Friday, May 6, 2011

Round Up the Kids---It's Story Time!

Do you have a child who falls asleep dreaming of horses, the Old West, cowboys, ponies, farm animals, or ranch living? Do you appreciate read-alouds that draw your kids in and offer FREE resources to flesh out information gained through the reading? Do you plan to teach American History this year, or just plain need some suggestions for books that will be good, clean, moral AND fun for all ages?

Well, look no further. 
I have just the series for you to consider. 

I recently had the opportunity to review one of the Circle C Beginnings books by Susan K. Marlow and Kregel Publishers. We were sent a copy of Andi's Indian Summer. It is second in a series of four books targeted at ages 6-8. These books are written from the point of view of a young Andi (age 6), who also appears (age 12) in the series of six Circle C Adventures books (for ages 9-14).

Andi is a young girl who is living on a ranch in the 1880's Old West. Her father was killed in an accident, but she still has her mother, three brothers and an older sister. She is the youngest child and a tomboy. She has a somewhat mischevious friend named Riley who is the nephew of the ranch foreman. They go on adventures and misadventures in each book, learning about life, faith, and the love of family and your neighbor. These stories are chock full of solid family values, fascinating facts, glimpses into farm life, and frolicking fun times.

Your kids will love them. Mine did. It took us about five days, reading two chapters a day, to finish Indian Summer, which is focuses on responsiblilty, judgementalsim, fears, and helping others.

Ladybug and Cowboy concentrate on finding answers to a question.
Basically, the story starts with Riley getting his hands on a "Dime Novel" and sharing it with Andi. In general, Dime Novels sensationalized and exaggerated facts, and this one was no exception. It was about Indians in the Old West, and did not portray them in an honest or nice way. Andi and Riley decide to go on a ride, taking Andi's new foal Taffy along. Unfortunately, they get lost and, well, you can figure out who they meet along the way...Indians. Yokut indians to be exact. They learn something about not believing everything you read, not judging people by your preconceived notions, and that not necessarily everything you CAN read is good for you to read. 

Cowboy just can't stop talking about the book. 
There were many valuable lessons in this book, and it sparked lively discussions in a very natural and casual way.

Once we were done reading Andi's Indian Summer, the kids wanted more. More Andi and Taffy, that is. So I went to the Andi's Blog and found this story about when Andi's foal Taffy is a grown up mare and is giving birth to her own foal. It riveted them, and now they want even MORE!

I can see that these sweet books are ones we will have to add to our homeschool library the next time someone who loves horses (and has a pony of her own) has a birthday (you know who you are!). Don't you just love giving gifts that everyone will enjoy? 

Thankfully, there are already four titles in the series for us to read and they are: Andi's Pony Trouble, Andi's Indian Summer, Andi's Fair Surprise, and Andi's Scary Schooldays. For fans of the series, there are two more titles due out later this year, Andi's Lonely Little Foal and Andi's Circle C Christmas! You can purchase each of the books for $4.99 each, or you can save by purchasing a set of four for $15.96.

To draw out the fun even more, we went to the Andi and Taffy site and printed up the amazing FREE!! resource book of printable activity pages and coloring pages to go with the story. The Three Amigos spent a few fun days completing the excercises and asking for me to re-read their favorite parts. Some of the exercises were completed with my help, while others were completed independently.

I am quite impressed by the artwork in this book. The drawings are precious sketches your kids will love (and be able to color, as they are among the printables in the free resources). Each book includes definitions of unfamiliar terms, as well as a page of background information. These two extras are very useful additions which will help increase the comprehension and understanding of your independent and developing readers.

The puzzles and other enrichment activities are exceptionally well-done, especially since they are FREE!! The activity sets included: word searches, mazes, coloring pages, writing exercises, matching exercises, drawing activities, and much more. There are even online jigsaws for your young ones to enjoy!

I have to give this book, and its entire set of available resources, a big "four hooves up" because it was a resounding hit at our house.

They thought it was pretty funny when Andi and Riley found a frog in the creek.
They'd both like to go splash in a creek and find frogs. We have tadpoles
"growing" in our "pond" and they have been watching them every day.
Check out this trailer video for the series:

For more detailed info, check out these links:

  • If you want to check out the Andi and Taffy site click HERE.
  • If you'd like to check out the Andrea Carter site (the older novels) click HERE.
  • To access the wonderful story about Taffy's foaling, click HERE.
  • To access the excellent activity pages for the Circle C Beginnings Books, click HERE.
  • For some beautiful coloring pages, HERE.
  • For sonme fun online jigsaws, click HERE.
  • To see the other books in the series and read sample chapters of each, click HERE.
  • To order the lap book plus book sets click HERE.
  • You can see all the topics covered in each lap book HERE.
  • To order these books (I recommend getting the entire set), click HERE.
  • To check out the older series of Circle C Adventures books and read samples from each, click HERE.
  • To see trailers for the older series of books, click HERE.
  • To download free activity guides for each of these books (they are excellent), click HERE.
  • To see what others on the crew thought of this book, and others in the series, click HERE.



Disclaimer: I received a copy of Andi's Indian Summer for the purposes of reviewing this product. The opinions you read here are my own honest feelings about this book, and reflect our personal experiences with the product. If you have other questions, please feel free to contact me.


Andi Carter said...

Whoa, Heather,
I'm supposed to be reading these reviews and moving on . . . but it was hard to MOVE ON past this post. I mean, really! I had to enlarge and read the story, see the pictures, and just try to make my way through all of the stuff you said, thinking, "Really? Do I really have all this great stuff available?" Seemed to be no end to the nice things you were saying. I can tell you're excited.
And how in the WORLD did you find that old Yokut post? I forgot it was there! LOL
Must have taken a lot of time.
If you give me permission, I would love to include a couple of your pictures on my FB site and my website. I have pics of my grandkids doing the activity pages, but a couple other pics would be so lovely!
If that's OK, just let me know.
Thanks again for your lovely review!

Heather said...

Thank you for your kind comments! I truly appreciate that you took the time to see what I wrote. It was a pleasure to write this review (and do the research for it) because my kids liked the book so much.

I was so excited by all of your wonderful FREE! resources (I love free stuff) that I couldn't stop myself from looking for more so I could share them all (I hope I didn't miss any).

I would be glad for you to use any of the images of the children or their work on your site or blog. If you are able to link back to this review, I'd appreciate it.

We will definitely be giving some luck girl (Ladybug...she has a Shetland pony named Mary whom we are training) the books for her birthday. She was inspired by them to work harder at getting her young pony ready to ride. Thanks! We look forward to seeing more in the series...and are always open to reviewing another title!



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