The First Book In a New Series for Middle Grade Readers: Thick as Thieves- A Schoolhouse Crew Review

If you’ve been around As We Walk Along the Road for any length of time, you might know that reading is a passion of mine. I love to find great books for my kids to read independently and for me to read aloud. So I’m always excited to have a new book to review.

We received Thick as Thieves by Susan K. Marlow. It is the first book of her Circle C Milestones series. The book is published by Kregel Publications. We received a paperback copy of the book, and it usually sells for $9.99. There is also a free downloadable Study Guide that goes along with the book.

Circle C Milestones is the third book series written by Susan K. Marlow that features Andi Carter as the heroine of the stories. In each series, Andi has gotten older. And the stories change to reflect Andi’s personal growth and to interest gradually older readers. This series is intended for readers twelve and up.

About the book…

Set in the California in 1882, the book features Andi Carter a young teen who lives at her family’s ranch- the Circle C. Andi wants nothing more than to help out at her family’s ranch and take of her mare’s brand new foals. But her family reminds her of her responsibilities to learn and go to school.

Andi isn’t terribly happy that she’s not at the ranch training the new foals as often as she’d like. And the fact that someone is stealing cows from area ranches causes worry over Andi’s horses. But things get worse when a new girl comes to school…and gets placed right beside Andi. Macy is rough and tough and lives with her brothers in a pretty bad situation at the local saloon. She’s not a very nice person and seems determined to thwart any efforts of friendship toward her.

When Andi gets a chance to witness firsthand how Macy lives, she’s encouraged to continue to see to be her friend, even though it’s difficult. As she starts to break through to Macy, the girls have to learn to trust each other. And when Andi realizes that Macy is involved in the cattle and horse thefts, her trust in her new friend is put to the test.

There is a strong message about friendship throughout the book. Andi is challenged to treat Macy the right way, even when Macy is difficult to like. Andi also has a strong family, and even though they have their disagreements and some issues between them, the book has positive messages about family and the importance of family relationships.

And the study guide…

One of the really great things about this book is that it’s very easy to use it as a part of your homeschool because there is a free downloadable Study Guide available.

The study guide has divided up the twenty-six chapters of the book into six sections. After the chapters are read, the study guide has lots of great resources to go along with them. There are vocabulary pages, discussion questions, crossword puzzles, timelines, introduction of literary elements, and more.

The guide can be read or printed as a PDF file.

Reading the book…

My older daughter- age 15- took the book first. I knew that she would be a pretty quick reader and that she’s pretty good at telling me what she liked and didn’t like. I didn’t have her use the study guide because she was just reading the book for pleasure.

She enjoyed the book. I’m not sure she would say it was her favorite. But she did enjoy the read. The story line was interesting, and it kept her engaged. The reading and comprehension level was a good bit below her ability, but she often enjoys easier books because they can be a quick light read.

After she read the book, I took it to read aloud with my younger daughters as our literature book for their school work. They are a little younger than the recommended age, but I often read more difficult books to them, and they seem to comprehend well. I read the book aloud to both girls- ages 10 and 9. We did use the study guide a bit to go along with our reading. I typically read a chapter at a time, and we discussed the chapter. Then after we finished the chapter segment, we went over things in the study guide for that segment. We didn’t do every activity. We used it as an oral discussion more than as a printed worksheet.

We had a harder time using this as a read aloud. I’ve noticed that some books just seem to flow as a read aloud and some don’t. It can be a very good and entertaining book, but some books just don’t make good read alouds. I continued on reading aloud, but I think the girls might have gotten more out of the book by just taking turns reading it alone. I’m pretty sure that it is right at their reading and comprehension ability.

I really like having the study guide to go along with the story. The study guide helped us to review vocabulary words that may have been unfamiliar. It also gave me some good discussion questions that got us talking about the book.

The Facts:

Product: Thick as Thieves from the Circle C Milestones series
Author: Susan K. Marlow
Age recommendation: 12+
Price: $9.99
Connect with the author: 

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