Shelf Life II: Journey to the Kingdom of No Return

HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW

Book: Shelf Life II: Journey to the Kingdom of No Return

Author: Leslie R. Henderson 

Publisher: Independently published, 2020

ISBN-13: 979-8695803693

ISBN-10: 8695803693

Language level:  2

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

Recommended reading level: Ages 8-12

Rating: ***** 5 stars

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

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.  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

     Henderson, Leslie R. Shelf Life II: Journey to the Kingdom of No Return (Published in 2020 by L. R. Henderson).  Little Book has been a best seller in Mrs. Cash’s Books’ll Thrill Ya bookstore, but now his shelf life is rapidly coming to an end.  Desperate to extend his shelf life, the child-like hero accepts a daring mission to rescue sci-fi action hero Luke Shelfwalker who has been booknapped and gone missing on the dark side.  So Little Book journeys to the Kingdom of No Return ruled by Princess Formalda Hyde.  Nothing will stop him from completing his assignment, not even the enemies of books (a.k.a. the marauders, such as spiders, silverfish, mice, and roaches) who dwell in the forbidden territory.  Can Little Book find Captain Shelfwalker?  Is he able to convince Shelfwalker to return with him?  Or will he himself be counted as yet another casualty of the merciless dark side?

     Journey to the Kingdom of No Return is Book 2 of the “Shelf Life” series.  There are a few common euphemisms (such as “golly”), but overall it is a well written fantasy story for middle schoolers and adults alike that is easy to read and follow with no objectionable elements.  And there are positive values.  One reviewer noted the following:  “The characters do more than simply come to ‘life.’ They deliver the message that nothing lasts forever. However, there is hope! Little Book and his friends show us that we don’t have to simply accept the decisions that someone else makes for us. We can take a stand and choose our own destiny.”  Another reader found it really funny that the video game section is the furthest back in the store that borders the dark side, as if there were some symbolism to the dark nature of video games over books.  Book 3 in the series is Battle for the Red Eye Throne.

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All the Dirty Parts

HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW

Book: All the Dirty Parts

Author: Daniel Handler 

Publisher: Bloomsbury USA, Reprinted 2019

ISBN-13: 978-1632868046 Hardcover

ISBN-10: 1632868046 Hardcover

ISBN-13: ‎978-1632868053 Paperback

ISBN-10: 1632868059 Paperback

Website(s): http://www.bloomsbury.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 recommend it to no one

Rating: 0 stars

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

Category: Filth (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.  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

     Handler , Daniel.  All the Dirty Parts (Published in 2017 by Bloomsbury USA, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing PLC, 1385 Broadway, New York City, NY  10018). Cole is a seventeen year old boy in high school who runs cross country, draws sketches, and jokes around with friends.  However, this book really is not about Cole but about sex.  Cole is just the vehicle for talking about it.  For Cole, nothing quite matters next to the allure of sex. He says on the very first page, “Let me put it this way: Draw a number line, with zero is you never think about sex and ten is, it’s all you think about, and while you are drawing the line, I am thinking about sex.” Cole fantasizes about whomever he’s looking at. He consumes and shares pornography. And he sleeps with a lot of girls, which is beginning to earn him a not-quite-savory reputation around school. This leaves him adrift with only his best friend Alec for company, and something startling begins to happen between them that might be what he’s been after all this time―then he meets Grisaille.

      What kind of relationship does Cole develop with Grisaille?  How does this affect his friendship with Alec?  And does Cole learn any important lessons?  All the Dirty Parts is marketed as “a gutsy, exciting novel that looks honestly at the erotic impulses of an all-too-typical young man.”  The L.A. Times called it “One of the most original and realistic depictions of the sex lives of young people to come around in a long time.”  Wow!  I know that there is a lot of immorality around, but I surely hope that it’s not that typical and realistic.  The book is not a novel in the conventional sense of a story with a plot line divided into chapters.  It is more like Henry James’s stream-of-consciousness style as if made up of sections of Cole’s diary. “There are love stories galore,” Cole tells us, “This isn’t that. The story I’m typing is all the dirty parts.”  Even those who endorse the book describe it with such terms as profane, explicit, sensuous, shocking, lustful, raunchy, and lewd. Practically every filthy, dirty, profane, obscene, or vulgar term known in the English language is used in the book.  Also there are vivid and graphic descriptions of sex acts in which Cole participates.   Several reviewers liken it to Philip Roth’s famously raunchy Portnoy’s Complaint only set in high school.

     Yet, some are encouraging the book for young people, saying that “it deserves to be read widely, and not just by adults,” and that “its unabashedly graphic language will keep this novel off of the young adult shelves, but it is exactly that readership who might benefit most from its surprisingly subtle exploration of sexual ethics.”  The Advocate lists it among “10 Great LGBTQ Novels for Young Adults.”  Supposed benefits of the book are that “Handler has smuggled questions of identity, duty and faithfulness into this novel, amid all the heavy breathing and awkward tangling of limbs” (Buffalo News), and that he confronts subjects such as consent and sexual orientation.  Author Daniel Handler is also the bestselling, award-winning author of “A Series of Unfortunate Events” books under the penname of Lemony Snicket.   All the Dirty Parts sort of gives us some insight into the worldview of the man behind “A Series of Unfortunate Events.”  The only reason why I read and reviewed the book is that someone wondered if it might be used to show the loneliness and emptiness of recreational sex.  To be sure, it does end up doing that, but I can’t and wouldn’t recommend it.  There’s absolutely nothing in this book that young people being trained in the nurture and admonition of the Lord need to read. 

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The Dreadful Future of Blossom Culp

HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW

Book: The Dreadful Future of Blossom Culp

Author: Richard Peck 

Jacket Illustrator: Peter Caras

Publisher: Yearling, republished 1987

ISBN-13: 978-0385293006 Hardcover

ISBN-10: 0385293003 Hardcover

ISBN-13: 978-0440421542 Paperback

ISBN-10: 0440421543 Paperback

Language level:  2

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

Recommended reading level: Said to be for Ages 10-up; one source gives Grade level ‏4 – 6, another gives Grade level 7 – 9

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.  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

     Peck,Richard.  The Dreadful Future of Blossom Culp (Published in 1983 by Delacorte Books for Young Readers, a division of Delacorte Press, 1 Dag Hammarskjold Plaza, New York City, NY  10017).  It is 1914, and fourteen year old Blossom Culp has moved from being an eighth grader at Horace Mann School to being a freshman at Bluff City High School.  She lives with her Mama (her alcoholic Paw dare not show his face in Bluff City).  Her best friend is Alexander Armsworth, and her worst enemy is Letty Shambaugh.  Blossom and her mother both have “the Gift” or “Second Sight” which is variously described as “dabbling in the occult” and “spiritualism.”  While exploring Old Man Leverette’s country place with Alexander, Blossom is suddenly sucked through a time tunnel from 1914 to the 1980s and must use her psychic powers to return.  What will happen to Blossom?  Can she ever get back home?  Or is she stuck in the future?

     As Blossom is called “the early 20th century’s most popular telepath,” and “Mama is a fortune teller by trade,” families who object to reading stories about the occult and spiritualism will likely want to avoid this book.  If one can abide suspension of belief, it is not too bad of a tale.  A lot of colloquial euphemisms (dadburned, doggone, durnedest) occur, and Blossom uses the word “damnable” once.  There are instances of skinny dipping, smoking cigarettes, and chewing tobacco.  This is Book 3 of 4 in the “Blossom Culp” series.  Books 1 and 2 are The Ghost Belonged to Me and Ghosts I Have Been, and book 4 is Blossom Culp and the Sleep of Death (1986).  I was not overly thrilled with author Richard Peck’s 1999 Newbery Honor Book A Long Way from Chicago, but The Dreadful Future of Blossom Culp is at least readable without being too frustrating.

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The Mystifying Twins

HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW

Book: The Mystifying Twins

Author: Joan Price Reeve

Publisher: Ridgeview Publishing, republished 2007

ISBN-13: 9781597650007

ISBN-10: 1597650005

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 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)

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.  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

     Reeve, Joan Price. The Mystifying Twins (Published in 1960 by Pageant Press; assigned in 1963 to Moody Bible Institute; republished in 2006 by Ridgeview Publishing, a division of Brookside Bookstore, 110 Bluebird Lane, Parksburg, PA, 19365).  Lois and Lettice Belmont are fourteen year old identical twins who are new students at Rivercote Girls’ Private School, where Miss Matthews is headmistress and Miss Clark is their house mother.  They are so identical that Miss Matthews demands that they wear different color hair ribbons. Full of mischief, the twins become involved in innumerable humorous and exciting adventures which continually get them in trouble, not only with their friends but also with the headmistress and the house mother.  After a “ghost” is seen wandering around the locked kitchen at night and food comes up missing, they are accused of the misdeed and must try to prove themselves innocent. 

     Who really is the thief?  Will they ever catch him or her?  And what does Lettice do when Lois becomes a Christian while at summer camp?  Lois and Lettice are fun to read about. Told in a pleasing, informal style, the story moves swiftly.  This is an older book and today’s kids may or may not like it, depending on whether they are open to reading stories about other times besides the one they are living in.   But the girls learn some important lessons as the plot unfolds.  The description of Lois’ time in camp is both especially realistic and spiritually helpful. The change she makes in her life might be motivating to some. The sequel is entitled The Secret of the Mystifying Twins.

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God, Who on Earth Are You?: Mystery and Meaning in Christianity Today

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Book: God, Who on Earth Are You?: Mystery and Meaning in Christianity Today

Author: Stephen McCarthy

Publisher: Christian Alternative, 2022

ISBN-13: 978-1789049435

ISBN-10: 1789049431

Website(s): http://www.christian-alternative.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: 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: Religion

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.  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

     McCarthy, Stephen. God, Who on Earth Are You?: Mystery and Meaning in Christianity Today (Published in 2022 by Christian Alternative Books, an imprint of John Hunt Publishing Ltd., No. 3 East St., Airdsford, Hampshire, 5O24 9EE  UK).  For some reason or another which I do not fully understand (it may be due in part to the fact that my book reviews are promoted as coming from a Biblical worldview), I have recently been asked to review several books that are strictly religious, even theological, in nature.  God, Who on Earth Are You? was written by “a deeply Catholic, physics-trained economist” to present “a version of the Christian faith which reflects his vigorously progressive Catholicism.”  I am not a Catholic, so I wondered if the book had anything for me.  Then the author wrote, “I consider Churches that interpret the Bible literally and uncritically to have left the mainstream of the Christian tradition: they should be understood to be excluded from general references, as I cannot speak for them.”  Since I would be identified with a religious body that fits this description, I wondered if I should even bother reading the book.  But I did.

     The basic theme of the book is explained by this sentence.  “The Catholic Church, as with all the Christian denominations to a greater or lesser extent, needs to transition to a new identity, a new way of being ‘Church’” (cf. Jeremiah 6:16—“Ask for the old paths, where the good way is”).  The author tells how this should be done, and it is by moving the church “away from its obsession with individual morality—for example, over sexual mores—to the more pressing issues of social injustice and existential threats in the world: poverty, slavery, exploitation and persecution, huge inequalities in wealth across the world and within societies, the continued existence of nuclear weapons, and the destruction of the fragile resources of our Sister Earth—God’s beloved Creation.”  Those who agree with this “progressive” (i.e. leftist) agenda will like the book, while those who have a more conservative view of Scripture will probably not like it.  But I think that one would find many “evangelical” Christians at the forefront in dealing with such threats as poverty, slavery, sexual exploitation, and religious persecution.

     Certainly, God’s truth on any subject, issue, or problem, should be preached by His church, and those who identify as Christians should strive to do what God’s word says about it.  But that is a far cry from moving “the church” away from its Scriptural teaching and work, including on individual morality, to becoming just another institution focused on social, political, economic, and environmental questions.  Jesus said that He came “to seek and save the lost” (Luke 19:10)—not to strive for social justice, promote any political ideology, achieve economic equality, or protect the environment.  While there is much in this book with which I disagree, there are some observations and suggestions that I do think are worthy of our consideration, so it was not a total waste.  By the way, to explain the language rating, the author quotes another writer who talks about “bull*hit jobs.”    

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God’s Great Embrace: Discovering Deeper Intimacy with Jesus

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Book: God’s Great Embrace: Discovering Deeper Intimacy with Jesus

Author: Adrian Best 

Illustrator: Aurelia Chaintreuil

Publisher: ‏Ark House Press, 2022

ISBN-13:‎ 978-0648887386

ISBN-10: 0648887383

Website(s): http://www.godsgreatembrace (author), http://www.arkhhousepress.com (publisher), http://www.aurelia-art.com (illustrator)

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: Intended primarily for adults

Rating: **** 4 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.  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

     Best, Adrian. God’s Great Embrace: Discovering Deeper Intimacy with Jesus (Published in 2022 by Ark House Press, P. O. Box 1722, Port Orchard, WA  98366).  This book is advertised thus: “Imagine experiencing the same unshakable joy Jesus had while he walked this earth. Feeling for yourself his inherent sense of love and belonging, peace and assurance, purpose and fulfillment, despite life’s sufferings.  All this can indeed be yours!”  Author Arian Best studied the Biblical truth of union with Christ as a Doctor of Theology for three years at the University of Divinity, Australia. Professionally, he is an oral and maxillofacial surgeon who is actively involved in his local church.  Adrian wrote, “Inspired by the death of my daughter, I felt God call me to convert my doctrinal research on union with Christ into a lay person’s book about the Fatherheart of God and our share in Jesus’s life of sonship.”

     Surely God created us all as human beings to be in intimate fellowship with Him, and every Christian should seek to achieve that kind of relationship through Jesus Christ.  That is what this book is all about.  Let me first express three caveats.  Number one, I do not care for authors of books who say, “I’ve discovered some secret about God which no one else knows, and you need to read my book to learn it.”  Adrian Best does NOT say that, but some might take his book that way.  Number two, believers who are of a different theological background from that of the author, especially those who do not accept some of the Calvinist presuppositions underlying the thought of the book, may find occasional statements with which they will disagree.

     Number three, while I am not so arrogant as to conclude that there is no benefit for me in reading the writings of others, the older I get the more I am seeing that I find greater benefit to my relationship with God by simply studying the books of the Bible more than reading books by mere men.  It is interesting that all the truths expressed in God’s Great Embrace I learned as a child from going to Bible class and listening to sermons in my youth.  All that having been said, this book does contain beneficial material in it.  Following the twenty relatively short chapters, there are questions for reflection and discussion which would be helpful for either private devotion or small group study, footnote references, a general index of subjects and names, and a Scripture index.

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The Invisible Chimes: A Judy Bolton Mystery #3

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Book: The Invisible Chimes: A Judy Bolton Mystery #3

Author: Margaret Sutton

Illustrator: Pelagie Doane 

Publisher: Applewood Books, republished 2008

ISBN-13: 978-0884117162 Hardcover

ISBN-10: 0884117162 Hardcover

ISBN-13: 978-1429090230 Paperback

ISBN-10: 1429090235 Paperback

Website: http://www.judybolton.com

Language level:  2

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

Recommended reading level: Ages 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)

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.  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

     Sutton,Margaret.  The Invisible Chimes: A Judy Bolton Mystery #3 (Published in 1932 by Grosset and Dunlap Publishers, New York City, NY).  Teenager Judy Bolton, auburn-haired girl detective, lives in Farringdon with her parents, Dr. and Mrs. Bolton; her brother, news reporter Horace Bolton; and her loyal black cat, Blackberry. She is torn between two suitors, the wealthy Arthur Farringdon-Pett, and the upstanding lawyer Peter Dobbs.  Her rival for Arthur’s affections is her friend Lorraine Lee, and she is also friends with Arthur’s sister, Lois Farringdon-Pett.  One of her high-school archenemies is snobbish Kay Vincent.  In The Invisible Chimes, Judy must solve two related mysteries about an antique store theft and a girl with amnesia whom she names Honey.  Who is this strange girl?  Does she have any connection with the antique store theft?  And what are those mysterious chimes that Judy keeps hearing?

     Author Margaret Sutton (1903-2001) was born Rachel Irene Beebe in Odin, PA, in 1903.  Her first Judy Bolton Mystery was published in 1932 under the pen name Margaret Sutton. Ms. Sutton wove many real events and places into the Judy Bolton stories through the 35-year history of the series.  The original Judy Bolton series of 38 volumes lasted until 1967, making it the longest lasting juvenile series written by a single author. The books are noted not only for their engaging plots and thrilling stories, but also for their realism and social commentary. To many young girls Judy was an ideal role model—smart, capable, courageous, nurturing, and always unwavering in her core beliefs.  The Talking Snowman is a Judy Bolton mystery co-authored by Margaret Sutton and Linda Joy Singleton and published independently in 1997. Another title, The Whispering Belltower, was written by Kate Emburg with the encouragement of Margaret Sutton.  In 2001, at the age of 98, Margaret Sutton died in Lock Haven, PA, not far from her native Potter County. Based on conversations with the author and her family plus extensive research, co-authors Kate Duvall and Beverly Hatfield wrote the last book in the series, The Strange Likeness, which was published in 2012, based on Margaret Sutton’s suggested title and plans for the future of the series. It was followed in 2018 by The Mystery on Judy Lane, the 40th book in the series, also written by Hatfield.

     In addition to the Judy Bolton Mysteries, the author published historical novels, other juvenile stories, and children’s books.  My wife said that she likes Judy Bolton better than Nancy Drew because while Nancy seems almost “ipsy-pipsy perfect,” Judy is more realistic as a typical teenager who loses her temper, battles cliques, and sometimes gets things wrong.  The Invisible Chimes, the third title in the Judy Bolton Mysteries, is a particularly good story in that, while it can be thoroughly enjoyed as a “stand alone” adventure, it is linked to elements in the previous title in the series, The Haunted Attic, and is actually an intriguing and clever follow-up to book #2, especially if one is reading the books in order.  While working on her new mystery, Judy becomes aware that she overlooked an important clue that she had uncovered during the course of her last investigation that might have a direct bearing on her current case.  I enjoyed reading The Invisible Chimes.

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The Picture Story and Biography of Red Cloud

HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW

Book: The Picture Story and Biography of Red Cloud

Author: Shannon Garst

Illustrator: Art Seiden

Publisher: Follett Publishing, 1965

ASIN: B000ZG2JM6

ASIN: B0006BMTUC

ASIN: B001D633TU

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: **** 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.  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

     Garst, Shannon. The Picture Story and Biography of Red Cloud (Published in 1965 by Follett Publishing Company, Chicago, IL).  This book is both a picture story and a biography of Red Cloud (1822 – 1909), one of the most important leaders of the Oglala Lakota from 1868 to 1909.  One of the most capable Native American opponents whom the United States Army faced in the western territories, he defeated the United States during Red Cloud’s War, which was a fight over control of the Powder River Country in northeastern Wyoming and southern Montana. The largest action of the war was the Fetterman Fight, with 81 U.S. soldiers killed; it was the worst military defeat suffered by the US Army on the Great Plains until the Battle of the Little Bighorn ten years later.

     After signing the Treaty of Fort Laramie (1868), Red Cloud led his people in the important transition to reservation life. Some of his opponents mistakenly thought of him as the overall leader of the Sioux groups (Dakota, Lakota, and Nakota), but the large tribe had several major divisions and was highly decentralized. Bands among the Oglala and other divisions operated independently, though some individuals were renowned as warriors and highly respected as leaders, such as Red Cloud.  The first section of the book is a picture story of Red Cloud suitable for younger children ages 6-8, while the rest of it is a middle-school age biography of the Sioux chief who joined Crazy Horse in leading their people in a prolonged assault against the white man and the confines of the Indian Reservation

     This book is one of “The Library of American Heroes” series.  Author Doris Shannon Garst (1894-1981) became a teacher and school principal, but quickly turned to writing full-time after her first book, The Story of Wyoming, was published in 1938. She published under the name Shannon Garst (Shannon was her step-father’s surname) because the publisher of her first book didn’t believe anyone would read a Western-themed book written by a woman.  My only problem with the book is that it seems to be a bit one-sided in which most of the actions of Native Americans are pictured as good or at least understandable, while practically all the actions of white men are pictured as prejudicial and bad.  Of course, it’s true that in many instances the Indians were horribly mistreated, and there’s nothing wrong with acknowledging that fact.  But a little more balance would have helped.  Otherwise, it is an interesting biography.

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The Secret Life of Dilly McBean

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Book: The Secret Life of Dilly McBean

Author: Dorothy F. Haas

Jacket Illustrator: Sharron O’Neil

Publisher: Scholastic Paperbacks, republished 1991

ISBN-13: 978-0027382006 Hardcover

ISBN-10: 0027382001 Hardcover

ISBN-13: 978-0590431385 Paperback

ISBN-10: 0590431382 Paperback

Language level:  2

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

Recommended reading level: Ages 8 – 12

Rating: ***** 5 stars

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

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.  No other compensation has been received for the reviews posted on Home School Book Review.

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     Haas,Dorothy F. The Secret Life of Dilly McBean (Published in 1986 by Bradbury Press, an affiliate of Macmillan Inc., 866 Third Ave., New York City, NY  10022).  Twelve-year-old Dilloway “Dilly” McBean’s parents were killed in a terrible automobile accident when he was a small boy.  Under the care of the Commercial Chemical and Corn Trust and Savings Bank, Dilly lived at home with Cook, upstairs maid Mamie, and housekeeper Mrs. Carmichael until it was time for his education.  Then he was sent to a different boarding school each fall and a different summer camp every summer.  That is until Mr. Homer Orbed becomes his new guardian and takes Dilly to begin a new life in a real house in the small town of Hennessy Depot, where he lives with Mr. and Mrs. Blackpool, finds a dog which he names Contrary, goes to public school, makes friends with fellow students Bryan, Jessica, and Matt, and is tutored by the kindly professor Dr. McEvoy.

     However, Dilly has a secret power and is kidnapped by a computer whiz madman, the dastardly Dr. Keenwit, who is out to steal Dilly’s money and seize world power, planning to control the world with a computer.  The young orphan must use his strange power to match wits with Keenwit.  What is Dilly’s special power?   Can he foil the villain’s plot?  What will happen if Dilly’s power hurts him?   There are references to smoking a pipe and some common euphemisms (gosh, golly, heck) but no major objectionable material.  While the book does move rather slowly to the final climax, it still sustained my interest.  School Library Journal noted, “So much science fantasy for this age group has such rapid-fire pacing and pyrotechnics that this book stands out by its willingness to take time with the story and keep the super powers low-key. While not a great book, it does have more substance than many.”   If children show an interest in science fiction books, they should like this one.

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This Island Isn’t Big Enough for the Four of Us!

HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW

Book: This Island Isn’t Big Enough for the Four of Us!

Authors: Gery Greer and Bob Ruddick

Publisher: HarperCollins, republished 1989

ISBN-13: 978-0690046120 Hardcover

ISBN-10: 069004612X Hardcover

ISBN-13: 978-0064402033 Paperback

ISBN-10: 0064402037 Paperback

Language level:  2

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

Recommended reading level: Ages ‎ 8/9 – 12 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: Adventure

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.  No other compensation has been received for the reviews posted on Home School Book Review.

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     Greer, Gery, and  Ruddick,  Bob.  This Island Isn’t Big Enough for the Four of Us! (Published in 1987 by Harper Trophy, an imprint of HarperCollins Children’s Books, a division of HarperCollins Publishers, 10 E. 53rd St., New York City, NY  10022).  Scott Wilson, who narrates the story, and Pete McKenzie, both twelve years old, have long anticipated their week together on uninhabited Turtle Island as intrepid explorers, charting it and naming field, forest, stream, and cove; but their plans go awry when Scott’s uncle, for whose company they are field-testing a tent, gives them the cutesy Hansel and Gretel model decorated to look like a gingerbread house. Worse, their “deserted” island turns out to be inhabited by two girls, Sunny and Jill camping with Jill’s nature photographer Aunt Katherine.  They are always around to jeer when the boys make fools of themselves (which is often), and take pictures of some of the boys’ most embarrassing moments.

     This means war — boys against girls.  Who will win?  How can they learn to settle their differences peacefully?  And is there someone else on the island?  There are a couple of common euphemisms (darn, gee).  As the Publishers Weekly noted, “This isn’t a very demanding book; it’s summer reading with humorous moments and an occasional strain for the punchline.”  The School Library Journal said, “The plot, which revolves around one-upmanship between the boys and the girls, is mostly silly…. However some of the dialogue is amusing, and the characters are individuals. This fast-moving story should provide some laughs even for reluctant readers.”  This funny and lighthearted tale is one that both boys and girls can enjoy. Also, the Perseid meteor shower, which peeks in mid-August, is mentioned in the book.  Gery Greer and Bob Ruddick are the authors of many children’s books including Jason and the Escape from Bat Planet and Max and Me and the Wild West.

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