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Book Pack: Boy Interest Titles

Stonewall Jackson by Charles Ludwig
Reading Level 6.4 Number of days to read: 15 days List Price: $8.99 [Add to Cart]

Loved in the South; Admired in the North "Look!" cried General Bee. "There are Jackson and his men standing like a stone wall. Rally behind them!"

In the battle that followed, Jackson lifted his left hand high and moved back and forth shouting encouragement to his men. At a critical moment, he spurred his horse, Little Sorrel, into the center of his regiment and shouted, "Reserve your fire until they come within fifty yards. Then fire and give them the bayonet. And when you charge, yell like the furies." Weeks before, the men had practiced the bloodcurdling yell of woh-who-ey. This combination of Apache war whoop, wolf howl and panther scream had a terrifying effect. The Federals broke rank, threw down their weapons and fled.

Stonewall's fearlessness had begun years earlier when he climbed the highest tree in pursuit of a coon, and when he was determined to learn, in spite of being called the school dummy and school charity case. Even at West Point his grades nearly scraped the bottom in his first year. But he worked hard and raised his level each year until he graduated in the upper third of his class. An official later remarked, "If the course at West Point had been a year longer, Jackson would have graduated at the head of his class." A Northern newspaper mourned his death: "Stonewall Jackson was a great general, a noble Christian and a pure man."

Salt in His Blood by William R. Rang
Reading Level: 7.4, List Price: $11.95
Suggested number of days to read: 15 days
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This book is a fictional account of the life of Michael de Ruyter, who as a schoolboy already preferred life at sea to being at school. De Ruyter is known as the greatest Dutch admiral, who, in spite of his successful career as a sailor captain and pirate hunter, remained humble and faithful to his God who had called him to serve his country. The author brings to life many adventures at sea that keep the reader spellbound, eager to know what the next chapter will bring. This book is highly recommended as a novel way to acquiring knowledge of a segment of Dutch history, for avid young readers and adults alike.

Historical Fiction
The Winged Watchman by Hilda Van Stockum
Reading Level: 6.3, List Price: $14.95
Suggested number of days to read: 15 days
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This acclaimed story of World War II is rich in suspense, characterization, plot and spiritual truth. Every element of occupied Holland is united in a story of courage and hope: a hidden Jewish child, an underdiver, a downed RAF pilot, an imaginative, daring underground hero, and the small things of family life which surprisingly carry on in the midst of oppression. The Verhagen family, who live in the old windmill called the Winged Watchman, are a memorable set of individuals whose lives powerfully demonstrate the resilience of those who suffer but do not lose faith. Illustrated by the author.

The Quest for Thunder Mountain by Ed Dunlop
Reading Level: 7.0, List Price: $9.99
Suggested number of days to read: 15 days
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A dangerous quest to a mysterious mountain - but how will it end? When Gavin's career comes to an abrupt end, the talented young minstrel learns that King Emmanuel has plans for him-plans that promise life and purpose. But Gavin must make a difficult quest to a mysterious mountain. The young minstrel eagerly sets off on his quest with three companions, but the travelers are warned that Thunder Mountain is a place of terror and treachery. Will Gavin and his friends find Emmanuel's will on the mountain, or are they walking into a trap? There is only one way to find out. This is the first book in the Tales from Terrestria series, a companion series to the popular Terrestria Chronicles. This book was written to help young adult readers experience the wonder of finding and doing the will of God.

Sparrows in the Scullery by Barbara Brooks Wallace
Reading Level: 6.4, List Price: $11.95
Suggested number of days to read: 10 days
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Barbara Brooks Wallace transports readers back to 19th-century England, to the time when it was not uncommon for orphans to be sold to seemingly charitable homes where they were clothed and fed, but where they were often required to toil long hours in factories. That's the horror that befalls once privileged, recently orphaned Colley Trevelyan. The action takes off at a horse's gallop: After his parents are killed in a carriage accident, Colley is kidnapped and sold to the Broggin Home for Boys. There he is stripped of his name and put to work in a glass factory. It's a far cry from the servants and estate to which he's accustomed, but Colley becomes close to the other boys, and learns about friendship, teamwork, and survival. Wallace is deliberately Dickensian in her portrait of the home and the boys, yet the tale is full of hope: The boys find an unexpected savior, and readers will be borne along by the suspense to an exhilarating conclusion.

Caught in the Act by Joan Lowery Nixon
Reading Level: 6.3, List Price: $6.99
Suggested number of days to read: 5 days
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This is Nixon's second book that chronicles the adventures of six Irish-American siblings who have been sent from the slums of New York City to new homes on the Frontier in the years just prior to the Civil War. This book stands on its own, so it is not necessary to have read the first book in the series. The focus here is on 11-year-old Mike Kelley, who is placed with a German immigrant farmer more interested in acquiring cheap labor than a new family member. When Mike overhears Friedrich and his kind-hearted wife discussing their fear of retribution over a man's death, he suspects foul play. The imaginative youngster's suspicions are aggravated when his best friend Reuben, an educated farmhand, disappears after a loud altercation with the overseer. The puzzle is believably pieced together as the motivations of father and son are revealed at story's end.

Folk Tales
Sir Knight of the Splendid Way by W.E. Cule
Reading Level: 8.5, List Price: $25.00
Suggested number of days to read: 15 days
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Sir Knight of the Splendid Way is a captivating allegory-a rich literary masterpiece that will encourage any weary traveler. This beautifully-bound work depicts life as a journey, reaching toward a beacon of hope in the City of the Great King. Beckoned by the King to travel the Splendid Way, the young knight must keep his armor on at all costs. All along the way he is tempted to take off his armor. Many try to convince him that the battle is not worth the fight. But only those who keep their armor on can see the real battle that rages, and only those with pure hearts will see the King.

Non Fiction
Candy Bomber by Michael O. Tunnell
Reading Level: 7.2, List Price: $9.95
Suggested number of days to read: 8 days
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Tunnell brings to life a little-known post-World War II story. What started as a single pilot's car tour of bombed-out Berlin turned into an international campaign to help lighten the suffering of the children of West Berlin. The time was 1948, and the Soviet Union had closed all land access to the isolated Free World sectors of West Berlin in an attempt to starve the people into accepting Communist rule. On an impulse, a C-54 cargo pilot, Lt. Gail S. Halvorsen, shared the only two sticks of gum he had with a group of about 30 children. What started as a somewhat clandestine candy-dropping operation by Halvorsen and his buddies eventually became a USAF-sanctioned operation. As the airlift of food and fuel continued for almost two years, tons of candy were dropped (using tiny parachutes) for the children who waited in the flight path below. The text is liberally illustrated with black-and-white photos, copies of letters, and a diagram of how the flight patterns worked. The book concludes with extensive biographical, historical, and author's notes. This is a real treat - a World War II title with a happy ending.

Orphan Train Rider by Andrea Warren
Reading Level: 6.6, List Price: $9.95
Suggested number of days to read: 7 days
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From 1854 to 1930, the orphan trains took homeless children from cities in the East to new homes in the West, the Midwest, and the South. In Warren's book, one man's memories of his childhood abandonment and adoption give a personal slant on the subject. Chapters telling the story of Lee Nailing, who took an orphan train west in 1926, alternate with chapters filling in background information about the trains and the experiences of other children who rode them to their destinies. Throughout the book, black-and-white photos show both the people and places in Nailing's story and the broader topic of the orphan train experience. Young adults will find this a good resource on an intriguing subject.

Stories of Don Quixote Written Anew for Children by James Baldwin
Reading Level: 8.0, List Price: $10.95
Suggested number of days to read: 15 days
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This is a retelling for the youthful reader of the most interesting parts of Cervantes' great novel about Don Quixote, the eccentric gentleman who fancies himself a knight-errant. The adventures most appealing to children are included, and related in such a way as to form a continuous narrative, with both the spirit and style of the original preserved as much as possible.

Realistic Fiction
Winter Holiday by Arthur Ransome
Reading Level: 8.1, List Price: $15.99
Suggested number of days to read: 15 days
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This is the fourth volume of the Swallows and Amazons series. It features the same Lake District setting as the first two, but this time we encounter the lake in the depths of winter, rather than summer. The book also introduces two new members to the `gang': the D's. Indeed, the story concentrates more on the newcomers' activities, as they first meet and befriend - and then try their utmost to keep up with - the more experienced Swallows and Amazons.

Once again, Ransome allows the children's views of the world to dominate over the grown-up, outsider's view. Amongst other inventions, an old barn becomes a signaling station for communicating with Mars; the lower fells the wastes of High Greenland; and the frozen lake a training ground for an expedition to the North Pole.

This is one of the very best of the Swallows and Amazons stories. It combines all of the fine features of the earlier volumes - beautifully simple (and yet never condescendingly simplified) prose, enchanting line drawings, and honest and open values - with an elegantly crafted plot and some moments of true excitement. It also has some cleverly disguised educational content, in the form of lessons in field communications techniques. (And the dangers of misinterpretation that can result from their misuse!) As usual, Ransome knows precisely how to build the excitement as the tale progresses. From simple beginnings, the book gradually becomes more and more riveting reading, until it is almost impossible to put the book down.

The world was a simpler place when this book was written (1933) and, sadly, the events portrayed within it just could not happen nowadays. But children of all ages can still enjoy tales such as this, to feed their own imaginations and help them to grow into the world as it now is. Who knows? It may yet help lead the world back to times as honest as these. (Steve Benner; Lancaster, UK)