Monday, May 4, 2015

Andrea Carter's Tales from the Circle C Ranch

Andrea Carter is the heroine of a number of books set on a ranch in California in the late 1800's. Author Susan K. Marlowe has created books in various stages of Andrea's life. The early series is called Circle C Beginnings, the next series about a slightly older Andrea is called Circle C Adventures and the series that caps it off is called Circle C Milestones when Andrea is 14.

Andrea Carter is part of a large family with a number of older brothers and sisters and I love how close they all are. Some have left to marry and begin their own life but some have stayed on to help work the ranch. These older brothers provide a father figure for Andrea whose dad died when she ws young.

Andrea is spunky, and often impetuous but through each adventure, she learns a valuable lesson. About honesty, loyalty, loving your enemies, or the value of not giving up!  Andrea Carter's Tales from Circle C Ranch fills in some stories between existing books in the series. Each chapter has a note about where that adventure fits into Andrea's life (before, during, or after another book in the series).

The concept of this book is such a great idea!  I have often finished a series and am disappointed to say good-bye to a cherished character. This book serves as an encore for the audience.  Tales from Circle C Ranch also provides a bit of "taste test" for the series.  Each chapter stands alone as an adventure in Andrea's life and would be a great way to introduce a new reader to this wonderful series.

I appreciate that Marlowe provides young people with a way to experience Andrea's struggles and benefit from the wisdom and guidance that her mother and older siblings provide. These books can help provide a loving example that someone may not experience in their own life.

What makes Marlowe's works so amazing is how much extra material she has on her website. For the Beginnings series, she has free coloring pages. For the Adventure series, the author provides free downloadable study guides (or a pre-printed option reasonably priced if you'd like something ready to go). Marlowe has some photos of what the characters might look like and also provides book trailers of the titles in the Circle C Adventure series. You can check it all out at Circle C Adventures.

If you want a series that can grow with your child from early elementary through high school and provide an example of a strong and supportive family trying to follow the Bible, then the Circle C books are for you!  You can purchase at the author's website and you can even have the book personalized for your child--how awesome is that!  Tales from Circle C Ranch and many other titles await you at Circle C Adventures.

Marlowe also has written some adventures with boy protagonists called Goldtown Adventures.  In our family, both genders have enjoyed all of Marlowe's books. The books are a delightful and wholesome look at life in the 1880's as well as life on a horse ranch (a life I suspect many children have dreamed about). Don't miss out on these well-written, wholesome books!

Disclaimer: Kregel Publications provided me with a free copy of Andrea Carter's Tales from Circle C Ranch in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Just Add Watercolor

At last an art book that is portable and light! The size is just a bit more than 5x7--something that easily fits in the hands of even a child and can easily be brought along on an outing to sketch or paint. The smaller book size makes the art much less intimidating and accessible to every age and skill level.  Pictures take up the full 5x7 page and text is reserved for a page of its own facing the print.  I love that the styles vary greatly throughout the book (the cover is a great example of the range of styles).  There is truly something here for everyone.

The table of contents was cleverly designed. Each painting style is assigned a color and on the top of the pages, the style is highlighted in that color so you can easily get to the section you want. And then, the real genius is also a visual index which shows thumbnails of prints in the book to help guide readers back to a style, color or background that they had previously seen in the book.

Each painting gives artist credit and their websites are listed in the back of the book. This makes it easy for readers to explore the works of artists they are particularly drawn to. The narrative tells about the technique and how to replicate. A running list of tips is shared at the bottom of each double spread.

Watercolor fundamentals are covered at the back of the book with explanations of various materials (types of paints & pencils, paper, and other accessories).  The book closes with suggestions for joining artist groups and starting to exhibit or sell works as well a complete index of topics.

This book would make a great book for any art enthusiast--perfect for coffee table display or working inspiration in the art room.  This is an excellent resource for any level artist whether beginner or advanced.  With so many styles and ideas, there are pictures to inspire and replicate at every skill level. This would also be a fabulous quiet book for a child to explore--size is not overwhelming, colors are bold and bright with enough variety to hold their attention for quite some time. This book is also an excellent resource for art teachers wanting to introduce varied techniques to students.

The can be purchased for $21.99--a steal at the price and cheaper than a beginning art class!  You can read more about author Helen Birch and sign up for author updates by visiting Random House.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.