Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Reading and Writing March discounted bundle from The Old Schoolhouse

Reading and writing, two things our children are prone to struggle with for a while. 

Sometimes a long while. 

I remember when Arlene was first learning how to read, she could sound out the words, but reading did not come easily to her like it did for her big sister. 

Arlene loved when other people read to her, but she was struggling with reading by herself. I distinctly remember one day when we were at the library and she told her favorite librarian, Miss Toni, "I can't read." 

Of course Miss Toni, being the great librarian she was, encouraged Arlene like we had at home that she could read, it just took her a little longer than it took some other people. She reminded Arlene about the book she had read the week before. It was a simple book, but it showed Arlene that she was making progress.

Do you have a child like that? One who struggles a bit that you wish you could find just the right encouragement for? If you answered yes, you should check out the March bundle special from The Old Schoolhouse. It is titled: Building Readers and Writers from Preschoolers to Teens. It is a combination of 13 eBooks about reading, writing, encouraging readers, and more, plus four print issues of The Old Schoolhouse magazine. Though March 31st, 2018 it is on sale for $29. You can find all the details by clicking the picture below.

For those of you who know that Arlene now loves to read, thus her Books With Bean weekly column on the blog, you may wonder how she got through her struggles. 


Yes, Garfield, the lively and lovable lasagna-eating cat drawn by Jim Davis. Our library has the collection books where you can read an entire series of the comics strips. Emily and Arlene found them on the shelf and checked them out to take home. They would sprawl on the floor of their room and Emily would read them to Arlene. Eventually Emily got tired of reading to Arlene, but the books weren't finished. Arlene could look at the pictures, but struggled to read well enough to understand the punchline in the last frame of the comic. Her desire to know why the Garfield comics were funny inspired her to work harder at sounding out words she did not know. Soon she was reading Garfield by herself.  

Every child has a motivation factor that will help them work through the learning struggle. As parents, it falls upon us to help them find that key.

Hoping you find the key to unlock your child's desire to work through and succeed!

Monday, March 19, 2018

Books With Bean ~ The Mysterious Benedict Society

Books with bean, book reviews by teens, The Mysterious Benedict Society

Title: The Mysterious Benedict Society 

Author: Trenton Lee Stewart 

Published: March 7, 2007

Genre: Middle Grade, Mystery, Adventure, Science Fiction

Summary: When orphan Reynie Muldoon sees an advertisement looking for gifted children he immediately wants to find out what it is about. When he goes to find out he ends up completing a series of tests. After completing two tests he is joined by two other children, Kate and Sticky, and after going through two physical tests they are taken to meet a man named Mr. Benedict. There they are joined by another girl named Constance. Mr. Benedict tells the children that they are in grave danger and that they only way to figure out how to stop it is to undercover as students at an island boarding school called the Learning Institute for the Very Enlightened where the source of the trouble is coming from. The children all agree to go but when they get there they find that things are even more complicated then they thought and they may be too late to stop what is coming.

What I liked about it: The characters are all unique and fun and because of this almost anyone can relate to them. They story is so interesting and I know as a kid when I first read it (Goodness, was it really almost a decade ago? Now I feel old and grown up! Not really, but still) I loved reading a book about kids my age solving problems and doing puzzles and word games which have always interested me. They are friends but it shows that you don’t always get along even with your best friends but you still stick together because together with friends you can do anything. I also love that it shows that family is important even if you aren't flesh and blood family. All the kids at the beginning of the book are alone but by the end they all have families and are loved and taken care of. 

Language: None

Romance: None

Violence: None

Magic: None

Recommended Age: It is a good book and while it will keep even older kids interested it is simple enough that I think 9 or 10 is plenty old enough to read it!

Books with Bean, book reviews by teens, Mysterious Benedict Society

Saturday, March 17, 2018

A Light on the Hill ~ A Bethany House book review

Connilyn Cossette, Christian fiction, historical fiction, Bethany House publishers

Seven years after the fall of Jericho, Moriyah still struggles with her identity. Just before the city fell she was branded as a prostitute for the temple of Ashtoreth. Although she was innocent of any wrong doing, her innocence being the main reason the High Priestess had ordered her captured and branded, many of the fellow Hebrews she now lives amongst do not believe her to be pure of heart, or body.

Thus continue the struggles of Moriyah, the main character in Connilyn Cossette’s newest book, A Light on the Hill. This is the first book in the new Cities of Refuge series. This book continues the storyline of the Nation of Israel and their settlement of Canaan that marked the close of Mrs. Cossette’s Out From Egypt trilogy. For fans of Biblical or historical fiction this should go on your must-read list. I was once again amazed at the ease with which she brings to life the daily struggles faced by the Nation of Israel as they work to claim the Promised Land. I appreciate the work it must require to understand both the social customs of the day and the delicacy it takes to work a fictional story around the inerrancy of the Scriptures.

While the outward storyline of this book is the settling of the Promised Land and the institution of the cities of refuge to which an accidental murdered could flee for a merciful trial, the themes interwoven in the story go much deeper. While an accidental poisoning is the impetus that sends Moriyah running to a city of refuge, we learn so much more about how the struggles of having an idolatrous brand on her face have affected not only her daily life, but her inner self-worth as well. This brings the book to an entirely new level of depth and recommendation in my sight. In the church so many of our older teen girls and younger women have struggled with finding their true identity in Christ. This book points the reader to finding their identity in who God has made them, not as the world has defined them. As they cry, laugh, and empathize alongside Moriyah’s struggles, my hope is that this fictional book will point them to the healing that only God can give. 

The story of God’s faithfulness to the Nation of Israel is wonderfully portrayed in A Light on the Hill. The redemption of Moriyah’s character - both in her own eyes, and the eyes of the Hebrews around her - is masterfully portrayed with both heartache and grace. When Moriyah learns that God and God alone must be her salvation, the years of fear and shame begin to peel away to reveal a heart filled with hope for the future and greater compassion towards others and their own trials.

I highly recommend A Light on the Hill for readers ages 16 and up, whether they are Christians or not. For those who do not yet have an intimate knowledge of God, it is a gentle introduction to His workings. For those who know Christ, or are searching, this book can be a strong reminder that He alone gives us our true worth, He gives us much grace, and He has a plan for each of us to follow to bring Him glory.

Pick up your own copy of A Light on the Hill from Bethany House or your local bookstore.

Connect with Connilyn Cossette

Habakkuk 1:5

Scripture Writing, Habukkuk 1:5, hand lettering

Ok, Let's start from the beginning. This verse was God's response to Habakkuk's cry for help - he saw the violence all around his country and was asking God to intervene. God did intervene, but He told Habakkuk it would not happen as Habakkuk wanted, rather God was going to use another nation to clear the land, a people not His own, and then He would punish them for all of the destruction they had done for so long. I don't think that is the answer that Habakkuk was expecting. Why would God use a lost nation?

I guess Habakkuk needed to learn the same lesson we need to learn, that God's ways are bigger than we can comprehend. God's plan may not make sense to us, but it will accomplish His will in His timing.

Does this verse still have a place in our lives today? I think yes. God is still intimately involved in our lives. He has a plan to work, and if we are aware of His working, we will be amazed.

Recently we had a women's conference at our church. God showed up in a big way and touched so many of our hearts with a lot of grace and healing. He showed me a path to follow. He removed the cloud of grief that had been surrounding my heart for far too long and reminded me that He STILL does amazing things!

I want to be amazed at the workings of God - daily, hourly, always. 

Be on the lookout for God to do amazing things in your life. Just remember the lesson from Habakkuk - it may not look like you were expecting, but God is still there, still in charge, still working out His will.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Where, Oh where have you been?

Do you ever have those times when it seems like your life should be a Dr Seuss story? Where everything just keeps marching along to an unstoppable beat even when you are trying to get off of the ride? Yeah, it's been a little like that around here for the past three or four weeks. 

I am thankful that we have had such great opportunities recently, it has just been a little more full of a calendar than I like. It is definitely time to find some margin again! 

There are a lot of great things to tell you about... which if you're following us on Instagram you've seen some previews of: the NFL Combine in Indianapolis, the Women's conference this past weekend, the hikes to enjoy the brief snatches of spring in between the snow showers. But rather than try to fit it all in one or two posts and short-change you on some awesome things God has been teaching me, I'll be back to posting much more regularly over the next two weeks. I've even got a great guest post coming up next week about friendship that I know will get you thinking. 

Thank you for stopping by these past two weeks when it has been a little quiet here on the blog! It is always encouraging to find out that you - our wonderful readers- have not only stopped by, but shared your favorite posts with your friends. :) Apparently many of you have been thinking about where your Rome is. If you haven't read that post yet... it is worth a short detour.

So many of you have asked if I would share a little more about what causes me to choose a particular verse to hand-letter. I'll be making the effort to do that more often this Spring. 

In the meantime, let me tell you a little story...

Last week, for some unknown-to-me reason, I felt compelled to read the book of Nahum. I know, minor prophets are not usually my thing either, but it is good to read the entire Bible and I knew it had been while since I'd read this short book. So I started reading and kept coming back to verse 3 of the first chapter. I think a lot of us just focus on the first phrase "the Lord is slow to anger and great in power..." and then we wander through the rest of the book and check the box- done! But there was something more there, the second part of the verse states that "the Lord will not leave the guilty unpunished." Hmm... Perhaps you're recently been in a struggle over something - a job situation, a money issue, or wrongful accusations, then I guess you might notice that part too and be thankful to know that God sees every little detail of our lives and He is keeping track of what happens. Unless, of course, you were the guilty one - then maybe that is a part of the verse you want to avoid because it hits too close to home. But what do you make of the second half of the verse? 

"His way is in the whirlwind and the storm, and clouds are the dust of His feet."

This is the part that made me pause. God's way is in the whirlwind and the storm. This struck me anew - God often does not do things in the gentle way I would choose to do them. He makes His presence, and His plan known - powerfully! That is probably why what we term natural disasters are what the insurance companies call "acts of God." He does His work with power, and where many can see it and stand in awe! He allows many trials to come into our lives to refine us, but He never ever leaves us! He is not only IN the storm, often He IS the storm.

Has God brought a storm through your life recently? Do you feel as though you are always caught in a whirlwind? Instead of trying to get out of the storm, perhaps we should instead turn to the maker of the storm, the only One who can hold us safe in whatever comes our way- God Almighty. It is time to stop running away from the powerful things God wants to do in our lives and instead start running into His plans. He is there waiting for us to realize just how strong and mighty He is. God is waiting for us to pray big prayers, let go of the things of this world, and watch in awe as he is doing a new thing in our lives and in our hearts. 

This past year my life has been one doozy of a storm. So many difficult things to live through, and yet, such peace as I've never known before. God's way has definitely been to use the whirlwind and the storm to show His power - but He has allowed me to be still and know He is God. Psalm 46:10 

Though the trials God has been faithful, through the losses of one kind He has poured out blessing beyond belief in other areas of my life. And then, this past weekend, He reminded me that grief is a temporary thing - even when it seems overwhelming. There will be no crying in heaven, and this body is just a temporary home for my soul. Someday, probably in another 40 or so years, this earthly life for me will end but my eternal life will be just getting started. During a time of great loss it is hard to think about yourself in light of eternity, yet not so hard to know your loved one, if they are a Christian, is in eternity. I wonder why our perspectives are so different during intense grief? 

So, these were some (not all, just some) of my thoughts as I was reading in Nahum. The next morning Arlene and I were getting ready to go to the sewing group at our church. It had snowed overnight - just a bit - not an actual storm, but that morning the sunlight was intense under the lingering clouds. Knowing that if the storm came again - He would be there - we set off. As I was driving I noticed this little church we pass on our way and I asked Arlene to grab my phone and take a picture. It seemed too fitting of a shot to miss, especially after the way the verse in Nahum had struck a chord in my heart. The dark clouds were rolling on by - just like they do in a storm - and yet, the church was bathed in sunlight. There was calm. The church steeple was illuminated by the sunshine - just like our hearts can be illuminated by the Son-shine of Jesus!

It comforted me to see the visual reminder of the spiritual lesson God had put in my heart the night before. A church building is just that - a building. But what happens inside and around a healthy church - the way God's children follow His leading to do His work and show His mercy and grace to others - that is a daily miracle! That is God's power at work - saving one life after another for eternity.

That night when we got home I started reading in Habakkuk. But you'll need to stop back by on Saturday to learn more about that one.  ;)

Know that you are loved by a mighty God - whose way is in the whirlwind and the storm!

If you are at the beginning of your homeschool journey, you might enjoy this week's Homeschool Blog Link-up where several posts are focusing on how to homeschool with babies and toddlers underfoot.

Nahum 1:15

Scripture Writing, Nahum 1:15, Hand lettering

Monday, March 12, 2018

Books With Bean ~ The Invention of Hugo Cabret

Books With Bean, book reviews by teens, The Invention of Hugo Cabret

Title: The Invention of Hugo Cabret

Author: Brian Selznick

Published: January 30th, 2007

Genre:  Historical Fiction

Summary: Hugo is a young boy working in the Paris train station winding the many clocks that passengers use to tell the time. He was helping his uncle, but his uncle recently died. However the head of the station does not know this and hasn't checked in on their apartment in the station to find out. Each day Hugo winds the many clocks as he was taught hoping that no one comes and finds out that he is alone. Besides working on the clocks, Hugo works to fix a machine that his father used to bring home from the museum where he worked when Hugo was younger. Not being able to cash his uncle's checks Hugo has no money for parts to fix the machine. He realizes however that the old man who runs the station toy shop has just the sort of gears and peices to fix his machine. When he attempts to take a toy mouse however the old man catches Hugo and takes his tools and the notebook where he had been keeping all his notes on the machine. Hugo follows the old man to his house in an attempt to get the notebook back. He fails to do this but meets a girl named Isabelle who is about his age who lives there who tells his that she will make sure the old man does not destroy the notebook.
The next day he goes back to the toy booth and the old man shows Hugo ashes that he says are Hugo’s book, however Isabelle tells Hugo that his book is safe. He and Isabelle wander the station and while in the book shop meet a friend of Isabelle’s who promises to let them into the movie theater later. Hugo is hesitant to go at first knowing it will delay his work. 
The old man who Isabelle calls Papa Georges decides to make Hugo work to get his notebook back and sets him to work at cleaning his shop. Hugo is not happy especially as this means he is unable to work on the clocks. Later Hugo and Isabelle go to the theater only to find out that Isabelle’s friend has been fired for sneaking people in, they sneak in anyway but are soon kicked out. Back at the station the station inspector has begun to notice the clocks delays and almost catches Hugo. Isabelle asked Hugo where he lived but he doesn’t tell her fearing someone will come for him and take him away. However when she trips Hugo realizes that on her necklace is the key for winding up his machine and finding out what it does so he comes up with a plan to get her necklace. He gets it the next day when he hugs Isabelle after she tells him she found his notebook. She is mad but when she calms down they put the key into Hugo’s machine and it begins to move.

What I liked about it: The book is very different from a lot of other books in that half of the story is told in drawings. Not just illustrations that show the words but drawings that fill in for text. These beautiful drawings let the imagination figure out it’s own 1,000 words for each picture while not letting you loose track of where the story is going. It makes the book special and unique and unlike anything else you will ever read (that is unless you read his other books done in the same style) I love the story itself and the amazing drawings. (which I have not complimented three times but they are that good)

Language: None

Romance: None

Violence: Hugo’s father dies in a fire and his uncle drowns but it is not described beyond that.

Magic: None and yet so much. There is no actual magic but one of the characters is an early filmmaker and if you ever watch his movies (which I highly recommend) the things he was able to do over 100 years ago with the moving picture will seem like magic. If you do want to see them a lot of them are public domain and can be found online.

Recommended Age: 10 or 11, the story is good but not overly complicated and can be read at any age really.

Books With Bean, book reviews by teens, The Invention of Hugo Cabret

Friday, March 9, 2018

Ordering a Diploma and planning an Open House for your Graduate

homeschool diploma, graduation, diplomas, open house

Back in January we talked about getting ready for graduation. If your high school student is going to be graduating in May or June of this year and you have not yet ordered their graduation announcements, I would encourage you to pop on over and re-read our post about choosing announcements and how to make your list. If you have made your list and ordered those announcements, now is a great time to make sure you have everyone’s current addresses to mail then to.

Now, while you still have plenty of time to think about it, you should sit down together with your graduate and decide on a style of diploma to order. I know May seems a long ways away, but you’ll feel better if you order that diploma in March or April than if you wait until the first week of May when the weather is nice and the only reason anyone wants to come inside is to grab the meat to grill for dinner. Even though there is a rush order option for diplomas, it is easier to plan ahead and save those extra dollars for chocolate for the party! 

So how do you decide which style of diploma to order? You take a look around the HomeschoolDiploma.com website and look at the different  styles . There are three options to choose from, each with personalization available. You can choose the Standard Diploma, the Personalized Diploma, or the Gilded Diploma. Each of these are excellent choices, and you’ll want to ask your soon-to-be graduate if they have a preference. You can choose either the 8.5 x 11” size or the 6 x 8” size. Our preference is the Personalized Diploma, as it gives you a lot of options to reflect the uniqueness of your homeschool and your graduate’s personality. A little hint: you have more diploma cover options if you go for the 8.5 x 11” size. If you’re really wanting to go for the gold - get the Gilded Diploma and enjoy the 23 karat gold illumination on the seal and school name.

homeschool diploma, graduation, diplomas, open house

Before we go any further, let’s remind ourselves why our graduates need a diploma. 

Graduation is a milestone in their transition from childhood to adulthood. It is a recognition of the completion of a daunting task - high school. A diploma is also a keepsake. Don’t shortchange your graduate or yourself by ignoring this step towards their independence. While you can choose it all yourself, as the parent-educator, I think selecting your graduate's diploma together is another opportunity to tie heart strings with your child. Value their opinion, work together to create something you will both enjoy having them receive. 

You are going to find a lot of options on the Personalized Diploma, from wording options and multiple type faces to the chance to include a favorite verse or motto. You’re also going to be able to select paper, signature lines, and the graduation date. If your graduate is going to be part of a large group graduation, then you already know those particulars and can input the exact date. But if you are unsure as to the actual date of your actual graduation ceremony / open house, you could choose to put the month and year without the day. We did that with our older daughter since we knew she would graduate in December, but hadn’t yet chosen the day for her open house. Obviously we decided that before we ordered her graduation announcements, but why stress yourself out over the date if you don’t have to? Also, some people prefer the simplicity of the month/year date line.

I like that there are nine options to choose from on the diploma seals with the Personalized Diploma, so however you organized your child’s private education, there is an option for you. There is also one option that simply has the year embossed on the seal. The quality of the printing on these diplomas is superb, and when they arrive there are instructions about how to sign them (with no smudges!)

If you have visited the HomeschoolDiploma.com website before, what used to be called the Exclusive High School Diploma is now named the Personalized Diploma. Way easier to remember in my book, and still just as great of quality. HomeschoolDiploma.com also offers caps and gown for purchase, and if you are ordering a diploma from them, there is a discounted package to get your diploma, cap and gown all at once. :)

homeschool diploma, graduation, diplomas, open house

Ceremonies and Open Houses

Once you’ve ordered the announcements and the diploma for your graduate, it is time to get serious about what you want their ceremony and/or open house to look like. 
One of our friends’ sons did not want a party at all. His parents knew it was important to commemorate the day so they marked his graduation with a huge family dinner out at his favorite restaurant. A few years ago one of our girls’ good friends graduated and wanted a small ceremony with a larger open house. Her parents ordered announcements that stated her graduation and when the open house would be, then they personally invited each member of their daughter’s inner circle of friends and their family members to attend the ceremony, which they held in the same location as the open house, but an hour and a half before the open house began. 

For our older daughter Emily we were on a tight budget. So we opted for an afternoon open house with finger foods. Her younger sister baked dozens and dozens of cookies the two weeks leading up to the graduation date and we stuck then in the freezer until the night before the party. Emily didn’t want a big ceremony, so we did the presentation of her diploma ahead of time as a family, and then she displayed it on the card and gift table at her open house. We held her open house in the fellowship hall of our church. Plenty of tables and chairs, and bathrooms close by. :)

homeschool diploma, graduation, diplomas, open house

Our younger daughter is still unsure as to what she wants for her graduation event. Since she will not be graduating until the end of this calendar year we still have plenty of time to talk over her options. I know we will be doing something memorable.

If you are working towards a May or June graduation for this year, may I make a few suggestions? Start early, plan ahead, and stay relaxed as the day approaches. If you are not going to be part of a large group ceremony, then you have the option to set your own graduation ceremony date. If you want the most people possible from your group of family and friends to be able to attend, then think about the schedules of others as wells your own. I would suggest avoiding Memorial Day weekend, unless that is the only time your family has available to make the trip from out of state. You might also want to check the graduation dates of the private and public schools near your home. If they are all graduating the first weekend in June, then know that many of your church and neighborhood friends will be invited to many open houses. Could you hold your ceremony or open house either two weeks before or a week or two after the local school graduation date? There have been many times over the years that we have been unable to attend all of the open houses we were invited to because of the vast number of them all held on the same date. 

homeschool diploma, graduation, diplomas, open house

In our local community is has become popular for graduating best friends to share an open house. Two graduates, two sets of family, and a lot of friends. None of whom now have to choose attending one event over the other, or leaving early. 

Or of you are wanting to offer a more sit-down and linger style of open house, choose foods that are easy to prepare ahead of time, and that keep well. We have been to many memorable open houses where a little bit of pre-planning allowed the parents to keep enjoying themselves while still serving the needs of the graduate and their guests. Moms - if your best friend offers to help you - say yes! We have dined at a baked potato bar, feasted at a taco bar, and eaten croissant finger foods until the sun sets. If you’re planning a meal, then plan foods that do well in the crockpot (like tacos) or that you can prepare the morning before (like baked potatoes.) Options for sub-style sandwiches are also easy to keep replenished without a lot of work during the party. 

Several years ago there were three best friends we knew who all graduated together. They planned their open houses to be one right after the other on the same day. The parents planned the afternoon events together, and it worked really well. The first open house had finger foods: veggies and cheese and crackers, the second open house had graduation cake, and the third house had dinner. The third house was the family with the biggest backyard and the graduates and their friends all disappeared outside to play volleyball and frisbee while the older friends and family members sat inside and chatted.

Whichever option works best for your family, make sure you make your graduate’s day special! For Emily’s open house we had a table with a blank white picture mat that guests signed instead of a guestbook. We also had a box covered in wrapping paper for cards to be placed in. Next to it we provided index cards and pens and asked those who attended to write a favorite Bible verse or quote for Emily and drop it in the cards box.

Not everyone will be able to attend your graduation event, and that is to be expected. That is just the way life is. However, if you plan ahead, send announcements in a timely manner (about 3-4 weeks before the event) and show your graduate how happy you are with all they have accomplished, there will be many, many opportunities to take pictures of smiling faces at the open house. Make memories that will last a lifetime, and choose a diploma that your graduate will one day take out and show to their own children!

Are you in charge of marshaling the troops for a co-op or private school graduation ceremony? HomeschoolDiploma.com has you covered as well with discounts on group orders, caps and gowns, and a variety of senior year gifts.

Connect with HomeschoolDiploma.com on social media:

Disclaimer: I will receive a free product in exchange for this post. All opinions are my own, a positive review was not required. I am disclosing this in accordance with FTC regulations.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Books With Bean ~ Eragon

Books with Bean, book reviews by teens, Eragon

Title: Eragon

Author: Christopher Paolini 

Published: 2002 (Paolini LLC) 
August 26, 2003 Knopf

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Summary: Eragon is out hunting for food for his family in the mountains near his home, just as he closes in on a herd of deer a loud noise scares them away. He is hesitant at first but then decides to see what caused the disturbance. He finds what appears to be a large blue stone veined with white. His prey gone, Eragon takes the stone hoping that it will be able to buy food for his family for over the winter. Going to the butcher's shop hoping to trade it for meat he gets rejected when he reveals he found it in the mountains which are said to be cursed, something Slone the town butcher believes after his wife died in the mountains. Horst the town blacksmith intervenes for Eragon who thanks him and quickly leaves. Not knowing what to do Eragon goes home to the house he lives in with his uncle Garrow and cousin Roran. Garrow is unsure what to do with it so they save the stone for when the traveling traders come to town hoping to sell it. When the traders arrive however, Murlock the trader of jewelry and other trinkets does not want to buy it because he thinks that he will be unlikely to find a buyer for it. After Eragon and his family have dinner with Horst and his family that night Eragon goes home and leaves the stone on a shelf overnight deciding to wait before doing anything with it. However in the middle of the night the stone starts shaking and wakes Eragon up. He is annoyed with it and about to take it outside and bury it when a crack appears on the surface of the stone and soon Eragon realizes it is not a stone but an egg, and not just any egg either. Out of the egg comes a little dragon that is an amazing shade of blue. Eragon is excited but worried. He loves the stories of the order of dragon riders that used to keep watch over the land but they have been gone for a long time and there are none left in the land save the evil Kind Galbatorix and his dragon. Eragon is nervous and contemplates for a short moment killing the dragon but decides against it as it seems harmless enough. He feeds it some meat and when he touches it he has a painful sensation go up his arm from his hand. Looking at his hand he sees a silver mark appear and he begins to feel the emotions of the dragon in his mind. The next morning he builds it a small hut in the forest by his home and decides to keep the dragon secret for the time being so that his uncle won’t make him get rid of it. After a few days he visits Brom the town storyteller and tries to discreetly ask him questions about dragons. When he gets back home he and the dragon go over the list of dragon names Brom told him and after realizing the dragon is a girl he names he Saphira. During this time Roran leaves to the next village over to take a job at the mill to make some money so he can one day marry Katrina the woman he is in love with. Everything seems well at first but then stage cloaked figures come to the village and start asking questions about the egg. Eragon is unsure what to do but Saphira takes him into the mountains to hide from the figures. He pleads with her to go back because the men might hurt his uncle who is still at home if they find out where they live and  the next day they go back only to find the house burnt down and Garrow at the edge of death. Eragon takes him to the village and the village healer tries to take care of both Garrow and Eragon who was wounded while riding Saphira. Gorrow dies and Eragon is left without knowing what to do next. He decides to go after the figures from the town who he is sure are behind his uncles death and is joined by Brom who it turns out knows more then Eragon ever thought. As they travel the kingdom however Eragon realizes that the world is changing and he is at the middle of the battle for the future of Alagaësia whether he wants to be or not. 

What I liked about it: Eragon is a really cool book, a lot of people have said it is a rip off of other books and movies but I think it is enough it’s own to be worth reading. Eragon (the character) is a little 2-D at first but soon becomes someone who you want to know more about. The other characters are really interesting as well, from grumpy Brom, to the people he meets later in the book like the Elf Arya, the wandering Mutagh, and the self assured Nasuada. The land and the world of Alagaësia are also interesting with fascinating history and plenty of action and plot through all four books. As I learned recently when finishing a series I started some time ago, some series start good and the by the end feel incomplete, The Inheritance cycle was just the opposite. Christopher was young when he first wrote it and it shows a bit in the first book but it is nothing that makes the book unreadable, however by the end of the cycle everything is so awesome that you don’t want it to end!

Language: There is a little bit of language, and while I wouldn't recommend to younger kids  because of this (and  because it is simply too complicated for young children), I think it isn’t too bad. When I first read it several years ago I feel like I noticed it more even though it was very little. But now after having read a lot more young adult books where it seems like random swearing is ok I realized when I reread it recently that is is actually really clean comparatively.

Romance: Eragon begins to have an infatuation with Arya but it never becomes anything serious by the end of the fourth book. Roran is in love with Katrina and she does become with child by Roran in the second book but that scene is not actually in the book and in the third book they get married. 

Violence: There are a lot of battles and fights, the descriptions of what it looks like are in the book and while it paints a clear picture its not overly graphic. 

Magic: Magic is all around in the world of Alagaësia, it is accessible by Elves, Dwarves and humans to varying degrees. Elves have the easiest time controlling it and it is hardest for humans. Eragon starts to be able to control it once he becomes a dragon rider. It seems amazing to Eragon at first but he soon learns it comes with a price. The less you know the easier it is to do something wrong and go too far. Magic takes as much energy from you as it would take you to do that task yourself, and you have to know the ancient language to be able to control it without making big mistakes. 

Recommended Age: Eragon is 15 at the beginning at the beginning of the book and turns 16 during the book. I feel like 14 is probably a good age to start reading these books as the characters and the plot don’t really lean themselves to a younger audience even if you have a really advanced reader who is already reading well beyond their grade level. 

Books With Bean, book reviews by teens, Eragon