Andy and Spirit Go to the Fair by Mary Jean Kelso is the story of Andy, a boy in a wheelchair, who has the opportunity to compete in a 4-H horseback riding competition at the fair. Andy receives great support and encouragement from his mother, trainer, and 4-H friends, but a bully in the audience attempts to ridicule him and his horse as Andy's demonstration begins. Though shaken momentarily, Andy is able to collect himself, put his horse through the proper paces, and pull off a beautiful demonstration, resulting in a grand prize ribbon. The message of perservering through a tough situation is an important one, and I also appreciated the fact that the main character of the story has special needs.
Maybe We Are Flamingos by Safari Sue Thurman is the humorous tale of two baby flamingos who are trying to figure out why they are white rather than pink. As their feathers turn from white to grey they begin to wonder if they are truly flamingos. They consider the possibility that maybe they are ostriches or giraffes, but ultimately learn from their mother that they are indeed flamingos and will eventually turn pink. The author weaves in several facts about flamingos, making this story educational as well as entertaining. This was probably my children's favorite of the five books I reviewed.
Rainbow Sheep, written and illustrated by Kim Chatel, is the story of a little shepherdess named Genevieve who tickles the clouds from the sky and attempts to cheer up a sad rainbow by telling it stories. When she succeeds the rainbow splashes her sheep with pretty colors, and Genevieve and her herd become famous. The storyline is accompanied by unique and colorful fiber art illustrations.
Earthquake, by Susan Berger, is a non-fiction book that explains earthquakes - what causes them, their effects, and much more. It also includes interesting factoids such as the largest earthquake in history. One thing I like about this book is the information about earthquake-preparedness. It is presented in a way that attempts to empower children with knowledge rather than frighten them. A list of important emergency items is also included. This was my favorite of the five titles I reviewed.
The Sum of Our Parts: No Bones About It by Bill Kirk is a non-fiction poem designed to help students memorize the different bones of the human body. The rhymes are clever, and I can see how this could be a helpful tool for learning the names of bones; however, some of the illustrations remind me of a scary cartoon and could be disturbing to young children.
Please understand that my ideas about what defines quality children's literature might be different from yours. I feel that there are many classic, living books that have been written over the years and that it would take an entire childhood (probably longer) to read and truly savor them all. Considering the fact that childhood tends to fly by, and that I want my children to hear as many of these timeless, engaging stories as possible, I tend to only purchase those stories that have the potential to become well-worn and well-loved friends in our home.
That being said, I felt that the quality of the writing and illustrations in these books did not quite live up to my expectations for children's literature. However, some of these and other Guardian Angel books have received awards which you can read about here.
Since it is impossible for me to judge an entire publishing house after reading only five of their books, and since they offer close to one-hundred titles to choose from, you might want to check out the Guardian Angel Bookstore for yourself. They offer some free titles for you to choose from, and they publish books in a variety of formats including e-book, CD, print, and even musical books.
To read more reviews of these products, visit The Old Schoolhouse Crew Blog.
(Disclaimer: I received these products free of charge to review as part of my experience with The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew. I received no other compensation, and my reviews are my opinion only.)