I'm finding it hard to believe that before this review privilege we hadn't discovered Andi Carter's adventures!
Susan K. Marlow, published by Kregel Publications, has written several series about Andi's life on a ranch in California in the late 1880s. We were so blessed to receive the first two books--Andi Saddles Up and Andi Under the Big Top--in the newest Circle C series: Circle C Stepping Stones.
There's something about a series that kids love. Following a beloved character through several adventures is satisfying, and there are many, many series available for kids to read. Unfortunately the quality of those series is often quite poor--in writing, in plot, in moral values, in everything.
Susan K. Marlow's series, however, are high quality--in writing, in plot, in moral values, in everything. (I can say this because reading the two review books has led us to obtaining every Circle C book we could, and we've been reading them voraciously ever since.)
When our two books arrived, I called Nature Angel and Little Princess over. "Who wants to read which one?" Nature Angel claimed Andi Saddles Up.
Little Princess claimed Andi Under the Big Top.
"Would you like to just read them for fun or would you like to do study guide pages for school?" I asked next.
They both opted to do the study guides for their respective books, which are available free here.
While I printed and hole-punched their pages, the girls got started reading.
Nature Angel came to me after 1 chapter saying, "I like this book because Andi's just like me. She doesn't like hand-me-downs, and she's super-excited about her birthday."
(Nature Angel is the 5th girl in a row in our family--she has a love-hate relationship with hand-me-downs.)
I think it's funny for Nature Angel to identify with Andi because Andi is impetuous, adventurous, and struggles to control her temper--all traits that are utterly different from my Nature Angel. Somehow, though Susan K. Marlow has managed to develop a character that is universal and utterly lovable--so much so that my quiet, gentle, sweet-tempered Nature Angel feels that Andi is just like her.
Little Princess was so excited as she read that she came to me with play-by-play updates on what was happening in the book.
The next day, we settled into substituting the Andi stories and study guides for their regular language arts lessons. The activities were interesting and definitely enlightening for my girls (Little Princess had never completed a crossword puzzle before, but she sure loved working on the one included in her study guide once she caught on to how to do it!).
|Part of a geography lesson for Andi Saddles Up|
|This human biology lesson became particularly personal when Nature Angel broke her arm just a week after reading it!|
|Little Princess happily made and is still using these bookmarks included in her study guide.|
I asked Nature Angel to write up a summary of Andi Saddles Up when she finished the book. Here's what she wrote:
"Andi Saddles Up is about a girl named Andrea Carter. She wants to trick ride. Her second oldest brother, Chad Carter, who is in charge of the ranch says no. One day Andi meets Sadie Hollister, and they become friends. Unfortunately Chad and Sadie's father aren't friends, and Chad says Sadie and Andi can't be friends any more. One day Sadie and Andi meet accidentally and Sadie asks if Andi want to learn trick riding. Andi says yes because she is mad at Chad, but when she does, she falls and gets hurt. Sadie gets her father. Through Andi's accident, Chad and Mr. Hollister become friends."
And Little Princess narrated the following to me about Andi Under the Big Top:
"Andi Under the Big Top is about Andi going to the circus. She makes friends with Henry, who works at the circus. He teaches Andi that a circus is not really a fun place to work. He also shows Andi around the back scenes of the circus. Andi meets Miss Minnie Mae who is a bareback horse rider. Miss Minnie Mae asks to buy Andi's horse, Taffy, but Andi won't sell her, so Miss Minnie Mae gets Henry to steal Taffy. It's all really bad, but Andi's big brothers get Taffy back, Henry apologizes, and Andi forgives Henry."
These sweet books teach solid Christian values without being preachy or overbearing. I found in my own reading of them that I was really impressed with Andi's struggles and how she triumphed over them through faith, repentance, and humble reliance on the Lord and her loving family.
Each Andi series appeals just right to the age group at which it is targeted (at least in my family), and I wholeheartedly recommend Circle C Stepping Stones as delightful reads.
I know my 7- and 9-year-olds are waiting anxiously for more books in the series!
For more reviews of Andi Saddles Up and Andi Under the Big Top click here or the banner below.