Saturday, August 18, 2012

Crew Review: Mr. Pipes & the British Hymn Makers

 Mr. Pipes and the British Hymn Makers from Christian Liberty Press.
Author: Douglas Bond
Price: $8.79 for the PDF download, $9.89 for the book.
Intended audience:  7th – 10th grade (though as a read aloud, a much wider age range can be reached)
Mr. Pipes has a series of similar books!

Drew and Annie are stuck in England for their summer vacation.  They are not too thrilled about it, since the town they are living in is quite small and seems to be inhabited by only adults .  Exploring one day, the meet a Mr. Pipes, who happens to be an energetic, organist at the local church.  He invites the children to learn to fish with him, and thus begins their adventures learning about British hymn writers from the Reformation period:
My recommendations & thoughts:  We’ve used books similar to this to explore historical figures in the past, so my children are quite used to them.  The children Annie and Drew, Mr. Pipes and other characters from the town of Olney are fictitious, but the writers (men and women) about which they learn are real.  Having grown up in a church where we sang traditional hymns, I love learning the back story – the inspiration, events and struggles -- that inspired such beautiful poetry set to music.
For my guys, this book was a little too “school-y” for a summer read aloud and (now that I think about it) I should have searched out some examples of the hymns from each writer to help the boys make connections to the material we were reading.  I think that would have sparked more interest from my guys.  {I should insert here that our church offers up contemporary worship music to the Lord, sometimes with a traditional hymn writers’ words as the chorus or incorporated into the body of the song, so my kids sometimes don’t realize they are singing a traditional hymn – which can be a good thing and a bad thing simultaneously!}    Levi (6 yo) found the chapters to be too long to hold his interest, but Luke and Ben did fine with the average of 20+ pages/ chapter. 
Overall, however, I love including books like this into our home education.  The series of Mr. Pipes books would complement many different home school curriculum that cycles through all of history.
The PDF that you receive with the download has a clickable table of contents, which can take you to any chapter in the book easily.  I’m still not totally used to doing read -aloud with e-books, and for the small price differential, I would consider purchasing a hard copy of the book instead. 
To read what others have to say about Mr. Pipes:
Disclaimer: As a member of the TOS Crew, I received this eBook, at no cost to me, in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are mine.

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