Reviews on this page...
The Prince and the Pauper - Review by Sarah D., age 12
The Scottish Chiefs - Reviewed by Kathryn W., age 13
The Redwell Series - Reviewed by Josiah R., age 14
The Scarlet Pimpernel - Book Review by Jessica C., age 15
Pride and Prejudice - Book and Movie Review by Hannah M., age 14
Rascal - Review by Josiah R., age 11
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer - Review by Joey S., age 10
John Wycliff - by Andrew E., age 13
Where the Red Fern Grows - Review by Joey S., age 9
King Arthur and His Knights - Review by Joey S., age 9
Hudson Taylor- God's Adventurer -by Elizabeth M., age 12
The Ransom of Red Chief - Review by editors
My Side of the Mountain - Review by Josiah R., age 9
The Swiss Family Robinson - Review by Aimee E., age 10 and Andrew E., age 12
A good book that my family and I read recently was the Prince and the Pauper. It is about two boys with the same birthday, but one is a prince named Edward with hundreds of servants and King Henry VIII as his father! The other is a poor pauper boy named Tom Canty who lives in the city with his two sisters, mother, grandmother (a terrible, ugly old hag), and his father who whips him before sending him to bed without any food if he comes home with nothing after a day of begging. His mother sneaks up to his room late at night and brings him her own crust of bread. Tom’s bed is nothing but a pile of foul-smelling straw and his clothes are thin tatters. One day, Tom got caught up in a large crowd of people in front of the palace and a guard picked him by the scruff of his neck and was about to box him on the ears, when the prince called out from behind the barred gates to set the pauper down and bring him in. Once inside, Tom decides he likes it there. Edward asks Tom who he is and where he lives. The boys trade outfits because Tom wants to be dressed like a prince…but when he puts the outfit on the boys realize that they look alike! Edward wants to escape the irksome life of the palace and Tom wants for once to feel elegant, so they decide to trade places for a day. At suppertime in the palace, Tom eats with his fingers and all the courtiers believe he has gone mad (Remember, they think he is the prince). Later that week, the king dies and the prince’s coronation is soon, but the boys haven’t switched back! Will the boys switch back in time? You will have to read the book to find out! We really liked this book - one night we stayed up until 10:30 so we could finish it. We couldn’t set it down!
The Scottish Chiefs, is an excellent book recounting the heroic efforts of William Wallace as he struggled to save Scotland from the chains of slavery and death that England had placed around Scotland’s neck. As the book begins, Wallace is given a mysterious iron box. The box is not to be opened until Scotland is once again free. Wallace rescues a Scottish earl, gives the mysterious box to the earl and at his wife’s insistence, disappears into the mountains. Lady Marion, Wallace’s wife, is murdered and Wallace in his grief comes to the aid of his country.
Wallace rallies the Scots to arms and begins to strike terror in the hearts of their English oppressors. As the story continues Wallace makes many friends and enemies. He also discovers the true heir to the Scottish throne, Robert the Bruce (Bruce’s father had practically denounced the crown and England had subtly taken over the rule of Scotland). Bruce swore his loyalty to Wallace and the two won many battles for Scotland. Just when everything looks as if it would be the perfect time for a happy ending, Wallace is captured and sentenced to death. Will he live? Will the Scots triumph over the tyrannical England? And will they ever find out what is in that fatal iron box? Read the book and find out!
The Scottish Chiefs is acceptable reading for anyone, of any age. This rendition of William Wallace and his struggles will have you laughing, crying, and holding your breath as you turn each page. I hope that you will read it and enjoy it as much as I did!!!
Set in a medieval style world filled with warrior mice, badger lords, guerrilla shrews, and searats, the New York Times Best-selling Series, the Redwall books are great reading. I have only managed to read three so far, but each novel style book was well worth it.
The series begins with Redwall, in which Redwall Abby is under attack by a villainous army of searats, led by the evil Cluny the Scourge, with a tail like a whip sporting a poisoned war spike. The young mouse Matthias must unravel a riddle and find the sword of Martin the Warrior, founder of Redwall Abby, and defeat Cluny with it in a final showdown. This book kept me going, as Cluny hatches plot after plot, only to be continuously foiled by the Redwallers.
The prequel to Redwall, Mossflower, tells the story of how Martin the Warrior first came to Mossflower Wood, only to be captured and thrown in a dungeon by the evil wildcat queen Tsarmina ruler of Kotir castle. After being freed by the Corim (Council of Resistance in Mossflower) he sets off on a quest to find Boar, the badger lord who left to quest for the mountain of Salamandastron, and who alone can defeat queen Tsarmina. This story gives some history to the founding of Redwall abby, and to the state of Mossflower during Cluny’s attack. It also tells where Martin’s sword, the one that Matthias quested for in Redwall, came from.
I also read Pearls of Lutra, which comes several books later in the series. In my opinion this is one of the best series I have read. I can hardly wait to read another one.
Look for these at the library or book store. We also found the audio book for Redwall at the library, which my younger brothers greatly enjoy.
The Scarlet Pimpernel is a rather long novel of adventure, drama, intrigue and romance. It has a most excellent plot and is written very descriptively.
In 1792, there was one Sir Percy Blakeney of England. The Baroness describes him as, "the sleepiest, dullest, most British Britisher." Sir Percy was tall and broad shouldered, he would have been called good-looking if not for that certain lazy expression in his face. He had an odd half-shy, half-inane laugh that annoyed everyone who heard it. He was heir to a large fortune and close friend of the Prince of Wales. He had a "beautiful, fascinating, clever French wife," Marguerite St. Just. She had been the hub of the social circle in the Comédie Française as an acclaimed actress. Her brother, Armand St. Just, had just left for France to help his countrymen as the book begins.
They married, he worshiping the very ground she walked upon. The Baroness wrote, "Anyway, Marguerite St. Just married Sir Percy Blakeney one fine day, just like that, without any warning to her friends, without a soirée de contrat, or dîner de fiançailles or other appurtenances of a fashionable French wedding."
Within twenty-four hours of their marriage, Marguerite told Percy of her denouncement of the Marquis de St. Cyr that had sent him to the guillotine. She and her brother had been made orphans early in their lives. One day, for some petty offense, Armand was beaten within an inch of his life by the Marquis. Then, when the chaos in Paris was well underway, Marguerite was tricked into denouncing the Marquis.
When Percy heard this from her (for truly, he had heard rumors, but because she said nothing, he assumed they were false), he quite literally left her to her own devices. They both had separate apartments at opposite ends of their house along the River Thames. Percy, she reasoned, sympathized with the French aristos. This separation within a joining had gone on for about four or five months when the book begins.
There was, in those days, talk of a brave and adventuresome Englishman who, although easily recognizable by his British accent and tall posture, repeatedly went across the Channel to France and rescued the high-born peoples from the raging inferno. In England, he was a national hero. Although no one knew his true identity (except his nineteen faithful followers), the people kept themselves occupied in guessing where his next moves would be located. Before each aristoscarefully planned escape, a mysterious note would appear in the judge’s hand at the Committee of Public Safety in Paris; it was disguised handwriting, and was signed with a small ink drawing of a wayside flower common to England. The Scarlet Pimpernel.
There was one Citizen Chauvelin who was assigned by the Committee of Public Safety, to discover the true identity of the Scarlet Pimpernel, lure him to France, capture him, and transport him to Paris.
Now this Citizen Chauvelin was an altogether ghostly figure. His face was pale, he always wore tight-fitting sable-colored clothing; his eyes were like foxes eyes and he was always trying to pierce into the very souls of those with which he conversed. It seems that he and Marguerite were acquaintances in France at the Comédie Française.
He accosted her at the opera house and demanded her assistance in bagging the Scarlet Pimpernel. It, seems, through various dark and dirty deeds in the dead of night, Chauvelin had acquired an incriminating letter written by her brother which, if released to the public prosecutor of Paris, would surely have brought him to the guillotine. So Chauvelin blackmailed her: If she did not find out what she could about the Scarlet Pimpernel that night at Lord Grenville’s Ball, she would forfeit Armand’s life. With Glück’s Orpheus drowning out all other noise, Chauvelin, that merciless creature, whispered in Marguerite’s ear, "Either-or-" and was gone as silently as he came.
That evening at Lord Grenville’s ball, Marguerite contrived, with an actress’ ingenuity, to acquire a glimpse of a slip of paper written by the Scarlet Pimpernel himself, before it was consumed by flame. On it were the words: "Start myself tomorrow . . . .If you wish to speak to me again, I shall be in the supper-room at one o’clock precisely." For three hours, Marguerite agonized over her two choices. Whose life would be forfeited: Armand—the faithful brother? Or an unknown figure who saved the lives of many?
Chauvelin wormed the note’s contents from Marguerite. It was then five minutes until one o’clock in the morning. He slowly made his way to the supper-room. He came upon the table filled with dirty dishes and napkins in disarray; overturned chairs were scattered about the room. He knew he was alone; but he encountered Sir Percy Blakeney, sleeping peacefully on a velvet sofa. Chauvelin followed Sir Percy’s example, he sat down on another sofa to wait for the Scarlet Pimpernel.
When Chauvelin came out of the supper-room that morning he was a little wiser, more cunning, and as eager as a fox on the scent. For indeed, that was what he was.
I will not tell you what Chauvelin found out in the supper-room. To discover that, you must read the book. But let it suffice for me to say: Armand and a handful of other Frenchmen escaped right under Chauvelin’s nose, the Scarlet Pimpernel slipped through Chauvelin’s fingers, Marguerite discovered the real identity of the Scarlet Pimpernel, Sir Percy got a beating, and Marguerite and Sir Percy were reunited, and their marriage was renewed.
Book and Movie Review by Hannah M., age 14
I would like to introduce you to the major characters of this story, which are as follows:
Mr. Bennet, the father, is one who takes great delight and pleasure from needlessly vexing his wife, but always being facetious about it and truly has a good heart. His wife, Mrs. Bennet, is always either crying about her poor nerves or plotting out the marriage of her next daughter. Jane, their oldest, is continually trying to see the better side of people’s characters and never dwells on the defects of their character, thus she is generally a very nice person. Elizabeth, second to the oldest, is quite prejudice against Mr. Darcy, whose first opinion of her was, "She is tolerable, I suppose, but not handsome enough to tempt me." So, needless to say she had set her foot hard on the path notoriously known as a strong dislike of Mr. Darcy. She was far from the inclination to withdraw it.
Mary, the third child, was a girl of few words and convinced not to open her mouth unless the contents of her speech should go down in the history of famous quotes. The next daughter, Kitty, named Catherine, is very prompt to follow the lead of her younger sister and when she is not wholly consumed with that occupation, she is anticipating her next ball. Lydia, the youngest, is her mother’s favorite, therefore she is not only spoiled but a lot like her mother which, I must sadly confess, is not a compliment to her character.
I have a strong inclination to be panegyric for Mr. Darcy. I do believe his cryptic and pompous character is hard to come by in this world. When a person is too sure of their greatness and therefore believes in themselves too high above their company, it can be very vexing to some people, such as Mrs. Bennet who took great pains to expose his fault. He comes to the realization of his pride, and I must confess, he is my favorite character.
Mr. Bingly is so very happy and jolly all the time, you’d think he’d found the rainbow with the pot of gold which history is continually seeking. Maybe, he was just born with the propensity to approve of everyone and everything, making him very popular to people. His tendency is quite given over to persiflage which is, in my calculation of mind, a good trait.
There are, of course, more characters, but I will just improve your suspense by adding the fate to each sister equally matches her character. So, this book and movie I would recommend to anyone who has a great love for humor and beautiful language. Thus, I end my report.
Review by Josiah R., age 11:
This book is an autobiography of Sterling’s eleventh year of life, with his pet raccoon, Rascal, in Wisconsin. They have many interesting and fun adventures which are all real, from the moment he finds the baby, Rascal, to the moment he lets him go free. To give you an idea of the humorous content of this book, Sterling has a dog, and a crow, besides his racoon, and he is building a canoe in his livingroom. It takes place duriing the time of World War 1, when life was harder than it is for us today. It was a very good book, and I’m sure you’ll like it too.
Review by Joey S., age 10
This is a fun filled book by Mark Twain. In this novel you will read about romantic moments, violent fights, and heartbreak.
The main characters are Tom Sawyer, Becky Thatcher, and Huckleberry Fynn. Tom Sawyer is a boy who likes to be a pirate, petty thief, and pretend to be Robin Hood. He hates to wear shoes, and loves to float on the Mississippi. Becky Thatcher is a pretty little girl who is Tom’s girlfriend. Huckleberry Fynn is a happy-go-lucky boy who doesn’t have a home. He travels along the river.
Join Tom and Huck as they dig for gold. Watch Tom and Becky as they explore a dark, spooky cave. Hang onto your book as Tom and Huck discover a dangerous secret that could cost them their lives! Read the book to find out what they do about their secret.
John Wycliff was "the morning star of the reformation," the first in the line of evangelical reformers. An important part of his ministry was to place the Bible in the hands and heart of the individual. In order to do this he made one of the earliest translations of the Bible into English. He must have been overjoyed with satisfaction when the translation of the Bible was completed; next he printed portions of the Bible and even single books.
Half of the people you would meet on the road would be followers of Wycliff. Religious tracts also had much to do with the spread of the Gospel.
Wycliff would have "open air gatherings." At these gatherings, the Bible in Wycliff’s translation or a tract would be read, and even the art of reading would be taught at these gatherings.
Forty years after his death, the Catholic Church, in order to destroy his testimony had his bones dug up and burned. The ashes were dumped in the river which carried them over miles to the ocean. It is said that it dispersed his testimony over the world.
If you enjoyed this essay and would like to read more on John Wycliff there is a book called "Morning Star of the Reformation," by Andy Thomson, available from Bob Jones University Press.
Review by Joey S., age 9
"Oh-h-h-h, it's a red fern - a sacred red fern. Wonderful indeed is the work of our Lord."
This story has very beautiful messages. It shows how you can never count all the things that the Almighty God can do. In this book, there are whoops of victory, tears from tragedy, and much more! It takes place in the Ozarks of Oklahoma. When the boy was chopping a tree that held a coon, his strength was all gone, but God miraculously helped him. At the end of the story the significance of its title is revealed. This book is touching all the way through. I hope you will enjoy this classic story, Where the Red Fern Grows.
This is a book about King Arthur from birth to death. It also contains the life stories of some of his best knights. Lancelot, Galahad, and Tristan come to life in this great novel. This book will take you on rides through forest, noble quests, and fierce battles and tournaments. We all know he is dead, but King Arthur still lives in the hearts of people who fight for truth and honor.
by Elizabeth M., age 12
In the book God's Adventurer by Phyllis Thompson, Hudson Taylor trusted God throughout his life as a Christian.
He trusted God through prayer, believing that what he prayed for he would receive. He lived by the Scripture "Whatever you ask in my name, I will do it."
Hudson grew up in Yorkshire, England. He lived in a small house with his mom, dad, and two sisters. His parents were kind and gentle Christians, yet they were still strict and firm. Hudson loved the way his parents brought him up.
One day, as he was sitting in his shed, something inside made Hudson think about God and how everyone in his family were Christian. Everyone, that is, but himself. A very discontented Hudson didn't think his parents' way of life was very exciting. Excitement! That was what he really wanted!
In this discontent, he found himself searching for an answer. His mother and sister were praying earnestly for him, although Hudson was unaware. So this time, as he read literature about Christ that his father had laying around all the time, it grabbed him in his heart and entirely changed his desires. Later, God would speak specifically, "Go for me to China."
One way in which Hudson prayed and believed God was when he was in danger. After he said farewell to his family, on the ship to China he sailed into a terrible storm. The captain said that the rocks near the lighthouse were coming up and they had no control of the ship. Then he said that they had only 45 minutes to live, if that. Hudson decided that the only thing to do would be to pray. So he told everyone to go into their cabins and begin to pray. Then, less than 10 minutes later, the winds worked in their favor and took them away from the rocks, safely. Hudson believed that God brought the wind to save them. That was just one of the many ways that God delivered Hudson by prayer.
Another time danger appeared and the Lord provided through prayer was when a fire was started. There was a war going on in China at the time when Hudson was there. While Hudson was sleeping in his house, all of a sudden, he awoke to see orange light outside. He could see that nearby houses were on fire. It was on its way to Hudson's building, so he got up to pack. He could feel bullets bouncing off the walls. He began to pray. Then rain began to pour on the fire and Hudson's building wasn't even touched. Again, God rescued Hudson.
One other way the Lord provided was for funds. One day, as Hudson was walking down a road, a man came running up to him asking if he would come to pray for his dying wife. When he got there he realized that the family needed money for food and medicine. But, all he had was one coin which was his last piece of money. Hudson wouldn't even be able to feed himself. But, then he thought of what the Lord would do, if he, himself were there. He decided to give them the money. The next day he realized that he had no money to buy food for himself. He again prayed and asked God to provide some money for him. The next day a package came and it had in it five coins, five times as much as he had given! He was learning more and more to pray and then trust.
As you can see, the Lord provided in dangerous situations and when Hudson was in need of funds. No matter what happened, the Lord was there through ups and downs. He never let Hudson down.
You may have heard of the name O. Henry before (not the candy bar). He wrote some six hundred short stories in his lifetime; born in 1862 and died in 1910. His real name was William Sidney Porter.
The Ransom of Red Chief is just one of O. Henry's lively tales that will make you laugh, and keep you wanting to read more. It is an interesting story about two outlaws that kidnap a prominent citizen's 9 year old son for a ransom. What the outlaws didn't know, but find out rather quickly is that this wild, red-haired and freckled, pesky boy who calls himself "Red Chief", is more trouble than he's worth.
Most of the setting of the story takes place in a cave, and is told from the point of view of Sam, the head kidnapper. Here's one of the witty paragraphs you will read:
Just at daybreak , I was awakened by a series of awful screams from Bill. They weren't yells, or howls, or shouts, or whoops, or yawps, such as you'd expect from a manly set of vocal organs - they were simply indecent, terrifying, humiliating screams. It's an awful thing to hear a strong, desperate, fat man scream uncontrollably in a cave at daybreak.
A lot of O. Henry's stories have an unexpected twist in the ending, and this one is no exception. The Gift of the Magi, is another one of his heart warming stories that you would probably enjoy reading.
You will have no trouble locating this collection of short stories by O. Henry at the library. We also
found an audio cassette of stories there that included the two mentioned here. In addition, we found a small
new paperback of O. Henry stories for 50¢ one day, to put in our home library. Happy reading!
My Side of the Mountain was first brought to my attention when my Grandmother sent it to me as a gift. It is such a neat book, especially since I am interested in survival off the land.
It is about a boy who leaves his home in New York City, with only a hatchet, penknife, a ball of cord, some flint and steel, forty dollars, and his wits, to survive the Catskill Mountains on his own for a year.
It is a highly interesting and emotional story, with lots of funny parts also. You should be able to locate it in your public library, and local bookstore.
I have a feeling that you will enjoy it as much as my Grandmother and I did!
Review by Aimee E., age 10: We had fun studying The Swiss Family Robinson last year. Something
exciting happened in each chapter. There were many interesting animals that became their pets including a
jackal, monkey, flamingo, ostrich, and a zebra. They used the ostrich, zebra, and a donkey, as horses to ride
around the deserted island. They made coconut shells, gourds, and oyster shells into dishes and silverware.
They made a tortoise shell into a washing bowl. The father worked with his sons to make useful devices on
the island. They made a kayak, a yacht, candles from wax berries they found on the island, and a gourd to
mix their cream into butter. They had many more exciting adventures that you might enjoy reading with your
Review by Andrew E., age 12: While we were studying the Swiss Family Robinson last year we read about a lot of different kinds of tropical fruit. To get an idea of what it tasted like, mom got some mangoes, papaya, pineapple, dates, figs, nuts and coconut for each of us to taste while reading. I especially liked the fresh pineapple. The book had many funny parts. Like to get coconuts down from a tree they would throw a handful of small stones into the coconut tree and the monkeys would throw coconuts back at them. It was a good book and I think that you would like it too.
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"Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might." Ecclesiastes 9:10