Five For Victory

Drawn from real life World War II experiences, Hilda van Stockum created an endearing story about children and family life during the second world war in Five For Victory. Hilda van Stockum was born in Holland to Dutch-Irish parents where she was homeschooled through the age of eight. As a teen, she moved to Ireland…

The Miracle of St. Nicholas

“Why can’t we celebrate Christmas tomorrow in St. Nicholas?” Set in a small Russian village, young Alexi asks his babushka (grandma) why they cannot celebrate Christmas in their village church of St. Nicholas. In the wake of the Bolshevik revolution, the communists vigorously worked to eradicate religion because it threatened the Russian people’s dependence on…

Happy Times in Noisy Village

In another post, I commented that my first exposure to Astrid Lindgren was through Pippi Longstocking and I wasn’t terribly impressed. Along the way, however, I was persuaded to try some of her other work. I read Children of Noisy Village and fell in love. In my review of that book, I note a Santa…

Old Sam Dakota Trotter

“It was this way with many things, for there was no sure guide to go by. It was the beginning of experience. Of course no two settlers were working under the same conditions, and their methods differed… as they learned to overcome their own difficulties in their own way, uncertainty gave way to a good…

Good Old Archibald

The podcast version of this book review can be found here. When Bethlehem Books was having their big summer sale, I combed through their catalog for books that would captivate my reluctant boy reader. My nine-year-old son is a much better reader than he gives himself credit for, but he is easily intimidated by long or…

Philomena

Reading aloud is hard. It is work, it requires focus, it demands stamina, and it usually requires good habits. Reading aloud, like almost anything truly valuable, is hard to do. Over the years, I have heard great mentors give the same piece of advice: choose a book you love. Read aloud can be much easier…

Enemy Brothers

“England and her Allies aren’t just fighting the Axis countries – they’re fighting the evil spirits that have laid hold of Germany and Italy and Japan.” War always turns things on their heads. Real life during WWII was especially good at turning things inside out and upside down. During that creatively brutal time, so many…

Year of the Black Pony

“It took stiff-necked courage and grit to ranch in Oregon country in the early 1900’s.” The Year of the Black Pony is a story about family and fortitude more than it is a story about a horse. The horse, however, is a character worthy of being in the title. This hard but beautiful story is…

The Winged Watchman

Hilda van Stockum’s The Winged Watchman is an edge-of-your-seat adventure story that paints a vibrant but challenging picture of WWII life for Dutch families in German-occupied Holland.  “Joris Verhagen was six years old when the Germans invaded Holland. At ten he could remember little of what it had been like before the war. Dirk Jan,…