Saturday, March 16, 2013

Book Review: Invisible (Ginny L. Tyyrup)

Ginny Yttrup is a relatively new author; one whose book, Invisible, caught my attention from the start. Three women from different walks of life come together in friendship, only to realize that each has their own reasons for wanting to become (or seemingly remain) invisible.

Ellyn, a kind, warm and hard-working woman, makes everyone feel at home in her cafe-turned-family-kitchen.  However, when it comes to herself, she struggles daily with echoes from the past.  She can't help but tell herself that the handsome man interested in her must have the wrong motives or be a misguided widower.

Sabina, a beauty to behold, has taken out a year's lease on an ocean-view home.  Leaving a husband and 2 college-age daughters behind, she is running from something and hiding behind the curtains that remain closed to the majestic view.

Twila, the 26-year-old who resembles a teenager in both looks and language, hides behind layers of clothing even as she continues on her healing journey.  When something triggers the dire affects of her eating disorder, she struggles to remind herself of God's hand on her life; she fights against the desire to disappear again.

Yttrup has woven a realistic story together that is a gentle reminder to each of us that we are indeed created in the image of God.  All of nature reveals His glory and speaks of His grace extended to us; how can we look at His creation and deny the one Creator behind it all? 

"Men go abroad to wonder at the heights of mountains, at the huge waves of the sea, at the long courses of the rivers, at the vast compass of the ocean, at the circular motions of the stars, and they pass by themselves without wondering." ~ Saint Augustine

Do we look at ourselves and see the beauty of His handiwork?  That may be a more difficult question to answer for some.  Ellyn, Sabina, and Twila will each in their own way be confronted with this will you.

I was presented a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.  

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Curriculum Review: World Literature ~ Cultural Influences of Early to Contemporary Voices

Master Books, a division of New Leaf Publishing, is a publisher's name that I look for on books; I know their name means quality.  That being said, I wasn't sure I wanted to review a high school literature curriculum when the request was put before me.  Our children aren't at the high school level yet but it won't be long (gulp!).  When we do reach that point, we will have our first high school level book waiting; I can already hear the cries of anticipation in the other room...well, cries for something!

James P. Stobaugh has pulled together a good selection of world literature, created critical thinking assignments based on each selection, and written in a clear way so as to reflect the Biblical worldview we should hold in this fallen world.  When I was a high school student (early-90's), many books/authors were questionable in our public school.   In this decade, I've been shocked at some of the literature students are required to read/write about.  What happened to the quality classical works?  Look no further ~ this may be the solution you are looking for in your homeschool journey.

I appreciate that this course begins with distinguishing between world views.  Everyone has a starting point for how they think and what they believe; that affects everything ~ including literature.  World Literature is a classical approach to whole books and follows a Biblical worldview.

Broken into 34 chapters, each has 5 lessons; this is set up perfectly to use through one entire school year.  Literature is taken from Sumerian, Egyptian, and Hebrew; Ancient Greece and Rome; Early church history; Japanese, Indian, Persian and Arabic, Chinese; Middle ages; Romanticism; Realism; and Modern age. Vast assortment ~ well chosen. There are easy to follow reading schedules and a daily calendar to keep students and teachers on track.  Per the description, this book/course "equips students to think critically about philosophy and trends in culture, and articulate their views through writing."

The World Literature course includes a bound student text and a teacher's guide (hole-punched).  The student text is 496 pages in length.  It is actually quite interesting to me even though I'm not teaching it yet.  Our children have already heard many of the stories, places, and characters mentioned in this curriculum.  We are following the childhood audio series Story of the World and related resources.  It's encouraging for me to see that they will continue to glean more from literature as they mature and work on deeper levels.

In addition to World Literature, there are also American Literature and British Literature texts and associated teacher's guides available.  Offering 3 credits each, these are well-suited to 10th, 11th, and 12th grade.

I appreciate the opportunity given to review this excellent work and look forward to using it personally in the future.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Book Review: This Scarlet Cord, by: Joan Wolf

There are two types of Christian fiction books.  The type that basically follows the Biblical account of lives, places, and situations; and the type that takes those same knowns and wraps a creative story around them.  This book is the latter.

Yes, this is a fictional book, very loosely based on the Biblical person of Rahab.  Joan Wolf has created an intriguing storyline about a woman who obviously led a very different (likely difficult) life.  While the Bible doesn't give away many details of the "real" Rahab's life, don't let the fact that the author took many literary liberties in creating a life story for her character dissuade you from reading the story.  I enjoyed this book but also realize Ms. Wolf wasn't saying that this is what the Bible says.

This Scarlet Cord helped me to understand better the culture of Jericho's day; a city drawn into self-desires and idol worship. I hesitate to write much about the storyline as it is unique in it's own right and I don't want to give away the plot.  Suffice it to say, it was a story I had never pictured the real Rahab living out but interesting to see the author's spin on her life in this fictional account. 

To meet the real Rahab one day will be grand; to hear how God spared her life, how she turned to the One true God in the midst of such wickedness, and became one of only 5 women listed in the genealogy of Jesus Christ!

This book was provided to me for review; all opinions are my own.