Friday, February 26, 2016

Caddie Woodlawn

Caddie Woodlawn *****
by Carol Ryrie Brink

It's 1864, and Caddie Woodlawn loves to run wild with her brothers in the woods of western Wisconsin. She has all kinds of adventures with her brothers and greatly resists ever becoming a lady. Caddie befriends the Native American Indians living near by. She attends the local school. She helps around the farm and mends clocks with her father. She goes on countless adventures. And even ends up with a real scalp belt. Through it all, she begins to discover what it means to be an American and to be a real lady. 

Our whole family enjoyed reading this book together. Every chapter is its own story of one of her adventures. And what makes it even better is that it is based on a true story! Caddie Woodlawn really lived and all the people in the book did to. It's written by her granddaughter, I believe. Great story!

Make it Zero

Make it Zero: The Movement to Safeguard Every Child
by Mary Frances Bowley

Overview: This book is basically a collection of first-person stories about people who were abandoned or abused as children and how they've overcome so much. The book is broken into five sections: poverty, hunger, isolation, abuse, and trafficking. Each section has stories of people who have experienced these things and overcome their situations. Then at the end of each section there is a "Take Action" page with ideas about what you can do right where you are. I also liked the ideas on how to introduce these hard topics with your kids and help them understand what kids around them are going through.
Themes: various kinds of child abuse and our part in stopping it
Positive elements: This book is very well-written and compelling. It's short and to the point. I loved all the stories...very sad and encouraging all at once.
Negative elements: It wasn't until the last chapter that God's part in this restorative work was really addressed. I liked how the book showed what each one of us can do, but ultimately, it is God who has to heal these children.
Conclusion: This book is one of those books that you don't want to read because it is better not thinking about what is happening to children all around us. I appreciated that the book wasn't graphic. The truth about abuse was told straightforward but not in a graphic way to just shock people into doing something.
In so many stories, one caring person made a world of difference. I was really encouraged to focus on one particular person that God has already brought into my life and then go from there.

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

The View From Saturday

The View From Saturday 
By E.L. Konigsburg 

Overview: The View From Saturday is a awesome book! I loved it because all the characters were connected somehow. There are so many interesting and funny characters! The five main characters are Noah, Nadia, Ethan, Julian, and Mrs. Olinski. Mrs. Olinski is Noah, Nadia, Ethan, and Julian's teacher. At the beginning of the book there is a separate story from each of the four kids' point of view. 

Noah knows Nadia because he was the "best man" at Nadia's Grandpa's wedding. Nadia's grandpa, Izzy married Margret. Nadia's mom works for Noah's dad. Margret Diamondstein's grandson is Ethan. Ethan knows Nadia because their grandparents got married. Nadia and Ethan go on turtle walks with each other; that's a big part of the story I'll let you find out! 

Then Julian, a new boy at school, becomes Noah, Nadia, and Ethan's friend. Julian hosts a Tea Party at 4:00 p.m. on Saturday at the Sillington House. Mrs. Olinski comes to the Tea Party one time and is so impressed with their great manners. 

From the beginning of the book, the students are preparing for the Academic Bowl. The Academic Bowl is where the seventh graders and the sixth graders compete. The Souls are Noah, Nadia, Ethan, and Julian, who are in sixth grade. A judge asks each team a question. If one team can't answer, another team is given a chance to answer the question. The sixth graders win against the seventh graders. The sixth graders are now called to compete against the eighth graders. There is a complicated joke in the middle that took me a long time to figure out, but I eventually got the point. It is great book, and I'll let  you find out what else happens!

Themes: Friendship, Team Work, Love, Kindness, Manners.

Positive Elements: I loved how the characters are all connected somehow. It tells me that the author was very creative while he wrote this book.

Negative Elements: The principal of the eighth graders says he'll hang their coach if they loose; he's really kidding, though. (This is a part of the joke that took me a long time to figure out.)

In conclusion, I thought this was a great book! It had such great connections! I think it would be good for nine and up because there are some hard things to understand. Hope you enjoy this book! 

By: Summer Staples, 9



Sunday, February 21, 2016


Remarkable!  *****
By Dr. Randy Ross and David Salyers

I'm writing a second-hand review for this book since my husband read it and told me about it. He said the book was really well-written and enjoyable. He is in the process of starting a business, so it gave him a lot to think about regarding how to encourage and lead his employees. The book is a quick read and would be great for anyone involved in managing a group of people. There are also online tools and a whole website with  resources all connected to Remarkable!

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

Treasure Island

Treasure Island      *****
By Robert Louis Stevenson 

Overview: Treasure Island was one of my favorite books I've ever read! It had action all through the book. It had some very scary was blind. The captain had been having strokes, and Ben, a boy, had just had his father die. He and his mother were scared to death when the blind man came in the inn that Ben's mom owned. The blind man wanted to see the captain upstairs. The blind man handed the captain a black dot. The Captain was overjoyed that he had time to escape something. The Captain jumped up then fell to the ground holding his throat; he had had another stroke! Ben found out the blind man wanted the map to the island where the treasure was buried. But Ben had already taken it out of the Captain's treasure box after Ben found out the Captain had a key.  Ben and the new Captain and crew sail into the deep blue ocean with other adventures I'll let you find out about.
Theme: Adventure
Positive Elements: Action, adventure, and some great illustrations.
Negative Elements: Killing, stealing, and a couple creepy pictures.  
Conclusion: I thought this book was so great with so much action! I think seven to thirteen year olds would like it. This is a Illustrated Classic, so there are bigger Treasure Islands that older kids could read. I read it in a night and half. I think it's worth five stars! So I'll let you see who's the new Captain, what they're after, and why...

By: Summer Staples, 9 

Thursday, February 18, 2016


Tornado  *****
by Betsy Byars                                                                                                                            

Overview: It is a good book because the book has a good problem and a god ending. It is all about Tornado and Pete, the man who tells the story.  

Positive elements: I like the card trick part.

Negative elements: Tornado is a boring book, but I like the name Tornado. 

Conclusion: I think that kids 7, 8, 9 year old would like it and 10, 11, 12 year olds who like dogs.

by Sabrina Staples 

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Life in Community

Life in Community  *****
by Dustin Willis

What an encouraging book about the power of community! I was hesitant to read this book because I felt like I already knew that we are supposed to "live in community" and "we need each other" and all those Christian phrases. But this book truly surprised and challenged me in a wonderful way. I plan on re-reading it again and again.

Willis uses Romans 12 to walk us through what it really means to "live in community." The book is broken into three sections: Forming Community, Values for Living in Community, and the Next Steps for Strong Community.

The book is so honest and practical. I loved the chapter on hospitality. He showed how so often we seek to "entertain" rather than offer "hospitality." Entertaining is about showing off while hospitality is about serving. I also appreciated his explanation of God's mercy and how God's mercy is the foundation for life in community. 

Each chapter ends with a series of thought-provoking questions about applying what you've read. There is also a six-week study at the end of the book. We are planning on passing this book around in our small group as we seek to learn how to serve one another and live in authentic community. 
I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, February 8, 2016

The Life Giving Home

The Life Giving Home *****
by Sally and Sarah Clarkson

I enjoyed the easy going pace of this book. The Clarkson's, mother and daughter, take turns writing each chapter about intentional homemaking. The book is full of very specific ideas of traditions and things you can do to create a home environment where relationships of all kinds can flourish. After the intro chapters, the rest of the book's chapters are divided up by months. For example, February's chapter is about love. The March chapter is subtitled, "The Art of the Ordinary." March can be so dull and ordinary. I loved the idea of having a time of reading quietly for an hour each afternoon. She has a special place for each kid to snuggle and read. I've been trying to do that already, but I was encouraged to really make that happen each day. I'm hoping to foster a love of reading in my daughters, too.

I would recommend this book for any woman to read through slowly...month by month...and be encouraged.

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

The Life of Billy Kim

The Life of Billy Kim
by Billy Kim

Overview: As I read this book, I was constantly amazed that God could have used one man to accomplish so much. The list of his achievements seems unending! The book is broken up into three parts: first, the story of Billy Kim's younger years, his salvation, and his work as an evangelist; second, his philosophy of business related to the radio he ran; and third, stories of true servants, including his wife, that he met along the way.
Positive elements: This is an amazing story of God's working around the world.
Negative elements: The book's organization is a bit confusing with the three different parts all telling a different aspect of his life. The book also has so much detail...sometimes too much. Especially the parts about the radio station were a bit over my head. The writing is also a bit choppy, but that's understandable seeing that Pastor Kim is Korean, and English is his second language.
Conclusion: I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to be encouraged by the amazing God we serve. My husband found Pastor Kim on Youtube. He spoke at the Moody Founders' Week 2015. It was fun to listen to him in person after reading about him!

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Gentle Ben

Gentle Ben  *****  
by Walt Morey                                          

Overview: Ben is a big bear. He likes Mark the boy who bought Ben from a mean man.Then the big bear hurt a man so the town wants to get rid of the bear. A greedy man took Ben away. You should read the book to find out what happened to Ben and Mark.
Themes: friendship, family, rescue, love
Positive elements: hard work, loving people, learn all about salmon fishing and bears
Negative elements: death of a family member and a friend, stealing and lying from the bad guys
Conclusion: Kids who likes action books will like this book. I think kids 6 and up should read or listen to this book.

By Sabrina Staples, age 7