Spurt: A Balls and All Story

spurt

HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW

Book: Spurt: A Balls and All Story

Author: Chris Miles

Jacket Illustrator: Lucy Ruth Cummins

Publisher: Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers, reprinted 2018

ISBN-13: 978-1481479721 Hardcover

ISBN-10: 1481479725 Hardcover

ISBN-13: 978-1481479738 Paperback

ISBN-10: 1481479733 Paperback

Related website(s): http://www.simonandschuster.com/kids (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: supposedly for ages 12 and up

Rating: 0 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

Miles, ChrisSpurt: A Balls and All Story (originally published in 2014 by Hardie Grant Egmont, Australia; republished in 2017 by Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Simon and Schuster Children’s Publishing Division, a trademark of Simon and Schuster Inc., 1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York City, NY  10020).  Fourteen year old Jack Sprigley lives with his mom Adele, older sister Hallie, and grandma Marlene; his dad Peter, a television weather forecaster, had died when Jack was nine.  Jack, who a couple of years before appeared as a contestant on a kid’s television show called Bigwigs, is now an eighth grader at Upland Junior-Senior High.  He comes back to the second semester of school without having had any contact with his friends during the break and is convinced that they ditched him because he has not reached puberty yet.  Darylyn Deramo has developed pimples.  Reese Rasmus is starting to grow hair above his lip and under his arms.  And Vivi Dink-Dawson has a more womanly figure. However, puberty is still a total no-show for Jack.  He isn’t just a late-bloomer. He’s a no-bloomer.  So, he comes up with a perfect plan to catch up and win his friends back.  He just has to fake puberty.  How will he accomplish that?  What trouble might he get into trying to do it?  And how will his friends react, especially if they find out the truth?

I don’t recall who suggested this book.  It wasn’t a recommendation but a question about whether it would be a good story for a pre-teen boy to open a dialogue on puberty.  In fact, it is billed as “A hilarious coming of age story for teenage boys about faking it until you make it—and what it means to be a man.”  My response is no, at least for those who want to maintain purity of heart.  First of all, the language is pretty bad.  These early teenagers throw around the “d” and “h” words like they were “the” or “and,” the name of God is frequently used in vain as an interjection, and Jack often says “goddamn” even to his own mother.  And on one occasion his mother says, “How do I feel?  It’s as weird as fu—“ and holds the “f” for a full five seconds before concluding with a timid “—udge.”  Also there is a great deal of emphasis on developing sexuality.  The theme might be expressed by the statement that Jack wants to be “a fully paid-up member of the reproductive organs brigade” (p. 48).  The dialogue has a lot of near-vulgar sexual terms, both slang and otherwise, for various male and female body parts.  One boy in Jack’s P.E. class is described as “being rigged like a horse between [the] legs” (p. 28).  There are also references to “flipping the bird” and a subplot that involves “sexting” between Grandma Marlene and Mayor   Perry-Moore.  School Library Journal said, “Readers ready to handle the many references to pubes and masturbation will find a warm coming-of-age story about a boy who learns that the best way to make and keep friends is to be true to himself.”  Are children who are being brought up in the nurture and training of the Lord ever really ready for this kind of ungodliness?  One reviewer said that it’s “Judy Blume for boys,” which is NOT a good recommendation in my view.

Are there any positives?  I will admit that the book does contain humor.  Unfortunately, much of it falls into the category of “coarse jesting” condemned in Ephesians 5:4.  Also, I will say that Australian author Chris Miles is a good story teller.  However, I am reminded of Cecil B. DeMilles’s observation, which applies to books as well as movies, that if something isn’t worth doing to begin with, it isn’t worth doing well.  And, interestingly enough, there is a good underlying message about being yourself, being honest with others, and being loyal to your friends.  But, oh, the pure garbage one has to wade through to get there.  One reviewer wrote, “I love this for a lot of reasons. It helped open some conversation with my 5th grader… we laughed and chatted about the…insecurities bound to come down the road.”  One thing which worries me about the present generation of kids is that too many of them have parents that encourage and even promote this kind of trash.  I agree with the reviewer who said, “It was just. So. Cringe-worthy….It was told very much like middle grade, but it had more ‘mature’ (or should I say immature) jokes. It was so uncomfortable and cringe-y and annoying.”  I debated whether to give Spurt one or no stars.  I finally decided that it was a totally worldly book with no spiritually redeeming value for Christians, so I rated it NOT RECOMMENDED.

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Sod Schoolhouse

sod-schoolhouse

HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW

Book: Sod Schoolhouse

Authors: Courtner King and Bonnie Bess Worline

Cover Illustrator: Bruce Bealmear

Publisher: Capper Press, 1996

ISBN-13: 978-0941678551

ISBN-10: 0941678555

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 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

King, Courtner and Worline, Bonnie Bess.  Sod Schoolhouse (published in 1996 by Capper Press, 1503 S.W. 42nd St., Topeka, KS  66609).  It is the summer of 1875, and the children of Freedom District on the Kansas prairie are preparing for school for the first time. Their parents have scrimped to build a brand new building.  They were going to have a sod schoolhouse, but Mrs. Chisholm said that she wouldn’t let her family go to school in “an old dirt building,” so a white painted wood structure is erected.  All the folks from Sod House Adventure are back, including Francis and Marion Dawson and their kids.  Phoebe, almost fourteen, Hartley, past twelve, nine year old Tessie, seven year old Robbie, and David, almost six, will all benefit from their one room education, while little Martha, toddler Mary Ann, and baby Louisa Mae, will stay at home.

Mr. Dawson is the director of the school board, but not everything is perfect at school.  Because the patrons spent so much money on the new school, they had to hire a less qualified teacher, and the first one, Jerome Judson from Indiana, turns out to be an ignorant bully who does more harm than good and has to be dispatched. Then a huge prairie fire destroys the wooden schoolhouse. Can the community find a new teacher?  If so, where will they have class?  And is anyone injured in the fire?  This is a sequel to the book Sod House Adventure which was written by Bonnie Bess Worline King (1914—2006).  That book was later published in paperback by Scholastic Books as The Children Who Stayed Alone.

Sod Schoolhouse, written by Worline and her son, Courtner King, continues the story of Phoebe, Hartley, Tessie, and the entire Dawson family with their neighbors and friends right where it left off.  Those who enjoyed the earlier story will like this book too.  It is filled with references to Scripture quotations, expressions of faith in God, instances of prayer, and other admirable spiritual qualities.  Unfortunately, the publishers misspelled the author’s name on the cover as Warline, though inside on the title page it’s spelled correctly as Worline. The misspelling may make it difficult for fans of Worline and Sod House Adventure (a.k.a. The Children Who Stayed Alone) to find this book.

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Sod House Adventure or The Children Who Stayed Alone

stayed-alone

HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW

Book: Sod House Adventure or The Children Who Stayed Alone

Author: Bonnie Bess Worline

Illustrator: Walter Barrows

Publisher: Scholastic Book Services, republished 1971

ISBN-13: 978-0590085212

ISBN-10: 0590085212

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 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

Worline, Bonnie Bess.  Sod House Adventure or The Children Who Stayed Alone (published in 1956 by David McKay Company Inc.; republished in 1965 by Scholastic Book Services, a division of Scholastic Magazines Inc., New York City, NY).  Phoebe Dawson and her slightly younger brother Hartley live in a sod house on the windy Kansas prairie with their homesteading parents, Francis and Marian, and their five little siblings, David, Tessie, Martha, Robbie, and baby Mary Ann.   Father went to town for supplies and has been gone for four weeks. Then Mother is called miles away to take care of a sick neighbor, Mrs. Stephens.   Thus, the children are forced to be left alone in the sod house on the prairie with Phoebe and Hartley responsible for taking care of the five younger kids plus doing all the chores on the farm.

At first there are only small problems to solve.  However, Father and Mother are absent longer than expected.  What happens when a huge late spring blizzard strikes?  How do they react when Indians appear knocking on the door?  And will Mr. and Mrs. Dawson ever make it back home? This adventure story for children, which if I remember correctly was recommended by Laurie Bluedorn, emphasizes the resourcefulness and intelligence of the two older youngsters while keeping the reader on edge throughout.   It is great historical fiction for middle school students to read.  Faith in God and prayer are both important in the Dawson family as they persevere against hardships on the wild prairie and grow stronger as a result.

The reader will find a few gently “dramatic” moments, but nothing overly scary for a youngster, and some cute, heartwarming moments with the younger siblings. While a reasonable amount of difficulties occur resulting from the normal interplay of brothers and sisters, especially when cooped up, the story portrays all the children in a positive light, showcasing their helpfulness, reliability, and ability to help others, while focusing on the test of man’s will and determination against natural disasters or man-made problems.  There is a sequel to this book called Sod Schoolhouse. It was written by Worline and her son Courtner King and takes up the story of the Dawson Family right where it left off.

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Seedfolks

seedfolks

HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW

Book: Seedfolks

Author: Paul Fleischman

Illustrator: Judy Pedersen

Publisher: HarperTrophy, republished 2004

ISBN-13: 978-0064472074

ISBN-10: 0590511904

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 13 and up

Rating: *** 3 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

Fleischman, Paul.  Seedfolks (published in 1997 by HarperCollins Children’s Books, a division of HarperCollins Publishers, 10 E. 53rd St., New York City, NY  10022; republished in 1999 by Scholastic Inc., 555 Broadway, New York City, NY  10012).  Nine year old Kim is a young schoolgirl from Vietnam whose family immigrated to Cleveland, OH, and now lives in an apartment building on Gibb St. overlooking Lake Erie with her mother and sisters.  To mark the death anniversary of her late father, who was a farmer in Vietnam, she plants six lima beans in a rat-infested, garbage-filled vacant lot across the street.  Ana, a Rumanian immigrant who lives in the same building and likes to look out her window, sees what Kim is doing.  Ana calls her neighbor Wendell, a school janitor who grew up on a farm in Kentucky, and asks him to water the beans.    Wendell gets Garcia, an eighth grader who came from Guatemala, to help him cultivate the garden and add more plants.
Then other people, a total of thirteen, from the apartment and the neighborhood become involved.  Leona plants goldenrod because her grandmother back in Atlanta used it to make tea and also gets the city to clean the garbage off the lot.  Sam grows pumpkins.  Virgil, who is finishing sixth grade, and his cab-driver father raise baby lettuce to sell to fancy restaurants.  Sae Young from Korea has hot peppers.  Muscle-bound Curtis brings some tomato plants, trying to win back Lateesha.  Nora, a British nurse, puts out all sorts of flowers for her patient Mr. Myles.  What happens to the garden?  Do the plants survive?  Or will someone destroy all that the residents have worked for? Seedfolks is not a novel but a series of short stories, actually vignettes, all with a common, interconnected thread.  The book has won numerous awards and is often required reading in public schools for kids as young as nine because it makes so many connections with different elements of society, ethnicities, and multiracial groups, promoting a sense of community with diversity and tolerance instead of racism and stereotyping.  It was published by HarperCollins Children’s Books but is listed as “Teen and Young Adult Literature.”  So which is it?

Even the top positive reviewer on Amazon, who gave it five stars and bought the book because it had been recommended for her grandchildren in second grade, admitted that while it is very good, it is not a read for youngsters, not even a read to, but will read it with them when they are a bit older. Portions of the book have content of a mature nature that may not be appropriate for preteens.  Wendell’s son was shot dead like a dog in the street. Leona’s kids attend a high school with more guns than books. Sam’s Puerto Rican employee wants to plant and sell marijuana.  Virgil is approached by a couple of drug dealers.  Sae Young was brutally attacked while in her dry cleaning shop.  Curtis lost Lateesha because with his body he had other girls hanging on him all the time.  The most shocking chapter of all is about Maricela, a sixteen year old pregnant Mexican girl who hates her baby, wishes it were dead, and talks about abortion.  One might not mind students reading this book as teenagers when they mature enough to handle the content and be able to process all the issues presented in this story.  However, I would not recommend it for a fourth grade class.

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My Brother Who Taught Me to Fly

brother-fly

HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW

Book: My Brother Who Taught Me to Fly

Author: C. Brookins

Illustrator: Holly E. Karnes

Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2015

ISBN-13: 978-1514809044

ISBN-10: 1514809044

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 8-10

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

Brookins, C.  My Brother Who Taught Me to Fly (published in 2015 by CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform).   A young boy lives with his parents, a sister, and their little brother. Mom would put the baby in the play pen, and he would try to jump over the sides, but they were too high.  Then one day, Mom is fixing dinner in the kitchen, Dad is reading at the table, and the older brother and sister are playing “Go Fish” on the living room floor. Can you guess what happens?  The younger brother keeps jumping and jumping until he comes flying out of the play pen. Inspired by his little brother’s unwillingness to give up, the young boy wonders if he can fly up to catch his football when he throws it high in the air.  Can he accomplish his goal?  And what will it take to achieve it? Or does he just give up?

This children’s book is an inspirational and beautifully illustrated story about faith, self confidence, and perseverance with the theme of “Never Give Up!” that is good for both children and adults to learn and keep with them throughout the years.  It is easy to follow and references specific Scriptures that relate to the ideals expressed.  Various reader reviewers have described it as “a great kid’s story,” “encouraging for the young children today,” “excellent book, simple but with deep moral lesson,” “a quick enjoyable read to share with the little ones,” “awesome,” “delightful,” “can’t give it enough stars,” “amazing,” and “wonderful.”   It not only stimulates faith in God but also reinforces strong family values.  My Brother Who Taught Me to Fly is C. Brookins’s first children’s story and has won a writing award from the National Council Of Jewish Women.

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The Egg and I

egg and i

HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW

Book: The Egg and I

Author: Betty MacDonald

Cover Illustrator: Christina Schlesinger

Publisher: Harper Perennial, reissued 2008

ISBN-13: 978-0060914288

ISBN-10: 0060914289

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: Ages 16 and up

Rating: *** 3 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

MacDonald, Betty.  The Egg and I (published in 1945 by J. B. Lippincott; republished in 1987 by Perennial Library, an imprint of Harper and Row Publishers Inc., 10 E 53rd St., New York City, NY  10022).  Author Betty Bard MacDonald (1907-1958) was born Anne Elizabeth Campbell Bard in Boulder, CO.  Her family moved to Seattle, WA, in 1918, and she married a marine, Robert Eugene Heskett (simply called “Bob” in the book), in 1927; they bought a small chicken farm in the Olympic Peninsula’s Chimacum Valley, near Center and a few miles south of Port Townsend.  The Egg and I is a slightly fictionalized autobiographical account, heartwarming and uproarious, of their adventures on an American frontier during their two years on the ranch.  Largely unprepared for the rigors of life in the wild, with no running water, no electricity, a house in need of constant repair, days that ran from four in the morning to nine at night, neighbors like Ma and Pa Kettle, and even a forest fire, the MacDonalds had barely a moment to put their feet up and rest. And then came the children. Yet through every trial and catastrophe, Betty somehow, mercifully, never lost her sense of humor.  What will happen to them?  Can they survive?   Do they stay?

This book was recommended to me by my seventh grade English teacher.  It is truly an interesting and funny story.  However, it is thoroughly laced with bad language.  Besides the “d” and “h” words and the names of God and Christ used as exclamations, Ma Kettle says “Jeeeeesus Key-rist” or “god—ned” almost every time she opens her mouth, as well as other near vulgarisms (s.o.b., bas-ard, bi-ch). There are instances of smoking tobacco and drinking all kinds of alcoholic beverages including moonshine, along with casual references to prostitutes and abortions.  I would feel uncomfortable just handing the book to a seventh grader.  Betty left Heskett in 1931, returned to Seattle, married Donald C. MacDonald in 1942, and moved to Vashon Island, where she wrote most of her books. The Egg and I was published in 1945.  A movie version, loosely based on the book, was released in 1947.  Betty was played by Claudette Colbert. Her husband was played by Fred MacMurray.

The film featured Marjorie Main and Percy Kilbride cast in the roles of Ma and Pa Kettle. Main received an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress. The characters become so popular that the movie inspired a series of nine more subsequent films featuring them as Ma and Pa Kettle.  The movies are all both humorous and quite harmless with nothing inappropriate for the young ones.  To be fair, MacDonald did not write the book for children.  However, she did author some children’s book, namely the “Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle” series and Nancy and Plum.  She also published three other semi-autobiographical books: Anybody Can Do Anything, recounting her life in the Depression trying to find work; The Plague and I, describing her nine-month stay at the Firlands tuberculosis sanitarium; and Onions in the Stew, about her life on Vashon Island during the war years. A posthumous collection of her writings, entitled Who Me?, was later released.

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The Boy and His Curse: Book 1, Artists and Earthian

boyandcurse

HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW

Book: The Boy and His Curse: Book 1, Artists and Earthian

Author: Michael Philip Mordenga

Cover Illustrator: Heidi Larsson

Publisher: Published independently, 2018

ISBN-13: 978-1980700753

ISBN-10: 1980700753

Related website(s): http://www.missionsdoor.org/missionary/mordenga-michael/ (author)

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 12 and up

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

Mordenga, Michael Philip.  The Boy and His Curse: Artists and Earthian Book 1 (published independently in 2018).   Teenager Ethan Chester Mioko, born in Korea, lives in Litchfield with his adopted parents and is a student at Happy Oaks High School, but is about the only kid in his class without a driver’s license.  During his third driver’s exam with Mr. Fasterdly of the Suburban School of Driving, Ethan runs over the cat of an elderly homeless woman, and she gives him a curse of bad luck.  With a burning black “X” on his hand, he finds that the world is constantly trying to end his life with falling light poles, vicious dogs, crashing semis, and flooding showers.  His parents have disappeared, and an exploding toaster causes a raging fire in his house.  Just as he is about to be run over by a school bus, an angel-like personal deaconess named Caitilin Ashberry from the Queendom of Faeria whisks him away to the ancient world of Magi.

There, Ethan meets various individuals, such as the High Priest Gibbs, the hunter Hinson, and the warrior Mollet, and learns that the deity Daysun has chosen him to play a part in the war between the noble, winged Phaenix of Faeria under their Queen Eldira and the invading Kalhari trolls from Bangor led by Prince Fragile who worship the false god Avero.  What does Ethan have to do in the war?  Will he even survive the battle?  And can he ever go back home?  The Boy and His Curse is book 1 in the “Artists and Earthian” series.  Author Michael P. Mordenga is a college minister for Campus Ambassadors who spends his days sharing his faith with the Universities of Rochester and writes elaborate fantasy science fiction with perilous adventures that are laced with witty comedy.

There are a few common euphemisms and some childish slang terms, including a reference to farting.  The trolls like to drink rum.  However, there are spiritual implications in the story.  Ethan starts out as an unbeliever in any divine power, so it will be interesting to see what if anything can happen to change his mind.  Mordenga calls the book “a Christian Fantasy novel,” saying that his brother and sister who were homeschooled are the inspiration for this story.  Anyone who likes J. R. R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings or C. S. Lewis’ Space Trilogy and Chronicles of Narnia should enjoy this book.  It is an easy but adventurous read.  The only word of warning which I have is that it ends with things somewhat up in the air, so the reader will have to get the sequel.

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