Red-Dirt Jessie

HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW

jessie

Book: Red-Dirt Jessie

Author: Anna Myers

Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, republished 2013

ISBN-13: 978-0802781727 Hardcover

ISBN-10: 0802781721 Hardcover

ISBN-13: 978-1492866619 Paperback

ISBN-10: 149286661X 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 8 – 12

Rating: ***** 5 star

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

Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker

Disclosure:  Many publishers, literary agents, and/or authors provide free copies of their books in exchange for an honest review without requiring a positive opinion.  Any books donated to Home School Book Review for review purposes are in turn donated to a library.  No other compensation has been received for the reviews posted on Home School Book Review.

For more information e-mail homeschoolbookreview@gmail.com

Website: https://homeschoolbookreviewblog.wordpress.com

Myers, Anna.  Red-Dirt Jessie (Published in 1992 by Walker Children’s, a division of Walker   Publishing Company Inc.; republished in 1997 by Weekly Reader Corporation Books, a division of Newfield Publications Inc., 4343 Equity Dr., Columbus, OH  43228).  It is a hot July in 1929, during the Great Depression, and twelve year old Jessie lives on a farm in the Oklahoma dust bowl with her papa Hobert, her mama Maud, and her six year old younger brother H.J. (named after Papa), not far from Papa’s sister Aunt Maybell and her husband Uncle Delbert.  After Jessie’s little sister Patsy dies of “the fever,” the father sinks into a severe depression where all he does is sit around the whole day in a rocking chair.  Then the aunt and uncle leave their farm to seek their fortune in California leaving behind their nearly wild dog named Ring.  Jessie is determined to cure her father’s depression and tries to make Ring a pet with the hope that the two of them together can coax her father out of his rocking chair.

Unfortunately, Ring is shot by a neighboring farmer, and Jessie’s mother becomes ill under the stress of trying to keep the family together.  On top of that, coyotes start stealing their chickens.   Will Ring survive?  What happens to Papa?  Is there still anything that the dog can do to help Jessie bring her father back?  This is well-written story makes one feel the waves of heat in late summer countryside along with the hard work and isolation on the farm.  All the characters come to life. Jessie’s feelings and hurt seem so real, but there is also humor, and this good historical fiction has excitement that leads to a cliff-hanger climax.  It is recommended for any youngster who loves dogs. Also, it helps to explain the nature of depression but has a hopeful, happy ending.

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The Brixton Brothers, Book 1: The Case of the Case of Mistaken Identity

HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW

brixton

Book: The Brixton Brothers, Book 1: The Case of the Case of Mistaken Identity

Author: Mac Barnett

Illustrator: Adam Rex

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, Reprinted 2010

ISBN-13: 978-1416978152 Hardcover

ISBN-10: 1416978151 Hardcover

ISBN-13: 978-1416978169 Paperback

ISBN-10: 141697816X Paperback

Related website(s): http://www.brixtonbrothers.com (series), http://www.scholastic.com (publisher)

Language level:  2

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

Recommended reading level: Ages 8 – 12

Rating: ***** 5 stars

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

Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker

Disclosure:  Many publishers, literary agents, and/or authors provide free copies of their books in exchange for an honest review without requiring a positive opinion.  Any books donated to Home School Book Review for review purposes are in turn donated to a library.  No other compensation has been received for the reviews posted on Home School Book Review.

For more information e-mail homeschoolbookreview@gmail.com

Website: https://homeschoolbookreviewblog.wordpress.com

Barnett, Mac.  The Brixton Brothers, Book 1: The Case of the Case of Mistaken Identity (Published in 2009 by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division, 1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York City, NY  10020; republished in 2010 by Scholastic Inc., 557 Broadway, New York City, NY  10012).  Twelve year Steven a.k.a. “Steve” Brixton lives in Ocean Park, CA, with his mom Carol, who has a new boyfriend, a policeman named Rick Elliot.  Steve’s best friend at school is Dana, and his favorite reading material is the “Bailey Brothers” series of mystery books about America’s Favorite Teenage Supersleuths.  Steve has read all 58 shiny red volumes by MacArthur Bart about Kevin and Shawn Bailey, sons of the world-famous detective Harris Bailey.  Steve wants to become a detective.  However, Ms. Gilfeather, one of his teachers, assigns him a social-studies report on early American needlework, but when he checks out An Illustrated History of American Quilting from the library, he finds himself involved in a treasonous plot that pits him against helicopter-rappelling librarians as well as the local police.

It seems as if the book holds a clue to the whereabouts of the Maguffin Quilt, a national treasure into which have been woven America’s most important secrets.  It turns out that the Librarians are a clandestine society of highly trained intelligence agents, and they mistakenly think that Steve is working for the mysterious Mr. E., who sells America’s secrets.  Where is the quilt?  Will Steve be able to find it in time to clear his name?  And who is this villainous Mr. E?  Somewhat of a spoof on children’s detective stories (e.g., the “Hardy Boys”), The Case of the Case of Mistaken Identity is a fun, humorous adventure with a fast-moving plot that incorporates mistaken identities, kidnapping, and a secret underground society, and is sure to hold readers’ attention.

There are a few common euphemisms (i.e., heck, gee whiz, golly).  The biggest complaint that I saw about the book is that the main character is chased through the library by people with guns, being, literally, shot at with real bullets, and then is forced into the back of a limousine by a man pointing a gun at him.  Perhaps this would not be a good choice for any child with a history of trauma, but most youngsters will understand that it is pure, imaginary fiction.  They will laugh every time the hero tries a sleuthing technique from his revered Bailey Brothers’ Detective Handbook and is always surprised when it does not work out the way it did in his favorite book. This is Book 1 in the “Brixton Brothers” Series.   The others are The Ghost Writer Secret (Book 2), It Happened on a Train (Book 3), and Danger Goes Berserk (Book 4).

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The Island Mansion Mysteries

HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW

BlyBook-IslandMansion1A

Book: The Island Mansion Mysteries

Author: Janet Chester Bly

Illustrator: Paul Turnbaugh

Publisher: Chariot Family Pub., republished1995

ISBN-13: 978-0781401913

ISBN-10: 0781401917

Related website(s):  https://www.blybooks.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:  Ages 8-12

Rating: **** 4 stars

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

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

Bly, Janet Chester.  The Island Mansion Mysteries (Published in 1985 and republished in 1995 by Chariot Books, an imprint of Chariot Family Publishing, a division of Cook Communications Ministries, Elgin, IL  60120).  You are a computer game programmer, and your three dimensional game Dynamos has won a national computer programmers competition sponsored by Teledynamics Inc.  The prize is that you, Sonja Huckaby, and Dan Estrada get a trip to Hawaii to present your game to the international corporation. You’ll have three days of hot sun and pounding surf with your guides Miss Myra Dela Cruz and Kikukawa. Maybe you’ll land a big contract. Unless trouble intervenes. What might happen?   Your visit could be disrupted by a) a kidnapper in a helicopter, b) a volcano ready to blow, or c) a madman’s threat to the peace of the islands. The choice is up to you, the reader, with 32 possible endings, from silly to scary to surprising.

Formerly titled The Hawaiian Computer Mystery, this Kids Making Choices book for 8-12 year olds lets you create your own stories with the choices you make page by page. If you don’t like the way things are turning out in your story, you can go back and start over. You write the program.  Along the way you may solve the mystery of the deserted mansion. Inherit a block of downtown Honolulu. Hang ten on a surfboard. Match wits with a man whose mind works like a computer. What happens in this book is up to you.   And this adventure of a lifetime all begins when your plane touches down in beautiful Honolulu.  Author Janet Bly is the widow of western writer Stephen Bly.

To be honest, I personally just don’t care for books like this.  I get that the format is designed to show children how the choices which they make can affect the rest of their lives–and that God really cares about those choices.  There are those who like that sort of thing, and that’s fine with me.  It’s just that I prefer a book that I can sit down and simply read through without having to flip back and forth from one page to another or to return to the beginning several times.  And woe be to those who can’t do the whole book in one setting because if they have to put it down for a while and then pick it up again later, they may be entirely lost.  From what I did read, however, it seems as if The Island Mansion Mysteries has some interesting stories.

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Ten Miles from Winnemucca

HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW

ten miles

Book: Ten Miles from Winnemucca

Author: Thelma Hatch Wyss

Cover Illustrator:  Vince Natale

Publisher:  HarperTeen, republished 2004

ISBN-13: 978-0060297848 Hardcover

ISBN-10: 0060297840 Hardcover

ISBN-13: 978-0064473347 Paperback

ISBN-10: 0064473341 Paperback

Related website(s): http://www.harperchildrens.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 13 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)

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

Wyss, Thelma Hatch.  Ten Miles from Winnemucca (Published in 2002 by HarperCollins Children’s Books, a division of HarperCollins Publishers, 1350 Avenue of the Americas, New York City, NY  10019). Martin J. “Marty” Miller, age sixteen, has lived all his life in Winnmucca, NV, with his mother, whom he calls “Mom Miller,” a second grade teacher.  His father Charles, an engineer, died from cancer when Marty was five.  His best friend is Pete, and Marty has no complaints about his life until his mother’s remarriage to a wealthy stepfather named Lester, whom he calls “Mr. Joe Wonderful,” of Seattle, WA.  When the couple leaves for a long European honeymoon, Marty finds his belongings jettisoned from the second-story window of Joe’s house by his stringy-haired new stepbrother Burgess and his cronies.  So Marty loads his beloved red Jeep with his bike and belongings and heads off down the road back towards Nevada, until hunger and a nearly empty gas tank land him in Red Rock, ID, a place as good as any other.

Deciding not to go on to Winnemucca, Marty demonstrates some ingenuity, soon enrolls in school at Woodland High, secures a job slinging burgers at the Burger Box, and lives in his Jeep, which he hides at a critter-filled campsite in the back country off Foothill Road in Little Red Rock Canyon.  Also, he makes a new friend named Phillip and even picks up an unsolicited girlfriend, Diantha Dragon, whose all black dress and freewheeling style both repel and attract him.  How does Marty manage to get along, especially as thoughts of what and where home truly is tug at his heart?  What happens when his Jeep goes missing?  And will he stay in Red Rock or will he return to Seattle?  I was a sixteen year old boy once.  I suppose that every teenage boy encounters situations where he would like to leave home and live by himself for a while.  Marty actually does it.

The book contains little that is objectionable.  Marty says “heck” and “darn” a lot.  He tells us that, after arriving in Red Rock and parking overnight on the street, he “shouted obscene words to nobody” until he was hoarse, but no obscene words are actually used.  Diantha engages in a little bit of shoplifting, which horrifies Marty.  Some kissing occurs, and there are a couple of references to drinking beer and wine. This pleasing, well-paced story with a sympathetic, resilient hero who has considerable reader appeal is told with a quirky, self-deprecating sense of humor.  For all his success in achieving a marginal existence, Marty learns the same lesson that Dorothy came to understand in The Wizard of Oz, that there’s no place like home.

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He Will Not Walk With Me

HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW

he will not walk

Book: He Will Not Walk With Me

Author: Alice Hendricks Bach

Publisher:  Delacorte, 1985

ISBN-13: 978-0385294102

ISBN-10: 0385294107

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 ages12 and up, but I’d 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)

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

Bach, Alice Hendricks.  He Will Not Walk With Me (Published in 1985 by Delacorte Press, 1 Dag Hammarskjold Place, New York City, NY  10017).   Sixteen-year-old Hallie Clement lives in an upscale New York City apartment with her father Paul, a lawyer, her mother Meg, a journalist, and younger brother Jake.  Her boyfriend is Sam Cobbit, and her two best friends at both Lincoln High School and her church’s youth fellowship are Martha Cassell and Starr Mann.  To impress her youthful, charismatic, attractive new minister, Reverend Jacob Ward Alcott, affectionately known as “Jinks,” a media celebrity who preaches about helping the homeless, and on whom she has a crush, Hallie volunteers at Communion House, a soup kitchen in New York City’s Lower East Side, after seeing the minister on TV promoting the shelter for the homeless.  She becomes deeply involved with the House, its “guests,” and the people who work there. Still, it’s Jinks Hallie wants to impress.

Unfortunately, the Reverend Alcott never comes to the kitchen, hardly pays attention when Hallie tells him about it, and does not follow through on a food collection that he promised. In a final desperate attempt to gain his attention, she stays out on the streets one cold winter night.  What happens to Hallie?   Does she survive the ordeal?  And will she learn any important lessons?  First, let me say that this is not a book for children.  It is definitely a young adult novel.  The language could be worse—a few mild crudities and some “polite” profanity.  In addition to the main theme, the plot deals with several distinctly teenage problems.  A boy is caught smoking a joint.  Hallie tells Sam, “Every minute we’re alone, you want to make out.”  Instances of drinking alcohol occur.  There are references to a guy “copping himself a feel” and another who “wanted…a little hand job.”  And while on the street, Hallie is the victim of an attempted rape.

All of this is handled reasonably well.  But, again, most parents whom I know would not feel that it is suitable for young children.  The street people are well depicted so that readers can see them, hear them, and even smell them. The gist of the story is that the romantic idealization of her minister that leads Hallie to volunteer work with the poor of New York City also leads to some disillusioning encounters with reality.  She learns that what really counts is the actual work done in a place like Communion House, not Jinks’ empty words, that virtue is its own reward, and that there is a difference between lip service and that of real service to help relieve such conditions as poverty and hunger. The lesson is one which is always timely, that success is not measured by the approval of the masses or a coveted love object.  In our celebrity-and-media-oriented culture, these are important issues for teens to consider.

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The Winter of Life: Redeeming the Time

HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW

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Book: The Winter of Life: Redeeming the Time

Author: Sewell Hall

Cover Designer: Bethany Hubartt

Publisher: Mount Bethel Publishing, 2019

ISBN-13: 978-0985005955

ISBN-10: 0985005955

Related website(s): http://www.MountBethelPublishing.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: Suitable for anyone but intended for senior citizens

Rating: ***** 5 stars

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

Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker

Disclosure:  Many publishers, literary agents, and/or authors provide free copies of their books in exchange for an honest review without requiring a positive opinion.  Any books donated to Home School Book Review for review purposes are in turn donated to a library.  No other compensation has been received for the reviews posted on Home School Book Review.

For more information e-mail homeschoolbookreview@gmail.com

Website: https://homeschoolbookreviewblog.wordpress.com

Hall, Sewell.  The Winter of Life: Redeeming the Time (Published in 2019 by Mount Bethel Publishing, P. O. Box 123, Port Murray, NJ  07865).  “Lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone.  The flowers appear on the earth; the time of singing has come” (Song of Solomon 2:11-12).  I consider the author, formally Mr. Gardner Sewell Hall Jr., a good friend.  His son and I were in college together.  A gospel preacher for many years, Sewell himself is in his nineties and so is well qualified to address from a Biblical standpoint the topic of growing older and how to deal with the problems that advanced age can bring.  There are thirteen chapters in the book.   Chapter 1 begins, “Old age has been called the winter of life.  Why?  Most obviously, I suppose, because of the idea that old age comes at the end of life just as winter comes at the end of the year.”

After this opening chapter that discusses in general both the blessings and adversities of old age, with a look at some wrong ways and the right way to cope, eleven more chapters explore the lives of twelve aged saints who appear in Scriptures to discover suggestions for “redeeming the time”—Noah, Jacob, Moses, Caleb, Naomi, David, Barzillai, Jeremiah, Daniel, Simeon, Anna, and Paul.  The closing chapter is about “Hope.”  The Winter of Life describes situations that Christians face in their senior years and is a wonderful book on how God’s people should handle growing old. The author’s conclusion is that these can be years of renewal rather than retreat.  Each chapter includes questions for thought or discussion, so it would be suitable for either individual study or use in classes.

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Encyclopedia Brown and the Case of the Exploding Plumbing and Other Mysteries

HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW

brown

Book: Encyclopedia Brown and the Case of the Exploding Plumbing and Other Mysteries

Author: Donald J. Sobol

Illustrator: Leonard Shortall

Publisher: Puffin Books, republished 2008

ISBN-13: 978-0590405317 Hardcover

ISBN-10: 0590405314 Hardcover

ISBN-13: 978-0590014120 Paperback

ISBN-10: 0590014129 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)

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

Sobol, Donald J.  Encyclopedia Brown and the Case of the Exploding Plumbing and Other Mysteries (Published in 1974 by Thomas Nelson Inc.; republished in 1975 by Scholastic Book Services, a division of Scholastic Magazines Inc.).  Ten year old fifth grader Leroy Brown, nicknamed “Encyclopedia” by his friends, lives in Idaville, a lovely seaside town, with his father, who is the Chief of Police, and his mother.  Encyclopedia helps his father solve crimes.  In addition, he and his classmate Sally Kimball run a detective agency out of his garage during the summer to help the children of the neighborhood.  “No case too small.  25₵ per day plus expenses.”  Many of his cases put him in conflict with Bugs Meany, the leader of a tough gang of older boys called the Tigers.

The Case of the Exploding Plumbing is listed as “Encyclopedia Brown #11” of 28 in the Encyclopedia Brown Series.  It was previously published as Encyclopedia Brown Lends a Hand.  The cases involve a stolen newspaper clipping that could be valuable, a huge footprint in the soft earth, counterfeit money in a bird’s nest, a missing silver dollar, a threatening letter, and an exploding toilet.  The solutions to these short cases are in the back of the book, which has more recently been republished under its original title.  Also I have read and reviewed Encyclopedia Brown, Boy Detective; Encyclopedia Brown and the Case of the Jumping Frogs; Encyclopedia Brown Takes the Case (#10); and the Encyclopedia Brown Mystery Collection.

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