GrowingForChrist

Faith, Family, Love and Reviews

Kregel Tour: Thick as Thieves (Circle C Milestones Book 1) by Susan K. Marlow


About the Book:

Fourteen-year-old Andrea Carter would rather ride her beloved palomino, Taffy, than do anything else. But life on the Circle C ranch in 1882 is busy. Between school and chores, Andi is left with little time to prepare for Taffy’s first foaling. Then when the event finally arrives, it nearly ends in disaster.

Returning to school keeps Andi hard-pressed to find time for foal training. And she now has a new problem on her hands–Macy Walker, who has been assigned as Andi’s seatmate. The new girl’s crude manners and cruel behavior bring storm clouds into Andi’s life, as does the news that cattle rustlers have moved into the valley.

When the cattle rustlers turn to stealing horses and strike the Carter ranch, Andi’s only hope for recovering her precious colts lies with Macy. Can Andi trust this wild girl? Does she have a choice?

You can purchase a copy at Kregel.

My Opinion:

I’m so glad that Susan has written a new series with an older Andrea because this will appeal to older girls where the younger Andi wouldn’t. In this newest book and beginning of the Circle C Milestones series Andrea is 14 and she has matured, sort of, and is now facing troubles that a lot of 14 year old girls do – issues with friends and/or classmates, butting heads with family members and much more. I read this in one day, it wasn’t a long or terribly hard read and it was thoroughly enjoyable – the suspense also feels ‘older’ it keeps the reader on the edge of their seat without being too much. Andrea is still the girl that we love in the other books – she is quick to act and sometimes slow to think – but she almost always has someone else best interest at heart even if she might get in trouble later.

I will say I don’t have horse loving daughters and we live in the city so while my girls don’t really have much in common with Andrea Carter it’s still a book at least one of them will enjoy reading. Andrea isn’t allowed to get away with bad behavior and her mom and her older brothers keep her in line, and there is plenty of themes of relying on the Lord through the whole book. I like the character of Macy Walker, who is brought up by her rough brothers and told that God isn’t real – it was an eye opener I think for Andrea but as she and her family love on the ‘unlovable’ Macy we see the changes that only God can make. This is a fantastic addition and allows our daughters (and even sons) to follow Andrea from child hood to young woman-hood and only in a way that Susan Marlow could do!

(c) 2015, Sarah Bailey/Growing for Christ, All Rights Reserved, Unauthorized Duplication is a Violation of Applicable Laws

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Zondervan Review: Destination Unknown by Amy Clipston #grow4christ


About the Book:

It’s senior year, and Whitney Richards is tired of the constant pressures to be perfect. When she gets a D in Calculus, her mother immediately hires a tutor, worried Whitney won’t get into the “right” college—her alma mater—with imperfect grades. Her tutor, Taylor, is a quiet, mysterious boy who is unlike anyone Whitney has met before. But Taylor’s rougher upbringing has her mother and friends discouraging any type of relationship. Tired of having to play a part for everyone else, Whitney quits the cheerleading squad that once defined her social identity, and begins spending more time with Taylor. Her mom and friends worry Whitney is making a huge mistake, and even Taylor begins to show concern for some of her choices. But for the first time, Whitney is in the driver’s seat of her life. Will she be able to find her identity—and God’s plan for her life—before she throws everything away?

You can purchase the book at Zondervan or on Amazon.

My Opinion:

This book is the sequel to one titled, Roadside Assistance, which I haven’t read however this book was really good even without having read the prequel to it.  Even though it’s a juvenile Christian fiction book I found myself quickly caught up in Whitney’s world, though I’m 35 I still remember, vividly, the days of parental directions, rules and high school woes.  While I cringed each and every time Whitney back talked her mom, with no consequences, I know that for some this is how teens assert their independence and begin to have a voice (it’s not without it’s consequences when it’s done without respect but as outright rebellion though) but I wished that Whitney’s mom would have taken the time to talk with Whitney and explain her reasons for not wanting her to do certain things.

Whitney’s world comes crashing down as she’s grounded and has to have a tutor to bring up her calculus grade – I can also remember the days of needing a tutor although it wasn’t the end of my world as it seems it is to Whitney.  Enter the tutor, a good looking guy from the wrong side of the tracks, who Whitney falls in love with – yet something else that Whitney and her mom butt heads on and again Whitney’s mom only gives “he’s not good enough” or “because I said so” excuses instead of explaining why she feels this way about Taylor who works hard, gets good grades and cares about his mom and sister.

Like I said I did enjoy this book, there were the typical mom and daughter issues that while realistic drove me bonkers and now I’m having to take another look at the answers I give my children and some of the conversations sound too adult like even between the teens but regardless this was a well written book by a well known author and one that I would feel comfortable giving to my almost 12 year old if she’d like to read it.

This post contains affiliate links, if you click and purchase I will be given some compensation. Thank you.

(c) 2014, Sarah Bailey/Growing for Christ, All Rights Reserved, Unauthorized Duplication is a Violation of Applicable Laws

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Zondervan Review: The Captive Maiden by Melanie Dickerson #grow4christ


About the Book:

Happily Ever After …Or Happily Nevermore?
Gisela’s childhood was filled with laughter and visits from nobles such as the duke and his young son. But since her father’s death, each day has been filled with nothing but servitude to her stepmother. So when Gisela learns the duke’s son, Valten—the boy she has daydreamed about for years—is throwing a ball in hopes of finding a wife, she vows to find a way to attend, even if it’s only for a taste of a life she’ll never have. To her surprise, she catches Valten’s eye. Though he is rough around the edges, Gisela finds Valten has completely captured her heart. But other forces are bent on keeping the two from falling further in love, putting Gisela in more danger than she ever imagined.

You can purchase the book at Zondervan, Amazon and other retailers.

My Opinion:

I read this book in a matter of hours, it had me hooked from the first page – and while it’s listed as a teen or young adult book – I thought it was a wonderful for a cold, snowy day where we were stuck inside.  I thought it was a neat spin on the Cinderella story of old that it was set in the Hegenheim (spelled Hagenheim in the book) region of France and of course with the name change makes it come more to life than just a run of the mill Cinderella story.  Instead of a prince we have Valten who is going to be a Lord of his father’s land but he doesn’t know he long ago captured Gisela’s heart and eye when she was but 7 .

I do admit while I enjoyed the story, I did get slightly bored with the details of the jousting tournaments, but there was enough history woven in that made even that part bearable.  Taking place in the 1400’s was fun since we’ve been sort of enmeshed in that time frame in our history studies in our home school, so some of the historical notes I was familiar with.  Valten and Gisela both hold a faith in Christ, that is often tested, by their surroundings and those whose lives intersect theirs – however it remains and becomes stronger toward the end of the book.

With that said, this is a romance book, Valten and Gisela do kiss but I have no problem telling my 11 year old she can read this book if she wants to.  The kissing is mild and by the time they begin to kiss it’s a known fact the two will be married (sorry if that is a spoiler) so I have no problem with my oldest reading this book as there isn’t much in the way of other physical touching – and with each character having such a strong faith that comes through in how they handle their romance as well.

 

This post contains affiliate links which, if you purchase using those links I will receive compensation.

 

(c) 2013, Sarah Bailey/Growing for Christ, All Rights Reserved, Unauthorized Duplication is a Violation of Applicable Laws

 

 

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FIRST tour: Miracle Girls #4: Love Will Keep Us Together by Anne Dayton and May Vanderbilt


It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old…or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today’s Wild Card authors are:

and the book:

Miracle Girls #4: Love Will Keep Us Together: A Miracle Girls Novel

FaithWords (April 30, 2010)

***Special thanks to Miriam Parker of Hachette Book Group for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



Anne Dayton graduated from Princeton and has her MA in Literature from New York University. She lives in New York City. May Vanderbilt graduated from Baylor University and has an MA in Fiction from Johns Hopkins. She lives in San Francisco. Together, they are the authors of the Miracle Girls books, Emily Ever After, Consider Lily, and The Book of Jane.

Visit the authors’ AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:

The whole world has gone maroon. The bricks are maroon, the dress code is maroon, and even our peppy tour guide’s hair is dyed a deep maroon. –

“Hi, I’m Kiki, and I’m a real student here.” She grins from ear to ear as she walks backward across the giant lawn. “Welcome to the home of the Harvard Crimson.”

Pardon me. The whole world has gone crimson . The parents and prospective students around me press forward, following after our tour guide, but I slowly edge toward the back, hoping the rest of my family doesn’t notice.

The Great McGee Family College Tour is finally winding down, and not a moment too soon. We started off last week at Duke, then drove up to see Johns Hopkins, Penn, Princeton, Columbia, and Yale. This morning we got up early to do MIT, and if I can survive a little longer, we’ll check Harvard off the list and only have Cornell to go. Dad and I talked Mom out of Dartmouth. Way too much snow.

I thought it would be fun to tour colleges, but I didn’t realize everybody was going to ask me the same question again and again: “What do you want to do with your life, Riley?” Or sometimes they stick to, “What’s your passion, Riley?” And I haven’t figured out how to answer them. Somehow, “I have no earthly idea” doesn’t seem to be what they’re looking for.

“We are now entering the famous Harvard Yard.” The group falls silent, almost reverent, and Kiki stops on the other side of the crimson-bricked archway and waits while we file through. As she recaps the history of the university, which involves a bunch of dead white guys—just like every other school, Mom spies me slouching low at the back of the crowd.

“Isn’t this beautiful?” She takes a deep breath and closes her eyes. “I could really see you being happy here, Riley.” I nod because it’s easier than trying to explain. “Did you know the Latin word veritas on the seal”—she holds out a brochure for me—“means truth?” She flips the brochure open and starts paging through photos of students sitting under autumn trees.

I put my pointer finger over my lips, then point at Kiki. Mom nods and jogs back to my brother, Michael, who has Asperger’s syndrome, or high-functioning autism. Mom and Dad have done a ton of work to help him with his social skills, but he’s still prone to legendary meltdowns. After the scene he caused at MIT this morning, she’s been watching him like a hawk.

“This really seems like a good one.” Dad comes up behind me in a sneak attack. I glance across the group and see Michael pulling on Mom’s hand, trying to get over to a statue of a seated man. “These kids seem like your kind of people.”

Dad and I look around the yard at the students hauling mattresses and carrying plastic crates stuffed with junk. A group lounges on the steps of one of the historic buildings, drinking from eco-friendly metal thermoses.

I shrug and pull my short hair into a pathetic ponytail. Not my best look, but it’s sweltering today.

“Do you like it better than Princeton?”

I try to avoid his stare, but he follows my eyes until I give in and focus on him. In the weak afternoon sunlight, I notice that the gray patches at his temples are spreading through his warm brown hair, like two silver streaks down his head.

“I don’t know. Princeton was fine.” Princeton is Ana’s thing, her dream. All I could think about the entire time I was there was, How did she choose this school? How did she know it was for her? Is there a feeling you get? Is it like how I knew about Tom?

Kiki climbs a few steps up to an old brick building and claps excitedly. “Massachusetts Hall is special for two reasons.” She beams at our group and holds up one finger. “First, it’s the oldest building on campus, dating back to 1720.” Everyone in our group oohs, and Mom whispers something to another mother. “And”—Kiki makes eye contact with the prospective students in her pack—“it’s a freshman dorm! Let’s go take a look, shall we?”

We walk in a tight-knit pack up the stairs and down the third-floor hallway. Loud music pours from the rooms, the beats clashing. Finally we stop at a dorm room with two neatly made beds and two tidy desks with crimson folders emblazoned with the Harvard seal. I realize there’s nothing real about this room or this choreographed moment, like almost every moment of every college tour we’ve taken. How am I supposed to get a feel for the campus with these phony experiences?

As Kiki begins explaining dorm security, I slip out of the room and try to collect my thoughts. This is merely a minor case of butterflies, nothing more. I’m sure everybody gets them when touring colleges. I’ll call Ana, and she’ll talk me through this.

I rummage through my purse, searching under all the brochures and school spirit junk until my fingers find my phone’s smooth edges.

Wait, I can’t call Ana. She loved every second of her college tour. When she came back from the East Coast a few weeks ago, she couldn’t stop talking about Princeton’s amazing science labs. Plus, she already knows beyond a shadow of a doubt she wants to be a neonatal surgeon. She had open-heart surgery as a baby and has always felt called to follow the path of the doctors who saved her life.

Zoe would totally get it. I scroll through my contacts, all the way down to Z .

But maybe it isn’t fair to call Zo. Her parents are doing a little better, but money is still tight. She didn’t get to go on a college tour this summer, and I’m not really sure there’s any money put aside for her education. I’d be a jerk to call and complain.

I scroll back up to Christine. She’s headed to New York next year to become a painter. All she’s ever wanted is to get out of Half Moon Bay. We’ve always understood each other in that way.

But as I’m pressing the button for her name, I remember that today is Tyler’s birthday and she was going to surprise him with a scavenger hunt through town.

That leaves one person. I find his name and quickly punch the button. “Pick up, pick up,” I chant quietly. A voice in my head reminds me I shouldn’t be calling my ex-boyfriend, the only guy I ever loved, the one who went off to college and left me behind, but I try to quiet it. All these months I’ve been strong and not e-mailed him, not called him, but I don’t have anyone else right now.

“Hey there.” Tom’s deep voice is a little scratchy, like he just woke up, and it sends a shiver down my spine. The guys at Marina Vista still sound like chipmunks. “How… What’s up?” he asks.

Technically the breakup a few months ago was mutual—technically. I want to talk to him, but it’s just as friends. He’s already gone through the whole college application process, so he’ll help me get my head on straight.

“I hate Harvard.” A woman glares at me as she passes down the hall. I lower my voice. “Well, I don’t hate Harvard—that’s not it. My parents love it, and the teachers all love it. Actually, everybody loves it except me.”

“What are you talking about?” He yawns loudly.

“I’m on my college tour, standing in the hallowed halls of Harvard right now. Well, a dorm hallway anyway.” Two girls pass me, talking loudly. “They want me to go here, but it doesn’t feel right.”

“So don’t apply. You’re not like everybody else.”

I bite my lip. It’s such a Tom thing to say and exactly what I need to hear. After months of not talking, he still knows how to make me feel better. Tom always put the Miracle Girls on edge, but they never got to see this side of him, the big heart hidden inside his chiseled chest.

The noisy tour group pours out of the dorm room, and Kiki ushers them toward the exit at the end of the hall, pointing at some posters on the wall. Mom spots me on the phone and motions for me to rejoin the group.

“It’s funny that you called,” Tom says. “I actually wanted to tell you something.”

The tour group files into the stairwell. Dad lingers for a moment, frowning, and then goes with them.

“I’m transferring to UCSF and moving back to San Francisco.”

“What?” I press my finger to my ear, trying to block out the noise in the hall. That can’t be right. I’ve just gotten used to him being in Santa Barbara, which isn’t that far, but far enough for him to feel really and truly gone from my life.

“Santa Barbara wasn’t working out, and now I can live at home and save some cash.”

My heart begins to pound.

“I miss my old friends, you know—crazy blond girls who call me out of the blue and stuff. I miss… talking.”

My pulse drums loudly in my ears.

Mom peeks her head back in the door and widens her eyes at me. “You’re missing everything!”

“I—” I wave at Mom. “I’ve got to run, but I’ll call you later.” I snap the phone shut before he can respond and chuck it back into my purse. He’s coming back? I lean my head against the wall to keep it from spinning.

“Riley!” Mom plants her hands on her hips.

“Coming.” I jog over to her lingering in the stairwell. I file in at the back of the group and wind down the few flights of stairs with Mom hot on my heels. I can’t think about Tom now. I’ll deal with that later, once I’m back home and I’ve had time to wrap my mind around the fact that he isn’t gone, that his voice almost sounded like it used to before we drifted apart.

We re-enter the Harvard Yard, the sun stinging my eyes, and Kiki yammers on and on about the different types of architecture, pointing out stuff like Doric columns and neoclassical facades.

It’s not that Harvard isn’t beautiful. The campus is historic and hallowed and dripping in ivy, and there’s no question that it’s one of the best colleges in the country. If I went here, I’d get a great education, have opportunities I’d never get anywhere else, and meet all kinds of new, fascinating friends….

My mind flashes to Half Moon Bay, the faces of the Miracle Girls.

I can’t believe that in a year this is going to be my life. This could be my freshman dorm, but looking out over this crowded lawn, I can’t picture it. I try to imagine myself lounging in the courtyard, heading to fascinating lectures, eating in the dining hall, but my brain refuses. The only life I can imagine is at Marina Vista, hanging out with the girls, being close when Michael needs me.

Mom grins at me as Kiki explains how the meal plans work.

They think I want to go to Harvard, but I don’t. They think I’m excited about this, but I’m scared out of my mind. They think they know the real Riley McGee, but even I haven’t met her. They think I have it all figured out, but I’m totally lost.

So much for veritas .

Copyright © 2010 by Anne Dayton and May Vanderbilt


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FIRST tour: "Asking for Trouble" (London Confidential) by Sandra Byrd


It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old…or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today’s Wild Card author is:

Sandra Byrd

and the book:

Asking for Trouble (London Confidential)

Tyndale House Publishers (March 4, 2010)

***Special thanks to Christy Wong of Tyndale House Publishers for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Best-selling author Sandra Byrd has published nearly three dozen books in the Christian market, including her latest series, French Twist, which includes the Christy Award finalist Let Them Eat Cake (WaterBrook Press, 2007) and its sequel, Bon Appétit (WaterBrook Press, 2008). Many of her acclaimed fiction and nonfiction books target the tween and young adult markets. She has also published a book for new moms entitled Heartbeats. Several of Sandra’s shorter works have appeared in periodicals such as Relevant, Clubhouse, Pockets, Decision, and Guideposts. For the past seven years, she has shared her secrets with the many students she mentors through the Christian Writers Guild. Before turning to full-time writing, Sandra was an acquisitions editor in the ABA market. She lives in the Seattle, Washington, area with her husband and two children.

Visit the author’s website.

Product Details:

List Price: $6.99
Reading level: Ages 9-12
Paperback: 272 pages
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers (March 4, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1414325975
ISBN-13: 978-1414325972

AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:

I hung back at the doorway to the cafeteria of my new supercool British school, Wexburg Academy. Most of the lunch tables were already packed, and the room was buzzing with chatter. The populars, whom I’d secretly nicknamed the Aristocats, commanded an entire table right in the center of the room. Their good looks and posh accents made up the sun around which all other tables orbited. The normal kids were in the second circle, arranged by friends or clubs or activities. The drama table was on the outer edge of the room, and so were the geeks, the nerds, and the punk wannabes–way out there like Neptune, but still planets. Most everyone had a group. I didn’t.

Okay, so there was one table with lots of room. The leftovers table. It might as well have been the dark side of the moon.

No way.

I skipped lunch–again–and headed to the library. One of the computers was available and I logged on, desperately hoping for an e-mail from Seattle.

There was an e-mail from my grandmother reminding me to floss because British dentists only cleaned adult teeth.

Spam from Teen Vogue.

An invitation to join the Prince Harry fan club–​I opened it and gave it a quick scan. I’d consider it more later.

And . . . one from Jen!

I clicked open the e-mail from my best friend at home–well, it had been my home till a couple of months ago–hoping for a lunch full of juicy news served alongside tasty comments about how she missed me and was planning stuff for my next visit home. I craved something that would take me the whole lunch period to read and respond to and remind me that I did have a place somewhere in this universe.

From: Jen
To: Savannah

Hey, Fortune Cookie, so how’s it going? Met the Queen yet? LOL. Sorry I haven’t written too much. It’s been so busy. Samantha took the position you’d been promised on the newspaper staff. She’s brand new, but then again you would have been too. It seemed strange without you at first, but I think she’ll do okay–maybe even better than okay. And hey, life has changed for everyone, right? Things are crazy busy at school, home, and church. We hang out a lot more now that a bunch of us are driving. Will write again in a few weeks.

Miss you!
Jen

A few weeks! My lungs filled with air, and I let it out slowly, deflating like a balloon with a slow leak. I poised my hands over the keyboard to write a response but just . . . couldn’t. What would I say? It had already been weeks since we’d last e-mailed. Most of my friends texted instead of e-mailing anyway, but texting across the Atlantic Ocean cost way too much. And the truth was . . .

I’d moved, and they’d moved on.

I logged off the computer and sat there for a minute, blinking back tears. Jen hadn’t meant to forget me. I was simply out of her orbit now.

I pretended to read Sugar magazine online, but mostly I was staring at the clock, passing the time till I could respectably head to my next class.

Five minutes before class I swung my book bag onto my shoulder and headed down the hall. Someone was stapling flyers to the wall. “Hi, Hazelle.”

“Hullo, Savannah.” She breezed by me, stapling another pink flyer farther down the wall. We had math class together–oh yeah, maths, as the Brits called it–first period. I’d tried to make friends with her; I’d even asked her if she’d like to sit together in lunch, but she’d crisply informed me that she sat at the table with the other members of the newspaper staff.

She didn’t bother with small talk now either, but went on stapling down the hall. I glanced at one of the flyers, and one sentence caught my eye right away: Looking for one experienced journalist to join the newspaper staff.

I yanked the flyer off the wall and jammed it into my bag. I was experienced. Wasn’t I?

A nub of doubt rose inside me–the kind that popped up, unwelcome, anytime I tried to rationalize something that wasn’t exactly true or right.

This time I swallowed it back. I thought back to Jen’s e-mail that kind of felt like a polite dismissal. I lived in London now.

It was time to take matters into my own hands.

My Opinion:

I will post my review once my daughter and I finish reading it.

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FIRST tour: Camp Club Girls #3 "McKenzie’s Montant Mystery" by Shari Barr


It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old…or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today’s Wild Card author is:
Shari Barr

and the book:

McKenzie’s Montana Mystery (Camp Club Girls 3)

Barbour Books (March 1, 2010)

***Special thanks to Angie Brillhart of Barbour Publishing, Inc. for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Shari Barr lives on a farm in southwest Iowa with her husband and teenage son and daughter. She writes inspirational fiction as a mission to spread the gospel while creating Christian role models for children. She has also published two non-fiction books as well as numerous articles for adults.

Visit the author’s website.

Product Details:

List Price: $5.97
Reading level: Ages 9-12
Paperback: 160 pages
Publisher: Barbour Books (March 1, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1602602697
ISBN-13: 978-1602602694

AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:

A Surprise for McKenzie!

Chapter 1

Aaaaaahhhh!

McKenzie screamed and clutched the reins with sweaty palms. She tugged firmly, trying to control her horse.

Please, God, help me, she prayed as Sahara bolted down the arena.

McKenzie’s heart pounded and her auburn hair whipped behind her.

Something’s wrong! she thought.

She leaned forward and pulled the reins with all her strength. The tightness she usually felt in the reins was missing. She had no control over her horse! Sahara raced straight toward the barrel in the middle of the arena.

“McKenzie!” a voice screamed from the sidelines. “Hold on.”

The reins slipped between her fingers. McKenzie started to slide from the saddle. She grasped the saddle horn, but Sahara’s galloping bounced her up and down until she could hold on no longer.

McKenzie hit the ground with a thud as thundering hooves barely missed her. She laid with her face on the ground. Sahara raced by and finally slowed to a trot.

“McKenzie! Are you okay?” A pair of cowboy boots appeared in front of her face.

Rolling over, McKenzie pushed herself into a sitting position. She coughed from the dust Sahara had stirred up and looked into the eyes of Emma Wilson, her riding instructor. “I-I don’t know yet,” she stammered as she stretched her legs.

She felt a strong hand support the back of her head. Turning, she saw Emma’s hired hand, Derek, holding up two fingers. “How many?” he asked.

“Four,” McKenzie answered.

Emma and Derek stared at her. No one said anything for a minute.

“But two fingers are bent over,” she added.

After a second, Derek’s face broke into a grin. He unbuckled her riding helmet and slipped it off her head.

“She’s okay,” a familiar voice announced. The girl with a fringe of black

bangs fluttering on her olive skin popped a red gummy worm into her mouth.

“Bailey! What are you doing here?” McKenzie screeched as the girl approached her. “Hey, can I have one of those?”

“Yep, she’s definitely okay,” Bailey said as she dangled a green and orange worm in front of McKenzie.

McKenzie grabbed the worm and pulled her legs forward, trying to stand up. But Emma placed a firm hand on her shoulder. “Not so fast. Sit for a minute.”

“What happened anyway?” McKenzie watched as her horse sauntered back across the arena and nuzzled her face. “I had no control over Sahara. I just couldn’t hold on.”

Derek reached his hand out to the chocolate brown mare. “Here’s the problem,” he said as his fingers touched a dangling strap. “Her bridle is broken.”

McKenzie tried again to stand. Emma and Derek each put a hand beneath her arms and helped her to her feet. Feeling slightly light-headed, she stepped forward and grabbed Bailey in a tight hug.

“So, how did you get here?” McKenzie asked.

“When you told me you were coming to Sunshine Stables to train for the rodeo and help with Kids’ Camp, I convinced Mom and Dad to let me fly out with Uncle Troy on a business trip. He rented a car and drove me out from the airport. He didn’t have time to stick around, so he’s gone already.”

“Why didn’t you tell me you were coming?” McKenzie asked.

“Well, I signed up for the camp, since I’m not that good on horses. When Miss Wilson found out we were friends, she invited me to stay here, but she wanted to surprise you. Then after camp, she’s going to train both of us for the rodeo.” Bailey’s dark eyes flashed.

“Oh, Emma, this is the best surprise ever!” McKenzie turned to her instructor.

“Think of it as a thank-you for coming to Kids’ Camp on such short notice,” Emma said with a smile. “I didn’t expect so many kids to sign up. You’ll be a big help with the younger ones. But, let’s get you up to the house to sit for a minute. If you can walk, that is.”

“I’m fine,” McKenzie assured Emma as she brushed dirt from her face with the sleeve of her t-shirt. “I’d better take care of Sahara first, though.”

“I’ll do that,” Derek said as he grabbed Sahara’s halter. “I’ll take her to the stable and find her a new bridle. You go on to the house.”

Emma and the girls walked to the large, white farmhouse. A sign reading “Sunshine Stables” stood in the front yard. Several sheds and a huge red barn stood beyond the house. The riding arena was next to a matching red stable. A dozen or so horses grazed in the lush, green pasture.

McKenzie sighed with contentment. She had met Bailey at Camp Discovery, where they had shared a cabin with four other campers. The six girls, or the Camp Club Girls, as they called themselves, had become fast friends by solving a mystery together. Though they all lived in different parts of the country, they had kept in touch and gone on to solve another mystery together. Bailey was the youngest of the group at nine years old, four years younger than McKenzie.

The girls stepped onto the huge porch that wrapped around the house. They dropped onto the porch swing while Emma slipped inside. Emma quickly returned with cold drinks.

“Emma, this is so perfect.” McKenzie reached out to pet Buckeye, Emma’s brown and white terrier. “This will be so fun having Bailey here. Now, we can work on barrel racing together.”

“Don’t forget you have to save time for the Junior Miss Rodeo Queen contest, too,” Emma said as she ran her fingers through her short blond hair.

McKenzie groaned. She wasn’t sure she wanted to compete in the contest. Emma had competed when she was younger and had told McKenzie’s mom what a wonderful experience it had been. Now, Mom had talked McKenzie into competing. McKenzie didn’t like the thought of wearing fancy riding clothes for the contest. And she especially dreaded the thought of standing on stage in front of hundreds of people.

McKenzie got slightly nervous in riding competitions, but just thinking about the queen contest made her want to throw up.

“Are your parents coming for the rodeo and the queen contest?” Bailey scratched Buckeye’s ears.

“Yes, they’ll be here,” McKenzie answered, sipping her lemonade. “My family doesn’t live too far away. I usually come over here and train a couple of days a week. But, now that I’m helping with Kids Camp, I get to stay here until the rodeo next week. I’ll have a lot of extra time to train.”

After the girls finished their lemonade, Emma asked McKenzie to show Bailey their bedroom. The girls stepped inside the front door where Bailey had left her bags. She grabbed her pink and green striped pillow and tucked it under her arm along with a monster-sized black and white panda. McKenzie grabbed the two bags and led the way upstairs to their bedroom. A set of bunk beds stood against one wall.

McKenzie turned to her friend. “I knew you were hoping to visit, but I didn’t think you’d be able to come.”

“I didn’t either.” Bailey dropped her pillow and panda on the floor. “When Uncle Troy found out about his trip, Mom and Dad decided at the last minute that I could come along.”

“We’ll have a blast.” McKenzie pointed to Bailey’s bags. “Do you have cowboy boots in there somewhere? And, you might want to change into jeans so we can go horseback riding as soon as Derek finds a new bridle for Sahara.”

Bailey changed her clothes. Then the girls headed back downstairs and went outside with Emma.

“I’ll help you saddle your horses,” Emma said as she led the way across the yard. “Bailey, you can ride the Shetland pony, Applejack. Then you two can go for a ride while I work. How does that sound?”

“Great.” McKenzie said. “When do we need to be back for chores?”

“About an hour or so.” Emma said as they walked through the stable to Applejack’s stall.

First Emma helped saddle the horse for Bailey, while McKenzie put the bridle on. Emma grabbed a riding helmet for the younger girl and led Applejack out of the stable.

Derek met them at the doorway holding Sahara, who was fitted with a new bridle. Derek was Emma’s newest stable hand. He had only been working at Sunshine Stables for two months. Even though Derek was an adult, he reminded McKenzie of her eight-year-old brother, Evan. Both were always full of mischief.

“You look better than you did a while ago,” Derek told McKenzie. “You’re not even limping.”

“Nope. I told you I was fine.” She patted Sahara’s neck.

“McKenzie, why don’t you introduce your friend to Derek? I didn’t have a chance to do that when you were taking your wild ride,” Emma teased.

McKenzie pulled Bailey to her side. “Bailey Chang, meet Derek McGrady. Bailey lives in Peoria, Illinois.”

“Nice to meet you, Bailey. You ready to hop on Applejack? He’s ready for you.” He grabbed the horse’s reins and opened the gate.

McKenzie followed with Sahara. She placed her boot in the stirrup and swung herself up onto the saddle. Then with ease, Bailey hopped onto Applejack’s back.

“Your mom said you’ve done quite a bit of riding, Bailey. Is that right?” Emma asked as she closed the gate behind them.

“Yes. But I’m not as good as McKenzie.” Bailey swept her long bangs away from her forehead and slipped on her helmet. “I’ve done some racing at county fairs but never a rodeo.”

“You’re a lot younger than she is. You have plenty of time to improve.” Emma smiled at Bailey.

“Is it okay if we ride to Old Towne?” McKenzie put her helmet on and fastened the chinstrap.

“Sure. You have your cell phone with you, right?” Emma asked. “After you look around for awhile, head back for chores. Both of you can help with Diamond Girl when she comes in from pasture.”

Diamond Girl was Sunshine Stable’s most famous horse. She was Emma’s prize horse and a rodeo winner. For the last three years, Emma had ridden Diamond Girl in the barrel-racing competition, and each year Emma brought home the first-place trophy. McKenzie couldn’t wait to show Diamond Girl to Bailey.

Eager for a ride, the girls waved to Emma and Derek and headed for the dirt track behind the house. A warm summer breeze rustled the pine trees lining the trail.

“What is Old Towne?” Bailey asked as her horse plodded beside McKenzie’s.

“It’s a bunch of Old West buildings. There’s an old-time Main Street with a general store, post office, and stuff like that. But it’s more like a ghost town now. It belongs to Sunshine Stables and is open during June, July, and the first week of August. It’s closed now for the season. But we can still go look around.” McKenzie shielded her eyes against the sun and peered into the distance.

Pointing her finger, she continued, “See that old wooden windmill way out there? That’s Old Towne.”

“It looks kind of creepy.” Bailey wrinkled her nose.

“You know, there is a spooky story about Old Towne.” McKenzie flicked her reins at Sahara who had stopped to munch some grass. “A long time ago, a mysterious rider was seen riding out there at dusk. Some people say it was a ghost rider.”

Bailey looked quizzically at McKenzie. “Is that for real?”

McKenzie chuckled. “That’s what they say.”

“Has anybody seen the ghost rider lately?” Bailey nudged Applejack forward.

“I haven’t heard anything about it. Emma said the ghost rider story started years before she bought Sunshine Stables. She says someone just made it up to get visitors to come to Old Towne. It worked. Old Towne used to rake in the money. People paid to ride horses from the stables, hoping to see the ghost rider.”

“That’s spooky. A fun kind of spooky, that is,” Bailey said as she leaned over and scratched Applejack’s neck.

“Well, let’s go check the place out. I’ve never been here after it was closed for the season.”

McKenzie nudged Sahara with her heels. The girls galloped down the trail. The horses’ hooves stirred up little puffs of dust.

“Here we are,” McKenzie said as she arrived at the top of a small hill. She halted Sahara and waited for Bailey to catch up.

“Wow! This is neater than I thought it would be!” Bailey exclaimed, her eyes wide.

The girls continued down the trail leading to Main Street. Old storefronts lined both sides of the dirt street. A weathered school building and a church were nestled on a grassy lawn at the edge of town, away from the other buildings.

“Let’s tie our horses at the hitching post and look around.” McKenzie hung her helmet on the post and fluffed her sweaty curls.

After tying both horses, the girls stepped on the wooden sidewalk. Bailey ran ahead, her boots thumping loudly on the wood. She stopped and peered through a streaked windowpane. A tall red and white barber pole stood beside it.

“I can just imagine a cowboy sitting in there getting his hair cut,” Bailey said with a giggle.

“Yeah and then he could head across the street to the general store for a piece of beef jerky and a new pair of chaps.” McKenzie stuck her thumbs in her belt loops and walked bow-legged across the street.

Bailey laughed and raced to catch up with McKenzie. She stopped suddenly in the middle of the street and looked at the dusty ground. “Hey, did cowboys eat candy bars?”

McKenzie picked up the wrapper and shoved it in her pocket. “Maybe the ghost likes the candy. Whooo-ooooh!” McKenzie wailed eerily.

The girls headed to the general store and peered through the window. McKenzie pointed out different items in the darkness. They saw old wooden rakes, hand plows, and row after row of tin cans on the shelves. A headless mannequin wore a long, lacy white dress and a pair of men’s bib overalls hung from a hanger.

Both girls jumped when McKenzie’s cell phone rang. She pulled the phone from her pocket, answered, and listened to the caller for a minute. Then she quickly said “Okay. ’Bye,” and flipped the phone shut.

“That was Emma,” she said. “She wants us to hurry home. Diamond Girl is missing!”

My Opinion:

I’m so impressed with this book (as well as the one that will be posted on Sunday), I try to make sure that when my children read books that the are edifying to the Lord. We haven’t finished reading this book yet but from reading the other one this book is a great read for young girls. The only thing thus far that I’ve noticed is there is an old tale about a ghost rider who rides through this abandoned town that has been renovated for tourists. Other than that I haven’t seen much else to concern me with – if I run into that I’ll let you know.

The Camp Club Girls are all Christians and who openly pray with each other and their parents. They don’t disrespect their parents like in other popular books of today’s culture for young ladies, they actually ask their parents opinions. In this book the girls are in their own CCG chat room so if you’re reading this aloud it’s actually kind of confusing, so it’s better to let the girl read it then pick back up reading. No derogatory or degrading terms are used in their chat and it’s a private room with only them.

I do recommend these books, if you can overlook the ghost or explain to your daughter that ghosts aren’t real (which I’m sure happens in this book but we haven’t gotten that far) which can lead to some open discussions. I’ve enjoyed reading this book with my daughter as bonding time and we have something fun to do just the two of us.

Comments Off on FIRST tour: Camp Club Girls #3 "McKenzie’s Montant Mystery" by Shari Barr

FIRST tour: "Alexis and the Sacramento Surprise" Camp Club Girls #4 by Erica Rodgers


It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old…or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today’s Wild Card author is:
Erica Rodgers

and the book:

Alexis and the Sacramento Surprise (Camp Club Girls 4)

Barbour Books (March 1, 2010)

***Special thanks to Angie Brillhart of Barbour Publishing, Inc. for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Erica Rodgers lives outside of Nashville, Tennessee, with her husband and two children. She loves reading, singing in front of her bathroom mirror, and being outside. She currently writes juvenile and young adult fiction.

Visit the author’s website.

Product Details:

List Price: $5.97
Reading level: Ages 9-12
Paperback: 160 pages
Publisher: Barbour Books (March 1, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1602602700
ISBN-13: 978-1602602700

AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:

A Problem at the Park

SLAM!

Alexis Howell jolted up in bed. She sat for a moment while her shocked heart slowed down.

Who on earth is banging doors this early in the morning? She thought. It’s only—

She looked at the clock on her wall.

“Nine thirty!” Alexis exclaimed.

She knew she had set her alarm for eight o’clock, but she reached over and saw that someone had unplugged it. Alexis threw the covers off and flew out of bed. Why did her little brothers always mess with her on important days? She’d be late!

She yanked on a pair of shorts, slipped on a pair of flip-flops, and scurried toward the door. Alexis passed her desk and reached out, but her hand closed on thin air.

“Where’s my paper?” she yelled.

“You mean this one?” her brother asked. He was standing at the top of the stairs waving a paper airplane. The boys were twins, and at first glance she sometimes couldn’t tell them apart, which made them even more annoying.

“You made it into an airplane?” cried Alexis. “Give it to me!”

“You should have said please,” her brother said. He drew his arm back and flung the airplane down the stairs.

“No!” cried Alexis. She bounded toward the stairs.

She could see the important paper circling toward the living room. Here, like everywhere else in her house, were countless stacks of paper. Her mother and father were both lawyers. They worked in the same office, and since that office was being renovated, all of their work had migrated to the Howell house. If that tiny paper airplane landed in the middle of that mess, she would never find it!

Alexis leaped down the first three stairs. On the fourth, however, her foot landed on a remote-control race car and flew out from beneath her. Alexis crashed down the rest of the stairs and slammed into the closest pile of files. It was a paper explosion.

“What on earth?” cried Mrs. Howell. She ran in from the kitchen and found Alexis knee deep in paper, searching. More paper still fell like rain from the ceiling.

“Oh no!” said Alexis. “Where is it? Where is it!”

“Calm down, Alexis,” said Mrs. Howell. “Where is what?”

“The e-mails! I printed out Kate’s e-mail and wrote her flight information on the back. If I can’t find it, we won’t know when to get her! And I’m running late!”

Her mom placed a hand on her shoulder.

“Calm down,” she said. “We have plenty of time. Here, I’ll help.” Alexis’s mom began stacking her files. In no time she uncovered a small, crumpled airplane. Alexis flattened it out and took a deep breath.

“Thanks, Mom.” Alexis read the page again just to be sure it was the right paper airplane.

Camp Club Update

From: Alexis Howell

Hey girls! How is everyone? I’m great, but things have been boring since I got home from camp. I have two more weeks until cheerleading starts, so I’m at home with my brothers way too often! The only investigating I’ve done lately involves a missing Spiderman sock and the cat from next door. Isn’t that sad?

Oh! I almost forgot! A lady at my church could use your prayers. Her name is Miss Maria, and she runs a nature park outside the city. It’s a great place to see the local plants and animals, but lately not many people have been visiting. If Miss Maria can’t get some big business she’s going to have to close the park. The park is all she has. It would be awful if she had to sell it. She rented some fake dinosaurs that look real and really move, like the animals at Disneyland. Maybe this will bring more business! Pray that it does!

Kisses, Alex

Alex,

It was so good to get your update! I’m sorry to hear about Miss Maria. Is she really getting mechanical dinosaurs? That is so awesome! Are you up for a visitor? Sounds like you could use a little excitement, and I can get there easily. My grandpa is a pilot and gets me great deals to fly all over the country. That really comes in handy when I get the urge to visit California! LOL!

I would love to see you, and besides, I’ve never seen animatronics that close up before! Do you think Miss Maria would let me touch them? Let me know what your mom says!

Love, Kate

Alexis must have read Kate’s e-mail forty-three times, but her heart was still racing. She had thought she wouldn’t see any of the other Camp Club Girls until next summer, but in less than an hour Kate would be there! Alexis was sure this week would be amazing. How could it not be? They would find some crazy case to solve; maybe a stolen piece of art, or a break-in at the Governor’s Mansion. Whatever they did would be ten times better than doing nothing—as she had done for the last month.

On her way to the kitchen Alexis poked her head into the bathroom to glance in the mirror. She pulled her loose brown curls into a quick ponytail and wiped the sleep from her eyes. They were an electric blue, and Alexis knew they clashed with her hair, but she liked being a little different.

She stepped back and scrunched her face. If only she could make her freckles disappear! They stood out on her pale skin like spots on a snow leopard, and she could never decide if she liked them or not. She had tried once to cover them with her mom’s makeup, but it had been the wrong color, and waterproof so she couldn’t remove it easily with water. She hadn’t known that her mother had special make-up remover. That day she had gone to school looking like a pumpkin.

Oh well. Sometimes she was proud of her freckles. They measured how good her summer had been. The more fun she had in the sun, the darker they got.

“Lots of fun in the sun this year, I guess,” she said, then she spun out of the bathroom. Her toasted blueberry waffles were waiting for her in the kitchen.

“Thanks, Mom,” Alexis said as she ate.

“You’re welcome, but do you really need to say it with your mouth full?”

Alexis swallowed. “Sorry.”

Her twin brothers, who were seven, had freckles just like Alexis but had also inherited the red hair from her mother’s side of the family. The boys finished eating and began playing hide-and-seek among the towering files in the living room. Alexis ignored the possibility of disaster and ate quickly. She was counting down the minutes until she would see Kate at the airport.

Twenty minutes until they left.

Forty minutes until they parked.

Forty-five minutes until—

The television caught her eye. She usually ignored the news, but the anchorwoman with big hair was showing a shot of her friend, Miss Maria, standing in front of the nature park. Alexis grabbed the remote and turned up the volume just in time to hear the introduction to the story.

“Let’s go to Channel 13 reporter Thad Swotter for more about this story.”

“Thank you, Nicky,” said the news man. He flashed the camera a cheesy smile. “Yesterday one more company refused to sponsor Aspen Heights Conservation Park. That makes them number 10 on the list of people who have denied the park money this year. You may ask, Thad, who’s counting? And I would say no one—except the park’s owner.”

Thad Swotter laughed into the camera, his mouth still stretched into a wide, fake smile.

“As a last-ditch effort to revive the park,” he continued, “Maria Santos has scattered a stampede of mechanical dinosaurs throughout the park. The exhibit opens to the public today and will be there through the end of this month.”

“Well, Thad,” said the woman with the big hair, “do you think this will bring in more visitors?”

“I know Miss Santos hopes so,” said the reporter. “It looks like she’s spent her life’s savings on the project. It certainly is creative, but I think it will take more than a bunch of toy dinosaurs to keep that park from becoming extinct!”

“Thanks, Thad. Now over to Chris for last night’s sports report.”

Alexis had forgotten about her waffles. None of her friends had ever been on the news before, but she wasn’t excited. She was worried. Had Miss Maria really spent the last of her savings on those dinosaurs? If so, things must be pretty bad.

Alexis whipped out her bright pink notebook and scribbled:

Mission: find a way to help Miss Maria.

Step One: Visit park with Kate and ask how we can help.

Going to the park was a great idea. It seemed like the perfect place to find an adventure. Kate really wanted to see the dinosaurs, and maybe they could help Miss Maria while they were there. Alexis shoved her notebook into her pink camouflage backpack. She never left home without it. Taking notes was one of the most important things an investigator could do, and Alexis considered herself an investigator. After all, the Camp Club Girls were regularly finding cases to solve.

Half an hour later Alexis and her mom were at the airport, waiting for Kate to pop through the exit gate of the security checkpoint. Mrs. Howell said that she used to be able to meet people at the door of the plane. Alexis couldn’t imagine that. For as long as she could remember she had waited for visitors here—next to the gift shop, and at a safe distance from the burly security guards. It would have been fun to meet Kate at her gate—they would already be having a blast. But Alexis was stuck waiting near a rack of over-priced California coffee mugs.

The first thing Alexis noticed was Kate’s new pair of glasses flashing through the crowd. They were bright green and came to a point at the sides. They made Alexis think of the Riddler, one of the best Batman villains. She laughed at the thought and met her friend with a hug.

“It’s so good to see you!” said Alexis. “How was your flight?”

“Long, and they wouldn’t let Biscuit sit with me! He had to go under the plane! Do you have any idea how cold it gets down there?”

Alexis caught her breath and stopped abruptly. She’d forgotten about Biscuit! How many times when the boys begged for a dog had Mrs. Howell firmly told them their house, especially now, with all its stacks of paper, was no place for a dog! Alexis suspected the real issue was that her mom didn’t like dogs. At all. She frowned when people walking their dogs didn’t clean up their droppings in the yard. She’d also opposed a neighborhood park being turned into a dog park.

What will Mom do! Alexis thought. Will she make Kate send Biscuit back home? Will she make Biscuit stay in the garage? But then Biscuit will cry all night.

“Alexis!” Mrs. Howell called. Kate realized that her mother and friend were far ahead of her. She glanced at her mother’s face. Mrs. Howell looked cheerful and friendly. Apparently she either hadn’t heard Kate’s words clearly or didn’t know that Biscuit was a dog.

Lord, please help Mom be nice about Biscuit! Alexis prayed silently.

Alexis’s mom led the girls to the baggage claim. They picked up a neat little suitcase and a not-so-neat black and white puppy. At the sight of Biscuit, Mrs. Howell’s smile faltered.

“Don’t worry, Mom,” said Alexis. “Biscuit can stay in my room—away from your files.” Mrs. Howell said that she wasn’t worried, but her face relaxed a bit. Alexis knew that she had been thinking of the endless stacks of paper that could easily become chew toys and chaos.

Thank You, God! Alexis mentally murmured. She knew if Mom didn’t say anything now, she never would. Now, if only Alexis and Kate could make sure Biscuit didn’t get in Mom’s way or cause trouble!

“We’re going straight to the park,” Alexis said to Kate as they arrived at the family’s green Durango. They buckled themselves into the back seat, and Mrs. Howell dug around in her purse for some cash to pay for parking.

“The dinosaur exhibit opens today, so tons of people should be there,” Alexis added as her mom pulled onto the highway.

Alexis was wrong. A half-hour later Mrs. Howell drove through the two towering redwoods at the entrance to Aspen Heights and frowned. Theirs was only the second car in the parking lot.

“I don’t understand!” said Alexis. “Where is everyone? It was on the news and everything!”

“Don’t worry, sweetheart,” said her mother. “I’m sure more people will come. It’s not even lunchtime yet.”

Lunchtime came and went, though, and only a handful of people were enjoying the park. Alexis and Kate walked the shade-speckled trails with Biscuit on his leash.

“Wow!” said Kate. “There are so many plants here!”

“I know,” said Alexis. “Miss Maria tries to keep a little of everything. She especially likes the endangered ones.”

“Oh look! Another dinosaur!” Kate ran up to a triceratops that looked like it was eating the fuzzy leaves of a mule ear. A miniature triceratops was feet away near an evergreen bush. Alexis figured it must be the baby.

Miss Marie had certainly arranged the dinosaurs well. Alexis and Kate had to look hard to see the electrical cords and power boxes hidden among the plants, feeding power to the animatrons.

Alexis had never been easily able to imagine what dinosaurs looked like. But these animatrons were full-sized. They had been meticulously fashioned to resemble the original animals as closely as possible. Alexis began to understand the fascination some people felt for the extinct creatures.

“They’re a lot different than in the Jurassic Park movies,” Alexis noted. “I thought they’d be taller than this. Some of them aren’t too much bigger than a large man.”

Kate laughed. “Alexis, you’re the one from California! You should be the first to know that movies aren’t always true to life!”

Alex grinned. “Actually, most of the movie stuff goes on around Los Angeles, and that’s quite a ways down the coast. We see movie crews around shooting sometimes. But other than that, we don’t have much more to do with the entertainment industry than you probably do in Philadelphia.”

“Well, most of the dinosaurs were actually probably smaller than the ones in those movies. And sometimes the movies weren’t accurate in recreating the dinosaurs.

“Like these velociraptors,” Kate said, pointing at the herd of creatures with their waving arms. “See how they’re kind of feathery looking? This is more accurate than the portrayals that show them with scaly, lizard-like skin. Just a couple of years ago some paleontologists found a preserved raptor forearm in Mongolia that proved it had feathers.”

“How in the world do you know all that?” Alexis asked.

“Discovery Channel,” Kate said with a grin. “And a teacher who spends her summer looking for dinosaur footprints!”

The girls walked along the pathway to the next creature, a dromaeosaurus lurking near a nest of eggs that looked like they came from a much larger beast.

“This one is even better than the raptor!” said Kate. “Look! Its eyes blink!”

“Actually, Kate, I think it’s winking! The other eye is stuck!”

The girls’ laughter was cut short. They jumped in alarm as another dinosaur nearby, a dilophosaurus, raised its head and bellowed. As the animatron swung its head around, Alex gasped.

“It spit at me!” she cried. “I’ve been assaulted by dinosaur spit! That must have sent out a gallon of water, and all on me! My shirt is soaked!”

Kate clutched her sides, laughing. “Well, at least they used water instead of adding more component to make the expectorant more realistic!”

“What?” Alexis asked.

“At least they didn’t make it slimy and mucusy like real spit might have been!”

“Oh, I’m sorry I asked,” Alex said. “Wait a minute while I throw up at that thought—and it wouldn’t be water, either!”

The rest of the animatron trail passed uneventfully. More bellows and eye blinks and movements, but thankfully, no more assaults by spitting dinosaurs.

As Alex’s shirt started to dry in the hot sun, the girls started giggling again about the spitting dinosaur.

“Sounds like a rock band,” Alex said. “The Spitting Dinosaurs.”

“Yeah, or maybe a little kids’ T-ball team!” Kate added.

The girls laughed all the way back to the visitors’ center. The entrance from the walking trails looked like an old log cabin with a green roof. That led into another larger building with the same log design. The larger building housed more exhibits and displays about nature and animals.

Alexis noticed that more cars were now in the parking lot, and her smile stretched even wider. It would be horrible if the dinosaurs turned out to be a waste of Miss Maria’s money.

When they walked into the visitors’ center, a lanky teenager greeted them from behind the desk.

“Hey, Alex, who’s your friend?” he called out.

“Hi, Jerry. This is Kate.” Jerry was tall and a little thin, as if the summer between eighth and ninth grade had stretched him out. His dark hair had light streaks from spending plenty of time in the sun. Between that, his flip-flops, and his tan, he looked as if he’d stepped right out of a surfing movie.

“Hi, Kate,” said Jerry. “It’s good to meet you!”

“You, too,” said Kate, looking at her shoes shyly.

Bam! The door to the visitors’ center flew open and Miss Maria stormed in.

“That news man from Channel 13 just got here,” she said. “Try to ignore him.” She stopped to hug Alexis with her wiry, suntanned arms and shook hands with Kate.

“But Miss Maria,” said Jerry, “don’t you want to be on the news? It might get more people to come to the park.”

“Yes, it might, but that young reporter isn’t very pleasant.” Miss Maria tucked a piece of short salt-and-pepper hair behind her ear. “More than toy dinosaurs, huh?”

Miss Maria grumbled to herself until a visitor stuck his head through the open door and called to her.

“Hey, Maria! Good job with the triceratops and raptor footprints. They’re so realistic! And I’m glad you put a raptor by the fountain. He looks good there. I’ll be back with my family, and I’ll encourage my students to come!”

Miss Maria thanked the man, who introduced himself as a biology professor from one of the local colleges. “But I’ve always longed to be a paleontologist!” he confessed.

As the professor waved good-bye, Alexis noticed that Miss Maria didn’t look too happy.

“He liked the dinosaurs!” Alexis said. “What’s wrong, Miss Maria? Didn’t you hear? He’s bringing his whole family! And he’s sending his students over!”

Miss Maria looked out the window and tapped a finger on the sill.

“Yes, I heard him,” said Miss Maria. “The question is, did you? He said he liked the footprints—what footprints is he talking about? Alexis, did you and your friend notice any footprints this morning?”

Alexis shook her head. “But we weren’t looking that closely,” she said.

“And there shouldn’t be a raptor near the fountain at all,” said Maria. “I put them all in the dogwood grove.”

“Someone must have moved him,” said Alexis.

“But why would they do that?” asked Kate.

“Why would anyone dig up my pansies, or carve their initials in a hundred year-old redwood tree?” said Maria. “Sometimes they do it because they have no respect for God’s creation. Sometimes they do it to cause trouble. And sometimes they do it to show off to their friends. Who knows why else they do it! But moving around some of those dinosaurs isn’t easy, and they’re liable to mess up the wires—to even get electrocuted. Let’s go take a look.”

Miss Maria had placed the six raptors together in a little herd. Sure enough, when they rounded the corner to the dogwood grove, the smallest one was missing. Little footprints led away through the trees. They had three toes, like a bird had made them, with two of the toes being longer than the third. The group followed the tracks along the trail until they reached the fountain. Then they saw him.

The diminutive dinosaur was posed on the edge of the fountain. Fortunately, he was one of the models that wasn’t animated or electric. He was about two feet tall and bright green. His long tail kept him balanced on his back legs as he leaned toward the water. He looked as if he’d simply left the herd to get a drink.

“Weird!” said Jerry.

“Yeah,” Alexis agreed.

She walked carefully around the fountain. She and Alexis had been laughing too hard earlier to notice the footprints if they’d been there. And this raptor hadn’t stood out when they’d seen it earlier—they didn’t know Miss Maria hadn’t put it by the water. Her mind kicked into overdrive just like it always did when she found something strange or out of place.

How did he get there? She wondered. If someone moved him, why are there only dinosaur footprints in the mud? Shouldn’t there have been human prints, too? Alexis pulled her notebook out of her backpack and instinctively began writing things down.

“Interesting, and irritating,” said Miss Maria. She scooped up the raptor and walked back toward the path holding him beneath her elbow. “You all go back to the visitors’ center to greet people as they arrive,” she said. “I’m going to go check around.”

When they reached the center, Jerry’s younger sister, Megan Smith, ran out to greet them. She was going into the seventh grade, like Alexis, and looked just like her brother, only with longer hair.

“Hi, guys!” Megan said. She pointed toward the parking lot. “Did you see the news crew?”

“Yeah,” said Alexis.

“Maria wants us to stay away from them,” said Jerry. Was Alexis imagining it, or was Jerry irritated?

“Oops. . .,” said Megan. “I gave the guy with the funny hair a tour. He said he was interested in seeing all of the dinosaurs.”

“That’s okay, Meg,” said Alexis. “A tour couldn’t have done any harm. Maybe he liked the park enough to do a big story for the evening news.”

Kate pushed her glasses up on the bridge of her nose and pointed toward the parking lot.

“I wonder why he’s coming back,” she said.

Sure enough, the reporter was striding across the parking lot. The wind tossed his bright blue tie around and lifted his hair up at an odd angle. Alexis wondered if he was wearing a wig. She would have thought he was too young for that, but then again, she also knew teachers and men at church who were way younger than her dad and hardly had any hair.

“Hi, kids!” he said. “I’m Thad. Thad Swotter—investigative reporter for Channel 13.”

Not quite as impressive as he is on TV, thought Alexis.

“Some place you guys have here,” Swotter said, looking around. His tone reminded Alexis of how her father greeted her great-aunt Gertrude. They visited her in Phoenix sometimes for Thanksgiving. He always said he was glad to be there, but Alexis didn’t think he meant it.

“Miss Maria has worked very hard to share California’s indigenous plants with our community,” said Alexis. Thad Swotter smiled, and Alexis thought his perfect teeth might be a little big for his mouth.

“Indigenous, huh?” said Swotter. “That’s quite a big word for such a little girl. You know, I was sure I saw some specimens that were definitely not native to California.”

“Well, yes,” said Megan. “On the tour I showed you the olive and the fig tree. Miss Maria works very hard to keep those alive through the winter. She likes to give people glimpses of other parts of the country, and even the world, too.”

“Yes, I remember,” said Swotter. “And the thorns were creepy. I’m glad we don’t really have those in the foothills of the Sierra-Nevada Mountains!”

“Thorns?” asked Kate.

“Yes,” said Alexis. “Miss Maria’s favorite plant is the Christ’s-thorn in her greenhouse. It’s planted next to a replica of the crown of thorns Jesus wore.”

“Cool!”

“Cool it may be,” said the reporter. “But I don’t see how those thorns have anything to do with us. They’re out of place.”

“That’s not true,” said Megan. “God created all of it, so everything belongs.”

“God created?” Swotter lifted his eyebrows in amusement. “You kids are almost as bad as the bat that runs this place!”

Alexis reared up, ready to defend Miss Maria, but she took a deep breath instead. She knew it would be disrespectful to argue with Mr. Swotter. She even resisted the urge to roll her eyes—which was not easy when she was annoyed.

“This is exactly why nobody comes here!” Swotter laughed. “No one wants to come to a park to get preached at!”

“No one’s preaching, sir,” said Jerry respectfully. “People don’t have to believe in God or Jesus to appreciate the plants. If it really bothers them, they can stick to the other parts of the park.”

“They could,” said Swotter, “but it’d be easier for them not to come at all. Look, kids, California has enough theme parks. If I want to hear a fairy tale, I’ll go to Disneyland.” He snickered again and walked off to examine a clump of poppies.

“He’s rude,” said Kate. “Good thing he doesn’t act that rude on TV.”

“He practically does,” said Alexis. She looked around the empty park entrance. Where was Miss Maria? She had been gone for a long time.

“Those footprints were weird, weren’t they?” Jerry laughed. “It’s like the dinosaurs just woke up and decided to explore the park!”

Thad Swotter stood up and scribbled furiously in his notebook. He headed toward his van, almost stomping on the poppies as he went. Alexis heard him yell something at his cameraman, who had fallen asleep on the steering wheel.

“What’s up with him?” asked Megan.

“Maybe he’s late,” said Alexis. The group turned back toward the visitors’ center. “I think we should check on Miss Maria.” Before anyone could agree with her, a scream ripped through the trees.

Then all was silent.

“It came from over there.” Jerry pointed toward the trail that led to the triceratops.

“Oh no! Miss Maria!” Alexis tore off through the trees and the others followed.

When they came around the last corner, Alexis almost screamed herself. Miss Maria was lying on her back in the mud, next to the mother triceratops. She wasn’t moving.

Her large eyes stared unblinking into the cloudless sky.

My Opinion:

This was a very enjoyable book and the first one my daughter and I read in the Camp Girl series. I wasn’t sure what to expect since most of the time we pick up books that are purported to be young ladies Christian fiction are usually too wordly and get quickly returned to the library drop box. However, this book was a good read and I would have no issues with my oldest reading this on her own. The only thing I would say some may find objectionable is there is a young male doctor and a girl makes a comment about him being good looking – but it wasn’t anything that was inappropriate. I would suggest this book to others that have girls who need a Christian book that would be okay for their daughter to read on her own.

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FIRST: "Energy: It’s Forms, Changes and Functions by Tom DeRosa and Carolyn Reeves


It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old…or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today’s Wild Card authors are:

Tom DeRosa
and
Carolyn Reeves

and the book set of
Energy: Its Forms, Changes & Functions

The Main Book

The Student Journal

and The Teacher’s Guide

New Leaf Publishing Group/Master Books (September 30, 2009)

***Special thanks to Robert Parrish of New Leaf Publishing Group for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHORs:

Tom DeRosa left seminary and the church thinking he was throwing away his faith, but in reality he found a new religion: evolution. In 1978, Tom accepted Jesus Christ as Lord of his life. Soon after he studied biblical creation at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church and came to the conclusion that a lack of knowledge of the biblical account of creation is greatly responsible for keeping many people from Christ. His commitment to breaking down those barriers is what led Tom to form Creation Studies Institute in 1988.

Carolyn Reeves, Ph.D. and her husband make their home in Oxford, Mississippi where they are active members of North Oxford Baptist Church. Carolyn retired after a 30-year career as a science teacher, finished a doctoral degree in science education, and began a new venture as a writer and an educational consultant.

The Main Book Product Details:

List Price: $12.99
Reading level: Ages 9-12
Paperback: 88 pages
Publisher: Master Books (September 30, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0890515700
ISBN-13: 978-0890515709

The Student Journal Product Details:

List Price: $4.99
Reading level: Ages 9-12
Paperback: 48 pages
Publisher: Master Books; Student edition (June 30, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0890515719
ISBN-13: 978-0890515716

The Teacher’s Guide Product Details:

List Price: $4.99
Paperback: 48 pages
Publisher: Master Books; Tch edition (September 30, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0890515727
ISBN-13: 978-0890515723

AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTERs:

http://books.google.com/books?id=k-Ngw9jgeoQC&lpg=PP1&dq=Energy%3A%20Its%20Forms%2C%20Changes%20%26%20Functions%20by%20Tom%20DeRosa%20and%20Carolyn%20Reeves&pg=PP1&output=embed

http://books.google.com/books?id=n4R5oYSR6vIC&lpg=PA499&dq=Energy%3A%20Its%20Forms%2C%20Changes%20%26%20Functions%20by%20Tom%20DeRosa%20and%20Carolyn%20Reeves&pg=PA499&output=embed

http://books.google.com/books?id=c_O_dd17gfcC&lpg=PP1&dq=Energy%3A%20Its%20Forms%2C%20Changes%20%26%20Functions%20by%20Tom%20DeRosa%20and%20Carolyn%20Reeves&pg=PP1&output=embed

Investigation #1: Where Exactly Does Energy Go?

Think about this. Ella understands that light is a form of energy, but she is having trouble with the idea that light energy cannot be created or destroyed.

“Look,” she told her aunt, who is a science teacher. “When I flip the switch and turn off the lights, I cause all the lights in the room to go away.” She demonstrated and made the room very dark.

“Now look what happens when I turn the light switch back on. The room fills with light again. Didn’t I just create and destroy the light in the room?” she asked.

“No, you certainly did not,” her aunt said. “All you did was demonstrate how energy can change from one form into another.”

Let’s look at some examples of how energy changes from one form to another in this lesson.

German-born Albert Einstein was awarded the 1921 Nobel Price in Physics. His studies of light transformation helped to base his discovery of the photoelectric effect.

The Investigative Problems:

What are examples of energy?
Can one form of energy change into another form of energy?

Gather These Things:

1.5-vold dry cell
5-inch pieces of electric wire
Small wooden boards
Assorted rubber bands (different thicknesses, but same length)
1.5-volt light bulb
Sandpaper
Sturdy shoe box

Procedure & Observations

Electric energy ito light and head energy: Take a 1-5-volt dry cell, a five-inch wire, and a light bulb. Test different combinations until you get the light bulb to come on. Show your teacher when you are successful. Make a drawing to show how you connected everything.

Feel the light bulb. Can you tell if it has gotten any warmer? (Note: This is a small amount of head and it may not be easy to detect.)

Mechanical energy to heat energy: Rub a piece of sandpaper quickly over a board several times. Feel the sandpaper and the board. What kind of energy is produced?

Mechanical energy to sound energy: Remove the cover from a sturdy box and cut three groves on opposite edges of the box. Now choose three rubber bands of equal length, but each with a different thickness. Stretch the rubber bands around the box, fitting each into one of the grooves. Pluck each rubber band. Observe that it is vibrating. Listen for a sound. Repeat for each rubber band. Compare the pitch made by the different rubber bands. Record your observations.

The Science Stuff

Energy is what enables matter to move or to change. Energy is found in many different forms, such as heat, light, electricity, mechanical (the energy in moving things), sound, nuclear, and chemical. One form of energy can be changed into another form of energy. Still, the total amount of energy never changes. This means that energy cannot be created or destroyed. These ideas are expressed in one of the most important laws in all of science – the law of conservation of energy.

These activities illustrate some of the main forms of energy. Each activity shows one form of energy being changed into another form of energy. Electrical energy changed into light and heat, mechanical energy changed into heat, and mechanical energy changed into sound.

In the first activity, when the equipment was wired together correctly, an electric circuit was completed. An electric current then moved through the dry cell, wires, and light bulb. As the electric current moved through the light bulb, electric energy changed into light energy and heat energy.

This activity illustrates another important concept about energy. It shows that energy can be transferred from one place to another. Much of the earth’s energy is transferred from the sun to the earth.

Remember the conversation between Ella and her aunt? When Ella flipped the light switch, the electric current began to move through the wires and the light bulb. Inside the light bulb, electric energy changed into light and heat energy, which is the same thing that happened in your activity with electricity. When she turned the lights off, the objects in the room absorbed the heat and light energy. (This is a small amount of energy, and you probably couldn’t detect it without some sophisticated equipment.)

When you rubbed a board with sandpaper, your motion produced mechanical energy. This motion produced friction between the sandpaper and the wood, causing the molecules to move faster. As a result, both the sandpaper and the wood became hotter. Thus, the mechanical energy of the moving sandpaper changed into heat energy.

You were also the source of motion when you plucked the tight rubber bands, causing them to vibrate. Sound is produced when a force causes something to vibrate and produce sound waves. Sound energy is carried in waves.

Making Connections

Another way in which mechanical energy can produce sound waves is by tapping on a table. Tapping on the table causes the table to vibrate in the same way plucking on the rubber bands caused them to vibrate. Sound waves actually travel faster through the table than through the air. You can put your ear next to the table and hear the tapping sounds clearly. You can also raise your head and hear the sounds as the sound waves pass through the table and then through the air.

When electrical energy passes through a light bulb, it is changed into light energy and heat energy. Even though the heat energy is unwanted, it is still part of the electric bill. Engineers try to design light bulbs that increase the amount of light and decrease the amount of heat produced. Some progress has been made, but light bulbs continue to produce unwanted heat.

Dig Deeper

Start with the energy being given off from a TV or a radio in your home. Try to figure out where this energy comes from. See how far back you can trace the energy changes. This gets a little complicated, so get ad good reference book to help you.

What is the difference between an electric motor and an electric generator? They basically contain the same parts and are built the same way. However, an electric motor changes electric energy into mechanical energy, and an electric generator changes mechanical energy into electric energy.

In 1905, Albert Einstein proposed a theory that altered the law of conservation of energy. He said that matter can be changed into energy, and energy can be changed into matter, but the total amount of matter and energy in the universe remains the same. How was Einstein’s theory shown to be true?

What Did You Learn?

Give two examples of how one form of energy can change into heat energy. Give another example of an energy change.
List two ways in which energy does work for us.
The following list contains examples of forces, properties of matter, and forms of energy. Underline all the examples of forms of energy: inertia, heat, density, buoyancy, electricity, lift, weight, chemical, push, and nuclear.
Define mechanical energy and give an example.
What kind of energy can be quickly provided by a battery?
What is the law of conservation of energy?
Give an example of when an unwanted form of energy is produced in a device.
What happens to a roomful of light on a dark night with the lights are turned off?
Was energy transferred from the batter to the light bulb when an electric circuit was completed?

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