Friday, April 12, 2013

Salem Ridge Press -For Merrie England Review

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As I'm sure I've mentioned before, I love to read.  I read to my kids quite a bit as well.  We have lots of read aloud time as part of our school day and silent reading for them as well.  I am extremely glad that we've found Salem Ridge Press whose mission is to provide(bring back) quality children's books from the 1800's and early 1900's.  These are wholesome books.  These are books worth reading and books that will teach your children!  Yes I'm a bit excited!

We were allowed to review For Merrie England, A Tale of the Weavers of Norfolk by Emma Leslie.  The book is available for purchase at $10.95 for a softcover and $20.95 for a hardcover.  We received the softcover version of the book to review.  This great little book is geared towards children ages 8 on up to adults.  My oldest is only 8 so I read this book to my children.

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Our setting is England in the year 1357.  We follow a weaver on a journey to gather new apprentices and teach them his trade(by order of the king no less).  He meets many along his journey but the best of these is the least of these.  Does that sound confusing?  It won't if you read the book!  But I can give you a hint.  This boy is named Tom.  He is small for his age and crippled. Now as a sister to two boys who were born with cerebral palsy, I'm not a lover of the word crippled, but it was one of the nicer words for people of this time period.  There were many reasons for someone to be "crippled" in this time and age, ranging from malnutrition to disease to birth defect.

Tom's family includes an older brother who the weaver is actually supposed to be apprenticing.  Older brother(perfect son Robert) decides to run off to go fight in the 100 years war.  The parents are very worried and upset about this but also worried that now they do not have a son to send to apprentice now that Robert has run off and they are in dire need of money.  The weaver sees Tom's eagerness to learn and how intelligent he is and takes him along instead.

When Robert comes back from the war his mother is dead, his father blames this on Robert running off.  Robert is no longer welcome at home so he goes to join Tom apprenticing with the weaver.  Robert goes on to share his story of his war years and conversion to Christianity and also apprentice several people himself.  Tom realizes his true worth as well.  My children loved this book and are looking forward to reading more.

The book is a good length at 133 pages.  Very easy for an older child to read on their own and not taxing for a parent to read to their children in a few sittings.  I love that at the bottom of the pages this book includes definitions for words that our children might not know.  For example on page 53 at the bottom below the last paragraph we find the word bestirred with a definition of roused.  Now your children if little may not know what that word is either and that brings out a wonderful time to get the dictionary and look it up!

Throughout the book(scattered sparingly) are charming black and white illustrations.  The illustrations are done by R. Taylor and are wonderful even after all this time!  The book was originally written in 1890 and published by The Religious Tract Society.  I have a love of old books and this fit right in!  We have several books from the 1860 era that we take with us when we reenact the Civil War and I'm going to have to be checking to see if Salem Ridge Press has any that were originally published around then.  But I just have to share an illustration on here.  I love the illustrations in older books!

I love the detail in these illustrations!

If you are interested in learning about other books offered by Salem Ridge Press please feel free to head over to the main Crew blog post and check out the reviews by other members.  Several books were available for Crew members to choose from so there is a variety to check out and decide which is best for you and your children to start out with.  You can also see more by Emma Leslie in her Junior Church History Set of which For Merrie England is one.

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