The Old Schoolhouse® Product & Curriculum Reviews

With so many products available we often need a little help in making our curriculum choices. The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine family understands because we are in the same boat! Do you need more information on a product before you buy? With over 5,500 products listed in 52 easy-to-use categories, much of the information you need to know is only a click away! Let our reviewer-families help yours.
Do you want to get the word out about your product or service to the homeschool community? Email Jenny Higgins and share a little about what you´d like showcased, and we can help with that!

Isabel's Secret / Creative Writing Made Easy / Paper Doll and Craft Book Review by Kathy Gelzer

Jan May; illustrated by Julianna Davis
New Millennium Girl Books
690 Laurel Drive
Aurora, Ill 60506

Isabel's Secret is a 10-chapter, 109-page book about tomboy Isabel Morningskye, her family, and a mystery. Isabel and her friend Holly grow closer to each other and to God while they uncover the secret about Isabel's family. During a blizzard, Isabel and Holly find a Native American clay pot and a poem, and that is where the mystery begins.

Creative Writing Made Easy is a creative writing curriculum in which the student writes her own story about Isabel Morningskye and a princess. The book tells you how to make a good story. For example, rather than saying "She was scared," use words to show how she was afraid. Also, use adverbs and adjectives to describe nouns and verbs. The creative writing curriculum has 12 lessons and is made for a 12-week course. Each lesson has three parts: Learning Time, Writing Time, and Craft Time. The Craft Time usually involves making a paper doll from the paper doll book.

The Paper Doll and Craft Book is a paper doll book with a few crafts. The paper doll clothes are in black and white so that you can color them. There is more than one picture of each outfit, so you can be more creative and try different colors with each outfit. There are 32 pages of clothing to color and decorate.

Isabel's Secret is a well-written and exciting book to be read for enjoyment. You do not have to read it to do the creative writing curriculum. You could use this for part of your English curriculum, or you could read it during the summer. The author, Jan May, says it is meant for girls, grades 3-6, beginning writers or advanced. The author wrote this book for homeschoolers and groups. She says it would be great for a summer project, and she suggests that a good way to celebrate at the end of the book would be to have a tea party and fashion show with the paper dolls and clothes from the paper doll book.

I enjoyed Isabel's Secret a lot! I like Isabel's motto: "Winner's never quit and quitters never win, because I serve the mighty God that lives deep within." The book had a great plot, but there was some questionable language and a couple of questionable plot elements: an "OMG" from Isabel's best friend Holly plus "Oh my gosh!" and "darn" from Isabel at different times. The grandmother was the main "enemy" in the story, which I thought was kind of sad. Plus, in one chapter Isabel goes to camp, where she and several other girls meet a certain boy and like him. This boy also likes Isabel. The story ends with Isabel thinking about him.

This publisher/author is obviously Christian. Isabel prays, and her parents mention God several times. I think the creative writing book would be good for girls who are great at writing as well as those who find it a challenge. In the second lesson, the curriculum teaches you about how to have the character in your story grow in God. It also quotes Scripture there. The paper doll book includes a princess paper doll that you get to finish drawing and coloring. The cover of the book is the paper doll Isabel. So if you want to use her, I suggest you copy her onto cardstock paper. The pages in the book are not necessarily sturdy, so I think you should also copy these onto heavier paper.

This is a great set of books. It is very unique. If you have a girl who likes writing, reading, and/or paper dolls, I highly recommend these books!

Product review by Kathy and Rebecca Gelzer, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, December 2011