Saturday, December 4, 2010

Review: Circle C Beginnings. Early Chapter Books You Won't Want to Miss!

Little girls and horses just seem to go together like . . .well . . . little boys and puppy dogs. I know that I was a horse-crazy kid, and now I have three young ladies of my own that adore all things equine. If you can’t have adventures on your own horse though—oh, what a cross to bear!—the next best thing is to READ about adventures on a horse!
Author Susan K. Marlow has delivered another wonderful series that will have your littlest horse lovers jumping in with both feet. “Circle C Beginnings” is the prequel to Susan Marlow’s other successful series, “Circle C Adventures.” I reviewed Trouble with Treasure, one of the books from the latter series, earlier this year. I just loved the wholesome fun it offered. So much so, that I bought the entire set for my 12 year old daughter. She inhaled every book and proclaimed them to be the best stories her voracious reading appetite had consumed!
When I received the first two “Circle C Beginnings” books recently, my daughter snatched them up and read them as well (even though they are aimed at an audience of 6-8 year olds). There’s something about Andi Carter, the main character of all the Circle C books, that is so endearing. She just seems to find trouble like a flea finds a dog. And it’s always with such good intentions that you can’t help but become a fan! 
In Andi’s Pony Trouble, Andi is tired of her pokey, hand-me-down pony, Coco. She is almost six years old, for Pete’s sake, shouldn’t she be ready for a full-grown horse? Her family doesn’t think so, but Andi is sure she can prove how mature and ready she really is. 
Andi and friend Riley go riding on Coco and Riley’s horse, Midnight. Riley let’s her take a turn galloping on Midnight and Andi feels like she can conquer the world! She certainly doesn’t want to ride boring old Coco anymore. In fact, why can’t the two of them ride double on Midnight and let Coco follow them back to the ranch? Good plan, until they realize Coco is no longer behind them. Andi knows that losing Coco will mean big trouble. If she can’t take care of a pokey, hand-me-down pony, then it proves she really isn’t ready for a full size horse! Maybe if she can find Coco on her own . . . (yes, it’s a bad idea!).
Andi’s Indian Summer finds Andi and friend Riley (or maybe “partner in crime” is a better description?) between a rock and a hard place. A dime-novel about Indian’s taking white men captive has planted some pretty scary images in young Andi’s mind. What could be worse than being kidnapped by a tribe of wild Indians? The children find that getting lost in the vast, unsettled wilderness proves to be a close second. When real Indians come across their path, Andi and Riley are sure they are goners! 
All of the Circle C adventures are set in the late 1800’s, in the untamed Sierra Nevada’s of California. A perfect place for a young tomboy to find trouble and adventure galore! There’s enough rough and tumble fun in these stories to ensure that boys will enjoy them as well. Although Andi makes bad choices at times, she also learns wholesome lessons through the natural consequences of her actions. Important concepts for young people to grasp!
These delightful early chapter books have a “New Words” list to help readers navigate the tale. Illustrator Leslie Gammelgaard has liberally sprinkled her charming sketches throughout the pages, serving to enhance the story that much more.The author also has a few questions and historical facts at the end of each book to add to the experience. You’ll also be glad to know there’s a definite Christian worldview woven into each story that's never preachy, just a natural part of Andi’s life.
Furthermore, on the Circle C website (visit it here), there are activity and coloring pages (related to each book) that can be printed out for FREE, serving to make these chapter books a truly educational experience. If you’re ready to add some Circle C fun to your Christmas gift list, then you can order books by visiting the Kregel Publishing website here.
It has been a pleasure to get to know Andi Carter and crew through the various Circle C books! I know you won’t be disappointed in the quality of writing and integrity of character that Susan K. Marlow serves up with each tale. I look forward to reading more from this author in the future! 

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At the Intersection of Creation and Evolution: A Dream

The alliterating story below is based on a dream I had several years ago. Please contact me for permission to reproduce.

Darkness devours me.

I am enveloped in emptiness.

Are my eyes open or are they closed? I strain against this shroud of night and still see nothing.

What is this place?

An image illuminates in front of me. A large, leafy tree streaks past and vanishes.

It deserts me to the darkness again.

In a moment, more images appear. A rapid succession of snapshots and thoughts clamor before my eyes and mingle in my mind.

I see seedlings. Several supple shoots have emerged before me and then swiftly stream away.

“The first trees on earth were not seedlings”, my mind observes. “They were not created as small insignificant saplings.”

That thought is rapidly replaced with a vision of a man.

He’s maybe 30; he is muscular and needs to shave.

He fades away.

In his place I see an infant.

A tiny bundle of pink skin upon a soft blanket flickers briefly in my brain.

“Man was created with age,” is the next statement I hear. “Adam did not begin his life as a baby, he began as a grown man.”

The voice seems like my own.

The thoughts do not.

Reeling before me now is a blur of rivers, forests, mountains and even layers of the earth. It is like a movie rushing rapidly before my retina.

The soundtrack of this epic is proclaiming a peculiarly plain concept:

“The earth was created with age. Creation and evolution are not in total opposition. There is a reason that science finds the earth to be quite old: it was made that way.”

Thoughts continue to tumble through my mind; pictures parade before me. I listen in amazement to what seems to be puzzlingly profound and yet rather apparent all at once.

“Adam was created as an adult. Trees and plants were made fully grown.”

I suddenly feel quite certain that, if I were to chop down some of the trees that had been spoken into existence, I would find a range of rings running through their trunks.

“The earth was brought to life with age built into it… just like Adam. He did not begin life as an infant. The earth came into being with what it would need to sustain the life that was created. It was old when it was young. The world was
made with maturity; it was also produced with purpose.”

These thoughts are thrilling. Why had I not seen this before? It seems so simple. Obtusely obvious. Had others not observed this correlation? If they had, why wasn’t it being candidly conveyed?

In the span of thirty seconds I have been ravaged by a radical revelation. I feel the weight of its worth resting on me; it is tantamount to tangible.

I am neither a theologian nor am I a scientist. I don’t claim that the ethics of evolution are completely compatible with the Bible’s account of creation. But certainly Science can come concurrent to creation and affirm our faith with facts.

Of course, the Omnipotent Originator of the Universe is exceedingly elusive to what our mind could ever envision. Above what science could ever extensively elucidate.

Accordingly, creation is confounding too. Each diverse discovery deems it more marvelous to grasp. Many scientists have reluctantly relented to the theory of Intelligent Design.

That’s why, alongside those facts, we also need faith.

Lying inexplicably at the intersection of those two essential elements is an exceptional endowment: the intermittent insight of our dreams.