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And Then What Happened, Paul Revere?

Author(s): 
Jean Fritz
Copyright: 
1973
Publisher: 
Scholastic
Binding: 
Softcover
Number of pages: 
64 pages
Subject(s): 
Grade / Age level: 
Review: 

This is a humorous yet informative account of Paul Revere's famous ride to alert the countryside that "the Redcoats" were coming. The details are quite interesting and carefully researched (down to a few details that Paul Revere liked to include when telling the story to his own grandchildren). There are a few slightly annoying details in the illustrations, but I wouldn't consider them serious (e.g. a picture of a Boston scene that includes a picture of a pirate's head - not detailed enough to be gory, but a bit gross) . Fully illustrated (not fabulous illustrations, but they suffice) and appropriate for early grade school.

Review Date: 
9-13-2000
Reviewed by: 

Andries

Book cover: 'Andries'
Author(s): 
Hilda Van Stockum
Copyright: 
1942
Publisher: 
Bethlehem Books
Binding: 
Sewn Softcover
Number of pages: 
198 pages
Subject(s): 
Grade / Age level: 
Review: 

Yet another delightful story to read aloud with your family from one of my very favorite authors. Andries is a troublesome 10 year old orphan who comes to live with his bachelor uncle in a large lonely house near the Dykstra home (which is quite the opposite - small and overflowing with children). Although his reputation as a troublemaker precedes him and is firmly cemented in the townspeople's heads, the Dykstras, who are less quick to judge, discover that he is really kind-hearted, but lonely. Their friendship helps to build his confidence and cut down on his mischief and help him develop a happy relationship with his uncle.

Review Date: 
11-6-99
Reviewed by: 

Angel in the Waters

Book cover: 'Angel in the Waters'
Author(s): 
Regina Doman
Illustrator(s): 
Ben Hatke
Copyright: 
2004
Publisher: 
Sophia Institute Press
Binding: 
Softcover
Number of pages: 
48 pages
Subject(s): 
Resource Type: 
Review: 

Inspirational! Impressive! Instructional!

This picture book has a beautiful pro-life lesson for the very youngest among us to the oldest. It tells the story of a baby from conception through birth and into infancy without any details that will require further explanation to our little ones. Told in the first person, the text is brief and easy to read but contains far more depth than most picture books. Simple yet engaging artwork, with peaceful colors and a dreamlike quality, compliments the text. Even my 4-year-old noticed that at the baby's birth, the page backgrounds changed from dark to bright white; while I don't think that he recognizes the symbolism yet, it certainly captured his attention.

Without directly teaching, the author skillfully reminds us that life begins in the womb, with baby aware of sounds and light and warmth. The baby's guardian angel, depicted as a star rather than the traditional winged creature, is more spiritual than physical and accompanies baby from conception onward. The angel is intelligent and gentle while guiding and reassuring baby, hinting at eternal life beyond this earthly one.

My single regret is that this book is only available in a softcover binding. Destined to become a classic, it should be available bound in a durable hardcover.

Perspective: 
Catholic
Additional notes: 

Additional Comments: My children fell in love with this book the minute they saw it. Down to my toddler they were enchanted with the beautiful, realistic illustrations and the simple, charming text. My seven year old loves how easy it is to read - she returns to it over and over again. I love the beautiful implicit message about the sanctity and fragility of life.- A.V.H. (2-23-05)

Review Date: 
2-23-05
Reviewed by: 

Angels in Iron

Book cover: 'Angels in Irons'
Author(s): 
Nicholas C Prata
Copyright: 
1997
Publisher: 
Evolution Publishing
Binding: 
Softcover
Number of pages: 
313 pages
Subject(s): 
Setting: 
Grade / Age level: 
Review: 

Angels in Iron is the absorbing tale of the siege of Malta in 1564 between the Knights of St. John of the Hospital (a military religious order) and Suleiman's forces. Suleiman, the most famous sultan of the Turkish Ottoman Empire (who has at this point significantly expanded his empire) has grand plans to conquer the world - and that includes Malta, the new home of the Knights of St. John of the Hospital. The Grand Master of this order witnessed their surrender at Rhodes (their former home) when he was a young knight. Now he is determined to hold on to Malta to the bitter end. Will he succeed in defeating the Turks against incredible odds or will his stubborn pride be the ruin of his Order and cause the loss of many lives?

Prata brings this fascinating tale to life by giving the characters real personalities. They are not mere pawns used to further the plot of the story. Interesting subplots abound. Will the feuding Florentines, Di Corso and Rambaldi, succeed in killing one another before the enemy has a chance or will the grace of God intervene?

Because of a few "choice" words, very minor sexual references (nothing coarse or inappropriate), and extreme violence at times (bodies are getting hacked to pieces), this novel would be more appropriate for a mature high school student than younger children. While the violence is definitely graphic at times, especially in the heat of battle ("The decapitated body stumbled down the hill, neck spewing blood...") since war is hell, it is most realistically portrayed.

Why read a story of such blood and gore? The overwhelming theme is courage, honor, and the Catholic faith. The knights know what the loss of this island will mean. They are willing to die for their faith. There are also many touching moments regarding their Faith. Even though they are in the midst of war, the knights celebrate the feast of Corpus Christi. A conversation tairkes place between a squire from Germany who wants to take up arms in defense of the Faith and a knight from Italy who advises, "All in good time, little brother. Youth must learn that service is more than death. We must strive to live for The Word before we can die for it."

This book is a real page-turner: Will the knights be able to hold on to the forts in the midst of wave after wave of bombardments and attacks? What really happened at the siege in Malta? Who is going to win the battle of wits and psychological stamina? And ultimately, will the knights be able to fearlessly defend Catholic Europe from the invasion of the scourge of Islam? Read Angels in Iron to find out.

Perspective: 
Catholic
Review Date: 
6-16-05
Reviewed by: 

Angus and the Ducks

Author(s): 
Marjorie Flack
Copyright: 
1930
Binding: 
Other
Number of pages: 
32 pages
Grade / Age level: 
Resource Type: 
Review: 

Angus is a little Scottish terrier who is terribly curious about everything - especially a noise coming from the other side of the large green hedge. One day, when "the door between outdoors and indoors was left open by mistake" he goes exploring to discover what makes that noise. His adventures are very cute, my children love hearing the sounds made by Angus and by the ducks. The text is very short and simple, but the real beauty is in the language which has a charming and humorous flow to it - it is perfect for reading aloud to little ones.. When my son was three and tired of me reading so many long books to his older sister, this one really helped him start to enjoy stories.

Additional notes: 

Various editions available

Review Date: 
1999
Reviewed by: 

Animal Tracks

Book cover: 'Animal Tracks'
Author(s): 
Arthur Dorros
Illustrator(s): 
Arthur Dorros
Copyright: 
1991
Publisher: 
Scholastic
Binding: 
Softcover
Number of pages: 
30 pages
Subject(s): 
Grade / Age level: 
Review: 

One of the things that fascinates me most about Wisconsin winters (I grew up in California) are the animal tracks clearly visible in the snow. It leaves a temporary record of what was visiting while you weren't looking - what a fascinating thing for homeschoolers to look into. Animal Tracks will make a nice resource for younger students to study local wildlife. This is an illustrated narrative of animal life with a little guessing game on each page based on the tracks left by each animal. The book also contains four pages of identified tracks (including humans) and instructions for "preserving" the tracks with plaster of paris or by tracing. An excellent way to spark children's interest in nature.

Review Date: 
1999
Reviewed by: 

Animals in Winter

Book cover: 'Animals in Winter'
Author(s): 
Henrietta Bancroft
Richard Van Gelder
Copyright: 
1997
Publisher: 
HarperTrophy
Binding: 
Softcover
Number of pages: 
32 pages
Subject(s): 
Grade / Age level: 
Review: 

A beautifully illustrated look at where various animals go when it snows and how they prepare for winter. We learn details of the migration of various animals (such as birds, butterflies and bats), animals that hibernate, animals that store up food for the winter and animals that have to find their food throughout the winter. Includes instructions for feeding birds and other wild animals in your own backyard.

Review Date: 
4-4-01
Reviewed by: 

Animals of God - Three Catholic stories for children

Author(s): 
Regina Martyrum Productions
Subject(s): 
Resource Type: 
Review: 

This audio cassette tells the stories of three different animals who played roles in the lives of the Saints. They are told from the animals' point of view and are appropriate for small children. Similar to other Regina Martyrum audio dramas, they are performed with a full cast of voices and appropriate music and sound effects. I especially like the first story which helps to explain the Catholic belief about the Eucharist and the story of a miracle and a conversion involving St. Anthony of Padua and a donkey named Joshua.

Review Date: 
1999
Reviewed by: 

Anno's Counting Book

Book cover: 'Anno's Counting Book'
Author(s): 
Mitsumasa Anno
Copyright: 
1975
Publisher: 
Harper Trophy
Binding: 
Softcover
Number of pages: 
32 pages
Subject(s): 
Grade / Age level: 
Review: 

This is a charming Counting Book with a colorful two page spread for each number from zero through twelve. The pictures show the beginnings of a town. For zero, you see a snowy field with a river running through it. The next page has one house built, one snowman, one person skiing, one pine tree, one crow, one dog, etc. Each month another building is added as more people come to the town. Young children, who often enjoy small details in pictures, can find how many things on each page can be counted up to the same number. Some of the details are quite creative, such as the clock on the church showing the appropriate time for the particular page.

Review Date: 
3-25-2000
Reviewed by: 

AntWorks Ant Habitat

Book cover: 'AntWorks Ant Habitat'
Publisher: 
Fascinations
Grade / Age level: 
Review: 

AntWorks was one of the highlights of our summer natural history studies! This simple kit became a quirky centerpiece on our dinner table, engaging the entire family from the 18-month-old who insists that they are "Nants" to a 40-something daddy. AntWorks comes as a thick-walled plastic home with a stable base; this became important as the little ones spent time watching the ants. We have tried the sand-filled ant farms with dismal spills that freed too many of the inhabitants. The AntWorks home is filled with a blue gel-like substance that provides both nourishment and liquid to the ants. Accompanying literature explains that this gel was developed by NASA for experiments carried out on the Space Shuttle. One of the nicest features is that this gel is translucent, allowing observers to see completely through the tunnels. An optional illuminator is a nice addition which makes an interesting night light, but we thought that it wasn't necessary.

Ants are not included with the kit. You can either catch your own or mail in the enclosed coupon. We opted for the mail-order ants, and that boosted interest in the project for our little ones who love to receive mail. Once the ants are added to their home, the only maintenance that is needed is opening the top for a few seconds a week to allow fresh air to enter. Occasionally you will need to remove a dead ant, but our industrious insects buried their fallen comrades deep in the gel in sealed chambers. It was incredible to observe! This kit, combined with a few books from the library and a couple of diagrams and coloring pages downloaded from the Internet, provided a wonderful investigation into the life of ants for our elementary school-aged students.

Additional notes: 

Science Kit, Dimensions: 6.5"L x 5.5"W x 1.25"D

Review Date: 
8-24-05
Reviewed by: 

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