This book is #32 in The American Adventure Series. Set in 1906, the main characters live in St. Paul, Minnesota, but they take a vacation riding the railroad out west to San Francisco, California. Some historical events discussed included not only the massive earthquake in San Francisco which measured 7.8 on the Richter scale, but also Enrico Caruso singing in the opera Carmen, the fires that spread following the earthquake and the general disdain some individuals held for the Chinese at that time. Some character issues addressed included adjusting to the addition of a step-parent following the loss of a parent, discrimination based on race, and how working together in a stressful circumstance can build bonds between individuals.
"Nourishing Meals: Gluten Free, Dairy Free and Soy Free Dishes" (Many Recipes are also Egg Free): Book Review
In this book, the children have been expressly told not to spend time with, or even be around newsboys, or other children of the 'rougher' sort that ran around without their parents and perhaps with disregard to social standards for behavior. When a newsboy helps Esther get home after she sprains her foot/ankle, she's unsure how her parents will react. She and her cousin, Ted, slowly become friends with him and discover he only works as a newsboy because his father was injured at the railroad and then lost his job. Humor keeps the book from being too serious or negative because Esther is forever finding herself in situations where she's scolded for unladylike behavior. She's a clumsy girl with good intentions and as the book wears on, she does discover a need to be more mindful of her behavior around others. She also demonstrates humility when being corrected or embarrassed.
The children travel with family to the Chicago World's Fair and discussion of the exhibits they viewed could lead to fascinating research or unit studies about the time period. From farming, to women's rights, to a towering Ferris Wheel, there is much to see during their visit. Returning home from the fair, the gravity of the unemployment situation bothers the children and Esther comes up with a way to help families who are having a hard time getting enough food. Eventually, the city takes more notice and begins to tally the number of unemployed and plans are made to help assist these families.
We use these books as part of our homeschool history to give the children a broad overview and spark their interest in American History. I've been very pleased with them and have only discovered a few books which had plots or content a bit too intense for my 6 and 4 year olds. All have been very appropriate for my 4th grader and enjoyable for me to read as an adult. I've learned a lot through this series that I hadn't learned in school and it's much more pleasurable than memorizing dates or watching a dry documentary.
This book had several quotes which would be excellent conversation starters. I'll share some of the ones I gleaned here:
The most creative acts in history are God-generated acts. It shouldn't surprise us that creative people are often chronic procrastinators. Creatives generate more ideas than they can pursue, which is one reason they are not the risk takers they are often made out to be. They tend to be cautious about the ideas on which they expend their energy. (pg. 18)
I would recommend this to anyone wanting to take a fresh look at Jesus as the Bible portrays Him. It can be easy to get caught up in what we think a Christian "walk" should look like or bogged down in guilt for areas we feel we don't measure up. This book opens the door for freedom to be who God called you to be rather than to try fit some type of cookie cutter mold created by the current church, the current culture, or perhaps most accurately, the current church culture.
In the interest of full-disclosure, I received a copy of this book courtesy of Tyndale House Publishers for the purpose of reviewing. I was not required to give a positive review, my opinions are genuine.
This children's book by Rachel Anne Ridge is a fun read. It's 39 pages long, but with minimal text on each page, so you can easily read it in under 5 minutes. I found it rather cute that even though it is a read-aloud length story for young children, the author broke it into "chapters" by putting a cute little sign on 3 of the pages. The story flows beautifully even if you miss this detail and I didn't bother mentioning the chapters to my kids the first time, but I think mentioning it in the future may help them glean more from this story. The chapter names are "Meeting", so we could see how he meets others, "Caring" and "Celebrating."
Flash is a donkey with a blue wagon and big ideas for heading on an adventure and collecting odds and ends that he considered "treasure" which caught his eye. When he takes a tumble and crashes his wagon load, a goat, a pig and a hen come to make sure he's okay. They bring Flash to their home to care for him (he has a bump on his head) and we are all entertained by the big personalities portrayed in so few words in this book. The illustrations show a lot of expression. When his new acquaintances have a problem that Flash is able to help solve, he discovers he has made friends. The emphasis of this book is meant to be that caring for others can be a prerequisite to making friends. It does not heavily imply that just because you do something nice for someone they WILL be or ARE your friend for sure. Don't read that far into it, it's a lighthearted kids' story.
At the end of the story is a page with Proverbs 11:30, "The seeds of good deeds become a tree of life; a wise person wins friends." Then there are 2 pages prompting the reader to discuss with the child(ren) how we can be caring toward our friends. My children (ages 4-9) enjoyed this story and so did I. It's a sturdy hardcover book with a dust jacket (but when you take the dust jacket off or lose it, as happens often at our home, the hardcover is full color printed just like the dust jacket is) and the thick pages should stand up to years of use.
In the interest of full-disclosure, I received a complimentary copy of this book from Tyndale House Publishers for the purpose of reviewing. I was not required to give a positive review; my opinions are genuine.
"The Great Mill Explosion" is part of The American Adventure Series and is set in Minneapolis, Minnesota in 1878. The historical event covered is the explosion and subsequent fire destroying several flour mills in downtown Minneapolis. The moral issues include how to handle it when you are placed in a position to choose between two friends, when a friend is being bullied, and the emotional and physical challenges of being or loving a burn victim.
The first couple chapters of this book are rather intense as they describe the children being near enough to hear the explosion, feel the shudders, see and feel the chaos of falling debris and panicking people, but not yet understand what is happening. For that reason, I would suggest starting reading this book during the day when you will have time to read and discuss at least the first 3 chapters if you have small children. The reason for this recommendation is that if you read only the first 2 chapters, you will be left hanging with the suspense of whether or not one of the girls' fathers is alive. We found it to be much better for my sensitive child to read straight through chapter 3 and have some good news to stop after despite the despair described in the story.
Due to the intense start, I was unsure whether my sensitive 6 year old would handle the rest of the book well. I am glad I stuck with it and read the whole book as it had beautiful lessons about how to politely and respectfully handle difficulties in friendship and how to step out and offer compassion to others in difficult situations even when it feels awkward or uncomfortable. These books have been a great addition to our homeschool for supplemental American History and we have all learned and retained a great deal. I grew up in Minnesota and attended public school there, even studying our state for a class project and never heard of this event.
If you'd like to check out other reviews from this series, click below:
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Love this girl's writing... feels like she's a long distance friend. Well, her sister is my long-distance friend, so that probably helps. Either way, what an inspiration and encouragement- you just need to check out some of the places life has taken Leah and be strengthened and inspired by the love that oozes (yes, oooozes) from her heart for Jesus, His people and His creation!
If you like nummy recipes, or have special dietary needs (or both!) check it out. ALL of her recipes are Vegan, and many can be made gluten-free. I stumbled upon it when searching for dairy/egg free treats to make for my kiddo and have gotten hooked on several recipes. Okay, "hooked on" doesn't portray it well enough. How about "addicted to"? That's more fitting. Will definitely be going back for more!