TOS Review: At Home in Dogwood Mudhole

I love to read and I am always looking for a new book. So for this review, I was excited to receive a copy of At Home in Dogwood Mudhole by Franklin Sanders. The book is the first of two (so far) volumes detailing the real-life adventures of Sanders and his family as they gradually move to life on a farm.

Dogwood Mudhole Cover

This book opened with a story I loved and could really relate to, the story of how Mr. Sanders got his “thirty dollar dog”. We too have dogs like this in our house. Mutts, found at the pound. Dogs that drive us crazy but also fill our lives with love and laughter. Sanders heart-felt and honest story-telling ability makes you laugh out loud while also saying “I agree” in your head.

Tar, our first “thirty-dollar dog”

Tar and his buddy, my youngest boy.

Ash, in her favorite spot, my oldest son’s bed.

At Home in Dogwood Mudhole is divided into four sections that describe the Sanders family’s gradual move from Memphis to a more rural setting, and their adjustment to life on the farm. Throughout the book the author’s deep love for his family, and their close relationships are evident. Growing up on a “mini-farm”, I could relate to many of his stories, and his devotion to the Lord is evident.

Another thing that is evident is Mr. Sander’s love for the South. Several times in the book, he talks about “The War for Southern Independence”. He and his family regularly participate in battle reenactments and visit historical sights related to the Civil War. There are many passages about Southern culture and history included in the book. Of course, not everyone will share Mr. Sanders view about this topic, but he is honest in expressing how he feels and the reason he feels this way.

The author, Mr. Sanders with is “thirty-dollar dog”.

In describing many of the frequent journeys his family takes, Mr. Sanders also highlights particular places that stood out. He frequently mentions restaurants, stores, and interesting places he has discovered, complete with contact information for the establishment. His descriptions of Southern foods often made me hungry, and I wished I could take a road trip to where he had his fried pies!

To be honest, I did get sort of bogged down in the middle of the story. There were some parts, (such as when he is describing what he went through with the IRS), where my mind started to wander. This is not the fault of the storyteller, but really just my lack of interest in that part of the story. However, if you are interested in how Mr. Sanders set up his gold bank, and the trials he faced because of it, you might not get bored.

The descriptions of the hardships, trials, and joy that come with life on a farm brought me back to my days as a young girl, and Mr. Sanders was very detailed, accurate, and humorous in those descriptions. Volume one of At Home in Dogwood Mudhole is available for $22.95 in paperback and $16.95 for download on Kindle or an e-reader. Pre-orders for volume two are being taken now.

To see what other members of the crew thought of this book, click here:

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TOS Review: Seed Sowers

We read out loud regularly as part of our homeschool. Sometimes I choose books related to what we are studying, other times I just choose fun books to read. We aren’t big on a lot of biographies and non-fiction. However, when given the chance to read this book from Seed Sowers, I thought we would give it a try. A family book, meant for ages five and up, it looked really interesting. Now, we haven’t read a lot of missionary stories, because I just know that the story lines of some of them would be too much for my emotional kiddos, but this one was a little different.

The book, Seed Sowers, written by Gwen Tolliver, is a collection of short stories about various missionaries. Each chapter is its own unique adventure. We read one chapter at least 3-4 days per week, and it took us about three weeks to finish the book. My kids loved hearing about the missionaries and their experiences in far away places.

One thing that stood out to us in this book is that it reaffirms God’s remarkable providence in the lives of his people. While many of the missionaries experienced frightening events and some close calls on their journeys, each time God moved to protect them and allow them to do His work wherever they are. I thought the stories were the perfect length for reading, it took us about 15 minutes per day. Another thing I liked is how the stories whet your appetite enough to want to know more.

After reading these stories, my boys wanted to know more about the missionaries and their works. Each story ends with a short follow up that gives you more information about the missionaries and where they went after their story took place. We have looked up people like Rose Dobson, Dorothy Shaler, and Gloria Gray. We have also looked up information about Bible translation, and my kids really took to heart how many people there are that cannot read the Word in their native language.

While we used this book just as a read aloud, you could easily do more with it for your homeschool. If you wanted to, you could easily use this a stepping off point for a geography study. You could highlight one story a week, and after reading it, study the country and culture where that story took place. Or, with older students, you could encourage them to do some research on that particular culture, people, or even on the life of that particular missionary.

This would also be easy to work into a study of Bible history, using it to emphasize the work of Bible translators around the world. The author has worked for Wycliffe for many years, and she has a wonderful way of bringing these stories to life. After reading Seed Sowers, my kids wanted to learn more about the missionaries our own church supports, which was nice because at the time we finished reading it, our missionaries from South Africa came to our church for a visit. My boys were much more interested in listening to what they have to say, and I think that was because we read the book.

If you are looking for a book that provides a nice introduction to the work missionaries do around the world, I would highly recommend Seed Sowers. It is available for only $12.50, and it is definitely worth it!

To see what other members of the crew had to say about this book, click here:
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TOS Review: Papa’s Pearls

I was raised by my grandparents. Born in 1920, they lived through the Great Depression, and World War II. They were genuine, hardworking, “salt of the earth” type of people. There is a reason that generation is often called “the greatest”. For this review, I got to read a book by Diane Flynn Keith about her own father, who came from the same era. This book, Papa’s Pearls, made me laugh and brought me to tears.

Papa’s Pearls is a collection of stories that are a reflection on the author’s life with her father. Each chapter focuses on one or more life lessons she learned from her father, linked to one of his popular sayings. Throughout the book, you get a very clear picture of what her father was like, and how much he loved his family. From lessons about money, to dealing with disappointment, Papa made sure to pass on his pearls of wisdom to his family.

I think Papa’s greatest legacy is his love for his family. Every chapter in this book draws a beautiful picture of how he lived that love out in his everyday life. He made sure everyone in his family knew how much he loved and treasured them. Reading this book made me wish I could meet Papa myself. I would love to have a conversation with him. I think he would have been a great friend, to anyone.

I read this book in about a week. Seriously, I just couldn’t stop! After reading it, I chose a few chapters to read out loud with my own kids. I was lucky enough that my sons got to know my nana when they were little, as she lived in our home. They have heard stories of their own “pop-pop”, my grandfather. They immediately associated what I was reading to them with him. We talked about how life is so different for us than it was for my grandparents (and about how, in some ways, we wish we could have lived in that era). The beauty of this story is how it touched my children’s hearts. They want to hear stories from me about my grandparents, and they want to hear stories from their own grandparents too. That connection, with those family members, is really what this book is all about.

This is a picture of me and my own dear pop-pop when I was little. There are no words to express how much I loved this man and how much I miss him. I am fortunate to have spent my life with him, and to have heard his own stories. I often wished I had been able to put them down on paper. With Papa’s Pearls, it’s almost like hearing him speak.

Papa’s Pearls is available for $14.97. It is well worth that price. I would recommend it as an addition to anyone’s library!

For more information about purchasing this book, check out the website here:
http://papaspearls.com/get-your-copy/

To see what other members of the crew had to say about this book, click here:
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God King: A Story in the days of King Hezekiah

The topic for this week’s blog cruise is “A good read”. Well, I love books, and we read a lot of them, so it was kind of hard for me to narrow this down to one book! 🙂 However, there is a book we read recently for our history studies that really stood out to my boys and I. God King: A Story in the Days of King Hezekiah by Joanne Williamson, was wonderful!

This book tells the story of Taharka, a minor prince in Egypt. When he unexpectedly becomes king after Pharaoh’s death, he is thrust into a story he never imagined being a part of. God King has all the elements of an exciting drama, as Taharka learns who he can, and cannot, trust and comes to understand what kind of king he wants to be. When he has to flee for his life, he is aided by Amos, a man from Judea, and through him, Taharka learns about the one true God.

We are currently studying Ancients in history, with my oldest using MFW and my youngest using Bright Ideas Press Illuminations. This book was a read aloud in Illuminations, but my older son ended up sitting with us everyday while we read it.

The problem with a lot of historical fiction for me is that it often feels “forced”. Like the author has to really manipulate the story to get it to fit the time period. That was not the case with God King. The history and the story weave together so perfectly, that you just get lost in the book! We read about two chapters a day, and my boys were always on the edge of their seats, wondering what would happen next. (So was I, but I admit I read ahead! 😉 ). The characters were authentic, and the story lines really made sense.

The best part was, the way biblical history was worked into the story. The saving of Jerusalem from Sennacherib, was very true to the biblical passage. In fact, after reading those chapters, we went back and read the biblical account and compared the two! I love the fact that this book made biblical history come alive for my kids!!

If you are studying the ancient time period, I would definitely suggest you add this story in. Even if you aren’t, if you are just looking for an exciting read aloud (particularly for boys) this book is it!!

Of course, I have loads of other books I could talk about too, and I’m thinking I may do a month of posts just about books 🙂 For now, to see other books crew members recommend, check out the blog cruise, here:

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Abraham’s Journey

Inspiring the American Dream is a website created by Robert and Kathleen Basmadjian who hope to inspire today’s youth by “instilling in them the values, principles and virtues necessary to achieve the American Dream.” Robert has many years of experience in the publishing industry, and their first book, Abraham’s Journey, is a story of a boy who learns that hard work can take him further than he realized!

This book is written for children ages 7-12, and begins in current times. Abraham’s parents have lost their jobs and there is no money to buy presents for Christmas. Abraham wants to help his family, so he decides to “text” his friends to see if they can think of any ways he can make some money. While he is doing this he meets another famous Abraham from the past, who takes him on a magical journey to help him discover his talents and how he can use them to help his family. Along the way, young Abraham meets many people who show him that hard work and dedication can pay off.

Abraham’s journey would easily work as a short read aloud for younger students, or a read-alone book for older kids. The pictures are well illustrated and colorful, but some of the text is rather long, so if you have a child who doesn’t enjoy reading, you may want to read it with them. My son read it on his own, and he said it was “ok”. I think, for him, there wasn’t a whole lot of action, and with Abraham meeting a new “famous character” on every page, he got a little confused (“Mom, how could Amelia Earhart give Mark Zuckerberg flying lessons? That doesn’t make sense!”). I think it would have been better for him if the story had kept all the characters from the same time period, and maybe written another book where he met people from a different time period.

At any rate, I can think of a lot you can do with this book for a homeschool. You could easily spend time researching the lives of the different characters and learn about how their dedication allowed them to live the American dream (even when others said it couldn’t be done). I think that alone could inspire your kids to think about their goals and how to achieve them. I liked that the message of the book was that you shouldn’t expect things to be handed to you, you have to WORK for what you want. I think that’s an important message for children to hear.

All in all, I thought this was a cute little story, though it wasn’t one of our favorites. You can buy Abrahams’ Journey for $14.99 and check out the Inspiring the American Dream website here:

http://inspiringtheamericandream.com/preserving-the-american-dream/

To see what other Crew members thought of this book, click here:
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**Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this product through the Schoolhouse Review Crew in exchange for this honest review. I was not required to write a positive or negative review, nor was I compensated in any other way. All opinions expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with FTC regulations.

Grace and Truth Books

Grace and Truth books is a Christian bookstore with loads of products for adults and kids! If you are looking for faith-filled, God-honoring stories to read to, or with, your child, this is the place to find them. For this review, we got to check out two books from the Children’s Character Building Collection. These books are reprints from the American Tract’s Society’s children’s selections from the 1800’s, and there are books for boys and girls.

The first book we read was, The Little Medicine Carrier. In this story, you meet 11 year old George, who gets his first job as a medicine carrier, delivering medicine to the people in the town he lives in. Along the way, George faces many temptations that may get in the way of doing his job, and he learns some important lessons in honesty too. Even though this book is old, it is written in an easy to read style (i.e., not a lot of “Old English” language). The characters are relatable, and the main adults in the story are always encouraging the children to make choices that bring honor to the Lord. This is a great book to open up discussions with your children about what it means to work hard and be honest and responsible, even if no one is looking. My son (who is also 11) easily read this story on his own and really enjoyed it. He thought George and his friends were fun, and he was very quick to point out the lessons he learned….he also said “Hey, maybe I could get a job as some sort of delivery boy” :). The Little Medicine Carrier costs $4.75 (as do most of the other books in this collection) and I believe it is worth every penny!

The second book we got to read was The Reward of Childhood Truth. This book consisted of two seperate stories, both with a similar theme. In the first story, Charles and Harry run into some trouble with a neighbor. This neighbor is a proud and somewhat lonely man, who is not a Christian. Throughout the course of the story, the boys honesty and truthfulness work their way into the heart of the neighbor, and he experiences a very happy change in his life. In the second story, young Mary experiences the consequences of lying. The Holy Spirit works in her heart to lead her to confess, and she learns that telling the truth is always the best option. Again, both of these stories are written in easy-to-read language. After we finished the stories, we had some very heartfelt discussions about how our actions can bring honor and glory to the Lord, and also reach other people for him. The children are much like our own boys and girls, and I think that is what makes these stories so much fun to read! The Reward of Childhood Truth also costs $4.75, and will work as a read aloud or read alone story!

Grace and Truth Books has many, many other books to read with your kids, you can check out all of the Character Building stories, and the others here:

http://www.graceandtruthbooks.com/

To see what other members of the crew had to say about these stories, and the others they got to read, click here:

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**Disclaimer: I received free copies of these books for the purpose of writing this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Beloved Books

Have you ever watched the movie A Christmas Story? It is a family favorite around here. My kids especially love to see Ralphie sitting in front of the radio listening to Little Orphan Annie. Scenes like that always make me nostalgic!! While we may not be able to go back in time, Beloved Books offers you an opportunity to experience a little bit of that time period with their Sugar Creek Gang radio dramas.

Based on the series of books by Paul Hutchens, the stories are beautifully dramatized by Paul Ramseyer. He has an amazing talent for voices, and makes each character come to life as a unique person. Volume 1 contains 6 adventure stories about Bill Collins and his friends. The stories promote Christian values, and there is always a lesson to be learned. Even though the books were originally written in 1939, my boys still found the stories exciting. I liked the fact that we could talk about the stories and the characters in light of God’s Word.

The stories contain hymns, verses, poetry and a message of salvation. They were a great source of entertainment for our whole family. At first I thought only my youngest son would be listening in (he’s 11), but after listening to part of the first story in the car, my oldest (14) wanted to hear more!! My boys would get together before bed and put a CD in the radio and listen TOGETHER!! As a mom, that was one of the coolest things about the Sugar Creek Gang.

The stories themselves are about 2 hours long, so you get a lot of listening time in each volume. The complete series of all 36 books is about 100 hours total!! We are on the 4th story of volume 1 right now (The Lost Campers) and my kids are already begging me to get volume 2!! I think these CD’s may be added to our Christmas list. 🙂

Each volume of the Sugar Creek Gang costs $54.95. I think they are definitely worth it!! In this day and age, wholesome family entertainment is often hard to come by, and these CD’s will provide your family with entertainment for years to come!! Right now you get free media mail shipping with the first volume, and, you can even listen to the first story for FREE by clicking here and downloading it:

http://www.belovedbooks.com/freebie.html

And, if you use the coupon code KINGDOM-ACADEMY-20 you will receive 20% off your entire purchase!!

I cannot emphasize enough how much my family enjoyed these stories! I highly encourage you to download the free one and check it out!

To see what other members of the crew had to say about this product, click here:

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**Disclaimer: I was given this product for free for the purpose of writing this review. All opinions expressed are my own.