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A Celebration of Christian Character (cursive penmanship e-book) Review by Jennifer Loucks

Joy Marie Dunlap
LightHome Publications

I love to see self-published homeschool materials that are beautiful to behold. Joy Marie Dunlap's penmanship copybooks are a delightful labor of love that can be used and enjoyed by all types of homeschoolers.

A Celebration of Christian Character is 49 pages of copywork for grades 4-9. It comes as an e-book in PDF format; after paying for it, you simply download it to your computer and print out what you need. It's immediately available, and you have no shipping charges! It is structured as an alphabet poem, written by the author. Each page features a letter of the alphabet with 4 rhyming lines about a character quality beginning with that letter. Then there is a Bible verse below the poem. The capitals are ornate, vintage, illuminated letters and are just beautiful. The 26 character qualities range from "alertness" to "zeal", with everything in between, such as "forgiveness," "kindness," and "obedience." There are about 7 lines total to copy per page. At the end is a word search puzzle as well as extra verses to copy; each of these pages is illustrated with a floral stained-glass bookmark that can be cut out and used or perhaps given as a gift.

I hope you can see that there is a great deal of material in this book. It is not just "filler." Here is a sample verse of the poem:

M is for meekness
When I take last place,
When I'd rather honor others
Than save my own face.

The accompanying verse is Romans 12:10: "Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor." What a wonderful way for the student to meditate on Scripture! You could even use the pages for devotional material or Scripture memory.

And not only is this copybook immensely practical and usable, it's extremely beautiful as well. The illuminated letters are lovely and interesting to look at; I'm sure many students would enjoy lightly filling them in with colored pencils. I just love the stained-glass bookmarks. They are the work of a marvelous artist.

For cursive practice, the model sentences are in a basic cursive font. It's not too slanted and not too loopy and is very easy to read. I think the amount of text on each page is about right for copying. In the poem, the guidelines (which have a dotted midline) alternate with the verse lines, so you can copy directly under each line; however, the Bible verse is set up differently, with the entire verse grouped together, and three or four guidelines below it. One drawback might be that the guidelines are very small. They are even smaller than the model text. I found them a bit difficult to write on myself. This could be a drawback, especially for younger students. I noticed that even though the cover says grades 4-9, the author's website says this book is for middle school through high school, which seems more appropriate given the size of the guidelines. Note that there is no cursive instruction in this copybook.

How do you use this book? There are many ways to make it fit your school. You can print only the sheets you need as you need them. Another option might be to print them all out, store them in a folder, and hand them out as needed. You can also print them all and make them into a book, hole punching them and inserting them into a report cover or binder or stapling them with a heavy-duty stapler. I printed mine on regular white printer paper, and it seems durable enough for writing and coloring. It seems to me that printing them all out at once is the best way to make sure you don't forget about them. I absolutely love the convenience of e-books and have downloaded many to my computer, but I do find that I forget about them if I don't print them right away.

By the way, you are allowed to print off as many pages as you need for your family. It's convenient and saves money. And not only that, but you are allowed to help a needy family "who truly could not afford to legally educate their children without substantial help from God's people." I appreciate this ministry mindset!

This copybook is a large file. Be patient when downloading, and make sure your Internet connection doesn't time out or "crash" or you'll have to start over. It took me several tries to get my copy downloaded, but it was worth the effort! I just love this copybook, and I know you will too.

Product review by Jennifer Loucks, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, August 2009