Call Waiting

HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW

Book: Call Waiting

Author: Michelle Cunnah 

Cover Illustrator: Nadine Badalaty

Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks, 2004

ISBN-13: 978-0060560362

ISBN-10: 0060560363

Related website(s): http://www.harpercollins.com (publisher)

Language level: 5

(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: I would not suggest it for anyone

Rating: 0 stars

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

Category: 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

     Cunnah, MichelleCall Waiting (Published in 2004 by Avon Trade, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers Inc., 10 E. 53rd St., New York City, NY  10022).  Emma Taylor, a Junior Accounts Manager in Advertising, lives in Hoboken, NJ, is turning 31, and hopes that her architect boyfriend Jack Brown will propose marriage to her.  Emma’s parents are divorced.  Her plastic surgeon father is married to Peri who is Jack’s older sister, and her Human-Rights lawyer mother Julia, who lives in England, is married to George.  Emma and Jack’s circle of couples-friends include Rachel and Hugh, Sylvester and David, Tish and Rufus, and Katy and Tom.  However, Emma becomes worried that Jack’s gorgeous, perfect, voluptuous boss Claire is after him.  Is Jack the commitment-phobe that she fears?  Will he actually go ahead and propose?  Or does Claire succeed in breaking them up?  I picked this book up in our library’s book sale room because the blurb on the back made it sound interesting.

     Call Waiting and its predecessor 32AA, which introduced Emma Taylor, are referred to as “chick lit.”  Now, I don’t mind reading a good, clean romance novel, ala Grace Livingston Hill or the “Love Inspired” series.  But this book is not about true romance; it’s just about plain, old sex, pure and simple.  In the very beginning, as Emma introduces Jack to the readers as her new boyfriend of eight months, she says, “Honestly, I’m the one sleeping with him so have insider information!”  I thought about throwing it away then, but I continued reading to see if it got any better.  It didn’t.  It ends with Jack and Emma not married yet but in bed together; she is “tugging at his zipper” and says that “his hands are doing wicked things to—certain parts of my anatomy.”   There are several other references to various erogenous body parts and specific sexual encounters.

     In fact, the whole book is totally amoral from beginning to end and borders on pornography.  Besides Jack and Emma’s fornication, among their friends, Katy and Tom are married, but Rachel and Hugh are living together with plans to marry when she becomes pregnant, Sylvester and David are a homosexual couple, and Tish had seduced Rufus to get him to start dating her.  In addition, a lot of imbibing alcoholic beverages occurs, and besides a great deal of cursing and profanity, the “s” and “f” words are frequently used, along with other vulgar terms.  It seems as if the hormone-laden Rachel can’t complete a sentence without dropping the “f” bomb.  I really could not recommend this book to anyone.  A friend of mine once noted that if something is for “mature audiences only,” it usually isn’t fit for the dogs.

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Racing the Sun

HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW

Book: Racing the Sun

Author: Paul Pitts

Publisher: HarperCollins, 1988

ISBN-13: 978-0613377010 Hardcover

ISBN-10: 061337701X Hardcover

ISBN-13: 978-0380754960 Paperback

ISBN-10: 0380754967 Paperback

Related website(s): http://www.AvonBooks.com (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: Ages 8 – 12

Rating: **** 4 stars

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

Category: General youth fiction

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

     Pitts, Paul.  Racing the Sun (Published in 1988 by Avon Camelot Books Inc., 1350 Avenue of the Americas, New York City, NY  10019).  Twelve-year-old Brandon Rogers lives with his dad Keith, an engineer and professor at the University of Utah, and his mother Helen.  Brandon is a seventh grader at Roosevelt Junior High School, where his best friend is David Berger.  David’s nickname is “Ham,” and Brandon’s nickname is “Cochise” because he and his family are Navajo (although Cochise was an Apache).  Being an American Indian isn’t something Brandon likes to advertise. His father had left his Indian heritage behind and changed his name from Kee Redhouse when he went to college, and Brandon has grown up in suburbia–just a “regular kid,” happily a member of the UGA (Underachieving Goof-offs of America) and living the middle-class life that his father carved out for their family.

     However, Brandon’s ill Navajo grandfather, with his smoky smell and embarrassing mumbo-jumbo such as chanting himself to sleep, moves off the reservation near Little Water, NM, and into the lower bunk in Brandon’s room.  Then he starts getting his grandson out of bed before sunrise every morning to race the sun.  Will Brandon be able to cope with the disruptive changes?  What happens when the dying Grandfather demands to go back home one last time?  And are there any important lessons for Brandon to learn?  This is a thought-provoking, realistic story, interspersed with several comic moments.  Unfortunately, there is a little bad language.  The “d” word is found twice, once when Brandon’s dad yells at the boy for nagging him about taking Grandpa home, the other by a man on the bus, who also uses the “h” word a couple of times.  But this fast-reading novel offers a glimpse of Navajo reservation life and culture, and illustrates the importance of appreciating one’s heritage.

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Escape from Gehenna

HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW

Book: Escape from Gehenna

Author: Bradley J. Knefelkamp 

Publisher: Riven Publishing, republished 2020

ISBN-13: 978-1479381340

ISBN-10: 1479381349

Related website(s): https://knefelkamp.wixsite.com/author (author)

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 10-14

Rating: ***** 5 stars

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

Category: Fantasy

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

     Knefelkamp, Bradley J.  Escape from Gehenna (Published in 2012 by CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; republished in 2020 by Riven Publishing).  Chanse and Chelly Adaman are twelve-year-old twins and live in the country of Gehenna whose evil dictator Dymorius enslaves the young. Taken the day they turn six, children work in the dark iron mines of Tartrus beneath the ground until they reach adulthood, only to be released into the service of Dymorius.  Their task-masters are vile creatures called Batrauks.  Chanse and Chelly’s friends are Drake, Breena, and Ricker.  One day, the five young people stumble upon a way out, and the twins make for a country beyond their borders of which they’ve heard rumors. However, when Dymorius finds that two have fled, he has his own reason for tracking them down before they can escape.

     Therefore, the brother and sister find that the path is not easy with Dymorius hunting for them, and not everyone they meet wanting to help.  Do they manage to make it out of Gehenna?  Or are they caught and returned?  And what happens to their three friends?  Escape from Gehenna is a story of perseverance, hope, and love that weaves together Christian principles and Biblical parallels in a fast-paced adventure with humor and suspense to portray an interesting look at how the paths we choose affect ours and others’ lives in more ways than we may imagine.  Well written and delightfully told, it’s a great story with a great pace that will keep the readers wide awake, on the edge of their seats, turning pages, and rooting for the main characters throughout.  I found it to be thoroughly enjoyable and suitable for any age, from five to 85.  This thrilling tale of excitement is the first of a series chronicling events in an age between myth and legend.

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Girl Watcher’s Funeral

HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW

Book: Girl Watcher’s Funeral

Author: Hugh Pentecost 

Publisher: Pyramid Books, republished, 1972

ISBN-13: 9780515028669

ISBN-10: 0515028665

Language level:  4

(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: Adults only

Rating: * 1 star

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

Category:  Mystery

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

     Pentecost, Hugh.  Girl Watcher’s Funeral (published in 1969 by Dodd Mead and Company, New York City, NY).    Barrel-chested and twinkle-eyed Nikos Karados is a wealthy Greek shipping magnate with a philanthropic bent who comes to New York City with his entourage to stage a fashion show of designs by protégé Max Lazar for the sake of cancer research at the at the stately Beaumont Hotel where Pierre Chambrun is the resident manager. Karados collapses and dies from an apparent heart attack, but while Inspecting the body, the house doctor discovers that Karados’s medication has been replaced by placebos. To avoid a panic, Chambrun has Beaumont press agent Mark Haskell quietly investigate the murder.  There is a host of possible suspects among the models, designers, photographers, reporters, and others.  Who killed Karados?   Why was the murder committed?  And is anyone else in danger?

     Hugh Pentecost was a penname of mystery author Judson Philips (1903–1989). I picked up this book 6 of 15 in “The Pierre Chambrun Mysteries Series” from our library’s discard table because it was labeled “mystery” and next to historical fiction good mysteries  (ala Agatha Christie, G. K. Chesterton) are one of my favorite forms of literature.  Unfortunately, Girl Watcher’s Funeral is a typical modern “hard-boiled” detective novel with a lot, and I mean a lot, of cursing, swearing, and near vulgarity, numerous instances of smoking cigarettes and drinking alcoholic beverages, and multiple references to amoral sexual activities including fornication, adultery, homosexuality, and pornography.   If something like that floats your boat, have at it, but I prefer stories that are cleaner and more wholesome.

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Eco Bible: Volume 1, An Ecological Commentary on Genesis and Exodus 

HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW

Book: Eco Bible: Volume 1, An Ecological Commentary on Genesis and Exodus   

Authors: Yonatan Neril and Leo Dee

Cover Illustrators: Austin Rubben and Tien Vu

Publisher:  Interfaith Center for Sustainable Development, 2020

ISBN-13: 978-1735338835 Hardcover

ISBN-10: 1735338834 Hardcover

ISBN-13: 978-1735338804 Paperback

ISBN-10: 173533880X Paperback

Related website(s): http://www.interfaithsustain.com (publisher)

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:  Of interest primarily to adults

Rating:  *** 3 stars

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

Category: Bible study

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

     Neril, Yonatan, and Dee, Leo.  Eco Bible: Volume I, An Ecological Commentary on Genesis and Exodus (Published in 2020 by The Interfaith Center for Sustainable Development).   The purpose of this book, referred to as a “green Bible commentary,” is to answer the question, “What can the Bible tell us about ecology?”   Drawing on 3,500 years of religious ethics, Rabbis Yonatan Neril and Leo Dee, co-editors and lead contributors, quote over 100 rabbis from Biblical times right up to the present to show how the Bible itself and its great scholars embrace care for God’s creation as a fundamental and living message and to motivate action to protect all of God’s creation.

     Not everyone will agree with all the presuppositions that underlie the book, such as man-made climate change, but ecologically minded readers interested in what the rabbis have to say about the Hebrew Bible and those who support a faith-based environmental commitment, that emphasizes how to live in harmony with nature and the power of conservation, will find it interesting.  Volume 1 explores Genesis and Exodus; Volume 2 (2021) explores Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. Together they cover 450 verses in the Five Books of Moses, linking faith and science, and connecting religion with contemporary thought regarding human health, biodiversity, and clean air, land, and water.

     Certainly the idea of applying Biblical ethics to stewardship, conservation, and creation care is good, and the authors include a number of suggested specific action items along those lines that many may find helpful.  However, I do offer a closing caveat.  It has been my experience that in seeking to find what Rabbi Shlomo ben Aderet calls “the ever-increasing number of fresh understandings of the Bible’s verses,” it can possibly become very easy for the would-be expositor to stretch and skew the Biblical text to make it appear that the Scriptures support some pre-conceived agenda.

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Heroes at Home: Help and Hope for America’s Military Families

HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW

Book: Heroes at Home: Help and Hope for America’s Military Families

Author: Ellie Kay

Cover Illustrator: Bill Chiaravalle

Publisher: Bethany House Publishers, 3rd edition 2012

ISBN-13: 978-0739429822 Hardcover

ISBN-10: 0739429822 Hardcover

ISBN-13: 978-0764209819 Paperback

ISBN-10: 0764209817 Paperback

Related website(s): http://www.elliekay.com (author), http://www.officeofbc.com (illustrator), http://www.bethanyhouse.com (publisher)

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: Of interest primarily to spouses and families of military personel

Rating: **** 4 stars

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

Category: Non-fiction

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

     Kay, Ellie.  Heroes at Home: Help and Hope for America’s Military Families (Published in 2002 by Bethany House Publishers, 11400 Hampshire Ave. S., Bloomington, MN  55438; a division of Baker Publishing Group, Grand Rapids, MI).  The purpose of this book is to provide practical and inspiring help for every family facing the challenges of military life.  Off hand, I do not recall exactly why and how I ended up having this book.  It probably came as a free gift with another order.  Author and popular speaker Ellie Kay, a veteran military wife of Bob Kay, a former Stealth fighter pilot, and proud mother of seven, of whom one graduated from the United States Naval Academy and another is attending the United States Air Force Academy, addresses concerns about preparing for and enduring separations, making family moves, stretching a dollar, communicating long distance, and so much more, including today’s reality of dangerous missions, deployments, reentry into family life, and long work hours–whether active duty, reserve, or National Guard.

      I am not really qualified to assess the value of this book because I have never been in the military nor do I have family who are in the military.  One person definitely didn’t like it and wrote, “I am a Navy Wife of four years facing my first deployment as a wife and I found this book to be the corniest thing I’ve ever read. EVER….I didn’t find the book to be informative and I found the definition section of the book to be incredibly trite and boring….I didn’t learn ANYTHING from this book and would NOT recommend this to anyone SERIOUSLY looking for information or advice about military life or deployments.”  However, another said, “I have been ‘married to the Marine Corps’ for 12 years and still found this book to be helpful.”  And Command Chief Master Sergeant Vance M. Clarke, U.S.A.F., noted, “This encouraging book is more than just a helpful guide for families on active duty. Ellie offers today’s generation of families the encouragement they need as they encounter the challenges military families face, whether they’re Reserves, National Guard, or full-time active duty….Her sage advice and witty humor give families some sense of comfort when military life seems chaotic.”

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Saint Isaac Jogues: With Burning Heart

HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW

Book: Saint Isaac Jogues: With Burning Heart

Authors: Christine Virginia Orfeo and Mary Elizabeth Tebo

Illustrator: Barbara Kiwak

Publisher: Pauline Books and Media, 2002

ISBN-13: 978-0819870636

ISBN-10: 0819870633

Related website(s): http://www.pauline.org (publisher)

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 9 – 12

Rating: **** 4 stars

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

Category: Biography

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

     Orfeo, Christine Virginia, and Tebo, Mary Ellizabeth.  Saint Isaac Jogues: With Burning Heart (Published in 2002 by Pauline Books and Media, an arm of the Daughters of St. Paul, 50 St. Pauls Ave., Boston, MA  02130). Isaac Jogues (1607 –1646) was a French missionary who traveled and worked among the Iroquois, Huron, and other Native populations in North America. Jogues was born to Laurent and Françoise (de Sainte-Mesmin) Jogues on January 10, 1607, in Orléans, France, where he was the fifth of nine children of a bourgeois family.  He was educated at home until the age of ten, at which point he began attending Jesuit schools. In 1624, at the age of seventeen, he entered the Jesuit novitiate at Rouen in Northern France. Jesuit missionaries inspired Jogues, and he aspired to follow in their footsteps.  Jogues professed simple vows in 1626, and went to study philosophy at the royal college of La Flèche. In 1629, he taught humanities to boys in Rouen. In 1633, Jogues was sent to the Collège de Clermont in Paris to pursue his studies in Theology. In 1636, he was ordained a priest at Clermont.

     In 1636 missionary fathers Jean de Brébeuf, Charles Lallemant, and Enemond Massé returned from New France. Their accounts increased Jogues’ desire to devote himself to the conversion and welfare of the natives, and he was assigned as a missionary to the Huron and Algonquian peoples; both were allies of the French in Quebec.  For six years, Jogues lived in the village of St-Joseph and learned the Hurons’ ways and language.  On August 3, 1642, Jogues, Guillaume Couture, René Goupil, and a group of Christian Hurons were heading back from Quebec City when they were waylaid by a war party of the Mohawk Nation, part of the Iroquois Confederacy.  The Mohawk beat Jogues with sticks, tore out his fingernails, then gnawed the ends of his fingers until finger bones were visible. The war party then took their captives on a journey to a Mohawk village.  What happened to Jogues?   Did he manage to escape captivity?  Was he ever able to see his family again?  Saint Isaac Jogues: With Burning Heart is Book 12 of some 25 in the “Encounter the Saints Series.” 

     The book does give a look at the cruelty and torture practiced by the Indians on the missionaries, members of other tribes, and even people of their own tribe.  In fact, this was the biggest complaint.  One person wrote, “It has a lot of *detailed* descriptions of the torture inflicted on others by certain Indian tribes.”  Another said, “This was supposed to be for children but very, very graphic details about torture and scalpings.”  However, I agree with the one who noted, “One thing – the book deals with some semi-violent themes (nothing graphic, just the nature of the story of this particular saint).”  Parents of younger children or sensitive children may wish to pre-read this one before giving it to their child, and if they want to do this as a read-aloud they should probably wait until their kids are 8+.  As one might imagine there are lots of references to specific Roman Catholic beliefs and practices.  However, one doesn’t have to be a Catholic or agree with the Catholic Church to appreciate the fact that many of the early New World explorers were men of sincere faith or to admire their courage in living by and even dying for their beliefs.

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And One for All

HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW

Book: And One for All

Author: Theresa Nelson 

Cover Illustrator: Linda Benson

Publisher: Yearling, republished 1991

ISBN-13: 978-0440404569

ISBN-10: 0440404568

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 ages 9 – 12, but I’d say 13-17

Rating: *** 3 stars

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

Category: Historical fiction

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

     Nelson, Theresa.  And One for All (Published in 1989 by Orchard Books, a division of Franklin Watts Inc., New York City, NY  10016; republished in 1991 by Yearling Books, an imprint of Bantam Doubleday Dell Books for Young Readers, a division of Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group Inc., 1540 Broadway, New York City, NY  10036).  It is 1967, and twelve year old Geraldine Brennan lives in the reservoir country north of New York City, NY, with her father Arthur, mother Eleanor, seventeen year old brother Arthur Jr. (known as Wing), and five year old younger brother Dub (short for W.W.—Wallace Wayne).  She is a seventh grader at St. Mary’s School.  Wing is a senior at St. Anthony’s High School where his best friend is Sam Daily who lives with his mother Mary Louise; Sam’s father was killed in the Korean War.

     Years before, in 1960, Geraldine, Wing, and Sam, had sworn eternal friendship and everlasting loyalty to each other like the Three Musketeers—“All for one, and one for all.”  But now Wing thinks the Marines and Vietnam have more to offer than school, while Sam would rather join anti-war protest marches for peace.  How does this difference affect their friendship?  Is there anything that Geraldine can do to help them keep their pledge alive?  And what will happen to Wing in Vietnam?   As this tense story is set during the Vietnam War, the author tries to present both sides of the issue, although it seems to me that it tends to come down a little more on the anti-war side.

      In addition to some common euphemisms (e.g., gosh, heck), the “h” word is found a couple of times, and terms like “My God” and “Good Lord” are frequently used  as interjections.  Also, there are references to Wing’s smoking cigarettes, drinking beer (in the school parking lot no less), and even coming home drunk, and to Geraldine’s first period.  While the book ends on a conciliatory and hopeful note, there is a sadness which pervades the plot, but I am sure that it accurately portrays the reality that was experienced by many families during that time period.

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The Ballad of Huck and Miguel

HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW

Book: The Ballad of Huck and Miguel

Author: Tim DeRoche 

Illustrator: Daniel Gonzalez

Publisher: Redtail Press, 2018

ISBN-13: 978-0999277676

ISBN-10: 0999277677

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

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: My recommendation is 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)

Category: General fiction

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

     DeRoche, Tim.  The Ballad of Huck and Miguel (Published in 2018 by Redtail Press, Los Angeles, CA).  It is past the year 2000, and almost nine year old Huckleberry (Huck) Finn lives in St. Petersburg, MO, with his alcoholic, abusive Pap; Huck’s Mama “went away” a long time ago.  At the urging of his friend Alfonse, Pap decides to drive his camper all the way to California where Alfonse says that he can get rich quick by doing a little job for him.  Once they get there, Huck escapes and meets a boy named Tom Sawyer in Compton, CA, where the two witness a drug deal—Pap’s job for Alfonse.  The police arrive just after Pap flees with his life. Huck testifies against the drug dealer, is given a reward, and goes to live with Ms. Douglas and Miss Watson.  He befriends their “Mexigrant” (illegal immigrant) cowboy Miguel. However, Huck’s new life is disrupted when Pap returns to steal back his son and savagely attacks the two women.

    Unfortunately, Miguel is falsely accused of the attack, so, chased by both Huck’s vengeful and psychotic father and the police, Miguel and Huck escape on a raft down the concrete gash that is the Los Angeles River where, riding the dangerous waters of a rainstorm, the two fugitives meet a strange cast of Angelenos.  Will they be able to escape from Pap?  What happens with Ms. Douglas and Miss Watson?  And does Huck ever find out where his Mama actually went?  I don’t know what the intended age range for this book is, but I could not conscientiously recommend it for younger children (unless read aloud with some judicious editing).  A small amount of cursing (the “d” and “h” words) occur, and one character calls Huck a “sonofabi*ch.”  Also there are references to smoking cigarettes, selling drugs, shootings, drinking “licker,” and “homersexuals.”

     In fact, this exchange takes place.  Huck asks Ms. Douglas if she’s a “thespian.”  When she wonders what he means, he replies, “Well, my Pap says that a lady who marries a lady is a thespian.”  She smiles and answers, “Why, yes, Huckleberry.  Why then I suppose I am a thespian.”   I can just imagine some innocent little boy or girl asking, “Mommy, are ‘thespians’ really women who marry women?”  And not everyone may agree with all of the political assumptions which seem to underlie the story.  Some may even find the plot a little “pro-illegal immigrant.”  Each person will have to make up his or her own mind on that issue.  Otherwise, for older teens and adults, The Ballad of Huck and Miguel is an interesting and somewhat humorous retelling of Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, set in modern times.

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Speechless

HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW

Book: Speechless

Author: Jennifer Mook-Sang

Cover Illustrator: Michela Sabine Fierro

Publisher: Scholastic Canada, 2015

ISBN-13: 978-1443142670

ISBN-10: 1443142670

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

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 9-13

Rating: ***** 5 stars

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

Category: General youth fiction

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.

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     Mook-Sang, Jennifer.  Speechless (Published in 2015 by Scholastic Canada Ltd., 604 King St. West, Toronto, ON  M5V 1E1, Canada).  Eleven year old Joseph (Joe) Alton Miles, nicknamed Jelly because his initials are J. A. M., lives with his father David who owns an electronics store, and his mother Gracie, and is a sixth-grader at Sherwood Forest Public School, where his best friends are twin brother and sister Parker and Sam Brown.  Jelly would rather be playing video games with P.B. than preparing for the school’s speech contest.  Besides, his nemesis and the class know it all, Victoria, has always won previous contests.  But this year’s awesome prize, a brand new tablet computer with accessories including a gaming controller, attract his attention.  And if he wins, he’ll finally have the last word with Victoria.  But then everything seems to start going horribly wrong.

     First, Jelly is accused of bullying when he accidentally hits a bratty boy named Spencer on the bus.  Then Victoria spreads a rumor around the school that Jelly’s first round speech was plagiarized.  And worse yet, Parker, who is now hanging around with one of Victoria’s friends named Elsa, appears to believe the rumor.   What can Joe do to regain his reputation as a nice kid?  Is there any way that his friendship with P. B. can be salvaged?  And who will win the final round of the speech contest?  The childish slang term “butt” is used for the human posterior several times.  Otherwise, this humorous, well written story that touches on the problem of school bullying has a believable plot with real-life characters.  It is both entertaining and inspirational.

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