Sunday, June 23, 2013

(Review) Baker Publishing (The Adventures of Lily Lapp)

$12.99 each (Softcover and Ebook formats)
Recommended Ages: 8 to 12

Aren't these the most precious book covers?  From the time we received these living books in the mail to review them, we fell in love. Baker Publishing has hit a home run with  the first two books in the Lily Lapp Adventures series: Life with Lily and A New Home for Lily.  My nine-year-old, reluctant reader loved them!

My parents live in Amish country in southwest Tennessee, and actually had their Amish friends build their house and their barn there.  We loved that connection to this sweet story of an Old Order Amish girl.  In Life with Lily, we are introduced to five-year old, cake-loving Lily Lapp, and her family.  

The opening chapter quickly draws the reader in, as Lily and her little brother are being whisked off to their grandparents in the middle of the night, but are not at all sure why.   In the Old Amish Order, pregnancies were not something that were talked about--Lily's mom is giving birth to her new baby brother.  I love how they learn of  the new baby the next day and call him a gift from God.  Sweet illustrations sprinkled throughout the story enhance its charm:

Book One continues with Lily's adventures as their family farm grows with new animals, Lily meets a new teacher, she learns to love her little brothers more each day, and she learns the value of friendship and hard work.   Lily is a charming five-year old full of curiosity and honesty.

In an early chapter in which Lily's family plants tomatoes in their garden, my daughter was reading and looked up from the story to say, "Listen to this, Mama!"  And she proceeded to read aloud:

'Mama got a box of Epsom salt and showed Lily how to carefully measure a tablespoon into the crack.'

We had just done this with our own tomatoes in our garden, but it was the first time we had ever done it, so my daughter was pleasantly surprised (and I was a bit relieved) that it was a common practice as the magnesium sulfate helps enrich the soil as the tomatoes grow.  Personal connections like that are what keep the reader of any book engaged, and these Lily Lapp books are great at that!

Later adventures include her mischievous friend Mandy Mast, and meeting her new teacher at school.  While Lily's home life may be very different from my daughter's, the character traits and adventures have so many similarities, that Abbey felt connected to Lily throughout the story.

In Book Two: A New Home for Lily, we travel with Lily and her family from upstate New York to their new home in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.  Lily is not happy about moving, having to make new friends, deal with obnoxious classmates that tease her about her clothes (head coverings were different in this Amish community), and another new baby brother.  She is happy to learn that her relatives are going to live close by, but she thinks her new house is ugly and she feels uncomfortable in this strange new place.

Reading A New Home for Lily with Abbey gave me the chance to tell her about my childhood, in which I had to move with my family eight times---eight different schools--before I graduated from high school.  Abbey has lived in one house, one town, and has been homeschooled her whole life; she has no concept of the emotions involved in being forced to leave all you know and love and start over.  So even I connected to these stories. 

In addition to the books, the authors have included a link to a fun website for kids: The Adventures of Lily Lapp.   Abbey enjoyed learning more about each character, the authors (Mary Ann Kinsinger actually grew up Amish), and playing games and coloring pages from the stories.  What a great supplement to these precious books!

My only personal concern was how small the font/print was and how long each book is (272 pp).  Abbey is a great reader, but is easily distracted with long chapters. I ended up splitting time with her--she would read a while and then I would read a while to help ease her eye strain and reduce her frustration.  Reading with my daughter is never a bad thing, though, so it certainly didn't stop us from enjoying them. 

These books are the first two of four in a series: The Adventures of Lily Lapp, and we are looking forward to the next two titles: A Big Year for Lily (July 2013) and A Surprise for Lily (Sept 2013).  

I encourage you to add these titles from Baker Publishing to your home library!!  Want to see what others thought about these great living books? Click the blinking banner below and head over the Schoolhouse Crew Review page for more: 

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