What Would The Founding Fathers Think?

What Would The Founding Fathers Think? by David Bowman
(Summary taken from the back of the book) “Join Washington, Franklin, and Madison (via SKYPE/CHAT session) as they discuss our country’s current crisis as compared with their original intentions for America. With wit, humor, and a variety of visuals, David Bowman skillfully teaches preteens and teens alike the wisdom of returning to our nation’s founding principles and in a way that they will ‘get it.'”

This is a tough one. If you remember me reviewing this book: Just Fine The Way They Are, you will remember that I do not think politics belong in children’s books. Children have very impressionable minds and they don’t have the power to decide for themselves. They can’t always hear the other side of the story to choose what they believe. They just believe whatever they hear. And, I don’t think children should be burdened with politics when they are too young to really understand and shouldn’t need to worry about it yet. This book is a little different than the previous example. It is not a children’s picture book (although it has some great illustrations), it is written for an older audience, and it doesn’t hide what it is. You know just from looking at the cover that it is a political book, and that it has a conservative bias. Even with all these differences, I think I’m going to stick with my previous thoughts. Politics do not belong in children’s books. It doesn’t matter which side of the aisle you’re on or what you believe, children should be left out of it. Now, history is a different matter. Children should definitely be learning about our world, country, and state histories. They need to learn about our constitution and about our founding fathers. They need to be learning about events in our past that have made us who we are today. But, they should be learning it in an unbiased and nonpolitical way.

That being said, for what this book is, it is done well. It is well written, engaging, has some great illustrations, and definitely gets its point across. It is written in an easy-to-read and understand way, and is not boring. My 11 year-old would be able to understand it. There are some references to things that were popular when I was growing up (He-Man), that my son wouldn’t get, but they are explained well so it shouldn’t be a problem. The author gives quite a few quotes from the founding fathers, so it looks as though he did his homework. There are references to things like “Skype” and “Chat” that are humorous and kids today would understand. He also uses texting terms like “LOL” that make it so teens relate to it. There is also some very good historical information that is not biased: it is straightforward and informative. I like that the book talks about the importance of the family and having high moral standards. I don’t think those things are left or right, they are just good things all the way around.

I may be the only person out there that doesn’t think politics should be in books written for children, so I’ll just say that if it is read, I think it should be the starting point of a discussion. And it should be discussed with the parents. I also think you should read a book that leans the other way so children understand that there are other viewpoints. I don’t think this book should be read in schools because it leans too far to one side. It might be okay in a high school government class where the class reads a book written from left and right and they can compare and contrast viewpoints. If you lean conservative, you will probably really like this book. If you don’t, you will most likely not enjoy it.

Rating: G (It’s clean)

Recommendation: High School and Up. Once you get to high school, you begin thinking on your own. You start figuring out who you are and what you really think and believe, and you’re old enough to see hidden (or not hidden) agendas in books or movies.

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Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Far World: Air Keep (Book #3)

FarWorld: Air Keep (Book #3) by J. Scott Savage

(Summary taken from the inside book jacket) “It’s been six months since Marcus and Kyja obtained the help of the land and water elementals, but before they can secure the help from the mysterious air elementals, the two friends must first be reunited. A task easier said than done. Master Therapass is worried that trying to pull Marcus to FarWorld would put him in danger of the shadow realm, but if Marcus stays on Earth, he’ll be sent back to the Philo T. Justice School for Boys instead of being able to stay on the protected grounds of the monastery. While attempting to return to FarWorld, Marcus finds himself in the Abyss of Time, facing four doors: the Is, the Was, the Will Be, and the Never Was. What he learns in that dangerous place has the potential to change his life–and Kyja’s. But does he have the courage to tell her what he learned? And in FarWorld, a drought, floods, and blizzards have seized the land, hinting that perhaps there is a traitor in the elementals’ midst. The Dark Circle is growing in power, and as Marcus and Kyja desperately search for the air elementals, they must first answer the question ‘Is there anyone we can trust?'”

Wow. I think this third book does live up to the first two. It’s full of action, adventure, deception, lies, wars, weather, a hint of love, and so much more. There are some mysteries, some new friends and old, and the ending. Had everyone else in my house not been sleeping when I finished, I think I would have screamed. Talk about a cliff-hanger, and when does book #4 come out? Hopefully soon because I’m dying over here. The characters, once again, make the book. The sacrifices Marcus and Kyja make for each other are very telling. Poor Marcus has this info. he has to live with throughout the whole book, and doesn’t think he can tell Kyja. But telling her is what makes the difference in the end. Those two are so cute. They each have their limitations, but they learn to work together. You see a little of a different side of Kyja in this book. She has a temper, did you know? You also see a little more of who the enemy really is in this book. A few new allies come forward as well. Even though Tankhum is a statue, I like him a lot. I like his personality. The air elementals are very interesting and creative. They are somewhat annoying at times, but they also have a funny side to them. I liked this book, and if you enjoyed the first two in the series, you will enjoy this one.

Rating: PG+ (Fighting, wars, death (of a main character), some evil creatures)

Recommendation: 4th or 5th grade and up.

To purchase this book, click here:
 
 

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.



FarWorld: Water Keep (Book #1)

FarWorld: Water Keep (Book #1)

(Summary taken from the back book cover) “Even though thirteen-year-old Marcus Kanenas is confined to a wheelchair, he sees himself as a survivor and a dreamer. In fact, his favorite dream is of a world far away, a world where magic is as common as air, where animals tell jokes, and where trees beg people to pick their fruit. He even has a name for this place–Farworld. When Marcus magically travels to Farworld, he meets Kyja, a girl without magic in a world where spells, charms, and potions are everywhere, and Master Therapass, a master wizard who has kept a secret hidden for thirteen years, a secret that could change the fate of the two worlds. But the Dark Circle has learned of Master Therapass’s secret and their evil influence and power are growing. Farworld’s only hope is for Marcus and Kyja to find the mythical Elementals–water, land, air, and fire–and convince them to open a drift between the two worlds. As Kyja and Marcus travel to Water Keep, they must face the worst the evil Dark Circle can throw at them–Summoners, who can command the living and the dead; Unmakers, invisible creatures that can destroy both body and soul; and dark mages known as Thrathkin S’Bae. Along the way, Marcus and Kyja will discover the truth about their own heritage, the strength of their friendship, and the depths of their unique powers.”

What a fun surprise! I hadn’t heard anything about this book or series when I was asked to review them, and I’m glad I did! I really enjoyed this book, and I know my 4th and 5th graders will also enjoy it. They’re already begging me to read it. Don’t worry, I’ll hand it over as soon as I finish my review. The book is written well. There are some fun and some scary surprises, and some interesting twists and turns. I think it flows well and is easy to read and understand. Some of the names are difficult to pronounce (Thrathkin S’Bae……take your guess at that one……), but it adds to the mystery and tension in the book. I liked the characters and thought Mr. Savage did a good job developing them, especially Marcus and Kyja. Master Therapass reminded me a lot of Gandalf in Lord of the Rings. He can be quirky and fun and magicky (yes, I just made up that word…..), yet he can also be serious and get down to business. He is very protective of his two young friends. I liked how Mr. Savage tied in each of the character’s pasts, and how they fit together. Marcus and Kyja are so young, but they work together and accomplish some great things. I like that although each of them has a “disability,” they work hard to overcome their shortcomings and use ingenuity to discover new ways of doing things. I like that they are both strong characters. The villans in this book are scary, to say the least. Huge snakes are not my idea of fun, and I hope I never meet anyone named Bonesplitter.

Although scary and somewhat violent in parts, this book is clean. There is no language and no intimacy. There is violenc (bullying and fighting against some evil characters). It’s not too gory or disgusting. It’s about the level of the Percy Jackson books. I really enjoyed this book and do recommend it with the above warnings.

Rating: PG+ (Some violence: bullying and fighting and some evil characters)

Recommendation: 4th grade and up. I am a lot older than 4th grade and I enjoyed it, so I think it has elements that older age groups will enjoy as well.

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Skull Eye Island

Skull Eye Island by Peter Greene

(Summary taken from the back book cover) “Homeless and alone on the streets of London in 1800, twelve-year-old Jonathan Moore survives this harsh and dangerous world using courage, intelligence and determination. His dismal fate changes dramatically one day after he is abducted by a gang and pressed into service aboard the HMS Poseidon, a forty-four gun fighting frigate of the British Royal Navy. However, there is more to the event than just a change of address. How is it that some members of the crew, including the Captain, already know his name? Why do the officers seem to favor him above the other new crewmembers? As Jonathan endeavors to solve these mysteries, he is thrust into a daring mission to recover a hidden treasure on a remote Caribbean isle. Unfortunately, the crew and officers of the Poseidon are not the only ones searching for the prize. In a desperate race across the Atlantic to Skull Eye Island, Jonathan is pitted against sword-wielding spies, engages in terrifying ship-to-ship battles and in the end, must match his wits and courage against a ruthless and cunning French Captain and his powerful warship.”

I loved this book! It is written very well, and I really liked Mr. Greene’s writing style. It just pulled me in from the beginning, and I couldn’t put it down. I could picture myself on the ship, in the Captain’s quarters, on the island, and in France walking to the apothecary shop. I love it when I can become a part of the story; that is why I read! Mr. Greene’s character development is really good. I did have a hard time keeping track of some of the crew members at first, but figured it out in the end. I especially liked Jonathan and Sean, the Captain, and Mr. Harrison. Some of the other crew members were grumpy old sailors, but they all had some good moments. The story is well written and exciting. There is action, sword-fighting, storms, mystery, and treasure! What more could you want? Oh, romance? Well, there might be a paragraph or two on that as well. Remember, Jonathan is only 12 years-old, so hopefully there’s not too much romance. I really don’t know anything about ships, so some of the jargon was difficult at first, but I think I got it down by the end. That is another reason I enjoy reading; I love to learn about different things, on my couch, in my p.j.’s. It’s great!

And what is something I love? It is clean!! Yes, that makes me very happy. You can have a wonderful story without the language and other questionable material. There is some sword-fighting and a few characters die, but it is a war, and the descriptions are not in-depth or gruesome. I highly recommend this book, and can’t wait for my boys to read it. I think they will really enjoy it as well.

Rating: PG (Some sword-fighting, ships shooting each other, and a few minor characters die)

Recommendation: 9 years-old (4th Grade-ish) up. This would be a fun read-aloud as well as a great silent read.

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Frindle

Frindle by Andrew Clements

(Summary taken from the inside book jacket) “Everyone knows that Mrs. Granger, Nicholas Allen’s fifth-grade teacher, has X-ray vision, and nobody gets away with anything in her classroom. To make matters worse, she’s also a fanatic about the dictionary, which is hopelessly boring to Nick. But when Nick learns an interesting tidbit about words and where they come from, it inspires a great plan: to invent a new word. From now on, a pen is no longer a pen–it’s a frindle. It doesn’t take long for frindle to take root, and soon the excitement spreads well beyond his school and town. His parents and Mrs. Granger would like Nick to put an end to all this nonsense. But frindle doesn’t belong to Nick anymore. All he can do now is sit back and watch what happens.”

I had never heard of this book before, and then my friend reviewed in on goodreads. I thought it would be great for my boys (4th and 5th grades), and when I asked them if they had read it, they both said, “Yes!” That doesn’t usually happen. I had no idea. Anyway, they had both read it, so I picked it up and started reading. It is so cute and fun! I read it in one sitting, so it’s a very fast and easy read. It’s very imaginative, and I think it teaches kids a great lesson about words, about using your imagination, and also about how one person can make a difference. I love Nick’s character. He is witty, imaginative, and funny. I also liked Mrs. Granger because of the teacher in me. I loved how the word just took off, and it reminded me of when I was in high school and “like” was just beginning to be used more, and how  my drama teacher pounded it into our heads not to use it. Unfortunately, she was not able to stop the “like” movement, but that’s okay. The word frindle took off in the same way. What a fun idea! This woud be a great read-aloud, but it’s also great for a silent read.

It’s a clean read, so it’s great for everyone, which I like!

Rating: G (Clean!)

Recommendation: 5 years and up (I have a four-year-old, and I don’t know if she would quite understand it yet.) as a read-aloud. I think it’s about a third grade reading level for a silent read.

Dizzy Miss Lizzie

Dizzy Miss Lizzie by R.M. Clark

(Summary taken from the back book cover) “Thirteen-year-old Kasey Madrid finally has the freedom she’s always wanted. Instead of putting up with sitters or camps, she can spend the summer home alone in their “new” house. Never mind that the house is a creepy old place built in the nineteenth century. The creep factor skyrockets when Kasey meets a nineteenth-century girl named Lizzie Bellows in the basement. It takes some time for Lizzie to convince Kasey she’s not a ghost, though neither girl understands why they can see each other when they live 120 years apart.The difference in their worlds doesn’t stop the two from becoming fast friends. Lizzie’s life isn’t easy though. In her time, her parents died in a fire many believe Lizzie started herself. As the summer passes and Kasey learns more about her own past, she is shocked to discover Lizzie is part of a terrible Madrid family secret. It’s up to Kasey to go back to Lizzie’s world to unlock the secret and clear Lizzie’s name.

I didn’t really know what to expect with this book, but it was really fun! It was a fast, easy read, which is good. I enjoyed it! It is well written. I liked the writing style, and thought it flowed well. I liked the characters and thought they were well-developed. I liked how Lizzie and Kasey grew into good friends, and how Kasey tried to learn as much about Lizzie as possible. Even though the premise is impossible, Mr. Clark did a very good job making it seem very plausible. I also loved that it was clean! There was no language, no violence (except a small curse put on someone), and no “physical intimacy.” It was great and will be great for some of the younger readers. I don’t know if my 10 year-old son will like it, but maybe. Girls his age will for sure enjoy it. I enjoyed it and I’m much older than 10!

Rating: PG  (It’s clean!)

Recommendation: 9 years and up. The girls will for sure enjoy it, and possibly the boys that age.

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my review, but that does not change my opinion. All my reviews are honest.

Book Review of Holy Stable by Heidi Hanseen

Holy Stable by Heidi Hanseen

(Summary taken from the back book cover) “The heavenly gift of Christmas transforms hearts and homes. Create lasting memories as you experience with family and friends the shared affection at Jesus’ birth. Mary and Joseph’s devotion to God and sublime caring for each other will bring you to experience the story as never before. As Joseph searches for comforting words to offer Mary, he is attended by angel children who sing along to welcome Baby Jesus. Discover how sharing the gift of Jesus’ love blesses relationships, as you enjoy the magic of children’s narration, original music, and song.”

This is a beautiful book! The gold-tipped pages are beautiful and give you a sense that what is in the book is important. The illustrations are well done and add greatly to the story. The story of Mary and Joseph is written in poem form and done very well. It is tender and not corny. The music on the CD is very soft and calming. The children’s voices are so sweet and convey the message of Christmas well. I love the idea of having the music, narration, and a downloadable script all wrapped up together with the book. This will make having the Christmas pageant in your home or church much easier. You can use her narration or just the music. There are many ways to make it fit perfectly with your needs. Thank you, Ms. Hanseen for such a beautiful book. I will definitely be reading this one to my children this Christmas season.

Rated: G (Clean!)

Recommendation: Great for everyone!!

Discloure: I did receive a free book in exchange for this review; however, this does not sway my opinion. All my reviews are honest.

Book Review of What Are You Thinking by Valerie Ackley

What Are You Thinking? by Valerie Ackley

This children’s book is so fun! I absolutely LOVE the message of this book! The book talks about how powerful our thoughts are, and how you can do whatever you put your mind to. It also discusses how if you have “yucky” thoughts when you wake up then you may have a yucky day, but if you use your power to change those thoughts into happy thoughts then you will have a much better day. What a powerful message! I think I tell my kids this at least three times every day! I also like the illustrations. They are big and bold and bright, which catches the children’s attention. Some of the pages are a little overwhelming with all the different thoughts, but the overall message makes up for it. I highly recommend this book and will definitely be reading it to my kids over and over. Thank you, Ms. Ackley for such a positive book with a great message!!!

Rating: G Totally clean, hooray!

Recommendation: Everyone from 0-100 could use this reminder and this message.

Summer Fit

Summer Fit (www.summerfitlearning.com)

(Summary taken from the back book cover.) “Keeping brains thinking & bodies active during school breaks is entertaining and engaging with Summer Fit workbooks and online games and activities. Created by educators, fitness trainers, and parents, Summer Fit activities focus on key areas of child development, including academics, physical fitness, and core values. Right now it might feel like a million years away, but the first day of the new school year will be soon upon us. With Summer Fit, your child will take a seat better prepared to handle the mental, physical and social challenges of the new school year.”

I have the K-1 Summer Fit book and I’m very impressed. You may not know it, but I have my degree in elementary education, so I was very interested in these books. Last summer I drove my kids crazy because every day they had 20 minutes of reading and 20 minutes of homework. I spent a lot of time on the Internet searching for the correct math problems and reading activities for my kids to do. They learned a lot and did great, but it took a lot of effort on my part. This book makes it easy! All I have to do is buy a book (I haven’t seen the older books so I’m hoping I won’t have to supplement.).

This is a great idea. Why didn’t I think of it??? The summer is broken down into weeks and then days. There is a page for each day of summer (I haven’t counted, but it’s got to be really close.). On this page there are some brain activities like math problems or reading activities. There are also some physical activities. The kids not only have to exercise their brains but their bodies as well. There are cardio and strength exercises that switch off. There are lots of ideas and there are more online as well. Then each week there is a value. The first one in this book is Honesty. There is a picture of Abraham Lincoln and it discusses his nickname “Honest Abe.” It talks about how honesty is important and why. I hope the values are the same in each book so it will be easier to discuss with my kids all at once, but I’m not sure. For each week there is a certificate to complete when the child finishes the weekly activities and there is an incentive. The incentive could be whatever you want. It could be a treat, but it could also be a trip to a local museum or a picnic at the park, or a family game of kickball in the backyard. I love this! There are also a lot of activities, games, and more challenging work pages online.

As a teacher I would definitely recommend these books to parents, and as a parent I am so glad that I don’t have to do all the work this summer! I love that it is not just for the brain, but for the body as well, and I love that it allows me to have fun with the kids while they are learning. I have the K-1 book but now I need the 2-3 and the 3-4 books as well!

Prince Etcheon and the Secret of the Ancient

Prince Etcheon and the Secret of the Ancient by Joann Arnold

(Summary taken from the back book cover) “Etcheon always believed he would live and die in his small village that he moved to with his grandmother, Granna Fela–safe, loved, and protected. But with Granna’s death comes new information about Etcheon’s royal heritage and destiny, which suddenly throws him in the middle of a battle against a wicked king. On the run from hideous beasts sent to kill him, Etcheon is saved by a mysterious girl, a tree with magical powers, and several amazing animals. With his new friends to protect and teach him Etcheon undertakes a journey that will challenge his abilities and define who he needs to become–a warrior-prince charged to save his people.”

I really enjoyed this book. It is a little “Eragon,” a little “Lord of the Rings,” and a little “Harry Potter” all rolled into one. It has everything you want: love, war, wizards, magic, magical creatures, good vs. evil, mystery, and suspense. It is “clean” and very creative. Ms. Arnold has a fun imagination. At first it really reminded me of the story of “Eragon.” A boy, who doesn’t know who he is, needs to be schooled and mentored, and so is hidden away while he learns. As the story progresses it takes on a “Lord of the Rings” feeling with wizards and evil wizard creatures. Although it may have some of the elements of these books, it is very different and stands alone in its storyline. There are some twists and turns that surprised me, which made it a fun read.

I felt like I really knew the characters and thought Ms. Arnold did a very good job with their development. I wish we had gotten to know a little bit more about Granna Fela and Mr. Otherton, and how he fit into the kingdom. Did he live in the Hidden Kingdom? And which time period did Granna Fela come from? I also wish we had gotten to know Etcheon’s parents a little more. Some of the time travel was a little confusing, especially with Etcheon’s time frame. It took me a little while to realize how long he had been gone from his kingdom was much different than his age would suggest.

Overall I really enjoyed this book. It was a fun and easy read. I would recommend it if you are in the mood for a good fantasy story.

Rating: PG (Some death, some war scenes, no language and no “physical intimacy.”

Recommendation: 9 and up. I am going to hand it over to my 9 yr-old after school. I know that he is ready, though, because he just finished the last “Harry Potter” and has also read all of “Fablehaven.” If a child hasn’t read those you may want to read it first. It fits in the same category as those books do. It is fine for some but may be too much for others. As always, I suggest parents read it first just to make sure it is a good match for your child. Thank you Ms. Arnold for saving me, I didn’t know what to suggest to my son to read next!