Trimester 1 Book Reviews - SLO Classical Academy
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Welcome to Down Home, San Luis Obispo Classical Academy’s blog! We are a classical school offering several options to make our education work for families with infants through high schoolers. Our signature hybrid program, which is part-time classroom and part-time home instruction, provides an engaging education for preschool through middle school (with full time options available). We also have a university model high school. This blog is meant to support and encourage on the home front because, in so many ways, the heart of what happens at SLO Classical Academy happens down home.

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Trimester 1 Book Reviews


Today we have a returning guest blogger, Emily Ferrarini, with a few more book reviews for us! Emily is a 3rd year SLOCA parent with children Isaiah (UMS) and Quinn (LMS). She is also one of our bookstore associates and a previous children’s librarian with a passion for children’s literature. The books she chose to review for us this trimester all relate to our history in some way, and we hope they might inspire your kids in their search for enjoyable reading. Thank you Emily, for taking the time to review these titles for us!


Wolf Brother is set deep in the Neolithic time period – think Clan of the Cave Bear for children. Author Michelle Paver traveled through gloomy forests in Finland and Lapland, sleeping on reindeer skins and meticulously researching prehistoric life in order to write this fantasy novel. For kids who are curious about how people lived before the civilizations of Mesopotamia and Egypt began to flourish, this is a fascinating look at the world of early human hunter-gatherers. At the opening of this story, young Torak’s father lies mortally wounded by a bear. “But what kind of bear stalks men – then vanishes without making the kill?” he asks himself. Torak must venture out on his own, joined only by a young wolf cub, in order to defeat this menacing foe and avenge his father’s death. Along the way he encounters suspicious strangers, learns to fend for himself in the unforgiving wilderness, witnesses the beauty of the aurora borealis, and changes from a frightened, rigid little boy, to a strong, kind, and loyal young man. This intense, fast-paced adventure story is not fueled solely by adrenaline; this is well crafted writing with an emotional core, universal themes of friendship, reverence for nature, and love. This book is the first in The Chronicles of Ancient Darkness.


Many Waters is the beautiful companion book to Madeleine L’Engle’s famous time trilogy (A Wrinkle in Time, A Wind in the Door, and A Swiftly Tilting Planet). In this time traveling fantasy, Sandy and Dennys Murray – ordinary teenagers in a family of geniuses – wander into their father’s workshop, and accidentally find themselves thrust backward through time into the harsh desert land of the biblical Noah. Any reader familiar with the Old Testament will recognize elements from that story, and relish L’Engle’s signature mythological twists. This is a Canaan where angels live among men, as do unicorns, mammoths, and manticores. Although I highly recommend L’Engle’s other stories about the Murray family, one could easily jump into this book without knowledge of the others. The beautiful language and occasionally humorous situations make it an excellent choice for a read-aloud. Parents should note that Many Waters contains some mild and innocent teenage romance, as well as some religious content.


The Remarkable Journey of Prince Jen by Lloyd Alexander is one of the most strange and haunting books for children I have read recently. It is lovely. In this story, a young Chinese prince leaves the confines of his palace in order to embark on a journey to another kingdom. Full of eerie and magical details: an artist who gets lost in his own painting, a general who remains conscious even as he is turned to stone, a child who soars through the clouds on a kite, this book is a fascinating and unusual journey of its own. I read this book over the course of a weekend, and when I set it down to ponder some of its somber lessons, I felt that I, too, had grown right along with Prince Jen. This book has been recommended by our upper middle school teachers, and is for sale in the school store.


The Egypt Game by Zilpha Keatley Snyder, is not set in ancient times, but I could not resist reviewing this fun story. As the title implies, this book is about a group of children who are captivated by ancient Egypt. Its central protagonist is a hilarious character named April, a child whose mother – some kind of B-list celebrity who seems ill-equipped to parent – decides to send April to live for a while with her grandmother. April, unhappy with the arrangement and fiercely loyal to her movie star mother, must nevertheless adjust to the new neighborhood and learn to get along with a new set of kids. She is wonderfully passionate and imaginative, and it’s not long before she has drawn several children into the world she creates – called The Egypt Game. This is a sweet story of a child learning to cope with the unfair and difficult realities of life, but it’s also a celebration of play, ancient history, and childhood itself. Oh, and parents, if you choose to read this one aloud, be prepared to explain what a “party line” is to your children! (This book was published in 1966.)

We hope you plan to join us tonight for “A Few of Our Favorite Things.” Come enjoy food, laughter, and connecting with other parents. Maren Milligan is leading this fun evening for us, and we hope to see you at 6:30 pm in the MPR!

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