The Old Schoolhouse® Product & Curriculum Reviews

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Advance Publishing Review by Terri Miller, Teri Lucas, Gena Suarez, and Ryann
(713) 695-0600

Another Sommer-Time books and CDs

With a very glad heart, I accepted a bundle of Another Sommer-Time books and CDs. These books are a great addition to any library with their beautiful illustrations, and they were a delight to share with my younger children. It was fun to hear my seventh grader read to his younger brother - the stories lend themselves well for that purpose. The CDs that accompany the books were my favorite part of the package though. Carl Sommer, the author of the books, is the narrator and he's GREAT! He doesn't sound like one of those professional, canned narrators. Listening to the story makes you feel like you're sitting on his lap in a rocking chair listening to a favorite bedtime story. He seems like a young grandpa who enjoys sharing stories with his grandchildren. It's easy to get into the story, that's for sure.

Full of character-building themes, these stories are completely relevant to children. The stories aren't full of cheesy do-gooder kids, but they are full of real "kids" (often animal children) who make normal growing-up mistakes, as well as character-building lessons the kids learned from their predicaments.

As Mr. Sommer reads the story, you'll hear soft, well-chosen background music and great sound effects that enhance the story. I really like how animated Mr. Sommer's voice is during the reading. "YIPPEES!" are said with glee and he often chuckles or laughs when the character laughs. It's great. It makes the story so real.

Each CD ends with a special song specific to that story. The theme of the book is skillfully put to words and music. There is even a CD that combines all 10 Another Sommer-time story songs - "Karacter Kids: you can change your world." Each song directly relates to its story and listening to the CD will reinforce the concepts that are taught in the books. "Karacter Kids" songs skillfully combine contemporary styles of music - jazz, blues, country, rap, hip-hop, and ballads - with real kids' voices to make a fun CD for younger kids.

While Another Sommer-time stories are not teaching directly from Scripture, they are morally sound, and I have enjoyed using these stories as good illustrations to our Spiritual teaching. To get the words to the songs, as well as character-building and Bible-based activities and color pages, you will want to visit I think you will be glad you did.

-- Product Review by: Terri Miller, Staff Writer, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine

Mayor for A Day and The Little Red Train
By Carl Sommer

Here is a lovely publishing company for children. Advance is home to author, Carl Sommer, who has written the much-acclaimed Another Sommer-Time Story® Series - 18 books for kids that I found to be FABULOUS. Winning many awards and turning the heads of educators everywhere, Advance Publishing materials have been reviewed by School Library Journal, Horn Book, Book Reader, Today's Librarian, Today's School Media Specialist, The Children's Bookwatch, and now, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine for homeschoolers.

Here is what my son, Seth (age six), had to say about books from Advance Publishing:

Mayor for a Day is a very good story. It is about a boy named Davy who wanted no rules on Monday. When there were no rules, everything became bad. People were yelling at cars that were going too fast, children raced down the hallway at school and knocked Davy down, and it was difficult to think because the children were being very naughty. Davy even was hit by a shoe right on the forehead!

Davy learned that rules are good. They help to keep us out of trouble. I liked the whole entire story. I loved it. Go ahead and buy one of these CDs and books. You will like it too!

The Little Red Train is about believing in yourself and that you can do what you try to do. The BIG engines laughed and made fun of the Little Red Train, but he didn't care. He said that he could climb the mountain and take food to the people at the top of the mountain. While he was going up the mountain, the snow continued to get deeper. He got stuck. He had a special family with him. They all helped him get out of the snowdrift when he was stuck by shoveling him out. The Mayor of the town said that no train was coming that day, but a boy heard a "chuff," "chuff," "chuff!" It was The Little Red Train coming up the mountain very slowly with food. Everyone cheered and the band sang a song. The Little Red Train is a great story!

Mayor for A Day and The Little Red Train are part of the "Sommer-Time Story" series. There are 18 stories in all. Each highlights a specific virtue or group of related virtues that are communicated in a most delightful way! You may purchase either a book at $9.95 or, a book and CD or cassette combination for just $16.95. The page "turn signal" is loud and clear, unlike some read-alongs you may have purchased in the past! This makes it easy for inexperienced readers to read alone. On the Advance Publishing website at you may browse two entire books on line. Also available for FREE are a total of 70 coloring and activity pages, 20 character education plans, and 40 awards certificates which coordinate with the series.

In addition, Advance Publishing offers a selection of junior biographies, a children's and an adult's phonics program, a math program titled Number Success, and a few technical publications.

-- Product Review by: Teri Lucas, Staff Writer, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine

Your Job is Easy and The Sly Fox and the Chicks

Advance Publishing sent The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine their entire series. As the publisher of the magazine, I have the extremely handy perk of "first dibs" on things that come to our office. NO ONE was touching "my new books" - not even pesky Senior Editor, Jenefer Igarashi! I made this decision without even reading one book - a decision based on the appearance of these gorgeous, hardback, shiny books alone.

Once I had them in my possession, and knew that no one would try and lay claim to them, I started reading them to my children. The first one I picked out of the good-sized box was Your Job Is Easy. Now, when examining the title and seeing the picture on the front cover of a husband and wife in an obvious (yet humorous looking) conflict, I thought to myself, "Well, brother. It's a beautiful looking book, but look here - already this series, with its first book on my desk, is going to be full of politically correct nonsense. Bummer." I started reading it aloud to Julia and Levi, making myself a mental note to explain away the "silly stuff" as we read. Boy, was I in for a surprise!

As I read aloud, my voice got stronger and I sat up straighter. This was good stuff! No political junk here! In fact, although this is a "secular" series, it sure did not seem so in principle! This was a book celebrating the roles of women and men. It starts with the wife a bit "complain-y" about her husband's work in the fields (takes him much too long!). At first I thought, "Hmmmmm, here we go. This is going to slam a husband and make the wife look like the hero in charge of the family - lame." Instead, the story weaves a tale of a hardworking couple, both parties of which are feeling a bit discontent in their roles. Truth, humor, reality, and immense appreciation for one another are threaded throughout its entirety. By the time the story was over, I wanted to cheer. I was impressed - moved even. And it was just a kids' story! The wife (after trying to "show" him how to do his job for a day) was so happy to be in her home with her little ones and had a renewed appreciation for her dear husband who worked so hard. It was great!

Don't let me forget to tell you - every book has a moral to it - a big one. I like these far better than Aesop's Fables any day. This particular one, The Sly Fox and the Chicks, also from Advance Publishing, is such a different type of book. Sure, it impresses upon the heart of a child the great importance of obedience to parents; it gently reminds a youngster of the seriousness of safety and of not talking to strangers. Many books do that. This one, which is about a fox who tricks chicks into coming with him to find delicious corn for themselves, even after the chicks' parents have warned them not to talk to ANYONE they did not know, allows the full consequential outcome of one character's actions to be witnessed in plain view: the bad little chick got "ate up." How often do you see THAT in a book? I had to laugh because it is just so refreshing to see an author, Carl Sommer, be so true to real life. Finally, some real representation of what really happens out there! No babying here! Now, fear not, because that is as "gruesome" as things get and, of course, you see no violence/blood or the like. However, it leaves you somewhat startled to experience the finality of the life of the now-extinguished character. Just like the real world. At any rate, the book had a strong message, which left my children remembering what the point was - trust Dad and Mom. Obey your parents because they have your best interest at heart.

Senior Editor, Jenefer Igarashi, who actually takes on most of our publishing house reviews, did borrow one book for her daughter, Ryann, age eight. Ryann wrote her first review ever for The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, below.

Space will not allow us to touch on each story in the series. I can tell you, however, that you will not be sorry to purchase a series such as this! The books are gorgeous - not your typical kids' book series. Kids learn messages such as obedience, trust, cheerfulness, citizenship, caring, community service, responsibility, forgiveness, sportsmanship, perseverance, compassion, safety, respect, cooperation, tolerance, honesty, happiness, self-discipline, friendship, diligence, respect for labor, and so much more! You'll meet Pokey the Pig, Dozey and Hardy, Teddy the Cub, Proud Rooster, Stubborn Stubby and Stubborn Prissy, and Missy the Mouse. Other characters you will get to know are Tombo the self proclaimed biggest and best, Complaining Jane and her hard-working husband, the wonderful Dilly Dallys, the beautiful princess with the three suitors, and Sangu the bummed out lion. Have fun with The Ugly Caterpillar (actually this one is the very first book I read before we received the entire series - it is what turned my head to the high quality workmanship and art, making me want to see the whole series), Katy who is kind enough to forgive mean old Speckles the Spider and Crumbs the Cricket before turning into a lovely butterfly, and lazy Christopher who relies on a time remote to get him out of work and other "un-pleasantries." Meet all the excellent characters in this series! Your kids will love it. My daughter can be found almost every day toting at least one of them around. We'll never give these away. I sure hope Carl comes out with more!

The good news for our magazine - a new column is premiering in the Fall 2002 issue called "Storytime." Carl Sommer is kicking it off with a wonderful story about obedience to parents. Your kids will love it! Look for Carl often in that column, as we're sure he'll guest write from time to time in the future. What a treasure of an author for kids!

-- Product Review by: Gena Suarez, Publisher, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine

You Move, You Lose

I like this book. It's called, "You Move You Lose" by Carl Sommer and is illustrated by Kennon James. It's mainly about two little cubs named Stubby and Prissy. It's a book with many pictures. One day, the little cubs were playing a game. Their mom said that she and Papa Bear would be right back. Papa Bear asked one of the cubs to shut the door. Neither cub would volunteer. So they had a contest. Stubby said, "Nobody talk, nobody move!" A wolf ran past the door, chasing a kitten. Finally, "Whack!" Prissy hit the big bad wolf (after letting their entire house be robbed!). Later, Mother and Father came back. There was a big fight (the children) and things got better and better. It reminds me to be grateful for my brothers and sisters and to be kind to them.

-- Product Review by: Ryann, age eight, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine

(Readers can go to and purchase these award-winning books for up to 30 percent off of list price by typing in the code LBO2 when ordering online.)