Good Reading

     The July/Aug., 2008, issue of The Home School Court Report ( ) has a special article on the recent homeschool related ruling in California, along with the usual reports from the Home School Foundation, "Across the States," Generation Joshua, Homeschooling Through High School department, Dr. Rodger Sayre, Patrick Henry College, and President J. Michael Smith.

     The Sept./Oct., 2008, issue of No Greater Joy ( ) has an interesting article by editors Mike and Debi Pearl on "Cloistered Homeschool Syndrome" and one by Tim and Chris Otto on "Hands-On Boys Weren’t Raised on ‘Sugar-Toys,’" along with questions and other items related to training children, including "Friendship and Fatherhood" and "Training Story."

     The Sept./Oct., 2008, issue of Home School Enrichment Magazine ( ) has a plethora of wonderful articles related to homeschooling, such as an editorial by the Lewis family on "Homeschooling: A Means or an End?", "The 2 Indispensable Keys to Successful Homeschooling" by Naomi Musch (they are a realistic philosophy and an effective strategy), secrets on how to do writing evaluations that actually work by Janice Campbell and Kim Kautzer, essential elements for successfully integrating little ones into the homeschool by Cynthia Carrier, "The Homeschooler’s Manifesto" by homeschool graduate Jonathan Lewis, how Dad sets the tone for a harmonious homeschool by Wes Pinkley, how values are represented in public libraries by Carmen Rockett (here are some quotes: Mike Davis "searched for a book on the first woman ever to speak before a joint session of Congress. She knew five Presidents personally, published over 5,000 poems, and she was blind. Her biography is not in the Austin [Texas] Public Library. Why? She’s a Christian. Her name is Fanny Crosby." Fond du Lac, WI, librarian Lillian Nolan expressed a willingness to add books supporting creationism and strong traditional values, but she asserted, "I will only keep them in the collection if they’re checked out regularly. Carmen said, "Can libraries present information on religion, history, science, or politics without imparting morals? I contend that when a child encounters the 215 books on witches and witchcraft in the Palmdale Library, the words therein will affect his morals." Amen!), why some people are offended by homeschoolers for no apparent reason by Katherine Trauger, discipleship and homeschooling by Melanie Hexter, testing high school students by Kim Lundberg, "Becoming and Underwhelmed Homeschooler" by our friend Joanne Calderwood, along with several regular columns.

     The Vol. 18, No. 2 (2008) issue of Home School Digest ( — came the same day as Home School Enrichment; that’s a LOT of good reading!) also has many thought-provoking articles, including "Homeschooling for Eternity: Making Christian Disciples" by editor Skeet Savage, "Breaking Their Wills and Gaining Their Hearts" by Matthew Chapman, "Virginia Is for History Lovers" by David Kaiser (we LOVE to visit historic sites in Virginia!), "Face to Face" by homeschool graduate Tom Ryerson, "Teach Your Children Practical Skills" by Steve Beck, "The Father’s Role in Homeschooling" by Israel Wayne, "Does God Exist?" by Evan Wiggs, "The Main Things, the Plain Things, and Worldviews" by Bayard Taylor, "The One Indispensable Constituent of a Good Education" by Kevin Swanson, "How to Cultivate and Unthankful Heart" by homeschool graduate Sara Nicole Smith, "Vanishing Arts" by Ken Pierpont, and many others.

Embracing Sarah Palin (note–LONG!)

     I read an article entitled "Conservative Women Embrace Sarah Palin" by Anne E. Kornblut from the Washington Post, 9/10/2008, that appeared in the St. Louis Post Dispatch on Thurs., Sept. 10, 2008. We no longer live in St. Louis, MO, and I never took the Post Dispatch when we did, but since we live only about two hours away I happened to see it while sitting in the barbershop. The article is not about homeschooling, but it mentions a homeschooling mom who is one of the conservative women who embrace Sarah Palin.

     The article began, "Susie Baron is a Republican, a mother of two and a home-schooler. She voted for Mike Huckabee in the Ohio primary, but now, because of Sarah Palin, she thinks she is part of something much bigger. ‘I wouldn’t even call it a Palin movement, I’d call it a sleeping giant that has been awakened,’ Baron, 56, said at a rally here Tuesday. She described its members as a silent majority of women in Middle America who ‘are raising our families, who work if we have to, but love our country and our families first.’  ‘And until now, we haven’t had anyone to identify with,’ Baron said, adding that traditional feminist groups such as the National Organization for Women do ‘not represent me.’"

     This raises some questions as to whether it is right for a woman to aspire to and run for such a high office.  I have read some blogs and articles about a few individuals involved or associated with the homeschooling movement, especially those from a background of promoting "return to Hebrew patriarchy," who are opposing Sarah Palin simply because they believe that she should stay home and take care of her family instead of getting involved in politics or who believe that it is wrong for a woman to have any authority in the public arena. For instance, the following was reported on the SpunkyHomeschool blog, referring to "a CNN clip of Pastor Voddie Baucham debating Margaret Feinberg, moderated by CNN correspondent Kyra Phillips" and saying, "This Presidential candidates have yet to appear in their first debate, but the secondary debate over whether mothers should hold civic office is in full swing." The blog said:

     Doug Phillips follows up with what he believes might have been Baucham’s answer to the final question. For those that think that Palin is a theocrat in disguise, the fact that Pastor Baucham is speaking out against her should quickly dispel that myth. Few, if any, women who hold a Christian theocratic worldview would accept the nomination for Vice President. Their reason can be found in the Tenets of Biblical Patriarchy, #13 and #14 hosted on Phillip’s Vision Forum site. While Pastor Bauchum maintains that, as a mother, Palin should follow the biblical mandate to be a "keeper of the home" the extreme left side of this cultural divide is claiming that Palin is not even a woman. Wendy Doniger, Professor of the History of Religions at University of Chicago’s Divinity School wrote, "Her greatest hypocrisy is in her pretense that she is a woman. The Republican party’s cynical calculation that because she has a womb and makes lots and lots of babies (and drives them to school! wow!) she speaks for the women of America, and will capture their hearts and their votes, has driven thousands of real women to take to their computers in outrage. She does not speak for women; she has no sympathy for the problems of other women, particularly working class women. " So much for being pro-choice. It appears you can’t even be a woman anymore if you don’t make the choices "real" women would make. Can someone please explain to me how having only one child and dropping them off at the bus stop or day care makes a women more sympathetic to the problems of other women and able to speak on behalf of all women? Honestly, taken together, the extreme right and the extreme left are making Palin seem mainstream. I’m sure that’s exactly what McCain was aiming for when he picked her (end of blog).

     Also, the following comments appeared on a local homeschooling e-mail list. "I don’t know where you stand or how you feel about the recent nomination of Sarah Palin but after hearing the news it was an immediate cause of concern for me. Is this the example I want set before the eyes of my daughter or even my son? I have been questioning a lot of things in the last few months. Where is the church headed? Is is set apart or is it blending in to the culture around us? Do we look to the scriptures for our answers or do we look to the secular world. As I have contemplated these recent issues I have visited some websites that I feel provide great biblical counsel. I encourage you to do the same. Take time to check them out and I pray that the Holy Spirit will speak through them. I have been checking them daily and have found great insights.–check out Doug Philips blog. If you scroll down you will find a number of blogs you can click on. If you scroll toward the end after John Knox you will see a letter from a women to Mrs. Palin; it is so eloquently written. You may notice Jasmine Baucham an 18 year old voting for the 1st time. (We like her dad too.)"

     I certainly believe that a godly woman will always put her family first, and since my wife has chosen to stay home and take care of our children, I encourage and support her in that decision. I would not want it any other way. Also, I do understand the need to be guided by our religious principles in making political decisions. However, I also recognize that some distinctions need to be made. God’s rules for the church are not necessarily the same as His rules for government and even society in general. As someone said when George W. Bush was running and a few evangelicals expressed disagreements with some of his religious beliefs, "We are electing a commander in chief, not a theologian in chief." I may endorse and support politicians with whom I might have disagreements on certain issues so long as that endorsement and support does not involve me in promoting that which is plainly sinful. While the role of women in government may be a subject about which reasonable believers may disagree, and if people feel that strongly about it, then I guess that they will not support Mrs. Palin, but it is my conclusion that the Biblical prohibition against women having authority pertains specifically to religious or spiritual matters and thus do NOT necessarily apply to the corporate world or civil affairs. If I expect people to respect our family’s choice for my wife to remain at home, then I feel that I need to respect other women’s choices to become involved in business or politics if that is what they choose. While no political candidate is 100% perfect, given the choice between Obama-Biden and McCain-Palin, I will choose the latter hands down!

     Thankfully, not all homeschoolers are so down on Mrs. Palin. One response to the e-mail note in the paragraph before last said, "I too at first did not feel comfortable with the thought of a woman in that role. I have started looking for some answers. One thing that I see is that we are just as the people were in the time of the Judges. In 17:6b ‘…but every man did that which was right in his own eyes’ (also in 21:25 it restates this). Over and over during this time the nation was ‘doing evil in the sight of the Lord.’ That is definitely the U. S. right now. Everyone does what is right in their own eyes. (Want to marry your toaster? Marry your toaster.) Anyway God raised up a Godly woman during that time. Deborah was used to deliver His people. I think it is part of Him shaming his people and opening their eyes to see where they have fallen to. He also had to use a woman Jael to kill the enemy during the same time. I know the Bible is very clear on a woman not taking leadership as a teacher in the church and clear on a woman not taking the leadership in the home. But several times God put a woman leader in the government when the people were straying from His best for them. I don’t know if that makes sense, but I think maybe she is being raised up for just ‘such a time as this’ (Esther 4:14). I’m thrilled that she is such an awesome voice for the value of every life God creates, and that she is so strong for the sanctity of marriage. If we go against God on these sacred issues we will definitely face His judgement, I believe."

     On Jun. 6, 2008, the following appeared at : I know it sounds odd, but this may be the year that a women is literally thrust into a place of prominence and position for no other reason than to put this country back on a solid, conservative track. While I support Sen. John McCain as the Republican nomination for the presidential race, I would be remiss if I didn’t admit that he is not quite as conservative as many would like. He desperately needs a strong, popular, kick-butt partner on his ticket. Someone who is young with strong, Christian values, a dedication to family, and a fiscal conservative. Meet Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska. She has it all. She’s a young (44), pro-life, pro-gun (NRA member), mother of 5. Her husband, Todd, is a blue-collar worker for one of the oil companies part of the year and a commercial fisherman the other part. She’s a Christian who regularly attends church and considers every child a gift from God. Sarah is in favor of drilling for oil in Alaska (ANWR) and supports the war in Iraq. She’s known for cutting wasteful spending and recently vetoed more than $250 million dollars from the Alaska state budget. She has maintained an 85%-94% approval rating in Alaska for the past two years, and her nickname is "Sarah Baracuda". She’s been endorsed by Rush Limbaugh, Laura Ingrahm, Glenn Beck, Real Politics, and many more. And did I mention that she supports homeschooling? As for her family, she’s married to her highschool sweetheart, Todd, who is affectionately and proudly known as the "First Dude". Her oldest son, Track, is 19 and serving in the US Army. She has two teenage daughters (Bristol and Willow) and a seven year old daughter (Piper). And just 6 weeks ago she gave birth to their son, Trig, who was born one month pre-mature with Down Syndrome.

     Now I know what many of you are thinking…"She should be home with her children, especially this new special needs baby!". I, too, had some of those same thoughts. After all, I am a very committed, stay-at-home-mom who homeschools. Shouldn’t everyone? Isn’t that what’s best? I would say yes the majority of time. But every now and then there is an exception to rule. I have searched my heart and prayed for guidance, and I firmly believe that Sarah Palin is the exception. She has rapidly risen through the ranks of local government to become Governor and her current "fame" is not of her own campaigning or seeking. Others in the press are praising her for her accomplishments and raising her to notoriety. Many would rather see her as the Presidential candidate. Even the NY Times thinks that she could be our first female president.! She is literally being drug to the palace to be placed on a throne – and it is for such a time as this.

     Several woman throughout history have sat on a throne, ruled their country, and gave birth and raised children at the same time. Queen Elizabeth II was not born into the 1st line of succession and was never expected to be queen. But with her brother’s abdication and her father’s sudden death, she became Queen when she was a newly married young mother of Prince Charles. She managed to get pregnant and give birth to three more children and without giving up her throne. Princess Diana – one of the most popular of British Royals ever, managed to do her job as princess, train to be queen, raise her son to be king, and still maintain a very close relationship with her sons. She was involved and very much oversaw their education and every aspect of raising them. I’m sure that both of these women enlisted more than one servant to help with the actual care and feeding of the children, but they were in charge and were the ones raising their children. So is Sarah Palin.

     Even throughout scripture there have been powerful women who were appointed by God to serve. Deborah was a Judge over all Israel. She was married and, although the Bible doesn’t mention children, it doesn’t deny them. And what about the Queen of Sheba? Didn’t she have children? Queen Esther gave birth to King Darius and stayed queen. Even the mythical Proverbs 31 Woman (our example) was not always a stay at home mom. She dabbled in real estate and ran a textile business. She was busy helping the hungry and the poor. And she saw well to the affairs of her household. She was up before dawn and prepared food for her family and her servants. I think these servants took good care of Prov-31’s HOUSE, because she was taking good care of her HOME and told them how she wanted things done.

     And what about all these woman who are running Christian and/or homeschool ministries with their husbands? They have children and they work. I’ve seen them speaking at convention and retreats and they don’t always have the baby on the hip while they do it . Gov. Palin keeps her newborn at the office with her and, as you can see in the picture below, even takes him to meetings. Now, I’m not advocating that everyone go dump their kids back in the schools and daycare and go get a career. No. But I am saying that there are women who know how to run a business (or a country) without sacrificing their role as wife and mother. And Sarah Palin is one of them. All I’m asking is that you visit the website of the movement (she is not connected with them) and just look at her. Read the links. Listen to the press. See what others are saying and see if this could be a Queen Esther of our day who will be placed in the palace for such a time as this. As for who will take care of her family? Well, if God has chosen Sarah Palin and is taking care of her path, then I trust that He will also provide the wisdom and the way for her take care of her family also.

     About the same time the following appeared on : Sarah Palin chosen as McCain’s V.P. Candidate! 150% pro-life! LOVE HER! To tell you the truth, I had some big time reservations about voting for the not-completely-conservative, not-150%-prolife McCain. BUT this morning, his pick for V. P. really did it in for me! I LOVE his choice! Sarah Palin is just wonderful! She is currently the pro-life conservative Republican governor of Alaska, mom to 5 children, and is 44 years old. Her youngest, diagnosed with Down’s Syndrome, was born in April. Here she wrote about his (Trig’s) birth. In a letter she e-mailed to relatives and close friends Friday after giving birth, Palin wrote, "Many people will express sympathy, but you don’t want or need that, because Trig will be a joy. You will have to trust me on this." She wrote it in the voice of and signed it as "Trig’s Creator, Your Heavenly Father." "Children are the most precious and promising ingredient in this mixed-up world you live in down there on Earth. Trig is no different, except he has one extra chromosome," Palin wrote. As for people who think a baby like Trig shouldn’t even be born, look around, the governor wrote. Who is perfect or even normal?

     Then on Aug. 30, 2008, the following appeared at referring to pictures where Sarah Palin carried her baby in a sling to work: Great pics. I’m beginning to like what I see of Sarah Palin. Obviously, she can’t sling the baby forever, and the idea of a two year old in the white house is laughable. In the end, her working is between her and her husband. Plus there are greater moral issues at play here.

     Gary Davis of noted, "NEA supports Palin, Palin against school choice. The Washington Times reports a surprising endorsement from the NEA for Republican VP candidate Sarah Palin. This is apparently because of her opposition to school-choice vouchers. However, Palin supports homeschooling. (Note: Many homeschoolers are against government funding of (involvement in) homeschooling and wouldn’t want vouchers for homeschooling. ) It’s interesting to note, according to this Sun Chronicle story, Sarah Palin’s husband Todd was homeschooled. She also announced earlier, her plans to homeschool her children as VP."

     The Washington Times article by Robert Holland said: In general, conservatives were thrilled with Sen. John McCain’s selection of the reform-minded governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin, to join him on the Republican presidential ticket, while Democratic operatives cast aspersions on her readiness to be a heartbeat from the presidency. So, what to make of the verbal bouquets thrown her way by one of the staunchest supporters of Democratic candidates and liberal causes, the National Education Association (NEA), the nation’s largest teachers union? In an August 29 statement, NEA President Reg Weaver said, "the 3.2 million members [of the NEA] are pleasantly surprised" by the choice of Palin to run for vice president. One never ceases to marvel at how the NEA brass can presume to speak instantly on any issue for more than 3 million K-12 teachers, but that is the union’s standard operating procedure….Mrs. Palin, asserted Mr. Weaver, "is opposed to sending public money to support private schools through public schemes like vouchers." Again, that is NEA-speak. Vouchers go to support parents and children in the manner of a scholarship. The families, not some public factotum, choose the school.

     The NEA based its judgment on a September 9, 2006, NEA-Alaska interview of gubernatorial candidates. They asked Mrs. Palin, "Do you support the use of vouchers, tax credits, or other programs to provide public money to those who wish to attend private or religious schools?" Her answer: "No, it is unconstitutional, and it is as simple as that." She went on to say she favors giving parents additional options….An online Institute for Justice (IJ) analysis of state constitutions finds Alaska’s to be one of the most "problematic" for voucher proposals. IJ, a libertarian public-interest law firm, concludes that a tax- credit initiative, not outright vouchers, would stand the best chance of surviving judicial review in Alaska. Responding to an Oct. 22, 2006, Anchorage Daily News candidates’ questionnaire, Mrs. Palin expressed her general support for parental choice. The newspaper asked her, "Would you support amending the state constitution to allow private school vouchers?" Mrs. Palin’s written response: "My priorities are to support options for education as allowable within the current funding formula – including home schools, charter schools, and vocational training. This doesn’t require amending the constitution."

     Is Mrs. Palin’s position on vouchers, which so warms the NEA bosses’ hearts, going to chill the enormous affection for her among social conservatives who love her pro-life, pro-gun-rights, pro-drilling, and general populist-reformer slants? Not likely, judging from the enthusiastic reception Republican Convention delegates gave her September 3 address, which barely mentioned education. For one thing, the educational options she has supported, such as homeschooling and public charter schools, are almost as high on the NEA hate list as vouchers. In his presidential campaign, Mr. McCain has enthusiastically supported voucher programs such as the one Congress created for needy children in Washington. Because the fine print of Alaska’s constitution does not come into play there, or for that matter in the other 49 states, there is no reason to believe Mrs. Palin cannot include vouchers among the educational options she supports.

     The Sun Chronicle (Attleboro, MA), said: Sarah Palin is the new kid on the block, and I was curious about her – not so much about her philosophies, but some of the mundane things an old reporter like me might ask in a first interview. Like, I know she was a point guard on her high school basketball team that won the Alaska state championship in 1982, but how tall is she? Answer: 5’7"….She was born in Idaho, but has lived in Alaska since she was 3 months old, and her husband is a native Alaskan. So is he a Native American? Answer: Yes. He’s a Yup’ik Eskimo. They were high school sweethearts, but not at the same school. Why? Answer: Because he was home schooled. [I could not find any specific citations of where Mrs. Palin said that she planned to homeschool her children if she is elected Vice-President, but that would be great! WSW.]

Fifth Grader Suspended For Anti-Obama Shirt

      I had heard about this on the news, and then saw the following information on Mon., Sept. 22, at An 11-year-old fifth grader at Aurora Frontier K-8 School in Aurora, CO, wore a homemade shirt that reads "Obama is a terrorist’s best friend" on a day when students were asked to wear red, white and blue to show their patriotism. The school district told the student, Daxx Dalton, that he had the choice of changing his shirt, turning his shirt inside out or being suspended. According the the boy’s father, Daxx chose suspension and says his first amendment rights are being trampled. The boy’s father Dann Dalton describes himself as a "proud conservative" who has taken part in some controversial anti-abortion protests. "It’s the public school system," Dalton says. "Let’s be honest, it’s full of liberal loons." Daxx’s dad agrees with him and is encouraging his son to stand his ground. "The facts are his rights were violated. Period." I probably would not have had the audacity to wear such a shirt, although I have a tendency to agree with it, and people of good will might debate concerning the wisdom of it. However, if someone were to wear a shirt to school degrading President Bush or even Jesus Christ and were suspended for it, the American Civil Liberties Union, People for the American Way, and every other liberal group would be defending and supporting him. But, let a student wear a t-shirt criticizing Barak Obama, and, well, we just cannot have that! One of the benefits of homeschooling is that you do not have to worry about what your children wear to school.

Sources useful in a study of Biblical evidences

     Note:  Last year, we made a study of Biblical evidences.  I have previously  reviewed some of the sources that we used–such as Greg Gwin’s Evidences Notebook, Doy Moyer’s Standing on Solid Ground, and Ferrell Jenkins’s Introduction to Christian Evidences–but here are several others.  All of these are EXCELLENT.

     Chumbley, Kenneth LThe Gospel Argument for God: The Argument for God’s Existence Based upon the Resurrection of Jesus Christ (Third Edition. Revised; published in 2004 by Harwell/Lewis Publishing Company, P. O. Box 3385, Lakeland, FL  33802).  I went to Florida College with Ken (Tack) Chumbley and through the years have held him in high respect as a Biblical scholar and a gospel preacher.  The thirteen chapters of this book (97 pages) all point to the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead as forming the basis for our belief in God and the acceptance of the Bible as His word, approaching the subject from different viewpoints.  It examines the gospel accounts for reliability and draws the only reasonable conclusion.  There is a bibliography for further study.

     Hailey, HomerInspiration of Scripture (published in 1971 by C. E. I. Publishing Co., P. O. Box 858, Athens, AL  35611).  Prior to his retirement, Homer Hailey was long-time Vice-President and head of the Bible department at Florida College in Temple Terrace, FL.  Before that, he taught in the Bible department at Abilene Christian College (now University) in Abilene for twelve years.  He was also a gospel preacher.  This "little book on a big subject" (26 pages) is divided into five short chapters dealing with the importance of inspiration, definitions of terms, inspiration of the Old Testament, inspiration of the New Testament, and the work of the Holy Spirit in inspiration.  It was originally presented as a sermon at the Eastside Church of Christ in Athens, AL, in the spring of 1970.  While there are some other areas in which I disagreed with the late brother Hailey, anything that he wrote on this subject is worth reading.

     Haygood, AtticusThe Man of Galilee (published in 1889; republished by Cogdill Foundation Publications, P. O. Box 403, Marion, IN  46952).  Atticus Haygood was a Professor at Emory College in Oxford, GA.  In this book, he argues, based on scripture and reason, that given the evidence available to us, there can be no other conclusion than that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God.  Homer Hailey relied on it heavily in his evidences material for use at Florida College, and Ferrell Jenkins, Hailey’s successor in teaching evidences, made it required reading when I was there.  Apparently, it must have gone out of print.  However, recently, on an e-mail list devoted to news items for members of the Church of Christ, Jim Canada wrote, "I am looking for a copy of The Man of Galilee by Atticus Haygood.  Does anyone know where I might obtain one?  I know Ferrell Jenkins has it in electronic form on his website, but I am looking for a hard copy."  Serena DeGarmo of Chillicothe, OH, replied, "I just wanted to send out a message in reference to the request for Man of Galilee by Atticus Haygood.  My husband, Daniel DeGarmo, and Nathan Ward have recently launched a new publishing company called DeWard Publishing. They have a republished this book and it is ready for purchase if anyone else is interested.  You can go to the website at .  If you are interested in purchasing a copy the website only offers it through Amazon but you can email my husband personally for faster and cheaper delivery at ."

     Nagy, PaulThe Roots of Our Hope: A Primer About the History of Our Bible  (published in 1979 by the Bible Education Institute Inc.,  496 Todhunter Rd., Monroe, OH  45050).  Paul Nagy preached with the Park Ave. Church of Christ in Hillsboro, OH, when I was a youngster and has been a friend of our family ever since.  This small book (95 pages) has fifteen chapters dealing with such subjects as revelation, inspiration, languages, manuscripts, canonization, accuracy, Dead Sea Scrolls, ancient versions, translation into English, and archaeology, along with a forward, conclusion, and suggested bibliography for further study.  Unfortunately, I have lost contact with Paul and have no idea what he is up to now.  Nor do I know if this book is still available, but if not it deserves to be in print because it is very useful.

     Schnabel, Arnold OHas God Spoken (Fifth Edition, Updated; published in 2004 by A. O. Schnabel Publisher, P. O. Box 271584, Tampa, FL  33688).  Reference was made to this book in the 11/04 issue of my free homeschooling newsletter ( or ).  At that time, there was an announcement of the new, revised edition being made available.  I had a copy of the original edition, which was published in 1972, but for our study I purchased a copy of the new one.  The fifth edition makes many of the same arguments from astronomy, geology, oceanography, meteorology, physics, biology, and archaeology, but updates them and adds information about the Bible’s origin, the Genesis account of creation, the age of the universe, and difficulties in the theory of evolution.  It is also a little more use-friendly due to the index.  I still think that this book is an invaluable resource, written by a former aerospace engineer who is also a gospel preacher.  

     Smith, Wilbur MThe Incomparable Book: To Guide You as You Read Through It (published in 1961 by Beacon Publications, Minneapolis, MN, and republished by Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, MI).  Smith was one of the leaders of the "evangelical movement" in American Protestantism during the middle of the twentieth century.  He was a Bible profesor at Fuller Theological Seminary, edited Peloubet’s Notes, and authored The Collegiate Challenge.  There are fifteen chapters of this booklet (67 pages).  Early chapters discuss canonicity, unity, literary forms, and versions, then Smith takes the reader on a panoramic view of the entire Bible, from the historical Old Testament books through the Revelation of John the Apostle, with the concluding argument, "The Book that Asks for a Verdict."

     Tesh, S. EdwardHow We Got Our Bible (published in 1961 by the Standard Publishing Company, Cincinnati, OH).  This booklet (96 pages) is divided into three sections.  "What the Bible Is and How It Was Written" contains six chapters on the history of the Bible writings themselves.  "How the Bible Was Assembled, Transmitted, and Preserved" has three chapters on the putting together of the Bible as we know it in the ancient manuscripts.  "How the Bible Came into Our Own Language" consists of four chapters dealing with the translation of the Bible.  This book provides answers to the oft-made objections that the early church just randomly chose from the religious writings available at the time to compile the Bible and that we have no way of knowing whether we really have what was originally written anyway.  There are "Think It Over" questions and some additional assignments at the end of each chapter.

book reviews

     NOTE:  The following reviews come from the Sept., 2008, issue of Biblical Homeschooling ( or ).


     (Note on language levels: 1. Nothing objectionable; 2. Common euphemisms; 3. Some cursing or profanity; 4. A lot of cursing or profanity; 5. Obscenity or vulgarity.)

     Cooper, James Fenimore The Pathfinder (published in 1840; republished in 1961 by the New American Library, a division of Penguin Group USA Inc.; and reissued with a new introduction in 2006 by Signet Classics, a division of Penguin Group USA Inc., 325 Hudson St., New York City, NY  10014).  This is the third book of the Leatherstocking Tales in order of plot chronology but fourth in order of publication.  Set in the colonial period of American history during the French and Indian War, it continues the exploits of Natty Bumppo, known variously as Deerslayer, Hawkeye, and now Pathfinder.  Natty, his Delaware friend Chingachgook, and a local from Lake Ontario named Jasper Western, are engaged to join Mabel Dunham and her Uncle Cap, who have been led thus far by the Tuscora chief Arrowhead and his wife June, and take them to Ft. Oswego on the lake where she will join her father, Sgt. Dunham who is another of Bumppo’s friends, following her mother’s death.  The party is attacked by Iroquois, allies of the French and enemies of the English, and Arrowhead and June mysteriously disappear.  After they escape the Iroquois and reach the fort, the commander, Maj. Lundie, allows them to go with Sgt. Dunham who is leading a patrol, that includes quartermaster Lt. Muir, to an island outpost in Lake Ontario.  However, there is rumor of a traitor, and suspicion falls on Jasper, who along with Muir and Pathfinder himself, are all proposed suitors for Mabel.  While Dunham, Natty, and most of the men are searching other islands, the outpost,where Mabel, Cap, and Muir remain, is attacked by another group of Iroquois led by Arrowhead.  The location of the outpost must have been compromised, so who is the real traitor?  Having finished The Deerslayer and The Last of the Mohicans, I find that these stories by Cooper take a while to wade through with all the descriptive passages and Bumppo’s philosophizing, but I am still enjoying them with their fictionalized history of America’s early days.  There is some bad language, but in my edition, the "d" word is usually blanked out, as "d—-d," although inexplicably in a few places it is spelled out.   While not excusing it, I have come across much worse in some modern "children’s" literature.  Language level: 3.  Ages: older teens and adults (most children would find the reading extremely slow going at best).  GOOD.

     Hermes, PatriciaChristmas Magic (published in 1996 by Scholastic Inc., 555 Broadway, New York City, NY  10012).  Christmas is just around the corner, and Katie Potts cannot seem to stop causing trouble at school.  Even her best friend Amelia as mad at her.  She picks her twin brother Obie’s name for "Secret Santa," and since she knows exactly what he likes, it should be a cinch.  Her father keeps telling her that she is a good girl, but down deep she knows what she has done.  So she wonders if her dad is right and if Santa will bring presents to someone like her.  Those who prefer to avoid stories about "Christmas" and especially telling children about Santa Claus will want to avoid this book.  However, there are some good factors in the story.  Katie does make some bad choices, but her conscience bothers her about them, she eventually works to make them right, and thus some important lessons are learned.  Understood properly in the background of the facts that after all Christmas is a national holiday and that Santa Claus is often used to symbolize the spirit of generosity, this book is probably harmless and teaches the important lesson of unconditional love.  One reviewer at Barnes and Noble wrote, "Christmas Magic [is] a great book.  I recommend this book to kids my age (12-14) It keeps you guessing. This book is about a girl named Katie Potts; she always gets in trouble in school and even her best friend gets mad at her.  Katie is worried that Santa won’t bring her any presents because she doesn’t behave, even though her dad tells her she is good."  According to Barnes and Noble, this book is no longer available new.  Language level: 1.  Ages: 10 to 12.  GOOD.

     Higgins, Helen Boyd.   Alexander Hamilton: Young Statesman  (Patria Press Inc., reprint 2008;Website:  Alexander Hamilton was born in 1757 on the island of Nevis in the British West Indies but, after his father’s death moved, with his mother to her family’s home on the Danish West Indies island of St. Croix. Receiving his earliest education at home from his mother, he later attended a small private boy’s school conducted by a local minister named Knox and then came to New York colony as a young man just as the colonists were beginning to object to the heavy-handedness of the English government. The name may be somewhat familiar to us today because his picture graces our ten-dollar bill, but very few know much about him. His main claim to historic footnote fame is that he was killed by Aaron Burr in a duel. However, he accomplished much more than that in his short life (he was 49 when he was killed), and was one of our nation’s most unheralded founding fathers.   As General Washington’s aide-de-camp, Hamilton played a highly significant, though mostly unpublicized, role in the American Revolution. As the head of the Federalist Party, he was largely instrumental in achieving the ratification of the United States Constitution. And as President Washington’s secretary of the treasury, he almost singlehandedly established the independent monetary program that guided this country for nearly 200 years, laying the groundwork for the capitalist economic system that enabled the United States to grow into the freest and most prosperous society that this world has ever known in less than 100 years. While Hamilton was not without his faults as a politician, all these are great reasons for knowing more about him and his part in our nation’s past. In addition, lessons that we can learn from his young personal life include conquering fears, the value of a good education, controlling one’s temper, perseverance, and the importance of hard work.   As a man, Hamilton’s adult accomplishments as a military assistant to Washington, architect of the Constitution, first Secretary of the Treasury, and the face on the 10 dollar bill, were in part due to the experiences of his youth, and in Volume 14 of the Young Patriots Series, children can meet this noted personage from our nation’s history as a young man. This slightly fictionalized account of Hamilton’s childhood was originally one of the wonderful "Childhood of Famous Americans Series" published by the Bobbs-Merrill Company in 1942 and entitled Alec Hamilton, the Little Lion. Simon and Schuster publishes the "Childhood of Famous Americans" books now, but many of the older titles have been dropped for newer ones about more recent personalities. Thankfully, Patria Press is bringing back some of these out of print books in their "Young Patriots Series."  Language level: 1.  Ages 9-12.  EXCELLENT.

     Johnston, Susan, and Webb, KimberlyPrincess Bubble (Bubble Gum Press, 2006; Website: http://www.PrincessBubble ).  Being an "old-fashioned" type of person and having read some of the promotion for this book, I was not sure that I would like it. However, I determined to read it with an open mind. Behold, I found that I did like it. Most every little girl wants to grow up to be a Princess who finds her Prince Charming. And most parents would like this for their little girls. Yet, it is plain that it does not always happen for everyone. For those young ladies who must learn to be content with their singleness, there is Princess Bubble, who graduates from college, gets a job, buys a palace of her own, and watches several of her friends get married.   Many of her married friends begin to ask her why she has not found a prince yet, and eventually her mother tells her that it is time for her to find a prince. She does try and makes many new friends in the process, but finally learns from her fairy godmother that "living happily every after is not about finding a prince. True happiness is found by loving God, being kind to others, and being comfortable with who you are already." So, what will Princess Bubble do with what she has learned? This is a lovely story with an important message for girls (and for their parents) who can read it to help be prepared whatever may happen.  Language level: 1.  Ages: 2-8, but single women may enjoy it too.  EXCELLENT.

     Leigh, CliffordThe Wordsmith, the Kid, and the Electrolux (Capstone Fiction, 2008; websites: , ).  This book is classified as fantasy fiction. Young Corian (Corey) Griffin’s secret life began the day his father refused him a cup of coffee. After his father has to go away for work to save their home from foreclosure, Corey’s growing desires draw him again and again to the coiling dragon on his father’s green Chinese box to steal money kept there to buy from Mr. Good the ice cream man, which begins to rot his teeth. After a visit to an eccentric dentist, Corey is nearly caught by his mother and is forced to hide in a closet to eat his ice cream and there, through the power of a supernatural Electrolux vacuum cleaner, he falls headlong into book of photographs. In this hidden world, where everything is a living picture, he meets several strange people and encounters some extraordinary events.   Corey and his new friends go into pictures where a great battle occurs, a huge baby is rampaging in a house, and a being called the Wordsmith creates an amazing tree-machine. They are taken by Kosmo and Fern Kreecher to New Dragenstoy for re-education, where the secret is revealed. In another picture Corey sees The Kid (a scapegoat) upon whose head all the bad pictures are placed before it is sent away. The surreal descriptions are apparently intended to appeal to the young people of today, but the allegorical implications are clear. The book is well written, and I found myself drawn into the story with a motivation to keep on reading so that I could find out what was going to happen next. This kind of work may not appeal to some people, but those who like fantasy should appreciate it. I enjoyed it and hope that it will accomplish its purpose.  Language level: 1.  Ages: 10 and up.  EXCELLENT.

      Ludwig, Judi.  Twenty People You Meet in Hell (published in 2008 by iUniverse, 2021 Pine Lake Rd., Suite #100, Lincoln, NE  68512).  Judi Ludwig is also the author of another book, It Was Never About Books: Conversations Between a Teen and Her Pastor, which I reviewed previously in this newsletter (4/07 issue).   Her first book is a subtle, autobiographical story which lays the foundation for the transformation of a troubled teenage girl through conversations with her minister while helping to arrange his library.  Its aim is assisting other young people in avoiding the kinds of situations that led to her troubled youth.  Twenty People You Meet in Hell is not subtle.  It is a frank, straightforward attempt using scriptural principles, current events, and personal illustrations to encourage people, including those who are young, from pursuing a destructive lifestyle.  Ludwig tackles such relevant, and sometimes controversial, subjects as adultery (along with divorce), drunkenness, homosexuality, idolatry, murder (including abortion), and magic arts (occultism).  However, she does not stop with the repulsive, overt sins of the world but she also deals with the more "respectable" sins of many who profess Christ, such as envy, greed, lying, selfish ambition, and the unforgiving.  Please be advised that this book will not necessarily convince atheists that God’s way is best.  However, for those who will accept arguments from scripture and faith, it should be helpful in understanding what God’s word says about these things.  In today’s relativistic, "live and let live" world, many people would call this book "judgmental."  The author replies, "They are absolutely correct; it is judgmental.  However, God is the judge.  I am simply the messenger."  And what are her qualifications for writing this book?  "Because I was once the chief of sinners and one of the people you would meet in hell, having been in bondage to many of the sins discussed in this book."  While Judi does not mince words, she does offer hope to those who want the Lord to change their lives.  Believers from different theological backgrounds may not necessarily agree with every observation that is made in the book, but in general it presents the absolute truth of God’s word concerning His attitude toward the sins discussed.  Language level: 1.  Ages: older teens and adults.  EXCELLENT.

     Matulewicz, Elisabeth AnnBenny and Marshmallow: A Day of Mischief  (Ithaca Press, 2008; websites: http://www.bennyandmarshmallow.com , ).  In this delightful little book, Benny and Marshmallow are two mischievous pet rats who live in a blue cage. One day their master, Sean, has to hurry off to school and accidentally forgets to close their door. Benny wants to get out and find some of the candy that Sean’s mother keeps in her candy dish. Marshmallow doesn’t like the idea and is afraid that they’ll get in trouble but goes with Benny anyway. They are able to sneak past the sleeping cat and get to the candy dish to eat, but Marshmallow accidentally knocks the candy dish over and the noise wakes the cat. Will they make it back to their cage before Sean returns home from school? Will they even make it to safety at all?  Pre-readers will enjoy having this clever story about the mishaps of Benny and Marshmallow read aloud to them, and beginning readers will delight in being able to read the book for themselves. It will spark their imaginations, while the colorful illustrations of Kim Sponaugle will bring the tale to life and engage the minds of both young and old. This is Matulewicz’s first book, and it is definitely a keeper! By the way, the name of the author’s son is Sean.  Language level: 1.  Ages: 4-8.  EXCELLENT.

     McCallum, Arnot RossI’m Not a Brat!: Poems for the Kind in All of Us (Primrose Publishing, 1997/1998).  Probably the first thing that comes to mind when someone mentions the idea of "children’s literature" is stories written for young people. However, poetry is just as legitimate a form of literature for both adults and children as any other. In fact, a couple of poetry books for children have won the Newbery Medal in recent years. Many different kinds of poetry exist. There is classic poetry. "Listen, my children, and you shall hear Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere." Also, there is devotional poetry. And there is humorous poetry.  The poems in Arn McCallum’s I’m Not a Brat! fall into the last category. It contains poems about animals, family, school, and even monsters. Some of them contain serious thoughts embedded in the humor. Many of them are just plain silly. All of them are fun. If you like poetry, I think that you will enjoy this book. Even if you do not care that much for poetry, I believe that you will find something funny to laugh at. Girard’s drawings add to the fun. McCallum is a retired educator living in Windsor, Ontario, Canada.  Language level: 1.  Ages: 6-11.  EXCELLENT.

     McGonagle, Joanne LThe Tiniest Tiger (Booksurge, 2007; Website: ).  This delightful and nicely illustrated little book, which will please all animal, and especially cat, lovers, features a young kitten, with a black-stained pink nose, a short striped tail having a black tip, and irregular markings. She chases a butterfly out of the alley where she lives with other cats and gets lost at the zoo. While there, she asks various big cats if maybe she belongs with them, including the tiger, lion, cheetah, leopard, puma, jaguar, bobcat, and ocelot. Are any of them able to adopt her? Or will she ever find a home? The story has enough repetition to make it ideal for young readers. I agree with Jack Hanna’s assessment: "The Tiniest Tiger is an endearing story about a confused little house cat who meets up with some really wild cats."  The book is not only fun to read but educational as well because it shows both the similarities and differences between the zoo cats and the kitten and it provides key facts for each of the different big cats, including their status on the endangered list. In addition to its increasing awareness of the need for conservation efforts, a portion of the proceeds from the sale of The Tiniest Tiger, the author’s first book, will benefit projects for the protection of endangered wild cats in Africa, Asia, North America, and South America, through the Conservation Fund of the Columbus (OH) Zoo and Aquarium. I highly recommend it.  Language level: 1.  Ages: from 3 (read-to age) to 9 (read alone), but enjoyable to children and adults of all ages.  EXCELLENT.

     McGuire, JeremyO’Shaughnessey: A Boy and His Leprechaun (Outskirts Press Inc., 2007; website: ).  This engaging tale is told as if by a traditional Irish shenache, a traveling storyteller who earned his room and board by spinning yarns in family cottages. Bobby Mahoney is a seven-year-old boy who wakes up one morning to see a leprechaun named O’Shaughnessey sitting on his bedpost. Very few human beings have "the gift" to see the faerie folk. Bobby’s parents are divorced, and he lives with his mother and his sister Maggie, but the children get to be with their father once a week. That same day, Bobby’s dad arrives to take him and Maggie to the fair, but when they return home Maggie is very sick. That night, Bobby and O’Shaughnessey take a trip in the leprechaun’s magic hat to visit another leprechaun named O’Sullivan. While there, Bobby hears a Ban-Shee wail, meaning that someone he knows is dying.  It turns out that Maggie has scarlet fever and is not doing very well. So the next night, Bobby and his leprechaun go to the cave of the Ban-Shees so that Bobby can see if something can be done to save Maggie. The Ban-Shee tells Bobby that the Coachman of death will take Maggie unless Bobby can keep it from leaving his fortress at the Mountain of Shadows on time, "when the first light paints the eastern sky…not a moment sooner, not a moment later." So the following night, Bobby and O’Shaughnessey take O’Sullivan to see if they can stop the Coachman. Will they make it in time? Will they be able to achieve their goal and save Maggie? Will Bobby’s actions have any effect upon his family?  The author, who has been an actor, director, and teacher, is primarily a playwright. This is his first work of narrative fiction. There is much to appreciate about this book. Anyone who is interested in novels based on Irish folk will surely enjoy it. It might also be helpful for children who are having to deal with a situation of divorce in the family. Unfortunately, not everything in life turns out exactly the way we would want, but we can learn to adapt and try to make things better. While there are lessons about love, courage, truth, self-awareness, discovery, the worth of money, and the importance of family, most of all it is just a fun book to read. It gets kudos from me.  Language level: 1.  Ages: 8-14.  EXCELLENT.

      Osborne, Mary PopeDark Day in the Deep Sea (Magic Tree House #39; Random House, 2008).  The latest "Magic Tree House" book (#39) is now out. This time Jack and Annie are whisked back to the 1870s in the South Pacific to join the crew of the HMS Challenger on their scientific exploration of the dark depths of the ocean. They get to meet some real historical characters, such as scientist Henry Moseley and Professor Charles Wyville Thomson. From 1872 to 1876, the Challenger sailed nearly 70,000 miles around the world and found more than 4,000 new species of sea life. However, will Jack and Annie survive a raging storm at sea and the tentacles of a giant octopus to get back to Frog Creek, PA, with their new secret of happiness for Merlin?  We have been reading the Magic Tree House books since they first came out, and both of our boys have enjoyed them. What I like about them is that a lot of history and a good deal of geography, along with a little bit of traditional myth and legend, are included in a fictional story that appeals to children. So the books are educational, but they are also fun! While some of Jack and Annie’s dialogue is a little stilted, for the most part these books do not talk down to children but challenge both their thinking and their vocabulary.  Language level: 1.  Ages:  6-9.  GOOD.

     Paul, AlyssaMeet Daisy (AuthorHouse, 2008; websites: , ).  This timeless treasury of three stories, each divided into five to seven chapters, was written by a nine-year-old who lives in Deville, LA. Set in 1908, it takes us back to a time when life was simpler. Daisy Anderson is a young girl, perhaps nine, who lives with her parents, big brother Lars, little sister Allie, and her Uncle Tom, Aunt Fern, and cousins Mandy and Gabriella in Missouri. In "Daisy’s Camping Trip," the entire crew is invited to go camping in Virginia with Daisy’s Uncle Farley, Aunt Jen, and their children Eliza, James, Hannah, Freddie, Annie, and Jane. One night, Daisy, Gabriella, and Lars get chased by wolves! The second story, "Daisy’s Uncle Harry," goes back to explain an event mentioned in the first story, how that Daisy stood up for Lars when their "bossy, stern, mean" Uncle Harry was mad at her brother. In "Merry Christmas, Daisy," the compassionate Daisy arranges for everyone in her home to help the needy Crewe family and thus share the joy of Christmas with others.  In these stories, Daisy exhibits wonderful character traits such as bravery, courage, and the spirit of giving, and thus serves as a great role model for young readers. Alyssa contributes her own rural upbringing and the importance of her family to her creative writing ability. There might be a couple of items that could be considered historically inaccurate for 1908, but these are minor, and otherwise this is a charming book which I thoroughly enjoyed reading. Anyone who likes glimpses into how people lived in the past should find these snapshots into Daisy’s activities to be fascinating–especially coming from such a young and obviously talented author!  Language level: 1.  Ages: 2nd through 5th grades, but can be enjoyed by readers young and old.  EXCELLENT.

      Smith, William DBecoming a Superhero: Adventures of an American Superhero (Outskirts Press Inc., 2008; Website:  This semi-autobiographical children’s novel, set at the end of World War II and the days just after it, looks at a year in the life of Billy Smith, a ten-year-old who lives in a Pennsylvania coal mining town and wants to become an American superhero like the ones he hears about on the radio programs. However, the choices that he makes often have disastrous consequences. In fact, that is one rule that he has been taught by his mother and put in his "Kid’s Book of Rules" for becoming a superhero: "Things have consequences." This story is a tale of morals and values learned by a youngster who is caught between the innocence of childhood and the responsibilities of growing up. It is told as if by a Grandpa who shares stories of what life was like "back in the good old days."  The reader will follow the adventures of Billy, along with his parents, his Mom-Mom and Pop-Pop Willingham and Mom-Mom Smith (grandparents), his friends, his teachers, and his "shadow" (alter-ego or conscience) William, as he tries to learn how to fly like Superman, is taken on a tour of his grandfather’s coal mine, goes on "funeral vacations," attends Camp Greenwood (with its outhouse–you will have to read the book to understand it), makes a soap-box derby racer, worries about failing in school, even almost gets arrested, works at his first job, and watches Mom-Mom Smith get blown up. In all of these events, Billy learns some valuable lessons. But will he ever become a superhero–or even a hero of any kind?   What I especially liked about the book is the positive conclusion that it leaves for children. It shows that while kids will make mistakes, do foolish things, and even fail in certain areas , they can, with gentle guidance by loving and caring, if imperfect, parents, grandparents, and teachers, still make it to adulthood all right. Billy did grow up to serve honorably in the Marine Corps, have his own family, become a teacher, and, thankfully for us, write this touchingly humorous yet meaningful story. Today William D. Smith (Billy) is an instructor teaching psychology and education courses at Ocean County College in New Jersey. Reason number 10 that "Billy" gives for reading the book is "It’s a good story, and everybody loves a good story." I wholeheartedly agree!  Language level: 1.  Ages 8-12.  EXCELLENT.

     Thurman, Safari SueMaybe We Are Flamingos (Guardian Angel Publishing Inc., 2008; websites: http://www.GuardianAngelPublishing.com ).  The author lives in Arizona where as Safari Sue she has entertained millions at the Phoenix Zoo with help from some incredible animal friends. Her "Safari Sue" series of children’s books is inspired by her life experiences. In this one, Flora and Fernando wonder if they are really flamingos because they are the wrong color. At first they are white, and then they turn gray. So they begin to imagine what else they might be–perhaps an ostrich, or maybe a giraffe? As they consider the possibilities and start to investigate, what will they find? And are there any lessons for them to learn?  The gorgeous color illustrations by Kevin Collier make this book a feast for the eyes as well as for the mind. In addition to learning a little bit about the growth and development of flamingos, children will gain some insight into their own lives. It is so easy for youngsters to look around at adults and even other children, see the differences between themselves and others, and begin to worry if they are "all right." What Flora and Fernando learn can help set growing children’s minds at ease so they can be content with their own pattern of growth. This is a great book and lots of fun. Did you know that flamingos maintain their pink color as a result of what they eat?  Language level: 1.  Ages: from 3 (read-to age) to 9 (read alone).  EXCELLENT.

     Williams, Julia.  The Curious Caterpillar (Rose Dog Books, 2008; Website: ).  This extremely charming little story focuses on the path of discovery that a small caterpillar follows, beginning with being hatched from an egg to becoming a butterfly. Aware of his surroundings but not his purpose, he begins his trek up the nearby redwood tree to see if he can determine his reason for existence. Along the way, he meets several frightening but kind creatures–a grasshopper, a lady bug, a snake, a squirrel, an owl, and an eagle. Each of these new friends asks who he is and where he is going, and the caterpillar responds politely, telling them that he is looking for his purpose in life. They all comment on his slow pace but encourage him with their well-wishing. But will the caterpillar ever find the answers to his questions?  There are several things to like about this cute book. First, its good blend of simplicity and just enough repetition along with some challenging vocabulary make it a perfect book for a beginning reader to conquer on his own. Also, while it is obviously fictional, there is still some scientific information about the metamorphosis of a caterpillar into a butterfly. In addition, the story is a modern illustration of the old fable moral, "Slow and steady wins the race." Furthermore, youngsters will be gently encouraged to think about seeking out their purpose in life. Finally, the author’s full-color illustrations are eye-catching and really help the reader visualize the story. This book gets a "thumbs up" from me.  Language level: 1.  Ages: 3-6.  EXCELLENT

     [Editor’s note:  Many of my book reviews appear on a couple of websites that I would encourage you to check out regularly if you do not already.  They are Stories for Children Magazine at , and Home School Buzz at .  Thank you.  WSW.]

Salem, Illinois

      The last two months have gone by in rather much of a hurry because of our move, so I had little chance to provide any details, but now I can. On July 30-31, 2008, our family moved from Affton, MO, a suburb of St. Louis where we had lived for the past six years and I worked with the Church of Christ of Affton before its decision to disband at the end of 2007, to the small city of Salem, IL, about 100 miles east of St. Louis, and I began work with the Ohio St. Church of Christ. We have pretty much gotten most of the house arranged, but we are still in the process of getting settled in, acclimated to the community, and acquainted with the congregation. Unlike Affton, where we had many homeschool families from all over the nation visit with us and we were able to take them to see such famous sites as the Gateway Arch, Grant’s Farm, the St. Louis Zoo, the City Museum, the Science Center, and so on, there are not as many famous sites in and around Salem. However, that does not mean that there is nothing to come and see in Salem, Marion County, and the surrounding area.

     Salem is the birthplace of William Jennings Bryan. "Billy" as his friends knew him, was born at 408 S. Broadway on March 19, 1860, in Salem, the son of Judge Silas M. Bryan, a teacher, lawyer, school superintendent, state senator and circuit court judge, and his wife Maria E. (Jennings) Bryan. Spending the first years of his life living in Salem, he attended Salem public school and at the age of 14 became a member of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church which is now named First United Presbyterian Church. Inside the church, located at the corner of McMackin and Washington Streets near downtown Salem, is a pulpit with a carved scene of the burning bush as noted in the Bible’s Book of Exodus. The pulpit was a gift to the church from Bryan during his later years. As a devout Presbyterian, Bryan’s initial ambition was to become a minister. However, he eventually decided to follow in his father’s footsteps and become a lawyer. He left Salem to study law at the age of 15 and never lived there permanently again. After leaving Salem, Bryan lived for a time in Jacksonville, IL, then moved to Nebraska, entering politics and becoming editor-in-chief of the Omaha World newspaper. His final years were spent in Miami Beach, FL. Nevertheless, "The Great Commoner" often visited his home town during his career as an attorney, newspaper editor and politician. Also known as "The Silver-Tongued Orator," he ran for president of the United States in a then-unprecedented three campaigns and became famous at the 1896 Chicago Democratic Party convention when he uttered words which lived on in history, "You shall not crucify the working man upon a cross of gold!"

     Bryan was known as a populist and as a champion of free coinage of silver during his political career, and his "Cross of Gold" speech drew a greater ovation than had been given any other speaker at the convention. Even those defending the gold standard applauded Bryan. Historians note that the Chicago speech probably was the high point of Bryan’s political career. Although he won the presidential nomination that year, again in 1900 and a third time in 1908, Bryan never succeeded in winning the White House. He became Secretary of State under Woodrow Wilson, holding that post until 1915 when he resigned, citing a disagreement with the president over the country’s policy toward Germany. Bryan’s boyhood home has been preserved as The Williams Jennings Bryan Home Museum and has been turned into a museum, filled with memorabilia of Bryan, his politics, and the turn-of-the-century era in which he lived. The home is located next door to the building that once housed the Bryan Bennett Library which he helped found and is an "L" house, which was typical of the era. It has two main rooms in the front and then the dinning room and kitchen in the back. Upstairs has three beedrooms. A bathroom was added at some point upstairs by putting up a wall in the back bedroom. Normally, the museum is open to the public daily from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., but closed Thursdays and holidays. However, it is temporarily closed. The City of Salem will open the museum with advance notice. Call (618) 548-2222 or (618) 548-7791 to make an appointment. The house is on the National Register of Historical Places and on the Salem Historical Register. A statue of William Jennings Bryan was created by Gutzon Borglum, famed sculptor of Mt. Rushmore, and originally stood in Washington, D.C., dedicated there by President Theodore Roosevelt May 3, 1934. In 1961, it was moved to its present location in the Salem Community Garden across from Bryan Memorial Park on North Broadway. The William Jennings Bryan Mural is located in the Marion County Courthouse, Salem, Illinois.

     The Vincennes Trail Half-Way Tavern State Historic Site is located on U.S. 50 just east of Salem near the village of Iuka. Half-Way Tavern got its name because it was located halfway between St. Louis and Vincennes. The building was originally constructed in 1815 and was used as both an inn and livery stable. Stagecoach passengers used the Inn on their travels between St. Louis and Vincennes. There is a legend surrounding the Half-Way Tavern concerning lost gold. Some historians say that one day in the early 1800s a stagecoach passing though the area was held up by Indians. The coach was carrying gold which the Indians made off with. When a posse closed in on them they supposedly buried the gold in a wooded area just north of the tavern. And as far as anyone knows, it is still there awaiting discovery. Naturally, as with all legends dealing with lost gold and lost gold mines, people are said to have sought the treasure. But no one is known to have found it. Farmers have plowed up Indian arrowheads in this area. No farmer, however, ever claimed to finding the buried gold. One of the more prominent customers of the Half-Way Tavern – although he probably wasn’t considered so at the time – was a young attorney named Abraham Lincoln. He and other lawyers "rode the circuit" from courthouse to courthouse trying cases in those days. It is highly likely that Half-Way Tavern, lying the location that it does, was visited more than once by the future U.S. president. Some years ago the state of Illinois took over the property and restored the old building. The building itself is now closed to the public, but it can be seen by motorists traveling east from Salem on U.S. 50.

     American Legion’s Veteran’s Museum, located at 121 E. Main St. in Salem, is sponsored by the Luther B. Easley American Legion Post 128 in Salem and Ladies Auxiliary. It is open from 12:30 pm to 4:30 pm on each Friday and will also be available for group tours at any time by appointment. For more information or to schedule a tour you can call 548-2312 or 548-9412. The museum especially commemmorates the fact that Salem was the birthplace of the G. I. Bill of Rights. On Nov. 4, 1943, the G. I Bill was drafted by Omar J. McMackin of Salem, Earl W. Merritt of Salem, former Governor John Stelle of McLeansboro, Dr. Leonard W. Esper of Springfield, George H. Bauer of Effingham, William R. McCauley of Olney, James P. Ringley of Lemont, and A. L. Starshak of Chicago. The plan was taken to Washington D. C. by Governor Stelle, who was with President Franklin Delano Roosevelt when he signed it into law on June 22, 1944. The law was officially titled as the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act and was created to assist veterans of active service in the Armed Forces during World War II. Also, a few blocks east is the The Marion County Veterans Memorial is located in East Lawn Cemetery on Main and Shelby Streets. It was dedicated on Memorial Day, Monday, May 26, 1997.

     The historic Old One Room School House is located on Park Street on the campus of Salem High School. It is a memorial to days gone by. Originally known as East Nation School, it was relocated to its present location and restored by the Marion County Teachers Association. This historically accurate building was re-dedicated June 5, 1980. I know that historic one-room schoolhouses in other places sometimes are opened to the public for special occasions and often have programs for school aged children.

     Ingram’s Pioneer Log Cabin Village located in Kinmundy, IL, offers the opportunity for visitors to enjoy a leisurely walk along the streets of the pioneer prairie village and be transported back in time to a pre-civil war era. The log cabins, built from 1818 to 1860 and located on 74 acres, include homes a general store, a doctor and apothecary office, a preacher’s cabin (home of 3 differant preachers, a cobbler and carpenter shop , a church, an old stage coach stop where Jessie James, Abraham Lincoln, and other famous and not so famous stayed (you paid 6 cents for a bed but might share the bed with strangers–they would share expenses; a meal cost 5 cents and the butcher and innkeeper divided the profit).

     Erma Ingram a former school teacher of the Salem school district, at her own expense, had the cabins disassembled, moved and reassembled to their present site, with the help of her family and students. There are seventeen cabins; thirteen are open to the public and all are authentically furnished, with fireplaces burning during special events held through the season. The village was opened to the public July 1, 1977, and is open seasonally from Apr. 15 through Nov. 15th daily. There are craftdays the last two full weekends of Sept. and the second weekend of Oct. annually. Crafters are in period dress and all craft are hand made. Get off I-57 at exit 127 and go east 1.5 miles to Hwy. 37. Turn north to Kinmundy, turn north on Monroe Street, and go 1 mile to Gessell Rd.; follow the signs to entrance P. O Box 135, Kinmundy, IL 62854; phone: 618-547-3291 or 7123; e-mail: ). Kinmundy is 88 miles east of St. Louis

     Stephen A Forbes State Park is located in northeast Marion County on the banks of a beautiful lake, surrounded by shady oaks and rolling hills. The presence of a graceful heron on the water, or deer or even a wild turkey in the nearby brush may be visible. A tug on the fishing line may result in reeling in a largemouth bass, bluegill, or crappie. Swimming is alloed at sandy Rocky Point Beach, a beautiful 200-foot sand beach where visitors can enjoy swimming or picnicking at the tables provided here. Alcoholic beverages are prohibited in the Rocky Point Area. Swimming is prohibited at all other areas of the lake, and swimming from boats is also prohibited. The rest of the day offers many options, from hiking on the nature trails, to softball or volleyball at the Circle Drive Picnic Area, to water skiing. Campers may spend the night at the Oak Ridge Campground. There are 115 shaded campsites with electricity, water and a shower building available. Two sets of stairways and boat dock provide access to the lake for campers here. A 120-foot floating walkway connects the campground with the marina area as well.

     For a group, two Rent-A-Camp sites are available. One site provides a large wall tent, cots, electric lights, table and grill. All you need to bring are people — it can accommodate up to eight. The other site has a two room cabin with bunkbeds. These sites can be reserved by contacting the Park Office. For those preferring a more secluded spot with a scenic view of the lake, 10 walk-in sites are available. A separate Youth Group Camp is available at the Persimmon and Whippoorwill areas. A 15-mile horse trail circles the lake, offering horse and rider a panorama of natural beauty. Also available for the equestrian is a 21-site campground with electricity, located on mile east of Omega. The horse trail is open from May 1 to November 1. There are four established nature trails for hiking enthusiasts. The Oak Ridge Trail is a 2.5-mile loop trail located in the campground. For those preferring shorter walks, the Marlow Pond Trail is half-mile long, the Henneman Trail which guides the hiker to an early settlement cemetery is only a quarter-mile long, or take the Phillips Creek Trail — a quarter mile with access to the lake. Very popular with day visitors are the many shady, picnic areas. Choose from Lookout Point, Stage Coach Trail, Black Oak, Sassafras, White Oak, Whippoorwill or Circle Drive areas. Picnic tables, pit toilets, and park grills are available at all sites. Circle Drive Picnic Area provides a more open setting and has an area for softball, volleyball or other games requiring an open grass area. Playground equipment is also available here, and at Sassafras Picnic area as well. Rustic park shelters enhance the areas at Whippoorwill, Sassafras, Stage Coach Trail and, Circle Drive Picnic Areas. Several can be reserved in advance by contacting the site office. Boat ramps provide easy access to the main lake. There is no limit on horsepower, but various sections of the lake are marked by buoys for water skiing and "no wake" speeds. The concession offers fishing boats for rental. Bait, tackle, gas, snacks, and meals are also available. Slips are available to rent for pontoon boats and smaller craft on a daily and seasonal basis. The 585-acre lake provides ample opportunities to the sport fisherman. The lake has been stocked with largemouth bass, bluegill, redear, crappie, channel catfish, hybrid-striped bass, tiger muskie, and walleye sauger hybrid. Largemouth bass are stocked annually from brood ponds located in the park. This, combined with a 14-inch size limit, has created excellent bass fishery. Fishing is also available at Boston Pond, Marlow Pond, and Wilson Pond. Over 2,000 acres of land are available for the hunter. Dove hunters will find the specially planted sunflower fields to be very helpful in attracting these birds. The heavily wooded areas also provide very good squirrel hunting. Brushy draws and fence rows provide excellent habitat for upland game such as quail and rabbit. Turkey and deer (bow only) hunting is also available. There is also a Marina Restaurant. All of this, and more, awaits visitors to Stephen A. Forbes State Recreation Area. The Stephen A. Forbes State Recreation Area, located 15 miles northeast of Salem in Marion County, was originally only 20 acres with a two-acre pond being the only water available. Since that time in 1959, additions have been made which bring the total current park area to 3,103 acres. Of this total, 1,150 acres are forests of oak and hickory which surround a large lake. The lake was completed in 1963 and has 18 miles of shoreline. The area is named for natural scientist, Stephen Alfred Forbes, whose contributions in the field of biology, make him world renowned. His prolific scientific publications, over 400 titles, are still used extensively in the study of aquatic biology, ornithology, ichthyology, and ecology.

     Just to the northeast of Salem, in Effingham, IL, is the famous "Cross at the Crossroads" which anyone travelling through Illinois either east or west on I-70 or north or south on I-57 has undoubtedly seen. There is a Visitor’s Center with an 8-minute film explaining how it was built. One does not necessarily have to agree with all the theological beliefs which characterize those who are responsible for it to appreciate both the architecture of it and also their desire to remind people about the importance of Jesus Christ. Nearby, there is an excellent restaurant known as Niemurg’s.

     Also, for those interested in Abraham Lincoln related sites, northwest of Salem is the Illinois First State Capitol in Vandalia, where Lincoln served in the Illinois state legislature. But you will need to act quickly! Unfortunately, our wonderful governor (can you read the dripping sarcasm there?) has decided to deal with state budget problems NOT by cutting the welfare queens in Chicago who are his main constituency and to whom he owes his election, but by closing–PERMANENTLY–some of the state’s historic sites, including the Illinois First State Capitol and also the Thomas Lincoln Log Cabin near Charleston, IL. Many of us believe that government should restrain itself to doing what government does best (military protection, police and fire service, paving roads), and that includes preserving our historic traditions. Oh well! Maybe some private foundation will step in and fund these important educational sites. Or the Legislature, which has a better record than the governor, will reverse his decision.  And Salem is fairly close to Carlyle Lake, the largest man-made lake in Illinois. It is located near Carlyle, IL, in Clinton County. There are two adjacent state parks, Eldon Hazlet and South Shore, which seem to be popular areas for camping.

And one more item to show where McDonald’s now stands

     On Sept. 16, 2008, under the headline, "McDonald’s to gay event: We qualify for your group discount," American Family Association reported the following. A document shows McDonald’s requested a 10% "group discount" to a recent pro-homosexual training seminar. Eligibility to receive the discount required "groups of 15 or more registrants for the full price 3-day (Out & Equal 2008 Workplace) Summit." McDonald’s applied for the special "discount code" off the regular registration price of $775 per person. The registration price did not include the employee’s air travel, hotel and meal expenses. The conference, held in Austin, TX, was designed to train employees how to effectively advance homosexuality in the workplace and to persuade top corporate officials to embrace the lifestyle by offering special recognition and benefits to gay employees. For example, McDonald’s health benefits package includes full coverage for sex-change procedures, post-operative recovery, and mental health counseling throughout the process.

Why we homeschool

     On Fri., Sept. 12, 2008, at it was reported, "Teacher displays ‘torture [p-rn]’ on class projector. A high school photography teacher in Arizona has been placed on administrative leave. But students were exposed to his personal [p-orn] from his personal computer (which he had forgotten was hooked up to a classroom projector) for 20 minutes. Yuck."

     There was a link to a WorldNetDaily article about a high school photography teacher at Arcadia High School in Phoenix, AZ, who is on administrative leave after students say he showed them "torture porn" videos of girls being tied up for 20 minutes during class. One student said the teacher began the photography lesson by connecting his personal computer to a projector screen. The class was told to work on an assignment, and he allegedly began viewing the videos during instruction time – forgetting the projector was still connected to his laptop. The student continued, "He forgot the projector screen was turned on and he started watching porn and we were all just like sitting there shocked that he was watching this in front of the class." Another student recorded the incident on a cell phone. The class tried to capture the teacher’s attention to let him know pornography was playing on the projector, but he never glanced upward from the video. "He was just all into it, I don’t even think he was paying attention to us, he was just all in his computer," the student said. "We were making comments like ‘Wow, what is he watching?’ and that kind of stuff but I think he was too into it to even notice." Still another student said she was disgusted by the incident and questioned whether this was the first time her teacher had viewed pornography at school. "I was just creeped out that a teacher that I have known from the beginning of the year could have been watching this the whole time we were in class," she said. "That’s just gross; he’ll watch it in front of kids in that school when he’s supposed to be teaching." Administrators sent a letter home to parents stating, "13 students were inadvertently shown material inappropriate for the classroom by their teacher," but the notice did not clarify what kind of "material" the class had seen. Phoenix police are investigating the incident, and a school resource officer is compiling a report that will be delivered to the Family Investigations Bureau. Detectives will decide whether to send it to the county attorney’s office for prosecution.

     Apparently, school officials acted appropriately for the most part, but incidents like this are becoming increasingly common in public schools.  As I have said before, there are many good, positive reasons to homeschool. But incidents such as these help to confirm our belief that homeschooling is best for our families.

What Our Kids Are Missing Out On Department

     Barb Frank wrote, "Two 15-year-olds get into an argument in their high school’s cafeteria. When I was a kid, that meant a fistfight. But some of today’s kids settle their differences with guns, not fists. Now one of the boys is dead."

     She then gave a link to an Aug. 21, 2008, (Knoxville, TN) article headlined, "Central classes resume Friday; superintendent says schools safe," which said that Central High School student Ryan McDonald had died after being shot in the school cafeteria by another student, Jamar Siler, according to Knoxville police and a hospital spokesman. Police at a press conference said they still haven’t settled on a motive for this shooting. Siler’s attorney, Knox County Public Defender Mark Stephens, said in a Juvenile Court hearing this afternoon that he needs time to conduct a psychological evaluation on the boy, who’s accused of shooting McDonald once, then leaving the school. The confrontation between the two students occurred about 8:11 a.m. before classes began at the school in Fountain City, according to Knoxville Police Department Deputy Chief William C. Roehl. The students knew each other, according to Roehl, but he said he did not know what led to the shooting. What is somewhat amazing is that Superintendent Jim McIntyre said at the press conference with law enforcement, "I want to assure parents, despite this isolated incident, our schools are safe."

     In light of what happened–a student made it on campus with a gun–I have trouble believing this.  I do not wish to sensationalize such events. I understand that things like this can happen just about anywhere, even in our homes, and we cannot live in constant fear. Yet the fact remains that there are some places where they are much more likely to occur and should be avoided, such as bars and, given the statistics, public schools which today are managed much more like concentration camps or prisons with their large campuses, security cameras, metal detectors, and general impersonality, rather than places of learning.

New To Homeschooling

     (On Sep. 10, 2008, the following appeared at .)

     Hello to everyone. I found this blogsite just today and was very excitied. I am excitied because I was feeling a little isolated with this being my first year of homeschooling. Most everyone has been a little negative about my husbands and my decision to keep our 6 year old dd home for 1st grade and on. We sent her to a Christian school last year for Kindergarden and though pleased with the school it was not a choice that we could make this year with our finances. We also have a 3 yr. old dd that will be homeschooled for her entire school experience and we are expecting our 3 child in the end of March. So this is going to be a busy school year. I am still learning what I what to do with our daughters and trying to include things that my dd Bethany will find exciting during our school hours and how to keep my dd2 Samantha occupied while still giving my attention to Beth. My husbands contribution to homeschooling is teaching our dd’s how to train rabbit dogs, not that we shoot the rabbits but love to be in the woods, around nature. So far we have learned that none of our 3 beagles have a clue as to what to do.(2 9 mths pups and 1 2yr old female) My husband is use to hunting snowshoe rabbits and where we live is cottentail rabbits, which are totally different rabbits. But I am including lessons about flowers, birds, + bugs, while waiting for the dogs to get on the trail of the rabbits.

     (I posted the following comment: May God bless you, your husband, and your family as you begin homeschooling. I always feel bad when new homeschoolers receive negative comments, especially from family and friends, but here you will find love, acceptance, and encouragement.)