The Golden Fleece and the Heroes Who Lived Before Achilles

goldenfleece

HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW

Book: The Golden Fleece and the Heroes Who Lived Before Achilles

Author: Padraic Colum

Illustrator: Willy Pogany

Publisher: Aladdin, republished 2004

ISBN-13: 978-0689868849

ISBN-10: 0689868847

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: **** 4 stars (GOOD)

Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker

Disclosure:  Many publishers 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 .

Colum, Padraic.  The Golden Fleece and the Heroes Who Lived Before Achilles (published in 1921 by Macmillan Publishing Company, 866 Third Ave., New York City, NY  10022; republished in 1990 by Scholastic Inc.,730 Broadway, New York City  10003).  Jason is the son of Aeson, king of Iolcus in Thessaly, who was overthrown by his brother Pelias. So to protect his son, Aeson sends Jason to be raised by the centaur Chiron on Mount Pelion.  When Jason comes of age, he returns to Iolcus, but before he can claim the throne, he must set forth on the ship Argo with a group of heroes which includes the mighty Heracles, the minstrel Orpheus, and other legendary figures from Greek mythology, to capture the famous Golden Fleece from King Aetes of Colchis.  Will they make it to Colchis?  Do they get the Golden Fleece?  And are they able to return home?   Author Padraic Colum, who was a popular children’s writer in his day, weaves the tale of Jason and his Argonauts with other stories from classic Greek mythology to create a captivating epic

I was one of those kids who had a fascination with mythology.  There is a divide among believers, especially homeschoolers, on this subject.  Some think that it is simply wrong to study about the ancient myths because they say it gives them credence and in essence honors pagan deities.  However, I am among those who feel that Christians can learn about such myths simply from a historical standpoint to know what ancient cultures believed and contrast that to faith in the one true God, without giving them any credence or honoring heathen gods.  Obviously, caution must be exercised because some of the myths can be quite vulgar.  That is why The Golden Fleece and the Heroes Who Lived Before Achilles, which was a Newbery Honor Book in 1922, the first year the Medal was awarded, can be a helpful introduction.  It comes highly recommended as kid friendly because the inappropriate details are left out due to the age of the target audience.

Many books on Greek mythology contain random, disconnected stories.  However, geared toward young readers, this classic book centers on the Argonauts’ quest for “The Golden Fleece.”  Yet, throughout the book, the members of the crew and the people whom they encounter often tell other stories of the gods and goddesses.  So, instead of being a volume of short myth summaries, it combines them into a unified whole. The 28 chapters are divided into three sections.  Part I tells the story of Jason and “The Voyage to Colchis.”  Part II explains the obtaining of the Fleece and “The Return to Greece.”  Part III talks about what happened after the return with “The Heroes of the Quest.”  There are a lot of characters, but they are introduced in a reasonably slow and orderly manner which reduces confusion, and the storytelling is simple so that it doesn’t get weighed down in lengthy description.  Thus, it’s a good choice for those kids who enjoy mythology or are curious and would like an introduction.

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Treachery and Truth: A Story of Sinners, Servants, and Saints

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HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW

Book: Treachery and Truth: A Story of Sinners, Servants, and Saints

Author: Katy Huth Jones

Publisher: Pauline Books and Media, 2016

ISBN-13: 978-0819875358

ISBN-10: 081987535X

Related website: http://www.pauline.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 12 – 17

Rating: ***** 5 stars (EXCELLENT)

Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker

Disclosure:  Many publishers 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 .

Jones, Katy Huth.  Treachery and Truth: A Story of Sinners, Servants, and Saints (published in 2016 by Pauline Books and Media, 50 Saint Paul’s Ave., Boston, MA  02130). You have undoubtedly heard, and maybe even sung, that “Good King Wenceslas looked out on the Feast of Stephen,” but do you know the true story of the real Wenceslas, or Vaclav as he was called in his native language?  It is during the “Dark Ages,” around A. D. 921, and the Duchy of Bohemia is ruled by the Premsylid dynasty.  Vaclav is fourteen years old.  His late grandfather Duke Borivoj, and his father, Duke Vratislav who was killed in battle with the Magyars, had been Christians, but his mother Dragomira, who ruled as regent for her minor son, had reverted to paganism, closed all the churches, and prohibited the practice of Christianity.  However, Vaclav had been raised at the castle of his grandmother Ludmila, and both of them are Christians.

A twelve-year-old orphaned slave named Poidevin is brought to the castle to serve Dragomira but becomes much attached to Vaclav.  So when Vaclav is crowned Duke at age sixteen, Poidevin is made his personal servant.  Because Dragomira and her younger son Boleslav are implicated in the murder of Ludmila, Vaclav banishes them.  However, they still have a lot of influence among some of the voyvodes or nobles and plot to get rid of Vaclav.  What will happen to him?  How will the people of Bohemia react?  And what will become of Poidevin?  Cleverly told through the eyes of the faithful servant Poidevin, Treachery and Truth is a good little historical novel about a period of European history with which most people are unfamiliar.  The only complaint that I saw was from someone who objected that narrative is one-sided because “the author was glossing over the intolerance Price Vaclav shows to the Pagans while at the same time condemning his mother for her intolerance for Christians.”

My response is that this is simply not true.  Both the book and my research show pagans murdering Christians but no examples of Christians murdering pagans.  Yes, Vaclav executed righteous judgment on criminals, but he was not intolerant.  Yet, this same critic wrote, “The imagery in this story is well done and…I found it pretty accurate.”  I guess that for historical fiction I would be quite satisfied with “pretty accurate.” Though it is a work of fiction, the account is based on known facts, and all the main characters are genuine historic figures. While both teenage boys and girls will like this well written and exciting novel, boys will especially find several strong figures to serve as good role models. And adults can enjoy it too.  Yes, there is sadness at the end, but the Epilogue, Afterword, and Author’s Note in the back all point to a more hopeful future.  The story of Vaclav’s bravery, honesty, humility, and generosity also delivers a powerful message about the meaning of suffering, fidelity to Christ, and loving our enemies.

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Toby Tyler, Or Ten Weeks with a Circus

toby-tyler

HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW

Book: Toby Tyler, Or Ten Weeks with a Circus

Author: James Otis

Illustrator: William P. Couse

Publisher: MPR Publishing, republished 2013

ISBN-13: 978-0983185789

ISBN-10: 0983185786

Language level: 1

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

Recommended reading level: Ages 10-14

Rating: ***** 5 stars (EXCELLENT)

Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker

Disclosure:  Many publishers 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 .

Otis, James.  Toby Tyler, Or Ten Weeks with a Circus (originally published in 1881 by Harper and Brothers, New York City, NY; republished in 1938 by The Saalfield Publishing Company, Akron, OH).  Toby Tyler is a ten-year-old orphan who lives in a foster home with Uncle Daniel, Aunt Olive, and several other boys.  However, he thinks that he is overworked and under-appreciated, so when the traveling circus comes to the little town of Guilford, Toby decides to run away with it at the invitation of Mr. Job Lord, who sells circus concessions, to work for Mr. Lord.  In time, he unhappily finds that his new employer and his partner Mr. Jacobs are cruel taskmasters, and the boy starts to develop plans to return home.  Yet, he also makes friends with old Ben Potter, who drives the monkey cage wagon on which Toby rides, Sam and Lily Treat, the circus’s thin man and fat lady, and Ella or Mademoiselle Jeanette, a girl equestrian about his age, as well as an old monkey whom he names Mr. Stubbs.

One night, the monkey wagon breaks down, and all the monkeys escape into a nearby forest.  Toby thinks that this would be his best chance to flee too but gets lost in the dark woods.  Then he encounters Mr. Stubbs leading all the monkeys back to the wagon, joins them, and is credited with returning them to the circus.  The proprietor even gives Mr. Stubbs to Toby as a pet.  Does Toby learn any lessons from his ten weeks with the circus?  Will he ever make it back home?  And what will happen to Mr. Stubbs?  James Otis was the pen name of James Otis Kaler.  Toby Tyler was the first of Kaler’s 145 books written for children; it was also his best known and most successful.  Initially serialized in Harper’s Young People in 1877, it was then published as a book in 1881

Toby Tyler is a “bad boy” novel, intended to teach a lesson about what happens to boys who do bad things.  Mr. Stubbs reinforces the consequences of what can occur when a person follows his natural instincts rather than his intellect and conscience, which is a central theme of the novel.  The difference between the romance of the circus from the outside and the reality as seen from the inside is graphically portrayed.  Though there is nothing objectionable or inappropriate in the original story, which even includes references to church going and faith in God, the Disney film version of 1960 starring Kevin Corcoran, somewhat romanticizes and sanitizes the plot by turning it into more of a light-hearted romp. The original book contains thirty pen and ink drawings by W. A. Rogers. Even though it was written more than 100 years ago, it is still a good story.  A sequel, Mr. Stubb’s Brother, was published in 1883.

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Scars: His, Theirs, and Ours

scars

HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW

Book: Scars: His, Theirs, and Ours

Author: Gardner Hall

Cover designer: Kirby Davis

Publisher: Mount Bethel Publishing, 2016

ISBN-13: 978-0985005948

ISBN-10: 0985005947

Related website: http://www.MountBethelPublishing.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: Teens and adults

Rating: ***** 5 stars (EXCELLENT)

Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker

Disclosure:  Many publishers 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 .

Hall, Gardner.  Scars: His, Theirs, and Ours (published in 2016 by Mount Bethel Publishing, P. O. Box 123, Port Murray, NJ  07865).  Do you have any scars in your life, whether from physical wounds of the body or mental and emotional traumas of the mind?   Most all of us do have scars of some kind.  Even God, in the person of His Son Jesus Christ, who became flesh and dwelt among us on this earth as a man, “was wounded for our transgressions” (Isaiah 53:5).  Also, author Gardner Hall, a dear friend from college days, cites Vance Havner who pointed out that at the Nicene Council in the 4th century A.D., of the 318 delegates attending, “fewer than 12 had not lost an eye or lost a hand or did not limp on a leg lamed by torture for their Christian faith.” Their scars were a part of a three-hundred-year legacy of being on the receiving end of merciless torture. It was the will of God that his witnesses and early followers receive every angry blow and that every wound leave its mark.

The wounds and scars of early Christians and even of Christ Himself became a symbol of their unwavering faith that speaks more powerfully than words ever can. Why were they willing to suffer so?  What are their scars telling us? And how can they provide help in dealing with our own wounds and scars? That is the message of this book, which is divided into thirteen chapters each with numerous Scripture references and questions for reflection.  It is perfect for Bible classes, small group discussions, and personal devotions.  Using the blind man of John 9, who could not answer all the questions asked by the Pharisees but simply replied, “One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see,” Hall suggests that when we come across arguments which we may not fully understand and which could cause doubt, we can respond, “But what about the scars?”

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Jenny and Her Dog Both Fight Cancer: A Tale of Chemotherapy and Caring

jenny

HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW

Book: Jenny and Her Dog Both Fight Cancer: A Tale of Chemotherapy and Caring

Author: Jewel Kats

Illustrator: Claudia Marie Lenart

Publisher: Loving Healing Press, 2016

ISBN-13: 978-1615992799

ISBN-10: 1615992790

Related websites: http://www.JewelKats.com (author), http://www.ClaudiaMarieFelt.com (illustrator), http://www.LHPress.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 – 9

Rating: ***** 5 stars (EXCELLENT)

Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker

Disclosure:  Many publishers 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 .

Kats, Jewel.   Jenny and Her Dog Both Fight Cancer: A Tale of Chemotherapy and Caring (published in 2016 by Loving Healing Press, 5145 Pontiac Trail, Ann Arbor, MI  48105).  Have you ever known a child who had or was fighting cancer?  Jenny, a young girl who lives with her dad, mom, and pet dog Dolly, is undergoing chemotherapy treatment for cancer.  Most of her hair has fallen out, so she wears a pretty handkerchief with prints of flowers on her forehead.  Then Jenny discovers that Dolly, who has always been at Jenny’s side throughout her trying times, also has cancer and will need chemotherapy too. So Jenny vows to support Dolly in her treatments as well. What will happen to Dolly?  And what will happen to Jenny?

A diagnosis of cancer is serious for anyone, but when a child has to suffer from the disease, it really tugs at the heartstrings.  Author Jewel Kats, who passed away last year, tackles cancer in a genuinely heartwarming tale.  Illustrator Claudia Marie Lenart’s fiber-art pictures are magnificent in their simplicity.  This bittersweet story of mutual devotion and loyalty would be of special benefit to youngsters who have cancer and those who have a friend with cancer.  It might also be helpful to any child who has lost a beloved pet.  As one reviewer noted, “Cancer is not an easy topic for any family to discuss, but this book offers a platform from which this illness can be discussed and viewed.”

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Please Explain “Terrorism” to Me!: A Story for Children, P-E-A-R-L-S of Wisdom for Their Parents

terrorism

HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW

Book: Please Explain “Terrorism” to Me!: A Story for Children, P-E-A-R-L-S of Wisdom for Their Parents

Author: Laurie Zelinger

Illustrator: Ann Israeli

Publisher: Loving Healing Press, 2016

ISBN-13: 978-1615992911

ISBN-10: 161599291X

Related websites: http://www.DrZelinger.com (author), http://www.LHpress.com (publisher)

Language level: 2 (the abbreviation OMG is found once)

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

Recommended reading level: Ages 7 – 10

Rating: ***** 5 stars (EXCELLENT)

Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker

Disclosure:  Many publishers 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 .

Zelinger, Laurie.  Please Explain “Terrorism” to Me!: A Story for Children, P-E-A-R-L-S of Wisdom for Their Parents (published in 2016 by Loving Healing Press, 5145 Pontiac Trail, Ann Arbor, MI  48105).  How would you define “terrorism”?  And how would you explain it to a child?  A grade-school age lad lives with his parents, older brother Noah, and baby sister Zookie.  He goes to school, plays soccer, and is bullied in the lunch room by a boy named Jack.  One day when he comes home, the television is showing “Breaking news” about explosions, people dying, and terrorists.  Mom quickly turns it off.  The next day at school, there is a lockdown practice.  Noah’s school has an evacuation drill.  As the television continues to talk about terrorism, the young narrator begins to get scared and even has nightmares, so he finally asks mom and dad to explain more about it.  What will they say to him?  How will he react?  And will he tell them about Jack?  It is very unfortunate that we have to deal with topics such as this, but especially since Sept. 11, 2001, “terrorism” has become part of our everyday vocabulary.

Please Explain “Terrorism” to Me! is like two books in one. There is a story, complemented by exquisite, colorful artwork from illustrator Ann Israeli, that children can easily relate to.  This is followed by a section of guidance for parents or teachers in answering children’s difficult questions. The “PEARLS” of wisdom include Prepare, Explain, Answer, Reassure, Listen, and Safeguard.  Author Dr. Laurie Zelinger is a distinguished Board Certified Psychologist with Diplomate status in school psychology as well as a credentialed play therapist who serves on executive boards of state and national organizations.  In her Introduction, she explains, “This book, written from a child’s perspective, is intended as a general and simplistic introduction to the emotionally-charged concept of Terrorism, at a developmental level appropriate for children between ages 7 through 10.  Some passages are deliberately vague so that you, as the parent, can provide elaboration based on your personal experience and beliefs.  The book does not address particular events or types of violence portrayed in the media.  Rather, it is intended as a preparatory tool to educate children gently about some of the risks in the world and how their caregivers work to keep them safe.”

The key to approaching this subject is balance.  Dr. Zelinger writes, “By now, the frequency of these events and the viral rate at which media spreads both information and rumors means that we cannot ignore that Terrorism exists.  Balancing children’s innocence and their right to a fanciful existence with what they need to know is a challenging task for a parent….You are the primary source of information for your children, and how you present that information will influence their understanding and perceptions.”  This book is an excellent resource to help parents accomplish this aim.  The author concludes, “In short, we want to make our children aware of, but not paralyzed by, the world they live in.  This means giving them information that is helpful, simple, realistic, and not overly dramatized.  We want our children to feel protected by the adults they trust and to be able to make good decisions when they are without us.  We also want them to be able to go about their lives and to enjoy living.”  If you’re looking for professional guidance about how to explain a scary topic to children, you’ll find it in Please Explain “Terrorism” to Me!

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My Brother Is Special: A Cerebral Palsy Story

special

HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW

Book: My Brother Is Special: A Cerebral Palsy Story

Author and Illustrator: Murray Stenton

Publisher: Healing Press, 2017

ISBN-13: 978-1615993093

ISBN-10: 1615993096

Related website: http://www.LHPress.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 4 – 7

Rating: ***** 5 stars (EXCELLENT)

Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker

Disclosure:  Many publishers 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 .

Stenton, Murray.  My Brother Is Special: A Cerebral Palsy Story (published in 2017 by Loving Healing Press, 5145 Pontiac Trail, Ann Arbor, MI  48105).  Do you happen to know someone with cerebral palsy?  Have you even heard of cerebral palsy?   Ten year old Ethan is a big brother like no other.  He was born with cerebral palsy.  Life with a special need child has its fair share of challenges. Such challenges are not only for the parents, but extend to others in the family. My Brother Is Special shares some of his little brother’s thoughts, thus helping to shine some light on the difficulties and the job that siblings of special needs children experience every day.  Are you aware that cerebral palsy is one of the most common congenital disorders of childhood and that there are three different types of the condition?

Cerebral palsy (CP) is a group of permanent movement disorders that appear in early childhood. We tend to think of people with conditions like CP as “handicapped” or “disabled.”  While there are certainly challenges, as one website noted, “Though Cerebral Palsy can be defined, having Cerebral Palsy does not define the person that has the condition.”  When we lived in Dayton, OH, we knew a young man with   CP.  Yes, his body was weak and he was confined to a wheelchair—but he was a computer whiz!  This book, part of the “Growing With Love Series” from Loving Healing Press, will be especially helpful for family members and friends of those with CP.  There is some additional information about CP in the back, with some helpful websites.

Author and illustrator Murray Stenton’s oldest son Ethan had a stroke at birth causing CP and other life altering conditions.  Artistic from an early age, Murray, whose favorite pastime was and still is doodling cute and fun little characters, started looking for freelance illustration work and answered an ad, the result of which is that a well known children’s book author and disability advocate, Jewel Kats (now deceased) gave him a shot at illustrating one of her children’s books.  With new found courage and the help of Loving Healing Press, Murray has brought this wonderful story to children everywhere with the hope that siblings of children with disabilities will know they too are not alone.

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