Reading is a major part of life in our home and the foundation of our schooling. Since the kids fly through so many books in a week, we are always pleased to get new ones to review. This time, we received two new books!
The Circle C Stepping Stones books published by Kregel Publications is a brand new series. Andi Saddles Up and Andi Under the Big Top are books 1 and 2 of the six-book set written by Susan K. Marlow. The Circle C books follow Andi Carter as she grows up on a cattle ranch in California in the late 1800s. There are four levels of books:
- Beginnings -- tells stories of young Andi in easy-to-read text and includes fun illustrations.
- Stepping Stones -- focuses on 9-year-old Andi. The vocabulary is a little more advanced and has only a few pictures.
- Adventures -- shares the escapades of Andi at 12 years. The writing and storylines are richer.
- Milestones -- continues with Andi's life as a teenager. These full-length chapter books are nearly twice as long as the other series and are the most advanced of the books.
Since we received books from Stepping Stones (which are geared toward ages 7-10) and my reading kids are ages 7, 8, and 11, this was the best fit for our family. The books are around 100 pages each and contain 12 short chapters, making them a quick read. The beginning of each one dedicates a couple pages to defining new words that may be confusing to young kids. Vocabulary like alfalfa, conchos, woolgathering, calliope, menagerie, and surrey are listed and given a brief description. The end of each book includes a short 2-3-page history of a relating topic from the story. (Book 1 explains sheep and cattle wars; book 2 describes the circus.)
Andi Saddles Up begins with the celebration of Andi's 9th birthday. She had been hoping for a new special saddle for her horse Taffy since she was finally old enough to be considered a real rider. When her present wasn't where she expected, her was disheartened. She moved from one disappointment to another as she witnessed her brother in a dispute with their neighbor over the boundary line between the two lands. While fighting and sabotage consumed the adults, Andi found her precious saddle, made a new friend in the neighbor girl, and attempted to trick ride against her brother's wishes. It was a fall that resulted in a broken bone that helped the two families resolve their differences.
Andi Under the Big Top is an exciting time as Andi and her friends and family visit the circus. Peanuts, popcorn, a lion tamer, clowns, acrobats, all sorts of animals, and intriguing people all vie for Andi's attention. She meets a boy who ran away from home, a skilled trick rider, trapeze artists, and eventually has her own horse stolen from her barn. She has to fight to retrieve the horse again and learns valuable lessons in the process.
There are free activity pages and study guides that accompany each book and can be used as a reading curriculum. The activities cover a wide range of topics, including history, language arts, math, science, Bible, music, art, and more. Each book's activities take 21 days to complete, with an optional lapbook packet bringing the study to 28 days. Not only do the guides include many topic, but they incorporate many different types of exercises, as well: short answer, matching, word search, crossword, maze, poetry encouragement, word pictures, and much more. The guides also briefly expand on topics from the books, like teaching about trout and giving a recipe for dough balls, describing the bones in the arm and showing an x-ray of a broken bone, explaining how and why people used stilts and giving directions to make your own. The study guides are nearly 30 pages a piece and greatly further your learning.
My kids enjoyed these cute, lesson-filled stories. They are not the style of book that my oldest is drawn to, but he read them for me nonetheless. He's just over the intended age range and read each book in one hour's time. When I asked him what he thought of the books, he nonchalantly replied, "I liked it." He then said he thought they would be best for ages 5-9. My daughter, who is my most avid reader and falls perfectly in the age range, loved both books and eagerly described them to me. The books took her approximately 1 1/2-2 hours to read. My third child falls at the bottom of the range. He's just recently started enjoying lengthy chapter books, so these were more of a challenge for him. Each took about 2 hours for him to read.
The Circle C books are a wholesome collection that would be good for every family. With easy-to-read books all the way through full-length chapter books, there's a fun, Andi story for everyone.
You can connect on the following social media sites:
Kregel Publications: Facebook and Twitter
Susan K. Marlow: Facebook and Twitter
If you'd like to read more reviews of these books, please visit the Homeschool Review Crew blog.