Focus on the Family


Fading Tracks

A book review for parents

This fiction book is the first in the "Boarding School Mysteries” series by Kristi Holl and is published by ZonderKidz, a division of Zondervan.

Fading Tracks is written for kids ages 9 to 12. The age range reflects readability and not necessarily content appropriateness.



Plot Summary


Twelve-year-old Jeri McKane lives far from home at Landmark boarding school. When her roommate, Rosa, and a van full of classmates vanish, the school and parents rush to solve the mystery of the girls' whereabouts. Jeri is confused by the headmaster's secretive behavior and the lies of the reporter who's called in to help crack the case. Eventually, Jeri feels God leading her to investigate a nearby abandoned house in the woods. There, she finds the girls and their missing teacher and uncovers the truth about their disappearance.



Christian Beliefs


Jeri prays often for God's help and guidance. She often recalls verses from the Bible when she needs wisdom. The story of Gideon serves as an inspiration to Jeri while planning an escape for her kidnapped friends. She decides to search the woods for her classmates because she believes she senses God telling her to look there — although she does question whether she's being guided by God or is just "doing something stupid.”



Authority Roles


Jeri's mother lives far from her daughter; she is sometimes hard to reach because of her busy work schedule. She demonstrates deep concern for her daughter when Rosa goes missing, and Jeri's mother encourages Jeri with Scripture and prayer. The headmaster appears stern and secretive, even to the extent that Jeri suspects foul play. Another teacher reveals to Jeri that the headmaster has had a tragic past and deeply loves her students. Mr. Langley, a wealthy parent who provides several scholarships including Jeri's, throws his financial weight around and is rude and critical in the midst of the investigation. He does indicate his gratitude to Jeri at the end, but he appears to do it more for a photo opportunity than out of sincerity.



Other Belief Systems


None



Profanity/Graphic Violence


None



Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality


None



Awards


Unknown



Discussion Topics


If your children have read this book or someone has read it to them, consider these discussion topics:


Book reviews cover the content, themes and worldviews of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. A book's inclusion does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.


Fairest

A book review for parents

This fantasy, romance by Gail Carson Levine is published by HarperCollins Publishers and is written for kids 13 and up. The age range reflects readability and not necessarily content appropriateness.



Plot Summary


Aza, born in Ayortha, is left in the room of an inn, the Featherbed. The innkeepers welcome her as part of their family and treat her as a daughter. Aza is not pretty or petite, but she has a beautiful voice, which is important to Ayorthaians because they sing almost as much as they speak. Still, Aza longs to be beautiful. When she becomes the queen's new lady-in-waiting, she is forced to throw her voice and make it sound as if Queen Ivi has a beautiful singing voice. Aza calls what she does illusing.

After the king is wounded, Queen Ivi rules Ayortha with the help of a magic mirror. The people hate her. Meanwhile, the king's nephew, Prince Ijori, and Aza fall in love. When Aza finds Queen Ivi's mirror, a creature, Skulni, is in the mirror and influences Aza to drink a beauty potion. Before long, Aza and her illusing are blamed for all the problems in the land. She is put in prison. Aza escapes her prison and reaches the caves of the gnomes, where she receives sanctuary. She learns she is part gnome.

When Aza eats a poisonous apple, she is transported into Skulni's mirror, and she must outwit Skulni by breaking the mirror from the inside. Healed, she finds that Prince Ijori still loves her. They return to the castle, where the king has recovered. The king knows that he can't have his wife in power again, so he resigns his position. Prince Ijori marries Aza, and they rule Ayortha with wisdom and song.



Christian Beliefs


None



Authority Roles


Aza's adoptive parents train her to be beautiful on the inside, as they do all their children. She is as much their child as their biological children. When news reaches them that Aza was the reason behind all the bad things happening in the kingdom, they don't believe it. They know their daughter and continue to tell others of her innocence. The king of the Ayorthaians is a kind and wise ruler. When he is wounded, his wife is weak and trusts a magic mirror's guidance because it praises her beauty. The gnome zhamM is a judge for the gnomes. He gives Aza sanctuary and cares for her as a daughter. When he judges, he considers each case. His purpose is not to discern what is fair but what will be best for both parties. For example, in one case, a gnome accuses another gnome of stealing his shovel. Judge zhamM looks into the future and decides that by giving the thief the shovel, he grows in integrity and the owner has a better life without it. So he awards the shovel to the thief.



Other Belief Systems


This society comprises singers, gnomes, ogres, fairies, magic mirrors, spells and potions. Magic is considered a normal part of life. Books of spells and potions are in the library. The problems of Queen Ivi and Aza begin with their desires to be more beautiful, then the problems are escalated by Skulni's trickery in the magic mirror and by beauty potions and spells. Ayorthaians also believe in the power of singing. Singing brings strength and unity and aids in healing.



Profanity/Graphic Violence


When Aza escapes from the dungeon, she must force a bolt open, which causes her to bleed. Ogres eat Ayorthaians. Aza is poisoned and almost dies.



Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality


Prince Ijori and Aza kiss passionately. They walk in the dark together at the castle and later are alone in a ravine all night, but do not engage in sex. They hold hands as they sleep next to each other.



Awards


Unknown



Discussion Topics


If your children have read this book or someone has read it to them, consider these discussion topics:


Book reviews cover the content, themes and worldviews of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. A book's inclusion does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.


The Fellowship of the Ring

A book review for parents

This high fantasy adventure book is the first book in the “The Lord of the Rings” series by J.R.R. Tolkien and was first published by Allen & Unwin, a former British publishing house.

The Fellowship of the Ring is often read by kids 12 and up. The age range reflects readability and not necessarily content appropriateness.

Boundless.org, a ministry of Focus on the Family for young adults and newly married couples, has written an article that offers insight into this series: The Lord of the Rings


Book reviews cover the content, themes and worldviews of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. A book's inclusion does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.


Fever 1793

A book review for parents

This historical fiction book by Laurie Halse Anderson is published by Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing and is written for kids 10 and up. The age range reflects readability and not necessarily content appropriateness.


Plot Summary


Mattie Cook lives with her mother and grandfather above the family's coffee shop when the historic 1793 yellow fever epidemic hits Philadelphia. After Mattie's mother becomes ill, Grandfather takes Mattie to the countryside to stay with friends. The journey is interrupted first by Grandfather's heart trouble and then by Mattie's contracting the fever. The two finally return to Philadelphia to discover the city in ruins (including their coffeehouse), and Mother is nowhere to be found. Grandfather's subsequent death leaves Mattie hopeless and alone until she's reunited with the family's black employee, Eliza.



Christian Beliefs


At the time of this epidemic, most blacks in Philadelphia were free because the Quakers believed slavery was against God's will. Mattie tells a merchant that she goes to church because her mother never lets her stay home. She prays on several occasions and reads from the Psalms, thanking God for His providence and deciding she'd like to end each day reading from the Bible. She even stops herself when she begins to ask for God's punishment on those who ransacked her family's coffeehouse. Eliza prays faithfully and fervently for the fever victims, and Mattie later follows Eliza's lead in caring tirelessly for the sick and their families. An egg seller rants, saying those getting the fevers are sinners afflicted by God because they don't go to church.



Authority Roles


Mattie's mother is a harsh, bitter woman since the loss of her husband. She is weaker and more compliant after her battle with the fever, and she allows Mattie to take over the adult responsibilities at the coffeehouse. Affectionate, loving Grandfather is a war veteran who teaches Mattie how to be a good soldier. His lessons prove useful when they're stranded far from home, and he saves her life despite his own health problems. Prayerful, faithful Eliza provides a solid example of godly compassion for one's fellow man. President George Washington returns to Philadelphia after the epidemic slows. His presence provides hope of a return to normalcy.



Other Belief Systems


Though Mattie and other main characters adhere to Christian beliefs, it could be argued that Mattie's ultimate success in overcoming hardship isn't duly credited to God but to the power of self-reliance and personal strength.



Profanity/Graphic Violence


In a few scenes, people are “bled,” which some doctors then believed would get rid of the toxins causing yellow fever. People also vomit blood a few times. The descriptions aren't excessive or gratuitous, but it may make readers queasy.



Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality


None



Awards


American Library Association Best Book for Young Adults 2001; International Reading Association: 2001 Teacher's Choice and more.



Discussion Topics


If your children have read this book or someone has read it to them, consider these discussion topics:


Book reviews cover the content, themes and worldviews of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. A book's inclusion does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.


The Field Guide

A book review for parents

This first fantasy book in the "The Spiderwick Chronicles" by Holly Black is published by Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing.

The Field Guide is written for kids ages 6 to 10. The age range reflects readability and not necessarily content appropriateness.



Plot Summary


After Jared, Simon and Mallory Grace's parents divorce, their mother moves them to a crumbling Victorian house owned by their now-institutionalized Aunt Lucy. The children hear scratching inside the walls and discover a nest. Then Mallory urges Jared to ride in a dumbwaiter, and he finds a secret upstairs library containing strange books. The children recover a volume compiled by Arthur Spiderwick (Aunt Lucy's father) about fairies and determine they've angered one type called a boggart. They finally rebuild the boggart's nest and set him at ease — but it's clear Spiderwick's book will lead them to other adventures.



Christian Beliefs


None



Authority Roles


Mrs. Grace is a frustrated mother trying to rebuild her family's life after a divorce. She blames Jared for the unexplained events the boggart has caused. In her mind, there is no other plausible explanation. The children lie and tell her Jared is in bed when he's actually in the secret library.



Other Belief Systems


Fairies of various kinds inhabit the Grace home.



Profanity/Graphic Violence


Mallory says the house is crappier than it used to be.



Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality


None



Awards


Unknown



Discussion Topics


If your children have read this book or someone has read it to them, consider these discussion topics:


Note: This is a popular book series.

Book reviews cover the content, themes and worldviews of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. A book's inclusion does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.


The First Escape

A book review for parents

This fantasy illustra-novel (short for illustrated novel) is the first book in "The Dopple Ganger Chronicles" by G.P. Taylor and is published by SaltRiver Books, a division of Tyndale House Publishers.

The First Escape is written for kids ages 8 to 12. The age range reflects readability and not necessarily content appropriateness.



Plot Summary


Sadie and Saskia Dopple and Erik Morrissey Ganger live at Isambard Dunstan's School for Wayward Children. Sadie and Saskia are the terror of the school. Their antics include everything from throwing hard-boiled eggs at people to pretending to turn into a werewolf to make another girl with a weak stomach vomit to setting a desk on fire. Their headmistress, Miss Rimmer, despises them. She finds a way to separate them by allowing rich benefactor Muzz Elliott to take Saskia. Muzz Elliott's insane twin sister, Cicely, Cicely's daughter and Muzz's chauffeur plot to murder Saskia and Muzz Elliott once they find Lord Trevellyn's hidden treasure in Muzz Elliott's mansion. In the midst of this, Saskia meets a ghostly figure, Madame Raphael, who gives her advice and leaves her clues. Saskia is unsure as to whether she is a spirit or human. Meanwhile, Sadie and Erik escape the orphanage because Miss Rimmer intends to have them thrown in jail for their delinquent behavior. They meet a magician who tries to electrocute, then guillotine, them. They are constantly on the run from the police because Miss Rimmer has trumped up crimes against them. The duo makes it to Muzz Elliot's mansion in their search for Saskia in time to save her and Muzz Elliot from being murdered. In the end, Muzz Elliott decides she may want to keep all three children — Saskia, Sadie and Erik — as her own. Saskia learns that Muzz Elliott is able to see Madame Raphael, but the two of them are the only ones. The final clue in the book from Madame Raphael leads them to the second book in this series.



Christian Beliefs


Madame Raphael tells Saskia about the Companion. The Companion is never far from those who need him, but he isn't a ghost. He can hear everything that everyone says, from the heart out. Madame Raphael only appears to Saskia and Muzz Elliott, although Muzz Elliott can no longer hear what the figure says, as she did as a child. When asked, Madame Raphael says that she is "a voice of one crying in the wilderness," John the Baptist's words. She tells Saskia to follow her, reminiscent of how Jesus says this so that Saskia can find a treasure that is better than Lord Trevellyn's. Muzz Elliott thinks of Madame Raphael as an angel. At the end of the book, Madame Raphael leaves Saskia a clue about an indigo moon, which leads them to their next adventure in the next book.



Authority Roles


Sadie calls the orphanage's cook an "old wart face." The cook throws a spoon and hits Sadie in the face. Sadie also talks back to Miss Rimmer, demonstrating her disrespect for authority. Muzz Elliott says that Saskia is a brat who is vicious and without a work ethic. Twins Sadie and Saskia believe their actress mother forgot about them, but eventually will return for them. Erik is in this all girls orphanage because his father, who is a burglar, asked him to wait on the steps of it while his father went to get cigarettes. Erik believes that his father was either arrested or had to go quite a distance for those cigarettes. Muzz Elliot tells Saskia that her job is to drive by her twin in about 10 years and not feel bad about throwing a few coins to her. When Mr. Martinet, an authority figure at the orphanage, takes the man from the school board up to the tower to take Sadie to prison, he tells the man that Sadie should have her "entrails fed to seagulls" and that he hopes to make the end of her stay in the orphanage miserable. The police are somewhat bumbling and easily outsmarted by children. Erik speaks of his father and the family's trade — burglary — with pride. Mr. Martinet and the police tell Sadie and Erik that Mr. Martinet and the police will testify to whatever crime they need to make up in order for the children to be put in prison.



Other Belief Systems


Sadie pretends to be poisoned and to be turning into a werewolf that becomes a vampire dog. Oscar supposedly talks to Muzz Elliott, but no one sees him. The chauffeur implies that Oscar is a spirit. Saskia has the odd impression that the four plaster faces of the children decorating the hallway ceiling are real and that they are watching her. In the past, Sadie and Saskia knew a little about what the other was thinking or they could finish each other's sentences. Of course, there are some unexplained events in their lives, such as one twin being stung by a wasp and the other having the effects of it; or one being cut, and the other bleeding. When they are separated, Saskia has a vision of Sadie being taken to the tower for punishment by Mr. Martinet, which really happens. Saskia then enters a room where a puppet and every inanimate object in the room are able to talk to her. She can't leave the room until they unlock the door for her. She feels as if something noisy, but invisible, is chasing her up the tower steps. In her tower room, she meets Madame Raphael, who warns Saskia that Muzz Elliott holds séances. Of course, she says that Muzz Elliott thinks she is talking to the dead, but really she is just talking to the others in the room. Madame Raphael warns that these séances are dangerous. Muzz Elliott invites Madame Petrusa to lead the séance, and she supposedly channels someone named Oscar. Madame Petrusa is raised off her seat and things in the room move, but Saskia notices that all the strange occurrences are being performed with trick wires. At Muzz Elliott's house, everything that seemed to be performed by a spirit was a hoax, except for Madame Raphael.



Profanity/Graphic Violence


The author says that the chauffeur curses and threatens, but no actual words are given. Sadie is set on vengeance against Charlotte Grimdyke. The twins throw hardboiled eggs at people and the dog of the headmistress. When Saskia is taken to her new home, Sadie feels as if she has been "cleaved" in half. Muzz Elliott's chauffeur, Brummagen, uses the car to spray a bicycle peddler with gravel, which causes the man on the bicycle to tumble off the road. Brummagen justifies his actions because the peddler sold Muzz Elliott a tomato and said it was an apple. Brummagen hits a swan with the car, and he is going to give it to the cook. When dared, Sadie sets the headmistress's desk on fire and lies that she didn't do it. Sadie is attached to a drying rack in Miss Rimmer's office and suspended four feet above the ground so the headmistress can search her pockets for matches. Miss Rimmer's dog bites the heel of Sadie's shoe when she is suspended in mid-air. When Saskia looks at a picture of Lord Trevellyn standing over a wild donkey, she imagines animals peacefully grazing until crazy colonists blow them to bits. Because of the fire she started, Sadie is locked in the tower without food and water. Sadie accidentally attacks Eric when he enters the tower room to help her. Sadie gets revenge on Charlotte Grimdyke by pouring salt in her water. Potemkin, a magician the children find, tells how he shot a chicken in the air that he intended to blow up. Unfortunately his assistant took a bite out of it in mid-air before the explosion. The incident ended Potemkin's career as a magician. Potemkin tries to electrocute, then guillotine, Sadie and Erik, as part of one of his magic tricks. Cicely, Muzz Elliott's twin sister, tries to poison Muzz Elliot and drown Saskia in a pond. The back of the police van explodes when Sadie, Eric and Potemkin are in it, which allows them to escape. Cicely and her daughter intend to kill Muzz Elliott's chauffeur after he has murdered Muzz Elliott and Saskia. Saskia knocks Cicely's daughter unconscious. Erik knocks Potemkin unconscious with a fence post. Muzz Elliott and Saskia are tied in linen bags, and it's assumed that they will be buried alive. The actual cause of their death, once drowning Saskia in the pond and giving Muzz Elliott poison is ruled out, is not mentioned. The chauffeur shoots an elephant gun at Erik, who is standing a few feet away from him, but the shot misses. The chauffeur suffers a nonfatal electrocution when the shovel that he is about to kill Erik with is caught in electrical wires above his head.



Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality


None



Awards


Unknown



Discussion Topics


If your children have read this book or someone has read it to them, consider these discussion topics:

Note:
Many large and small violent actions take place in this story, but no one seems to be held accountable for or hurt by them. Consequences come as a result of external actions and people's agendas. For example, Sadie sets fire to Miss Rimmer's desk. Miss Rimmer reacts by hanging Sadie on a clothes rack, searching her for the matches, locking Sadie in a tower without food and water, and calling the police. Right and wrong is not explored, nor are the consequences for right and wrong differentiated.


Book reviews cover the content, themes and worldviews of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. A book's inclusion does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.


Flight of the Phoenix

A book review for parents

This fantasy book is the first in the "Nathaniel Fludd, Beastologist" series by R.L. LaFevers and is published by Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.

Flight of the Phoenix is written for kids ages 7 to 11 years. The age range reflects readability and not necessarily content appropriateness.



Plot Summary


When 10-year-old Nathaniel Fludd's adventurous parents are proclaimed dead in 1928, he's sent to live with Aunt Philomena (Phil), a beastologist. He learns from her talking dodo that Aunt Phil studies and helps endangered and mythical creatures. Aunt Phil takes Nate to Arabia (now known as the Arabian Peninsula) in her ancient two-seater plane. There, they must oversee the birth of a phoenix, a phenomenon that only happens once every 500 years. En route to Arabia, Nate pulls a gremlin named Greasle from the place in between where the propeller meets the plane. Aunt Phil tells him to throw the nasty thing overboard, but Nate keeps her. When Aunt Phil is captured by Bedouin, a nomadic tribe, Nate and Greasle must ensure that the phoenix emerges from the fire they've built. Once they've seen to the phoenix, Nate and Greasle sneak into the Bedouin camp to rescue Aunt Phil. They try to frighten the Bedouin by claiming that Greasle is capable of causing them misfortune. Greasle inadvertently finds oil, and Aunt Phil tells the Bedouin how much it's worth. The Bedouin set the group free, and Aunt Phil promises to begin Nate's formal adventure training at once.



Christian Beliefs


None



Authority Roles


Nate's parents, like all Fludds, were adventurers. They took off and left him with a caretaker, promising to send for him when he was 8 and his sense of adventure had developed. Miss Lumpton, the caretaker, tells Nate that asking questions is one of his biggest flaws. She despairs when the Fludd parents are proclaimed dead. When she learns she has inherited a "tidy sum," she promptly and joyfully disappears. Aunt Phil gently pushes Nate to help him act bravely and develop his sense of adventure. She has him fix a plane while it is in flight, and leaves him to care for the phoenix when nomads capture her. She presents him with a Fludd family compass when he demonstrates cleverness and growth.



Other Belief Systems


As beastologists, Aunt Phil and Nate hunt for creatures that are sometimes considered mythical and magical. Greasle calls Aunt Phil a witch when she becomes angry, not because she practices any type of witchcraft. Aunt Phil's Book of Beasts elaborates on the phoenix. It says if a sick or injured man hears the phoenix's song or gets a pinch of ash from the phoenix's fire, he'll be healed. Drinking phoenix tears leads to eternal life. Phoenix feathers possess unknown magical properties. After the phoenix finishes his nest, he gathers twigs and ash into an egg and carries it to the temple of the sun god as an offering. The Arabians believe in jinnis, elemental spirits that can be controlled by sorcerers and told to do bad things.



Profanity/Graphic Violence


None



Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality


None



Awards


Great Stone Face Children's Book Award, 2010-11



Discussion Topics


If your children have read this book or someone has read it to them, consider these discussion topics:

Note:
Lying: Nate lies to Aunt Phil to keep Greasle out of trouble. He and Greasle also convince various Arabians that Greasle is a jinni, a creature whose powers they fear. Aunt Phil tells the Bedouin she is alone so they won't discover and capture Nate.


Book reviews cover the content, themes and worldviews of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. A book's inclusion does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.


Flip Flop

A book review for parents

This second teen chick-lit, Christian book in the "Real TV" series by Wendy Lawton is published by Moody Publishers.

Flip Flop is written for kids ages 14 to 16. This age range reflects readability and not necessarily content appropriateness.



Plot Summary


Briana Harris loves hanging out at her best friend Channing "Chickie" Wells' house. Chickie's fun-loving Christian family treats Briana like one of them. They make it easy for her to escape her troubled home. Chickie manages to get herself and Briana on their favorite reality show, Flip Flop, where each week, two best friends redecorate each other's bedrooms. Briana prays that she can enjoy the excitement of the makeover and a TV crew in her house for several days without anyone learning about her father's alcoholism. With the help of Chickie's cute brother (Sebastian) and one of the show's decorators (Petra), Briana discovers that God may have planned all this to bring her stressful secrets into the light.



Christian Beliefs


Church, mealtime prayers and spiritual searching are an integral part of the Wells family's life. Because of their example, Briana began attending their community church. Briana loves the serenity prayer, but spends much of her time realizing that she must let God have control over her circumstances. Chickie suggests that she and Briana pray before they go on camera for the bedroom makeovers; she asks that their actions will exemplify Him. Petra, the designer with whom Briana works, subtly shares the salvation message as she tells Briana about her own conversion.



Authority Roles


Chickie's parents treat Briana like a family member; they share in the Flip Flop excitement by catering wonderful meals for the TV crew, and they behave warmly toward Briana's parents, with whom they've had little interaction despite their daughters' close friendship. Initially, Briana's mom's example is one of pretending the family has no problems; she remembers the husband she knew and loved before alcoholism overtook him. Briana's father holds a respectable job and travels often. He never becomes violent when he drinks, but his rants often keep the family up all night. Petra opens up to Briana about her dysfunctional past and spiritual quest, encouraging Briana to hang on to God and not hide her pain.



Other Belief Systems


Petra says that before finding Christ, she investigated a number of other paths to spiritual enlightenment.



Profanity/Graphic Violence


None



Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality


None



Awards


Unknown



Discussion Topics


If your children have read this book or someone has read it to them, consider these discussion topics:


Book reviews cover the content, themes and worldviews of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. A book's inclusion does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.


Frindle

A book review for parents

This drama by Andrew Clements is published by Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing.

Frindle is written for kids ages 8 to 12. The age range reflects readability and not necessarily content appropriateness.

Plot Summary


Like most new fifth-graders, Nick Allen fears language arts with Mrs. Granger. She is a small woman with piercing eyes who loves the dictionary and doesn't take kindly to Nick's creative homework-avoidance techniques. When Mrs. Granger points out that words acquire meaning because people agree upon that meaning, Nick has a brilliant idea: Along with a group of friends, he begins calling pens frindles. Soon, the whole town — and then the whole country — learns about the word war Nick is waging with his seemingly disgruntled teacher. Years later, when Nick is in college, Mrs. Granger sends him the first dictionary bearing the word frindle and admits she was on his side all along.



Christian Beliefs


None



Authority Roles


Nick's parents do their best to walk the fine line between supporting their son's creative endeavors and demonstrating respect for school authority. Although they feel the administration is overreacting to his use of the word frindle, they still urge Nick not to be disrespectful. Mrs. Granger seems upset by the frenzy caused by Nick's invented word. She even makes students stay after school for using it. As she later reveals to Nick, she is proud of his willingness to test the theories about word origins he learned in her class. She says she played the villain to make the situation more interesting.



Other Belief Systems


None



Profanity/Graphic Violence


None



Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality


None



Awards


This book has won numerous awards, including the Christopher Award for Children's Books, 1997; Massachusetts Children's Book Award, 1999; and the Pacific Northwest Library Association Young Reader's Choice Award, 1999.



Discussion Topics


If your children have read this book or someone has read it to them, consider these discussion topics:


Book reviews cover the content, themes and worldviews of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. A book's inclusion does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.


The Frontiersman's Daughter

A book review for parents

the frontiersmans daughterThis Christian historical romance book is by Laura Frantz and is published by Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

The Frontiersman's Daughter is not age-level ranked. It has been marketed for adults and mature young adults ages 16 and above.



Plot Summary


Lael Click is the daughter of a famous Kentucky frontiersman, Ezekial Click. The reader first meets her as a spunky 13-year-old girl standing her ground with several Shawnee Indians who have come to her family's secluded cabin. Over time, she grows into an even more independent young woman of 21 — living on her own and finding love. Her three suitors are each rugged and interesting in their own ways. Simon Hayes is the feisty, redhead brother to Lael's best friend, Suzanne. Captain Jack is a Shawnee Indian who was kidnapped as a white child by the Shawnee and now better relates to the Indian culture. And finally, there is the Scottish doctor Ian Justus, a recent immigrant to Kentucky. Each plays a big part in the different stages of Lael's story. Simon captivates her as a young teen, but Lael's father does not approve of Simon and ships Lael off to finishing school in Virginia to squelch the budding romance. Captain Jack is captivated by Lael as a 13-year-old beauty, but doesn't become a serious contender for Lael's affections until she returns to Kentucky from school after her father's death. However, cultural differences, as well as the many Indian wars in the region, keep their mutual attraction to a steamy swim in the creek. Ian Justus, the doctor and Scottish Lord, wins Lael's affections and is able to lead her to a saving faith in Jesus.



Christian Beliefs


Several characters love and cherish their relationships with the Lord. Ma Horn, the old herbal healer, spouts Scripture and is often found reading her Bible and praying. Ezekial Click, Lael's father, was raised a Quaker. Ransom, Lael's younger brother, comes to a faith in Jesus as a young teenager and speaks to Lael of his conversion. Lael's friend Suzanna and her husband, Will, are believers. Ian Justus is a Christian; he often prays, reads his Bible, witnesses and is known for his Christian beliefs, one of which is refusing to marry or court anyone who is not a Christian. Prayer brings healing to a young girl. Lael reads the Bible she inherits from her Uncle Neddy and prays for God's guidance and forgiveness. She eventually does give her life and love to the Lord. The children are taught to follow biblical truths, including kindness to others, truthfulness, temperance and love.



Authority Roles


Lael's father is the family head and strictly obeyed. Lael's mother is seen as weak and unable to control her young headstrong daughter, yet is still respected as an authority. Colonel Barr, the top man at the fort, has strict military control over Fort Click and is seen as a community leader. Lael learns to follow the rules at Briar Hill, the finishing school where she is sent. She obeys her father and stays at the school.



Other Belief Systems


The Shawnee religion is mentioned but never explained. Many at the fort and many settlers are either thought to be or known as unbelievers and live worldly lives.



Profanity/Graphic Violence


There are numerous instances of graphic violence, especially between the Indians in the area and the settlers: Pa was kidnapped by the Shawnee and lived with them for several years. Indians massacre the Cane family. Only one daughter, Piper, escapes, but she is bloody and traumatized. Hugh McClary shoots Pa in the thigh. There is an Indian attack on Fort Click. Many people die from gunshot wounds or arrows. One man dies from a tomahawk to the head, which cuts off a good portion of his face and skull. There are several accounts of Indian attacks and deaths of settlers, typically found with arrows sticking out of various parts of their bodies. Lael helps Ma Horn dig lead shots out of several wounds. There is an instance of child abuse when a widow's male visitor, Hero McClary, arrives drunk to her cabin and physically pummels her son, Titus. It is inferred that the same man raped this woman, as she is later with child. Lael finds Hero's camp and shoots a hole in his still. Hero burns down Lael's barn. It is inferred that Captain Jack retaliates for an Indian death and Lael's barn by killing both Hero and his brother Hugh with arrows. There is a fistfight, of which we are only told of the bloody, face-altering results, between Ian and Simon, presumably over Lael. There is a smallpox outbreak where many people die. Some of the descriptions of those affected are quite graphic in nature.



Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality


Lael's mother, believing her husband, Ezekial, is dead (when he has really been kidnapped and is living with the Shawnee) runs off with Ezekial's brother, Neddy. That results in the birth of Lael's brother, Ransom. Simon and Lael share a nighttime boat ride that excites romantic feelings in both of them. Captain Jack and Lael enjoy a swim together in the creek. Both are scantily clad. They kiss passionately several times. Ian and Lael share a passionate kiss when they both declare their love for each other and agree to marry.



Awards


Unknown



Discussion Topics


If your children have read this book or someone has read it to them, consider these discussion topics:

Note:
The theme of Christian redemption is strong throughout the book, however the frequent and graphic episodes of violence have more emphasis than Lael's conversion.

Book reviews cover the content, themes and worldviews of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. A book's inclusion does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.