As a part of TOS Homeschool Crew, I received several free e-books from Guardian Angel Publishing for review. If you’re a regular here at Hope Is the Word, you already know that this blog is mostly about books, with a little homeschooling and everyday life thrown in. Books are a big deal here at the House of Hope, but e-books are not something we’re accustomed to using, so this was new for us.
Of the five e-books I received, three of them are fiction. Andy and Spirit Go to the Fair by Mary Jean Kelso is about a boy named Andy who is wheelchair-bound due to some unnamed physical limitation. He has learned to ride a mustang, Spirit, as a part of a 4-H horsemanship club, and he and other members of this club are showing their horses at the fair. The story follows Andy as he prepares to show his horse and the obstacles he faces at the fair (including a bully he knows from school), all the way to the point that he wins the Grand Champion award. The end of the book contains two pages of links and resources for information about wild horses and 4-H. The book contains about ten full-page, detailed color illustrations by K.C. Snider. These illustrations are the reason I read this book to my girls from the computer screen instead of printing it out. My girls listened somewhat attentively to the story (nevermind the fact that Lulu was actively engaged in squirting herself in the mouth with a water gun), but I thought that was pretty good considering it was late in the evening. With the plethora of books about people with disabilities available at most libraries, I don’t think I would consider purchasing this one myself. There is nothing remarkable about the story or the illustrations, but if you’re particularly interested in the topics of wild horses or 4-H, then this book might just fill a need.
Another fiction/picture book I received is Maybe We Are Flamingos by Safari Sue Thurman. This one is a little more age-appropriate for my kindergartener and preschooler. It is really a cute story about two baby flamingos who hatch from their eggs and soon discover that they are not pink like all the other flamingos. They worry, even as their feathers turn gray and then get darker, until finally they ask their mother about it. She explains to them that only adult flamingos are pink, and they actually get their pink color from their diet. What follows are a few funny scenes of the baby flamingos imagining what they would look like if their diets were different and then creating some appropriate artwork. The story ends with a (rather tired) little platitude about it being what’s on the inside that’s important, anway. I think this one is cute, and the artwork by Kevin Scott Collier is appropriately funny and whimsical. I’m still not sold enough on it to think it would be worthwhile to print this one out, but if you’re studying flamingos and lack engaging stories to both entertain and inform (i.e. about their diets, etc.) your students, this one might be for you.
The last picture book I received is Rainbow Sheep by Kim Chatel. Rainbow Sheep is the highly imaginative story of a little shepherdess named Genevieve who, along with her sheep, is extremely tired of the rain (for those of us who live in the South, can I hear a hearty “Amen”?). She manages to tickle the clouds (by first climbing a tall mountain) to make them leave, but a drab and depressed rainbow is more problematic. She finally brings back the rainbow’s bright hues by telling it funny stories, and the rainbow sheds some happy tears. These tears, in turn, transform Genevieve’s sheep into “rainbow sheep.” The whole point of this rather odd little story, really, is the illustrations. Kim Chatel is a fiber artist, and all of the illustrations are done to illustrate not only the story, but also the technique of wool felting. The story is followed by four pages of instructions on wool felting and how to make felted sheep. Again, this story is a little bit strange to me, and I think the illustrations just compound that overall impression. However, if you’re looking for what I imagine would be a fun craft for children ages 8 and older, this book does illustrate the craft well.
The fiction selections I received are marked by Guardian Angel Publishing as being appropriate for ages 4-10. The nonfiction, informational selections seem to me to be appropriate for older children. I received The Sum of Our Parts: No Bones About It by Bill Kirk
which is marked for ages 8-13. Obviously, this book is about the skeletal system. The text of the book is written in rhyme, so this book is esentially a long poem which details some of the bones in the human body. Each page also contains a “Factoid” box which contains non-rhyming information about the skeleton. Eugene Ruble’s illustrations are a mixture of straightforward drawings of the bones which are then embellished with smiley faces and other graffiti-style drawings. Most of them are humorous, but a few of them, specifically those of the skull, come off as a little bit creepy to me. Overall, I like this rhyme and think it would make a great introduction to the human skeleton. Although I would almost always prefer a print copy over an electronic copy, this one would be easier to print due to the nature of the illustrations and lack of variety of color.
The last nonfiction e-book I received is Earthquake! by Susan J. Berger. This book is marked for ages 6-9, but I believe this designation might be a little generous. The format of this book is a little like that of a magazine article; it contains a main text, but there is an abundance of charts, diagrams, and extra little boxes (also labeled “Factoids”) which contain more information. I would describe this book as a somewhat detailed overview of earthquakes; it gives a little bit of history, a little bit of science, a little bit of emergency preparedness, etc. The illustrations in this book, which are also by Eugene Ruble, are interspersed with graphs, charts, and even a photograph. This e-book would make a good introduction to earthquakes.
I should mention that all of these books are available not only as e-books, but also in CD format and in print format. However, at only $5 per e-book, the price for the electronic version is definitely the most affordable. Guardian Angel Publishing appears to be attempting to branch out technologically as much as possible; they have recently introduced iKidsPlay apps for iPods and phones with touch screen technology.
Of the e-books I received, I believe that I could find books on these subjects of a higher quality at my library. However, if e-books work well in your homeschool, or if you’re looking for a very specific subject, Guardian Angel Publishing might have just what you need!