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Tessa on Her Own Review by Jenny Thompson

By Alyssa Chase;
Illustratorillustrated by Itoko Maeno
PO Box 8082
Shawnee Mission, KS 66208

Tessa on Her Own, written by Alyssa Chase, is part of the Character Building series published by MarshMedia. The series includes books covering many topics, including loyalty, perseverance, sharing, truthfulness, and kindness. I only received a storybook for review, but additional resources are available to purchase either separately or in a kit, including a Teacher's Guide, DVD, and Evaluation Guide.

Tessa on Her Own is about value of having a good work ethic and being self-reliant. Alyssa Chase conveys the message that hard work pays off in this nice, simplistic story. The main character is a fox named Tessa who grows up relying on her brother to find food for her. When her brother leaves her, she is left to fend for herself, but she has trouble doing the work on her own. She has to learn her lesson the hard way and finally comes to understand the value of learning to do things on her own.

This book is written for an intended audience of ages 5-9, but younger listeners will enjoy hearing an adult read the story. Much can be gleaned just from the book, but I imagine that the Teacher's Guide would be a very helpful tool for homeschool families. In the end pages of the book, the author provides bits of information about the Ojai Valley in California where the story takes place and the animals who inhabit that region. Itoko Maeno's illustrations are gorgeous, and the cover itself just invites you to read this book. Maeno's watercolor designs should inspire children to learn more about this style of painting and even produce some of their own works of art. There are talking points in the back of the book that can be used to lead into deeper discussion on this topic. Laziness is contrasted against hard work in this story, and homeschoolers can expound upon those themes by searching for Bible verses and other reading material that teach the value of work. Though this book is not a "Christian" book, it is nice to see that the ethics presented in the book do not conflict with Biblical teaching.

I believe that Tessa on Her Own would be a great addition to any homeschooler's library. I would definitely like to check out the Teacher's Guide to view the extra activities that are suggested to go along with the book. Now that I own one of MarshMedia's Character Building books, I am very interested in adding more to our collection.

Product review by Jenny Thompson, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, June 2010