Monday, July 28, 2008

Fearfully and Wonderfully Made

By Reviewer Shawna
Title: Fearfully and Wonderfully Made
Author: Jewel D. Williams
Primary Audience/age group: 13 and up
Genre: Non-fiction
# Of pages: 168
Publisher: Pleasant Word
Year of Release: 2008
Part of a Series? No
Rating: 3 (View Scale) (See Recommendation)

Description: From book jacket: Where do our young ladies find answers to their questions about themselves? Are the movies or music videos correct? Does today's music hold the answers? NO! Our Young girls are being bombarded with the wrong images. The world is giving them incorrect answers to the questions they have about life. It is time to change where our young ladies get the answers for the purpose of their lives. That is where Fearfully and Wonderfully Made can help. When our young ladies realize that God wants to be a vital part in their lives and that he has the answers, then the stronghold the enemy has on them can be broken. They need answers to the question of who they can become. They need answers to the questions of what the Bible says about sex, abortion and so much more. They need answers that the world is not capable of giving. They need the answers that only God's Word can give.

Review: Remember your teen years? It’s a time of growth, not only physically but emotionally and spiritually as well. It’s the time when you began to make your own decisions separate from your parents. It can be such a difficult time, but with God’s wisdom, young ladies can make wise, Biblically-based decisions. Because even at that age, the decisions they make can affect them as adults. Jewel D. Williams uses the struggles she faced and overcame with God’s help to encourage young women in their walks with Christ. Fearfully and Wonderfully Made is a much-needed guide to God’s word on the hard decisions young women will face in an easy-to-read study-guide format.

Rating: 3 for mature content dealing with sexuality and mention of child abuse and a rape (see below)

Positive: Fearfully and Wonderfully Made encourages young ladies to meditate on God’s word and teaches them God’s principles on topics like peer pressure, dating and drinking. Williams encourages girls to set Christ-centered goals for themselves and search for God’s purpose in their lives. She also encourages young women to look to their parents or other Christian adults as mentors. Williams also uses the results of several teenage studies to help young ladies identify with the choices other teens are making as well.

Spiritual Elements: The entire book is Bible-based and uses many quotes from Scripture to guide young women in decision making.

Violence: Williams details her own difficult story as she faced abuse from her parents and even a rape in college (which is not discussed in depth.) With God’s help, she was able to overcome her difficult circumstances and choose to live a Christ-centered life.

Language: none

Sexual Content: God’s plan for waiting for sex until marriage is spelled out. The book also talks about how to deal with pressure to have sex before marriage and how to avoid sexual temptation.

Other: Teen drug and alcohol use are discussed as well as the consequences of use and what the Bible says about such behavior.

The truths about abortion are covered as well as the importance of human life.

Recommendation: I highly recommend this book to any teenage girl struggling with the tough decisions on the road to adulthood. The book is set up in such a way that it is ideal for individual and group study. Although the book discusses mature topics, it is a much needed resource for girls as young as thirteen or fourteen. The topics are covered in an appropriate manner with God’s word at the center of it all. I would encourage parents to study along with their daughters or at least have some follow-up discussions with them about the topics discussed in the book.

The Staircase

By Teen Reviewer Melissa

Title: The Staircase
Author: Ann Rinaldi
Primary Audience/Age Group: Young Adult; ages 13-16
Genre: Historical Fiction
# of Pages: 277
Publisher: Gulliver Books
Year of Release: 2000
Part of a Series? Yes, Great Episodes (various authors & stories)
Rating: 4 (View Scale)
Recommend? *See Recommendation

Description: Inside cover
Lizzy Enders is furious. Her father has left her, without so much as a good-bye, at a girls school run by the Sisters of Loretto in Santa Fe, New Mexico Territory. How could he abandon her in this strange, brooding place, where she is surrounded by silly girls who pray to Saint Joseph for miracles and tell stories of beheadings and bleeding saints?

Lizzy, a Methodist, doesn’t understand the many rules of the Catholic nuns-and she doesn’t want to. What Lizzy does want is her mama, who dies on the Santa Fe Trail...... and for her father to need her with him. But what’s the point in wishing for things that never can be. Stuck with an insufferable roommate who convinces the other girls to shun her, Lizzy makes friends with a poor wandering carpenter hired to build a staircase to the new chapel’s choir loft. Through their friendship, Lizzy begins to understand thatthe way she sees things is not always the way things are-and that maybe she hasn’t been abandoned after all.Working from the legend of the “miraculous” staircase at the Chapel of Loretto in Santa Fe, Ann Rinaldi skillfully blends the mystery surrounding the staircase's builder and daily life of a spunky thirteen-year-old girl charting her own path in 1870s.

Review: I thought this book was very strange, and the characters were constantly fighting. Though everything was resolved in the end, it took the whole book, and I was somewhat disappointed. The book did have good parts, but all the while I felt just as mad as Lizzy was - and I don’t like to feel mad when I’m reading a book.

Rating: 4, for one bad word and some violent or offensive behavior.

Spiritual Elements: Though the story takes place at a Catholic school, there is really no reference to the one and only God.

Violence: Lizzy talks back, thinks up ways to “blow” people away with her arguments, and is angry a lot. Elinora is cruel to Lizzy until the end of the book when both problems are solved.

Language: There are two “d” words in the beginning of the book.

Sexual Content: None.

Recommendation: I wouldn’t recommend this book to too many people, although if you did like the description, then go ahead. The main thing that put me off was the anger throughout the book - and disappointment. Put those two things together and the book is a drag.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Hard Love

Title: Hard Love
Author: Ellen Wittlinger
Primary Audience/age group: 12+ (from Amazon)
Genre: YA
# Of pages: 240
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Year of Release: 2001
Part of a Series? No
Rating: 1 (View Scale)

Description: Since his parents' divorce, John's mother hasn't touched him, her new fiancé wants them to move away, and his father would rather be anywhere than at Friday night dinner with his son. It's no wonder John writes articles like "Interview with the Stepfather" and "Memoirs from Hell." The only release he finds is in homemade zines like the amazing Escape Velocity by Marisol, a self-proclaimed "Puerto Rican Cuban Yankee Lesbian." Hanging around the Boston Tower Records for the new issue of Escape Velocity, John meets Marisol and a hard love is born.
While at first their friendship is based on zines, dysfunctional families, and dreams of escape, soon both John and Marisol begin to shed their protective shells. Unfortunately, John mistakes this growing intimacy for love, and a disastrous date to his junior prom leaves that friendship in ruins. Desperately hoping to fix things, John convinces Marisol to come with him to a zine conference on Cape Cod. On the sandy beaches by the Bluefish Wharf Inn, John realizes just how hard love can be.
With keen insight into teenage life, Ellen Wittlinger delivers a story of adolescence that is fierce and funny -- and ultimately transforming -- even as it explores the pain of growing up.

Review: As I was reading this book I really wondered, how did it win the “Printz Award for Excellence in Young Literature”? I don’t know what the requirements are for that award, but to me this book was quite predictable and simplistic. John is not a likable guy at all and Marisol is trying so hard to be real, to find herself, that she has become a poser, who seems to be making choices and acting out just to get away from her parents who she feels like are trying to keep her back. In truth her parents seem quite supportive - not the type you’d run away from. I read Hard Love in about 3 ½ hours - it was a quick and easy read. And, I will admit some tears at the end. The best part of the book was reading the “zines” - they were creative and fun.

Rating: 1 for coarse language including the “f” word and implied sexual situations

Positive: I liked how the teens in this book explored who they were and expressed themselves by writing. They wrote “zines”, self printed newspapers, I guess they came before blogs, MySpace and Facebook. It was nice to see them searching and exploring in this manner rather than turning to drugs or alcohol. In relation to John I felt like this book dealt realistically with the effects divorce can have on kids.

Spiritual Elements: None

Violence: None

Language: Several uses of the “f” word, the Lord’s name in vain and other bad language.

Sexual Content: Marisol is a lesbian. No detail of any of her sexual relationships is given, just implied. John’s father sleeps around and seems to encourage his son to do the same.

Other: **Spoiler** Marisol runs away at the end with some new lesbian friends, not telling her family where she is going. Marisol and John both lie to their parents when they leave the city to attend a zine conference.

Recommendation: Due to the language and other plot points I would not recommend this book for teens. I understand that some teens use bad language and the author is trying to be realistic, but I honestly believe that it is possible to write (and speak) without using such trashy and foul language, it just takes creativity. Amazon recommends the book for 12 years and older - which I just don’t get. The material - love, relationships, sexual orientation, just doesn’t seem appropriate for anyone under 16.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

This Lullaby

Title: This Lullaby
Author: Sarah Dessen
Primary Audience/age group: 16+
Genre: Young Adult Fiction
# Of pages: 352
Publisher: Puffin
Year of Release: 2004
Part of a Series? No
Rating: 1 (View Scale)

Description: From the book jacket:
Remy always knows the perfect time to give a boyfriend “the speech” telling him it’s over right after the first romantic rush, but before any real emotional involvement happens. And Remy should have perfect timing, since she’s had plenty of experience dumping guys. Not to mention what she’s learned from watching her own mother, who’s been married four times and is heading for wedding number five.
So then what is it about Dexter that makes it so hard for Remy to follow her own rules? He’s everything she hates: messy, disorganized, impulsive, and worst of all, a musician like her father. The father Remy never knew, the one who wrote a famous song for her but disappeared from her life. Remy has never had trouble getting out while the getting is good. But there’s just something about Dexter . . . Could it be that Remy is finally finding out what all those love songs are about?

Review: I can see teens enjoying this book. Many may identify with Remy and her pessimistic view of love and her casual view of sex. I was really rooting for her and Dexter to have a good relationship that would last. Dexter is by far the most entertaining character in the book - he also happens to be the most optimistic. However, the awful language turned me off. Use of the “F” word is unnecessary and in my opinion, lacks creativity. I was glad that Remy was changing her life, I only wish that instead of that meaning saving sex till she is “in love” it was saving it until she is married.

Rating: 1 due to bad language, glamorized alcohol use and sexual situations.

Positive: Remy takes her studies seriously and is a good student. She studies hard, takes AP classes and gets into Stanford. She also is responsible in having a job so that she earns her own money to buy a car. Though dysfunctional, her family is close and she really cares about them and helps out as needed.

Spiritual Elements: None

Violence: There are a few confrontational scenes, but nothing I’d call violent.

Language: Very foul. The “f” word and many others appear throughout the book.

Sexual Content: While I don’t recall any real sexual situations, Remy does recall that she used to “sleep around” with a lot of guys - starting at a pretty young age. She holds off having sex with Dexter because she really likes him, unlike all the others she slept with in the past. It seems she’s trying to change her sexual habits - but not to the point that she waits until marriage.

Other: Remy and her friends are all under 21, yet they drink often and use fake ID’s to get into clubs and drink. Many characters also smoke. Remy’s mother is on her 5th marriage and finds out her current husband is cheating on her with his secretary.

Recommendation: I would not let my daughter read This Lullaby. I imagine it is difficult to monitor what teens 16+ read - but if I saw her reading it I would have to tell her to stop. It’s not so much the situations Remy is in - I really felt like she regretted her past sexual activity and was trying to change. But, she wasn’t trying to stop drinking liquor, to stop bar hopping, or to stop using such disgusting language. She still “made out” with Dexter, hung out at his house (where he and his band mates lived), in his bedroom. I really felt like there was a lot of behavior in this book that I would not want my daughter to see treated as causally as it was.

Friday, July 18, 2008


Sharon at Middle-Aged Mama is the winner of the drawing for My Life Unscripted: Who's Writing Your Life? by Tricia Goyer! Congrats!
For those of you who didn't win the book - I whole-heartedly recommend and urge you to buy My Life Unscripted: Who's Writing Your Life? for your teenage daughter, niece, friend, graduate, etc.! I so wish that at 16 someone had sat me down and really gotten me to think about my choices, to consider there was a better way, and a True Friend who could help me through those tough teen years. It would have saved me from lots of trouble and heartache.
Check back often for more reviews and upcoming drawings!
In case you didn't scroll down past the sticky note and see the recent reviews - be sure to check these reviews out:

Lily Quench and the Dragon of Ashby

Journey to the Center of the Earth

Taking Liberty: The Story of Oney Judge, George Washington's Runaway Slave

Chataine's Guardian

To Be Young In America: Growing Up With the Country 1776-1940

Book Drawing!

This is a sticky note - for new reviews please scroll down!

We recently reviewed the book My Life Unscripted: Who's Writing Your Life? You can go here to read the review. This was an awesome book that I would highly suggest for your teen daughter (age 14+). It took every ounce of will power I had to not write in the book as I read it - it really makes you think through decisions you have made in the past and how you could have made better choices.

To enter, simply leave a comment! We will draw the winner on July 18th!
While you're here - be sure to check out these other reviews on books that teen girls are reading:

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Lily Quench and the Dragon of Ashby

Reviewed by Greta
Title: Lily Quench and the Dragon of Ashby
Author: Natalie Jane Prior
Primary Audience/age group: Preteen (ages 9-12)
Genre: adventure/fantasy
# Of pages: 152
Publisher: Puffin Books
Year of Release: 1999
Part of a Series? Yes, 1 of 7
Rating: 3 View Scale
Recommend? Yes, but with reservation

Description: (from book jacket) “As a family of dragon slayers, the Quenches of Ashby have always been burning successes…until the evil Black Count invades, and the family’s fortunes go into a downward spiral. Then a dragon arrives unexpectedly in Ashby and young Lily, the last of the Quenches, is called upon to fight it. Lily doesn’t know anything about quenching dragons! But despite this, she soon finds herself on a desperate, magical quest to save Ashby from destruction – and restore the lost heir to his throne.”

Review: It seems that all the fantasy/adventure stories star a boy, with a girl as a sidekick. I wanted to find an adventure story with a girl as the hero, but I’m afraid Lily Quench is not my girl. Before going any further, let me say this review is based on only the first book and that there are apparently several in the series, so some of what I didn’t like may have changed over time. But I won’t be recommending this for my nine-year-old daughter – it’s just too dark, without enough redeeming qualities to overcome the darkness.

Rating: 3, for implied violence and overall “dark” atmosphere

Positive: (Spoiler alert!) The good guys win in the end. Lily overcomes her lack of self-confidence to do some brave things.

Spiritual Elements: Religion has been banned by the Black Count, but one preacher continues his work underground (although it seems that work is mainly to perform marriages). There is some magic central to the story, as when Lily consults the Oracle to find what she must do.

Violence: This is what most bothered me about this book. Certainly, there is not graphic violence, but there is enough implied violence that I’m not comfortable with it for the audience the book targets. There is some torture (off screen) at the climax of the book. And as silly as it sounds, I was bothered when the soldiers came in and ruthlessly destroyed Lily’s home and possessions while looking for something.

Language: It’s been a couple of weeks since I finished the book, and I don’t remember any objectionable language. However, there are a couple of characters who seem like the type of people who would use bad language, ha ha!

Sexual Content: Miss Moldavia is going to force the Prince to marry her.

Other: The main reason I didn’t like this book was because it was just so dark. The Black Count’s conquest of Ashby has left life a dreary, hopeless drudgery where people are forced to work their lives away in the grommet factory. The villain of the story, Miss Moldavia, is consumed with ambition and will do anything to anyone to get what she wants. I thought sometimes she was a little over the top for a pre-teen book. Another thing I didn’t like was that Lily was completely alone – at the beginning of the book, her grandmother has died, and she’s left with no one. I think there is some effort to have Lily be friends with the dragon (which happens in a very unconvincing way, in my opinion), but I never feel like she has anyone to support her. At least in the Harry Potter series, Harry may be an orphan, but he had loyal friends.

Rating: 3, for implied violence and overall “dark” atmosphere

Recommendation: In a world that’s already so dark and depressing, I don’t need “Lily Quench.” I personally think there must be better adventure series out there for pre-teens. My daughter loved the “Fairy Realm” books by Emily Rodda (which also have a girl for a hero), but she read the first two or three chapters of “Lily Quench” and then dropped it. I asked why, and she said it was boring at first. Obviously, other kids don’t think so, since the series has seven or eight books by now.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Journey to the Center of the Earth

Title: Journey to the Center of the Earth (Enriched Classic)
Author: Jules Verne
Primary Audience/age group: 12 and up
Genre: Science Fiction
# Of pages: 288
Publisher: Signet Classics
Year of Release: 1986
Part of a Series? No
Rating: 5 (View Scale)

Description: From the back of the book:
From the moment a strange Icelandic parchment is discovered in an old bookseller’s shop to the fantastic descent into the dark hollow heart of the earth itself. A journey to the Center of the Earth is fiction at its very best - a classic of science-adventure that remains as wonderfully entertaining today as when it was first published more than 120 years ago. Recognized as one of Jules Verne’s finest novels, it contains that unique combination of believable science and wonderment that made this brilliant Frenchman the father of modern science fiction. A riveting odyssey into the unknown, it depicit’s a subterranean world full of danger and beauty. And for three men who dare to venture into this fearsome underworld, there is a fast-fading chance of ever returning to the surface alive. But it is what they discover at the Earth’s mysterious core that makes this a story still unequalled for high-tension excitement and great reading pleasure.

Review: Jules Verne takes readers on one wild adventure after another that keeps you turning pages and holding on tight! The Signet Classic version I read changed or as they put it “anglicized” the characters names. Professor Hardwigg deciphers a cryptogram and sets out on an adventure to find the center of the Earth. He takes his nephew, Harry (who is a grown man, engaged to be married) and an Icelandic guide named Hans (who was my favorite character). They explore empty lava caves and follow clues left by the one who wrote the cryptogram. The story is mostly about the journey to the center of the Earth, the shortages they face of food, water, light and faith, the difficulty in the finding their way down, and back up again. There is also some description of the terrors they face when discovering fierce and prehistoric animals. The book is full of intense action and adventure, but nothing inappropriate for young readers.

Rating: 5

Positive: Harry and his Uncle were very close and looked after each other, they had each other’s backs so to say. Though the journey was important, it was not more important than they were to each other. This book goes to show that an adventure does not have to include bad language and sex to be interesting and exciting.

Spiritual Elements: The professor acknowledges a Creator of the Earth and an Architect of the Universe. Professor Hardwigg also observed a day of worship and rest.

Violence: No violence - just intense, exciting action and suspense.

Language: None

Sexual Content: None

Other: Don’t rely on the recent movie to tell you the story in this book. The movie, while a fun, family-friendly movie - is quite different from the book. The movie is about the son and brother of Harry (aka Alex) who in the book, went into the Center of the Earth with his Uncle/Professor Hardwigg (aka Lindenbrock).

Recommendation: I have never been a reader who is dedicated to reading classics. I tend to prefer more contemporary books. That being said - I thoroughly enjoyed Journey to the Center of the Earth. It was fast paced and full of adventure, it kept me wanting to find out what happened next on this exciting journey. However, I will admit I had to skim some parts of the story when the author got way too detailed and the “science” part of the fiction got too deep. Don’t let that stop you though - this is a journey you’ll be glad you took!

Taking Liberty: The Story of Oney Judge, George Washington's Runaway Slave

By Reviewer Melissa

Title: Taking Liberty: The Story of Oney Judge, George Washington's Runaway Slave
Author: Ann Rinaldi
Primary Audience/Age Group: Young Adult; ages 12-16
Genre: Historical Fiction
# of Pages:
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Year of Release: 2002
Part of a Series? No.
Rating: 5 View Scale

Inside cover
The only life Oney Judge has ever known is servitude. As part of the staff of George and Martha Washington, she isn’t referred to as a slave. She is a servant-and a house servant at that, a position of influence and respect on the plantation of Mount Vernon. When she rises to the position of personal servant to Martha Washington, her status among the household staff-black and white-is second to none. She is Lady Washington’s closest confidante and, for all intents and purposes, a member of the family-or so she thinks. Slowly, Oney’s perception of her life with the Washington’s begins to crack as she realizes the truth: No matter how close she becomes with Lady Washington, no matter what secrets they share, she will never be a member of the family. And regardless of what they call it, it’s still slavery and she’s still a slave. Oney must make a choice: Does she stay where she is, comfortable, with this family that has loved her and nourished her and owned her since the day she was born? Or does she take liberty-her life-into her own hands and, like her father, become one of the Gone?

Review: Taking Liberty is the story of Oney Judge, one of George Washington’s real slaves, and how she took the freedom that was rightfully hers. Between luxury and comfort that no other slave had, Oney was satisfied with her life. Yet when her mother urges her to take liberty and never again return to Mount Vernon, Oney starts to think. With the help of a freed woman, Oney makes plans to run-before it’s too late.

Rating: 5, for a mild, yet, truthful look on slavery.

Spiritual Elements: Though Martha makes them attend church services and pray, anything that has to do with God is kept on a minimal level.

Violence: None.

Language: None.

Sexual Content: None.

Recommendation: While the American Revolution is raging and George Washington is elected as the first President, there’s another war being fought in secret. The battle between slavery and freedom is told through the eyes of Oney as she recounts her life story to a reporter.

I have read many books about slaves, but Rinaldi is one of the few that exhibits the truth about how our “Founding Fathers” were pushing things like “all men are equal” and “liberty and justice for all”-Rinaldi gives you something to think about.

Rinaldi is a quite a master of detail in this autobiography style book, though some sections were a little confusing at times. The Author’s Note contains real facts about Oney Judge and various characters. Rinaldi also cites several biographies on Washington in addition to Washington's own writings about slavery.

This book would be great for a book club!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Chataine's Guardian

Title: Chataine's Guardian
Author: Robin Hardy
Primary Audience/age group: Young Adult
Genre: Romance, Christian Fiction
# Of pages: 269
Publisher: Nav Press
Year of Release: 2004
Part of a Series? Yes, 1 of 3
Rating: 2 (View Scale)
Recommended? Maybe but definitely not for younger teens

Description: Spoiled and manipulative, ten-year old Chataine Deidre is accustomed to getting her way until she is appointed a guardian as a result of her life being threatened. Roman, a 22-year old soldier, is guided not only by his loyalty to his country but by his love for God. He has assumed the role of Deidre’s protector and is ordered to risk his life for her until the day she is wed. But when the time of her betrothal arrives, will she choose her husband out of devotion to her country or out of the love of her heart?

Review: God’s grace is woven throughout this passionate tale of love between Roman, a follower of the Way, and Deidre, the young woman he serves. Roman’s feelings for Deidre grow from that of a guardian appointed over a child to that of the love between a man and a woman. Their budding adoration is the pivotal plot element and makes for a very romantic story that at times deals with more mature, intimate situations thus making it more suitable for an older audience. Please see the recommendation below.

Rating: 2 for some detail of sexual situations other than kissing including sex and for violence

Positive: The book strongly warrants life lessons through Roman as he stands up for his faith. He shares it openly and wisely with anyone who will listen. Deidre on the other hand grows from a selfish, manipulative child into a woman of value as she learns hard lessons about how her actions may cause serious consequences for others. Their love, particularly Roman’s, mirrors the love of Christ as he often has to sacrifice his will and even his life for that of Deidre’s.

Spiritual Elements: Roman is a Christian and speaks often of his love of God the Father and the Son. Roman has many characteristics that shadow Jesus, that of self-control, honesty, loyalty, and love. He even presents the gospel.

Some sorcery takes place when Deidre and Roman visit another kingdom. They enter what’s called the Sorcerer’s Rooms where Roman is under attack spiritually but prevails in Jesus’ name.

Violence: As part of Roman’s assignment as guardian of Deidre, he must except extreme punishment if she comes to harm. Roman is flogged 20 times for not being able to prevent Deidre from injuring her hand when she disobeys him and enters the fence of a wild horse. Deidre’s father is rather cruel and intolerant.

The story is set during a cruel time where people are beheaded, hanged and flogged. There are several kidnapping attempts on Deidre’s life, and a couple of her kidnappers are killed during her rescue. Although none of the accounts are gory, they are still in a time of war where many soldiers face death. A few murders take place as well as a suicide.

Language: A couple of forms of the word d*** are used on several occasions and one use of the word h***. Roman is talked about as being illegitimate but a courser word is implied.

Sexual Content: There are several kisses along the way and several mentions of improper sexual behavior but not necessarily with the main characters though. Brothels are commonplace, and Roman’s mother is described as a harlot. A servant girl invites Roman to her room, but he refuses because he knows she doesn’t have the purest motives.

One scene in particular goes a bit further with Roman giving Deidre swimming lessons as ordered by her father. They are in proper swimming attire, but she notices his body under his wet clothing which causes embarrassment for both of them.

Spoiler Warnings: Deidre’s mother becomes pregnant with Deidre by another man before she is wed to the Surchatain. Roman and Deidre do wed after she turns 18 and wedding night activities are assumed but not described.

Other: Several small characters along the way are seen drunk.

A magician visits the palace and hypnotizes some of the guests except Roman because he serves a higher power.

Recommendation: Although the book does show strong moral values and teaches many a Bible-based lesson, it is foremost a romance between Deidre and Roman and lingers heavily on their passionate feelings toward each other. That is my greatest concern. The book deals with mature content and although God-centered it is definitely not appropriate for younger teens. I would encourage you as a parent to consider what affect this type of book could have on an impressionable young female’s mind of any age. The book stirs the mind and the body greatly and although these feelings are not wrong, they can make it harder to resist lustful thinking which in turn can lead to making wrong decisions concerning sexual behavior in relationships.

“Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires” reads Song of Songs 3:5b in the NIV of the Bible or in other words don’t awaken sexual desire until the time is right. Heavy romance novels such as this one may not spell out sexual situations in detail but they do arouse the senses and bring about intense emotions. I would encourage you to talk with your daughter about physical relationships and the emotions they bring up if she does read this series.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

To Be Young In America: Growing Up With the Country 1776-1940

Title: To Be Young in America: Growing up with the Country, 1776-1940
Author: Shelia Cole
Primary Audience/age group: Ages 10+ (See Recommendation)
Genre: Non-Fiction
# Of pages: 135
Publisher: Little Brown & Co.
Year of Release: 2005
Part of a Series? No
Rating: 5 (View Scale)

Description: From Inside Cover:
While most American History books discuss presidential elections, the fight over slavery, or the settlement of the West, they are silent about young people’s lives. They do not discuss what it was like to be fifteen years old and fighting the British in 1776, or a young slave growing up on a plantation. Nor do they say much about when children became sick in the era before modern medicine, what it was like to learn in a one-room school house, and how much of a child’s daily life involved hard labor-whether at home, on a far, or in a factory. Yet throughout history, children have been working, playing, making friends, flirting, fighting, taking care of themselves, and becoming the next generation of adults.

Review: Whether they are working, playing, sick, or in trouble, Cole captures and illustrates the kids and teens of the 18th, 19th, and 20th century. By including dozens of photographs and neat side “facts”, To Be Young in America teaches history like it should be: fun, interesting, and inspiring enough to pass it on.

Rating: 5, for a positive outlook on life and history

Spiritual Elements: None

Violence: None

Language: None

Sexual Content: None

Other: Just so you’ll know, there is an old photo (pg. 89 – Chap. 6) of some naked boys (don’t worry, only their backsides are shown) jumping into a river.

Recommendation: When I was younger (say about ten or so), I loved reading books about children in “the old days”. I read many fictional books about children in various eras, but could never find any non-fiction books about them. During a recent trip to the Book Mobile, I finally found what I had been looking for. This book was definitely worth the wait.
Although this book is for any age, children ages 10 or older would be an appropriate age to start. Children and teens should have at least a basic knowledge of the Revolutionary War, Civil War, The Immigration Era, and the Great Depression.
This book would be great for a research paper.
I recommend To Be Young in America: Growing up with the Country, 1776-1940 in so many ways. The author not only provides information for today’s young people, but lets them take a peak into the past.

Stay tuned for more of my reviews on non-fiction books for kids and teens!