The Green Ember

Green Ember

Here we have the gripping adventure that begins with oppression and the fight for freedom. In this tale of three books (more coming), the ravens and wolves have commenced an all-out attack on the rabbit kingdom, and the rabbits must fight for their lives, their freedom, and their children. The story of Picket and his sister Heather will be eagerly followed by readers, as very short chapters move the plot quickly along.

It is a rousing tale to read or listen to with your older children as themes of loyalty and treachery, family ties, faithfulness and sacrifice, oppression and persecution, truth and corruption are right there to be talked about. For kids studying history and time periods like the World War II, the third book in this series provides an excellent way to delve into the themes of government and the individual, treason and forgiveness, trust and regret, bringing home the terrible circumstances and difficult choices individuals had to make, while maintaining some emotional distance by the format of a fictional adventure.

The audio book is very well-read but a caution regarding the series over-all would be for violence. The author does a good job of not being graphic in his depiction of violence, especially in the first and second book where in battle he keeps description cryptic, simply saying things like “he swung his sword and cut him down.” But as the horrors of slavery in the third book come to light, our heroes are at different points struck in the head, kicked in the stomach, burned with a piece of iron, and threatened with a burning iron. The grim reality that young siblings are fattened and taken away for the enemy’s table also comes to light, making this series more appropriate for older children than young. Readers familiar with church history and current events, however, will quickly draw lines between the story and persecution today.



Ages: 10 or 13 and up.

Titles in the series so far: The Green Ember; Ember Falls; Ember Rising

Reviewer: Doreen

Ember Falls

Fierce Convictions: The Extraordinary Life of Hannah More—Poet, Reformer, Abolitionist



by Karen Prior

You know John Newton and William Wilberforce, but did you know that they were part of the Clapham group? And that each member had a key role to play in the religious awakening and political reform of their day? Meet Hannah More, the prolific writer who in William Wilberforce’s words had a great impact on society: “Individuals who are not in parliament seldom have an opportunity of doing good to considerable numbers. Even while I was writing the sentence I became conscious of the falsehood of the position; witness Mrs. Hannah More, and all those who labour with the pen.”

Here is a book for those who love biographies, are pursuing a writing career, or who want a fuller picture of the anti-slavery work that was going on in England at that time. Well-written!


Ages 16-adult

Available from public libraries


Reviewer: Doreen

The Private World of Tasha Tudor

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by Tasha Tudor and Richard Brown

Best known for her children’s artwork from half a century ago, this book gives a photographic look and biography into Tasha’s later life as an elderly lady in America who was convinced she should have lived 150 years ago.

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Her story and pictures will inspire adult readers who love the idea of being self-sufficient, working with pioneer-time tools, corgis, or true English-style cottage gardens.

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Ages 16 and up

Available from public libraries

Reviewer: Doreen

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The Awakening of Miss Prim

the awakening of

By Natalia Fenollera

There is just too much that you could talk about with this book, so much so that you can find numerous reviews on various aspects of the book, both negative and positive.  The downside to this book is that although the book is primarily about a Christian religious awakening, a few characters flippantly mention hell or God. The upside to this book is the refreshing look at our modern-day culture and society’s expectations, through fresh eyes.

As for the whole notion of classical education, home education with a community’s involvement, a utopian society where people farm and produce their own goods and engage in debates and discussion on heady matters…such as whether Jane Austen and Louisa May Alcott truly deserve a place among the classics, whether serving the living God changes a person so drastically that he can no longer marry a person who doesn’t believe, whether God can be found by skeptics who are open to finding the Truth—this and more I will leave the reader of Miss Prim to ponder for themselves…

I don’t particularly love the writing style, but there are so many quotes that made me think, such as Lulu Thiberville’s comment that: “Young people today extend childhood well beyond the chronologically allotted time. They’re immature and irresponsible at an age when they should no longer be so. But at the same time they lose their simplicity, their innocence and freshness early. Strange as it sounds, they grow old early.”

Adult fiction

Available from public libraries

Reviewer: Doreen


William of Orange: The Silent Prince  


by W.G. Van de Hulst

Here we have the story of a Protestant hero told by a master story-teller. Sure to capture older children’s interest.

Ages 7 and up.

Available from Inheritance Publications, and Reformed Book Services


Reviewer: Doreen

In Flanders Fields


by Norman Jorgensen

This beautifully-illustrated picturebook provides a rather unsoftened look at war. Intended for older kids, it has somewhat graphic pictures in ink (some dead bodies, a skull, rats) which give a look at real life in trenches. The story follows an act of mercy and a brief glimpse of hope is portrayed by the bright bird and the Christmas carol with which it ends.



Ages 8 and up

Available from public libraries


Reviewer: Doreen



The Gift of the Magi


By O. Henry

Illustrated by Lisbeth Zwerger

The Gift of the Magi, a short story you need to read at least once in your life—and a story you won’t forget! Written for adults, teens will also enjoy the story, especially in this oversized picture book with very artistic, semi-developed pictures. Here is a beautiful printing of this wonderful story of love, sacrifice, and acceptance of one’s circumstances.


Short story in picturebook form

Ages: teen-adult

Available from: public libraries


Reviewer: Doreen



Black Beauty


By Anna Sewell

Somewhere in the back of my mind I imagined this was a book for 13 year old girls/horse lovers. But I was very much mistaken. This unabridged audio version makes Black Beauty a book to be enjoyed by young and old! Such wisdom comes from an old horse’s mouth in this book, (I think of practical lessons learned from the pony Merryweather and his matter-of-fact handling of some rambunctious boys). But the wisdom is mixed with plenty of adventure, nearly adventure per chapter.

As for the book’s theme, treating animals with kindness is emphasized throughout the whole book, and the author makes it clear that all cruelty to other creatures stems from the devil himself who delights in cruelty, whereas love for one’s neighbours and other creatures comes from a love for God. Another interesting theme is the intolerance for ignorance. “I didn’t know any better,” is not a valid excuse according to this author, for great damage is done by the wicked and the ignorant–perhaps even more by the ignorant than the wicked, she suggests. She also speaks strongly for keeping Sunday as a day of rest and worship, and speaks out against tardiness, running late, and wasting time! There is also a voice against bondage to alcohol, and the oppression of the weak. There is commentary on politics and those who jump on the bandwagon, as well as slavery to fashion—“Is it not better to lead a good fashion than follow a bad one?” the author has a character ask. Food for thought 🙂

And for the true horse-lovers, this book is a real treat. Readers (or listeners)  will come away with a greater respect for the horse as well as some indepth horse handling knowledge.

This unabridged audio version is very well-read by Simon Vance who puts on the different voices with ease!

Ages 6-adult

Audio: 6 hours long

Available from: public libraries


Reviewer: Doreen


Counting Lions


by Katie Cotton, illustrated by Stephen Walton

This is a large non-fiction picture book focusing on endangered or threatened animals. It counts animals starting with one lion, and ending with ten zebras. The text is poetic and lyrical, but the illustrations are what make this book so amazing. Two pages at the end of the book offer more information on the endangered/threatened status of each animal.

Recommended for all ages.


Available from public libraries.

Reviewed by Esther

Silent Observer

silent observer

By Christy Mackinnon

This is not your traditional picture book…I think it took ½ an hour to read aloud! Instead, the diary notes and artwork for Silent Observer was discovered by Christy Mackinnon’s niece among her late aunt’s things, and she worked at getting it published. It is a book worth publishing, as it rings true, like Laura Ingalls’ childhood accounts.

This story about the author, however, takes place in Nova Scotia in the late 1800’s, and centres on the childhood years of Christy who becomes deaf at age two after a bout of whooping cough. The picturebook chronicles her struggle with deafness and her triumphs and features a brief real-life meeting with Alexander Graham Bell as well as Helen Keller. But it also brings to life in a small home with 8 kids, an energetic hard-working grandma, a mile-long walk while singing to school, and newborn twins that arrive in the doctor’s black bag 🙂

Ages 5 and up



Reviewer: Doreen