No Promises in the Wind

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no promises

Book: No Promises in the Wind

Author: Irene Hunt

Cover Illustrator: Lisa Falkenstern

Publisher: Berkley, reissued 1986

ISBN-13: 978-0425099698

ISBN-10: 0425099695

Related website(s): http://www.penguinputnam.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 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

Hunt, Irene.  No Promises in the Wind (Published in 1970 by Modern Curriculum Press, 299 Jefferson Rd., Parsippany, NJ  07054, a division of Follett Publishing Co.; republished in 1986 by Berkley Jam Books, a trademark of the Berkley Publishing Group, a division of The Penguin Group USA Inc., 375 Hudson St., New York City, NY  10014).  It is 1932, during the Great Depression, and fifteen year old Josh Grondowski, who has a job delivering papers, lives in Chicago, IL with his Polish immigrant father Stefan who has been out of work for eight months, his mother Mary who irons all day in a laundry, his older half-sister Kitty who has just been cut back from her clerking job, and his younger ten year old brother Joey.  Josh’s best friend at Penn High School is named Howie, who plays the banjo while Josh plays the piano.  They enjoy making music together.  However, Josh and his dad are frequently at odds with one another, and their arguments are growing worse.

Therefore, Josh decides to leave home and head west.  When he tells Howie about his plans, his friend, whose father abandoned him long ago and whose mother is an alcoholic, determines to go with him.   And then Joey insists on going too.  Their very first day out, Howie falls from a train and is killed, but the two brothers press on.  Where do they go?  What happens to them?  Can they survive the cruel winter?  And if so, will they ever return home?  Author Irene Hunt’s first novel, Across Five Aprils, was a Newbery Award nominee, and her second novel, Up a Road Slowly, was awarded the Newbery Medal in 1966.  The only objectionable element that I would raise to No Promises in the Wind is a little bit of bad language.  There are references to swearing and cursing, the “d” and “h” words appear occasionally, and the term “Lord” is used as an exclamation.

The two biggest complaints which I saw about the novel are that it is boring and depressing.  Admittedly it is at first somewhat slow-moving, but farther in it gets more interesting.  And depressing?  One person wrote, “It wanders through very depressing situations and seemed to have no real point,” and another said, “It dragged from tragedy to tragedy each time.”   Well, duh!  The book is about the Great Depression, and that was a rather depressing time.  This is the “powerfully moving” story of a brave young man’s struggle to make his own way through a country of angry, frightened people and to find his own strength with a life for himself in the most turbulent of times.  It is a good, interesting look at how life in the 1930s affected the average American.

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Darcy’s Wild Life #5: The Play’s the Thing 

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darcy

Book: Darcy’s Wild Life #5: The Play’s the Thing 

Author: Sierra Harimann

Publisher: Grosset and Dunlap, 2006

ISBN-13: 978-0448443522

ISBN-10: 044844352X

Related website(s): http://www.penguin.com/youngreaders.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 9 – 12

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

Harimann, Sierra.  Darcy’s Wild Life #5: The Play’s the Thing (Published in 2006 by Grosset and Dunlap, a division of Penguin Young Readers Group of the Penguin Group USA Inc., 375 Hudson St., New York City, NY  10014) .  Darcy Fields, a teenage girl, lives in a farmhouse on a ranch with her mother, former popular movie star Victoria Fields, who had decided to leave Hollywood and Malibu to raise her daughter in a more normal environment and so moved to the small country town of Bailey somewhere in America’s heartland.  Darcy’s best friends there are Lindsay Adams and Kathi Giraldi.  Darcy has found a job at the local veterinary clinic/pet store named Creature Comforts, operated by Lindsay’s dad, Dr. Kevin Adams. Bailey’s annual summer stock theater is putting on a performance of “Charlotte’s Web,” directed by Darcy’s English teacher Ms. Harrington.

Darcy is determined to be a part of the production, and so she accepts the job of “animal wrangler.”  However, on the night before opening, a problem arises when all the animals come down sick.  What is causing the illness?  Is there anything that can be done about it?  Or will the show have to be cancelled?  The Play’s the Thing is Book 5 of 8 in the “Darcy’s Wild Life” Series based on Darcy’s Wild Life, an American-Canadian comedy-drama television series that was filmed during 2004–2006 and broadcast on Discovery Kids and the Family Channel.  It would appeal primarily to girls.  There is little to object to.  In addition to a few common euphemisms (e.g. “heck” and “gee”), the term “omigosh” is annoyingly ubiquitous.

Just be forewarned—the book is pure fluff, the literary equivalent of junk food.  There may not be anything necessarily wrong with a little of it from time to time, but don’t overdose on it.  And the plot is rather narcissistic.  Darcy is totally consumed with making sure that she has the latest fashion in clothing and accessories for every occasion.  And whenever any question or difficulty comes up, the very first one whom everyone always wants to ask for an opinion about it is Darcy, and she always has just the correct answer or best solution at exactly the right time.  The final verdict on this one is that there is a lot worse reading material out there for tween and teen girls, but there is also a lot better.

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Black Suits from Outer Space

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black suits

Book: Black Suits from Outer Space

Author: Gene DeWeese

Jacket Illustrator: Elise Primavera

Publisher: Putnam Juvenile, 1985

ISBN-13: 978-0399212611

ISBN-10: 0399212612

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 9 and up

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

DeWeese, Gene.  Black Suits from Outer Space (Publisher in 1985 by G. P. Putnam’s Sons, New York City, NY).  Eleven (almost twelve) year old Calvin Willeford lives with his father Harrison who is an engineer with Harding Microelectronics, mother who is a former English teacher but now sells houses for Carmichael (Calvin calls it Carbuncle) Realty, seven year old younger brother Walter, and twenty-pound tiger-striped cat Hulk in East Gradwohl.  Calvin is skinnier than absolutely necessary, wears glasses, has been known to be a bit klutzy, and is considered “too logical.”  He is a sixth grader at Vernon J. Dalhart Middle School where his best friend is Kathy Entsminger.

One day a funny looking cat follows Calvin home and gets into a fight with Hulk.  When Calvin throws water on them, he discovers that the cat is an alien who vanishes, leaving behind a ring.  After putting the ring on, Calvin’s finger starts twitching occasionally, and he begins to run into several strange men in black suits.  Who are these “black suits”?  Where did they come from?  What are they doing here, and why?  This is a reasonable and well-paced story that will appeal to upper elementary fans of science fiction movies.  There are a few common euphemisms (e.g., “darned”) but no cursing or swearing and no objectionable or inappropriate material.

The School Library Journal noted that “There is far less readable science fiction for this age group than there is demand, so this story should be popular.”  The quirky humor includes the chapter  titles such as “As Long As Your Whole Life Doesn’t Turn Out to be a Squashed Bottlecap, You’re Fine,” and “What Would Mr. Spock Do in a Situation Like This?”  Black Suits from Outer Space, which was also published under the title Beepers from Outer Space, is Book 1 of 3 in the “Calvin Willeford and the Black Suits” Series.  The sequels are The Dandelion Caper (1986) and The Calvin Nullifier (1987).

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Weasel

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weasel

Book: Weasel

Author: Cynthia DeFelice

Publisher:  Avon Camelot, republished in 1991

ISBN-13: 978-0780708983 Hardcover

ISBN-10: 0780708989 Hardcover

ISBN-13: 978-0380713585 Paperback

ISBN-10: 0380713586 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 9 – 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

DeFelice, Cynthia.  Weasel (Published in 1990 by Macmillan Publishing Co., 866 Third Ave. New York City, NY  10022; republished in 1991 by Avon Camelot Books, a division of The Hearst Corporation, 1150 Avenue of the Americas, New York City, NY  10019).  It is 1839 in the state of Ohio, and eleven year old Nathan Fowler lives in a cabin with his father, nine year old sister Molly, and their dogs Duffy and Winston.  Mrs. Fowler had died of the fever.  Six days ago, Mr. Fowler went out hunting and hasn’t returned so the children are worried.  Then one night, a strange mute man, whom they later learn is Ezra Ketchum, comes with their mother’s locket which their father always wore and beckons them to follow him.  Ezra takes them to where he is caring for Mr. Fowler who is very ill following a run-in that he had with a former Indian fighter turned notorious outlaw named Weasel.

When Nathan returns to their farm to take care of the animals, he finds that Weasel has been there and either killed or stolen them all.  In fact, on his way back to Ezra’s place, Nathan himself is captured by Weasel but manages to escape.  The boy is so angry at Weasel that he threatens to go back and kill him.  Does Pa ever recover?  Will Nathan actually try to kill Weasel?  What happens to the outlaw?   This fast-paced novel, which is well-written and engrossing, succeeds in building tension to a riveting climax and will inspire strong discussion about moral choices.   Aside from a few common euphemisms (e.g., darn), there are references to Weasel’s drinking whiskey and cussing or swearing, although no actual curse or swear words are found.

The biggest complaint that I saw was that the plot, with its mention of the  torture and killing of human beings; leaving a man in a bear trap to die; slaughtering a pregnant wife in front of her husband; cutting the man’s tongue out of his mouth; raiding and killing Shawnee Indians; a man hunting an 11-year-old boy, capturing him, and bragging to him about his crimes; and the boy’s psychological torment over not killing the criminal when he had the chance might be emotionally disturbing  to children.  Let me say that none of these things are graphically or gratuitously described but just recorded as facts.  Perhaps it would not be good for especially sensitive youngsters.  Perhaps it would better for older readers than the age range listed.  All I know is that when I was a preteen I would have liked and enjoyed this book.

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The Wizard of Iz: A Parody of the Democrats by Dr. Truth

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iz

Book: The Wizard of Iz: A Parody of the Democrats by Dr. Truth

Author: Loren Spivack

Illustrator: Patrick Fields

Publisher: Free Market Warrior Publications, 2015

ASIN: B075JWSX9B

Related website(s): http://DrTruthBooks.com (author), https://www.fmwarrior.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: For everyone of all ages

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

Spivack, Loren.  The Wizard of Iz: A Parody of the Democrats by Dr. Truth (Published in 2015 by Free Market Warrior Publications).  Dorothy has grown up in a free, prosperous, small-government world. Then a tornado thrusts her into a strange place where her falling house slays the community organizing Wicked Witch from Chicago and thus liberates the Free Lunchkins from his chains.  But to return to her own home, she is told that she must follow the gold path and go to see the Wizard of Iz in the city of green with a warning to beware of the Wicked Witch of Chapaque who survives in her tower.

Along the way Dorothy picks up three traveling companions—a brainless Scarecrow who has fourteen politically correct graduate degrees but is thousands of dollars in debt because he can’t find a job; a Tin Man who is told that he has no heart because he doesn’t like paying taxes to provide “social justice” for the poor; and a Cowardly Rhino (R.I.N.O.—true conservatives will know what that means).   Just who was the Wicked Witch from Chicago?  Who is the Wicked Witch of Chapaque? And who is the Wizard of Iz (hint—“It all depends on, exactly, your definition of ‘IZ!’”)

The book is rated “G” for “Government.  This book contains blunt descriptions of how our government works.  Naïve readers strongly cautioned.”  The Wizard of Iz is author Loren Spivack’s third book.  The first, The New Democrat written in 2010, is modeled after Dr. Seuss’s classic The Cat in the Hat and lampoons the Obama administration.   He followed that with The Gorax, which targets former Vice President Al Gore and his environmental extremism.  This most recent work is modeled after L. Frank Baum’s The Wizard of Oz.  EVERYONE should read these books!

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The Ghost in the Picture

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ghost

Book: The Ghost in the Picture

Author: Meg Schneider

Publisher: Apple Paperbacks, 1988

ISBN-13: 978-0590416702

ISBN-10: 0590416707

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 11 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

Schneider, Meg.  The Ghost in the Picture (Published in 1988 by Apple Paperbacks, an imprint of Scholastic Inc., 730 Broadway, New York City, NY  10003).  Twelve year old Ben Crisp, who lives with his father, mother, and eight year old sister Stephie in Windsor, VT, is a budding photographer. Ben desperately wants to win a local photography contest sponsored by Green State Bank.  He also needs some photographs for a school project on progress.  It just so happens that a new girl his age named Lily Tompson and her family have moved into the old Tompson place on the corner in their neighborhood and are renovating it.  Mr. Tompson wants before and after pictures.  So even though Ben thinks that Lily, an expert ice skater who is coaching their losing hockey team, is odd and old-fashioned, while she finds Ben self-absorbed and rude, he feels that pictures of the old house might be a stepping stone to his success.

In fact, Ben finds himself compelled to photograph Lily, almost against his will, but all his efforts to win the photography contest are sabotaged by a flaw in the pictures, always a misty something–or someone–in the photos with her that keeps getting into the scene and seems to be reaching out toward him.  Everyone else thinks that it’s caused by dust on the camera lens or a trick of light or even Lily’s breath, but it has the shape of a man, and when Stephie sees it she believes that it’s a ghost.  Despite his initial skepticism, Ben gradually has to admit that it might be a ghost, and his fear grows.  Is it really a ghost?  If so, what does it want from Ben?  And should he tell anyone else about what is going on?

This book, of course, is obviously a ghost story, and those who object to ghost stories will want to avoid it.  But those who like a good ghost story should enjoy The Ghost in the Picture.  There is no bad language or anything else inappropriate.   The plot does not have too much tension, and the ghost parts are not particularly scary. Ben finds himself setting aside his own ambition in order to help someone else. School Library Journal noted that “The climax brings Ben and his sister closer together, as well as Ben and Lily.”  Also the background details of photography, ice skating, and ice hockey add interesting depth to the story.

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Into No Man’s Land: The Journal of Patrick Seamus Flaherty, United States Marine Corps, Khe Sanh, Vietnam, 1968

HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW

no mans land

Book: Into No Man’s Land: The Journal of Patrick Seamus Flaherty, United States Marine Corps, Khe Sanh, Vietnam, 1968

Author: Ellen Emerson White

Cover Illustrator: Steve Stone

Publisher: Scholastic Paperbacks, reprinted 2012

ISBN-13: 978-0606262156 Hardcover

ISBN-10: 0606262156 Hardcover

ISBN-13: 978-0545398886 Paperback

ISBN-10: 0545398886 Paperback

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

Language level: 3 (almost 4)

(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: For ages 10 – 14; I’d say ages 14-18

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

White, Ellen Emerson.  Into No Man’s Land: The Journal of Patrick Seamus Flaherty, United States Marine Corps, Khe Sanh, Vietnam, 1968 (Published in 2002 by Scholastic Inc., 557 Broadway, New York City, NY  10012).  It is 1968, and Patrick Seamus Flaherty, who lives in Boston, MA, with his fire-fighter father, mother, and younger sister Molly (his older sister Brenda is married and has kids), has just graduated from high school and joins the Marine Corps to fight in the Vietnam War.  He is stationed at Khe Sanh, where some of his fellow Marines are nicknamed Fox, Mooch, Smedley, Rotgut, Apollo, Hollywood, Professor, Shadow, and Bebop.   Patrick’s nickname turns out to be Mighty Mouse.  He soon learns that Southeast Asia is a far cry from Boston, and, under constant assault by the North Vietnamese, he is at first overwhelmed, thinking that he’s made a terrible mistake.

Before Patrick left, his dad gave him a journal and asked him to write about his experiences in it.   Confronted with the oppressive heat, dense jungles, and an enemy that is everywhere, can Patrick ever find a way to deal with the harsh realities that he faces on the battlefield.  How does he react with his comrades?  And will he make it home again?  If one wants a fictional account that brings Vietnam and the battle of Khe Sanh to vivid life through the smells, tastes, sounds, horrors, loneliness, and the friendships that are so much of the chaos called war, then this is it.  There are references to smoking cigarettes, drinking beer, wanting whiskey, and getting drunk.  In addition to some to some common euphemisms, it is said that “Marines mostly only use one word—and it’s really obscene.”  Swearing and cussing are mentioned frequently, the “d” and “h” words appear quite often, the name “God” is used several times as an interjection, and some near vulgarisms (“pi**ed off,” “s.o.b.”) occur.

Also, a scene is described where some of the local Vietnamese women weren’t wearing shirts and others had their blouses unbuttoned.  Patrick writes, “This is my kind of town.”  It is interesting how different people reach almost opposite conclusions from the same book.  One reader called it an “amazing story” in which “you feel as though you are there with Patrick as he serves his country proudly as a U.S. Marine.”  However, another reviewer wrote that it   “describes the illogical and fruitless struggle of our military in the Vietnam conflict.”  Perhaps this simply demonstrates the ambiguity that still exists over America’s involvement in Vietnam.  There is a companion diary that follows Patrick’s sister, Molly, showing her experiences while Patrick serves in Vietnam, and even when he returns home.

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The Golden Ring: A Touching Christmas Story

golden ring

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Book: The Golden Ring: A Touching Christmas Story

Author: John Snyder

Cover Illustrator: Dan Craig

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing, republished 2001

ISBN-13: 978-0446530064

ISBN-10: 0446530069

Related website(s): http://www.johnsnyder.com (author)

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: Suitable for the whole family

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

       Snyder, John.  The Golden Ring: A Touching Christmas Story (Published in 1999 by Mountain Breeze Publishing; republished in 2001 by Warner Books Inc., 1271 Avenue of the Americas, New York City, NY  10020, an AOL Time Warner Company).   It is just days before the Christmas of 1918, and Anna Beal, an idealistic nine-year-old, lives with her father Joseph, a hardworking railroad engineer on the B&O Railroad, mother Elda, brothers Earl, Elwood (Boopy), and young Dick, and sisters Mabel (Sis) and Jule in Myersdale, a picturesque township nestled in the dense snow-covered mountains of western Pennsylvania’s coal country. Anna has an especially close relationship with her father who had given her a ring as a birthday gift.   Anna in turn gives her ring to the daughter of a poverty-stricken family passing through town.  Then as Christmas approaches, a series of puzzling dreams shared by Joseph and Anna about a golden ring along with Jesus mystifies them both.

How does Joseph, who is a firm but kindhearted father, feel about Anna’s giving her ring away?  What do the dreams mean?  And will their search for the meaning of these dreams lead them to share an emotional and bonding Christmas experience?  Those who object to any references about observing Christmas as the birthday of Jesus will not care for this book.   A few euphemisms (darn, gee, dang) occur, and one character is said to have uttered “a string of profanities,” but no actual profanities are used.  Joseph chews tobacco—“Joseph had few vices in life, but this was one.”  However, both going to church and prayer in the home are important to the Beals.

The book was inspired by a true story told to the author, John Snyder, by his grandmother, Anna Snyder, just before she died, about one of her childhood Christmases.  This Yuletide tale was originally self-published with illustrations by Randall Quick, selling over 24,000 copies.   The Golden Ring is a touching Christmas story about giving, faith, love, and loss. The message powerfully delivered in this book is about the good that comes from giving.  It will appeal to all ages and is suitable for the entire family.  The American Family Association reviewer said, “I read a lot of fiction, particularly Christian fiction. And I enjoy novellas, particularly Christmas stories. Having read scores of them over the past decade or so, I can say without reservation that in every regard — style, story, substance — The Golden Ring merits a place on the Christmas Classics shelf right alongside A Christmas Carol….”

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Why Me?

HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW

why me

Book: Why Me?

Author: Ellen Conford

Publisher: Simon Pulse, republished 1990

ISBN-13: 978-0316153263 Hardcover

ISBN-10: 0316153265 Hardcover

ISBN-13: 978-0671741525 Paperback

ISBN-10: 0671741527 Paperback

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:  For ages11 and up; I’d say 14 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

Conford, Ellen.  Why Me?  (Published in 1985 by Little Brown and Company, Boston, MA).  Fourteen-year-old Hobie Katz lives with his father, who owns an insurance agency, and mother. He is a ninth grader in school, where his best friend is Nate Kramer, and works part time at Bookathon, his grandfather’s bookstore in Million Dollar Mall.  Hobie is hoping to sweep women off their feet in the manner of his spy novel hero, Mac Detroit, but runs into complications.  The object of his affections, lovely Darlene DeVries, won’t give him the time of day and is pining for Warren Adler, an obscenely tall basketball player who is a junior.  On top of that, Hobie is being chased by budding marine biologist G. G. Graffman, a girl who is NOT the object of his affection but has studied the bestseller How to Make Men Crazy.  Which she does to Hobie.

Finally, Hobie manages to get rid of G. G., who turns her attentions to Nate, and Darlene warms up to Hobie as she starts to notice the poetry that he writes for her.  Expressing her appreciation for the poems, Darlene asks for more.  Does anything happen between Nate and G. G.?  How will it affect Hobie’s friendship with Nate?  And what is Darlene really doing with Hobie’s poetry.   This look at the love triangles of young adolescents has a few common euphemisms (e.g., “gee”). There is no cursing, but phrases like “My God” and “Good Lord” are used as exclamations, and Hobie says, “All I knew was that if G. G. pursued me with the same single-minded determination she had—up till now—pursued jellyfish, my a** was eelgrass.”

Why Me? certainly has a degree of humor in it.  Also it incorporates many of the usual trappings of modern adolescent social life—school, the mall, the movie theater, eating pizzas, etc.  And based even on my own observations when I was in high school some fifty years ago, the portrayal of attitudes and relationships between boys and girls is fairly accurate and typical of the common public school culture.  However, homeschooling parents, especially those who are trying to raise godly families, deserve much better literature than this.  I guess that the one redeeming feature is the lesson that it’s not nice to abuse other people to make yourself feel good and tear them down to build yourself up.

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Children of the River

HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW

river

Book: Children of the River

Author: Linda Crew

Publisher: Laurel Leaf, reprinted 1991

ISBN-13: 978-0780709072 Hardcover

ISBN-10: 0780709071 Hardcover

ISBN-13: 978-0440210221 Paperback

ISBN-10: 0440210221 Paperback

Language level: 5 (unfortunately)

(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: For ages 12 – 17; I would say more 16-18

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

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Crew, Linda.  Children of the River (Published in 1989 by Delacorte Press, New York City, NY  10036; republished in 1991 by Bantam Doubleday Dell Books for Young Readers, a division of Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group Inc., 1540 Broadway, New York City, NY  10036).  In 1975, thirteen year old Sundara Sovann fled the village of Ream, Cambodia, with her aunt Soka, uncle Naro, and their family to escape the Khmer Rouge army.  She left behind her parents, her brother and sister, and Chamroeun, the boy she had loved since she was a child.  It is four years later, and Sundara, now seventeen, struggles to be “a good Cambodian girl” at home who never dates but waits for her family to arrange her marriage to a Cambodian boy, and still fit in at her Willamette Grove, Oregon, high school where she and Jonathan McKinnon, an extraordinary American boy, are powerfully drawn to each other.

Sundara is haunted, by grief for her lost family and for the life left behind, yet wonders if her hopes for happiness and new life in America are disloyal to her past and her people.  Will Sundara ever see her parents, siblings, and boyfriend again?  Are she and Jonathan able to overcome the differences between their backgrounds and cultures?  And can the difficulties that arise within her family be resolved?   I found book this to be an interesting and eminently readable story with a satisfying conclusion.  Unfortunately, it is marred by some unnecessary bad language.  The term “God” is occasionally used profanely as an exclamation, the “h” word appears a few times, and even the “s” word is found once.

Publishers Weekly said, “The resolution comes smoothly and plausibly, offering a moving look at the way in which a survivor of great tragedy, having confronted overwhelming changes in her life, faces young adulthood.”  The biggest complaint which I saw was from those who felt that the plot portrayed the Cambodian culture as oppressively “strict and mean,” from which Sunara must be saved by a wonderful Caucasian prince in shining armor.  This sounds to me like the ravings of the anti-European, multicultural crowd.  I think that author Linda Crew does a good job of balancing the importance of assimilation with maintaining traditional customs in a new land at the same time.  Several others noted that it gives a real glimpse of what some people go through to get a better life.

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