Holes by Louis Sachar is a Newbery Winner for 1999–and for good reason.  Stanley Yelnats (Stanley spelled backwards) is fighting a family curse-one that’s been around since his great-great-grandfather.  He’s in the wrong place at the wrong time his entire life–including when he’s accused of stealing shoes and sent to Camp Green Lake (which is anything but green).

At Camp Green Lake, he’s forced to dig a hole every day five feet deep and five feet wide.  When he’s done digging his hole, he’s done with his work for the day.  It’s hot.  There’s no water but what they are given.  He gets a four minute cold shower and food out of cans.

The boys are told if they find anything interesting to report it and then they don’t have to dig their hole.  Stanley finds a fossil (not interesting).  Then he finds a gold casing with the initials KB on it.  This proves interesting.  They boys are forced to dig around the place they found this for days.  Stanley determines they must be digging for something.  But what?

Camp Green Lake didn’t always be dry.  100 years ago it used to be a lake.  Kate Barlow used to be a school teacher at Camp Green Lake.  She falls in love with an onion picker named Sam.  Their relationship is a scandal because Sam is black.  Sam ends up murdered and Kate ends up taking revenge as a thief.  Legend has it she stole money and buried it.  Here.

Stanley ends up finding the buried treasure (which incidentally belonged to his great-great grandfather) and ends up helping his family and his friends at Camp Green Lake.  Oh, and that curse?  Broken!  This story is full of so many twists and turns that my summary is just the surface.  It’s an excellent and quick read that the kids will enjoy.  Sachar is a master of pace and every chapter just has you wanting to read more.

I’ve always wanted to read this book since it’s so famous and it’s fabulous.  You won’t regret your time spent.  Charming characters.  Great twists.  All around good fun.  Funny too!

Heart of a Samurai

Heart of a Samurai

Heart of a Samurai

Heart of a Samurai by Margi Preus is a novel based on a true story of a 14 year old boy who was shipwrecked on a deserted island in 1841.  After surviving off of the local birds and fish, the boys are rescued by a passing ship.  The problem:  it’s an American ship full of barbarians!  Manjiro fears for his life, but slowly he realizes the Americans are just like him and they are there to help them.  He learns all about sailing and whaling.

After almost 2 years, the ship docks in Hawaii.  His companions disembark here but Manjiro, who is a good friend of the captain’s, decides to travel on to America.  Here, he sees things non-existent in isolationist Japan:  a train, a carriage, kissing in public, free speech, non-existent social classes, a telegraph, a steam engine, and an elected President.  He learns he can be more than just “a simple fisherman”.  He can be whatever he sets his heart to.

After ten years away from home, Manjiro wants to return to Japan.  Knowing he may be killed as Japan’s policy is to kill all those who have left Japan, he picks up 2 of his companions in Hawaii and heads home.  The government holds him for almost a year and a half.  Finally, he is released and returns home.  His village has not changed and his family has grown up.  However, he is summoned by the shogun (the ruler of Japan) back to Edo (Tokyo) to teach others English.  Manjiro ends up translating for Commodore Perry in 1853 on his historic voyage which opens Japan to the outside world for the first time.  He lives a long life, fulfilling his dream of changing the world by helping Japan to change.

On one occasion, Manjiro ends up in San Francisco looking for gold to finance his trip back to Japan.  When he finds gold, he thinks, “So this is what dreams look like.”  I loved this line because for all of us our dreams are usually small lumps of nothingness that we turn into great heaps of something.

Great book.  Historically accurate to the time period and to the real Manjiro.  Goes somewhat in depth into whaling and how even in this time period, whales are becoming scarce due to overhunting.  Manjiro even calls the Americans “barbaric” for killing whales.  Great historical notes at the end.  Inspirational as Manjiro follows a dream to fruition and makes a difference in his world.  Great underdog tale.  Show the prejudices of the day as well.  Shows the difficulties we all must overcome in this world.  Highly recommended.

The War that Saved my Life

The War that Saved my Life

The War that Saved my Life

“Mommy, I don’t want this book to end!” my daughter said.

The War that Saved my Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley is a beautiful story of overcoming adversity and finding love set in World War II.  Ten-year-old Ada Smith was born with a clubfoot.  And her mother hates her for it.  She locks her up in their flat, refusing her to ever leave.  She crawls around and enduring humiliating treatments such as being locked in a cabinet and being physically abused.  She stays to take care of her six-year-old brother.

One day Ada decides to teach herself to walk–and she does.  Slowly over time.  Then the war starts and children are ordered to leave the city of London to avoid the bombs from Germany.  Jamie, Ada’s brother, will go, but Ada is told she can’t leave.  But she does anyways.  She sneaks out with Jamie and takes the train to the country.

There, they are the last evacuees to find a home.  And it’s with a woman named Susan Smith who is depressed over losing her best friend and has never had children.  Susan learns quickly, however.  She takes both children to the doctor.  Feeds them three solid meals a day.  Has Ada’s foot looked at and offers surgery if her mother agrees.  She clothes them, bathes them, and provides for them.  And slowly, over time, both Ada and Jamie, learn to love Susan.

Both children grow and learn.  Ada learns she’s not dumb.  She learns to read and write and ride a horse named Butter.  She helps with wounded soldiers and even catches a German spy!  Jamie befriends a cat he names Bovril.  Both children thrive.  Until one day, Ada’s mother shows up.

Ada and Jamie are taken to London but not for long.  Ada, stronger than before, stands up to her mother and gets her to admit she never wanted them and the only reason she came for them was for the money.  The next day London is bombed.  Susan finds the children in London whom she came to reclaim and they return to their home in Kent.  Only their home is no longer standing.  It was bombed.  And in the end Susan saved Ada and they saved her.

Amazingly awesome story.  I can’t recommend this book enough.  It shows the ignorance of disabilities and the treatment disabled people endured long ago.  It shows the determination of one little girl determined to have a life.  It shows the love and compassion of a stranger who opens her heart despite the fact her heart is still bleeding.  It shows the love of siblings and what one will do for family.  A heart-warming story of overcoming adversity despite the toughest odds.  And doing so at an incredibly young age.  A 2016 Newbery Honor Book.  And for good reason.

Summer Prayer Requests

Hey all!

It’s that time of year again.  Finishing up Revelation.  Preparing for John.  Figuring out summer ways to stay in the Word.

Please leave a comment or email me at atozmom.wordpress@gmail.com for prayer requests and/or praises. I’d love to pray for you over the summer.

Mine: Still pray for my husband’s job as he finds out at the end of this month is he has a job or not.  I have been picking up shifts at work so continue to pray that continues and if God wants me to have a full time job that He would open up what He wants me to do.

God bless and have a fantastic and restful summer break!

YOUR Final Thoughts on BSF’s Study of Revelation

Hey all!

It’s been suggested to me to gather thoughts, ideas, comments, concerns, questions, etc on BSF’s Study of Revelation.  I’ve posted some specific questions on the Side Bar if you are interested in participating in those.  Also, I did a survey in November and asked what you all thought so far.  Those results are HERE if interested.

Please post in the comment section.  Any thing goes as long as it’s in a Godly-way.  Some suggestions have been:  what did you like most about the study; what did you like the least about the study; what changes would you make for the next go around; how would you rate the questions, the discussion, the leaders, your group; did you grow with God because of this study; was it worth your time and effort, etc.

Love to all!

BSF Study Questions Revelation Lesson 30: All Days

Since the last lesson of BSF is always personal questions, I just sum up my answers.

I’ve learned a lot about the End Times, who’s going to heaven and who’s not, Satan and his methods to deceive the saved, God’s faithfulness, timing, and goodness, and the importance of Jesus.  Jesus is paramount in God’s plan for this world.  He’s the linchpin.

Overall, the study was great.  Great discussions in my small group.  Great questions.  Great material.  Great God who showed up in the midst of it.

Some repetition that some liked and others didn’t.  Could have delved deeper into the differing End Times eschatological views.  Could have gone deeper into the possible meanings of symbols and passages.

My love for God has deepened as I’ve learned just how much God loves us by sending His son to die for us and planning a home for us in the future.  He is good despite what society says.

Not for sure if I see yet how this study has impacted me and God’s will for my life.  Some changes don’t show up immediately and because we are so close to ourselves often we don’t see it.

It has been a blessing to study alongside you all and listen to your thoughts on the material.  I hope I have broadened the base of discussion just a tiny bit.  I will miss you all and be praying for you during the summer.

God bless you all on your summer break and we’ll see you all in the Fall for the study of John!

BSF Study Questions Revelation Lesson 29, Day 5: Revelation 22:6-21

Summary of passage:  Jesus is coming and John falls at the feet of the angel to worship it (he did this in Revelation 19:10). The angel told John to tell others of what he has seen and heard and to let them continue to do wrong or good as they are doing.  Jesus is coming to reward those according to what they’ve done. He’s the Alpha, Omega, First and Last, Beginning, End. Blessed are the righteous who have the tree of life. Outside the gates of the city are the dogs who are immoral and practice falsehoods. Jesus is the Root, Offspring of David, the Morning Star.  Let all come for the gift of the water of life say the Spirit and the bride. A warning to not change the prophecy in the book of Revelation. Jesus is coming soon. Grace be with God’s people.


11)  Personal Question.  My answer:  It really doesn’t.  I plan to do what I normally do:  tell others as God leads me.

12)  Personal Question.  My answer:  I don’t know.  Too soon to tell.

Conclusions:  Filler.

End Notes:  See previous days.

Conclusions to Lesson 29:  What words of hope and encouragement.  Jesus is coming.  All should be ready.  Hold fast.  Reflective lesson leading up to Lesson 30, our last lesson where we’ll be asked what has changed within us.  This is always hard to answers for little changes we don’t see but others do.  I’d wait 6 months and then ask someone close to you if something has changed.