A Separate Peace

seppeace

HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW

Book: A Separate Peace

Author: John Knowles

Cover Illustrator: JimTierney

Publisher: Scribner, 2003

ISBN-13: 978-0743253970

ISBN-10: 0743253973

Related website: http://www.SimonandSchuster.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: Ages 16 and up

Rating: ** 2 stars (POOR)

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

Knowles, JohnA Separate Peace (published in 1959 and republished in 2003 by Scribner, an imprint of Simon and Schuster Inc., 1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York City, NY  10020).  It is 1942, during the early years of World War II, and sixteen year old Gene Forrester, the introverted, intellectual protagonist, is an “Upper Middler” student at Devon School, an all boys prep boarding academy in Devon, NH, during a special summer session.  His roommate and best friend is the charismatic, athletic Phineas (nicknamed Finny—we never know his last name), also sixteen. One of Finny’s ideas is to create a “Super Suicide Society of the Summer Session,” with Gene and himself as charter members, and he creates a rite of initiation by having members jump into the Devon River from a large, high tree.  Gene becomes a little envious of Finny, and as the two are about to jump off the tree, for the first time together, Gene jounces the branch they are standing on, causing Finny to fall and shatter his leg.  It is deemed an “accident,” but rumors start that Gene purposely caused Finny’s fall.

The rest of the book follows Gene’s description of the time span from the summer of 1942 to the summer of 1943, during which time World War II occupies the schoolboys’ attention.  However, fellow student Brinker Hadley sets up a show trial and, based upon his shaking of the branch, accuses Gene of trying to kill Finny. In anger, Finny leaves but on his way out falls down a flight of stairs and again breaks the leg he had shattered before.  This time, there are serious complications.  What is Finny’s real attitude towards all this?  Will he and Gene be reconciled?  And what will happen to Finny?  Someone recommended this book to me, but I don’t remember now who it was.  There might have been a good story here, but it is rather hard to find.  The plot moves very slowly, painfully so at times.  One could charitably say that it is thoughtful, even psychological.  Perhaps the relationship of Gene and Finney might be considered a metaphor of “a period when the entire country was losing its innocence to World War II.”  However, one parent whose high school freshman had it as required reading read it too and said that it was rather dull.  I would tend to agree.

Then there is the language.  Quite a few instances of cursing, with the “d” and “h” words appearing frequently, and profanity, with various forms of taking the Lord’s name in vain, are found, as well as some vulgarity.  Finny refers to “a swift kick in the a**.”  One of the boys uses the “s” word.  And at the mock trial, Finney shouts (and this is how it is printed in my edition), “You collect every f—ing fact there is in the world!”  Yes, I know that teenage boys talk like that.  I was a teenage boy once and spent my share of time in locker rooms and on playing fields listening to other guys.  But they shouldn’t, and if they do they should have their mouths washed out with soap.  Oh wait, I get it now.  The more bad language a book has nowadays, the more likely it is to be considered a “modern classic” and become required reading in schools.  Also references to smoking tobacco and drinking alcohol occur.  To be honest, I really did not care for the book and cannot recommend it, especially for those seeking godliness since it promotes a rather worldly view of life.  One other thing needs to be mentioned, and that is the claim by some of homoeroticism between Gene and Finny.  I would not even bring this up, but in my edition the Afterword by David Levithan suggests it.  However, Knowles denied any such intentions, stating in a 1987 newspaper interview, “If there had been any homoeroticism between Phineas and Gene, I would have put in the book, I assure you.  It simply wasn’t there.”   Beware those Afterwords!  The book was made into a 1972 American drama film directed by Larry Peerce and starring Parker Stevenson.

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White House Diary (Jimmy Carter)

carter

HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW

Book: White House Diary

Author: Jimmy Carter

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2010

ISBN-13: 978-0374280994

ISBN-10: 0374280991

Related website: http://www.fsgbooks.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: Insomniacs

Rating: *** 3 stars (FAIR)

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 .

Carter, Jimmy.  White House Diary (published in 2010 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 18 W.  18th St., New York City, NY  10011).  Someone gave me a copy of this book, evidently picked up from the bargain table because the retail price printed on the book flap was $30.00 but the sticker pasted on the front said, “Now only $5.97,” because I was “interested in politics.”  I do admit to enjoying politics, but nothing would have motivated me to purchase it on my own and read through this 571-page monstrosity.  And this book is a redaction from the complete diary entries made every day during Carter’s presidency.  Mark Twain said that the Book of Mormon is chloroform in print, but Jimmy Carter’s White House Diary comes in a close second.  Only a die-hard Carter fan, or a hard-core presidential historian like my friend Keith Pruitt, would find this book interesting.  So I skimmed through the first half of the book, and then decided to read Carter’s reflection on the 1980 election, look through the photograph section, and call it quits.  I am old enough to have lived through those four horrible years of Carter’s term as a young adult trying to make my start in life, and reliving what happened then, even if only in remembrances, is not very pleasant.

My view of Jimmy Carter is that he is a very intelligent and basically an honest, decent man, though sorely mistaken on several points, who was wholly unprepared for the presidency and therefore ran a fairly inept, incompetent administration.  He campaigned as a “conservative Democrat” but surrounded himself with rather liberal advisors, including a bunch of Kennedy-Johnson era retreads and other well-known leftists of his day, and his progressivism is still being felt in our time, especially through the decisions handed down by some of the judges whom he appointed.  In the book, he said that he was personally opposed to abortion but had to obey the law as defined by the Roe vs. Wade decision.  Yet, I distinctly remember that in one of the 1980 campaign debates Carter roundly criticized and even ridiculed Reagan for being out of step with the majority of the nation because of his pro-life position.

Publishers Weekly noted that, while “Carter vents against everyone,” he pictures himself “as the principled, rational, speed-reading master of policy detail, with a cogent-to-him agenda of human rights, internationalism, and disarmament in foreign policy, and fiscal restraint, deregulation, and energy conservation at home.” Before I got to where I just couldn’t stomach any more, I did glance through Carter’s account of the Camp David Accord negotiations that he had with Anwar Sadat and Menachem Begin which led to his signal legacy, the peace treaty between Israel and Egypt (the effects of which have pretty well been obliterated by Barak Obama’s obvious pro-Islamic tilt).  However, even though Carter kept emphasizing his claim to being a friend and supporter of Israel, he came across to me as somewhat pro-Arab and pro-Palestinian and anti-Jewish.  I do not wish to disparage Mr. Carter too much, but having been alive during his time in office, I feel that he was a poor excuse for a President.  Whoever prepared the cover blurb for this book said, “Carter is now widely seen as one of the truly wise men of our time.”  My response is “Hahahahahahahahahahahahaha!”

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Little Friends: Barnyard Fun!

barnyard

HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW

Book: Little Friends: Barnyard Fun!

Author: Roger Priddy

Illustrators: Barbi Sido, Robyn Newton, Pip Tinsley

Publisher: Priddy Books, 2015

ISBN-13: 978-0312518417

ISBN-10: 0312518412

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 1 – 3

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 .

Priddy, Roger.  Little Friends: Barnyard Fun! (published in 2015 by St. Martin Press, 175 Fifth Ave., New York City, NY  10010).  Have you ever been to a farm?  In this cute lift-up-the-flap board book from the “Little Friends” Series, Little Lamb and Little Moo are having a day out at Baby Bear’s family farm.  They help dig vegetables in the garden, feed animals at the duck pond, pick fruit in the orchard, and sell the produce at the Farmers Market.  Who is driving the tractor?  And what will they all do before bedtime?  The bright colors of the gorgeous drawings will attract kids’ attention, and the five to six small flaps at each opening will help to keep it.  This is a great way to introduce youngsters to farm life.

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The Mystery at Disney World

disney

HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW

Book: The Mystery at Disney World

Author: Carole Marsh

Publisher: Carole Marsh Mysteries, 2003

ISBN-13: 978-0635021045

ISBN-10: 0635021048

Related websitse: http://www.carolemarshmysteries.com (series), http://www.gallopade.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 8 – 11

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 .

Marsh, Carole.  The Mystery at Disney World (published in 2003 and republished in 2015 by Gallopade International/Carole Marsh Books, Peachtree City, GA).  Have you ever been to Disney World in Orlando, FL?  Author Carole Marsh (Mimi, who writes mystery books for kids) and her husband (Papa) are taking their grandkids, nine year old Christina and seven year old Grant, to Disney World so that Mimi can use it as a setting for one of her books.  While Mimi and Papa are given a tour by an Imagineer named Mr. Jerome, his two children, thirteen year old Mick and nine year old Crystal show Christina and Grant around.  After Christina hears some strange messages on her walkie-talkie, Grant is kidnapped during the Pirates of the Caribbean ride.

Following clues from walkie-talkie messages, the three try to find Grant at the Haunted Mansion ride, but Crystal is grabbed by ghosts.  Walkie-talkie messages then lead the two left to Mickey’s Toontown Fair where Mick is swallowed up.  What is going on?  Can Christina figure out how to find them?  Or will she too just disappear?  The Mystery at Disney World is Book 11 in Carole Marsh’s “Real Kids Real Places” Series. Marsh started her writing career in 1979, when she self-published her first mystery for kids, the Missing Head Mystery, which starred her own children, Michael and Michele, as characters.  Now, she uses her grandchildren.

I have previously read and reviewed two other Carole Marsh mysteries, The Mystery at the Kentucky Derby and The Mystery in Chocolate Town: Hershey, Pennsylvania.  Like all the others, this mystery incorporates history, geography, and culture with cliffhanger chapters that will keep readers begging for more.  It also includes a glossary of SAT words to help kids be better prepared for standardized testing. While there is a lot of information about Walt Disney, his studios, Mickey Mouse, the history of Disney World, and the 30,000 acres of land surrounding it, this book did not seem to have quite the same educational value as the others I read.  However, it is still an interesting story.

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Peekaboo, Blue!

Product Details

HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW

Book: Peekaboo, Blue!

Author: Jenny Miglis

Illustrator: Jenine Pontillo

Publisher: Simon Spotlight/Nickelodeon, 2004

ISBN-13: 978-0689852572

ISBN-10: 0689852576

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 2 and up

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 .

Miglis, Jenny.  Peekaboo, Blue! (published in 2004 by Simon Spotlight, an imprint of Simon and Schuster Children’s Publishing Division, 1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York City, NY  10020).  Little children love to play peekaboo.  In this board book from the “Baby Blue’s Clues” series based on the Nickleodeon television show, Blue the Dog is looking for Periwinkle the Cat, Magenta the Dog, Purple Kangaroo, and other friends.  There are five colored cloth flaps to lift and find the animals.  Who’s under the last flap?  When they were toddlers, our boys seldom watched Blue’s Clues on television because we never had cable.  However, they dearly loved books like this.  With Peekaboo, Blue!, youngsters are not only playing and having fun but also being introduced to colors and different animals, as well as exploring a world of various textures.

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Seasons of Joy: Every Day Is for Outdoor Play

Image result for seasons of joy lenart

HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW

Book: Seasons of Joy: Every Day Is for Outdoor Play

Author and Illustrator: Claudia Marie Lenart

Publisher: Loving Healing Press, 2017

ISBN-13: 978-1615993178

ISBN-10: 1615993177

Related websites: http://www.ClaudiaMarieFelt.com (author), 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 2 – 4

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 .

Lenart, Claudia Marie.  Seasons of Joy: Every Day Is for Outdoor Play (published in 2017 by Loving Healing Press, 5145 Pontiac Trail, Ann Arbor, MI  48105).  Do your kids prefer to sit inside watching television and playing video games?   Or do they enjoy playing outside in the fresh air and warm sunshine?  This picture book pairs dreamy images of children, animals, flowers, and trees captured in needle-felted wool paintings with a rhythmic text that expresses the joy which young children can experience in nature’s seasons.  In the spring, they can run, hop, and jump up and down the grassy hills like newborn bunnies while they picnic in the meadow and look at the flowers.  In the summer, they can play hide and seek in the woods and chase butterflies all day until the fireflies arrive.

In the autumn, they can pile the fallen leaves high, jump on the mound, and then pile them up again.  What are some things which you might think that they can do in the winter?  Author and illustrator Claudia Marie Lenart is a fiber artist whose soft sculpture characters are created by repeatedly poking wool and other natural fibers, like alpaca, with a barbed needle. In Seasons of Joy, she shares the pure and simple delight of children playing outside.  This is an important message.  Everyone agrees that youngsters need to get away from sedentary pastimes and do more physical activity.  What a fun way to encourage the kids to get out of the house and spend time playing outdoors and connecting to nature!

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Time Travels: 200 Years of Highland County (Ohio) History

timetrav

HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW

Book: Time Travels: 200 Years of Highland County (Ohio) History

Author: Charlotte Pack

Publisher: Chatfield Publishing Company, 2007

ISBN-13: 978-0979161605

ISBN-10: 0979161606

Language level: 1 (I did note that the “d” word was used one time in a quotation)

(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 .

Pack, Charlotte. Time Travels: 200 Years of Highland County (Ohio) History (published in 2007 by Chatfield Publishing Company, 3298 State Route 131, Fayetteville, OH  45118).  Ohio became a state in 1803.  Highland County was established in 1805 with its seat at New Market, which had been platted in 1798.  In 1807 Hillsboro was founded, and the seat was moved there in that year.  I was raised in Highland County.  Actually, I was born at Wilmington in nearby Clinton County, but this was only because my mother’s doctor practiced at the hospital there.   During most of my growing up years, we lived near the town of New Market, where I went to elementary school, but the post office for our mailing address, the junior-senior high school, the store where my mother worked, and the church we where we attended were all in the city of Hillsboro.  In spite of having moved away at age twenty, I still consider Highland County as “home.”  And I have always been fascinated by Highland County history.

I first read about this book on the websites of local Hillsboro newspapers, the Times-Gazette and the Highland County Press.  Author Charlotte Crone Pack, a local historian and journalist, produced the book in 2005, drawing information from articles that she had written for the Highland County Press and its predecessor the Highland Sun.  Chatfield Publishing Company released the book in 2007.  The last printing of the book had been in 2013. It was out of print for three years but was recently made available again.  I picked up a copy at the Highland House Museum on a visit to Hillsboro late last year.  I suppose need to give this disclosure.  Although I do not know the author personally, I am somewhat acquainted with her family.  The Crones farmed 137 acres about two to three miles “around the corner and down the road” from our home.  The kids rode the same bus to school as we did.  Charlotte’s older sister Cathy was in my class at high school, and we graduated the same year.

The subtitle of the book is “told through diaries, letters, stories and photos.”  Pack includes 100 photographs along with the history of Highland County, including the status of each township during 2005.  She wanted the book not only to be a record of the distant past but also to record current history for future generations.  It is not simply a chronological history of the county but focuses on interviews, letters, personal stories, and remembrances of a variety of people, rather than on dry facts alone, providing a human connection to history.  Time Travels taps many unknown or overlooked sources for the stories, including previously untold tales of county lore.  It would be of most interest to people like me who have a special connection to Highland County but would also have general appeal to anyone who enjoys reading about everyday lives in pioneer times.  The book deserves to take its place beside Folklore of Highland County (1946) by Violet Morgan, Hills of Highland (1971) by Elsie Johnson Ayres, and Highland County, Ohio: A Pictorial History (2004) by the Highland County Historical Society.

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