Wanted: A Superhero to Save the World: A Bryan Davis Novel Review

Last spring we attended our state’s homeschool convention and I met some wonderful publishers and authors! One of those authors was Bryan Davis. I was already familiar with Davis’ writing because he hosted a writers conference for homeschoolers at our church several years back. My kids were pretty young then and I don’t think they were even school age yet, but this author who took the time to teach and mentor young aspiring authors was suddenly on my radar! He is already well known for his fantasy series including Dragons in our Midst, Oracles of Fire and many others.

In Wanted: A Superhero to Save the World the reader is transported into the mind of Eddie Hertz, a 12-year-old inventor. Eddie may not be very big, but he is brilliant and has created a wide range of gadgets to help him fight against evil in his city. The city may already have a hero, but he is certain there is enough evil for him to join in the fight! Eddie’s younger sister also joins his team and helps him along the way in this fun, edge-of-your-seat novel.

My daughter, Rose, is 13 and devoured this book! She is an avid reader anyway, but has very discerning taste when it comes to fiction. She asked me if there were more novels by the author she could read, a sure sign it is a winner!

Personally, I love several things about this artfully crafted novel. The idea that kids can be used in a mighty way is very biblical. The Scriptures are full of young boys and girls who did great things. We teach our children truth from Scripture, but I want their entertainment to reflect these truths as well. This novel in particular values heroic attributes which are echos of Scripture.

In addition to reminding kids they can do great things, there are also themes of forgiveness, hope, family togetherness, and good vs. evil. Super heroes and villains are very popular right now in our culture. I’m beyond thrilled to give my girls the chance to read a story that is just as wholesome as it is inspiring. I highly recommend this to your entire family!

Disclaimer: I was given this book by the author, Bryan Davis, in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review. All thoughts are my own. 

Writing Strands from Master Books: A Review of the Updated Material

I’m an English teacher and writer. Teaching my daughters to write at home seemed like it would be a piece of cake. Imagine my surprise when it wasn’t! My background in middle-grades education left me ill-equipped to know how to teach writing in the early years. I browsed lots of curricula, but nothing felt right. It was all so complex and overwhelming to me… The ENGLISH teacher! I knew there must be something simpler available. Then I discovered the Writing Strands series through Master Books! I was hooked from the moment I opened the package. Its simple and efficient format led me to not only love it for myself, but recommend it to everyone who asks my thoughts on writing.
Rose choosing names for her the characters in the story she is writing.
I wrote my initial review in the fall of 2016. Since then Master Books has worked to revise the curriculum and republish it for their customers. WOW! The updates are incredible and only make me love the program more. We received Writing Strands: Beginning 1 and  Writing Strands Beginning 2.

 Here are some of the fabulous updates…
1. Daily Schedule – The format has been simplified even more so that it is easy to assign work each week. The original format was a little wordy. This new streamlined format and scheduling guide makes the excellent content all the more user friendly. 
2. Work-pages – Whether you purchase the traditional book or e-book format you will find that most of your student’s writing can occur right on the page. This is nice for kids who need less clutter on their desks and a more defined work-space. 
3. Assessments – Writing assessments are available to the student to fill out for their own writing. Again, this was also included in the original version, but having a page ready to go is very helpful. 
4. Updated Level Breakdown – I think the new levels are a bit more understandable because they do not feel as tied to grade-level as the original books do. There is also a separate, updated teacher’s edition which is helpful to parents. The following levels are currently available:  

Although these are the recommended grades, I am using Beginning 1 with my 2nd grader who was already forming simple sentences. As with all things, assess your child’s ability and choose accordingly. For writers not quite yet ready for Beginnings 1, I highly recommend the original Writing Strands: Level 1. It’s a great way to help your child think creatively and begin to learn about the writing process while having a ton of imaginative fun! 
5. Literature Woven is Throughout – In the previous books the literature study was a separate book which parents would read and learn about for themselves, then teach their children from that knowledge. I love that the writing and literature units are included in the new books. They are scheduled to be used on alternating weeks, but we tend to do a unit of each at the same time. There are also work-pages for this portion as well.
6. Biblical Worldview – There was nothing unbiblical in any way with the original versions, but as with all Master Books materials the company has intentionally included Scripture as a part of the studies. This is done in a lovely way which addresses character and heart issues while still fully exploring literary elements and writing prompts.  
Rose and I editing her Writing Strands assignment for the week.
 Overall Assessment
My overall assessment has not changed except that I love the program even more! My oldest and youngest are continuing to write on their own outside of scheduled school time and their writing is at a very high level. My middle daughter is more of a math-girl, and she too is excelling with the program. Because of the step-by-step nature of Writing Strands they learn about the building blocks of writing in a very meaningful way which is transferring well to other areas.
The girls were recently assessed with Woodcock-Johnson Tests of Cognitive Abilities. Their scores on writing blew me away and I credit it to our use of Writing Strands and reading lots of rich literature. Below are how my girls scored on the writing assessment.
My 7th grader: College
My 5th grader: 7th grade
My 2nd grader: 7th grade
  (While my middle daughter is advanced, she had some health issues this fall that put her schooling on hold for a couple of months and we’d just gotten back to pushing at our regular pace about the time she tested. Since this official test I have seen a greater jump in her writing ability once we were again using Writing Strands.)

 It is imperative for the writing lessons a child completes to apply to other areas. This curriculum is gentle and will not feel excessive, which is perfect. The current trend in public school education is to get children to write more, more, more. While there is truth in the fact that writers become more skilled in their craft the more they practice, elementary school is not the place to apply this principle! I firmly believe this course will suit everyone’s writing needs no matter what ability level.

Disclaimer: I received Writing Strands Beginning 1 and 2 from New Leaf Publishing in exchange for an honest review. The opinions here are my own. I was not required to write a positive review. 

Review of Historical Stories of Survival Unit Studies

In our family history and literature are the core of our studies. It is always exciting when the two overlap and the girls get to see interdisciplinary learning at its best! This is the case with the Historical Stories of Survival series of unit studies written by Justine Gamble. 
We had the opportunity to review the following two studies: 
 We already owned several of these engaging historical fiction books, but they are readily available at libraries across the nation. They are enjoyable for a wide variety of ages. While they are recommended for grades 3-5, my 2nd grader was fully engaged and my 7th grader finds them enjoyable. If you think your kids are not quite ready for the reading level they also make very engaging read aloud books which would work very well for these units for family learning.
Thanks to these fabulous unit studies, the book is only the beginning! The author has created a fully integrated unit study with varied learning style activities which will appeal to a large age range. I used them as independent studies for Beth and Grace. Beth studied about Hurricane Katrina and Grace studied about the San Francisco Earthquakes. My girls did fine with the stories, but remember they are fictional survival stories of historical tragedies. The idea of death as well as natural disasters and man-made tragedies are explored. You should absolutely take into account the sensitivities of each child when choosing a study. 
I love that the literature is fully covered. Students identify various literary elements and write about different aspects within the novel. This is compiled into a lapbook. Lapbooks aren’t a regular part of our day-to-day learning so the girls really enjoy it when they get the chance to create one. Guided literature questions will assure your students are retaining what they read and vocabulary/spelling lists will help them build their skills with word usage.
In addition to the literary elements there are excellent questions guiding students to learn more about the historical period and scientific investigations to engage the learners in the science behind the disasters. Students will create timelines, learn about the cultural and social aspects of the times studied, and learn about the geographical region of the novel. My girls had the chance to learn more about earth quakes and hurricanes, two really fascinating natural disasters! Hurricanes were especially interesting to Grace because her grandparent’s had just spend time preparing for one that came through South Florida.
Grace’s only concern was if she had to fill up all the space provided. That is the wonderful flexibility of this unit study! You can have your kids write as much or as little as is appropriate. This makes is a great fit no matter the age. She is in 2nd grade, but is advanced because she has a later birthday. Still, she gets overwhelmed with too much blank space on a page. I easily fixed this by marking the lines part-way down and telling her where she needed to aim.
  The girls’ favorite part far and away were the games included! I had the girls cut and prepare the games for each of their units. This built up quite a bit of anticipation by doing it themselves! For Grace’s game we grabbed some game pieces from another game to be our “people”.
They also played together! The really cool part about this was that since each of them studied a different historical event, they spent time explaining various historical facts through the game-play. I never told them to do this, but it was an excellent way to assess their actual learning as I listened to the interaction. I played as well and they loved that I participated! 
In addition to the games each unit also has suggested field trip ideas and several artistic creations which can engage those students who love hands-on learning. 
If you are looking for a new way to spice up your homeschool studies or even just as a new way to engage with literature, I highly recommend Historical Stories of Survival from Justine Gamble. Your kids will love learning as they dive into any one of these studies! 
Disclaimer: I was provided with a copy of each of these units for use with my family for review purposes. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions are my own.

The Bears on Hemlock Mountain E-Guide from Progeny Press: A TOS Crew Review

Progeny Press  Literature is one of the most important subjects for me as a homeschool teacher. That is probably because my background is in teaching literature and writing. I love good books, especially classic children’s literature that has stood the test of time. We usually take a very relaxed approach to literature, simply reading and informally discussing the work through elementary school, but I have several friends who use Progeny Press and I was very interested to give The Bears on Hemlock Mountain E-Guide (Grades 1-3) a try with Grace. She was eager as always and really enjoyed the study! 

Bears on Hemlock Mountain, The - E-Guide
We took one week to use this unit because Grace is a very fast reader. It could be stretched out longer without any problem, but since I knew she would want to read the short book quickly I wanted to make certain she completed it at the same time she read the novel. I wasn’t sure how she would respond to completing the reading questions because of our typical way of studying literature. I shouldn’t have been surprised that she was eager for “more work” as she puts it. This little girl loves school and eagerly jumps into new learning styles. She seemed to like writing the answers write on the worksheets I printed. There were a couple of frustrating moments for her when she could not find the answer to a question. 
I really love it when resources are available in a downloadable format because that means I can use it with younger children. It also saves shelf-space which is a huge benefit for us. I also really like the option of printing the entire file or a selection of needed pages. Since some of these are for the teacher and some are for students this is a great option when you may be studying the novel with more than one of your children. Please note the downloadable files are for an individual teacher or parent to use within their home or classroom. You should always strictly follow the company’s guidelines and use the material in an ethical way. 
I really liked the reading questions. Some were straight forward and factual, but others were deeper and provided more thought or inference. I’ll be honest, Grace was not a fan of these more thoughtful questions in particular. She is still only 7 and very concrete in her thinking, but it is time for her to be able to delve more deeply and be able to make inferences about motives or emotions. This was exactly why I loved the questions. Not only did they serve this purpose, but they also showed me an area of weakness in her literature studies I had not yet pinpointed. 
In addition to the literature questions which I found to be so valuable, there are a number of other fun resources and activities. There a number of pre-reading activities which are all highly engaging and Grace particularly liked the mystery word work page and the vocabulary word pages. She adores learning new words so this was perfect for her. There are also several post-reading activities and even a recipe to go along with the unit! The easy to navigate answer key is another plus in this wonderful unit! 
I was highly impressed and am exploring some other studies from Progeny Press. I appreciate their solidly biblical world-view and the inclusion of this via Scripture study themed to the novel. It was a great way to help my daughter look at her literature through a Christian worldview. 
There are several other levels and titles my Crewmates have reviewed including Charlotte’s Web E-Guide (Grades 4-6), The Silver Chair E-Guide (Grades 5-7), and Macbeth E-Guide (Grades 9-12). Make sure you click below to see what they have to say about these excellent units!

Study Guides for Literature {Progeny Press Reviews} Crew Disclaimer

Lightening Lit Grade 7 from Hewitt Homeschooling: A TOS Crew Review

Hewitt Homeschooling One of my greatest joys of learning is sharing my love of great literature with my daughters. Like most homeschooling moms, I have a large collection of wonderful literature available to my girls and we read all the time for school and pleasure. I was incredibly excited to have Rose review the Gr 7 Lightning Lit Set  from Hewitt Homeschooling. Rose was incredibly excited to get her hands on this as well!  My experience with middle school English curriculum is rather extensive. Before the girls came along I taught English to 7th and 8th graders at a private school. I’m now privileged to teach 7th and 8th grade homeschoolers at a local homeschool learning center. We have spent the elementary years of Rose’s schooling reading as much quality and classic literature as possible and discussing it throughout the reading. My teaching experience had lent itself to what some may consider a more informal approach. I was excited to see what Hewitt Homeschooing had to offer for middle school!   Lightning Literature and Composition Pack Grade 7   My first impression was great excitement about the literature titles chosen. With so many traditional schools choosing trendy and often inappropriate reading material for their students I am overjoyed when a company with such a high reputation chooses quality titles to study. I was especially excited about the book Stories and Poems for Extremely Intelligent Children of All Ages. The short stories and poems included in this book were many of the same I read when in grade school but are much harder to find in current literature books. They are true classics just as much as the novels are.  

 The workbooks which are included are incredible. As a teacher I have had the opportunity to create my own curriculum in both of my teaching settings. This follows much the same style as I use and is incredibly high quality. I love the consumable workbook format. They are clear to understand and they reflect many levels in Bloom’s Taxonomy, a guide teachers use to create activities and assessments which reflect various levels of understanding. Hewitt Homeschooling does an excellent job of hitting every level. I also love that there are fun pages worked in as well like crosswords puzzles and word searches. This company proves that learning can be so much fun!
  Rose has very much enjoyed our study through literature once we started with this set. She loves that I can give her an assignment she can complete on her own. The teacher’s guide and answer key makes grading and evaluation incredibly easy. Literary elements are thoroughly covered and detailed. The English teacher side of me is incredibly impressed with just how well this is done. The mom side of me loves that my daughter is engaged and enjoying it!  

 Just like me, Rose adores Stories and Poems for Extremely Intelligent Children of All Ages. In fact, I couldn’t find it one day when I was gathering supplies for school and found her in her bed reading it! I knew she had been enjoying what had already been assigned, but I was honestly surprised to find she enjoyed it so much she was reading it on her own time, at her own initiative. The other way I know she loves this set is it is the first thing she wants to work on each school day. Based on her answers in the workbook I can tell she is not only enjoying the study, but she is understanding and retaining what she is learning.  Check out what my Crewmates had to say about the other levels from Hewitt Homeschooling!  

Hewitt Homeschooling {Reviews}

  Crew Disclaimer

Shepherd, Potter, Spy–and the Star Namer: A TOS Review Crew Review

Peggy Consolver Shepherd, Potter, Spy--and the Star Namer {Peggy Consolver}Novels are always one of our favorite things to review! Rose in particular loves historical and biblical fiction. She was quite anxious to start reading Shepherd, Potter, Spy–and the Star Namer from Peggy Miracle Consolver – Author.  Set during the time when Joshua led the Israelites to victory in Canaan, this novel has captured my daughters imagination. She has been reading 2 chapters a day and I keep catching her picking it up during other times! We love living history books and this fits beautifull right into that genre. While it is fictional, the historical information is abundant and extremely accurate. Don’t worry though, this is in no way a history text! The author has the ability to weave the historical facts surrounding her setting into the story so that it blends beautifully. So in addition to being a very enjoyable read, your children will be learning at the same time!    

 This is one of Rose’s favorite spots to read. Our Puppy Penny loves to cuddle with her while she reads on the beanbag chair! She had just started the book here. After reading the first couple of chapters she was already eager to read more. It is so important for authors to grab their audiences within the first few pages and she does this well!

 I would say this would be ideal for middle grades on up through high school, and even adults if you enjoy this genre! It is not a book for a struggling reader. All three of my daughters are reading several grade levels ahead. Rose is reading on a 10th/11th grade level and finding resources for her which are age appropriate and still engaging her at a level that will meet her ability can often be a challenge. This beautifully written book is completely safe and perfect for her as a pre-teen. A wonderful study guide is also available to use! In it are videos, deeper historical information, maps, and more. This resource would allow this to be a wonderful unit study for your family or a co-op setting.        I could go on and on about this novel, but I’d also like to let you hear from Rose and her perspective of what she liked.

“I like this book tells the side of the story of the Canaanites, not just the Hebrews. They are the main characters of the story. There are a lot of books which tells the side of the story of God’s people and it is good to read it from the Canaanites perspective. I also like all of the history in it. It is well researched and makes a better story if it sticks to the facts that are true. I know it is a fiction book, but I like the history.” Digging deeper into the history of God’s Word through literature is an amazing adventure! Here is a message from the author about why she chose to write this novel.  



 Don’t forget to check out what my Crewmates had to say!

Shepherd, Potter, Spy--and the Star Namer {Peggy Consolver Reviews}Crew Disclaimer

Writing Strands: A Moms of Master Books Review

I am so so so very excited to share a new writing program with you! Writing Strands actually isn’t new to the homeschool scene, but it is very new to me. I’d never heard of it until Master Books started carrying it in their homeschool store, but I’ve since talked to others and know now just how popular it really is and how long it has been around.

I have looked at a lot of language arts curriculum. It’s sort of my “thing” you could say. Before I had kids I taught 7th and 8th grade English in a private school and when my daughter started Kindergarten I began teaching middle school English once again, only to homeschooling this time. I have always been passionate about literature and writing and so it is of course my favorite part of our day. My daughters are very advanced in their language arts skills and I wanted to make sure anything I chose would fit their needs and not bore them. I also wanted to continue with a gently approach to learning this subject. I firmly believe that quality over quantity is vital when teaching writing.

Writing Strands is the only curriculum I have worked with which engaged all of my daughters at their various levels. They have never dreaded writing, but since we started using this about a month ago they can’t wait to get to this part of our day.

There are 7 levels of writing instruction in Writing Strands as well as a literature component called Reading Strands. The idea is to use the Writing curriculum one week and the literature curriculum the next. This plan didn’t really work for me so I chose to take two weeks to cover one week’s lesson of writing and continue our literature path as we have been, reading daily. I’ll talk more about Reading Strands at the end of this review.

Each of the 7 levels intends for the students to progress upwards and they aren’t grade leveled which I LOVE. I’m all about ability based curriculum rather than grade-level based. Students need to work at their own pace and not be pushed ahead merely because of a grade-level assignment. I also do not want to hold my girls back if they are able to move at a faster pace. In our case that has been true for language arts, but I still kept them in the suggested levels of Writing Strands and I’m glad I did because they are doing incredibly well.

Writing Strands: Level 1Level 1
Grace is working in this level right now and thinks it is super fun! She is six and can write sentences, but we haven’t worked a lot intentionally on writing yet as she is only in 1st grade. This has been a really fun way to start the process! Level one is all about creativity and imagination for young learners. I love the way this is presented. Language games are a beautiful way to teach young children to be creative with their words. We love the rhyming game and she had so much fun creating a new animal. Sometimes we talk, sometimes we draw, but we always engage through language and I enjoy seeing her imagination wheels turning around in her mind.

Writing Strands: Level 2Level 2
Beth is working through level 2. She is actually a bit old for this level, but I wanted her to give it a try and I think it has been a very good fit for her. I will feel better about her moving forward into the more independent level 3 after we work together through this. One aspect of this series which I find beautiful is students take their own writing and improve upon it rather than merely emulating the writing of another. There is a time and place for this, but I love seeing my girl move beyond that method. Beth has really jumped into this with both feet. She never really disliked writing assignments, but it also wasn’t something she got overly excited about. Not anymore!

Writing Strands: Level 3Level 3
Rose declared these writing assignments were the best she had ever done just after one day! She is the oldest and of course the guinea pig so we have tried a variety of writing curricula. None has compared to this in her enthusiasm. Something I really like about this program is that after the first two levels the books are written to the student so they can work on their own for the most part. I check over her work and we discuss it, but having her complete this on her own did something I didn’t expect. When I was working with her more closely on her writing her writing voice never really came through. I believe that her perfectionist tendencies led her to try and emulate what she thought I wanted her to do to the point that her own personality in writing couldn’t really come through. This has changed dramatically since starting Writing Strands.

Writing Strands: Advanced Starter Set

Levels 4-7
These levels will take my girls all the way through high school level writing and I intend to complete the entire program with each all three, prrogressing from the basics into formal expository writing and beautiful creative writing. I’ve spent extensive time pouring over these levels and can’t wait to see my girls grow in their writing. The process has a flow to it which I have not seen in other programs. It is simple, yet meaty as students clearly learn how to organize their writing and create pieces which are both informative and engaging.

Beth and Grace working on their novels

The biggest way I have been able to assess that this program is doing its job is something that happened earlier this week. I went upstairs to check on the girls who were unusually quiet one afternoon. I didn’t know what they were up to, but the quiet had me curious. They are past the stage that quiet concerns me, but it was very out of character to the usual chatter I hear coming from their bedroom or playroom. I walked in to find all three busily scribbling into notebooks. It took them a minute to realize I was there and then they all started talking to me at once…about their novels. Yes, all three of my little sweeties have begun writing their own novels without even a suggestion from me. This is why I know Writing Strands has changed the way my girls look at writing. It is now more than just another school assignment. Now my daughters look to writing as one of their creative outlets.

Writing Strands: Evaluating Writing 

Evaluating Writing
Another incredibly useful book in the series is Evaluating Writing which is written as a guide to teach parents how to best evaluate writing. Included is a handy review of grammar which is clear and concise. Also included are examples of how to include questions to help students further develop their thoughts. I do a lot of these kinds of things when I evaluate the writing of my 7th and 8th grade homeschooled English students. I have gained a few more ideas in this area as well, however, and look forward to using these new insights in my evaluations.

Reading Strands: Understanding FictionReading Strands
This portion of the program is also very different from other literature curriculum as it is written to instruct parents in how to teach reading, or literature. Geared towards parents who have finished phonics instruction this is the next level. The information in this section is very valuable, but was a little difficult to wade through organizationally. I think the content is excellent, but the presentation was a bit overwhelming.

Because I have studied to be an English teacher I was very familiar with the methods taught in this book and I would recommend it to anyone who feels uncertain about how to teach literature. Unlike other curriculum this does not include answer keys or teaching guides. Instead this will allow parents to confidently master teaching literature to their students no matter what their background. One of my favorite parts of this was the extensive list of books arranged by grade-level. There are many wonderful novels to choose from in this section.

Overall Perspective
I only wish I had learned of this writing curriculum sooner! It fits nicely with our Charlotte Mason based approach to learning. I also know it is recommended for those pursuing a classical education.

Disclaimer: I received Writing Strands Levels 1-7, Reading Strands, and Evaluating Writing from Master Books in exchange for an honest review. The opinions here are my own. I was not required to write a positive review. 

Christian Reading Companion for 50 Classics: A Moms of Master Books Review

I love literature. I loved it so much it is what I studied as my main discipline in my education courses in college. I’m so very blessed to be homeschooling and at the same time utilizing my degree in Middle School English. Every Monday I teach 10, 12 to 14-year-olds at a learning center for homeschoolers. I’m always on the lookout for new resources I can use with these students as well for my own girls at home.

Sometimes I come upon a resource I expect to use strictly for my children, but end up enjoying for myself. This is one of those gems! In Christian Reading Companion for 50 Classics by James P. Stobaugh (from Master Books, an imprint of New Leaf Publishing) a variety works of classic literature are highlighted in a very easy to use format. Each novel has a brief introduction including some historical context and author information. Following this is a brief objective test and a few suggested vocabulary words along with their corresponding chapter for location. 
My favorite part of each chapter is the discussion questions. The thoughtful questions steer students to think for themselves. They also guide them to consider more than just comprehension and delve deeper into the finer nuances and context within the pages, encouraging students to consider the work in light of God’s Word. I love this part for myself personally as I have been reading through many great works of literature I never got around to reading. 
Another good use of this book would be for a book club. While many of the books are more appropriate for high school because of content some works for younger students are represented as well. This would also be excellent for an adult book club if you are looking to read classic works together. 
One of the nice things about the works represented here is that they are readily available at your local library or free as e-books. This is a great way to save money and study classic literature at the same time while still having quality, thought provoking study guides.

So right now I’m using this book for my own personal pursuit of knowledge. I do plan to incorporate some of the study guides for books such as Uncle Remus and Brer Rabbit and also as my daughter begin to read these great works of literature throughout their schooling but for now it is just for me and I am loving it!

Disclaimer: I was provided this book to review as part of the Moms of Master Books review program. I was not required to write a positive review. My opinions are my own. 

Biff and Becka’s Stupendous Vacation: A BookLook Blogger Review

My girls really like reading books on their tablets when they have the chance. This time it was a sweet little chapter book and they found it very nice.

This is a sweetly written story which can help kids and parents learn about dealing with disappointment. I did like the premise and personally thought it was nicely written. However, my daughters were not all that interested. They are avid readers, but this particular story did not really grab their attention. 
I really like that it centered around a Christian family and echoed our own faith. I appreciated the values which were woven throughout and really did feel like it was a sweet story. 
I can’t say why my kids didn’t particularly care for the book. It may just be the genre of fiction written as a fable. They tend to gravitate more towards stories with actual children as the main characters rather than animals. 
I do recommend this chapter book, especially if you have a reader who really loves animal stories!

Disclaimer: I received Biff and Becka’s Stupendous Vacation as part of the BookLook Bloggers review team. I was not required to write a positive review. I was not compensated in any other way.   

A Plague of Unicorns: A BookLook Blogger Review

I remember getting the list of books I would read for my adolescent literature class in college and anxiously perusing the list of authors. I recognized most of the names, but Jane Yolen was one I had never read. After the one required book by Yolen I was soon checking out one after the other from the library knowing each would be an excellent read. I was over-the-moon excited when I saw her name appear with an opportunity to read another of her novels!

My oldest daughter, Rose who is 9, read this as part of her school work, but I can honestly say I know it didn’t feel like school when she read it! More than once I caught her taking the book away from the schoolroom to read just one more chapter as she couldn’t wait to get to the end!

The reading level was probably at 3rd-4th grade and while Rose’s ability is a few grades above that, she thoroughly enjoyed the story and quality of writing. I had planned for her to read this over the course of two weeks but I was pushing it to make her stretch it throughout the week!

When I asked her what her favorite part was she told me she liked how they made up a plan to get rid of the unicorns. She really liked the adventure aspects of of this story. She really enjoys fantasy and I liked how the unicorns were given a different role than most stories. Instead of being a good thing in this land, the unicorns are actually like a plague which must be overcome. This coming-of-age story will delight all ages is a great introduction to the genre of fantasy.

I highly recommend this book and Rose has already loaned it out to her cousin to read with a glowing review!

Disclosure:  I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook.com® <http://BookLook.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.