I received five free ebooks from Guardian Angel Publishing to review as a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew. Two of the books were non-fiction teaching resources and the other three were fiction. The books differed greatly, as did our opinions of each; therefore, I will review each book separately.
Stubby's Destiny by Dixie Phillips, illustrated by Kim Sponaugle
Stubby, the donkey, learns a lesson that can best be summed up by Eph 2:10. He aspires to do things that he has determined are great but finds that Jesus has an ordained purpose for him that is greater than anything he imagined for himself. Stubby's job requires humility, but through his service, Jesus is glorified.
Everyone in my family enjoyed Stubby's Destiny and thought it taught a good and Biblical lesson. We thought the ending was a little predictable because the story is based on a very familiar Bible story. However, I can imagine younger children being surprised by what happens to Stubby, enjoying it much more than we did and learning a Bible lesson in the process.
The full-page illustrations added to our enjoyment. The artwork is very well done.
Each member of our family ranked Stubby's Destiny on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the best book ever and 1 being the worst. Stubby received an average score of 8 from the Olive Plants family.
Earthquake! by Susan J. Berger, illustrated by Eugene Ruble
This book begins by explaining the science behind earthquakes. There are a number of good charts and pictures that we found helpful. "Factoids" are included on almost every page with interesting tidbits about earthquakes. One science experiment is included as well.
The book concludes with a very thorough section on preparedness. The advice included explains how to best protect yourself during an earthquake and how to create an earthquake plan, including what emergency supplies should be kept on-hand and how best to store them.
Earthquake! received an average score of 6 from us. My boys were a little scared by the topic (not by the presentation) which probably skewed their scores some.
Rainbow Sheep by Kim Chatel
This is a sweet, imaginative story in which the main character, Genevieve, interacts with a sad rainbow. In the end, the rainbow finds happiness, and Genevieve's flock becomes sheep of many colors.
Rainbow Sheep is well written and was enjoyed by every member of our family. The book is illustrated with photographs of felted scenes. These scenes added depth and warmth to the already touching story. We kept trying to stroke the pictures because they seemed so real and inviting. In addition, instructions for felting your own story illustrations are included.
Rainbow Sheep scored high with a 9.
The Sum of Our Parts: No Bones about It by Bill Kirk, illustrations by Eugene Ruble
This was our least favorite of the five books.
Each page contains an illustration of a particular bone or group of bones with a portion of a rhyme about the bone names . There is also a "factoid" included on each page. The factoids do not always directly relate to the illustrated bone. For instance on the page for the pelvis, the factoid is about the stirrup (the little bone inside the ear). They are not always that unrelated. However, the factoid is positioned on the page more predominately than the rhyme and caught my attention first. It took me some time to "clue into" the arrangement of the book and be able to follow it.
Once we worked past the initial confusion, we enjoyed the rhyme and thought it was a good way to learn the names of the bones and how they are connected.
In my opinion, the illustrations are a little odd. The bones themselves are sketched in a style that did not appeal to any member of my family. Additionally, each bone has a smiley face drawn on it. None of us thought this "worked", including my children. They commented that it looked a little scary.
We gave this book a very low score of 4.
Maybe We Are Flamingos by Safari Sue Thurman, illustrated by Kevin Collier
This was our favorite of the five. Okay, it's about birds which may have influenced them a little…. Nonetheless, Maybe We Are Flamingos is such a cute story with a great moral. It is filled with good, clean fun and humor. The joke within the story had my boys brainstorming alternate versions. That is difficult to explain in detail without giving away too much, but trust me, we were coming up with new ideas and laughing about it for days after our reading.
The moral of the story is a good one, too. Amidst the laughter, we also felt sympathy for the flamingos and cheered for their happy ending. The full-page, brightly-colored pictures were eye-catching and added to our enjoyment as well. We used our projector again to display this book on our living room wall.
Maybe We Are Flamingos was a winner with us, and we gave it a 9.5.
My overall impression of Guardian Angel Publishing is that they offer a wide variety of books that serve different purposes and that will appeal differently to each reader. I tended to like their fiction books more than the non-fiction. However, as their non-fiction publications pack a good amount of information into a relatively small book, you may find exactly what you need for a unit study or for further reading on a topic. Likewise, fiction and the creative slant given to the non-fiction books I reviewed leaves a lot of room for subjectivity. You may have a different experience with each book than we did.
All in all, I think they have a good selection and encourage you to check out Guardian Angel Publishing's website. Each downloadable ebook costs $5. The books are also available in CD and print formats. Prices vary; click the link to each individual title for more information.
You can also read what my crewmates had to say by clicking here.