Showing posts with label Christan material. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Christan material. Show all posts

Thursday, April 29, 2010

TOS Crew Review: Kregel Publishing-Andrea Carter and the Trouble with Treasure from the Susan Marlow's Circle C series

At first, I thought I was getting a book called, The Trouble with Tribbles, but then I remember that was a Star Trek episode (the original version of Star Trek that is-these fuzzy little balls go on a reproductive craze and nearly destroy the Enterprise...oh sorry, I was losing focus for a second).  What I got was the book, Trouble with Treasure.  That sounded interesting enough.  At the time, I hadn't been properly introduced to Andrea Carter, so I had to do some minor investigative work to get the "skinny" on her.  As it turns out, Andrea is young girl who appears, to me at least, to be the Pippy Long Stockings of her day mixed with a tad of Ziggy (yes the cartoon character) and a dash of Nancy Drew.  All admirable traits (outside of the Ziggy-effect of getting into situations that could/can turn life upside down) for a teenage girl from the "California Outback" of the 1880s.  

This is actually one of the titles in the Circle C Adventures by Susan Marlow.  Seems Andi (as she is affectionately known) has quite a history of near mishaps, tangoing with disasters and such.  Since we had not read any of the books prior to receiving this one, I was a bit concerned we'd be out of the loop and not "get" the story line.  Thankfully, we were able to pick it up and dig right in without missing a hoof beat, because the Trouble with Treasure stands on its own quite nicely. Basically that admirable trait renders these books somewhat independent in nature-but it certainly helps to read the series in order.  As an added bonus, Andi included a letter to her readers describing who she is, and where she lives; along with a tad of a background on her, to help ease you seamlessly into the story.

In this adventure, you find Andi, her pal Jenny, Andrea's brother Mitch, and a kid named Cory, deciding life is not worth living without some sort of mischief.  It starts in town with a dunk in the local watering trough, which lands them (not Mitch) into the local slammer.  When the town is plundered by some no good bank robbers,   which leads to a quickly formed posse-and I am sure some town gossip-things really start to pick up.  Back at the ranch [after serving their stint in the jail house], it is decided it is time to high tail it up to the mountains to enjoy some refreshing and not-so sticky air (as it is hot there in Fresno), and to do some treasure hunting (since Cory was now in the possession of a tantalizing map) too.  As a mother-I would say that would happen over my dead body, but perhaps mum was tired and cranky from the heat and needed a vaca from the troublesome triplets (Mitch is not included in that equation, as he seemed to be less of a pest perhaps?)...but here, in the rugged 1880s, things were a bit different.  So off they go and well, that is when things takes on a life of its own.  I won't spoil the rest of the story for you, since I hate to spill the beans completely (which I might add-those kids probably would have sold a tooth to get a hold of during their days in the mountains), so my lips [or is that fingers?] will now remain sealed in regard to the ending. You will have to read it for yourself, dear reader of this post-and find out what transpires in the Trouble with Treasure story.

Now for the part where I give you my take on this.  Outside of the story line being a bit over the top, it was a delight to read. I know tweens/teens of today need something like this to draw them in, and for a fun read-it did its job rather nicely. I enjoyed it, and found the writing to be much better [for this sort of genre] than a lot of what I have read in a long time. I wanted to turn the page to see what happened next.  I wanted to know where this was going, and that was something I have sorely missed.  There was a good use of vocabulary and it actually [sit down folks, you may faint here] had a decent plot/story line.  So I can honestly say I would recommend this to families who enjoy fictional history with a splash of adventure, as a good way to meet their "for sport" reading needs. 

I do want to point out there there are some things going on that may not be appropriate for the sensitive child, or for those who prefer to avoid books with mild violence.  In this house, we have seen shows with gun fights and dudes "biting the dust"-so this is not an issue here.  But for those who wish to avoid such things-you may want to skip this book in the series.  I see they have it listed as 8-12 years old for their target age.  Hmm.  I don't think I would let my 8 year old read this, and so that may be a bit perfectly suits a 11-14 year old though.  So use your discretion regarding this particular book. Again, not having read the others, I cannot attest to their content, but the Trouble with Treasure was not that bad in comparison to similar tales that I have read.  

Oh and goodness-that 19th century gal has 21st century knowledge to boot!  She hosts the Andi and Taffy's Blog, which you may enjoy just as much as the books!  And on the Circle C Adventures site, you can download a free study guide for each book-how sweet it that?  To add to the mix, there are lapbooks to accompany those books too!  Head over to my Scrapbooks and Lapbooks by Sheri Blog, or click the lapbook icon on the Circle C site for more info.  

Saddle up your horses gang-this is one adventure you will truly enjoy.

This is by a Christian writer and has reference to the Lord/Bible, but it isn't dripping with it-hence this symbol

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Kregel Publishing

$7.99 paperback Tween/Teen Fiction (price for any of the Susan Marlow's Circle C Series books)

Be sure to visit the TOS Review Crew Homepage to see what my crew mates had to say about this, and many other fine homeschool products.

***Kregel Publications provided me with a free copy of the book, Andrea Carter and the Trouble with Treasure by Susan Marlow, to be read and used by family.  I have discussed my opinion regarding this product, and have not received  financial compensation for writing this review.

Friday, December 18, 2009

TOS Crew Review: Bertie's War-a novel by Barbara Tifft Blakey (Kregal Publications)

I suppose most reading this are too young to remember, or were not even born during the Cuban Missile Crisis (that would be me), but for those who are studying that time frame in their history studies, or simply enjoy reading fiction based on historical events, this book could serve as a nice addition to their studies.

Based on a young girl named Bertie, the war she encounters is not so much of what is going on in her life and/or around her-but more with what is going on inside of her mind, and with her emotions.  Life happens, but when Bertie experiences things, she does so through what we (meaning my family) consider the "Onion Skinned" approach.  She is a disaster, and it shows.  I can think of a lot of Bible verses that admonish pondering so much on oneself or one's problems, regarding the lack of fortitude, and allowing the root of fear to practically stop a person from living; all which directly address the issues ole Bertie girl is struggling with in this story.  It doesn't help that her parents seem a bit out of touch with what the child is going through (or perhaps that is just her perception of things) and well, it all seems almost too much to bear.  Does Bertie climb out of the multiple pits in which she lives?  Not to be one to spoil a book's ending,  I am leaving that undisclosed, so you'll have to read it to find out.

As for how we enjoyed this story-well, it was OK.  I liked that it is written with a Christian undertone, and that it addresses what many tweens/teens experience as they merge into adulthood, you know-during that delicate time when one must forge through to the other side. I found that the ending was better than the beginning...but it wasn't something I felt I would have spent the money on.  I wasn't that impressed-especially with the first half of the book. It was a bit disturbing to me, and I am not sure exactly why. It left me feeling a tad perplexed, and I honestly (at times) I  wasn't sure where the story line was going. The family dynamics bothered me as well.  I guess (now that I own it) I will add it to our 20th Century US and World studies, since it does discuss what some experienced, in the US, during that iffy time in our history-but I would not have bought it outright.  I really cannot put my finger on why folks-sorry, but for us it wasn't such a hit. Perhaps it came across as "twaddle", as we prefer our reading selections to be more in depth for that age range? I dunno, honestly I just don't know.  This is one of those products where you will definitely need to read more of my TOS mates' opinions, so you can make a decision for yourself.

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As for Kregal Publications, well that is a " of a different color!" (for those who do not recognize that statement, it is taken from the The Wizard of Oz movie). These folks have been around for years, offer a wide selection of Christian-based material for just about everyone. You can read all about them, and their mission for their company, on their About Us page. I am quite impressed with the books they offer and plan on continuing to explore their site.

Kregel Publications Homepage

Bertie's War info

Bertie's War: $7.99 PB Tween/Fiction

Be sure to visit the TOS Review Crew Homepage to see what my crew mates had to say about this, and many other fine homeschool products.

***Kregel Publications provided me with a free copy of the book, Bertie's War by Barbara Blakey, to be read and used by family.  I have discussed my opinion regarding this product, and have not received  financial compensation for writing this review.