Read-Aloud time has become a favorite pastime at our house. The tradition was started by my parents when I was a little girl. I remember my parents gathering the family in the den in the evenings and reading great stories about missionaries. I decided to keep up this tradition with my kids and we carve out time whenever possible to sit together and read great books. Our latest pick was sent to us for review by Susan Marlow and Kregel Publications. We received the kids adventure book, Badge of Honor by Susan K. Marlow. Homeschool mom Susan K. Marlow has authored two other kids series that you can take a peek at here at her website.
About the Product:
Badge of Honor is the first of two books in the Goldtown Adventure Series. This 143-page paperback is geared for ages 8 to 12. There are a few interesting pencil-drawn illustrations scattered throughout the book that add interest to the story. Set in California in the Gold Rush time period around 1864, the adventure starts with two fun-loving kids, Jem and Ellie,and their Pa trying to carve out a life in the wilderness. After loosing their Ma to influenza, the threesome try to work a ranch after their gold claim petered out. Jem and Ellie think Pa gave up on the gold claim too soon and sneak away every chance they get to pan for gold with their friend and old-time gold miner Strike. Their life was clipping along smoothly until the day that they get caught playing hooky from school to pan for gold. Their dad punishes them by not allowing them to work the gold claim for several weeks. The find out that their dad has taken on the job of sheriff of Goldtown and Jem is not happy with his dad’s decision. He gets teased by the locals and wonders why his dad would take such a dangerous job. He worries about his dad’s safety. The arrival of an aunt and cousin from back east complicates matters and the next time the kids go out to the gold claim, they find things have completely changed. The creek is running at only a trickle and Strike is nowhere to be found. Having their greenhorn cousin along adds to the adventure and the children learn lessons about trust, sacrifice, courage, responsibility and obedience. The twists and turns will keep you on the edge of your seat as nearly every chapter leaves you hanging and wanting to turn the next page to see what happens next. You can read sample chapters here.
You can learn a little more by watching this video trailer below.
How We Used this Product in Our Homeschool:
I read this book aloud to my seven and ten-year old boys. They were on the edge of their seat and this was a perfect summertime read-aloud for us. We were able to learn about the gold rush days and the boys didn’t even realize that this was “educational”. I tried to stop reading at places in the book that were cliff-hangers. It worked and there were times that the boys were BEGGING for me to continue. We read about 1-2 chapters per sitting.
Our Opinion of the Product:
The boys LOVED the book and found it to be a perfect adventure book appealing to boys especially. I think girls may enjoy the adventure as well since there is a little girl, Ellie who is also one of the main characters in the story. I thought that the character lessons in the story were great. The ideas of respecting one’s father was explored and this is such a refreshing idea that is many times left out of modern literature and film. We didn’t have the time to explore the lapbook over the summer, but it is something that I might consider purchasing in the future to complete with the kids. We will definitely purchase the second book in the series. I thought the provision of a lapbook to go along with the book was genius on the part of the author. This adds a great educational element to the book and allows the home educator another avenue to explore when using this as a history lesson. This book would work well as a stand alone introduction to gold rush history and mining for young kids and it would provide an excellent jumping off place to do more research on this topic. I think kids are much more interested in history if you can incorporate stories and make learning fun. This book accomplished both of those goals.
If you would like to read more reviews about this book and the second book in the series, Tunnel of Gold, click the graphic below.