Recently we had the opportunity to review the first book in a new series for middle grade readers from Susan K. Marlow- Thick as Thieves. That book is one in a group of series that Susan has written featuring Andrea Carter, a young girl who lives in California in the 1800s. The different book series follow Andi's life as she grows up on a ranch with her family. We enjoyed Thick as Thieves, and I was excited to see another of Susan K. Marlow's Andrea Carter books come up for review.
This book- Tales From the Circle C Ranch- is a paperback book of short stories from different periods in Andi's life. The book is part of the Circle C Adventures books. And- my very favorite part!- it came with an excellent lapbook- Andrea Carter's Tales From the Circle C Ranch Learning Lapbook. We received the lapbook in digital format, and I printed what we needed from it. You can also purchase a printed lapbook.
Some books- although good reads- don't make great read aloud books. But Tales From the Circle C Ranch has been perfect for me to read with my younger girls- 9 and 11- because it's a collection of stories.
The book has eleven stories. The first four- The Early Years- come from the time period of the Circle C Beginnings books when Andi was a little girl, and the last seven- The In-Between Years- come from the time period of the Circle C Adventures books. Although the stories relate to events from those book sets, these are new stories. At the beginning of each story is a short explanation of the date of the story and which Andi book it is close to. Some of the stories are pretty short and were easily read in one sitting. A few were longer with short chapters and needed to be broken up into two readings for us.
Andrea- Andi- is a precocious little girl. She's the youngest in her family and is doted on, protected, and teased by her three older brothers and older sister. The family is close. And when Andi's dad dies when she's about five or six, her oldest brother assumes the role of caring for the family. In all of the stories, Andi manages to get into scrapes or think up outlandish ideas. And she's always learning the importance of having good character and the importance of family.
We had only read one or two of the Andrea Carter series books, but we were still able to enjoy the stories. Although they refer to events in some of the books, they stand alone to be read independently of the other books as well. When I began looking at Susan K. Marlow's books in preparation for the review of Thick as Thieves, I realized that there are many of the Circle C Adventures books, beginning with easy reader books and moving through the new series that are aimed at ages 12+. I also realized that there are lapbooks and unit studies to go along with these. I love having a lapbook accompaniment for a book we're reading aloud. The hands on activities really help the kids connect with what we're reading. So... I was very excited to see that, yes, there was a lapbook to accompany Tales From the Circle C Ranch.
The lapbook has mini books for every chapter in the book as well as a Five Elements of a Story mini book and a mini coloring book. If you've never put together a lapbook, there are step by step instructions.
For every book chapter, there is a corresponding text page in the lapbook kit. That page has information that will help you connect the story in the book to real history at the time. For example, the story "Hurrah for the Fourth of July" tells about Andi's family making the trip into town to celebrate the fourth of July with contests, parades, and fireworks. In the lapbook information we learned about the history of fireworks and how they came to the United States. In the story "Aunt Rebecca and the Hat", Andi receives a large and very "girlie" hat from her aunt who has come to visit. And she has to wear her hat to have a picture taken. The lapbook page for that story has a bit about the history of photography and how Andi would have had to pose for her picture in the 1800s.
We've all had lots of fun with this book and lapbook. It's a book that will appeal to most young girls. Andi is a spunky little girl who makes a character that girls can relate to. And, of course her love of horses will feed the horse love phase that many little girls seem to pass through. While it's a book that the kids will love, it's a book I can feel good about them reading because it's a good, clean story that encourages good values and a love of family.
We've had lots of fun reading through Tales From the Circle C Ranch and working through the lapbook. It's made us want to find out more about Andi and her life. And I'd love to get some of the other books and lapbooks to use as literature units next year.
Series- Circle C Adventures
Book- Tales From the Circle C Ranch and Andrea Carter's Tales From the Circle C Ranch Learning Lapbook
Price- $7.99 (book) and $7.00 (elapbook) or $12 (printed lapbook)
You can see what other Crew members thought about Tales From the Circle C Ranch by clicking below.