HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: Sod Schoolhouse
Authors: Courtner King and Bonnie Bess Worline
Cover Illustrator: Bruce Bealmear
Publisher: Capper Press, 1996
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
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King, Courtner and Worline, Bonnie Bess. Sod Schoolhouse (published in 1996 by Capper Press, 1503 S.W. 42nd St., Topeka, KS 66609). It is the summer of 1875, and the children of Freedom District on the Kansas prairie are preparing for school for the first time. Their parents have scrimped to build a brand new building. They were going to have a sod schoolhouse, but Mrs. Chisholm said that she wouldn’t let her family go to school in “an old dirt building,” so a white painted wood structure is erected. All the folks from Sod House Adventure are back, including Francis and Marion Dawson and their kids. Phoebe, almost fourteen, Hartley, past twelve, nine year old Tessie, seven year old Robbie, and David, almost six, will all benefit from their one room education, while little Martha, toddler Mary Ann, and baby Louisa Mae, will stay at home.
Mr. Dawson is the director of the school board, but not everything is perfect at school. Because the patrons spent so much money on the new school, they had to hire a less qualified teacher, and the first one, Jerome Judson from Indiana, turns out to be an ignorant bully who does more harm than good and has to be dispatched. Then a huge prairie fire destroys the wooden schoolhouse. Can the community find a new teacher? If so, where will they have class? And is anyone injured in the fire? This is a sequel to the book Sod House Adventure which was written by Bonnie Bess Worline King (1914—2006). That book was later published in paperback by Scholastic Books as The Children Who Stayed Alone.
Sod Schoolhouse, written by Worline and her son, Courtner King, continues the story of Phoebe, Hartley, Tessie, and the entire Dawson family with their neighbors and friends right where it left off. Those who enjoyed the earlier story will like this book too. It is filled with references to Scripture quotations, expressions of faith in God, instances of prayer, and other admirable spiritual qualities. Unfortunately, the publishers misspelled the author’s name on the cover as Warline, though inside on the title page it’s spelled correctly as Worline. The misspelling may make it difficult for fans of Worline and Sod House Adventure (a.k.a. The Children Who Stayed Alone) to find this book.