A book review for parents
This Amish-life book is the first in the "Rachel Yoder" series by Wanda E. Brunstetter and is published by Barbour Publishing.
School's Out is written for kids ages 7 to 10. The age range reflects readability and not necessarily content appropriateness.
Rachel Yoder, a 9-year-old Amish girl, looks forward to celebrating the last day of school with a picnic. Her 11-year-old brother, Jacob, smashes a stinkbug on Rachel's chicken, and a bee stings her. When Rachel goes to the creek to relieve the pain, she falls in the creek. The next day when she follows a mother cat and kittens into a neighbor's underground root cellar, a gust of wind slams the door shut, and Rachel is locked in the cellar until that neighbor eventually finds her. For her birthday, Rachel wants a skateboard and puts one on layaway. Although she works hard, she cannot afford it. Her brother gives her a homemade skateboard, and her older sister gives her another skateboard. At the end of the book, Rachel falls asleep in the buggy, and the new horse runs away with it. Jacob runs after the buggy and is able to grab the horses' bridle and stop him. Rachel learns that her brother loves her, even though he constantly teases her.
The Amish hold church services in homes or schools every other week. The women sit on one side of the church and the men on others.
Rachel is expected to obey her mother and father immediately and without question. Her father works in the fields along with other boys and men, and the mother and daughters do the housework, garden, feed the chickens and gather eggs.
Other Belief Systems
Old Order Amish wear plain clothing. They avoid anything modern such as electricity, automobiles and telephones. They travel by horse and buggy, only renting a driver when they need to go on longer trips.
If your children have read this book or someone has read it to them, consider these discussion topics:
- Why does Rachel's brother Jacob constantly tease her?
How does his teasing make Rachel feel?
Do any of your siblings tease you?
Do you tease any of your siblings?
If you tease someone, does it mean you don't love the person?
What is a better way to treat someone?
- Does Rachel mean to be mischievous?
What are some ways she gets into trouble?
How could she avoid this kind of trouble?
- What does Rachel's mother make her do to the hall after Rachel skateboards on it?
How does this help Rachel learn from her mistake?
Do you think she will ever skateboard there again?
- What other ways do her parents discipline her?
How do we, your parents, help you learn to make good choices?
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.