Showing posts with label Reading. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Reading. 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.

Monday, April 12, 2010

TOS Crew Review: AAS Reader II: What Am I?

Well, again All About Spelling has published another reader in their All About Reading Series.  This particular one is designed to match the All About Spelling Level 2 guide (Steps 1-14). These are meatier stories, with more print and use of words (which your student should be able to read at this point), dotted with charming illustrations like you find tucked within the first reader.  What Am I?  offers the wonderful-good features of being a hardback, "low-glare" papered book, that I have come to expect from this series.

There are 10 charming stories (note: one is about elves-so if you have any aversion to such things, you most likely will want to skip that chapter) which we are enjoying as we work through this.  I personally am fond of the Matt the Musk Ox story due to its engaging humor and that lovable [albeit stinky] ox.

Look at that face-rather enduring I do believe.

We also loved the Skunk Hotel, which brought to mind the (all too familiar) reminders of that ewwy stench of such critters, and their spray-abilities, which usually reeked (pun intended) havoc upon my poor pooch and our home. But thankfully-it was just a story and not a true situation. It sure reminds the reader that one should never let a skunk move in, especially if you need to utilize the area where they have set up camp. My son and I got a chuckle out of how dense that man was about being so open to allowing such guests.

Uh yes, the ole locate new digs, smell up the joint and take over maneuver.

Overall, we enjoyed this second reader in their series.  I should note here, that my son is still working through this one, as it is much more challenging for him at this point in his reading career.  I was a tad disappointed to see that they did not continue on with the light dots under each sentence, to help assist with left to right reading...especially since there is a lot more text on the pages.  My son was hopping around from line to line and became quite frustrated, to the point we had to put the book away and come back to it later.  Frankly I am a bit perplexed over why this feature was dropped.  My son has not lost his dyslexia from level I to II, and most likely never will.  I truly hope in future editions, that they include that much needed component.  Thankfully, the Broken Robot was illustrated like it was written on paper [IE: lines under the text] because that encouraged my struggling boy.  He could actually follow it through to the end, and not become disoriented.  Obviously for children that do not have such issues, it is but a small change-but for emergent readers like my son who battle this nemesis, it would be a major help.  Maybe even offering 2 choices from with which to choose-one for children with, and another for those without dyslexia/major reading issues, would be a wise idea (if it were an affordable and possible option that is). 

This certainly will be utilized as we work through the Level 2 AAS lessons and for additional practice.  I cannot say enough good things about this company. The reader What Am I?,  being but another fine product from them.  As always, reviewing material from Marie was a pleasure! And be sure to check out my thoughts about the first reader:  Cobweb the Cat, to get a good idea of what this series has to offer your family. If you are an All About Spelling enthusiast, then these are a perfect way to round out your program.

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Oh! If you use workboxes-I have the first two levels of the AAS books broken down into "what to pack into the workbox" for each step. That way you can load and go.  Saves you the time hunting for each individual tile/card sets and makes prepacking a breeze (this is especially helpful if you are like me and do not have permanent space to keep the tiles/info when not in use).  Visit my Scribd pages for the documents, and my What's in the Box? blog, for more info regarding this.

All About Reading Homepage
Reader II $19.95  (book will be up on their site hopefully by mid-April 2010-so please keep checking their page for more info)

AAS homepage

Don't forget to check out what my TOS mates had to say about this and many other fine homeschool products over on our TOS Review Crew Homepage.

***All About Spelling provided me with a free copy of the What Am I? Reader to read and enjoy with my family. I have provided my opinion of this product and did not receive financial compensation for my review.

Monday, February 15, 2010

TOS Crew Review: AAS Beehive Reader I- Cobweb the Cat- from All About Reading Press

 OK folks-this series (the All About Spelling) ranked number one in my top 10 choices for last year's products, so I couldn't be more pleased to have received and to discuss this latest addition to their line up.  Now if you are unfamiliar with AAS, then please read my review discussing the actual spelling program to truly get a good idea of what it is, then come back to read up on the Beehive Reader I from All About Reading Press.

I purposely held off on purchasing this reader when I saw that it was newly released last year...but the wait was worth it-as I am so tickled to have this book.  Designed by Marie Rippel, artwork by Renee LaTulippe-this was created not only to tie into the first level of the AAS program, but to prevent several issues that accompany a beginner reader.  Since Marie has a child who is dyslexic, she understands the need for some helpful and almost necessary "must haves" that readers should display to help assist the budding reader.  The hard-backed book just beckons one to open it [not to mention that is will last for generations because of this fine quality], then continues to entice with its softly-yellowed paper, which reduces the glare that those shiny, white pages usually produce.  Right away, the etchings of delightful characters draw the child [well anyone within eye-shot of this book] into the story. Careful attention was given to the actual scene on the pages,  to avoid the mistake many, many beginning readers make-the giving away of  the sentences, due to a very specifically related picture to the words penned just below.  One thing that bothers me when I am working with my child, is that he will try to "read" a word by jumping his eyes up to the picture to "solve" the mystery-rather than take the time to work through the difficult word. I do not have to cover the illustration to solve this annoying habit, because Marie and Renee deliberately included pictures which offer a hint of what they are reading about, yet do not "spill the beans" all over the page for the struggling student to easily decipher.  Another issue is the left to right tracking, and so to solve that-there are teeny dots under the words of the sentence to assist the child with the correct flow of the sentence. Or in our case, the jumping down to one row and back up, because he is struggling to keep his eyes on one sentence at a time.

I cannot say enough good things about this reader!  Even my husband-who admittedly is more of an observer of our daily schooling goings on-couldn't help but comment several times on how nice of a reader the AAS Beehive book is, or notice the beautiful artwork contained within it.  My son gets all excited to read in his "chapter book" and I, for once-don't dread the experience because with this-it is actually a pleasurable activity.  Once again-another fabulous product from the wilds [of imagination and talent that is] of Wisconsin!  Thank you Marie!

If you have been using the All About Spelling curriculum, or will be-you can visit this link: Correlation info for reader to AAS levels, so you have a better understanding of when you can introduce the Beehive Reader to your child.

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Oh! If you use workboxes-I have the first two levels of the AAS books broken down into "what to pack into the workbox" for each step. That way you can load and go.  Saves you the time hunting for each individual tile/card sets and makes prepacking a breeze (this is especially helpful if you are like me and do not have permanent space to keep the tiles/info when not in use).  Visit my Scribd pages for the documents, and my What's in the Box? blog, for more info regarding this.

Beehive Reader I info now retitled Cobweb the Cat (as of April 1, 2010)
$19.95 Hardback

AAS homepage

Visit our TOS Review Crew Homepage for more information about this, and many other fine homeschooling products.

***All About Reading Press/AAS provided me with a free copy of the Beehive Reader I, to use, test and enjoy with my family. I have provided my opinion on the product, and did not receive financial compensation for 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.      

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

TOS Crew Review: Educaching

Living in today's high tech world, most are familiar with the wonders of a Global Positioning System-better known as GPS.  So using it to find your buddy's house or that location for the office picnic is great-but what else can one do with it,?  Well, there is Geocaching.  If you are a Boy Scout (or parent of one), or are lucky enough to have stumbled across this info-then Geocaching (sounds like geo cashing) may be a familiar term to you.  Basically, it involves using your hand held GPS device to locate a hidden cache (sounds like "cash") or treasure, that has had its location noted online in a data base for you to find.  It is a world-wide activity that has really become popular in recent years.  That sounds interesting you say, but how about something more "educational" in nature?  Is that out there?

Actually, there is just such a product.  It is called Educaching though-as well as it should be, since you are following a curricula that has several areas covered (educationally speaking) using a GPS, with your students.  So what you have is a program that teaches (the good "not in your face" approach that is "fun" and not "boring") while the children are searching for the cache that is relevant to the lesson.  Talk about a neat way of modernizing the old  (using clues on paper to denote the next location)  approach to a treasure hunt.

The Educaching curricula is designed to meet the national and state education standards (I am not that concerned with such things-but alas, some of you may need that info in order to meet your state's requirements),  which are duly noted in the 20 different lessons contained within the guide.  There are also sections covering how to use your GPS, definitions of the terms used, and helpful insight on how to purchase a device that is best for your situation.  Everything you need for the lesson is noted, and when possible- provided within it.  I found the Teacher Training section to be quite useful, as I have had limited exposure to our GPS unit, due to it being gone with my husband (he needs it for his work) when he is traveling,  more than it is here at home.

Keep in mind, this program was written for a classroom setting, so it may be difficult for some lessons to work as intended, or they simply may have more activities than a typical homeschooler would need to complete-or want to, depending what educational method you prefer. I just picked out the sections that would work for us, and left the rest.  It didn't deplete from the goal of the lesson, and the kids certainly didn't notice.  That said-I started out with the beginner level lessons for our kids, because they had never used the hand-held GPS, prior to this review.  I read through each lesson to determine if it would suit the varying age levels of my children [it states that it is for grades 4-8; being that I have a highschooler and an early elementary student-we were "out" of the suggested age range. I wasn't deterred, as I wasn't expecting my teenager to do this for anything other than for fun, and my boy will grow into the more difficult ones soon enough], I then decided on the activities that would interest them.  After doing the introductory lesson (which offers the students the chance to work through the GPS's buttons/gizmos, and how to properly find the designated cache location-we were ready to try the others.

This was our first test run.  Daddy (the dude with the GPS experience) assisted with the entire lesson-which is wonderful, as he usually doesn't get the opportunity to do so very often.  The kids figured it out pretty quickly-so we were ready to move along to another lesson later that week. I did laminate (no surprise there) the teacher's and student's map (so as not to go through reams of paper) to get more use out of them, and just provided the kids with a wet-erase marker and a clipboard for the excursions. The children seemed to enjoy these activities (mostly the boy) but I did find some things that could (and did) curtail its use, at times. Please note what the boy is wearing-as this will be discussed shortly (no pun intended).

What you have here is our Dinosaur Bone Hunt.  This lesson required the teacher (that would be me) to first copy off the sheet with the various bones of this mystery dino,  then strategically hide them,  set their waypoints into the GPS and mark their location on the master map. The students were to then search for the "bones" (which I put into 5 baggies with varying sections in each), using their newly learned GPS skills.  When all of the bones were collected, they  then were to come back to "class" to create a dinosaur that they felt best fit the bones they found.   For us, seeing that we only have 2 "students" in our wee little homeschool-the suggested  4-5 person team had to be reworked a bit.  So our two ended up switching back and forth with the recording [the Scribe] of the waypoint coordinates, and serving as the official Navigator; while I took on the role of the Photographer, and Daddy served as the Reader.  It was very helpful to have at least one child or an adult handy, who could accurately read the info off of the GPS, so the excursion does not take forever to complete.  At first my teen was a bit unimpressed, but after one find, she quickly became engrossed in the activity-so we found it truly can be used with all ages successfully. I  was impressed with what the kids came up with for their mystery dinosaurs-and their names were pretty funny too.  I built the Partiasaurus after watching their attempts-I simply couldn't resist the urge not to-it was a really fun activity. 

What are the "pitfalls" of this product you ask?  Obviously, with such a program, there is going to be a shelling out of greenbacks in order to have the necessary equipment to complete the lessons.  For the Educaching, program, that would be the GPS device-which can run about a hundred dollars (or more) each. We have one available to us, because as noted-my husband has to have one for his work, so we didn't need to invest anything. But for the families who do not have one already (check your mobile phones, as I have heard that certain systems have that built into them), I recommend that you see if you can borrow a GPS unit first, copy off one of the free downloadable sample lessons, and give it a test run-before buying. The folks at Educaching also have a couple different Classroom Kits which include the Guide and a GPS device(s), to help get you started.

Furthermore, a  few unfortunate situations presented themselves as we worked through the activities. First off, living in a state (such as mine) where the clouds can be thicker than a metropolitan phone book-there is potential to experience lost satellite reception. **[additional note here-I was made aware that there is a "high sensitivity feature" which is basic on most, if not all, manufactured newer [GPS] units.  It provides users excellent reception under heavy tree canopy, or on a cloudy day.  In fact, Garmin (they run about $135) now only produces hand held receivers with this feature. Well how cool is that?  I have to go check out our GPS unit to see if this is there or not-again, if you are looking into purchasing a unit-this would be one feature to check for.  We personally cannot expend the money to buy one of our own right now-so we are stuck with what we have. I actually think our batteries were a bit oldish-which would explain some of the moments of lost reception, so be sure to have fresh ones in there before you head out to do your Educaching. ] In fact, we had so many cloudy, rainy (another problem because this has to be done outdoors) days during the review period, that I started to give up hope that we'd ever have a chance to get out and try it. And since our area can boast about being one of the windiest places (seriously) around-we were stymied by gusts that could have swept up the kids (along with the caches), and planted them in the land of Oz, all  in a blink of the eye! At least we knew they would have been able to figure out their longitude and latitude coordinates with their GPS device!  Seriously though, it simply has not been a great fall with which to give this project a whirl. So weather can be a great deterrent to using this curricula.

Secondly-and here is where I need you to recall the boy's outfit of shorts and flip flops, it is a seasonal type of activity. If you live in mild weathered states, no problem-but for those of us in the polar region (well it feels like it lately) you can have very few days were you can get out and actually "enjoy" (I say enjoy because I am sure you could do this during mild winter days-but that opens up a whole new can of worms that frankly, I simply do not want to bother with) the process. If you look closely at the pictures of the kids doing their Dino Hunt-you will see quite a drastic change in their attire-we froze our tender vittles off that day [but we had to do it because it was going to be one of the only "nice" days for a while, and I was running out time to get these done!)-it was 35 degrees, and blustery. That is just another example of how one's plans can be waylaid due to the weather. So thinking about the area where you live, is an important factor in whether or not it is feasible.

Lastly, I did find that it felt like a lot of work for one or two students.  I think this would better suit a family with a lot of munchkins or work in a co-op/group setting much better.  I was having a hard time justifying the preparation VS the outcome.  I had to go through the lesson, collect the items, get a moment to go out and "hide" them (and because we do not have a ton of areas in our yard that can successfully cloak the caches, I had to venture out into the neighborhood-which was risky, as I had to work around sprinkler systems, hope that curious folks wouldn't tamper with the caches and so forth) and then return to do get the lesson started.  I definitely think it would work better with more participants, and have suggested it as a possible class for our homeschool group.  One of the main ideas (at least in my opinion) with this type of curricula, is to get the children to work in groups, as a team-so with 2 (and sometimes it was just my son) that simply was difficult to accomplish.  So,  figuring your student count into the equation is important, as well.  It can, and does work for smaller "class" sizes-it just involves adjusting and tweaking  to get over a few extra hurdles in order to complete the assignment. We did enjoy the actual search part of it (once we were able to get out and do it), and my son has requested to do several more-which will now have to wait until spring-so for us, it was a pretty decent experience.  If your children enjoy such activities, and you need more guidance and/or lessons plans, the Educaching Curriculum is a great choice.

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Educaching Homepage

$32.00 eBook Version
$32.00 Book with CD, with additional $6.95 shipping fee. **I have to say that unless you live overseas, have dial-up, or in an area where the mail is super slow-go this route-as it is only $7 (plus tax)  more to have the printed copy and CD ready to go.

*I also wanted to note here:  their website is one of the nicest designs I have come across in some time.  It is very professional -a very nice cache to explore, indeed. 

Be sure to visit our TOS Crew Review Homepage to read more posts on this product and many other homeschooling products.

**Educaching provided me with the free copy of Educaching Guide eBook, in order to test and use it with my family, so I could write this review.

TOS Crew Review: Sarah Books Series

Usually, when I think of historical fiction-I tend to get, well-more jittery than a June Bug in May! Will it be so fanciful and out of touch, that the relevance to the story line would only be befitting for a cartoon? I have read enough books of this nature,  to know that not every author takes the time to really research and "truly understand" the subject at hand, in order to be able to pen something that puts the reader right into the world as it was. Nor do they write something that "could"  possibly have happened. That is becoming a lost art-but not so with the Sara's Wish story.

This is not a weak work of historical fiction, but rather a nicely written story that captures you right from the first page. Set in 1858, rural Ohio (or as my grandpa used to say "Oh? Hi Yo"),  just prior to the outbreak of the Civil War; we are introduced to a recently orphaned young lady named, Sarah. The loss of her mother propels the child into the hands of adults who are struggling to figure out what to do with her. Thankfully, Granny Evans (a friend of her mother) steps forward to open her home to this young 'chile. It is from there, that the story really starts to unfold. There seems to be some secret Sarah is desperately trying to keep; but with the appearance of slave catchers, her hand is forced. She needs to find someone to trust the secret to, but whom? Not one to spoil a story, I will leave it at that. Well, no actually I won't.

Of course, my favorite character is Granny. She speaks and thinks like an old gal with a bunched up corset. And that is the beauty of this character. Her charm and charisma soften what could be a rather difficult time for a child who recently lost her mother. She nurtures and cares for Sarah, molding this story to the reader’s heart. That sweet old woman manages to pepper her rearing skills with "Hill Wisdom" (that talk that Hill-folk are well known for) and love-making the reader feel like they are right along side listening to her as she doles out her thoughts on things.  I have even picked up a couple new "Granny Evans" lines, that I can test out on my own children. Actually, all of the characters mesh well in this story; pulling the reader into their lives during this turbulent era in American history. Oh, and if you and your children enjoy a good yarn by listening to an  old-time radio narrative of the story-then you can download the audio version  (after purchasing the book) to enjoy over and over again.

The timing of  this review is perfect-as my teenage daughter is covering the early years of the Civil War in her history studies.  I have added  Sarah's Wish to her reading list-but alas, she is awaiting its return to our humble abode, due to it being out on loan.  Frankly, when a fellow lover of fictional history asked me if I had read any good books lately-I just had to lend it to her!  So, if you are in the midst of studying slavery and the Underground Railroad, the Civil War, or are looking for well-written fiction for your children to read (I would say upper elementary and beyond)-Sarah’s Wish fits the bill. What is quite interesting is that the author, Jim Baumgardner, based the character of Doc Baumgardner, on a real life doctor living during the story's timeline; and who also happened to be Jim’s great-great grandfather. Somehow, that makes it more personal and adds a really nice touch to this charming story. I was saddened when the book ended-I wanted to know what happened next!  Thankfully, there are now two sequels:  Sarah's Promise, and Sarah's Escape.

I cannot end the review without taking just a moment to talk about the author. I found the Mid-Western charm of Jim shining through with his extra care and attention to each purchase/order. He signs each book with the buyer's name- and adds a sticker of a butterfly-which also happens to play an important role in the story. That extra touch really points out the love the author has for his company and stories.  Now, perhaps I am a bit bias, as Jim also plays a barber in an old town museum in Wichita, KS-and seeing how my grandpa, and my great- grandpappy were barbers-I feel a bit of kinship. Or maybe it is the fact that Jim takes the time to create a company that places customer service at the top of the priority list. Whatever it is-it was a pleasure to review this story penned from this kind gentleman.

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Sarah's Webpage
Sarah's Wish
$9.99 with free shipping and handling.
Sarah's Escape: $17.50 Sarah's Promise: $13.50
The prices listed are for those buying through the author's site. Prices slightly higher from other retailers.

What’s more, Jim pens an E-newsletter you can subscribe to. I find them to be filled with great information (like the website), Jim's wit and charm and much more. I believe you will enjoy it too.

Don't forget to check out what my fellow TOS mates have to say about this and many other fine homeschool products on our TOS Review Crew Homepage.

**Sarah Books provided me with the free copy of the Sarah's Wish book, in order to test and use it with my family, so I could write this review.