The Armageddon Inheritance

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Book: The Armageddon Inheritance

Author: David Weber

Cover Illustrator: David Mattingly

Publisher: Baen Science Fiction,1993

ISBN-13: 978-0671721978

ISBN-10: 0671721976

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: Adults

Rating: ** 2 stars

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

Category: Science 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

     Weber, David.  The Armageddon Inheritance (Published in 1993 by Baen Books, an imprint of Baen Publishing Enterprises, P. O. Box 1403, Riverdale, NY  10417).  The Armageddon Inheritance is a science fiction novel by American writer David Weber, consisting of two books.  In Book 1, after the evil mutineer Anu has been defeated by the warship Dahak, aided by its new captain, Colin MacIntyre, Lieutenant Governor Horus and his assistant, Gerald Hatcher, are set the task of preparing Earth’s defenses against the enemy Achuultani scouts, which have been methodically advancing on the Sol system, while Colin and his new wife, Jiltanith (daughter of Horus), take Dahak and depart for the nearest known Imperial system to seek military aid from the Imperium.  Book 2 begins with a different point of view, and the subject is now a minor Achuultani tactical officer named Brashieel, attached to the scout forces about to drop out of hyperspace and destroy Earth while the Earth defenders use their several hours of advance notice to prepare an ambush in the outer system which sets the tone for the rest of the Siege by being extremely bloody on both sides.

     Can the Earth withstand the attack?  Will Colin make it back in time with any help?  Or do the Achuultani succeed in their campaign of destruction?  This is the second book in the Dahak trilogy, after Mutineers’ Moon, and before Heirs of Empire.  It did take me a while to get into the story.  Perhaps if I had read the first volume, which deals with the suppression of Anu’s mutiny as part of the groundwork for repelling the Achuultani assault, the beginning of Armageddon might have made more sense.  The language is pretty rough, with a lot of cursing (the “d” and “h” words), quite a bit of profanity (using the Lord’s name in vain), and even some vulgarity (including the “s” and “f” words).  Die-hard science fiction fans will probably enjoy it if they are willing and able to stomach the bad language.   The sequel, Heirs of Empire, is more of a stand-alone work concerning survival on a remote planet. In 2003, the series was republished in the omnibus volume Empire from the Ashes.

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One Fat Summer

HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW

Book: One Fat Summer

Author: Robert Lipsyte 

Cover Illustrator: Darryl S. Zudeck

Publisher: HarperTeen, Reprinted 2004

ISBN-13: 978-0808515487 Hardcover

ISBN-10: 0808515489 Hardcover

ISBN-13: 978-0064470735 Paperback

ISBN-10: 0064470733 Paperback

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: Said to be for ages 12 – 17; I’d say 16 and up

Rating: ** 2 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

     Lipsyte, Robert.  One Fat Summer (Published in 1977 by Ursula Nordstrom Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Children’s Books, a division of HarperCollins Publishers, 10 E. 53rd St., New York City, NY  10022; republished in 1991 by Harper Trophy).   For Robert (Bobby) Marks, fourteen and over two hundred pounds, summer does not equal fun because he can’t hide his fat body in loose clothes. While most people are happy to take off their heavy jackets and long pants, Bobby can’t even button his jeans or reach over his belly to touch his toes. Spending the summer at their summer house on Rumson Lake with his father Marty who works five days a week behind a desk in an air-conditioned office, mother Lenore who is studying to be a teacher, and older sister Michelle, is sheer torture. This particular summer promises to be worse than usual. His parents can’t stop fighting. His best friend, Joanie Miller, goes home to New York City and won’t tell him why. Dr. Kahn, a rich, stingy estate owner who hires him to manage an enormous lawn, is working him to death. And to top it off, a local bully, Willie Rumson, who lost the Kahn yard job to Bobby, won’t stop torturing him.

     Can Bobby survive the summer?  Will Dr. Kahn work him to death, or does Willie end up killing him?  And what is going on with Joanie?   This could have been a good story with important lessons on fighting prejudice and standing up for oneself against bullying.   Unfortunately, I don’t think that it is well told, and there are several aspects of the book to which many parents would object.  In addition to some slang terms for urination and girls’ breasts, both cursing (the “d” and “h” words) and profanity (the names of God and Jesus as exclamations) are found, the words a** for the rear end and bas*ard are frequently used, there are some references to “making out,” and the terms “faggot” and “fag” are thrown around quite a bit.  Also several instances of smoking cigarettes occur.  And while the word “masturbation” is not mentioned, there is a section which appears to describe it.  Am I imagining things?  See what you think.

     “I once had a daydream in which I was the invisible boy….About a year ago, in that daydream, I started using my invisibility to sneak into the girls’ locker room at school.  In the beginning I just sort of skulked around the locker room, watching them undress, but then I got bolder and stood very close, and every so often I might touch someone.  In my daydreams, they never screamed or ran away.  I would get good warm feelings that started in my belly and flowed down.  Sometimes, if I was alone in the house, or in a locked bathroom, I would stroke myself until the warm feelings became a throbbing drumbeat that exploded.”  Ugh!  For 12 year olds?  Lewd at best.  I really cannot recommend this very highly for godly young people.  Also, I didn’t care much for the ending, as it seemed to leave me hanging with several issues left unresolved.  The book is the basis the 2018 motion picture Measure of a Man, starring Donald Sutherland and Blake Cooper.

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The Best-Laid Plans of Jonah Twist

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Book: The Best-Laid Plans of Jonah Twist

Author: Natalie Honeycutt

Publisher: Camelot, 1990

ISBN-13: 978-0380707621

ISBN-10: 0380707624

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 – 11

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

     Honeycutt, Natalie.  The Best-Laid Plans of Jonah Twist (Published in 1988 by Bradbury Press, a division of Macmillan Publishing Company, 866 Third Ave., New York City, NY  10022; republished in 1990 by Avon Camelot Books, a division of The Hearst Corporation, 1350 Avenue of the Americas, New York City, NY  10019).  Third grader Jonah Twist lives with his mother and older brother Todd in northern California and is a student at Mills Elementary School in Westmont, where his best friend is fellow third grader Granville Jones. Jonah likes to make plans, but they usually seem to go awry.  He plans to convince his mother to let him have a kitten even though Todd objects because it might eat his pet hamster Woz.  Then when Jonah goes to show the kitten to an elderly neighbor, Mr. Rosetti, he finds that the neighbor is mysteriously gone, so he plans to find him.  Jonah and Granville also plan to keep school busybody, the bossy Juliet Fisher, from joining their school science group report on elephant seals. 

     However, Woz suddenly disappears.  Everyone believes that Mr. Rosetti is not actually missing but just thinks that he went away to visit his sister.  And the boys’ unkind comments send Juliet to the bathroom in tears.  Did the new kitten eat Todd’s hamster?  What has really happened to their neighbor?  And is there any way that Jonah and Granville can work with Juliet?  The Best-Laid Plans of Jonah Twist is a sequel to The All New Jonah Twist in which Jonah and Granville are former enemies who become best friends.  There is very little objectionable.  In addition to the facts that the kids uncover in search of the habitat of the elephant seal, Jonah grows in accepting responsibility, and the boys discover the real reason behind Juliet’s behavior.

     The only possible negative in the book for some might be that Mr. and Mrs. Twist are apparently divorced and are living apart.  School Library Journal noted, “Jonah and Todd ‘s alternate weekends with their dad are a smooth part of the story.”  My feelings about this subject can be explained simply.  While I realize that circumstances like this do exist, and believe that it is always good to try and make the best out of a bad situation, it seems to me that it is a sad commentary on the state of family life in our society that authors of children’s literature think that they just have to include such scenarios in their books to make them appear relevant.

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Lost Horizon: A Novel

HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW

Book: Lost Horizon: A Novel

Author: James Hilton 

Cover Illustrator: Phillip Mazzone

Publisher: Harper Perennial; reissued 2012

ISBN-13: 978-0062113726

ISBN-10: 0062113720

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

     Hilton, James.  Lost Horizon: A Novel (Published in 1933 by William Morrow and Company Inc.; republished in 2004 by Harper Perennial, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers Inc., 10 E. 53rd St., New York City, NY  10022).  In May 1931, during the British rule in India, the 80 white residents of Baskul are being evacuated to Peshawar due to rebellion. In the airplane of the Maharajah of Chandrapore are Hugh Conway, the British consul, aged 37; Captain Charles Mallinson, his young vice-consul; an American, Henry D. Barnard; and a British missionary, Miss Roberta Brinklow. However, the plane is hijacked and flown instead over the mountains to Tibet. After a crash landing beyond the western range of the Himalayas towards the less known heights of the Kuen-Lun, the pilot dies, but not before telling the four to seek shelter at the nearby lamasery of Shangri-La.   The passengers are found and taken there by a party directed by Chang, a postulant at the lamasery who speaks English.

    The mystic lamasery has modern conveniences, like central heating, bathtubs from Akron, Ohio, a large library, a grand piano, a harpsichord, and food from the fertile valley below, and the inhabitants enjoy unheard-of longevity. Towering above is Karakal, literally translated as “Blue Moon,” a mountain more than 28,000 feet high. Mallinson is keen to hire porters and leave, but the others are content to stay: Miss Brinklow because she wants to teach the people a sense of sin; Barnard because he is really Chalmers Bryant wanted by the police for stock fraud and because he is keen to develop the gold mines in the valley; and Conway because the contemplative scholarly life suits him, and he finds inner peace, love and a sense of purpose. Why were they brought to Shangri-La in the first place?  What happens to them while there?  And will they ever be able to leave and go home?

     The prologue and epilogue of this utopian adventure novel are narrated by a neurologist. This neurologist and a novelist friend, Rutherford, discuss the topic of Hugh Conway, a British consul in Afghanistan, who disappeared under odd circumstances. Rutherford reveals to the neurologist that, after the disappearance, he discovered Conway in a French mission hospital in China.  He told Rutherford his story which Rutherford recorded in a manuscript, and then slipped away.  Rutherford gives the neurologist his manuscript, which becomes the heart of the novel. In the end, the narrator wonders whether Conway can find his way back to his lost paradise.  There is quite a bit of cursing and profanity, along with some references to drinking wine and smoking cigarettes, but it is an interesting story.  Frank Capra’s spellbinding 1937 film adaptation also called Lost Horizon catapulted it to the height of cultural significance. It is best remembered as the origin of Shangri-La as a term meaning any imaginary, hidden paradise.

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The Double Cousins and the Mystery of the Camp Prowler

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Book: The Double Cousins and the Mystery of the Camp Prowler

Author: Miriam Jones Bradley 

Cover Illustrator: Hannah Nichols

Publisher: Emerald House Group Incorporated, 2020

ISBN-13: 978-1620207567

ISBN-10: 1620207567

Related website(s): http://www.MiriamJonesBradley.com (author) http://www.ambassador-international.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: ages 6 – 12

Rating: ***** 5 stars

(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

     Bradley, Miriam JonesThe Double Cousins and the Mystery of the Camp Prowler (Published in 2020 by Ambassador International, a division of Emerald House, 411 University Ridge, Suite B14, Greenville, SC  29601).  Dorie, Max, and Chad Rawson are double cousins with Carly and Molly Johnson.  Along with another cousin, Brandon Johnson, the high point of their year is going to summer camp.  However, this year there’s even more excitement than usual with unexplained happenings, disappearances, and strangers around.  Someone strange is wandering around the camp at night.  Food is being pilfered from the kitchen.  Max is having trouble with a boy named Jess whom no one else likes.  And there are rumors that a stash of loot from a historic stagecoach robbery in the area was hidden in the hills nearby.

     Who is stealing the food from the camp? Will Max lose friends because of Jess, who seems to attract trouble?  And is this all somehow related to the historic stagecoach robbery they are just hearing about now?  The Mystery of the Camp Prowler is Book 6 of 7 in “The Double Cousins Mysteries” series which is sure to catch the interest of 6-12 year olds.  Wherever the Rawson and Johnson kids go they get involved in solving a mystery.  The cousins cram sleuthing into a tight schedule and still manage to learn lessons about doing right despite what others think and the value of a lifetime of service to others.  This story is a combination of exciting camp activities, character building lessons, and even some local area history thrown in for good measure.

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Victory: A Novel of the Victory at Yorktown

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Book: Victory: A Novel of the Victory at Yorktown

Author: Charles Hayes

Publisher: Small Batch Sour Mash Publishing, 2017

ISBN-13: 978-1544613710

ISBN-10: 1544613717

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 ages 12 – 18; I would 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)

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

     Hayes, Charles.  Victory: A Novel of the Victory at Yorktown (Published in 2017 by Small Batch Sour Mash Publishing LLC, 318 Slate Lick Rd., London, KY  40741).  It is 1780, and Daniel Bowman is a young man from North Carolina who intends to marry Sally Cathers, but first leaves with Isaac Shelby to protect his family and future at the battles of King’s Mountain and Guilford Courthouse.  However, after that, rather than returning home, Dan follows Shelby and John Sevier and continues under General Nathanael Greene to fight the British through the victory at Yorktown in 1781.  What kind of action does Dan see in the war?  Can he escape without serious injury?  And how will he find things when he finally gets back home? 

     Even though Dan Bowman, his family, and many of his friends are all fictional characters, the information that Dan relates in telling his story, including the descriptions of both Continental and British military leaders, is extremely accurate historically.  Author Charles E. Hayes served in the United States Air Force for 24 years, then was a teacher for seven years.  Today he researches and writes full time.  His book Out of the Jungle is about a serviceman who experienced events in Vietnam that affected him for the next 25 plus years.   Kentucky Memories is a volume of regional poetry about people and circumstances in southeastern Kentucky.  He has written since he was in the fourth grade and decided to publish because he didn’t want his work dying on a computer hard drive.

     Victory does have some cursing (the “d” and “h” words) and a little near-vulgarity (getting one’s “a** kicked” and “bastards”), along with references to drinking various alcoholic beverages and smoking tobacco.  There is really nothing obscene, but after their wedding night, Sally asks, “You know, what we did—did I do it right?”  And Dan responds, “I guess.  I don’t know.  I don’t even know if I did it right.”  Also, mention is made of how the British soldiers at Yorktown came down with smallpox because they “had been laying with the African women.”  For these reasons, I would recommend the book for younger children.   But for older teens and adults, it is an interesting account of one aspect of the American Revolutionary War. And it is liberally illustrated with old black and white prints.

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Finding Jesus in a World of Wizards: 5-Minute Devotions for Children, Teens, and Adults

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Book: Finding Jesus in a World of Wizards: 5-Minute Devotions for Children, Teens, and Adults

Author: Jordan Lyons   

Publisher: Independently published, 2020

ISBN-13: 979-8655668591

ISBN-10: 8655668591

Related website(s): http://www.jordanlyons.com (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: Probably intended for ages 8 and above

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

     Lyons, Jordan.  Finding Jesus in a World of Wizards: 5-Minute Devotions for Children, Teens, and Adults (Independently published in 2020).  This is a series of 23 Biblical devotions based on the first “Harry Potter” novel by J. K. Rowling.  I read that book and distinctly did NOT like it.  In answer to the question as to why he chose to write a devotional centered around Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, author Jordan Lyons replied, “Some people picking up this devotional will certainly recall the push back of certain Christian leaders in regard to the Harry Potter series.  They were ardently concerned about a popular book full of magic and sorcery.  I wonder if they had the same concerns about C. S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia or J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings?  Both are full of magical creatures (and Christian themes).”  Well, there were a lot of us who saw a BIG difference between the overtly Judaeo-Christian, Biblical worldview of Lewis and Tolkien on the one hand and the seemingly pagan, even occult worldview of Rowling on the other. 

Rob Shearer of Greenleaf Press expressed our concerns about as well as anyone.  “For those of you who’re not familiar with my literary preferences, I’m a huge fan of Tolkien and Lewis, and especially of Tolkien’s epic, The Lord of the Rings. The Lord of the Rings is NOTHING like the Harry Potter series. While I would have serious reservations about allowing my children to read Harry Potter, I have read The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings out loud to them several times. 

     “I know that many Christian parents have quite legitimate concerns about anything which might engender an interest in the occult among their children. I share their concerns. I am VERY uneasy with many of the elements of the Harry Potter series. Harry is in many ways an admirable figure. He’s a nice kid. He values friendship and loyalty. And he struggles to defeat/thwart enemies who are clearly evil. BUT, I am very uncomfortable with the presentation of Harry’s magic powers as neutral and the school he attends to master magic skills as just another school for gifted and talented kids. 

     “The most troubling aspect of Harry Potter is the confused way in which the author plays with traditional western symbolism of good and evil. It is very dangerous to present witches (with brooms and familiar spirits) as not necessarily evil just misunderstood. The unspoken (but powerful) message is a sort of literary moral relativism. The idea that nothing is inherently evil is morally pernicious. And very confusing and potentially dangerous for children. 

     “By contrast, Tolkien’s epic has an entirely different approach to magic – especially the central symbol of magical power, the ring. The ring is very powerful and dangerous. Over and over again we are reminded (and shown) that it is perilous to attempt to use the ring and that anyone who did attempt to do so would inevitably be corrupted by it. Frodo wins, not by mastering the ring, but by resisting the temptation to use it. He must struggle using his natural abilities.

     “Gandalf is a much less troubling figure for me than ANY of the figures in the Potter series. Gandalf is much different from the wizards in Potter’s world. The most important difference is that Gandalf NEVER attempts to recruit or train anyone in how to use magic or spells. There is no possibility for any of the hobbits (or any of the men) to become wizards. In Tolkien’s world, Wizards are a small, chosen race – set apart – more akin to guardian angels than to mortal men, though they do have bodies, and they can die.  Gandalf is the chief advisor who cautions against the use of the ring or of ANY of the tools of the enemy. Gandalf actually reminds me of the Prophet Samuel – or of Moses.

     “These are important distinctions. And it is important that we talk about these things with our children. Our kids have not read the Potter books, not because we’ve had to forbid them, but because there are so many other, better books available to them. I WOULD forbid any of my younger kids from reading Potter if they asked. One or more of our older kids (16 and up) may read some of the Potter books in order to be able to intelligently critique them (as have I). I wish there were a simple rule for selecting books for our children. It’s not simple. One can’t simply say that all books with witches in them are bad.  There’s a witch who figures prominently in the book of Samuel. So there must be other, more subtle criteria. Anything which awakes a fascination with magical powers is dangerous. I think Harry Potter potentially does. I think Tolkien’s tales warn against the inherent, inevitable danger in dealing with magic. There are many other virtues taught and portrayed in Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings as well. Courage, perseverance, self-sacrifice, loyalty, etc. Plus it’s a marvelous story with an incredibly rich and delightful level of detail.”  I say amen.

     At the same time, I recognize that there are those from a Christian background who have defended and even endorsed the Harry Potter books.  In Honey for a Child’s Heart, Gladys Hunt wrote, “Seldom does the subject of censoring children’s books arise, but the popular and controversial Harry Potter books have come under fire….During those months of furor, I spent a good amount of time defending a kid who goes to Hogwarts School for Wizards, something I had never done before.  While it is true that we don’t want to encourage children to explore witchcraft or engage in casting spells, these books do not promote any such actions.  J. K. Rowling has created a series of books about a parallel world, using imaginative devices (owls that deliver mail; portraits that guard doors; Quidditch, a fascinating game played on a flying broomstick; a school motto, Never tickle a sleeping dragon), a fast-moving plotline, and likable protagonists. The books satisfy the love of mystery and magic in everyone.  This is fantasy.   Bravery, courage, loyalty, humility, and the fight between good and evil are themes in these books.”

     It is obvious that people of good will can disagree, even strongly.  My own conclusion as previously stated is that “I cannot, and therefore will not, say that parents who are Christians and let their children read Harry Potter, or see the movie, have sinned.  These are decisions that each family, guided by the principles taught in God’s word, must make for itself.  But in our family, we desire to keep ourselves unspotted from the world (James 1:27).  Therefore, we have decided to forgo this popular series.”  Finding Jesus in a World of Wizards is advertised thusly: “Grow your Christian faith in just 5 minutes a day with this unique devotional where Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone meets the Bible.  With messages on gratitude, courage, and loving others, Finding Jesus in a World of Wizards is the perfect book for kids, teens, men, and women of all ages that are looking for a new way to nourish their faith.”   Each devotion features a Biblical principle with a passage from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone to illustrate it, the devotional message, a Scripture verse, a prayer, and a conclusion with questions or prompts for application or reflection.  Certainly, there is nothing wrong with the Biblical principles mentioned or Lyons’s discussion of them.  However, the bottom line is that if you enjoyed Harry Potter, you will probably find this book useful, but if you did not care for Harry Potter, this book would have little meaning or value to you.

     Let me add just one more comment.  The most common justification for defending and endorsing the Harry Potter books, especially among people from a Christian background, is that they are merely “fantasy” and “fiction.”  Well, Philip Pullman’s series “His Dark Materials,” consisting of The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife, and The Amber Spyglass, are simply fantasy-fiction books too, but they definitely promote an atheistic, relativist worldview.

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This School is Driving Me Crazy

HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW

Book: This School is Driving Me Crazy

Author: Nat Hentoff 

Jacket Illustrator: Lorraine Fox

Publisher: Macmillan Children’s Books, republished 1980

ISBN-13: 978-0440085492 Hardcover

ISBN-10: 0440085497 Hardcover

ISBN-13: 978-0330259415 Paperback

ISBN-10: 0330259415 Paperback

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: No one, really

Rating: * 1 star

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

Category: Bad language

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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Website: https://homeschoolbookreviewblog.wordpress.com

     Hentoff, Nat. This School is Driving Me Crazy (Published in 1976 by Delacorte Press, New York City, NY). Twelve-year-old Sam Davidson lives with his father Carl and mother Liz.   He is a sixth grader at Bronson Alcott School, a prestigious private K-12 academy, where his best friends are Benjy and Blake.  Unfortunately, Sam has a magnetic attraction for trouble and thus finds it increasingly difficult to attend the school where his own father is headmaster.  Then one day a fellow sixth-grader named Tim is caught stealing at school and when asked why accused Sam of shaking him down for money.  Of course, Sam denies it, but with his penchant for mischief, will people believe him?  Can Sam prove his innocence?  How does he go about trying?

     One thing stands out to me in this book.  A reviewer wrote that “Nat Hentoff doesn’t pull his punches,” and that “he writes hard hitting stories for middle school age children that adults can enjoy equally.”  Not pulling punches and writing hard hitting stories must refer to the fact that everyone in this story—both adults, including Sam’s parents and the school teachers, as well as the students from age ten and up, all curse like sailors.  They frequently swear (with the “d” and “h” words including the form “godd***”), profane the names of deity (God, Christ, Jesus as interjections), and use various forms of vulgarity (such as “pain in the a**,” a slang term for the male sex organ, and even the “s” word, among others).

    In fact, it seems that practically the only “dirty word” known to mankind that is not found in This School is Driving Me Crazy is the “f” bomb.  I guess that even Nat Hentoff has some line that he won’t cross.  The unfortunate problem is that there is actually a good, timeless story here about school bullies extorting victims for “protection.”  However, it is overshadowed and thus marred by the bad language.  It’s like going through a barrel full of badly rotten apples in the hopes of finding just one good enough to eat.  There are also references to smoking cigarettes, drinking Scotch, and using “grass.”  Recommend this for middle school age children?  No way!

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Success Skills for High School, College, and Career: Christian Edition Revised

HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW

Book: Success Skills for High School, College, and Career: Christian Edition Revised

Author: Cary J. Green 

Publisher: Skills 4 Students LLC, revised ed. 2020

ISBN-13: 978-1734962406

ISBN-10: 1734962402

Related website(s): https://www.Skills4Students.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: Teens and young adults

Rating: ***** 5 stars

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

Category: Parenting

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

      Green, Cary J.  Success Skills for High School, College, and Career: Christian Edition Revised (First edition published in 2019, and revised edition published in 2020, both by Skills 4 Students LLC).  Successful students and employees have something in common—a well-developed skill set that transcends book smarts.  The purpose of this book is to teach young people individual life skills while reminding them of the Biblical principles which motivate the learning of each skill.  The fourteen chapters are divided into four sections—Readiness, Relationships, Results, and Academic Success Skills—and discuss such subjects as self-awareness, positive attitude, balance, context, communication, professionalism, synergy, mentoring, goal-setting, prioritization, critical thinking, accountability, academic success practices, and resources.

     Success Skills for High School, College, and Career: Christian Edition Revised expands the best-selling Success Skills for High School, College, and Career by incorporating scriptural references, Biblical examples, and a gospel-oriented theme.  Parents and teachers who want to equip students with skills and experiences essential for success in the classroom and on the job will find this book to be a great resource.  Kevin Cyprian, Principal of Newport Christian School, wrote that it “should be required reading for juniors and seniors in every Christian school.”  Another reviewer who worked in college admissions for years said, “This is a book I highly recommend for all high school students (or their parents)!”  A 60-page application workbook is available as a free download from the publisher’s website.

     Author Cary J. Green, who spent twenty years teaching and advising university students, serving as director of a college-level recruiting and career center, department chair, and associate dean for academic programs before starting his own business, draws upon his own academic struggles early in his college career that forced him to make personal changes to attain his goals.  I wish that a book like this had been available when I was a teenager.  Now that I am 66 years old with a chronic, progressive, degenerative, neurological condition, it has little to offer me.  However, it would make a great tool as part of a homeschooling curriculum to help young people in developing skills for both academic and career success.

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The Magical Adventures of Pretty Pearl

HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW

Book: The Magical Adventures of Pretty Pearl

Author: Virginia Hamilton 

Jacket Illustrator: Romare Bearden

Publisher: HarperCollins, republished 1986

ISBN-13: 978-0060221867 Hardcover

ISBN-10: 0060221860 Hardcover

ISBN-13: 978-0064401784 Paperback

ISBN-10: 0064401782 Paperback

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 11-14 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)

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

     Hamilton, VirginiaThe Magical Adventures of Pretty Pearl (Published in 1983 by Charlotte Zolotow Books, an imprint of Harper and Row Publishers Inc., 10 E. 53rd St., New York City, NY  10022).  Pretty Pearl is a spirited young African god-child who lives high on a mountaintop in Africa with all the other gods and is eager to show off her powers.  Curious about mankind, she comes down off the mountain with her brother, know-all best god John de Conquer, and sails on a slave ship for America where, disguised as a human, she lives among a band of free blacks who have created their own separate world deep inside a vast forest.  There she sees the suffering of the black people, and feels their sorrow right behind her eyes. Pretty Pearl knows that now is her time to act.  Brother John has given her a magical necklace, a set of rules to follow, and a warning to be careful.

     Why does Pretty Pearl need to be careful?  How can she help the blacks?  And what will happen to her?  Author Virginia Hamilton has combined her vast storehouse of black legend, myth, and folklore, with history to create this fantasy.  Hamilton is a good storyteller.  We enjoyed her two books about the Dies Drear Chronicles. The Planet of Junior Brown was a Newbery Honor Book in 1972.  M.C. Higgins, the Great was the first book ever to win both the John Newbery Medal (1975) and the National Book Award.  Hamilton’s books have won many other awards, including two more Newbery Honor Books, Sweet Whispers, Brother Rush (1983), and In The Beginning: Creation Stories from Around the World (1989)

     However, The Magical Adventures of Pretty Pearl just didn’t do very much for me.  To be fair, one reviewer wrote, “Virginia Hamilton…tells black history without holding punches — Pretty Pearl tells the tale of a young African goddess following in the footsteps of emancipated slaves in a time of the KKK, confiscations of property, lynchings — but without demonizing white people.”  There is really nothing objectionable in the book, unless one is opposed to reading stories about the African “gods” who supposedly lived on Mt. Highness in Kenya.  Most all of the dialogue is in black dialect that may be difficult for some readers.  I suppose that if I had been from an African-American heritage it might have had more meaning and been of greater interest to me. 

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