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Friday, May 6, 2011

Circle C Beginnings, a review

Susan K. Marlow has taken her lovable tween-age heroine, Andrea Carter of the Circle C Adventures series, a little further back to when she was a little girl.  The year is 1874, and Andi’s a perky 6-year-old trying to lasso one of the ranch dogs.  Her horse, Taffy, is such a pretty foal and Andi is more than a little miffed when her big brother tells her that she most certainly cannot enter Taffy in the state fair.  Seems Andi has always been a bit headstrong.  

I think many 5-8 year-olds will enjoy hearing about Andi’s adventures, whether they are already reading independently or listening with rapt attention as Mama reads aloud.  This is a simple chapter book with short chapters and charming illustrations to keep the attention of little ones.

We received a complimentary copy of Andi’s Fair Surprise for review.


In Andi’s Fair Surprise, you’ll ride with Andi on her very first train trip to the California State Fair.  Once you’re there, meet the pigs, sheep, and other livestock, and even play a few carnival games with Andi, but watch out, there are surprises in store for this rambunctious little munchin. 

After reading the book, visit  Andi and Taffy’s website to download a free pdf of activities that accompany the book, including comprehension questions, a full explanation of how a steam locomotive works, math word problems, coloring pages of the book’s illustrations, and more.  I was very impressed with the quality of the worksheets.  These aren’t just coloring pages, but real learning opportunities.

What did we think of the book?

I thought this book would be a perfect fit for Mary, aged 7 (and lover of horses).  Turned out, not so much.  She read about half the book on her own and put it down.  And wouldn’t pick it back up.  When I asked her about it, she said she wasn’t sure why she didn’t like it, but she did think that Andi tends to jump to conclusions (this is true) and that one of Andi’s brothers was cruel to her---there’s scene where Andi is being stubborn, so her big brother lassos her, pinning her arms to her sides, then picks her up and carries her across the yard, upside down, letting her braids drag in the dust.

For Mary, a girl who’s got an older brother who could do just that (but wouldn’t) and a younger brother who would do just that, this scene was more than a little uncomfortable.  And Andi’s mother backs up brother on this, she does not reprimand him for treating Andi this way.   It seemed like a classic instance of a bigger, stronger person overpowering and forcing a weaker, smaller person into submission and I can understand why Mary didn’t like it.

However, the rest of the book is better at  demonstrating how brothers and sisters care for one another, and big brother does make it up to Andi in the end. 

My little ones (Peter, age 5, and Emma, age 2) did sit in rapt attention, hanging on every word, while I read it to them.  They loved listening to Andi’s adventures and Peter even did the locomotive worksheet (and he’s not really a worksheet kinda boy).  I suspect this one will make it into our regular nightly rotation, but I may skip over that early scene.

Visit Andi and Taffy’s site to read about Andi’s other Circle C Beginnings adventures.  This series is available at your local bookstore, or directly from Kregel Publications as single books or in bundles.

Disclosure:  As a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew, I received a free copy of this book for review purposes.  I received no other compensation and the opinions expressed in this post are my own.


  1. Hi Susan (great name, BTW) :-)
    Thanks for your enthusiastic thoughts on Fair Surprise. I had a blast reading your post. The thing I like about the Crew is that no review (even if they're all great) is ever exactly alike. It's fun to get the inside scoop, and it's so interesting to see how kids are so different.
    Your little Mary sounds sensitive, just like my little granddaughter Julie. She is afraid of being turned upside down even on a good, friendly, joking day. She just freaks out, she's so scared.
    But her 6-year-old sister Ellie (an Andi-like character all the way around) screams with joy and BEGS to be hauled around upside down by her 21-year-old uncle (who is the same age as Chad in the book). So . . . go figure. I thought it was a better way to handle his ornery little sister than to yell at her and talk meanly to her . . . better to haul her to Mom and let her deal with her sass. LOL

    Thanks again for your great post!

  2. Great review! My girls are the older ones and have no older brothers, but I'm sure if they had them they would have had a similar response.


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