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

 

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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!

Nonfiction

Ages 16-adult

Available from public libraries

Recommended

Reviewer: Doreen

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Bunny’s First Spring

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by Sally Lloyd-Jones

A little bunny watches as the seasons change, and gets worried when everything seems to disappear and die in the winter. Continue reading to witness his joy at the return of spring. Great illustrations.

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Recommended

Ages 0-5

Reviewed by Esther

Available from public libraries.

The Awakening of Miss Prim

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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

 

Thee, Hannah!

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By Marguerite de Angeli

For children (and sometimes we as adults!) who struggle against being different from others; who want to conform with the current culture; who admire its dress and long for its beauties…this is a beautiful book.

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There are so many aspects to this book. On one level, it is the tale of a little girl who longs to be like her next-door neighbour, but woven through the story-line is the Quaker work with the Underground Railroad. The author also does an excellent job of painting the historical time period and the reader can actually see the various peddlers weaving their daily paths through the city and through Hannah’s life. On a spiritual level, Hannah is struggling with temptation and giving in to it. The tempter, as per Quaker custom, is referred to as “Old Spotty,” throughout.

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I will not give the ending away, but the book winds down and we start to think, is this it? And only on the very last page, does the story come full-circle and its various strands are satisfactorily bound together.

Picture/Chapterbook

Recommended!!

Ages 4-12

Reviewer: Doreen

 

William of Orange: The Silent Prince  

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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

Recommended

Reviewer: Doreen

Great Joy

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Kate DiCamillo

This book I took home for its beautiful illustrations. On one level, it is somewhat of a Christmas feel-good story, but ultimately, I think, the author’s goal is to bring a sense of hope to all, and to communicate that the church is not an exclusive community, but has open doors for all with a message of hope for all.

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The story takes place in a downtown city about a hundred years ago. It features a young girl who has concern for a homeless organ grinder and his monkey, and how she bravely gives the message of Christmas in their church’s Christmas program pageant. The story is told simply and well and will open the door for discussion.

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Picturebook

Ages 4-10

Recommended

Reviewer: Doreen

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Mary’s First Thanksgiving: An Inspirational Story of Gratefulness

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By Kathy-jo Wargin

A beautiful thanksgiving picture book to enjoy! On one level, this is just another account of the Pilgrim’s first hard years here in America, and their first Thanksgiving in the 1600’s. But perhaps less known is the five corn kernels used at Thanksgiving to remember the five things the Pilgrim’s were thankful for: five things kids can still be thankful for today!

Given just as much page space in this picturebook, is the story of Mary, an Irish immigrant girl to America, in the 1800’s, who is resentful of her family’s poverty. The author skillfully weaves the two stories together, and Mary’s parents both encourage a thankful spirit for the care God shows throughout the book, and encourage her to see what God has given. As for the paintings–or should I say portraits, for  their life-likeness–they are really beautiful!

Ages 5 and up

Historical Fiction

Recommended

Reviewer: Doreen

Black Beauty

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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

Recommended!

Reviewer: Doreen

 

Storytime with the Millers

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By Mildred A. Martin

Part of the Miller series, this book is a great read aloud for ages 3-9 or a wholesome reader for beginning readers. We enjoyed reading this book during our lunch time meals over the past few weeks. Each story begins with a Bible verse and follows with an application. There is one story in which the author assumes that dressing in plain clothes assumes a humble heart.  This particular story  brought up a great discussion on the importance of a heart change before any outward reformation.

Read aloud: Ages 2-9

Beginner Reader

Available for Reformed Book Services or Heritage Books

Recommended

Reviewer: Meagan

Interested in more of the Miller Stories?

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Lost in the Snow

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By W. G. Van de Hulst

Just one of nearly two dozen such books, this classic Van de Hulst tale involves (as usual) a few little children who run into adventure either by mistake, or temptation to wander down forbidden paths, or who are frightened into adventure by unknown dogs. The author writes in a very simple, child-like manner, and your three and four year old will breathe hard and live the whole dramatic adventure with the main characters, right through to the end where all ends up well and safe, tucked in bed with the moon smiling down.

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Set in Holland some fifty years ago, each story features wooden shoes, horse-drawn carts, or wind-mills, but the children are the same as children today: inquisitive and creative. Each “chapter book” usually has 10-15 chapters (of two or three pages each) and includes charming black and white illustrations on most page spreads. The whole book can be read aloud in an hour. Most (or perhaps all) of the books contain a gentle reminder of God’s ever-present care.

Ages 2-5

Very brief chapter books

Available from Inheritance Publications

Recommended

Reviewer: Doreen