Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Sarah's Wish: A TOS Crew Review

I love to lose myself in a story. I have loved to read for as long as I have been able to read. (I came home from school the first day of first grade upset because the teacher didn't teach me how to read!)

I don't lose myself in many stories these days. Instead, when I read, I spend my reading time on all things autism.

I forget how much I enjoy letting a story take me to another time, another place, far away from the here and now. "Sarah's Wish" reminded me just how much I enjoy a good book.

"Sarah's Wish," ($9.99 w/ free shipping from SarahBooks.net) by Jim Baumgardner, is a book written by a grandfather for his grandchildren, historical fiction that is lively and captivating. Baumgardner told the Crew, "The Sarah Books are authored by me for my grandchildren. I say that so that you will know these books do not have any sex, profanity, or anything that would be offensive to young readers. I would never subject my grandchildren to such writing."

He continues, "The books have been referred to as Christian fiction. I prefer to describe them as Young Adult fiction written by a Christian author. Sarah’s faith is important to her and she lives by it, but the books do not try to convert the reader to anything. The stories do teach Christian principals of living a good life and treating others as you would have them treat you. I do not ignore the evil in the world and Sarah must confront it at times just as we all do. "

The main character, Sarah, is a 12-year-old girl and the setting is the 19th century, and Sarah lives on the route that slaves took from the south to the north, to freedom, on the Underground Railroad. Sarah's parents assist slaves to freedom, and when Sarah is orphaned, she is left to continue the mission with the help of neighbors that include some colorful characters.

I lost myself in the story. I could not put the book down. I'd set it down to make the kids something to eat or go to the restroom, and as soon as I was able to, I'd pick it back up again. I stopped almost everything one lazy weekend afternoon-into-evening and read "Sarah's Wish" from cover to cover. What a treat! :)

I could not stand the suspense -- I *had* to learn what happened next to Sarah, so I bought the next two books in the series. Excerpts from the books are located HERE. (Baumgardner is writing a fourth book.)

Author Jim Baumgardner took me into Ohio and Kentucky, through cities I pass several times a year as I travel from where I live now to where I grew up (and back). I could picture the journey in the story in my mind, because I've traveled that route so many times.

He introduces and defines terms from the day in the glossary before the first chapter, and I learned some terms I didn't know. Samples from the glossary are located HERE.

There's a surprise from the publisher located in the back of the book. It's a code for a free audio book download of Sarah’s Wish.

My public schooled children have learned about the Underground Railroad at school several years ago. One of their teachers created a mock UGRR at school and the students were able to take on different roles as "slaves" traveled to freedom. My children learned a lot and they enjoyed the experience. They talked about it often at the time, and still mention it occasionally. It's an interesting and important time in United States history, a time I want my children to know about.

I suspected that my middle schooler would love this book -- and once she read the information on the back cover, she took the book from me, disappeared with it one evening and read it almost non-stop until she finished it after school the next night. She said that sometimes a really big book is intimidating because it takes forever to read, but a thin book is often too easy with not a good story. She told me that "Sarah's Wish" is the perfect balance -- a great story that makes you want to keep reading without being too easy or too long. She was happy to learn that I'd ordered the next two books in the series, because she wants to know what happens next, too!

My homeschooled princess is not ready for this level of text. We're getting there and I'll share this with her when the time is right. I like having the audio book to use in combination with the text -- listening to an audio book while following text in the book may be a strategy we use in the future. It gives us another option.

Mr. Baumgardner offers a newsletter by e-mail. Check the web site for the directions you need to subscribe.

We are enjoying the Sarah series at our house -- I highly recommend the books.

Full Disclosure: Author Jim Baumgardner sent me an autographed copy of his book, Sarah's Wish, at no charge to me, to read and review for you as part of The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew of reviewers.

To read what my Crewmates have to say about this product, go HERE.

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