Every once in awhile, a book comes along that my girls just fall in love with. Historical Fiction is a great way to really engage in learning about history, and when I find a book that combines a great story line with their passions, and teaches Godly character while doing it, I feel like I have unearthed a gold mine!
Thick As Thieves from Circle C Milestones is such a book! We recently had the opportunity to review this 173 page novel, written by Susan K. Marlow and published by Kregel Publications.
In Thick As Thieves, fourteen year old Andi Carter learns a lot about growing her faith through some extremely normal (and a few pretty wild) circumstances. Even though the story is set in California in the late 1800's, teenage girl issues are timeless. Andi is a girl who loves her family and loves horses. In this story, both those areas come under fire, and she must learn to pray and rely on the Lord's strength for help to make it through. A new neighbor girl is introduced in the story, and by befriending the new girl, Andi learns maturity through some very difficult situations.
Thick As Thieves is an asset on so many levels. It gives a great feel for frontier life in the late 1800's. It also uses real life situations to teach faith and faithfulness - what it means to be loyal to your family, as well as your friends. Of course, it has a positive outcome at the end, which makes for happy reading. In fact, we are already looking forward to the release of Heartbreak Trail, the next book in the series, which is due out in July, 2015.
Not only is this a fun book to read, but thanks to the forty page study guide that the author has designed to go with it, this can also be a great adventure into Literary Interpretation as well. The study guide includes many varied Language Arts activities that coincide with the story, including vocabulary words and exercises, synonyms and antonyms, excerpts from Andi's journal, puzzles and games, and plenty of comprehension questions. Many of the investigation type questions delve even further, encouraging the student to think of deeper meanings behind the story, and relate Andi's responses to their own personal lives. There is also a lot of practical material included that will expand the student's knowledge of horses and history.
|An excerpt from Andi's journal that is found in the study guide.|
Using the book and study guide together would make a very nice unit study for horses or for late nineteenth century American Westward expansion. This book is not only for girls - it does contain plenty of adventure that boys will find fascinating. My opinion is that girls will be able to identify more easily with the friendship issues that are presented though. The book is recommended for ages twelve and up.
Another neat extra that is available is an online blog that readers can follow to learn more about Andi's life and adventures: Andi's Blog
How we used this book: Melissa grabbed this book as soon as we received it, and disappeared with it. She loved it and finished it quickly, in a matter of days. We did use some portions of the study guide for questions or extra information (in particular, Melissa was fascinated about the foaling information). I had her write a short review, which I am including here, and we plan on reading through the book again over the summer, and having Melissa complete the entire study guide with it.
Thick As Thieves by Susan K. Marlow introduces Andrea, (or Andi) Carter, who is fourteen years old and loves her horse Taffy who is about to have a foal. School, although she must go, is no longer fun since her best friend and seat-mate left. Even worse is that a new girl, Macy Walker, who has a horrible temper and smells awful, is assigned as her new seat-mate.
After Macy tries to harm Andrea and Taffy, Andi decides that it's time to get things under control. Her attitude drastically changes when she finds out who Macy has to live with - three older brothers who are always taking advantage of Macy's size. Andi determines to help her, and after a lot of trouble, Macy finally opens up to her.
On the Circle C Ranch, where Andi lives, cattle turn up missing and Andi's brothers are gone all day long. This leaves the foal's raising and training up to her! Since cattle had been missing before, Andi did not understand all the fuss, until her colts are missing. She is determined to find them when Macy comes out and tells her that she knows where the colts are. Macy promises to help as long as Andi listens to her.
Andi heads to the canyon where Macy says the colts are being held. When she finds the colts, she tries to herd them out of the canyon when a landslide happens. She uses Taffy, her horse, to try to get help. The thieves find her and take her as a captive. She prayed and begged God to help her out of this mess. God answered her prayer by using Macy to help her escape. Andi's brother, Mitch, saves her in the nick of time.
I like this book because it shows how faith in God will work in your life, and that you need to be a friend to everyone. You never know when that friendship will come back to help you.
|A page from the study guide, a crossword puzzle teaching about foaling time.|
Connect with the author and Circle C on social media:
Facebook (where you can read about Andi's younger life in Circle C Adventures)
Twitter (stay updated on all the author's adventures)
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