Category Archives: books

M – Middle School Books ~ Blogging Through the Alphabet

M
After missing last week due to a case of the “blahs”, we are back on today. This week’s letter is “M”. There were quite a few really good options for this one.

Mrs Piggle Wiggle

Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle by Betty MacDonald

Oh my, oh my, are the Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle books hilarious! We absolutely adore them, all of them. There are several. Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle has a way with children and she is capable of curing the most difficult of cases. Her cures work every single time. From the “Won’t-Pick-Up-Toys” cure to the “Fighters-Quarrelers” cure, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle saves the day. And what makes it even better is that the kids all love her, too.

These books are from the 1940s and 1950s but are ever so much fun to read. These are some of those “don’t miss” books, in our family’s opinion. As a side note for you adults reading, Betty MacDonald has also written several biographies about her own life – as a chicken farmer, with two daughers, and being sent away to a hospital for tuberculosis. Fascinating books!

Magic by the Lake

Magic By The Lake by Edgar Eager

Another of his fun reads about magic, so if magic isn’t your thing or you don’t want your kiddos reading about it, just skip this one. Magic By The Lake is a story about the children (Jane, Mark, Katharine, and Martha) who wish for magic without thinking about how much magic is too much. The wording is everything is wishing for magic and well, that is where the children made their mistake – by the lake, specifically. Find out what hilarious adventures away them as they try to escape the magic by the lake.

Mistakes the Worked

Mistakes that Worked by Charlotte Foltz Jones

This is a fun science read about how some inventors and scientists made mistakes that ended up being of benefit to someone. From potato chips to silly putty to aspirin and more, these little bits of surprise have become useful, helpful, and fun products that we all use. Miss L enjoys checking this book out from the library ever so often and browsing through it over and over. Inspiring ideas about not giving up just because something didn’t work the way you expected.

Mr Poppers Penguins

Mr. Popper’s Penguins by Richard and Florence Atwater

Mr. Popper is a house painter, nothing elaborate, nothing fancy. When he is given a penguin, life begins to take on some changes. Eventually, he ends up with a whole flock of penguins and has to do something. What should he do? Take the show on the road, of course. Join Mr. Popper and his penguin troupe as they have some fun and funny adventures. Published in 1938, this is a classic for many reasons but most of all, it is a good read to enjoy with the family. We used this one as a read aloud when I first heard of it and we have enjoyed it a couple of other times since.

That’s it for today but don’t forget to visit the other ABC bloggers to find out all that they are writing about this week.

Blessings,
At Home.

blogging-through-the-alphabet-300x300

The ABC linkup is not up for this week yet but when it is you can find it hosted by Hopkins HomeschoolDoodleMom’s Homeschooling Life and Biblical Womanhood.

My previous posts in the series:

A – All-of-a-Kind Family and Adventures of the Little Wooden Horse
B – Ballet Shoes and A Bear Called Paddington
C – Counting by 7s and Cheaper By The Dozen
D – Door In The Wall & D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths
E – The Endless Steppe & Ella Enchanted
F – Family Tree & Fog Magic
G – Great Turkey Walk & The Great Brain
H – Half Magic & Horse Diaries
I – Indian in the Cupboard & Island of the Blue Dolphins
J – Journey to America & Julie: An American Girl – 1974
K – Kite Fighters & Key to the Extraordinary
L – Little Women & Long Way From Chicago

 

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L – Middle School Books ~ Blogging Through The Alphabet

L

The letter L was easy for us to come up with a bundle of titles. And we sure do like them all. These are some of our favorite stories so coming up with this list was not hard at all.

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
Little Men by Louisa May Alcott
Jo’s Boys by Louisa May Alcott

This is just my favorite fiction series ever. I have loved the writing of Louisa May Alcott since I was a middle schooler myself and my girls have fallen in love with her writings, as well. We shared both of these stories and a couple more as read alouds and it hooked the girls.

Little Women is the first book in the series (actually her first two combined, depending on how your edition was printed). It focuses on the March family and the four sisters, young women really, who are growing up amid the Civil War. We don’t see much of the war itself but the effects of it are felt upon the family. Marmee is bringing the girls up to be strong, virtuous women who are proud to be wives and mothers and willing to work hard and with pride at all they do. The escapades of the girls is hilarious amid the heartbreak and hardness of life. The stories will take you on a roller-coaster that you will thoroughly enjoy.

Little Men is the next book and picks up with Jo and the Professor (now her husband) running a school for boys. Jo has grown up quite a bit and has grown into her role as wife and confidant to little boys, since she had much of their spirit as a child herself. These antics are even more fun to read than the sisters’ were, if that is possible. A great read that will show little boys and girls how to grow up to be fine men and women with a respect for their fellow man and all creatures. Jo’s Boys follows this one and the story continues on.

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Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles by Julie Andrews Edwards

I wrote a post on this book a while back because this is just the most imaginative, fun story to read. It was a read aloud and I originally picked it up because of the author. This was such a wonderful book! Highly recommend this story and the trip it will take you on to another world. The adventure? Well you’ll have to read it! This is a Don’t Miss!

Synopsis – Three siblings – Ben, Tom, and Lindy – meet the very unusual Professor Savant who becomes convinced that they are just the children who are capable of making the trip to the elusive Whangdoodleland. In order to make the trip and be able to meet the Whangdoodle, the children have to learn to see and understand things in a completely different way than they ever have before. Once they successfully make the trip, they meet amazing creatures and see unbelievable things. Can they find the perseverance and strength needed to meet the Whangdoodle? And what happens if they succeed?

Long Way from Chicago

Long Way From Chicago by Richard Peck

Summer arrives and with it Joey and his sister Mary Alice leave the comfort of Chicago and go south to visit Grandma Dowdel. Thinking it is going to be the longest summer ever, the two get quite the surprise when the arrive in this little town in Illinois to find that Grandma Dowdel is NOT your typical grandmother. Grandma gets them into and out of situations that the normal young man can’t even comprehend, let alone the fact that Grandma is running the show. Joey and Mary Alice find that sleepy little towns are generally not and Grandma Dowdel is lots of fun. They end up having the time of their life over the next few summers.

We did this story as a read-aloud. Again, we stumbled across it. But it is H-i-l-a-r-i-o-u-s! We loved it and there is enough mischief in it to please any young man, as well. We have since read a number of other Richard Peck books and have not yet been disappointed. A great author to read.

Land of Forgotten Girls

Land of Forgotten Girls by Erin Kelly

This story comes highly recommended by Miss L. I have not read it but it sounds interesting so I may be going to pull it off her shelf to read.

Life is not easy in the Philippines but it gets worse when their father moves Soledad and her little sister Ming to Louisiana. Their mother and sister died back in the Philippines so when their father abandons them with their stepmother, misery threatens to overcome these young girls. But Soledad protects her little sister and they immerse themselves in the stories that Soledad tells. When Ming begins to believe that the fictional aunt from the story will rescue them, what should Soledad do? The story of hope and perseverance amid heartbreak is one that many will relate to.

I do hope you try some of these. They are all wonderful stories and some titles that I often tell others they should read. Great books, all of them.

Blessings,
At Home.

blogging-through-the-alphabet-300x300

The ABC linkup is not up for this week yet but when it is you can find it hosted by Hopkins HomeschoolDoodleMom’s Homeschooling Life and Biblical Womanhood.

My previous posts in the series:

A – All-of-a-Kind Family and Adventures of the Little Wooden Horse
B – Ballet Shoes and A Bear Called Paddington
C – Counting by 7s and Cheaper By The Dozen
D – Door In The Wall & D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths
E – The Endless Steppe & Ella Enchanted
F – Family Tree & Fog Magic
G – Great Turkey Walk & The Great Brain
H – Half Magic & Horse Diaries
I – Indian in the Cupboard & Island of the Blue Dolphins
J – Journey to America & Julie: An American Girl – 1974
K – Kite Fighters & Key to the Extraordinary

K – Middle School Books ~ Blogging Through The Alphabet

K

The letter K provides us with a couple of titles that are not “old standbys.” They are titles we have stumbled upon at used book sales or through very recent publication lists. They are varied and each one has its own interesting qualities.

Kite Fighters

The Kite Fighters by Linda Sue Park

Young-sup can control a kite as though he and the kite are one. His older brother, Kee-sup, struggles to make the kite do as he wishes but his kites are strong and more beautiful than any others. 15th century Korea has rules, though, that dictate that the oldest son in the family will represent that family at the New Year kite fighting competition. The brothers different skills get the attention of the king while they are practicing together for the kite fighting competition. Friendship grows and with it the struggle of family and honor and friendship. Will Young-sup ever get the chance to fly a kite in the New Year competition and until he does, can he support his brother?

The story of brotherhood and friendship is one that was really enjoyed by Miss L and this title sprung to mind quickly when we got to K in our list-making. She highly recommends this story. The historical fiction setting is one that is filled with culture and its bounds but the struggles of family? Those are not all that different from what brothers, and sisters, face today.

Key to the ExtraordinaryKey To The Extraordinary by Natalie Lloyd

Family history can run deep and have a profound effect on life. Especially when your family includes famous people who did extraordinary things. And those things were given to them in dreams. Emma is waiting for her own dream when her mother dies. And in her sadness, that wait seems even harder. But when her dream does finally come, can she really do the task set before her? Can she find the legendary hidden treasure of her town? If she doesn’t, is she letting her mother down?

The girls said this one is a fun story that they would recommend.

Katy's BoxKaty’s Box by Mary Evelyn Notgrass McCurdy

Published recently by The Notgrass Company, Katy’s Box is about a young girl and her family as they set out on their first year of homeschooling. What an adventure it is for them. Through the ups and downs and the re-imagining what education is really about, they grow stronger and make new memories while Katy is adding new treasures to her special box. It was a pleasant, easy read and it has gone on the bookshelf for the girls to read and enjoy.

See you next week for the letter L.

Blessings,
At Home

blogging-through-the-alphabet-300x300

The ABC linkup is not up for this week yet but when it is you can find it hosted by Hopkins HomeschoolDoodleMom’s Homeschooling Life and Biblical Womanhood.

My previous posts in the series:

A – All-of-a-Kind Family and Adventures of the Little Wooden Horse
B – Ballet Shoes and A Bear Called Paddington
C – Counting by 7s and Cheaper By The Dozen
D – Door In The Wall & D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths
E – The Endless Steppe & Ella Enchanted
F – Family Tree & Fog Magic
G – Great Turkey Walk & The Great Brain
H – Half Magic & Horse Diaries
I – Indian in the Cupboard & Island of the Blue Dolphins
J – Journey to America & Julie: An American Girl – 1974

Also linking up with the Homeschool Blog Link-up hosted by the Homeschool Review Crew.

 

Homeschool Review Crew Weekly Link Up 

The Crown ~ book review

I honestly had no idea what I was getting into when I started this book but because I am interested in the history that surrounds the Royal Family, I just knew it would be interesting. I was right. And wrong.

I do not watch the TV series The Crown. That made this book a bit difficult. Written by the show’s historical consultant and royal biographer, Robert Lacey, the book is fascinating to read. The full title of this book is The Crown: The Official Companion Volume I – Elizabeth II, Winston Churchill, and the Making of a Young Queen 1947-19559781524762285.

Whew! That’s a long, detailed title. And a pretty accurate description of what the book covers.

The history surrounding the crowing of Elizabeth II at a very young age is where the book starts. It covers much of the royal family, jumping somewhat back and forth between people. And since so many of them have similar names, there can easily be confusion about which person is being talked about. There is a House Of Windsor family tree at the beginning and consulting it often helped.

Robert Lacey did a very nice job with this book, relating well between the TV series and the actual history. One of the parts that would have made this easier would be to have seen the series. A big part of what this companion does is to show you where there were liberties taken in the series over the actual history. I found these parts difficult since I didn’t know the series but if you did, I can only imagine that these would be particularly fascinating.

This book was not a fast read for me but I did really enjoy it. And the photos were just beautiful to view. Some of them are historical photos but many are from the TV series. Again, something that was distinguished for me fairly well.

If you are a fan of the series The Crown, then this companion book will be a really interesting read for you. If you find the history surrounding the Royal Family and history in general interesting, this book will also be interesting for you. You may have to work a bit harder at it than if you are approaching it as the companion to the series but still a very interesting read.

Blessings,
At Home.

FTC Disclaimer: I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

J – Middle School Books ~ Blogging Through The Alphabet

J

Letter J was a bit more difficult. I know – the really hard ones are coming! But, we did get a couple of books we enjoyed for J.

Journey To America

Journey To America by Clare Pastore

This series jumped to mind very quickly for Miss L when she looked at the letter J. She has read all she can of these but there is a problem – there is more than one series with this title and she likes one but not the other. Just to be aware when you look for them. Nothing wrong with the other but the one by Pastore is her favorite. The stories are just better, according to her.

This is a series about immigrants. And I think what really caught Miss L’s attention was that there was an immigrant story that are not the norm; it was from Cambodia. Miss L found this series when she was looking for stories about girls from Asia so this one was a perfect fit at that time. Also, one of them takes place in WWII, which is another time period she has spent a lot of time reading about, so another good fit.

The stories are interesting and are told in the diary format. Cambodia, Ireland, and Poland are the countries the girls in this series come from. The stories are interesting and do a very good job of showing the reader a bit about what life would have been like for these young girls.

Julie

Julie – An America Girl – 1974

Many of the American Girl books are a bit more suited to upper elementary. I am suggesting this one, though, as a middle school book due to some of the content. Julie’s family splits and her parents divorce in her story and so it might provide some good discussion content for middle school students. My girls enjoy all of the American Girl books so I don’t really see these fit a particular reading level.

That’s it for this week. Short and simple. Got any titles for the letter J that I need to add? I’d love it if you’d leave a comment for me if you think of any.

Blessings,
At Home.

blogging-through-the-alphabet-300x300

The ABC linkup is not up for this week yet but when it is you can find it hosted by Hopkins HomeschoolDoodleMom’s Homeschooling Life and Biblical Womanhood.

My previous posts in the series:

A – All-of-a-Kind Family and Adventures of the Little Wooden Horse
B – Ballet Shoes and A Bear Called Paddington
C – Counting by 7s and Cheaper By The Dozen
D – Door In The Wall & D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths
E – The Endless Steppe & Ella Enchanted
F – Family Tree & Fog Magic
G – Great Turkey Walk & The Great Brain
H – Half Magic & Horse Diaries
I – Indian in the Cupboard & Island of the Blue Dolphins

Andi Carter is back in new adventures ~ Susan K Marlow book review

Circle C books 3 and 4

We do enjoy our Andrea Carter books and all of her adventures on the Circle C Ranch. Author Susan K Marlow has recently released two more of the Circle C Stepping Stones books and they are just as enjoyable as her previous books. I received copies of books 3 and 4 in the Circle C Stepping Stones series from Kregel Publications to read and share.

Andrea Carter grows up in the Circle C books series. Starting out with Andrea (Andi) at age 6 and going through her teenage years, this series is a great one that grows with your girl. The books are set in the late 1800s in California.

Circle C Beginnings – This series is for ages 6-9. It features Andi as a youngster who doesn’t even have a horse of her own. Yet. She struggles through being the youngest. Her curiosity fuels lots of adventures.

Circle C Stepping Stones – This series is for ages 7-10. And is a bit older and has her own horse. She and her friends find many things to do and continue to find adventure with a sense of curiosity. (review of books 1 & 2)

Circle C Adventures – This series is aimed at ages 9-13. As Andi gets older, so her adventures and scrapes become more varied and dangerous. Andi is almost a teenager now and her family is beginning to expect her to act like a young lady. But she is just not ready to be a young lady yet and her curiosity continues to get her into trouble and adventure.

Circle C Milestones – This is the final set of books in the Circle C Ranch books and it is aimed at readers ages 12 and up. These are a bit more mature stories and themes. The situations Andi finds herself in are a bit more grown-up and have some intensity to them. (Thick as Thieves book 1 review, The Last Ride book 3 review, Courage Love book 4 is mentioned in this post)

Tales from the Circle C Ranch – This collection of stories bridges some of the other stories. Each story has a statement at the beginning to help the reader place it within the larger timeline of Andi stories.

 

Andi Lassos Trouble

Andi Lassos Trouble (book 3)

Andi and her friend Sadie are always having fun together and encouraging one another. One afternoon, they end up having to escape from a stampede and then witness the ranch hands from several ranches. When the ranch hands from the Circle C and other surrounding ranches begin having scuffles and a tough time, Mother suggests that there be a rodeo after the roundup so the ranch hands can show off their skills. It is a well accepted suggestion and everyone gets really excited. Andi and Sadie are no exception. They begin working hard to be able to participate. Is Taffy, Andi’s horse, going to be ready? Also, Sadie’s family are sheep herders. When they show up at the rodeo, another scuffle almost breaks out.

Andi To The Rescue

Andi to the Rescue (book 4)

When Andi’s teacher is injured, Mother steps in as the school teacher for a while. Unfortunately, one afternoon, Andi and Mother are abducted by a robbers who think they are kidnapping the normal school teacher. Thankfully, Mother is an excellent teacher and is able to begin what is expected by the man who masterminded the kidnapping. But as winter begins to settle in, Andi has to make a daring escape or they might be stuck in the mountains with the kidnappers all winter. Can Andi be brave enough?

My Thoughts

One of the things that I really appreciate about all of the Andi books is that there is a decidedly Christian feel to them. The family attends church. They talk about various themes – Golden Rule or Bible verses, perhaps – in each book. The children of the family, no matter their age, know how they are to behave and conduct themselves. I really appreciate not having to be at all concerned about what might be in the books because they are clean and adventurous books that grow with my children.

Ms. Marlow has created an enduring character and a set of books that I am happy to recommend. In fact, I recommend them often, whether it is to friends, other homeschoolers, or our library system. We think everyone will benefit from these fun stories of adventure fueled by a curious little girl.

Another great thing – Ms. Marlow has created downloadable pages to go with her stories. You can find them on her website – Circle C. There are drop down menus for each part of the series and the free activity pages are on that menu, as are some free coloring pages to go with each story. These activity pages turn the books into a literature unit full of fun learning. If you want more, there are also lapbook kits for sale that go with each book.

Blessings,
At Home.

 

I received a free copy of these two books from Kregel Publications in exchange for my honest opinion. I was asked to share about them only if I enjoyed them. I was not compensated in any other way. All opinions expressed are my own or those of my family. I am disclosing this in accordance with FTC regulations.

 

I – Middle School Books ~ Blogging Through the Alphabet

I

The letter I wasn’t too bad but it wasn’t super easy, either. We had a couple of “controversial” books on this list – At Home Dad liked it a lot and I did not a lot. 🙂 That’s a big part of the joy of this journey we are on – we both get to share things we enjoy with the girls. Rather than continuing to ramble, which I am quite good at sometimes, I’ll get on with the list.

Island of the Blue Dolphin

Island of the Blue Dolphin by Scott O’Dell

This is a story about a girl who spent 18 years along on an island off the coast of California. She has to learn to survive in the difficult island setting. Set in the early 1800s, this story shows courage, bravery, and strength of spirit to overcome. From maintaining her food supply to fighting of wild dogs to finding and maintaining shelter, Karana boldly shows many of the characteristics that we seek in our heros.

Indian in the Cupboard

Indian In The Cupboard by Lynne Reid Banks

This is one that At Home Dad began reading to the girls because grandma sent it home with one of them after a sleep over and told her how wonderful it was. Well, once we got started, they all loved it. So, I think several of the books in this series were read aloud.

Omri has a little cupboard where he stores his favorite plastic characters. When he puts his favorite figure, an Iroquois Indian named Little Bull, in, something wonderful happens – Little Bull comes to life. With a real, live little figure to play with, Omri has many adventures. But he also now has a heavy responsibility – he is the one who must care for and keep safe his new friend. This is the first of a series of five books and each one takes the adventure a bit deeper and into new territory.

If You Were Me . . . series by Carole P. Roman
If You Lived . . . series by various authors

Both of these series are fun and informational. They take the reader back in time (or in at least one case – forward in time) to a different place or culture. The reader gets to learn about clothing, food, housing, customs, military, rulers, and more for the place that is visited. The If You Were Me series takes you there as a child of that place. The If You Lived series answers a bunch of questions that the reader might have. Both of these are informative, almost to a fault. Some of the books get so deep that they begin to lose the reader. However, they are great for some independent research and are fun to read aloud, as well. While they are not novels for middle schoolers, the information makes them invaluable resources for research or unit studies.

Inside Out and Back Again

Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai

This is an immigrant story of a young girl who comes from Vietnam. While her childhood was spent in Saigon amid the markets, family, traditions, and friends, it comes crumbling down when she is forced to flee. When the Vietnam War arrives in her home area, they board a ship to get away and to search out hope. They arrive in America and the girl has to learn, adjust, and change.

This is a story told in verse and is based on the author’s own personal experiences. Miss L recommended this book and holds it in pretty high regard. She has read it several times and finds it very interesting.

Perhaps something in this little list strikes your fancy or you see something that one of your readers would enjoy. From read alouds to personal research, there is quite a little variety here and we hope you enjoy reading about them.

Blessings,
At Home.

blogging-through-the-alphabet-300x300

The ABC linkup is not up for this week yet but when it is you can find it hosted by Hopkins HomeschoolDoodleMom’s Homeschooling Life and Biblical Womanhood.

My previous posts in the series:

A – All-of-a-Kind Family and Adventures of the Little Wooden Horse
B – Ballet Shoes and A Bear Called Paddington
C – Counting by 7s and Cheaper By The Dozen
D – Door In The Wall & D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths
E – The Endless Steppe & Ella Enchanted
F – Family Tree & Fog Magic
G – Great Turkey Walk & The Great Brain
H – Half Magic & Horse Diaries

 

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