true love really is.  Her mother teaches her to focus on loving people and not hating them even when she's beaten.  Addy is courageous and loving.

EDUCATIONAL This is a historical fiction book.  It is good for ages 7 and up.  Porter does not sugar coat the experiences that a slave goes through in 1864.  "A Peek Into The Past" gives more information on slavery and the Underground Railroad.

  • Visit an underground railroad stop if you live near one
  • Visit the Field Museum
  • show your children videos during this time period
  • Highlight Addy's characteristics as examples to how your children can handle situations
  • do a bible study on love
As always any comments or suggestions are welcome!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Royal Diaries Series: Eleanor & Catherine Kristiana Gregory

The Royal Diaries is a series of diaries written from the point of view of a famous princess.  I am reviewing two books from the series: Eleanor (France) and Catherine (Russia). Both books narrate the joyful experiences and struggles each of these girls go through for a period of one year.  Gregory wrote through the perspective of major life changes in their lives.  This series seems to be geared toward middle school girls.  Eleanor and Catherine were fast and interesting reads.  I was eager to find out what happened to both princesses.  If you child likes historical fiction this is a good book for them.
POSITIVE Both girls speak about their faith in God.  They show resilience and and courage in major life challenges.

EDUCATIONAL  I really enjoyed the historical notes at the end of the book.  They tell what happens to the girls as they grow into adulthood.  It describes their reigns as the head of their respective countries.  It also goes through their family trees.

  • research historical period - what they wore; customs etc.
  • write a chapter or diary from point of view of another major character in the story
As always any comments or suggestions welcome! 


Thursday, March 18, 2010

Disney's A Bug's Life - Flik's Perfect Gift Judy Katschke

In Flik's Perfect Gift we find Flik looking for a unique gift for Queen Atta's birthday.  As he makes complicated plans to make the ideal gift we learn that sometimes the most simple thing is the best.

POSITIVE Katschke shows Flik trying to do his best in getting a gift for the Queen.  Highlight to your children how they too can give their best in everything that they do.  A good verse to go with this concept is Colossians 3:23 "Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men". You can also see how much love and respect Flik has for his superior, the Queen.  

EDUCATIONAL This is a level 2 book so it is for readers who are more confident in their early reading abilities.  This book contains smaller type and more words to a page.  It has simple sentences that are longer but the story is a little more complex.  I really like how the first page in the book gives parents ideas on how to read to their children.  It also ends with comprehension questions.


  • other things Flik could've given
  • teach your children how to write a thank you card - they can write one to Flik from the Queen
  • teach them to read between the lines
  • what kind of gift would God want from us? 

Any comments or suggestions would be appreciated!