Ten Miles from Winnemucca

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ten miles

Book: Ten Miles from Winnemucca

Author: Thelma Hatch Wyss

Cover Illustrator:  Vince Natale

Publisher:  HarperTeen, republished 2004

ISBN-13: 978-0060297848 Hardcover

ISBN-10: 0060297840 Hardcover

ISBN-13: 978-0064473347 Paperback

ISBN-10: 0064473341 Paperback

Related website(s): http://www.harperchildrens.com

Language level: 2

(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing and/or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing and/or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)

Recommended reading level: Ages 13 and up

Rating: **** 4 stars

(5 stars=EXCELLENT; 4 stars=GOOD; 3 stars=FAIR; 2 stars=POOR; 1 star=VERY POOR; no stars=NOT RECOMMENDED)

Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker

Disclosure:  Many publishers, literary agents, and/or authors provide free copies of their books in exchange for an honest review without requiring a positive opinion.  Any books donated to Home School Book Review for review purposes are in turn donated to a library.  No other compensation has been received for the reviews posted on Home School Book Review.

For more information e-mail homeschoolbookreview@gmail.com

Website: https://homeschoolbookreviewblog.wordpress.com

Wyss, Thelma Hatch.  Ten Miles from Winnemucca (Published in 2002 by HarperCollins Children’s Books, a division of HarperCollins Publishers, 1350 Avenue of the Americas, New York City, NY  10019). Martin J. “Marty” Miller, age sixteen, has lived all his life in Winnmucca, NV, with his mother, whom he calls “Mom Miller,” a second grade teacher.  His father Charles, an engineer, died from cancer when Marty was five.  His best friend is Pete, and Marty has no complaints about his life until his mother’s remarriage to a wealthy stepfather named Lester, whom he calls “Mr. Joe Wonderful,” of Seattle, WA.  When the couple leaves for a long European honeymoon, Marty finds his belongings jettisoned from the second-story window of Joe’s house by his stringy-haired new stepbrother Burgess and his cronies.  So Marty loads his beloved red Jeep with his bike and belongings and heads off down the road back towards Nevada, until hunger and a nearly empty gas tank land him in Red Rock, ID, a place as good as any other.

Deciding not to go on to Winnemucca, Marty demonstrates some ingenuity, soon enrolls in school at Woodland High, secures a job slinging burgers at the Burger Box, and lives in his Jeep, which he hides at a critter-filled campsite in the back country off Foothill Road in Little Red Rock Canyon.  Also, he makes a new friend named Phillip and even picks up an unsolicited girlfriend, Diantha Dragon, whose all black dress and freewheeling style both repel and attract him.  How does Marty manage to get along, especially as thoughts of what and where home truly is tug at his heart?  What happens when his Jeep goes missing?  And will he stay in Red Rock or will he return to Seattle?  I was a sixteen year old boy once.  I suppose that every teenage boy encounters situations where he would like to leave home and live by himself for a while.  Marty actually does it.

The book contains little that is objectionable.  Marty says “heck” and “darn” a lot.  He tells us that, after arriving in Red Rock and parking overnight on the street, he “shouted obscene words to nobody” until he was hoarse, but no obscene words are actually used.  Diantha engages in a little bit of shoplifting, which horrifies Marty.  Some kissing occurs, and there are a couple of references to drinking beer and wine. This pleasing, well-paced story with a sympathetic, resilient hero who has considerable reader appeal is told with a quirky, self-deprecating sense of humor.  For all his success in achieving a marginal existence, Marty learns the same lesson that Dorothy came to understand in The Wizard of Oz, that there’s no place like home.

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He Will Not Walk With Me

HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW

he will not walk

Book: He Will Not Walk With Me

Author: Alice Hendricks Bach

Publisher:  Delacorte, 1985

ISBN-13: 978-0385294102

ISBN-10: 0385294107

Language level: 3

(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing and/or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing and/or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)

Recommended reading level:  Said to be for ages12 and up, but I’d say 16 and up

Rating: **** 4 stars

(5 stars=EXCELLENT; 4 stars=GOOD; 3 stars=FAIR; 2 stars=POOR; 1 star=VERY POOR; no stars=NOT RECOMMENDED)

Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker

Disclosure:  Many publishers, literary agents, and/or authors provide free copies of their books in exchange for an honest review without requiring a positive opinion.  Any books donated to Home School Book Review for review purposes are in turn donated to a library.  No other compensation has been received for the reviews posted on Home School Book Review.

For more information e-mail homeschoolbookreview@gmail.com

Website: https://homeschoolbookreviewblog.wordpress.com

Bach, Alice Hendricks.  He Will Not Walk With Me (Published in 1985 by Delacorte Press, 1 Dag Hammarskjold Place, New York City, NY  10017).   Sixteen-year-old Hallie Clement lives in an upscale New York City apartment with her father Paul, a lawyer, her mother Meg, a journalist, and younger brother Jake.  Her boyfriend is Sam Cobbit, and her two best friends at both Lincoln High School and her church’s youth fellowship are Martha Cassell and Starr Mann.  To impress her youthful, charismatic, attractive new minister, Reverend Jacob Ward Alcott, affectionately known as “Jinks,” a media celebrity who preaches about helping the homeless, and on whom she has a crush, Hallie volunteers at Communion House, a soup kitchen in New York City’s Lower East Side, after seeing the minister on TV promoting the shelter for the homeless.  She becomes deeply involved with the House, its “guests,” and the people who work there. Still, it’s Jinks Hallie wants to impress.

Unfortunately, the Reverend Alcott never comes to the kitchen, hardly pays attention when Hallie tells him about it, and does not follow through on a food collection that he promised. In a final desperate attempt to gain his attention, she stays out on the streets one cold winter night.  What happens to Hallie?   Does she survive the ordeal?  And will she learn any important lessons?  First, let me say that this is not a book for children.  It is definitely a young adult novel.  The language could be worse—a few mild crudities and some “polite” profanity.  In addition to the main theme, the plot deals with several distinctly teenage problems.  A boy is caught smoking a joint.  Hallie tells Sam, “Every minute we’re alone, you want to make out.”  Instances of drinking alcohol occur.  There are references to a guy “copping himself a feel” and another who “wanted…a little hand job.”  And while on the street, Hallie is the victim of an attempted rape.

All of this is handled reasonably well.  But, again, most parents whom I know would not feel that it is suitable for young children.  The street people are well depicted so that readers can see them, hear them, and even smell them. The gist of the story is that the romantic idealization of her minister that leads Hallie to volunteer work with the poor of New York City also leads to some disillusioning encounters with reality.  She learns that what really counts is the actual work done in a place like Communion House, not Jinks’ empty words, that virtue is its own reward, and that there is a difference between lip service and that of real service to help relieve such conditions as poverty and hunger. The lesson is one which is always timely, that success is not measured by the approval of the masses or a coveted love object.  In our celebrity-and-media-oriented culture, these are important issues for teens to consider.

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The Winter of Life: Redeeming the Time

HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW

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Book: The Winter of Life: Redeeming the Time

Author: Sewell Hall

Cover Designer: Bethany Hubartt

Publisher: Mount Bethel Publishing, 2019

ISBN-13: 978-0985005955

ISBN-10: 0985005955

Related website(s): http://www.MountBethelPublishing.com

Language level: 1

(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing and/or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing and/or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)

Recommended reading level: Suitable for anyone but intended for senior citizens

Rating: ***** 5 stars

(5 stars=EXCELLENT; 4 stars=GOOD; 3 stars=FAIR; 2 stars=POOR; 1 star=VERY POOR; no stars=NOT RECOMMENDED)

Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker

Disclosure:  Many publishers, literary agents, and/or authors provide free copies of their books in exchange for an honest review without requiring a positive opinion.  Any books donated to Home School Book Review for review purposes are in turn donated to a library.  No other compensation has been received for the reviews posted on Home School Book Review.

For more information e-mail homeschoolbookreview@gmail.com

Website: https://homeschoolbookreviewblog.wordpress.com

Hall, Sewell.  The Winter of Life: Redeeming the Time (Published in 2019 by Mount Bethel Publishing, P. O. Box 123, Port Murray, NJ  07865).  “Lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone.  The flowers appear on the earth; the time of singing has come” (Song of Solomon 2:11-12).  I consider the author, formally Mr. Gardner Sewell Hall Jr., a good friend.  His son and I were in college together.  A gospel preacher for many years, Sewell himself is in his nineties and so is well qualified to address from a Biblical standpoint the topic of growing older and how to deal with the problems that advanced age can bring.  There are thirteen chapters in the book.   Chapter 1 begins, “Old age has been called the winter of life.  Why?  Most obviously, I suppose, because of the idea that old age comes at the end of life just as winter comes at the end of the year.”

After this opening chapter that discusses in general both the blessings and adversities of old age, with a look at some wrong ways and the right way to cope, eleven more chapters explore the lives of twelve aged saints who appear in Scriptures to discover suggestions for “redeeming the time”—Noah, Jacob, Moses, Caleb, Naomi, David, Barzillai, Jeremiah, Daniel, Simeon, Anna, and Paul.  The closing chapter is about “Hope.”  The Winter of Life describes situations that Christians face in their senior years and is a wonderful book on how God’s people should handle growing old. The author’s conclusion is that these can be years of renewal rather than retreat.  Each chapter includes questions for thought or discussion, so it would be suitable for either individual study or use in classes.

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Encyclopedia Brown and the Case of the Exploding Plumbing and Other Mysteries

HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW

brown

Book: Encyclopedia Brown and the Case of the Exploding Plumbing and Other Mysteries

Author: Donald J. Sobol

Illustrator: Leonard Shortall

Publisher: Puffin Books, republished 2008

ISBN-13: 978-0590405317 Hardcover

ISBN-10: 0590405314 Hardcover

ISBN-13: 978-0590014120 Paperback

ISBN-10: 0590014129 Paperback

Language level: 2

(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing and/or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing and/or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)

Recommended reading level: Ages 8 – 12

Rating: ***** 5 stars

(5 stars=EXCELLENT; 4 stars=GOOD; 3 stars=FAIR; 2 stars=POOR; 1 star=VERY POOR; no stars=NOT RECOMMENDED)

Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker

Disclosure:  Many publishers, literary agents, and/or authors provide free copies of their books in exchange for an honest review without requiring a positive opinion.  Any books donated to Home School Book Review for review purposes are in turn donated to a library.  No other compensation has been received for the reviews posted on Home School Book Review.

For more information e-mail homeschoolbookreview@gmail.com

Website: https://homeschoolbookreviewblog.wordpress.com

Sobol, Donald J.  Encyclopedia Brown and the Case of the Exploding Plumbing and Other Mysteries (Published in 1974 by Thomas Nelson Inc.; republished in 1975 by Scholastic Book Services, a division of Scholastic Magazines Inc.).  Ten year old fifth grader Leroy Brown, nicknamed “Encyclopedia” by his friends, lives in Idaville, a lovely seaside town, with his father, who is the Chief of Police, and his mother.  Encyclopedia helps his father solve crimes.  In addition, he and his classmate Sally Kimball run a detective agency out of his garage during the summer to help the children of the neighborhood.  “No case too small.  25₵ per day plus expenses.”  Many of his cases put him in conflict with Bugs Meany, the leader of a tough gang of older boys called the Tigers.

The Case of the Exploding Plumbing is listed as “Encyclopedia Brown #11” of 28 in the Encyclopedia Brown Series.  It was previously published as Encyclopedia Brown Lends a Hand.  The cases involve a stolen newspaper clipping that could be valuable, a huge footprint in the soft earth, counterfeit money in a bird’s nest, a missing silver dollar, a threatening letter, and an exploding toilet.  The solutions to these short cases are in the back of the book, which has more recently been republished under its original title.  Also I have read and reviewed Encyclopedia Brown, Boy Detective; Encyclopedia Brown and the Case of the Jumping Frogs; Encyclopedia Brown Takes the Case (#10); and the Encyclopedia Brown Mystery Collection.

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Black Bottle Man

HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW

8143891

Book: Black Bottle Man

Author: Craig Russell

Publisher: Great Plains, republished 2020

ISBN-13: 978-1894283991

ISBN-10: 1894283996

Related website(s): http://www.greatplains.mb.ca (publisher)

Language level:  3

(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing and/or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing and/or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)

Recommended reading level: Young adult (ages 16 and up)

Rating: **** 4 stars

(5 stars=EXCELLENT; 4 stars=GOOD; 3 stars=FAIR; 2 stars=POOR; 1 star=VERY POOR; no stars=NOT RECOMMENDED)

Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker

Disclosure:  Many publishers, literary agents, and/or authors provide free copies of their books in exchange for an honest review without requiring a positive opinion.  Any books donated to Home School Book Review for review purposes are in turn donated to a library.  No other compensation has been received for the reviews posted on Home School Book Review.

For more information e-mail homeschoolbookreview@gmail.com

Website: https://homeschoolbookreviewblog.wordpress.com

Russell, CraigBlack Bottle Man (Published in 2010 by Yellow Dog; republished in 2020 by Great Plains Teen Fiction, an imprint of Great Plains Publications, 1173 Wolseley Ave., Winnepeg, MB  R3G 1H1).  The action begins in 2007 with a ninety year old man named Rembrandt who is sleeping at the Salvation Army’s Sally Anne dormitory in Boston, MA, but it quickly goes back to 1927, when ten year old Rembrandt is the only child in the tiny community of Three Farms somewhere out west in Canada.  He lives on one farm with his Pa and Ma.  The other two farms belong to Pa’s brother, Uncle Thompson and his wife Aunt Emma, and to Pa’s sister, Aunt Annie and her husband Uncle Billy.  His two aunts soon grow desperate for babies of their own. A man wearing a black top-coat and a glad-ta-meet-ya smile arrives with a magic bottle, and a deadly deal is made.

Determined to undo the wager, Rembrandt, Pa, and Uncle Thompson embark on the journey of their lives to seek a champion capable of defeating the Black Bottle Man.  But if they stay in one place for more than twelve days terrible things occur.   What happens to the three travelers?  When and where might they find their champion?  And will they ever make it back home?  Black Bottle Man is categorized as “Teen & Young Adult Christian Fantasy.”  One reviewer called it “a young-adult horror story.”  Another said that it speaks “of profound love, of commitment to family, of humility, of grace under pressure.”  It has all that, but it also has references to drinking (even young Rembrandt takes a swig of Uncle Billy’s whiskey) and discussions of engaging in “congress” (i.e., sex) to make babies.  And there is quite a bit of what many feel is bad language, such as the “h” and “d” words (the latter sometimes with the prefix “god”)—even young Rembrandt uses the “d” word.  And there are a few others that I’ll not specify.

Some authors, even of “Christian” fiction feel that they have to include such language to be “realistic.”  Personally I don’t care for it, think that it’s unnecessary, and have trouble highly recommending a book that takes the name of God in vain, but each person will have to make up his own mind.  There is an interesting story in this spiritual fable based on the Faustian concept of selling one’s soul to the devil, and it is well told.  Bits of historical fiction are mixed in with special emphasis on the Great Depression, and some important lessons are found including the dangers of dabbling in the occult and the triumph of good over evil.  Rembrandt is certainly an engaging and sympathetic character.  A few readers may find the hop-skip-and jump-around narrative with all its flashbacks a bit hard to follow. Also the situation with Gail Brewer and her decision is a little unclear for much of the book, but it all eventually ties together in a lovely and satisfying conclusion.

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Beau Geste: A Condensation

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9780945260332

Book: Beau Geste: A Condensation

Author: Percival Christopher Wren

Illustrator: Stan Galli

Publisher: Readers Digest, republished 1989

ISBN-13: 9780945260332

ISBN: 0945260334

Language level: 3

(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing and/or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing and/or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)

Recommended reading level: Ages 13 and up

Rating: **** 4 stars

(5 stars=EXCELLENT; 4 stars=GOOD; 3 stars=FAIR; 2 stars=POOR; 1 star=VERY POOR; no stars=NOT RECOMMENDED)

Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker

Disclosure:  Many publishers, literary agents, and/or authors provide free copies of their books in exchange for an honest review without requiring a positive opinion.  Any books donated to Home School Book Review for review purposes are in turn donated to a library.  No other compensation has been received for the reviews posted on Home School Book Review.

For more information e-mail homeschoolbookreview@gmail.com

Website: https://homeschoolbookreviewblog.wordpress.com

Wren, Percival Christopher.  Beau Geste: A Condensation (original first published in 1924; condensation published in 1968 by The Reader’s Digest Association Inc. and republished in 1989 by Choice Publishing Inc., Great Neck, NY  11021).  Michael “Beau” Geste, his twin Digby, and their younger brother John, who narrates the story, are orphans living at Brandon Abbas in England with their aunt Patricia, Lady Hector Brandon, whose family also includes Augustus, nephew of the absent Sir Hector, Isobel, Patricia’s niece and the object of John’s interest, and Claudia, simply identified as a cousin. A precious sapphire of Hector’s known as the “Blue Water” disappears, and suspicion falls on the band of young people, so Beau takes the extreme step of leaving England to join the French Foreign Legion in Algeria, followed by his brothers, separately, John in part to spare Isobel any suspicion of being a thief.  After recruit training in Sidi Bel Abbes and some active service skirmishing with tribesmen in the south, Beau and John are posted to the small garrison of the fictional desert outpost of Fort Zinderneuf, while Digby and his American friends Hank and Buddy are sent to Tokotu to train with a mule mounted company.

The commander at Fort Zinderneuf, after the death of two more senior officers, is the sadistic Sergeant Major Lejaune, who drives his abused subordinates to the verge of mutiny. Only the Geste brothers and a few loyalists are against the scheme, but an attack by Tuaregs prevents mass desertion.  Later, help arrives and finds that every single soldier in the fort is dead.  What happens to Beau, Digby, and John?  Will any of them make it back to England alive?  And who took the “Blue Water” jewel to begin with? Beau Geste is an adventure novel by P. C. Wren, a descendant of the architect Christopher Wren who designed Saint Paul’s Cathedral. Published in 1924, the novel is set in the period before World War I.  The edition which I read was a “Reader’s Digest Best Loved Books for Young Readers” condensation.  Some cursing and swearing occur, though no vulgarity or obscenity, and there are a few references to smoking tobacco and drinking alcoholic beverages.

It is often affirmed that the man who wrote Beau Geste once served with the Foreign Legion himself and based the book on his experiences.  However, others say that the original novel provides such a detailed and fairly authentic description of life in the pre-1914 Foreign Legion, that it has led to unproven suggestions that Wren himself served with the Legion. Before he became a successful writer, Wren’s recorded career was that of a school teacher in India.  He wrote some sequels which also deal with the adventures of the Geste family and tie loose strings together.  In Beau Sabreur, the narrator is a French officer of Spahis who plays a secondary role in Beau Geste, and in Beau Ideal, Wren details what happened the night of the theft of the “Blue Water.” He also wrote Good Gestes, a collection of short tales, about half of them about the Geste brothers and their American friends Hank and Buddy, who also feature prominently in Beau Sabreur and Beau Ideal, and Spanish Maine (or The Desert Heritage), where loose ends are tied up and the successive tales of John Geste’s adventures come to an end.

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So They Went to the Country

HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW

country

Book: So They Went to the Country

Author and Illustrator: Eve DiLorenzo

Publisher: Exposition Press, reprinted 1954

Library of Congress catalog card number: 53-9790

Language level: 1

(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing and/or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing and/or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)

Recommended reading level:  Ages 7-10

Rating: ***** 5 stars

(5 stars=EXCELLENT; 4 stars=GOOD; 3 stars=FAIR; 2 stars=POOR; 1 star=VERY POOR; no stars=NOT RECOMMENDED)

Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker

Disclosure:  Many publishers, literary agents, and/or authors provide free copies of their books in exchange for an honest review without requiring a positive opinion.  Any books donated to Home School Book Review for review purposes are in turn donated to a library.  No other compensation has been received for the reviews posted on Home School Book Review.

For more information e-mail homeschoolbookreview@gmail.com

Website: https://homeschoolbookreviewblog.wordpress.com

DiLorenzo, Eve.  So They Went to the Country (Published in 1953 by Exposition Press Inc., 386 Fourth Ave., New York City, NY  10016).  Six year old John Barry lives with his parents and his five year old sister Betty in the heart of the city.  The children have never been to their grandparents’ farm in the country, nearly a thousand miles from New York.  They had seen photographs of it, and Grampy and Grammy had visited them in the city a few times.  But on Betty’s fifth birthday, their businessman father tells them that he has to go on a long business trip and that they and their mother will be spending the entire spring and summer on the farm.

John and Betty are both sure that they will be quite bored in the country.   What can they find to see and do?  Will they ever get used to living on the farm?  How do they react when it’s time to return to the city?  And what great news does Daddy have when he comes back?  So They Went to the Country is a book in which author Eve DiLorenzo strives to introduce urban youngsters to rural life.  It is a pleasant story that would make a great early reader.  Learning about families who love one another, pray at meal times, and go to church services is always nice.

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