Book #4 Johnny Tremain

We picked up Johnny Tremain: A Story of Boston in Revolt because, once again, we were looking for something to go along with our history studies. We are studying the American Revolution, so this was a perfect choice. And it was a Newberry award winner, so it already has two stars in my book. Esther Forbes wrote the book a few years after she wrote her Pulitzer prize winning book Paul Revere. (We enjoyed this one so much that we’ll be reading that one very shortly.)
Johnny Tremain tells the story of the American Revolution through the eyes of a young boy. Johnny is a young teenager living in Boston. As his parents died when he was small, he was apprenticed to a silversmith. As unrest grows over the relationship between England and the colonies, Johnny is a trusted assistant to the Sons of Liberty. He is befriended, even respected, by such men as John Hancock, Sam and John Adams, and Paul Revere. They confide in him with many of their secret initiatives, even making him a regular attendee to the Sons of Liberty meetings. He is being groomed as a useful tool in the American Revolution.
This story is full of drama and suspense. As it is the story of war, it is not an overly happy book. It tells of the downside of was without being too graphic for young readers. Since we need to move on in our studies to the next time period in history, I will probably not read Paul Revere aloud to Mary Anneliese. However, because I loved Johnny Tremain so much, I will probably read it myself.
My favorite quote from the book was this: “Hundreds would die, but not the thing they died for.”
And that holds true today in many situations around the world.

Children’s Book Review: Thank You, God, For Mommy

I love it when Tommy Nelson sends me new children’s books to review! I adore reading to my girls, and they love it as well. The newest book Tommy Nelson sent me is called Thank You, God, For Mommy. As the Mommy in this household, what’s not to love about a book like that?

Thank You, God, For Mommy is a sweet board book written by Amy Parker and illustrated by Frank Endersby. It’s the story of a little panda who is thankful to God for the way his Mommy loves and cares for him. Written in a rhyming style, which is so pleasing to young readers, this book is a precious way to celebrate mothers everywhere.

It begins, “Thank you, God, for Mommy./We’re just the perfect pair-/I couldn’t find a better Mom/If I searched everywhere!” When I read it to my girls, my little one said, “Mommy, this book is about you!” What a sweet compliment. I’m glad it helped her appreciate how much her Mommy really does adore her.

Thank You, God, For Mommy is scheduled to ship to bookstores on April 5.

Book #2 The Witch of Blackbird Pond

We have been studying the American colonies in history around the Hill Hang-Out, so I chose for our read-aloud book The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare. I was a little hesitant at first because I wasn’t sure how far into witchcraft it would delve, nor could I be sure it didn’t involve someone being burned at the stake. I just wasn’t sure I was ready to tackle those subjects in depth with a nine-year-old is sensitive to such things. However, this beautiful story is far more about relationships and reserving our judgements than it was about witchcraft or murder.

It is the story of young Kit Tyler, a native of Barbados who, because of unfortunate circumstances, must leave her home and go to live with her family, whom she has never met, in colonial Connecticut. They are, needless to say, accustomed to a much different life than what Kit has ever know. There are many struggles and clashes as this spirited young girl learns to live within the strict Puritan ways of her Connecticut family.

She seeks escape and solitude in the meadow, where she is befriended by Hannah Tupper, a woman exiled to her home because she is believed to be a witch. This friendship, while providing solace for Kit, will eventually get her arrested and brought before the magistrate on charges that she, too, is involved in sorcery.

Although the story might sound harsh from the description, it is actually a very quaint, feel-good story that young girls will love (and so will their mamas.) It tied in perfectly with our history lesson, and it quickly became one of our favorites. When we finished it this morning, MA said, “I wish it would just keep going.” High praise, indeed!

We Have A Winner, Folks!

According to, the winner of The Ultimate DVD Read and Share Bible Volume One is comment #2 – Allison Youngblood. Allison has a darling blog called Youngblood News all about their family, including their little girl Ella and baby #2 on the way. I hope Ella and Baby Youngblood enjoy their new DVD and book!

Book #1 Extraordinary, Ordinary People

I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that if you are the parents of little girls, it can be very hard to find role models for your girls to look up to. VERY hard. (I must insert here that I am referring here to famous, well-known women. Those about whom books, movies, articles, etc. are readily available.)There are only a handful of strong women in places of significant influence who have conservative moral values and promote godly living. Occasionally, I come across one of these women, and I long to know more about the parents who raised them. What was it that their parents did to produce beautiful, vibrant, strong daughters with leadership capabilities? Are there attitudes, beliefs, expectations that I can duplicate in my own parenting that will give my own daughters a firm foundation to succeed? Don’t get me wrong, I am not expecting my children to be Secretary of State unless they want to. I will support them in whatever career path they choose, even if the path they choose doesn’t meet the world’s criteria for a “career” ( like my own). However, I want them to have the skills, work ethic, education, moral character to be able to succeed in whatever they want to do.

All that to say that I was THRILLED when I saw that in 2010 Condoleezza Rice wrote a book about her upbringing. Would you believe it if I told you I’d actually had the thought “I wish Condoleezza Rice would write a book about how she was raised!”? I have a few other people I’d like to write the same book, but I’ll take what I can get.

So Extraordinary, Ordinary People is just what I’d hoped it would be. In it, Rice tells about her grandparents and parents and how they raised her. In her early years, she lived in Birmingham’s Titusville community. She tells about her life as a young black girl being raised in Birmingham during the civil rights movement. You know what I was surprised about? The fact that she was shielded from so much of the racism so prevalent in Birmingham at the time. Don’t get me wrong, her family definitely faced blatant racism. But I had no idea that the black community was able to pull together so well to shield and insulate their families from so much of it. What a testimony to the power of COMMUNITY!

This is the kind of book that is hard to summarize because every part is important. To leave out facts in an effort to be brief is to leave out pertinent details. I will say that Condi’s parents were willing to make some hard choices, financially and otherwise, to see that their child had the best education available. Though their lives revolved around her, they were both heavily involved in their community in a way that is absolutely admirable. I think their involvement in social change gave her the idea that she could create the change she wanted to see as well. They were able to simultaneously insulate their daughter from the evil in the world AND expose her to many, many people and situations that would expand her world beyond her neighborhood. I think that John and Angelena Rice were brilliant in many ways, and so it is no coincidence that their daughter is also.

Extraordinary, Ordinary People is a book that I will probably read more than once and use almost as a reference. I do not agree with everything, but I certainly cannot dispute the integrity and excellence with which John and Angelena Rice raised their daughter.

Two Favorites from Tommy Nelson Publishers

As most of you know, I have blogged about Thomas Nelson Publishers’ books many times. They are one of my favorite Christian publishers. They consistently produce quality Christian books and other products. I have read books by Thomas Nelson Publishers for years. YEARS.

And now the tradition continues with my children. The children’s publishing arm of Thomas Nelson is called Tommy Nelson Kids. I have begun reviewing items from Tommy Nelson, and I couldn’t be happier about it. My children are thrilled when a package arrives from “Tommy” because they know it will contain lots of goodies for them to watch and/or listen to. They have recently sent me two video products that my children have grafted in to our usual line-up, and the girls ask for them regularly. Since they are Christ-centered, Bible-based videos, I always oblige with happiness. Here’s what they have been watching:

The Jesus Movie: This DVD is a fully-animated full-length film depicting the life of Jesus. I was amazed at how accurate and true to scripture this film is. It portrays the life of Jesus from beginning to end, including his birth, growth, earthly ministry, and his death. While it doesn’t shy away from telling the story accurately, it does it in a way that is not scary for young children. Both my three-year-old and nine-year-old love this DVD. I adore it because it doesn’t merely entertain my children, it gives them a visual image of scripture. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE!!!

The Ultimate DVD Read and Share Bible Volume One: I love this one because it is a Bible storybook and DVD set. The stories on the DVD are also found in the storybook. We have Volume One (I’m not sure how many volumes there are in total.), which tells the stories of creation, the flood, Abram, Isaac and Rebekah, Jacob and Esau, Rachel, Gideon, Samson, Ruth and Naomi, Hannah, Samuel, David, Elijah, Esther, and many stories from the life of Jesus and Paul. While The Jesus Movie is a full-length film, this one is broken down into vignettes so that you can watch one story at a time. Very handy for a quick movie before bedtime!

(I’m not sure if this video is from the Volume One DVD, but I wanted to include it so that you can get an idea of what the DVD is like.)

Who wants a giveaway? Leave a comment and I’ll select one person to receive the Read and Share Bible book and DVD. One entry per person, please. And please be sure to leave me a way to contact you if you are the lucky winner!

(You have NO IDEA how much it is offending my OCD tendencies for that video not to fit on my blog properly. Since I don’t have the technical savvy to rewrite imbedded code to make it fit correctly, I’m just going to pretend that I didn’t notice. Really, I just want you to be able to view the video THAT BADLY. I’ll just sit here and twitch every time I look at it. Really, it’s okay.)

Top 2010 Posts

2010 was a great year for the Hill Hang-Out. We had lots of new readers this year, and I’m so tickled you all decided to take a peek into our little lives. As you know, this blog is about a little of this and a little of that, and my most-read posts reflect that. I am nothing if not a jumbled mess of unrelated topics. “Eclectic,” I prefer to call it. Judging from the list of Hill Hang-Out posts you read most often, you are an eclectic bunch as well. Maybe that’s why we get along so well. 🙂 Here are your 2010 favorites:

10. Sweet Shot Tuesday

9. Five Favorite Gifts

8. My Mississippi Day

7. Book Review: Jesus Calling For Kids

6. This Little Lady Got A Makeover

5. The Only Thing I’m Committing To Is Being Non-Committal

4. Home Is Where Your Art Is

3. The Decorating Files

2. Old Made New: Thrift Store Finds

1. Hill Preparatory Academy for Girls: Curriculum Choices

Several of these most-read posts were posted on blog linky parties, and many of my readers have come to the Hill Hang-Out from these fun events. Many thanks to Darcy and Emily for sharing their success with others!

Book #34 The Little Prince

Mary Anneliese and I just finished the Antoine De Saint-Exupery classic The Little Prince. This book has been on my list of books to read for a long time. In fact, I have started it and put it down several times, so I chose it as our read-aloud book so that it would force me to go ahead and finish it. This is a complex book, if you are reading it for its full meaning. On the surface, it reads like a children’s book, and, in fact, MA enjoyed reading it. She fully understood the plot and the mystical dialogue, but I’m sure she only understood it on an eight-year-old level. Reading it as an adult, I could see the much deeper meaning and the reason it is deemed a classic. I am glad I read it, but I know that to get the full force of the underlying meaning that I’m going to have to read it again.

Book #33 Missing May

I’m going to have to hurry if I’m going to finish 52 books by the end of December!! Nothing like a deadline to make me get myself in gear. Actually, I’ve been “in gear” so much that I haven’t had time to read. I needed a quick, interesting book to get me back on track. When at the library, I picked up Missing May by Cynthia Rylant. It was the 1993 Newbery winner, so I knew it would be good.

It was a sweet story about a twelve-year-old girl named Summer. Summer was orphaned at an early age and passed around from family member to family member before finding her way home to Ob and May. Ob and May didn’t have much in the way of money, but they gave Summer all the love one little girl could stand. when May suddenly dies, Summer and Ob are left to find their way through sorrow and grief.

It’s a sad, simple, sweet story, and one that leaves you feeling like they are going to be okay after all.

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner

The winner of Max Lucado’s new book One Hand, Two Hands, randomly chosen by is…

#6 – Inspired Kathy

Congratulations, Kathy! Hope you and your readers enjoy the book!