The Way of the Samurai Book Giveaway — CLOSED

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I will officially be starting monthly giveaways on my Relaxed Homeschooling blog!  This month’s giveaway is The Way of the Samurai by Inazo Nitobe.  I thought it looked like a really interesting and educational book.  If you would use this book in your homeschooling endeavors, go ahead and enter!

You can enter by following the link below.  It’s open to participants within the 48 contiguous United States and will end on Feb. 28, 2017.  The winner will be announced on my blog and contacted through email.  Good luck!

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Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales: The Underground Abductor by Nathan Hale

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I requested The Underground Abductor from the library as part of my quest to find interesting graphic novels for children.  I could not put this one down!  I didn’t know much about Harriet Tubman, but now I want to find some adult books to learn more.

Premise:

Araminta Ross was born a slave, but she dreamed of freedom for herself and her family.  She escaped to the North and later, as Harriet Tubman, returned for her family.  In her journeys she led many others to freedom on the Underground Railroad, met Frederick Douglass and John Brown, and worked as a spy during the Civil War.  Harriet Tubman became a legend in her time, known as “General Moses” for her unequivocal success in leading her people to freedom.

My thoughts:

I absolutely loved this book!  Araminta (better known as Harriet Tubman) was an amazing young woman who was born into slavery in Maryland.  She worked hard and eventually made plans to secure her freedom.  When she found out that she was going to be sold and would not be able to buy her own freedom, she made the decision to run away to the North.  Harriet was successful and had started to settle into a new life, but when she heard about “The Fugitive Slave Act of 1850”, she knew that she had to get her family to freedom sooner rather than later.

Harriet made many trips into the South to bring her family (and many others) to freedom.  Because of a head injury she received as a child, Harriet suffered from narcolepsy and during these sleep episodes she would see visions from God.  These visions helped guide her on the many dangerous trips she took, and alerted her to dangers along the way.

Harriet also aided the North during the civil war, acting as nurse, spy and consultant.  During one particular episode, she helped lead about 800 slaves to freedom in one night, when she aided Colonel Montgomery and his Jayhawkers.

Amazingly, Harriet Tubman survived all of the dangers she faced throughout her life and eventually settled with her family in Auburn, New York.  Her dedication, drive, and courage are an amazing example to all of us.  When there is something worth fighting for, don’t give up.

I recommend this book to kids who enjoy graphic novels and would prefer to learn about history through that medium.  This particular book is best suited to elementary-age children up to teens.

Possible Objections:

  • Violence (though the illustrations are not graphic)

Nathan Hale: Revolutionary Spy by Nathan Olson

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Here’s another book from my quest to find interesting graphic novels.  Nathan Hale: Revolutionary Spy is a book that can be digested in one sitting.

Premise:

Nathan Hale was a young man who lived in Connecticut immediately prior to the Revolutionary War.  He was a student at Yale and later taught others (even getting up early to teach girls for free).  Having grown up amid the colonists’ unrest due to British taxes, he volunteered to join the army.  Nathan’s willingness to serve as a spy and his refusal to betray his country are commendable.  Unfortunately, his life was cut short when he was only 21 years old.

My thoughts:

I think this book is a great beginner biography for elementary-age children.  They get a quick overview of Nathan’s life–just enough to pique their interest.  Once they’re at a higher reading level they can come back to Nathan’s story and read a book that is more in depth.

I enjoyed reading about Nathan and the defining moments in his life.  He sounds like a remarkable young man, and it’s a tragedy that his life was cut short.  I’m sure he would have gone on to do many more commendable deeds had he lived longer.  Particularly gratifying was his view on the importance of educating women.  He was truly ahead of his times!

The book is divided into four very short chapters: Student and Teacher, Soldier and Leader, Daring Spy, and War Hero.  At the end, you’ll find a section with more information about Nathan Hale.

I recommend this book to kids who enjoy graphic novels and would prefer to learn about history through that medium.  This particular book is best suited to elementary-age children.

Possible Objections:

  • Nathan is hanged (while we only see his silhouette, kids may still find it disturbing)

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Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales: Alamo All-Stars by Nathan Hale

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I read Alamo All-Stars over the course of a couple days. This is a super-fun graphic novel that is perfect for teaching kids about history!  I’m excited to check out the other books in this series.

Premise:

Learn about the early history of the state of Texas, its inhabitants, and their relationship with Mexico.  Who fought for the independence of the Texas?  Why?  How did the Mexican government respond?  What happened at the Alamo?  You’ll find answers to all these questions and more in Alamo All Stars!

My thoughts:

I love this book!  It’s a fantastic way to teach kids about history in a fun and engaging way.  Who wants to read about a bunch of stale dates and names in a history book?  Let kids learn history through graphic novels!!

I’m a big history fan when it’s presented in an interesting format.  Alamo All Stars definitely meets that requirement.  My school days were inexplicably absent of almost any information pertaining to U.S. History.  I don’t know how that happened, but it did.  So I learned about a period of American history that was completely new to me.  And now the story makes sense and will stick with me.  If a person can see a story unfolding before their eyes, it’s more likely that they will retain that information.

It was pretty cool to learn about the roles that Davy Crockett and Jim Bowie played at the Alamo.  (Yes, I’m talking about the man who has a knife named after him.)  I had no idea that they were there!

There are a few stock characters who act as narrators in this book (and the others in the series).  They help provide background information and commentary, as well as a little humor.  The illustrations have a somewhat simple style, but I think they’re quite nice.

I recommend this book for anybody in the elementary to teen years who wants to learn about history in an interesting way.  This would also be great for homeschoolers or to augment a history classroom.

Possible Objections:

  • One instance of the d-word
  • Some violence

Super Shark Encyclopedia and Other Creatures of the Deep by Derek Harvey

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Super Shark Encyclopedia is another book that came from our out-of-town library trip.  My second son absolutely loves encyclopedia-type books, so I thought he might enjoy looking at this one.

Premise:

This is an encyclopedic book which teaches the reader about many different ocean creatures.  There is a short section at the beginning of the book which shows the different “layers” of the ocean and briefly explains them.  It has sections on Amazing Anatomy, Animal Athletes, Life Stories, Supernatural Senses, and Exploring the Deep.  Creatures are featured using full-color photography, basic statistics, and a short description.  A short glossary in the back helps out with more uncommon terms.

My thoughts:

We really like this book.  It has interesting tidbits of information about many different sea creatures, and that information is perfectly complimented by the wonderful visuals.  It’s short enough that I can look at it with my smaller kids, but contains enough information to keep my elementary-age kids reading it themselves, too.  Personally, I love any book about animals.  This one is quite engaging.

The photos in this book are amazing!  They are clear and colorful, close-up and just plain beautiful.  The pages are quite large so that means the photos are nice and large, too.

I would recommend this book for elementary through preteen children.  The entries are fairly concise and may not contain enough information to satisfy older readers.

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Maker Lab: 28 Super Cool Projects by Jack Challoner

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I found Maker Lab when we went to the library in a nearby town.  I was hoping that we would be able to do a few of the projects in our homeschooling, but that will have to wait.  We’re packing up to move and most of our supplies are languishing in storage right now.

Premise:

This book is aimed at kids who want to do their own maker projects.  The 28 projects fall into four categories: Food For Thought, Around the Home, Water World, and The Great Outdoors.  Each project has a supply list, clear instructions, a sample, and a short explanation about how it works.  The pictures are colorful and engaging, and enhanced by whimsical doodles.  There is also a short glossary at the end of the book to explain some of the more scientific terms.

My thoughts:

If I were a child, I would want this book!  That’s because I’m a perpetual crafter/project-tackler.  Any child who enjoys doing those hands-on projects will get excited when they see the awesome projects they can complete themselves.

The illustrations and projects are great, but there are only 28 total projects.  So while this is a fun book, it will not keep the dedicated project-maker occupied for too long.  Once you’ve tackled all of the projects, it would be a nice gesture to pass it on to a friend.

I would recommend this book for children of all ages.  The younger ones will need help with the projects, and the older ones will gain satisfaction from completing the projects on their own.

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