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A Far and Distant Cry Review by Patti Pierce
Deanna Rutledge Stout-Castle Books

Deanna Rutledge has written the book A Far Distant Cry, along with a study guide to accompany it. The author designed the study guide for grades eight and up. The book, set during King Richard and Prince John's time, chronicles Lady Alix Oliver's dangerous adventures. The 16-year-old Lady Alix, along with her 14-year-old brother, deals with the invasion of their manor home, Trowleigh, by order of Prince John.

The two find themselves without their father (who disappeared in the Holy Land), Master Thomas (their trusted steward taken captive in their castle), as well as other trusted servants whom the invaders forced to leave. Initially, Danish mercenaries hold the castle until Prince John's appointed man and his wife and servants arrive at the castle. Eventually, the two are forced to flee the castle. But in typical fashion, danger awaits them at every turn.

Set during the Crusades, this story brings to life the events and feelings from the period. Prince John's plans to steal the throne from his brother and destroy his enemies stand out on the pages of this book. The book includes bravery, courage, and faith in God.

Along with the book, a study guide provides activities designed for those in eighth to twelfth-grade e for those seeking academic credit in either Literature or History. The study guide includes various choices, including vocabulary, short answers, projects, literary terms, and more. Tasks include completing a Venn diagram, drawing, or printing out illustrations, making a timeline, among others. The author designed some projects for only younger students, while she designed other projects for older students. Students should place all assignments in a notebook upon completion to maintain a record for the student.

Families may elect only to read the book or read the book and use the study guide. If families elect to use the study guide, the student should read the chapters in the book first and then complete the corresponding activities from the study guide.

I believe this book would be perfect for families with children in the grades of eight to twelve to either do individually or together in a group; I also think this book would make an excellent read-aloud.

The study guide provides a wealth of opportunities for students to learn and engage with the book. I also feel this book would be a perfect addition to a history study set during the time of King Richard. However, this book represents the first book in a series, so families should not expect the book to wrap up perfectly.

As a mother of both sons and daughters, I recommend this book for homeschooling families to read and explore.

-Product review by Patti Pierce, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, June 2021