I don’t know about you, but I have a very reluctant reader. She reads well, but just doesn’t like it. If I give her a book with a lot of pictures or a non fiction book she will read it with a fake smile, but if I give her a fiction book with no pictures at all, attitude is usually around the corner. This year I have been focusing on her reading. She has read a lot of different types of books, and I have noticed that the ones that keep her interest the most have a strong, believable, young girl as the main character. I was thrilled when we were given the opportunity to review a wonderful book, Thick as Thieves by Susan K. Marlow. Thick as Thieves is the first book in a new series, Circle C Milestones. After reading about the book, I thought it would be the perfect fit for AJ.
About the Book
The Circle C Milestones series takes readers on an adventure with fourteen year old Andrea Carter (known as Andi) who is growing up in California in the 1800’s. The book opens with Andi worrying about her horse, Taffy, who is going through her first foaling. Andi is in that awkward stage where she isn’t a little girl any more, but where she isn’t old enough for anyone to take her seriously. After some scary stuff happens, that keeps you on the edge of your seat, Andi has to return to school instead of being able to stay with her horse.
When school starts more drama and conflict occurs as a new girl, Macy, comes to school. Macy is dirty, smelly, and full of secrets. As Andi’s luck would have it, Macy ends up as her new seat mate.
Just when things start to settle down, cattle rustlers start stealing horses. When Andi’s family’s ranch is hit, suspense and adventure fill the story. Will Andi’s family get their horses back? Will Andi make it through the school year sitting by the crude Macy? Throw in a few plot twists, and you may be surprised by the ending. I sure was.
Thick as Thieves is a 173 page soft covered book that is broken down into 26 chapters. It is recommended for kids ages 12 and up.
To go along with the book there is a free downloadable study guide. The study guide is 40 pages long. It covers vocabulary and comprehension questions like most study guides, but it goes much deeper. There are sections on idioms, characterization, similes, and so much more. There are even fun sections that teach a little more about life in the 1880’s.
The study guide is recommended to be used one of two ways. It can be used after reading a number of chapters or you can read the entire book and then come back and do it.
How We Used It
This book arrived the day we finished up our previous novel study. My plan was to print out the study guide and have AJ start reading the book the next day. That didn’t happen. When the book arrived in the mail she read the back and wanted to start reading it that night! When she asks to read, I don’t usually say, “no.” We did a little bit of shared reading (I read a page then she reads a page) and stopped after a few chapters. She did the study guide the next day and we read some more. We did that for the first two days, but then we decided to wait and do the study guide at the end of the book. The book was just too exciting to put down. On the third day we stayed up until three in the morning because she had to find out what was going to happen. We still had a few chapters left, so we finished up the next morning.
The problem came when she went to work on the study guide. She couldn’t remember what happened in each chapter. She knew how both Andi and Macy had changed had grown, but she couldn’t remember what part of the book things happened in. We decided to skip the comprehension questions and just did the fun activities that went along with the book.
If I were to do another study guide with one of Susan K. Marlow’s books I would do it a little differently. I would have AJ do the vocabulary section before she started the book so that she would be more familiar with it. Then I would make sure to at least ask the comprehension questions after each set of chapters. The rest of the study guide we would do after the book was finished. The study guide is amazing! It is well put together and a wonderful resource. I really wish we would have utilized it better.
What We Thought
We loved this book! It was full of fun, adventure, suspense, and wonderful character traits. Andi is not perfect, and I think AJ really understood her. AJ was so into the book that a few times in the beginning she said, “Andi just needs to punch that Macy!” Both of the characters were so deep and interesting. The theme of the book is friendship, and it really shines through. There are biblical values intertwined throughout the book, but it is done in a way that doesn’t come across as preachy.
This was the first book that either of us had read from this author and we were plesently surprised. She has a wonderful writing style and we can’t wait to read more of her books about Andi. There are two other series about Andi; Circle C Beginnings (for ages 6-9) and Circle C Adventures (for ages 9-14) and AJ wants to read them all! We have the Circle C Beginnings set on order at the library and we can’t wait until it comes in.
Any book that can spark AJ’s interest in reading is a win in my book. I would recommend it whole heartedly!
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