The Joyful Gospel of Christ: Volume I

HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW

joyful1

Book: The Joyful Gospel of Christ: Volume I

Author: Zachary James Schertz

Illustrator: Todd L. Thomas

Publisher: Schertz Writing, 2018

ISBN-13: 978-1690994916

ISBN-10: 1690994916

Related website(s): http://www.SchertzWriting.net (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 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

Schertz, Zachary JamesThe Joyful Gospel of Christ: Volume I (Published in 2018 by Schertz Writing, Olney, TX).  The Bible can be very difficult to understand for some, so the purpose of “The Gospel of Christ Tetralogy” series, of which The Joyful Gospel of Christ: Volume I is the first book, is to use detailed images to show how God came into the world as The Savior, Jesus Christ.  Author Zachary Schertz, who is a graduate of St. Edwards University in Austin, TX, with a degree in religious and theological studies, says, “Every step has been taken to ensure that it is both historically and scripturally accurate. The Bible truly is the most miraculous book ever held in human hands.”

Written for average people with stunning art created by Todd L. Thomas, Volume I begins with the announcement to Zacharias about the coming of John the Baptist, and covers the annunciation of Christ, the visitation of Mary, the birth of John, and Mary’s return to Nazareth, down through the nativity of our Lord.  I must say that I am not a fan of the graphic book form, but many people are, and for those who like it, this series could be very helpful.  My biggest complaint is that some panels were a bit difficult to read because they had white lettering on a light background.  Volume II picks up with the presentation of Christ in the temple and goes through the ministry of John the Baptist.

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Santander: Rambling on Borrowed Time

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santander

Book: Santander: Rambling on Borrowed Time

Author: David Ellison

Publisher: Independently published, 2020

ISBN-13: 979-8629594093

ISBN-10: 8629594093

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: Adults

Rating: *** 3 stars

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

Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker

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

For more information e-mail homeschoolbookreview@gmail.com

Website: https://homeschoolbookreviewblog.wordpress.com

Ellison, David.  Santander: Rambling on Borrowed Time (Published independently in 2020).  During his thirty-six-year career, author David Ellison was a teacher, mentor teacher, school administrator, education columnist, and community activist. He worked in schools foreign and domestic, public and private, grades four through college. His treks through five continents included volunteering in far-flung villages, and surviving harrowing adventures. He served as the New Haven Unified and the American Council of School Administrators Region VI Teacher of the Year in 1996. Now retired, Ellison reads, writes, hikes, kayaks, cares for abandoned dogs, and teaches children English in Ajijic, Mexico. And he continues to travel.

Santander is a book of autobiographical essays, some taken from Ellison’s education column.  His “ramblings,” like Caesar’s Gaul, are divided into three parts—life, schools, and the world.  Occasionally, the “d” and “h” words are found and the term “God” is used as an exclamation; the phrases “God d*** it” and “s. o. b.” each occurs once.  There is also one instance described where the author becomes drunk on beer.  Not everyone will agree with all his views on politics or his interpretations of history, but the issues that he raises in these areas are important points to consider and discuss.

Some potential readers might like to know that Ellison describes himself as “a former Catholic, now openly gay teacher/traveler.”  Concerning his belief system, he makes statements like, “Were I still religious,” but he also told me, “Even so, as with the story of my friend, Lori, I respect faith.”  He does occasionally mention his homosexuality at times in these essays, such as the one on “Rainbow Lining” and a few others that involved his coming out of the closet and wearing his Rainbow Pride bracelet to class, but it is certainly not the main focus of the book.  Ellison’s observations about education, based on his experiences as a teacher, are especially interesting and enlightening.

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Riding the Flume

HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW

flume

Book: Riding the Flume

Author: Patricia Curtis Pfitsch

Cover Illustrator: Cliff Nielsen

Publisher: Aladdin, Reprinted 2004

ISBN-13: 978-0689838231 Hardcover

ISBN-10: 0689838239 Hardcover

ISBN-13: 978-0689866920 Paperback

ISBN-10: 0689866925 Paperback

Related website(s): http://www.SimonSaysKids.com (publisher)

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 10-14

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

Pfitsch, Patricia Curtis.  Riding the Flume (Published in 2002 by Simon and Schuster Children’s Publishing Division of Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers, 1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York City, NY).  It is the summer of 1894 , and fifteen-year-old Francie Cavanaugh lives with her parents, James and Mary, in Connorsville, CA, where they run the hotel.  Six years earlier, her older sister Carrie had been killed in a landslide.  The surrounding land, known as Connor’s Basin, west of King’s Canyon National Park, is in sequoia country; it is owned by Thomas Connor’s Sierra Lumber Company and used for logging redwoods.  A thirty mile flume has been built to carry the logs down to St. Joseph.  Francie’s cousin Charlie Spencer works for the company.  Francie finds an old note which says, “Don’t tell anyone — the only safety is in secrecy,” written by Carrie and hidden in the stump of a sequoia.

The note leads Francie to search for Carrie’s diary, and when she reads it, she learns some information about the largest and oldest tree that is soon scheduled to come down and needs to get to St. Joseph fast.  Faced with the choice of either giving up or riding the flume, should Francie risk her life for the secret her sister fought to keep?  If she takes the flume, can she make it on time?  Or does she even survive.  And what will her parents think?   The “d” and “h” words are used one time each, and the term “My God” is said once as an interjection.  Otherwise, as Booklist says, “Pfitsch brings together a brave heroine, authentic background, and an intriguing view of a little-known part of U.S. history to make this a winner.”

Riding the Flume is a great fast-paced, exciting, well-written adventure story that has mystery, villains, and the uncovering of secrets, along with some great twists and turns in the plot. In addition, Pfitsch’s research and attention to detail bring the pioneer life of the 1890’s alive for the reader.  The book has a strong, high-spirited female character and good details about the redwoods.  It would appeal primarily to girls, but I enjoyed it.  Also, some moral-value issues, such as telling the truth and minding parents, are nicely handled.  Reasonable conservation measures are promoted, but there is no wild-eyed, tree-hugging environmental extremism.  A glossary and notes are provided.

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Morena

HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW

morena

Book: Morena

Author: Peter Zachary Cohen

Illustrator: Haris Petie

Publisher: Atheneum, 1970

ISBN-13: 978-0689205958 Hardcover

ISBN-10: 0689205953 Hardcover

ISBN-13: 978-0689703539 Paperback

ISBN-10: 0689703538 Paperback

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: Intended for ages 9-12, but I would say 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)

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

Cohen, Peter Zachary.  Morena (Published in 1970 by Atheneum, New York City, NY).  Morena is a 24 year old cowhorse on the ranch of Marv and Debbie Hannum in the Finger Hills.  She is a stubborn old mare, and when Marv brings all his animals in before a big snow storm predicted for Halloween night, she runs off into the wilds.  Twelve year old Alex Jaynes lives  with his parents in nearby Belle Ore.  Mr. and Mrs. Jaynes are away at a conference, and Alex is on a Boy Scout Halloween outing at the Mallet Creek Camp Ground not far from the Hannum ranch.

However, the scouts have to cut their trip short due to the coming storm.  As the busses pull away, the one Alex is on stops so that the driver can get out to check on a mechanical problem.  At that moment, Alex, who has been sick to his stomach because of what he had eaten, feels the need to throw up and so exits the bus, which shortly thereafter leaves without him. The storm with its bitter cold and blowing snow comes on, but all of Alex’s equipment is still on the bus.  What does Morena do?  What will happen to Alex?  Is there anything that the shy horse and the sick boy can do to help each other to survive?

The tension and suspense of the story make for an interesting read. Kids who love horses and the outdoors will like this book, and while it is aimed primarily at boys, girls can enjoy it too.  Aside from some common euphemisms (heck, darn, gosh, dang), the term “God” is used as an exclamation, and I was especially disappointed that Alex used the word “dammit” a few times.  There may be a sequel.  An e-book entitled Morena Again by Peter Zachary Cohen was published in 2013 by Smashwords, but its description makes it sound a lot like the original.

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Katrina: Growing Wings

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katrina

Book: Katrina: Growing Wings

Author: Tawnya Marie Bulger

Illustrator: Jeff Elliot

Publisher: Republished privately through Ingram Spark in 2020

ISBN-13: 978-0615611259

ISBN-10: 0615611257

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 5 – 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

Bulger, Tawnya Marie.  Katrina: Growing Wings (Originally published in 2008 by Tate Publishing and Enterprises LLC, 127 E. Trade Center Terrace, Mustang, OK  73064).  Katrina is a simple caterpillar with a furry little body who, despite her humble surroundings, believes that God has a plan for her to fulfill her dream of seeing the world.  However, as her friend Tommy the cricket points out, all she ever does is eat.  Then she wraps herself in a tight blanket and goes to sleep.  What happens to Katrina?  Will she ever realize her dream of seeing the world?  And if so, how can she accomplish it?

In this Book 1 of the “Katrina” Series, author Tawnya Bulger, who is currently homeschooling her two teens, shares a whimsical but heart-warming tale with an adventure of self discovery that will enable readers of all ages to understand better such concepts as trust, belief, purpose, doubt, hope, and perseverance as Katrina wrestles with the reality of her purpose especially in light of her garden-mate’s scoffing and ridicule.  Will Katrina continue to trust her belief that she will see the world? Or will she allow doubt and fear to quench her dream?

Katrina: Growing Wings is a beautiful book with soft watercolor drawings by illustrator Jeff Elliot that helps young children to recognize that not all struggles are without great benefit and to deal with the question, “Do we continue to believe in our purpose when it no longer seems to make sense?”  Bulger has completed the next two in the “Katrina” Series and plans to release them later in 2020.  Each book in the series is based on a Scripture verse and shows how the main character learns personal virtues and truth along her journey.  Book 2 deals with loving your neighbor and Book 3 deals with life’s storms.

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The Lost Treasure: Animal Jam #4

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animal jam

Book: The Lost Treasure: Animal Jam #4

Author: Ellis Byrd

Cover Illustrator: Karianne Koski Hutchinson

Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Licenses, 2018

ISBN-13: 978-0451534507

ISBN-10: 0451534506

Related website(s): http://www.animaljam.com (series)

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: **** 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

Byrd, Ellis.  The Lost Treasure: Animal Jam #4 (Published in 2018 by Penguin Young Readers Licenses, an imprint of Penguin Random House, 345 Hudson St., New York City, NY  10014).  The Alphas, brave animal leaders including Peck the bunny, Liza the panda, Cosmo the koala, Graham the monkey, Greely the wolf, Eugenie the otter, and Sir Gilbert the tiger, who is their captain, live in the land of Jamaa which they protect from its enemies known as Phantoms.  When an ancient treasure map is discovered deep in the Chamber of Knowledge, the Alphas set sail in their ship the Wayfarer to a lost island on an exciting and dangerous voyage to uncover the mystery and find the hidden treasure.

What is this treasure?  Faced with ocean storms, quicksand, and other pitfalls around every turn, can the Alphas ever find it?  And do they run into any Phantoms along the way?  The Lost Treasure is the fourth novel in a fiction series based on “Animal Jam,” the popular online computer game enjoyed by over 65 million users. Longtime fans of the game are sure to love this book that expands the online world, and newcomers can enjoy it too.  In this fast-paced, easy to read, adventure story the animals have to use all of their ingenuity and teamwork to complete their search.

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Back to Bataan

HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW

13613896

Book: Back to Bataan

Author: Jerome Charyn

Cover Illustrator: Elaine Norman

Publisher: Tribute Books, republished 2012

ISBN-13: 978-0374304768 Hardcover

ISBN-10: 0374304769 Hardcover

ISBN-13: 9780985792206 Paperback

ISBN-10:  0985792206 Paperback

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 12 and up

Rating: *** 3 stars

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

Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker

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

For more information e-mail homeschoolbookreview@gmail.com

Website: https://homeschoolbookreviewblog.wordpress.com

Charyn, Jerome.  Back to Bataan (Originally published in French in 1992 by Hachette-Jeunesse; republished in America in 1993 by Farrar Straus and Giroux, 19 Union Square West, New York City, NY  10003).  It is 1943 and eleven year old Jack Dalton Jr. lives in a New York City apartment with his mother, who works in a parachute factory.  His father had been killed the year before in the Battle of Bataan during World War II.  Jack is a scholarship student in the Lower Division at the exclusive, private Dutch Masters Day School, but he wants to help protect his mother from the Germans and the Japanese by joining the army so that he can return to Bataan with General MacArthur.  Then his so-called “fiancee,” Mauricette, whom he calls “Coco,” throws him over for a bullying rich kid, Arturo Fink. Jack becomes so depressed and angry that, while at an “engagement  party” for Mauricette and Arturo, he sets off a fire in his rival’s mansion.

Afraid that he might have destroyed the entire house, Jack runs away and joins ranks with a group of vagrants hiding out in Riverside Park, the leader of whom is appropriately called “The Leader,” a charismatic ex-convict.  What happens to Jack?  Does he fall under the influence of this evil man?  Can he ever go home again?  One reviewer wrote, “There were no sex scenes (yay!) and no profanity (yay!). Can you believe it?”  That is true, but there is some cursing.  Jack, who narrates the action, uses the “h” word rather frequently, such as “blushing like ‘h’,” “happy as ‘h’,” “proud as ‘h’,” and “where the ‘h’.”  Said to be a coming of age young adult novella that gives insight into the mind of a boy at a time when children should have been children but instead they had to adapt to the war, the story does have some historical ambience in it with air raid warnings, old soda fountain places, victory gardens, and ration stamps.

However, I agree with School Library Journal which said, “This is a strange novel,…and the entire business about his love life is simply bizarre,” noting that “young people are likely to find this story baffling.”   There is nothing actually bad in it; I just couldn’t find anything really good—any virtue, positive benefit, or important lesson.  However, not to be totally negative, here are some messages that others did seem to notice.  Jack finds himself in his own personal Bataan right in the heart of New York City, where he must decide if he really is a coward or a brave enough soldier to do the right thing.  Jack learns a lot about choices and sacrifice and what it really means to be an adult.  Jack sees that the decisions which he makes affect not only himself but others as well.

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