Christopher Columbus and the Age of Exploration for Kids by Ronald A. Reis offers a brilliantly illustrated and well laid out account of the exploration, discoveries, and culture of Christopher Columbus, as well as the many changes happening as the time period turned from the dark Middle Ages full of superstition and mythology to the Age of Exploration of seas, lands, and the sciences. As Reis points out in his introduction, our modern students are horribly unknowledgeable concerning the life and discoveries of Christopher Columbus due to our modern concerns of political correctness, and the fact that Columbus has come to be known as, “the first of many Europeans who, in coming to the New World, ravaged the land, plundered the wealth, and eventually introduced African slavery.” Unfortunate as the negatives may be, we can’t discount the fact that Columbus was an amazing man of his times, courageous beyond a doubt, and unwavering in his determination as he struck out on his voyage against all odds and with very few people (including his own crew) believing in his vision. For this reason, Christopher Columbus and the Age of Exploration for Kids is a much needed book, full of information and hands on activities to help modern students learn of the culture, personhood, and great discoveries of Columbus and other explorers of the time, as well as to inspire students that they, too, can beat the odds, make great discoveries, and do great things despite the doubts of others around them.
Christopher Columbus and the Age of Exploration for Kids is broken down into eight chapters that cover Columbus’s four voyages, the changes that they brought to the discovered lands, along with the changes that were brought back to Europe in the form of new resources, ideas, and people groups. Reis has also included vocabulary words, a glossary, bibliography, suggested web sites, and 21 activities sure to tempt all kinds of interests from arts and crafts, to baking (make your own hard tack), writing, knot tying, and building your own compass. It is a perfect history curriculum for a quarter or stretched over a semester, and could easily be made part of an entire year history course by leading up to Christopher Columbus with Marco Polo for Kids and following Christopher Columbus with Lewis and Clark for Kids by the same publisher.
As a homeschool educator, as well as a momma, I am very excited for Christopher Columbus and the Age of Exploration for Kids, and for the series it is a part of, and believe that it shares history with children in a way that captures their interests through the stories, illustrations, and activities. It is aimed at ages nine and above, but can be easily adapted for the “one room school house” that is the homeschool by letting the little ones color as you read and take part in what activities they are able, and by having older students continue in their studies by making use of the bibliography and suggested web sites.
Those who enjoy pulling together unit studies will also enjoy using Christopher Columbus and the Age of Exploration for Kids as a core from which to pull out other lessons in geography, astronomy, vocabulary and spelling, weather patterns, and map reading, just to give a few ideas. It also fits in nicely in a regular classroom as either the main history curriculum for the quarter or semester, or as a supplement when studying explorers. It would fit in well in summer enrichment classes, or can be used by your average parent, to keep children interested and learning, during those off months, in a fun, hands on way. I highly recommend it!
Alyssa Katanic is a wife and homeschooling mother of 6 children under 10 years old. She loves reading and collecting great books to share with others and knows that one can never have too many!
Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Chicago Review Press. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.Pin It
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Ronald Frame’s Havisham opens with a great scene in which a young Estella meets Miss Havisham for the first time and is shocked by what she sees – the dress, the veil, the slippers – all important details from Great Expectations reiterated here. This vignette is in short, clipped sentences, and almost like a brief running-commentary snapshot into Miss Havisham’s mind. It’s a brilliant way to kick off a story of one woman’s descent into madness and 24-hour bridal gown wearing.
Unfortunately, this style of storytelling continues throughout the entire novel, and, in addition to some unbelievable plot points, it’s very disjointed, jarring and hard to get through. Whereas Dickens’ writing flows with beautiful language and descriptions, Frame is sparse and the vignette style hurts the story more than it helps. And the end of the book overlaps with Great Expectations which was completely unnecessary – if I wanted to read about Pip and Estella, Satis House falling apart and Miss Havisham’s repentance, I’d read Dickens again.
Havisham‘s premise tells the story of how Miss Havisham grew up in the wealthy middle class of England and how she was jilted at the altar and fell into madness. She had a isolated, yet wealthy upbringing, due to her father’s ownership of a successful brewery that distributed to pubs around the country, and became friends with Sally, a girl who lived in the village. Suddenly, it comes to light that Mr. Havisham had married a cook, and there was a half brother in the picture after the cook died. Miss Havisham completely hates this half brother, so when she comes of age, she goes to live with an even wealthier family in order to learn how to behave in proper society.
This is where the story took a wrong turn. The entire time she was at the Chadwyck’s, it felt like filler in an already short book. The balls and parties she attends, the play she performs in, they are all a stage in which she could meet Mr. Compeyson who would steal her money and jilt her at the altar. A twist is added that Mr. Compeyson is in cahoots with her half-brother and secretly marries Sally (who is portrayed as Miss Havisham’s “best friend” but the relationship is not developed at all). Literally every scene with Mr. Compeyson is so contrived, it’s hard to believe that she would fall for it. If it had been more subtle it would have been more believable, especially since she was surrounded with wealthy people who could have prevented her from falling for him.
The book is from Miss Havisham’s point of view, but it is a cold narration. Frame does not let the reader feel for Miss Havisham in any way – she is horrid and unforgivable most of the time. And in the big scene where she is jilted, he chose to have her wet her pants, which was so crass and out of character, it singlehandedly ruined the book. She does it again later in the book when she asks for Pip’s forgiveness, and I couldn’t help but think Dickens was rolling in his grave.
Jax is in an accountant at a hedge fund. She resides in NYC with her husband.
Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Picador. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.Pin It
Having recently read and enjoyed It’s Halloween, I’m Turning Green, my son was ecstatic when Deck the Halls, We’re Off the Walls! came in the mail. Knowing that the back of the book would have weird facts, puzzles, trivia and more, he instantly went to the back of the book so we could do all the fun activities first. These Christmas-themed activities were exciting for him as well as good practice for spelling and reading so I was happy to start with what he sees as the best part of the book. They didn’t take long to go through and we were soon on to the story.
Deck the Halls, We’re off the Walls! once again follows A.J. and his group of friends as they go on an adventure with unexpected twists and turns. This time they are going to the mall to try and speak to Santa and let him know what they want for Christmas. Things go awry when A.J. leaves the long line to try and find a present for his sister and unexpectedly must come to the aid of a young rapper, Cray-Z, being chased through the mall by young girls. Things are further complicated when A.J. is chased through the mall by angry parents after announcing to the waiting children that the Santa they are visiting is not who they expected to meet. This time Cray-Z will have to come to A.J.s rescue and A.J. learns the value of giving to others and what Christmas should really be all about.
This story had many of the same aspects my son enjoyed from the last book by Dan Gutman we read – over exaggeration, mild teasing and jokes that are perfect for young readers – and we were once again laughing along with A.J. and the gang. This book also has a funny Christmas rap as part of the story and my son had the best time learning the words and rapping it for anyone who would listen. I value anything that will get my son reading more and Dan Gutman’s books definitely do that!
I would recommend Deck the Halls, We’re off the Walls! for any elementary students looking for a funny, not too serious story that incorporates a snarky protagonist with lite life lessons that most kids can relate to. I know my son will be looking to see where A.J. and his friends go next.
Colleen lives in Tampa, Florida with her husband, son, their dog Oliver and their fish Finn. When not working or taking care of her family she has her nose stuck in a book (and, let’s face it, often when she is working or taking care of her family as well). Nothing excites her more than discovering a new author to obsess over or a hidden jewel of a book to worship.
Review copy was provided free of any obligation by My Weird School. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.Pin It
Be sure to enter the giveaway below! Five winners will receive a copy of The Blood Gospel, the first book in the series, and a grand prize winner will receive both The Blood Gospel and Innocent Blood!
In Innocent Blood, by James Rollins and Rebecca Cantrell, not everything is as it seems. Erin is a curious and brilliant archaeologist determined to delve into the words of the Blood Gospel, thought to have been written by Christ himself. After a horrible attack in California, Erin is driven back to the order of the Sanguines – an order founded on Christ’s blood – where she must find the missing link that holds the key to this darkness. The only problem is that she is not alone in this pursuit. Another, more sinister man is also in pursuit of this object for his own dark purposes. He wishes to bring about the end of the world: the end all, be all Apocalypse.
Along with Jourdan, an army sergeant, and Father Rhun, a member of the order of Sanguines, Erin must fight to save the world and the boy believed to be the gospel made flesh: an angel in human form. But can this priest be trusted? He is a member of the Order of Sanguines, an order of what some may call vampires. These three must fight their way through trials and tribulations and delve deep into the life of Christ in order to find and extinguish this perilous threat.
Innocent Blood gives the reader intrigue, bringing Catholicism, Vampiric literature and mystery all together and then wrapping it all up in a beautiful bow. It gives a deeper, darker view of the world and the mysteries that are unknown to most. Mystery readers, fantasy, and even crime literature lovers will all dig their heels into this book and find that it satisfies their need for amusement. Though a bit slow at times, Innocent Blood is still a great book to pick up when you are looking for something less deep and more indulgent, like a decadent cup of hot chocolate on a cold day.
Jenna lives in the bustling city of Pittsburgh, PA with her wife, her chihuahua Penny, her retriever Ella and her two beautiful cats. Along with her passion for reading and the literary world, she is also an artist, writer, environmental activist, creative coordinator and aspiring culinary genius. She believes there is nothing better to her then a good book, and lives one cover to the next.
Review copy was provided free of any obligation by William Morrow. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.
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Reviewed by Caleb Shadis
The Tenth Saint was a bit of a surprise to me. I was expecting a little bit of an Indiana Jones/Robert Langdon cross over, but it turned out to be closer to a Laura Croft story. The storytelling was absolutely wonderful, and it had a few good surprises in it.
Sarah Weston is an archaeologist from Cambridge who is working at a dig in Ethiopia. This is her first opportunity to be the leader of the dig. She has a lot riding on this, especially since Cambridge rarely allows a woman to lead this kind of foray. She’s been working at the site for about five months, not finding anything spectacular – but plenty of encouraging signs they are in the right area – when she has a chance encounter.
Sarah has a meeting with a local who offers to show her where to find a good stash of ancient artifacts. There are some caves in the hills overlooking the dig site. She has a feeling about this one and so agrees to go with the man for a look. She has an accident and finds strange stones that look like someone closed off a cave. What she finds behind them could change the world, though she might figure it out too late.
There are also some rather violent men who are bent on keeping anyone from bringing the find to light. On top of all this no one wants to believe Sarah has found anything more important than a thorn in her fathers side.
This was a very well written book and I enjoyed it a lot. There were two intertwining stories that would take turns and I kept wanting to know how they were related. After a little while I was pretty sure, but then I’d have questions, ‘if this…’ then ‘that should be…’. Every time I thought I found a reasonable hole or flaw in the story (like a Dan Brown book), a few chapters later the author would fill it in with a very good piece. The whole thing was thought out well and I was very impressed. This is the first in a series and I do have to wonder where this series will lead. It seems hard to top the surprise in this one.
Caleb is a software engineer and amateur woodworker living in southern Minnesota. He has more hobbies than he has time or money for, and enjoys his quiet time reading.
Review and giveaway copies were provided free of any obligation by Medallion Press. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.