Friday, May 6, 2011

Crew Review: Circle C Beginnings books from Kregel Publishers

I'm getting down to the end of my stack of reviews for this year's The Old Schoolhouse Review Crew!  It's been a great cruise! 

I was very interested to review this book, because I still have a hard time finding appropriate, reading material for my son(s).  I prefer to find books that have purpose, teach something, and are uplifiting.  Oh, and fun, too.  I think the Circle C Beginnngs books fit my needs perfectly. When I saw this book, I was sure that -- despite the pink cover -- Luke would enjoy reading it aloud to me.  And I was right!

The Circle C Beginnings books are meant to be used with early elementary readers who are gaining confidence with chapter books.  Andi is a 6-year-old in these books, surrounded by her brothers, friend Riley (an 8-year-old boy), and her mother.  They live on a ranch in the 1874s in California.  You can find a wonderful introduction to author Susan K. Marlow at the Beginnings book's sister site, Circle C Adventures (which tell the story of Andi when she's grown up a bit more and are books for older readers).

The Beginnings books can be purchased in sets at their website:
Books 1-4:  $15.96 + shipping ($3)
Books 1-2:  $9.98 + shipping ($2)
Books 3-4: $9.98 + shipping ($2)

Individually, each book seels for $4.99 (shipping is $2).  They can also be purchased from, Kregel Publishing, and You can also order (with or without the book), a lapbook kit for ages K-4th grade. View the topics for the lapbooks here.

You'll find some really great free, add-on resources for the Beginnings books at the website:  coloring pages, Java enabled online puzzles, and a wonderful 20-page activity book.

In Andi's Pony Trouble, Andi thinks she is old enough to have her own horse:
Andi wants a horse of her own more than anything in the world, but her mother says she's too young. Stuck with riding Coco, the hand-me-down pony, Andi sets out to show her family that she's ready for a horse of her own.
Andi's desire for a horse leads to many adventures in which she learns that her eagerness to follow her own desires -- and not the wisdom of her elders -- can lead to problems.

Our Experience.  After the initial "Eeew, this is a girl book" comment from my 8-year-old, we easily settled into reading this story -- and LOVED it!  Regardless of gender, Andi's struggle to submit to authority is a common issue for children.

I really appreciated the vocabulary glossary at the beginning of the book, as well as the historical note at the end.  We're suburban folk, so words like "corral" and "britches" don't always work their way into conversation.  Additionally, I appreciated the  use of idiomoatic phrases being used in the book.  Mrs. Marlow wove contextual definitions of these phrases  into the book, so young readers could expand their comprehension skills.

After finishing the book (we read 1 chapter a day for 2 weeks), Luke and I spent some time working through several activities in the free activity book.  While some activities were purely there for fun (copies of the illustrations for coloring and a simple maze), I loved that there were activities to extend learning and reinforce comprehension skills:
  • matching vocabulary to definitions
  • matching idioms to their meaning
  • sequencing events in the story
  • simple geography (locating California on a map)
  • learning about how horses are measured
  • cooking Andi's snack-- sugar cookies
I'm planning on purchasing the remaining books to add to our collection of early chapter books. We've been so blessed this year to try many unique and helpful products, of which the Circle C Beginnings books are among the top.

You can visit the Crew Blog to read what other reviewers thought.

Thanks to Kregel Publishing for sending a copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion about this resources.

1 comment:

Andi Carter said...

Hi Alane,
Thank you for the lovely review of Pony Trouble. Yes, those covers really kill off the "instant boy appeal," but like with the books for the older kid, if the boys can just get past their prejudices of the COVERS, then they really do enjoy the adventures.
I'm glad you found this to be your experience too.
Thanks again!