Thursday, November 29, 2012

Here's Looking at Euclid...

I've vaguely heard of Zometool before. I think I had even looked at their website briefly at one point, years ago. When the opportunity to review a product of theirs came along, I knew enough to know I was interested.

Then I started looking at the choices in detail.

At that point, I was completely, totally, utterly excited.  I didn't dare to tell my kids it was a possibility.  In fact, I didn't dare to tell them once I knew it was happening either.  Just in case it never actually showed up.

It did.  We received a Bubble Bundle, which consists of a basic starter kit, the Creator 1 plus a Bubble-ology lesson plan book, which is suggested for grades 5-9. We also received a discount code which you can use to purchase your own sets. That's down at the bottom of this review!
My kids got a look at the set and "interesting" was as excited as they got.  I was quite disappointed.  The 12 year old started playing with it.  His results looked something like this:

He had fun building it, but I didn't get the feeling he was learning much of anything from it.  Expensive tinker-toys, was my reaction, but I remained hopeful.

While we are on this photo, let's talk a bit about what Zometools are.  Those little white balls (nodes) have a whole lot of little holes where you can put the colored sticks (struts).  Sounds pretty simple, right?

Well, each of the colors is different.  Blue struts have rectangular shaped ends, and they fit into the rectangular holes on the node.  Blue in the Zome world, represents 2s -- rectangles (4), octagons (8)...

Yellow struts have triangular ends which fit into the triangular holes on the node.  Yellow shapes usually involve 3s or 6s.

Red struts have pentagonal ends which fit into the 5-sided holes on the nodes. You've caught on by now... reds involve pentagons and decagons (a term we actually hear in this house frequently now).

That's the basics.

Eventually, my 15 year old science geek caught on to the fact that these were more complicated than they appeared.  This was the result of his playing around (did I mention this is Art as well as math and science?):
Once Connor pulled out the Manual 2.3 that comes with the kit, he started getting really excited.  All of a sudden, he was talking about perspective cubes, 4th dimension cube shadows, and rhombic dodecahedrons. 

He lost me.  He has been able to explain what he is building in terms that the 12 and 14 year old grasp.  So far, I've refrained from telling him that his creations are pretty (they are!)

Since we're talking about the manual, let me point something out to you.  Go visit the Creator 1 webpage again.  Scroll down.  You can download this manual for free.  You can download most of the instructional materials for free.  How amazing is that?  So if you already have all the parts for one of their kits, you don't have to purchase the kit just to get the instructions/information.  You can just go and learn some incredibly neat concept using the parts you have.  That impresses me.

Here he is with one of the things he put together after reading about it in the manual.  A 4-D Perspective Cube Shadow.

And here is a really rough video we did at the spur of the moment, of him attempting to explain 4th dimension shadows to me.  Other than an inability to remember the name of the shape and a bit of stammering while he was trying to get the thing oriented correctly, I thought he did well.  Especially since it was midnight when we filmed this.  We're night owls.  I confess.

Richard, the 8 year old, has been limited to only using blue struts.  More on that below.  But by downloading the instructions for the Ice Crystals and Stars project kit he has been able to do more than just make cubes.

Not only can we build more intricate designs, but we read through the material and learned about crystals, snow, hexagons, 2-D, 3-D, and more.

Then there is the Bubble-ology book.  I'll confess that we just have not done much with this yet.  I wanted to be sure to have my 6th and 8th graders use it, as it is for their age range.  But they have not both been healthy on the same day, well, pretty much since this set arrived.  Or on the couple days they were, it was too windy.  And I do a lot of things in the name of science, but messes we can make outside do not get made inside.

I have looked through this Great Explorations in Math and Science (GEMS) manual pretty thoroughly, as has Connor, and we are both quite impressed.  This does not explicitly use Zome Tool products, however many of the activities could be done using what we learned about Zometools and bubbles in the Manual 2.3.

One of Connor's first comments when he started reading through the book, was that "this has you doing actual experiments, not just repeating some pre-planned activity."  He's right.  That was one of the first things I noticed about the book as well.  The second activity, for instance, has you testing three different brands of dishsoap to see which one results in the largest bubbles.  I was totally impressed with the teacher's helps provided in the book, such as:
"You may also notice students who won't record the diameter of smaller bubbles.  Respond by saying that they are the scientists.  It's up to them to decide what is fair.  Whatever they decide to do, they'll need to make sure all three brands are treated in the same way.  Otherwise one brand of soap will be given an unfair advantage."
There are suggestions to make the activity a little easier (if your 5th graders aren't readily able to calculate averages, in this example) and suggestions to kick it up a notch (like expressing the results as the average volume of the bubble dome instead of the diameter).

There are even literature suggestions.  If you read my blog, you know that makes my heart go pitter-patter.  I love when I can incorporate a good story!

All in all, I am incredibly impressed.

So a couple warnings, from our experience.
  • If you aren't careful, it is fairly easy to break the yellow and red struts.  Especially if you are a 6 year old little sister.  They say this is good for ages 6 to adult.  I say a 6 year old needs intensely close supervision. Your mileage may vary, of course, but my 6 year old isn't careful enough.
  • Zometool will replace broken parts.  I haven't tried yet, but we will need to.  And 6 year old little sister is not allowed to touch this anymore.
  • The blue struts seem to be the easiest to work with for little hands.  The 8 year old little brother is allowed to build with blue only at this point, and only when someone older is present.
  • If you have more than a couple of children, the Creator 1 set is going to be outgrown quickly.  I have my eye on this Geometry Bundle.
We are also seriously "needing" to get the Molecular Mania kit.  In fact, using the code Schoolhouse15, I can get that set (or anything else) for 15% off and free shipping, and so can you.  Hurry though, as that is only good for a couple of days (November 30).

This stuff is fabulous, that is my bottom line.   And I know I can't communicate that adequately.  You have to use this to get it, I think.  And with kits available for as little as $10 ($8.50 with the above code!), you really should try it.

I am certain my kids are getting more for Christmas.  These are amazing.

Disclaimer:  I received this product in exchange for my honest review.  No other compensation was received.  All opinions expressed in this review are my own.   

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Review: ACT & College Preparation Course for the Christian Student

ACT & College Preparation Course for the Christian Student, by James Stobaugh, is a fabulous high school resource.

Earlier this year, I reviewed his SAT Preparation Book, which we liked, but it overwhelmed us.  The ACT title has been far easier to implement in our home, and the ACT is the test Connor is more likely to take anyway (probably in the spring, for the first time).

Stobaugh has experience in grading for various exams, and he has some definite opinions on what types of things should be done to prepare.  This includes spiritual as well as academic preparation, an approach I do appreciate.  So does Connor.

This book, along with many others by Stobaugh,  is published by Master Books, a division of New Leaf Publishing Group.  They have this to say about it:
Your ACT score is key in determining college scholarships and admissions. Prepare to excel with The ACT & College Preparation Course for the Christian Student, written by James P. Stobaugh, an experienced ACT/SAT grader, graduate of Harvard and Rutgers, as well as Princeton & Gordon Conwell seminaries. With these 50 devotion-based lessons, Stobaugh expects “Christian students should score 4 – 5 points higher on the exam.”
Whether used over the course of a year or in 50 days, high school teens will:
  • Master stress reduction techniques and test-taking skills
  • Complete exercises designed to hone their English, Mathematics, Reading, and Science skills
  • Improve reading skills, vocabulary development, and comprehension
  • Strengthen essay skills for the optional writing portion of the exam
  • Develop and strengthen their faith in God and the authority of His Word
This book includes a bit of introductory material that includes information about the ACT and how it differs from the SAT.  The bulk of the book consists of 50 lessons -- which can be done daily for about two months, weekly for a calendar year, or you can email the author for his recommendations for completing the course over a semester.

We chose to do a lesson a week here.  We are not doing this quite as Stobaugh recommends (we wouldn't be homeschoolers if we didn't tweak some!), but here is what a week looks like in our house (I chose lesson 13):
  • Monday: Read the devotion -- this one relates to evangelical Christians in secular universities.  Read the scripture for the lesson (Exodus 13:14-16) and start memorizing it.  Read the prayer point with me -- this one relates to integrity.  Complete the math section of the lesson.  This one is a word problem relating to ticket sales.
  • Tuesday:  Continue with the scripture memorization and the prayer point.  Do the vocabulary section.  This one was pretty lengthy, relating to Don Quixote, and suggesting a number of vocabulary words relating to that work.  I didn't know all of the words -- rubicund, obduracy, avidity.  I could guess at the meanings.  
  • Wednesday: Continue with the scripture memorization and the prayer point.  Review vocabulary.  Do the Reading section.  This one involves reading for details and is related to Shakespeare.
  • Thursday: Continue with the scripture memorization and the prayer point.  Review vocabulary. Do the English section.  This one talks of active and passive voice.  He rewrites passive voice sentences to active voice, but also rewrites active voice sentences to passive voice ones.  Do the Science section.  This lesson has photograph of a home and asks questions about how the design would be advantageous to rural northern Wisconsin residents.  The science section is usually fun (for Connor) so we combine it with the English day.
  • Friday: Continue with the scripture memorization and the prayer point.  Review vocabulary. Do the Writing section.  This lesson relates to drawing conclusions and has the student reading a short poem and answering some true/false questions.  More often, this section takes a lot more time for Connor, so we want to have it on its own day.
In addition, he is supposed to be reading around 50 pages a day.  There is a pretty amazing booklist in an appendix, and we went through that, making notes of books he is going to be reading for Stobaugh's literature program.  He has been choosing other titles to work through.  Right now, he is (re)reading The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes.

Other appendices include suggestions for learning vocabulary, for creating a reading journal, a devotional journal, and Greek and Latin morphemes.

Our plan is to work through this at a pace of a lesson a week.  Connor will be taking the ACT later in his 10th grade year, and he will not have completed this book at that point.  We think he will benefit more from utilizing this material at a slow and steady pace than by trying to finish it before his first ACT exam.

After completing this book, he feels confident that he will be prepared to attack the SAT book.  He already finds that volume less confusing.  We'll decide what pace to use there, but I think that will be a slow and steady thing too.

Great book.  We love it.

You can watch a video book trailer here:

Disclaimer:   I received this book for free from New Leaf Publishing Group.  No other compensation was received.  The fact that I received a complimentary product does not guarantee a favorable review.   

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Review and Giveaway: Fractiles

When I was given the chance to review an educational toy, of course I said yes.  But really, how exciting could some magnet set really be?  I thought it would be fun, but I didn't expect to absolutely love the product!

Fractiles.  They advertise that they are good for ages 6 to 106, and with some supervision, kids under the age of 6 can use them too.  Red, yellow, and blue parallelograms, magnetic, and they can be used in so many cool ways.

Now, I have to back up and tell you a horrible story.  I've had these forever.  The kids designed with them for a few weeks.  I seriously intended to get a review written last spring, but when I went to sit down with my kids to work through the games and lesson plans (a pdf is available on the website), the kids could not find the set anywhere.  Life was crazy, I kept getting after them to find it...

And then it turned up.  I did work through the lesson plans with them, and had a blast doing so.  I could not believe I was having intelligent conversations with my 6 and 8 year olds involving words like:
  • adjacent, reflection symmetry (game #1)
  • translation, rotational, and reflection symmetry (game #2)
  • rhombus, 360 degrees in a circle, 1/7 fractions (1/7, 2/7, 3/7, etc), 1/14 fractions, repeating decimals (game #4)  (okay, I did pretty much lose the 6 year old in this one!)
  • adjacent corners (game #5)
It was so much fun, and my kids were grasping so much of the mathematical terminology.  But the battery in the camera was dead, and I had no idea where the charger was.

We did a massive cleaning project a couple of days later, and when I remembered to get the camera charged and went to get photos for this blog post... the fractile set was gone.  We searched.  And searched. And searched some more.  I thought about buying a new set.  But things kept coming up.  And we searched some more.

Two weeks ago, I was working with some books we had stored away into bins for school.  And, yeah.  There in a bin full of American history books was the Fractile set.  I don't even know why I opened that bin, but I am glad I did.

Anyway, the Fractiles are back, and everyone (ages 6 to, well, I'm not close to 106 yet) has been playing with them again.

These things are just. so. cool.

Each color is a different angle.  The red ones have angles that are 1/14 and 6/14 of a circle.  The yellow ones have angles that are 2/14 and 5/14.  The blue ones are close to square, with angles of 3/14 and 4/14.  These angles mean that the diamonds fit together in so very many different ways.

These are great for exploring all kinds of geometric mathematical concepts.  These are great for all kinds of visual processing types of things.  They are a lot of fun just for art and creativity.

Here is something Trina put together while I was typing:

She has a whole long story about this image.  Spaceships (the blue & yellow things, with flames coming out) and stars and explosions...  Can you tell she has brothers?

It is fun to give the older guys a challenge... take 7 of each piece and make a circle.  Here is one Thomas came up with after first doing the one in the logo above:

And then William tried to make one.  Amusingly enough, he ended up creating exactly the same circle.  They both employed the same strategy... they created the outer circle with the red pieces, then filled in the middle. 

William had to play with all the other pieces on the board, though, to make a nice pattern to go with his 21 piece circle.

I think my favorite thing about the Fractiles is that once I read through some of the material, I was able to just naturally bring up the geometric aspects, and because the kids were trying to make a picture or design work "just so," my talking didn't seem like yet another math lecture.  They are just absorbing the concepts, and building up those visual-spatial skills.  The ones I need to work on.

This would make a fabulous Christmas gift.  And one of you, my lucky readers, can win a set.  Because I did such a horrible job of getting this review posted, and because this is just such a way cool product, I am going to give away a Fridge-Size Fractile set.  This does not come with a magnetic board -- you can use the fridge, or a cookie sheet, or another magnetic surface.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

These are available at some great places.  I plan to look for more at the Science Museum in St. Paul in a couple of weeks, but there is also a gas station in Vermillion, SD that we go by on most of our trips to and from my parents...

Or you can get them online.

Disclaimer:  I received this product in exchange for my honest review.  No other compensation was received.  All opinions expressed in this review are my own.   

Friday, November 23, 2012

Book Review: The Purpose Driven Life

The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren, first published a decade ago, is something I've heard lots about but never checked out myself.

When presented with the chance to review this new 10th Anniversary edition, I wanted to see it for myself.

If you already own the original, there probably isn't a reason to purchase this.  From what I have gathered, the inside content is nearly identical.  This does include a link to get video introductions to each chapter, and also to an audio sermon by Pastor Warren for each chapter.  There are also two new chapters on barriers to living a purpose-driven life.

If you are like me, though, and have never read the original, I think it would make sense to get this one instead.

From the publisher:
Licensed in over 85 languages, The Purpose Driven Life is far more than just a book; it is a guide to a spiritual journey... Once you take this journey, you’ll never be the same again.
On your journey you’ll find the answers to 3 of life’s most important questions:
  • The Question of Existence: Why am I alive?
  • The Question of Significance: Does my life matter?
  • The Question of Purpose: What on earth am I here for?
Living out the purpose you were created for moves you beyond mere survival and success to a life of significance—the life you were meant to live.
Five benefits of knowing your purpose:
  1. It will explain the meaning of your life.
  2. It will simplify your life.
  3. It will focus your life.
  4. It will increase your motivation.
  5. It will prepare you for eternity.
This new, expanded edition has been created for a new generation of reader.
A New Edition for a New Generation! 4 NEW FEATURES
  • Video introductions by Rick Warren to chapters 1-40
  • An audio Bible study at the end of each chapter, with over 30 additional hours of teaching by Rick Warren.
  • Two new bonus chapters on the most common barriers to living a purpose driven life.
  • Access to an online community where you can discuss your journey to purpose, get feedback, and receive support.

What did I think?  Well, I've only had this book for a bit over a week, so I'm not terribly far into it.  Especially since in the intro materials, Warren cautions us to only do one reading a day.

What I've been doing is to watch the couple-minute video intro on my iPod, and then read the chapter.  All total, that is about 15 minutes.  I can see where it would be incredibly wonderful to have someone to discuss the concepts with, but I really don't at this point.

Later in the day, I've tried to listen to the "audio Bible study" but I have found that difficult.  First, I guess, I expected that the talk would relate to the chapter's concepts, but usually it really doesn't.  Second, since it is online, I'm tied to my wi-fi area to listen.  I think if I could take this with me on a walk, I'd get a lot more out of it. Third, at some point, I really felt like I was listening to the same talk over and over.

I do like the video and the readings.  Though I wish he didn't jump around from one Bible paraphrase version to another.  I find myself needing to go look up so many of the verses, just to see if the meaning is the same in a more reliable translation.  I haven't really had any issues, per se, with what I've found, but the jumping around does bother me.  In the first three days, the versions include MSG, CEV, NIV, LB, TEV, NCV, GWT, and NLT. 

In spite of feeling a bit of a "if you don't do things my way you aren't a real Christian" attitude, there is a lot in here that does make me think.  Day 10, for instance, and its talk about surrender, really did make me consider the attitudes I have towards concepts like surrender and submission, my thoughts about limitations, etc.

Overall, I'm glad I have this.

Disclaimer: As a Booksneeze Blogger, I did receive this book for free from Thomas Nelson. All opinions are my own.  No other compensation was received. For more about my take on reviews, visit my blog post here.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Reading Aloud Challenge: November 20

Uff-dah.  Well, I committed to posting every week, so post I will.  I have almost nothing to write about though.  Kids have been feeling off a bunch, and we've had a lot more running around than usual.  Plus most of the running around did not involve everyone... which means no audiobooks going.

So what have we been reading aloud this past week?

Made in Heaven by Ray Comfort and Jeffrey Seto.  We are continuing to (allegedly) read a two-page spread daily.  Um, or not.  We only did one this week.  This book is great.

The American Patriot's Almanac by William Bennett.  We're reading from this one daily too.  Short little reading relating to something that happened on this day in American history, along with a listing of things that happened.  We're loving it.  I have this on my Kindle.

Various books about the exploration of America with Richard and Trina.  I probably should keep track of these, but they are just short one-sitting books, and when I think in terms of read-alouds, I really have in mind the longer-term materials.

Goals for next week:  I don't know.  It is Thanksgiving, and we have no major plans for anything.  I think we'll try to get through Anne's House of Dreams (which we never even touched last week), and I still want to figure out a big read-aloud for William and Thomas, and one for Richard and Trina.  But honestly, that may wait for next week.  This coming week may be pretty light on the reading too.

Rules for this linkup - if you are blogging about things you are reading aloud to your children, or just blogging about reading aloud in general, feel free to link up.  Audiobooks count too.  I would very much appreciate if you link back to this post.  I'll leave the linky open through Monday at midnight.

How about you? 

Monday, November 19, 2012

Review: British History

A while back, I posted a review of World History and a review of American History by James Stobaugh.  Those books were the first and second years in a three-year high school history curriculum.

British History is the final year of that set.  It comes as a student book ($24.99, 272 page paperback) and a teacher book ($14.99, 144 page paperback).  The book is nonconsumable so you can use it with each of your children, a feature I really love.

Doesn't that cover make you want to jump right in?  Or maybe that question just proves I'm a total geek.  Hmmm.

From the publisher:
Respected Christian educator, Dr. James Stobaugh, offers an entire year of high school British history curriculum in an easy to teach and comprehensive volume. British History: Observations & Assessments from Early Cultures to Today employs clear objectives and challenging assignments for the eleventh grade student without revisionist or anti-Christian perspectives. From before the Anglo-Saxon invasions to the end of an empire, British history trends, philosophies, and events are thoroughly explored. The following components are covered for the student:
  • Critical thinking
  • Examinations of historical theories, terms, and concepts
  • History makers who changed the course of Britain’s history
  • Overviews and insights into world views.
Students will complete this course knowing the rise of the British empire that influenced nearly every corner of the earth!
The book, like others in the series, consists of 34 chapters, with daily lessons for days one to four, and a test/assessment for the fifth day.  The lessons start off in pre-Roman England, and quickly (chapter 4) moves up to the Norman Invasion (1066).  From there, it goes through various monarchies and eras, hitting World War I in chapters 29-31. The final three chapters cover British History since  the end of World War I.

Unlike my previous reviews, I don't really have a hang-up about the scope and sequence.  Maybe that is partially because I'm not as familiar with British History, I don't know.  But as I worked through the first third (or so) of the book, and as I skimmed ahead through the remainder, I don't feel like there are huge gaps.  I would prefer to see a bit more coverage of World War II, but really, this seems at least good.  There is a chapter (that is one week) on totalitarianism leading up to WWII, and another chapter that covers the Great Slump, Queen Elizabeth II, appeasement, and finally World War II itself.  The final chapter covers post-WWII, the Cold War, the end of the empire, and the 1970s and beyond.  So, basically, the past 75ish years are covered in three weeks.

I will choose to beef up the World War II time period a bit.  I'll have Connor read a biography of Churchill, for instance.  As long as you don't expect much in recent history, I think the choices made for this title are quite good.

So what does a "typical week" look like?  Well, I'll pick one to talk about here, though I'm not entirely certain there is such a thing as a "typical week."  Let's look at Chapter 12, "The Restoration."
  1. The first lesson is also titled "The Restoration" and it is a page of text by Stobaugh talking about Charles II and all kinds of things happening from roughly 1659-1685.  The assignment involves various interpretations of Charles II's reign. 
  2. The second lesson is "Great Fire of London" and it includes a page of text, including a diary entry, about the fire and its impact on London.  The assignment has them discussing how the fire was a mixed blessing.
  3. The next lesson is about Ireland and is a single page, all text by Stobaugh.  It covers Ireland from the 13th century up through the reign of Charles II.  The assignment was a little frustrating, as it is talking about English domination of Irish politics until the 20th century.  That required me to do additional research.
  4. The final lesson is on philosophers and world views, and covers Spinoza and John Locke, including excerpts from their writings.   The assignment has two questions, one for each philosopher, asking how Christians would agree with him, and how they would disagree.
  5. The assessment includes three questions covering the first three lessons.
The student book contains the text and daily assignments.  The teacher's book contains the daily questions and answers (or possible answers).  It also contains the weekly assessments and the answers to those. 

Like I have mentioned in the previous two reviews, if you were to spend 30 minutes a day for 34 weeks, you are only talking 85 hours of work, which is simply not enough "quality time" in my opinion for a full high school credit.  This means we will be adding in additional work, which I am finding nice, actually.  One thing I plan for all the kids is to find a bit more on the history of Wales (the only "British Empire" in our heritage.)  For Connor, we can focus a bit more on the Industrial Revolution, for instance.  With Thomas (now 12), we'll probably spend a bit more time in the early chapters talking about archaeological digs in England.

I'm really liking that I have a program that gives a solid overview without taking up hours of time each day.  It is so incredibly easy to add a couple of things here and there.

Another thing to note is that everything is in black and white.  I appreciate that this helps keep the costs down, and when there is something we think we need in color, it is a quick search to find an appropriate image online.

You can watch this promo clip about the history series:

Disclaimer:   I received this book for free from New Leaf Publishing Group.  No other compensation was received.  The fact that I received a complimentary product does not guarantee a favorable review.   

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Book Review: Bible Detective

We have had so much fun with Bible Detective: A Puzzle Search Book by Peter Martin.

What an incredibly cool book.

From the publisher:
Young detectives will never tire of this picture-search puzzle book. Readers can pore over seventeen cleverly illustrated scenes of Bible events to find the answers to the questions posed on each page. Some puzzles involve looking for details of everyday life, others highlight things that happened in the Bible stories--offering hours of fun to readers as they search for the answers.

With lots to find, this kind of picture book is particularly great for reluctant readers and visual learners, helping all children get an overview of the Bible's history and content as they super-sleuth their way through the book. Warning: may be addictive!
What we thought:

This book ended up pulling everyone in.  If you check out sample pages, An Assyrian Attack and The Port of Caesarea, (keeping in mind that in the book, this is definitely easier to use!) you can get a good feel for how the book works.

Each two-page spread includes a little bit of text about the Biblical account or place.  Then, around the sides, there is more text along with illustrations.  This text tells the kids what to search for in the big illustration, and often tells a bit more about it.  For instance, in The Port of Caeasarea, one of the side illustrations explains that "Amphorae were used for transporting goods such as wine, oil, and fruit." You are told there is a wagon loaded with amphorae for you to find.

If you search and simply cannot find something, there is an answer key in the back of the book.  We found that very helpful at times!

What I love is that the kids are not just searching the picture for miscellaneous stuff.  (Well, except for the fox that appears in each spread.  He's pretty miscellaneous.)  They are learning more about the Bible and biblical times and places.  The illustrations are fun, and sometimes funny. 

About the authors:
Peter Martin has developed a wide knowledge of Biblical history during his many year working in religious education. He acted as advisor on The Lion Bible In Its Time.

Peter Kent's focus as an illustrator is bringing historical scenes to life with humor and detail that appeals to children. He has been illustrating for over 30 years and has created over 12,000 illustrations for children's books.  
Fabulous book.  I'd recommend it for Christmas.  If we didn't already own it, we'd be having Santa bring it (Santa always brings something biblical!)

Disclaimer:  I received this book through Kregel Blog Tours.  No other compensation was received.  All opinions expressed in this review are my own.   

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Bountiful Baskets: November 17

Bountiful Baskets again.  The pickup before Thanksgiving.  I wanted to get a hostess pack, but ended up doing two baskets instead.

Our truck was seriously late. Again. It worked out for me, as we were doing volunteer work this morning and had someone picking our basket for us.  Since the truck was over two hours late, we were able to get our baskets ourselves.

Here is one of them:

Connor was trying to be symmetrical.  Yikes.

Between our two baskets, we got:
  • Ten big potatoes
  • Five tomatoes
  • Three 1-lb bags of carrots
  • Three bunches of celery
  • Three heads of romaine lettuce
  • Two melons of some type.  Honeydew, maybe.
  • Five pummelos
  • Twelve apples
  • Fourteen oranges
  • Seven bananas
  • Two pineapples
At least, I think that's what we got. It's been a long day.

What are we going to do with it all?  The fruit will all get eaten.  The veggies are all staples.  I really don't have to do any thinking at all.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Dinosuars for Kids for the iPad

While we love ebooks, and love apps on the iPad, I have not been terribly impressed with most of the iBooks content I have interacted with.  Until Dinosaurs for Kids by Ken Ham.  Wow.

First, you have the book itself.  The book has fabulous illustrations and a whole lot of great information about all kinds of dinosaurs, presented from a Creation point of view. 

But this iBook title is interactive.  Which means you can click on the names of all few dozen of the dinosaurs, and it brings up additional information about that dinosaur, including a speaker icon you can click to hear the author pronounce the name of the dinosaur.  Not a big deal with names like Tyrannosaurus (I've learned that one!), but incredibly wonderful with dinos like Coelophysis (see-lo-FISE-iss) or Therizinosaurus (thair-uh-ZEEN-us-SAWR-us).

If that isn't enough, there are also videos available on some of the pages.  My favorite is the video of alligators hatching, though the video of digging up fossils is a very close second. 

There are slides of things like fossilized dinosaur footprints.  In fact, every time I flip through this book, I discover some other neat little function I hadn't seen before.

The book itself is great, with beautiful illustrations.  But the extras make this a 5 star item.  My kids, ages 6-15, all love Dinosaurs for Kids, and I do as well.

You can watch a video here:

Disclaimer:   I received this ibook for free from New Leaf Publishing Group as part of the Moms of Master Books program.  No other compensation was received.  The fact that I received a complimentary product does not guarantee a favorable review.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Reading Aloud, November 13

Another week, another Reading Aloud link-up!  This week was good.  Didn't do everything I meant to do, but it was good

So what have we been reading aloud this past week?

Lantern Bearers by Rosemary Sutcliff.  We finished.  What an excellent book!  I have to find every book she ever wrote, figure out the time periods, and make sure we do them every. single. time. we cover those periods.

Anne's House of Dreams by L. M. Montgomery.  I can't believe we are this far into the series.  We barely did anything this week with this one though.

True Account of Adam and Eve by Ken Ham.  Finished this one up, and reviewed it on Friday.  Great book, and the illustrations are simply marvelous.

Made in Heaven by Ray Comfort and Jeffrey Seto.  We are continuing to (allegedly) read a two-page spread daily.  Um, or not.  We only did two.  But this book is great.

The American Patriot's Almanac by William Bennett.  We're reading from this one daily too.  Short little reading relating to something that happened on this day in American history, along with a listing of things that happened.  We're loving it.  I have this on my Kindle.

Goals for next week:  I don't know.  List out those Rosemary Sutcliff books.  Work on the everyday ones.  Figure out the next book for William and Thomas.  Continue Anne's House of Dreams.  Start something long with Richard and Trina.  I'm considering Boxcar Children (can't imagine why...)  Read some of your posts for inspiration on what to read aloud next!  (Which was fun last week!)

Rules for this linkup - if you are blogging about things you are reading aloud to your children, or just blogging about reading aloud in general, feel free to link up.  Audiobooks count too.  I would very much appreciate if you link back to this post.  I'll leave the linky open through Monday at midnight.

How about you?

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Bountiful Baskets: November 10

Another Bountiful Baskets post, a day late.  Yesterday was BUSY.  Good thing it was an A week, so I got my basket done first thing.

Here is ONE basket:

My baskets this time were identical, so I'll just list the contents of one.
  • Two huge potatoes (yeah, I put three in the photo. Oops.)
  • Two bunches celery
  • Three ears of white corn
  • Three one-pound bags of carrots
  • One head romaine lettuce
  • Five perfectly ripe tomatoes
  • One pineapple
  • Two "personal size" watermelon
  • One honeydew melon
  • Seven bananas
Don't know what to tell you about how this will be used.  The kids (and Dad when he's here) will have a melon a day for awhile.  I can't eat those.  Maybe we'll break it up with a pineapple at some point in there.  I may dehydrate some pineapple.

We'll have corn with dinner.

I'll probably saute up some carrots and celery, with onions (have those around already).

Everything else is pretty much staples and will just get used. Without me thinking about it much.

I was thrilled to use the last of my "old" carrots today... so I only have the six pounds I got in my basket yesterday. 

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Book Review: The True Account of Adam & Eve

This week, we've been reading The True Account of Adam & Eve by Ken Ham of Answers in Genesis.  This hardcover book is published by Master Books, a division of New Leaf Publishing Group.

From the publisher:
Where mankind’s history began impacts how our future will end!
  • The biblical answer to the question: Were Adam and Eve real people or just generic references for all of mankind?
  • Explains the connection between original sin and the gospel
  • Emphasizes the importance of Adam and Eve as literal history to young and old alike
When you unlock the door to biblical compromise, the door gets pushed open wider with each generation. The Church is now debating the validity of Genesis as actual history, the reality of hell itself, and even if Adam was a real person. Trying to change the biblical time-line to fit with the secular concepts of millions of years has led many in Christian academia to reject the literal interpretation of the Bible itself. Perfect for children, the book helps them discover the truth about the first man and woman, and how their disobedience led to the need for Jesus Christ.
We received this book last week, and started reading it on Monday. 

As you can see in the two pictures below, there is a fair amount of text, along with gorgeous illustrations.  For my younger two (ages 6 and 8), the 64 pages are a bit too much to read in a single sitting.  But they do keep grabbing the book and examining the pictures -- both the parts we've already read, and the portions still to come.
My big boys joined in to listen to me read this aloud.  One thing Connor (15) pointed out right away was that he really appreciated that the Garden of Eden illustrations (and others too) depicted a wide variety of animals.  Some creation resources seem to show only dinosaurs, and non-creation-based ones show none.  This has a nice mix, including illustrations with animals but absolutely no dinosaurs.  He said he felt this was far more realistic.  With many Creation materials, he just feels like he is "being pounded over the head with the whole dinosaur thing."

Thomas (11.  For a few more hours anyway.) loves the illustrations too.  He liked how Adam and Eve seemed so natural, and appreciated that they weren't always hiding in bushes.  The illustrations are tasteful, without feeling quite so staged.

This is a book we will read again and again.

There will be a chance for you to win a copy of the book and discuss it at the Master Books' a Book and a Bite Facebook Party on Thursday, November 15, 2012, from 7:00 to 8:00 pm MST. The party happens on the Master Books Facebook page, but that first link will keep you up-to-date until then.

You can watch the book trailer:

Disclaimer:   I received this book for free from New Leaf Publishing Group as part of the Moms of Master Books program.  No other compensation was received.  The fact that I received a complimentary product does not guarantee a favorable review.   

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Review: Modesty Matters

Maybe it is the influence of Grandma, who creates amazing quilts using wonderful fabrics that include bugs, Buzz Lightyear, chile peppers and dinosaurs.  Maybe it is the influence of Dad, who tells stories of how impressed a certain young lady was when he pulled out a sewing kit and offered to sew on a button that had popped off her jacket. (Because I certainly never carried a sewing kit with me!)  Maybe it is just all the gears and levers and gadgets on modern sewing machines.

Whatever the reason, my boys are interested in knowing at least the basics of how to sew.

When we received the You CAN Sew! Curriculum from Modesty Matters, my kids took one look at the projects... a pin cushion, an apron, a skirt, and a dress... and the teen BOYS immediately said, "Since this is school, you'll buy the material and such, right?"  When I said yes, they said, "So we have Trina's Christmas and birthday gifts covered.  Cool."

But then we found out that there is a brand-new Boy's Supplement (not yet available on the website).  For that, the projects are a pin cushion, a nail apron, pajama pants and a pajama shirt.  They decided that it might be more fun to make those.

Of course, our schooling this fall has been pretty hit or miss.  One child or another has been sick.  Not just sick, but 'crashed out in bed refusing to eat even when I offer ice cream' sick.  That has made it rather difficult to get them all working on this more than a day here or there.  So we did not get anywhere near as much of this done as I hoped.

So what is You CAN Sew?
The basic course comes with:
  • 5 DVDs, containing 65 video "classes"
  • a CD with patterns in child an adult sizes
  • a binder with the written text and glossary
The boy's supplement includes a DVD with video classes for the class sessions related to the "boy" projects, plus a CD that contains the patterns (in child and adult sizes) and a pdf of the text for the boy project lessons.

You Can Sew! costs $159, and is intended for non-sewers and beginning sewers of almost any age.  Trina (6) has been working through the lessons at a much slower pace than her brothers, but I'm going to focus on their experience and not hers.

What did we think?

Well, one thing that frustrated me right off the bat is that the time involvement in the lessons is really all over the board.  Some lessons take a few minutes.  Some take a LOT longer.  Once I realized that, I could deal with it.  Initially, though, it made me a little crazy that I couldn't just plan "1 lesson = 1 day" especially with the first lessons.  We'd watch the video classes until we felt we needed to stop and actually do all of the homework.   Some days, we'd watch 4-5 lessons.  Some days it was just one.

Then, since I am a fairly accomplished seamstress, I found the pacing agonizingly slow.  But I started sewing doll clothes when I was in kindergarten, and making my wedding dress was a no-brainer decision.  So this course isn't meant to teach ME anything, except maybe how to slow down enough to teach a beginner.

My boys found the initial pacing to be a bit slow, but they conceded that it was really a good thing to have to do things like thread the sewing machine a dozen times in a row, so that they truly knew how to do it.  In retrospect, that is something I wish I had been made to do.  All of those beginning skills are treated that way... practice them a few times until you are comfortable.  And keep samples of your work in a notebook.  A mastery-based approach to sewing.

The text and videos give so much information about things I would simply never think to address, and I love the time spent on practice, before you get to doing any real projects.

We did jump ahead to watch the first Boy project... the work apron.  Even though we weren't far enough in the initial lessons to actually take on this project, my boys felt that the instruction was clear and they felt encouraged that they really could do this.  That is one thing about the video instruction (that is far better than anything I'd do) -- she is encouraging.

We printed off the pattern for the apron, and while I don't love e-patterns, this was fairly straightforward to put together.

My bottom line:  I think especially for a mom who is a beginner, this curriculum is pretty terrific.  Everything else I have looked at for sewing instruction definitely assumes an already competent instructor. This is also the only thing I've looked at that at least tries to be boy-friendly.  There certainly is the assumption that it is girls taking the course, but the boy supplement does make a difference.  I think the supplement would also be fantastic for girls to use, either to sew herself some pajamas, or to sew gifts for brothers

I loved the notebook the kids are building.

The videos have a few little editing quirks, but nothing that was more than maybe a bit distracting at times.

Overall, I think this is a really nice product, and I hope to check out their brand-new quilting curriculum at some point too.

To see what my fellow crewmates had to say about the You Can Sew! curriculum, click the banner here:


Disclaimer:  As part of the TOS Schoolhouse Review Crew, I did receive products as mentioned above for the purposes of a review.  All opinions are my own.  For more about my take on reviews, visit my blog post here.

If you are interested, here are more of my Schoolhouse Crew Reviews.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Read Aloud Challenge: November 6

Week Three of my Reading Aloud link-up!  This week was slightly better, but I've been coughing a lot and just not up to reading for any long stretches.  I also returned some of what we read, so I'm not going to have a very complete picture.  Or not a picture at all.  I cannot find my iPod this morning.  Please, don't let me have left it at McDonald's last night...

So what have we been reading aloud this past week?

Lantern Bearers by Rosemary Sutcliff.  I am listening to this along with my "middle group" (William -8th grade, and Thomas -6th grade).  This takes place in England right after Rome completely leaves, so we are reading about the Saxons and Vortigern, and oh, just all kinds of great stuff.  This we did work on some.  We're down to the final CD.

Anne of Windy Poplars by L. M. Montgomery.  We finished this up this week. The kids thought the ending was very sad.

Anne's House of Dreams by L. M. Montgomery.  Not sad at all.  So far, Anne and Gilbert have gotten married, and they are spending their first evening in the "House of Dreams."

True Account of Adam and Eve by Ken Ham.  We just started this, and I'm mostly reading it to Richard and Trina. Look for a review on Friday!  I wish I had more to say about this, but we've barely started.  However, I did start something for them!

Made in Heaven by Ray Comfort and Jeffrey Seto.  This book is so cool!  A whole bunch of examples of amazing engineering in nature, and things we have learned or improved based on the design we see around us.  Each has a two-page spread in the book, and we are doing one of those spreads a day.  So expect to see this book on my read-aloud challenge post for quite a while.  I'm guessing we'll actually get to four a week, so that's about two months.

Goals for next week:  Finishing up the first four of the above books. Read some of your posts for inspiration on what to read aloud next!

Rules for this linkup - if you are blogging about things you are reading aloud to your children, or just blogging about reading aloud in general, feel free to link up.  Audiobooks count too.  I would very much appreciate if you link back to this post.  I'll leave the linky open through Monday at midnight.

How about you?

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Book Review: The Power of Knowing God

Everybody keeps telling me that I need to do a Kay Arthur Bible Study.  So when I had the chance to review The Power of Knowing God, I simply had to go for it.  Especially seeing it billed as a 40-Minute Study, and as "no homework."  Sounded great.

This is designed as a small group study, particularly suited for people who have a limited amount of time available to meet, like a lunchtime study at work.  I may stay home, but I also stay busy.  So I was intrigued.

The basic idea is that as a group, you work through the material in the chapter.  Everything you need is in the book, which is great.  Bible text is printed IN the book, which makes it really easy.  I did not use it in a small group (more on that later) but it sure appeared to be fairly low-prep for a small-group leader.

Each chapter has introductory text, followed by a series of Bible passages which are to be read aloud and marked up (triangles for every mention of God, for instance), and that is followed by a few questions for discussion.  After a lot of those sections, there is a wrap-up by Kay Arthur.

Okay, before I get too much into what I thought, here is what the publisher had to say:
Do you really know God?

You may know about God, but do you truly know what He says about Himself—and what He wants from you?

This eye-opening study will help you gain a true understanding of God’s character and His ways. As you discover for yourself who He is, you’ll be drawn into a deeper, more personal relationship with the God of the universe—a relationship that will enable you to confidently display His strength in life’s most challenging circumstances.

40 minutes a week could change your life!

The 40-Minute Bible Studies series from the teaching team at Precepts Ministries International tackles the topics that matter to you. These inductive study guides, designed to be completed in just six 40-minutes lessons with no homework required, help you discover for yourself what God says and how it applies to your life today. With the leader’s note and Bible passages included right in the book, each self-contained study is a powerful resource for personal growth and small-group discussion.
My thoughts:   Having never done inductive Bible Study before, it took me a bit to "get" the whole marking it up part of this, but that was interesting to do. I then would work through the questions and think about them, and wonder how they related to all the little triangles and squiggly lines I had just done, and then I'd think how this would be so much better if I was bouncing thoughts off of a group of other people.  You know, doing it like it was designed to be done.

For just me, I found it took longer than 40 minutes to get through a lesson.  I do wonder if a small group could do it in 40 minutes, as most every small group I've ever been a part of has tended to talk a lot.  Of course, I've never participated in one that had any true time pressure either.

Basically, if the group leader could keep things moving appropriately, I think this would make a really interesting small group study.  But for just me, well, it was hard.

Maybe at some point I can get my kids doing a study like this with me...

You, however, can get a really good look at the first chapter of The Power of Knowing God and decide for yourself whether this would work for you.

I'd love if you could rank my review:

Disclaimer: I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group in exchange for this review.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Bountiful Baskets: November 3

Bountiful Baskets time again.

Here is a photo of one of my two baskets.  It was hard to decide what to put in the picture though, as we got totally different extras this time in the two baskets.  It was fun.

So in my TWO baskets, what I received was:
  • 2 bags organic romaine hearts
  • 3 bunches of broccoli
  • 3 heads of cauliflower
  • 3 big acorn squash
  • 4 English cucumbers
  • about 3 1/4 pounds of Brussels sprouts
  • 9 Bosc pears
  • 18 lemons
  • 9 Fuji apples
  • 2 boxes of blackberries
Doesn't that look amazing?
  • I'm thrilled to have Brussels sprouts again.  We'll be doing that with lunch probably every day this week.
  • The romaine will be salads.  The kids love eating salad.
  • The cucumbers are going to be turned into refrigerator pickles
  • I'm making lemonade concentrate out of almost all the lemons.  
  • Apples and Pears will just be eaten.
  • The blackberries, well... William and I were talking about making some jelly, actually.  I'm a bit concerned about that.  It will probably actually be turned into blackberry syrup.
  • I'll be making Chicken Alfredo for Thomas on his birthday, and I always stretch Alfredo sauce by making a cauliflower sauce.  My "recipe" is below.
  • Some of the broccoli will be snacks (with ranch dresssing)
  • William is supposed to make Cream of Broccoli soup for a class this week.  How perfect is it that we got some?  
  • Along with some other veggies I have around, I'm going to be freezing some "stir fry mix" veggies, and Dale is suggesting I try doing some mixed pickled veggies too.  We'll see how THAT turns out.  Veggies include the cauliflower and broccoli, plus various peppers, carrots, onion, celery, hmmm, I think that covers it.
  • Squash -- I'm thinking I need to get creative, as we've had a lot of squash lately.  I'm still thinking on this one.

Chicken Alfredo --  almost every time I make any sort of Alfredo, I stretch it with cauliflower.  Since I was asked how I do it, basically, it runs something like this --

I start a pan of water boiling -- enough to cover the cauliflower.  I chop up a head of cauliflower into fairly small pieces, put it in the pan, and cook for 5-10 minutes.  At that point, I try to guess as to how much liquid I need, and I pour off some of the cooking water (though I usually save it, either to be able to add to the sauce, or to use it in soup or something. I can't help thinking I've boiled off some of the nutritional value, and I hate to dump that out).

I add powdered milk (1/4 cup or so) to the pot, but you could drain all the water and use regular milk.  I also add a couple chicken bouillon cubes, or something equivalent.  And I get that stirred up so the bouillon and milk is combined.

Then I grab an immersion blender, and start blending the whole thing up.  I add more water if I need to so I end up with a sauce-y consistency.  (Don't you just love my exact directions?)

Then I taste it, and may add more powdered milk, and I add 1/4-1/2 cup of parmesan cheese.  At this point, I turn the burner back on.  And after I've stirred everything in, I add a jar of Alfredo sauce.  Yeah, I probably could make my own but I don't.  Once it gets hot, I turn the heat down and let it simmer a bit for however long it takes for whatever else we're having with it to get done.

I do this up with a couple pounds of pasta of some sort.  For Thomas, I'll be adding a cup or two or three of chopped cooked chicken.  Sometimes I cook up broccoli to add as well, but Dale doesn't like broccoli, so I don't do that often.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Book Review: Imagination Station Books 8 and 9

I have reviewed other books in this series before, and been so very impressed.  So I didn't have to think at all about whether I wanted to review the two newest ones.  Of course I did.

The Imagination Station is a feature from Adventures in Odyssey that essentially serves as a time machine, taking (in the case of the books) twins Patrick and Beth back in time to various adventures.

I reviewed Attack at the Arena, which is the second book in the series, a year and a half ago.  We read Books 3-4 a bit over a year ago. Most recently, I reviewed Book 5-6.  Those books (and the first one) built on each other, as Beth and Patrick went on a series of adventures to save Albert.

Somehow, I think I missed that Book 7, Secret of the Prince's Tomb, was out.  I need to purchase that.

The past couple weeks, I've had the chance to read Battle for Cannibal Island (#8) and Escape to the Hiding Place (#9).  One big change is that these stories are no longer following the story arc with Hugh and Albert. These titles totally stand alone.

At roughly 130 pages, these books took me about a half hour each to read.  They are a very quick read for someone who reads well.  For my struggling readers, though, these books are simply fabulous.  Lots of action, lots of little cliff-hangers, and both a boy and girl main character.

These are written with some repetitive vocabulary, so while my boys had a tough time with some of the words the first time they encountered it, because it was used a few more times, they were seeing it enough to get comfortable with it.  For the record, this wasn't something I noticed as I read the stories myself.  It was in listening to my kids that I heard it.

Every time I hear someone asking about books for their boys who are past the easy readers but still needing just basic chapter books, I recommend this series.  These two books only reinforced that for me.  (And I'm quite sure it is good for girls too... but people don't tend to ask me about books for girls!)

Battle for Cannibal Island a visit to Fiji in 1852.  Beth spends time with James Calvert, a missionary in this area.  Patrick spends time with a British sailor and the king of the cannibals of the island.  What is really fun is that at the end of the story, there is a page with a bit of historical information about both the cannibals and Calvert.

Escape to the Hiding Place:  the twins land in the middle of Nazi-controlled Holland, and help to smuggle a Jewish baby to the ten Boom household. Most of the story involves them interacting with the Dutch Resistance, or trying to get to the watch shop.  Again, there is historical information at the end of the story.

The downsides of these stories -- like many other series for this reading level, the books are formulaic and fairly predictable, so they aren't necessarily fascinating reading for Mom.  But the predictability is a good thing for the kids.  My 13 year old is reading this a lot faster than he did the earlier books, which means he is enjoying it more.  With books 5-6, it was taking longer to read the material, which tended to make him really frustrated with the storyline.  Now that he can go through it faster, he enjoys it.

My 8 and 11 year olds think the books are great.  The older guys noticed that Patrick and Beth seem to catch on to what is going on a little quicker now too, and they figure that all of these Imagination Station adventures have led to Beth & Patrick paying more attention to their history classes...

Oh, and book 10, Challenge on the Hill of Fire, takes place in the time of St. Patrick. It is due out in January.  We're getting it for sure.

Disclaimer:   I received these books for free from Tyndale House Publishers.  No other compensation was received.  The fact that I received a complimentary product does not guarantee a favorable review.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Book Review: A Year with G. K. Chesterton

I requested this book to review on a whim, basically.  I've heard of G. K. Chesterton, but it isn't like I know much about him, and I'm fairly certain I've never read his work.  At this point, some of you cannot believe I'm admitting to this, and others are saying, "G. K. Who???"

My oldest son is studying him for his lit class though, and reading Orthodoxy.  While I can't keep up with reading everything that Connor has to read for school any more, usually he is reading material I have read in the past.

So the chance to read A Year with G. K. Chesterton seemed an answer to prayer.  I can do short, daily readings.  And since it is a review product, I'll double up those readings, and by the time I am having to discuss Orthodoxy, I'll at least have a grasp of who this Chesterton guy really is.

From the publisher:
A Year with G. K. Chesterton daily brings this truth to life. And we are heir to the winsome, arresting, utterly original outpouring of Chesterton’s reasons for hope. During his lifetime, a host of perspectives clamored for his attention, but he saw nothing as vital and alive as Christianity. Readers of this book will find their faith strengthened and enriched, even as they see the many reasons why George Bernard Shaw called Chesterton “a colossal genius.”
A true anthology, the best of Chesterton’s many works are presented in concise, memorable selections. From New Year’s Day to New Year’s Eve, each page contains a passage of Scripture and myriad moments for reflection, appreciation, and laughter.
I am loving this devotional.  It is dated, and I just jumped in at October 22, a particularly short passage.  I also ended up going back and reading one or two in a row from earlier in the year (because this is a review).  In addition to the dated readings, there are also supplemental readings for fourteen special days, such as All Saints Day (today!).  These special days are a combination of holidays (Good Friday, Christmas) and other events like a reading on Mary Magdalene (July 22) or one on George, Martyr, Patron of England (April 23).

The daily readings are mostly set up the same, with a Bible verse in NKJV, a generally brief comment/introduction from Kevin Belmonte (the editor of this title), a passage from a work (or two) of G. K. Chesterton, and some events that happened on that day (or month) in Chesterton's life.

While the basic set-up is the same, you definitely see a wide variety in the content, both in the subject matter and in the style.  Some days the selection is brief,  some are much longer, and there are poems and hymns in there too.  Some days include other people's writings about Chesterton, and I found I really liked those.  The subtitle hints at the variety -- "365 Days of Wisdom, Wit, and Wonder."

My take:  I love this.  Most of the entries I've read leave me with something to ponder.  Occasionally, what I am pondering is "why is this in here?"  Not generally though.  I can't say I necessarily feel prepared to discuss Chesterton with my son at this point, but this book has lessened the intimidation I feel about taking on one of his real works.

Disclaimer: As a Booksneeze Blogger, I did receive this book for free from Thomas Nelson. All opinions are my own.  No other compensation was received. For more about my take on reviews, visit my blog post here.