Book Review: Vinegar Boy

The memory of his promise turned bitter on his tongue. He had told the man he would be back; he had left the vinegar as a pledge. Jesus would need the vinegar.

Born with a birthmark dominating one side of his face, Vinegar Boy has grown up nameless and despised by Jews and Romans alike. His task is to bring drugged vinegar to men crucified at Golgotha. Only kind old Nicolaus cares for him, but Vinegar Boy will not become his son while he is still marred. When he hears that a man named Jesus is working miracles, he is filled with hope. That hope fades when he meets Jesus at Calvary. There may still be time for a miracle, but the boy cannot bring himself to ask a favor of a man in so much pain. Can he bring comfort to those mourning the loss of the man they love?

I read this two weeks ago while I was sick and couldn’t put it down. Vinegar Boy’s compassion in the face of his own dissapointment makes him a character well worth loving. You will route for him from the first page till the last and put the book down with a smile.

Audience: 10 and up

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Book Review: Gib Rides Home

No one had heard from Gibson Wittaker since he went away, but the rumor was that he had been adopted by a family who lived near Longford, a small cattle town in the next county. There was nothing especially uncommon about that. Half, or even full, orphans left Lovell House fairly often, going back with a remaining parent or out to an adoption, but what was so shocking was his reappearance. How could Gib Wittaker be strolling into the senior boys’ dormitory when the law said, at least the law according to Miss Offenbacher, that Lovell House adoptions were not reversible?

The fact is Gib Wittaker was not adopted–more like farmed out–and he didn’t really want to return to Lovell House. More than a year earlier a gray-bearded man had come and taken Gib from the orphanage he’s lived in for the past five years. As he works at his new home, Gib finds a sense of accomplishment from working hard and discovers a talent for handling horses. But the Rocking M Ranch is also full of mysteries, some of them related to Gib. He hopes to find out more about his past, but some secrets are better off left alone.

Audience: 9 and up

Book Review: Twenty and Ten

The Nazis are looking for those children,” said Sister Gabriel. “If we take them we must never let on that they are here. Never. Even if we are questioned. We can never betray them, no matter what they do to us. Do you understand?”

Janet and the 19 other boys and girls from her fifth-grade class have been sent to the French countryside for safekeeping during the Nazi occupation. None of them hesitate to agree when a tired man arrives in search of safety for 10 Jewish children.

“They’re coming! They’re coming!” she yelled. And suddenly Philip and George were also among us, panting. “They’re coming! They’re coming! The Nazis are coming!”

No one expects Nazi soldier’s to arrive while Sister Gabriel is away in town, but when they are spotted in the valley, the children must make a plan and execute it quickly. Will it be enough to keep them all safe?

Audience: Any age, either to be read independently or listen to. Target audience is probably 8 to 12.

Book Review: The Foundling

     The Constable pointed to Willy’s bundle. “This yours?”
     Willy nodded. “All my clothes”
     “Your mummy left you and all your clothes?”
     “Yes.” Willy drew himself up. “And she said the Constable would collect me very soon.”
     “Really!” The Constable pulled his hand from his pocket and jabbed his chest with his thumb. “I’m that very person. It seems your to come with me.” This was the third child he had found abandoned in the parish since Christmas. The infant girl had not lived long enough to be christened. He did not know about the boy.

And so, at four years old, Willy begins his life as a foundling. Each season of his life brings new experiences, new things to learn, and new obstacles to conquer.

My copy of this book is very well-loved (translation: beat up) from being read and re-read many times. I highly recommend it.

Audience: The Foundling is written at a teen reading level and would be an ideal family read-aloud.

Study Guide Provided by the Publisher 
The Foundling on Amazon