Kregel Book Review

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Clarissa and I read books together everyday. Usually I read them aloud to her and later she will go back and “read” them to herself. She has a great memory and she is learning to decode words so she does a decent job with the books we have already read together. I follow several different book lists and am always looking for something new. I especially like a book that is fun to read but also educational so I signed up to review The Goldtown Beginnings Series by Kregel Publications.

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I like that both books are easy to read. They are marketed for ages 6-8, and I feel like emerging readers could actually read these books independantly. The chapters are short. The font is easy to read. There are some black and white pictures on a couple of pages of each chapter. I also like that there are some nonfiction text features in this book, even though it is historical fiction. The beginning of the book has a table of contents as well as a page of new words that kids might not know (glossary). I really liked that the vocabulary words were in the beginning in of the book to be introduced before the story instead of at the end. At the end of the book, there is a short section about the history.

The first book in the series is Jem Strikes Gold. Jem (Jeremiah) is almost 8 and his little sister Ellie (Ellianna) is almost 6. They live with Mama and Pa in a tent by the river where they have a gold claim. Pa works with an old neighbor named Strike to pan for gold. But Mama makes more money selling pies and doing laundry for people in town. The rich boy in town named Will causes trouble for Jem a few times in the story.

Clarissa wasn’t really excited about the story until the dog showed up and then she didn’t want me to stop reading. In the book, Mama was adamantly opposed to keeping the dog that Strike found until the dog helps Jem with his problems with the rich kid, Will. I liked that Jem and Ellie came from a good, Christian family. The siblings got along well and worked together to help their family. The book also brought up some great discussions about The Gold Rush, why someone would live in a tent, poverty, a one room schoolhouse, and what a dog needs to eat.

The second book is called Jem’s Frog Fiasco. Nugget, the dog, has been with Jem and Ellie for a few weeks now. The family is still poor so it is a struggle to feed the dog. Jem decides that he needs a job so that he will have enough money to buy meat from the butcher to feed Nugget. The cafe owner in town tells him that he wants to add frog legs to his menu, so he will pay Jem five cents per frog he catches.

Jem and Ellie have a fight while catching bullfrogs at the pond because Jem thinks Ellie is too loud and scaring the frogs away. Jem tells Ellie to go home and she leaves. Jem has a very successful afternoon catching frogs. When he gets home, he finds out that Ellie never made it home. Everyone goes to look for her. Eventually, Jem finds her in a coyote hole with help from Nugget, the dog. This story would be a great conversation starter about money, responsibilities in a family, and sibling relationships.

When we finished the second book, Clarissa asked if there were more. The next two books in the series are scheduled to release in March. The publisher website also provides enrichment materials in the form of activity guides, lapbooks, and coloring pages to go along with these stories. You can read about what other families thought of the books here.

Jem Strikes Gold & Jem's Frog Fiasco  {Kregel Publications Reviews}Crew Disclaimer

Carole P Roman Children’s Books Review

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Clarissa has always loved books. She has several in her bedroom and we go to the library on a regular basis. She has her favorites but is always excited to get something new. I had never heard of Carole P Roman before this review, but I thought we would enjoy reading her children’s books and collections anyway.

We were able to choose three books from a very long list. We chose Can a Princess Be a Firefighter?, If you were me and lived in… South Korea: A Child’s Introduction to Cultures around the World, and One to Ten: Squirrel’s Bad Day. Clarissa was so excited to receive them that she HAD to be in the picture with the books.

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Clarissa’s favorite book of the three is Can a Princess Be a Firefighter?. The book has two sisters and an adult but you only ever see the adults legs so we can’t figure out if it is the mom or the dad. Clarissa really wants a sister so that is one reason that she likes this book. The story itself has a great message. The girls like to dress up and play princess and so they want to know if they have to stop being a princess when they grow up. The adult assures them that they will “always be a princess to me.” I also really like that the adult tells the children that when they grow up they should choose a job that they really enjoy and that it is okay to change your mind or do more than one career. As a mom, I want Clarissa to grow up to use her gifts to serve others but also to do something that she loves to do. I also like the message that you can change your mind or choose something new in a different season.

The next book we chose was If you were me and lived in… South Korea: A Child’s Introduction to Cultures around the World. Obviously, we chose this one because we have lived in South Korea for the past three years. I wanted a book for the house that would remind Clarissa about this culture when she is older and we live in America again. This book did not disappoint. It is written is a very conversational manner so that there is information but it doesn’t seem like a reference book. Clarissa really enjoyed the pictures. I was happy to see that some of our experiences are included in the book. For example, my favorite tourist site that we have visited is the Korean Folk Village in Yongin (you can read about that trip here). When we got to the page on Korean barbecue, Clarissa said, “We’ve done that before!” Each page also listed a few Korean words and their meanings.

 

There are twenty books in this series and I am sure we will order more. There is one on China which we will definitely read if we head to China before we leave. I was disappointed to see that she doesn’t have one on Japan or Hong Kong which are places we have already visited. If we move to Europe, there are several choices¬†though.

The final book, One to Ten: Squirrel’s Bad Day, wasn’t our favorite. Squirrel drops his acorns and thinks it’s the worst thing ever. His friend Rabbit wants to help him with perspective by assigning a number from one to ten to the problem. I appreciate trying to teach kids perspective but Clarissa really couldn’t get into the book. I don’t think she enjoyed the illustrations. She is probably a little young for the concept as well. I do feel like as Clarissa gets older we can have some conversations about keeping things in perspective though so elementary school kids might enjoy this book.

I enjoyed the books written by Carole P. Roman. You can find both the print books and kindle versions for sale on Amazon. Because she has written so many books, you may want to read posts from the other reviewers if there is a different story that you are interested in.

Carole P. Roman books and collections {Carole P. Roman Reviews}

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