Focus on the Family


Kate and the Spies

A book review for parents

This sixth historical fiction book in the "Sisters in Time" series by Joann A. Grote is published by Barbour Publishing, Inc.

Kate and the Spies is written for kids ages 9 to 12. The age range reflects readability and not necessarily content appropriateness.



Plot Summary


Eleven-year-old Kate and her 13-year-old cousin, Colin, witness the Boston Tea Party. Kate's parents are Loyalists, while Colin's are Patriots. After the Boston Harbor closes, the people of Boston go through difficult times, and Kate and Colin choose to help the Patriot cause by carrying messages and spying on Loyalists. Conflict arises between the two families but Kate and Colin manage to remain friends. Colin even apprentices for Kate's father. As they watch the events unfold that eventually lead to the Revolutionary War, the children realize how important life is and resolve to learn as much as they can in order to save the lives of others.



Christian Beliefs


Both families portrayed in this book have strong, Christian beliefs in spite of their political differences. They pray for peace and God's wisdom, and they trust God to help them in the middle of their circumstances. Later, when Dr. Milton learns that Uncle Jack and Harry are going to be arrested for treason, he warns them and offers his help. Dr. Milton and Uncle Jack have not spoken to each other in six months because of their strong disagreements on political issues. Dr. Milton is willing to swallow his pride. Uncle Jack knows he can't accept his brother-in-law's help without putting him in danger, but he appreciates the offer. They ask each other for forgiveness and pray for peace for their country, for King George and for the Patriots. They know that both sides need God's help. As the war begins, Kate, asks God to show her His will for her life. She wants to be useful in God's eyes.



Authority Roles


Dr. Milton and Uncle Jack are godly role models. They strongly believe in their own views but also try to show the children how to live honest, moral, godly lives. They both try to do what is right in every situation. Dr. Milton also exemplifies compassion when he realizes Jack and Harry are in trouble. He swallows his pride and offers his help. He and Jack have not spoken in six months but both are willing to put aside their own ideas and pray together for God's will and peace. Dr. Milton is a good role model as a doctor. He does not care who is hurt or whether they agree with him on political issues. He helps their bodies heal. Lieutenant Rand, on the other hand, is a negative role model. He acts as though he is better than those around him. He is demeaning and suspicious when he talks to Kate and Colin on the common. He accuses them of trying to steal his horse, even though they are merely looking at it. He treats them like the enemy. When he is quartered at Uncle Jack's home, he insults the family by asking for items he knows they do not have. Later, when he is in Dr. Milton's library, he orders Colin and Kate around as if they are his personal slaves. He does not see them as real people.



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.


Kathleen's Abiding Hope

A book review for parents

This third historical fiction book in the "Life of Faith: Kathleen McKenzie" series by Tracy Leininger Craven is published by Zonderkidz.

Kathleen's Abiding Hope is written for kids ages 8 to 12. The age range reflects readability and not necessarily content appropriateness.



Plot Summary


Kathleen McKenzie waits anxiously for news of her friend Lucy as she and Papa drive from Stonehaven, the family farm, to Fort Wayne. Papa is going back to the city to apply for a job, and 12-year-old Kathleen hopes to visit her sick friend whom she has not seen in months. After a delay caused by the theft and return of their car, they arrive in Fort Wayne where Kathleen visits Lucy. Papa does not get the job he is seeking, so the family remains on the farm, continuing to trust in God's provision. As Easter morning dawns, Kathleen and her cousin, Lindsey, inadvertently witness a mysterious and frightening ceremony in the woods that will threaten Kathleen’s new neighbors.



Christian Beliefs


The McKenzie family is composed of strong believers who pray, read the Bible regularly and discuss their faith with each other. Kathleen relies on God to guide her in difficult situations.



Authority Roles


Kathleen’s father, Uncle John and Grandpa McKenzie are strong, gentle, godly men who lead their families using Christian principles and love. Their wives and children respect the men as leaders of the household.



Other Belief Systems


None



Profanity/Graphic Violence


None



Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality


Kathleen’s cousin, Lindsey, clearly likes a young man in town, and Kathleen teases her about looking pretty for him. Lindsey states that she will not be interested in boys until she is 16 years old, which is courting age.



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.


Kathleen's Enduring Faith

A book review for parents

This fourth historical fiction book in the "A Life of Faith: Kathleen McKenzie" series by Tracy Leininger Craven is published by Zonderkidz.

Kathleen's Enduring Faith is written for kids ages 8 to 12. The age range reflects readability and not necessarily content appropriateness.



Plot Summary


As the hot, dry summer of 1930 drags on, the McKenzie clan looks for rain to ease the drought. Kathleen, her brother Richard, Papa and Mama are living on her uncle's farm until Papa can find a new job in a depressed economy. Kathleen, her cousin Lindsay and her visiting friend Lucy try to ease the burden by spring-cleaning, with amusing and messy results. One terrible evening, members of the Ku Klux Klan set fire to a neighbor's fields as a part of their hate campaign. The McKenzie barn also burns, and in the confusion, one of the characters is caught under a falling beam and dies. Kathleen pulls her younger cousin, Robby, to safety, but he is seriously injured and may never walk again. Kathleen learns to trust God even under dire circumstances.



Christian Beliefs


The McKenzie family members are Christians. They pray, read the Bible regularly and discuss their faith with each other. Kathleen relies on God to guide her in her daily circumstances.



Authority Roles


Kathleen's father, Uncle John and Grandpa McKenzie are strong, gentle, godly men who lead their families in a way that is based on Christian principles and in their love for others. Their wives and children respect these men.



Other Belief Systems


None



Profanity/Graphic Violence


Members of the Ku Klux Klan set fire to a field. In the ensuing barn fire, one character is pinned under a beam and dies. The description is realistic but not graphic.



Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality


Lindsay and the pastor's son like each other, but neither intends to pursue a relationship until they are old enough to court.



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.


Kathleen's Shaken Dreams

A book review for parents

This first historical fiction book in the "Life of Faith: Kathleen McKenzie" series by Tracy Leininger Craven is published by Zonderkidz.

Kathleen's Shaken Dreams is written for kids ages 8 to 12. The age range reflects readability and not necessarily content appropriateness.



Plot Summary


The McKenzie family lives a comfortable life in Fort Wayne, Ind., during the 1920s. After 11-year-old Kathleen is injured in a foot race, she meets Lucy. The two friends enjoy companionship in their tree house and at school. Kathleen learns lessons of humility and gratitude when she competes in spelling bees and sees her friend through illness. Their life is disrupted by the stock market crash in October 1929, which eventually causes Mr. McKenzie to lose his job. The family trusts in God's provision, as they must decide how to survive in difficult times.



Christian Beliefs


The McKenzie family members are strong believers, going regularly to church and praying at home. Kathleen prays for guidance and believes the promises of the Bible verses she calls to mind in her daily activities.



Authority Roles


Kathleen's father is a strong, gentle, godly man who leads his family using Christian principles and love. Kathleen apologizes to her parents for refusing their advice about performing on an unfamiliar instrument for a church function. Kathleen respects her teachers and parent's friends.



Other Belief Systems


None



Profanity/Graphic Violence


None



Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality


Kathleen is embarrassed around her classmate, Freddy, and there is a rumor that he has a crush on her. They remain friends throughout the book.



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.


Kathleen's Unforgettable Winter

A book review for parents

This second historical fiction book in the "Life of Faith: Kathleen McKenzie" series by Tracy Leininger Craven is published by Zonderkidz.

Kathleen's Unforgettable Winter is written for kids ages 8 to 12. The age range reflects readability and not necessarily content appropriateness.



Plot Summary


Kathleen McKenzie and her family are moving from their home in the city to the family farm because Papa has lost his job in the stock market crash of 1929. As 12-year-old Kathleen nervously attempts to fit into rustic farm life with all its chores and challenges, she also struggles to make friends with her cousin, Lindsay. On her first hunting trip, Kathleen mistakenly shoots a neighbor's dog, and the family tries to nurse the dog back to health. As a blizzard rages outside the cozy farmhouse, Kathleen learns from her Grandma Maggie's life story about trusting in God's plan even through hardship.



Christian Beliefs


The McKenzie family members are strong believers. They regularly pray and read the Bible and discuss their faith with each other. Kathleen relies on God to guide her in difficult situations.



Authority Roles


Kathleen's father, Uncle John and Grandpa McKenzie are strong, gentle, godly men who lead their families using Christian principles and love.



Other Belief Systems


None



Profanity/Graphic Violence


Although a dog is shot, the incident is not graphic in nature.



Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality


Kathleen receives a letter from her classmate, Freddie, and is embarrassed by the implication that they may be more than friends. She voices her decision not to have a beau until she is old enough to consider marriage.



Awards


None



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.


Katy's New World

A book review for parents

This Christian coming-of-age book is the first book in the "Katy Lambright" series by Kim Vogel Sawyer and is published by Zondervan.

Katy's New World is written for kids ages 13 to 16. The age range reflects readability and not necessarily content appropriateness.



Plot Summary


Katy Lambright receives permission from the deacons of her Mennonite sect to depart from tradition and attend a nearby public high school. Katy becomes friends with a girl named Shelby, and although Katy considers Shelby and her family to be worldly, she quickly discovers that their religious beliefs are quite similar to her own. Katy's closest Mennonite friend, Annika, is jealous of Katy's relationship with Shelby. Others in the Mennonite community begin to question Katy's dedication to their faith because she spends more time with people outside of their sect than she does with people within it.

Katy struggles to find a sense of belonging and wonders if she is compromising her beliefs by attending high school. Katy's grandmother Ruthie encourages Katy to follow the Lord's leading and to choose wisely. But when Jewel, a foster teen staying with Shelby's family, asks Katy to skip school with her, Katy agrees to ditch it with Jewel out of curiosity. Because of this, Katy's father is worried that he won't be able to trust Katy, but Katy proves to him that she has learned from her mistake. As time goes on, Katy becomes more comfortable with showing her faith and her convictions to both those within and outside of the Mennonite sect.



Christian Beliefs


Katy belongs to a conservative Mennonite sect. Her family's faith in God is an obvious part of their daily lives, often shown through times of prayer and devotions, and Katy strives to maintain her close walk with the Lord. Shelby's father, Rev. Nuss, is a Southern Baptist minister, and he expects his children to follow the teachings of Scripture. Shelby participates in a Bible study held at the high school, and Katy's father eventually gives Katy permission to join this group.



Authority Roles


Katy's father, Samuel, is a single dad, and he sometimes struggles with knowing how to interact with his daughter. While Katy finds him overprotective at times, he does his best to ensure her well-being, and he hopes to impart an unshakable faith in God to her. At the same time, he doesn't allow his own fears about things outside of his control to keep Katy from pursuing her desire to further her education.

Samuel's parents, Ben and Ruthie, are loving and involved grandparents to Katy. Katy feels comfortable going to Ruthie with her concerns, and both Ben and Ruthie seek to support Katy with their prayers.

Ms. Hamilton, Jewel's mother, is permissive, allowing her daughter to make her own choices without guidance or direction.



Other Belief Systems


None



Profanity/Graphic Violence


None



Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality


At a corn-shucking party, Caleb, a Mennonite boy, is given an ear of red corn, which entitles him to kiss the girl of his choice. Caleb approaches Katy, but she runs away before he can kiss her.

Ms. Hamilton's live-in boyfriend, Hugo, is described as having a problem with keeping his hands to himself, and the family's social worker will not let Jewel return home until Hugo is gone.



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.


Kingdom's Dawn

A book review for parents

This first Christian, medieval fantasy, allegory book in the "The Kingdom" series by Chuck Black is published by Multnomah Kidz.

Kingdom's Dawn is written for kids ages 10 to 14. The age range reflects readability and not necessarily content appropriateness.



Plot Summary


Leinad's father teaches him how to farm and trains him in the use of the sword. After witnessing his father's murder and then saving his adopted sister from death by the hand of Lucius and his Dark Knights, Leinad realizes that his life's purpose rests with the King of Arrethtrae. He and his sister flee creatures that eat all living things, are saved by the prince and find work at a farm. They enjoy their new life until a farm overseer sells Leinad as a slave to Fairos. His sister eventually becomes a slave, also. Because Leinad teaches Fairos' ranks to be swordsmen, Leinad is raised to power, but when he stops one of Fairos' men from beating an older slave, Leinad is staked in the desert to be eaten by the Moshi Beasts. Leinad escapes the creatures and finds a desert oasis where the the King of Arrethtrae appears and teaches him more about using his sword. In the end, the king knights Leinad and asks him to free the slaves under Fairos. Leinad accepts.



Christian Beliefs


Leinad's father, Peyton, symbolizes Adam. The king makes Peyton caretaker over Arrethtrae. Peyton has two sons, one honors the king and the other doesn't. The latter murders his brother, similar to the Cain and Abel story. Gabrik, one of the king's silent warriors, warns Leinad to tell the people of his town to flee or be destroyed by a wave of life-eating creatures, which mimics the Flood story. When the people don't listen to the king's message through Leinad, only Leinad and his sister survive. Eventually, Leinad finds himself enslaved under Fairos' rule, which has similarities to Moses' story. Leinad grows in Fairos' favor until he moves against one of Fairos' men. Leinad then must live in the desert where he learns more about the king and meets him in a miraculous way. By the end of the book, Leinad knows he must go back and free Fairos' slaves in the name of the king.



Authority Roles


The King of Arrethtrae is intimidating yet understanding. He is concerned with each person in the kingdom and is the commander over the war between his forces and those under Lucius. Leinad's father is gentle but firm in his teachings of sword fighting, of loyalty to the king and of building good character. Master Stanton is a farmer who is fair but expects his people to work hard. Fairos abuses his power. He enslaves people to make his castle bigger. Leinad takes responsibility for his sister, Tess, after their father's death.



Other Belief Systems


Lucius and the Dark Knights believe they can beat the King of Arrethtrae.



Profanity/Graphic Violence


The book mentions that a character swears; however, it does not specify the word. At a wedding, there is a small reference to drinking, and throughout there are references to sword-fighting and whippings. Leinad feels a warm trickle of blood down his back, and he gets a knee to the back of the head. Leinad cuts a man on his side, which bleeds, and then Leinad runs through the forest, which causes his feet to bleed. A commander plunges his sword into Peyton's torso, however there is no graphic detail about the wound. A swarm of creatures destroy the countryside, eat the people of a town and devour Leinad's horse. The creatures start to chew Leinad's feet. A man is executed for trying to escape Fairos, but no detail is given. In a fight against Fairos, one man receives a sword to the chest, and another is stabbed in the shoulder and screams in pain. Leinad's whipping wounds are described as separating when he moves a certain way. Later, a Moshi Beast, a large squirrel-like creature, arrives in the desert where Leinad is staked to the ground and left for dead. The beast is carnivorous and starts to eat him.



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.


Kingdom's Quest

A book review for parents

This medieval fantasy and allegory is the fifth book in "The Kingdom" series by Chuck Black and is published by Multnomah, a division of Waterbrook.

Kingdom's Quest is written for kids ages 10 to 14. The age range reflects readability and not necessarily content appropriateness.



Plot Summary


Sir Gavinaugh is a knight who used to follow wicked Lucius but was saved by the Prince's sacrifice. Now the Prince has bestowed a quest upon Gavinaugh to carry a message of grace to the ends of the kingdom and to train up more followers of the Prince to defeat the Dark Knight's warriors of evil.

When Gavinaugh discovers Keanna at a slave auction in Santiok, she is bitter and hateful toward him because he killed her parents years before. Over time, Keanna lets go of her hatred for him. Gavinaugh gradually falls in love with Keanna, but he will not act on his love until he is sure that she loves the Prince. After a Shadow Warrior takes Keanna, Gavinaugh fights a fire-breathing dragon to get her back.

Gavinaugh chooses to fight in the Tournament of Lords to honor the Unknown Lord. History holds that no knight fighting for the Unknown Lord has ever made it past the first round, but with the Prince's power, Gavinaugh wins the tournament. He then places a royal robe on Keanna's shoulders

Gavinaugh later gives himself up to the Noble Knights to save a friend's life. The Noble Knights do not want Gavinaugh to be exalted in his death as the Prince had been exalted in His, so they exile Gavinaugh to Namor by way of Captain Dante's ship, the Raven.

The Raven ends up on the Isles of Melogne; the crewmembers fear the Isles are haunted because no one who goes in ever comes out. The natives of the Isles welcome Gavinaugh and explain that Lucius' warrior Lord Malthos has enslaved their people in his fortress. However, the menacing Malthos becomes paralyzed when Gavinaugh speaks the name of the Prince, and Gavinaugh defeats Malthos.



Christian Beliefs


Like the apostle Paul's conversion, Gavin was renewed and renamed Gavinaugh and now lives to serve the Prince. Gavinaugh travels from town to town telling the story of a Prince who died on a tree and rose again to save all men, painting a picture of Christ's sacrifice. On his journey, Gavinaugh continually fights the Noble Knights and Shadow Warriors of the Dark Knight Lucius, who represents Satan. Lucius does not want the Prince's message to be proclaimed or for people to follow the Prince.

When Gavinaugh places the royal robe on Keanna's shoulders, he tells her that everyone who accepts the Prince becomes royalty in the Prince's kingdom, which parallels the rewards Christ's followers will reap in heaven.

Malthos becomes paralyzed when Gavinaugh speaks the name of the Prince, implying that the Devil cowers at the name of Jesus. Gavinaugh defeats Malthos because the Prince's power overcomes wickedness, mirroring Christ's triumph over Satan in Jesus' death and resurrection.



Authority Roles


Gavinaugh serves the Prince faithfully and risks his life to spread the Prince's message to the kingdom. Knights fight in the tournament to honor the great lords and to earn nobility. However, Gavinaugh dismounts his horse before the final duel of the tournament, as he believes it is wrong to praise a man other than the Prince.



Other Belief Systems


Shipmates of the Raven believe the Isles of Melogne are haunted. The Tempests are believed to be evil warriors of the sea.



Profanity/Graphic Violence


Shadow Warriors and Noble Knights of Lucius often swear in battle, although the words are not mentioned. Sword fighting is described through a series of cuts and slices. In the Tournament of Lords, a knight must kill or physically disable his opponent to advance to the next round. Gavinaugh defeats knight after knight in the tournament but does not kill any of them because he follows the Prince. Gavinaugh and his horse, Triumph, foil a Noble Knight's attempt to hang a man. The Noble Knights beat Gavinaugh brutally and throw him into prison, bruised and bleeding. Captain Dante unlocks Gavinaugh's chains aboard the Raven and says he will slit Gavinaugh's throat with his own sword if he tries to escape. Lord Malthos, who rules over the Isles of Melogne, threatens to cut Gavinaugh's heart out and feed it to the dogs. On one of the Isles of Melogne, a strangler vine grabs Gavinaugh and slashes at him with its prickly tree arms. In the dragon's lair, Keanna thrusts a knife into a Shadow Warrior's back to save Gavinaugh. Gavinaugh then pierces the dragon's heart to save himself and Keanna.



Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality


Keanna kisses Gavinaugh's cheek after she discovers the love of the Prince. She kisses him again briefly before the knights take him away to receive treatment for his wounds inflicted by the dragon Tarmuwth.



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.


Kira-Kira

A book review for parents

This historical fiction, slice-of-life book by Cynthia Kadohata is published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing Division and is written for kids ages 10 to 14. The age range reflects readability and not necessarily content appropriateness.



Plot Summary


Katie loves her big sister, Lynn, who sees even ordinary things in the world as kira-kira, a Japanese word for glittering. Born in the U.S. to Japanese parents, the girls face prejudices at school and watch their parents endure hardships to make ends meet in a predominantly white culture. When Lynn gets sick, the parents scrape every dime together to buy the house Lynn has always dreamed of. As a preteen, Katie finds herself acting as caregiver for her little brother and dying sister while her parents work long hours at chicken processing plants. Lynn's ultimate death brings out a range of difficult emotions for the family, but as they begin to heal, they take a trip to California — a place where Lynn always wanted to live — in her honor.



Christian Beliefs


Lynn tells Katie that her spirit is the invisible part of her.



Authority Roles


Katie depicts her parents as extremely loving of their kids and of each other, which makes her feel safe. They resolutely instill values such as truth and honor into their kids and make every decision based on what they feel best serves the family. The wisdom of the parents' choices may be debatable, since they work long hours. This leaves them exhausted and forces the children to fend for themselves and miss school on many occasions. Uncle Katsuhisa is a slightly eccentric man who helps Katie's family move to Georgia from Iowa. He chews tobacco and teaches the girls to spit. He provides comfort for Katie at Lynn's funeral. Compassionate, thoughtful Lynn takes care of her little sister and is usually the one to tell her the hard facts of life. Katie sleeps with her baby brother sometimes so the oni (ogres who guard the gates of hell) won't take him in the night.



Other Belief Systems


The girls believe in a number of fantastic ideas such as a magic world, the possibility of creatures from outer space and the existence of Brenda, the ghost of a little girl who supposedly died in Brenda Swamp. Katie also suspects her mother can read her mind, so sometimes she thinks nonsense thoughts to throw Mom off. Uncle Katsuhisa tells Katie some Buddhists believe a person's spirit leaves earth 49 days after the body dies. On the 49th day after Lynn's death, Katie sees a falling leaf that she believes is a sign from her sister. The author paints a bleak picture of the chicken factories without unionization. In the end, even Katie's previously passive parents stand up for the union.



Profanity/Graphic Violence


The words darn, b---ch, godd---n and a variation of s--- each appear once or twice.



Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality


While the family is camping, Katie's aunt and uncle retreat to their tent during the day “to make a baby,” according to their young son. This prompts Katie to mention the time she heard her parents through the door trying to make a baby. She says it must have been a lot of work in light of all the grunting. Katie imagines being locked in the bathroom with a boy she likes and having to sleep with him in the bathtub (nothing sexual is implied).



Awards


Newbery Medal Winner 2005; ALA Notable Children's Books 2005; Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature, 2004-2005; and others.



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.


Kristy's Great Idea

A book review for parents

This tween chick-lit book is the first in "The Baby-Sitters Club" series by Ann M. Martin and is published by Scholastic Inc.

Kristy's Great Idea is written for kids ages 9 to 12. The age range reflects readability and not necessarily content appropriateness.



Plot Summary


After Kristy Thomas' mother has to make multiple phone calls to find an available baby-sitter for Kristy's younger brother, Kristy decides to start a baby-sitters club. The club would meet at specific times each week so parents would be able to reach multiple sitters at one time and with one phone number. Kristy asks her good friends Mary Anne Spier and Claudia Kishi to join the group, along with a new girl in school, Stacey McGill. Kristy is thrilled by the club's successful start, but she is not happy when she is the only sitter available to watch the children of her mother's boyfriend, Watson. Although Kristy dislikes Watson simply because she feels he is trying to intrude on her family, she warms up to his kids and later to him after he and her mother become engaged.

Kristy feels compelled to say what's on her mind at all times, and she confronts Stacey at a club meeting about a lie told by Stacey’s mother regarding Stacey's whereabouts. Stacey shares how her parents have been keeping her recent diabetes diagnosis a secret to those outside the family. The girls resolve their issues with one another, and Kristy hopes that the baby-sitters club will stay together for a long time.



Christian Beliefs


None



Authority Roles


Kristy's mother is firm yet loving with her children. She doesn't tolerate Kristy's rude behavior toward Watson; however, she understands that her divorce and possible remarriage are difficult for them. Kristy's father has not had any contact with his children in over a year. Mary Anne's father has set extensive rules for Mary Anne (such as what she can wear, how she can spend her baby-sitting money, etc.), and she is often frustrated because she is not allowed to do some of the things her friends can with their time and money. When Claudia's parents discover she is performing poorly in school, they quickly establish a homework hour to help her better balance her time between schoolwork and her other interests. They also refuse to let her wear make-up to school.



Other Belief Systems


Watson's 5-year-old daughter, Karen, believes their neighbor is a witch and that their cat is under the neighbor's spell.



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:

Note:
Kristy's mother and Watson consume alcohol with a meal.


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.