Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Review: Salem Ridge Press


"Five years from now, you’re the same person except for the people you’ve met and the books you’ve read."
— John Wooden


I don't know about you, but a lot of books on the market today would lead my Schnickelfritz down a path I don't want him to go.  It seems in order to generate any interest, each author must push the envelope a little further with horror, titillation,  or rebellion to authority.   I no longer visit the standard bookstore carrying newly published titles and instead hit  book fairs to rescue treasures that have been discarded from lack of interest by the general public. The folks at Salem Ridge Press are kindred spirits in that regard.  They find children's  fare from the 1800's and early 1900's and republish them for a new audience.   I received three samples of the kind of books they are trying to save.




Young Robin Hood  --   This title is from Salem's Younger Reader series--younger perhaps but certainly not beginning readers.    The sentences were extremely long with complicated punctuation, archaic words like "jerkin" and some characters spoken words were written with a cockney accent.   I have a chart for estimating readability and it puts the book at a seventh grade reading level.  I chose to read this book aloud to Schnickelfritz.   I was pleased with his listening comprehension.  I read the first two pages two him and then asked him to draw a picture of what was occurring before letting him see the illustration on page three.  He understood that the boy was riding behind someone on a horse even though the text never says so directly.   He also displayed a great deal of indignation at the way the swineherd treated young Robin so I know the book was engaging his imagination. 

Down the Snow Stairs  --This book is the only title in the web-site's Allegory category, but I assume others will be added.   The most famous allegory is  Pilgrim's Progress.  Rather than traveling to the Celestial City or going through the Slough of Despond, our heroine visits Naughty Children Land.   In 1887, when the book was written, people must have had a much different view of Christmas.  There is no mention of the holy birth or Santa Claus, instead Christmas is a time when elves and goblins roam about.   It may be tougher for children to determine if these unusual characters and destinations or real or part of a dream so I also suggest this type of book be done as a read aloud.

Soldier Fritz  --  One of the biggest categories for Salem Ridge Press is historical fiction.   Subtopics include church history, American history and world history.  Soldier Fritz  is one of twelve titles published so far from Emma Leslie's church history series and is set during the Reformation period.    This book could provide good context on  daily life  during Martin Luther's lifetime--a feudal castle,  peddler merchants carrying news,  and charcoal burners.  The book  never explains how Luther's views differ from Catholic doctrine (except perhaps mentioning the characters no longer pray to the saints) so other material would be needed if you were truly studying church history.    Catholic readers may also be offended by the way the priests are portrayed as "bad guys":  driving a mother and her children out of their home or risk imprisonment while the father is away at war. 


All in all,  I was quite please with the offerings of Salem Ridge Press.  If my son were old enough to read these titles on his own I know I could hand the books over and not have to worry about offensive language,   immodesty, or rebellious actions and attitudes shown without devastating consequences.   Since all the books promote family values, perhaps they are best as read alouds--the whole family gathered together to share in the tale.   You can look up titles on their website by time period and location if you're building a unit study.  Most titles are available in softcover and hardcover and range from $10.95 to $24.95.   You may click here to see what others on the Homeschool Crew think about the offerings of Salem Ridge Press.


Disclaimer: I received one free softback and two free ebooks from Salem Ridge Press for the purposes of completing this review.  I received no other compentation for this honest opinion.

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