Thursday, April 17, 2014

Callie's Contest of Courage Review and Giveaway

I had the opportunity to review the brand new paperback children's book titled, Callie's Contest of Courage written by Jan May as part of her book launch. Jan May is the Christian author of several other published books written for The New Millennium Girls Series including the Creative Writing Made Easy, Isabel's Closet, and the first book in the series, Isabel's Secret. Callie's Contest of Courage is the second book in the series. My daughter and I are always looking for a good book to read. Alyssa is an avid reader, but we decided to read this engaging 161-page Christian chapter book aloud. The book consists of 12 chapters.

Who are the Millennium Girls?
The website states that, "They are the girls who are growing up in this generation who believe their God is bigger than all the giants in the land; girls with the faith of Joshua and Caleb; girls with a different spirit."

Book Description (Taken from the Website)
Eleven-year-old Callie Fleming is a passionate animal lover! She's been waiting all year to enter photos in the I Love Nature Photo Contest. Her dad, who is the coolest dad in the world, is an award winning photographer and Marine Corps Reserves Sergeant. She is leaning on his help to win. But when her father is untimely deployed overseas and becomes strangely silent to her emails, she finds her whole world crashing down on her. Can she muster up the courage to step out on a journey that whisks her away from all the things she loves? Join Callie on a journey of hope, trust, and power of prayer! 

Book Price Details
Amazon Paperback Price: $7.25
You can find more information at New Millennium Girls Bookstore $7.95
Note: All Prices Subject to Change

Possible Vendor Suggestions
  • I hope there will be a lapbook, crafts, and a writing curriculum created to coordinate with this book.
  • Is it possible for New Millennium Girls to host a Children's I Love Nature Photo Contest?
My Thoughts
Alyssa thoroughly enjoyed reading this book with me. We read it at bedtime and during our afternoon brain breaks. This is a quick read and could easily be read in one day, but we chose to take our time reading it. 

The well-written book captured the interest and attention of my six-year-old daughter who is developing her own relationship with God. It nurtured her faith in Christ. It is a wonderful book about family, friendship, adventure, joy, faith, hope, love, and honesty. I truly appreciated the fact that spiritual content and Biblical truths were scattered throughout the book. The faith-based book mentions scripture verses and emphasizes prayer. Callie's thoughts, dreams, and prayers were italicized helping the reader understand that she was thinking to herself or "talking" to God. I loved that Callie knew to seek God's help and guidance through prayer when she struggled with life's circumstances. Callie is also reminded that she must let Jesus's golden rule be her guide as indicated in the Luke 6:31 "Do to others as you would have them do to you." Psalm 91 is the family prayer recited numerous times as they place their trust in the faithful Lord to protect and keep their father safe while he is fighting overseas. Callie used her strength and faith muscles to pray for her father when she felt he needed it most. 

As we read the book, the teacher in me couldn't resist creating extension activities related to the topics found in the book which is why it took us a little longer to read it than expected. We also created copywork pages for the relevant and meaningful scripture verses mentioned using I was impressed with the character development, descriptive word play, and Christian values addressed in the book. The author's use of descriptive language will help you visualize, imagine, and feel the story events come alive. 

Callie gave up her internship so that her mother could be closer to family members so that she could lean on their support and encouragement. The main character's faith grows and she changes throughout the story. Callie realizes her selfishness at the beginning of the story. The lack of verbal contact with their father causes anxiety, stress, and sadness. Callie's family works together during the difficult and emotional times. They come together in prayer, support one another, and reassure each other of their father's safety. Callie gains the courage and strength to face the obstacles in her life including learning how to cope with her father's deployment. Furthermore, Mickey makes a sacrifice for another person which teaches the reader that it is important to serve and think of others first and before yourself.

I believe readers will be able to relate to the main character especially if they have siblings. The Sweetwater, Illinois road trip games, adventures, and conversations reminded me of my own childhood family trips. The author modernized the book by adding in Skype calls, e-mail, phone texting, and Callie's Critter Connection website. This will help older girls with access to these technological avenues relate even more with the character. Callie posts animal facts and stories on her website. The reader can build vocabulary and develop research skills while learning more about the world that God created through the words and facts stated in the book. For example, my daughter learned the meaning of the word symbiotic when Callie said, "It means that in a relationship, each animal helps the other survive."  

Callie is a great role model for tween girls or those around her age. Her character qualities and traits paint a picture of a realistic character who sins and makes mistakes. Readers will see that they can learn from their mistakes and about the importance of forgiveness. Her actions and words teach others to trust in God's plan and his timing for answered prayers. 

We thoroughly enjoyed the fun hands-on activities included at the back of the book. The activities will help create long-lasting memories for my daughter. Alyssa made a banana cream pie using the book's simple recipe as a special surprise for her father. I enjoyed spending quality time in the kitchen baking with my daughter as she practiced life skills. This was her first time making and eating a banana cream pie. I am not sure why I haven't tried making one with her before, but I am glad that Jan suggested it. It was a perfect tie-in to the pie eating contest and fun fair events.   
We even gathered a few items for our military package to help support the troops fighting overseas. Many items can be gathered at an extremely reasonable price using coupons. We are still putting our package together. My daughter plans to write a letter and wants to add baked goods to the package. Jan May provides the reader with a bulleted list of ways to support the troops. She also lists several military support organization links for further service learning research. Additionally, there is a bulleted list of categorized things that would brighten a soldier's day.

We hope to create a frog habitat as a spring or summer bucket list activity or during our amphibian nature study. The frog habitat project includes a material list, detailed instructions, and frog facts.  

Alyssa's Thoughts (Age 6 1/2)
I like the book, because it tells about Callie's life and her fun adventures. I love how it adds little prayers. My favorite part was when they prayed about Psalm 91. I REALLY liked the ending. A funny part was when the cousin twins set-up water balloons to bomb Callie, but she moved them over their beds. They had a huge water balloon fight when they woke up. The book had interesting animal facts and Bible verses too. I think my friends Gracie and Valerie would enjoy reading this book. Other girls would enjoy it too. I LOVED this book!!!

I won't tell you the end of the story. You'll need to purchase your own copy to find out what happens next. 

Will Callie's father come home?
Will they ever hear back from him? 
Will she win the animal division of the "I Love Nature" photo contest?

I highly recommend this book for girls who are nature lovers, animal lovers, or photographers. The book description states that it is suitable for tween girls between the ages of 8-12 in approximately 3rd-6th grade. I believe girls as young as 6 will eagerly read the book with someone. The book can be read aloud or independently read by fluent readers. Christian homeschool educators, children's literature book clubs, co-op groups, and Christian school literature circle classes can safely add this book to their reading lists. The book does not contain any inappropriate material. The content is age-appropriate. I highly recommend this book as a gift for any tween girl in a military family whose father has been deployed. Furthermore, this book would make a wonderful birthday or holiday gift. I look forward to hearing more about the next book in the New Millennium Girls series titled, Isabel's Fun Fair Fiasco

Social Media
Jan May on Facebook
I received Callie's Contest of Courage free of charge from the author Jan May in exchange for an honest review on my blog. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions expressed are my own or those of my family  members. I am disclosing this information in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising." 

Jan May of the New Millennium Girls graciously offered ONE of my lucky readers the chance to win a physical copy of the book. This giveaway is for US residents only. Enter the Rafflecopter giveaway below for your chance to win. Click on the Rafflecopter link, if you don't see the widget and please give it time to load. All entries will be verified.    

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Thursday, April 3, 2014

2014 Ultimate Blog Party

Welcome to A Learning Journey! Thank you for stopping by my homeschool family blog. This is my second year participating in this event. I look forward to networking and meeting new bloggers. I am hoping to make several new lifelong friendships as well.

My name is Tracey. I am the blog owner of A Learning Journey. We live in the beautiful hill country parts of Texas. I am a former second grade public school teacher turned into an eclectic home educator. I LOVE chocolate especially with peanut butter - it's a horrible addiction! I enjoy camping, reading, playing games, spending quality time with family, cooking, baking, planning parties, chatting with friends, scrapbooking, browsing online, and creating fun educational activities.

I write about a variety of topics including:
  • Hands-On Learning Activities
  • Freebie Finds
  • My Faith Walk 
  • Product and Book Reviews
  • Occasional Giveaways
  • Recipes
  • And Of course . . . Our Homeschool Happenings
My husband is a lieutenant for the San Antonio Fire Department who will hopefully promote to captain this year after passing an extremely difficult test. One thing I love about my handsome hubby is that he is so much fun to be around and he'll do almost anything to make his little girl happy as seen in the photos below.
Face Painting at Santa's Village
Pirate Birthday Party Costume
My six-year-old daughter brings so much joy and laughter into my life. She is an avid reader and eager learner. She loves to sing and dance too. We thoroughly enjoy homeschooling and learning about everything! She enjoys baking with her mama and visiting Home Depot workshops with her father. She has a great personality to boot! 

Do you want more readers on your blog? Do you want to meet new bloggers? Join us at the 8th annual Ultimate Blog Party. The 2014 Ultimate Blog Party hosted by 5 Minutes for Mom will begin tomorrow. It will take place from April 4th through 11th. Visit 5 Minutes for Mom for more information about the prizes and party! Come join the fun! Use hashtag #UBP14 on Twitter during the Twitter party on April 8th.
Ultimate Blog Party 2014

Please consider following me or my blog: Bloglovin', GFC (top right), Twitter, PinterestFacebook, and Linky. Come back and visit A Learning Journey anytime! I love hearing from my readers and hope to connect with you this year.

God bless,