Sunday, June 23, 2013

The Adventures of Lily Lapp {Schoolhouse Review Crew}

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One fun benefit of reading books aloud to my children is that the characters become a part of our lives and everyday conversations. Lauren and I have been reading the first two books in the Lily Lapp series for the past two weeks, and I've found myself reminding Lauren of lessons that Lily learned or talking about funny things in the stories.

Life with Lily and A New Home for Lily are the first two books in the charming Lily Lapp series published by Baker Publishing Group. Even though Lily lives in an Amish community, she reminds me of many six (and seven) year old children I know. She's curious about the world around her, she gets into trouble without even trying, and she sometimes struggles to get along with her friends at school.

The stories in the Lily Lapp books are based on Mary Ann Kinginger's childhood in an Old Amish home in Pennsylvania. In the first book, Lily lives on a farm in New York, and the reader gets to see the family farm grow with the addition of a barn and then an assortment of animals. Lauren enjoys all the tales of farm life, but I'm not sure she truly comprehends that they are set in a modern time. I found it particularly interesting to read about how Lily and her family interacted with non-Amish (English) families at times. When I was growing up in Delaware, I often saw Amish buggies and I remember my mother buying baked goods from an Amish lady that came through our neighborhood each week.

In the second book, A New Home for Lily, Lily's family moves from New York to a new Amish community in Pennsylvania. As a family who moves often, we can all relate to the challenges Lily faces in a new place. Perhaps my favorite passage of the book comes when Lily's mother is sewing her a new prayer covering, one that matches the style of the others in Pennsylvania.
Lily asked Mama what difference in made and she had no answer for her.
"It's tradition," she said.
"But why?" Lily said. 
Mama signed. "We don't question why. Each church has their own way of doing things."  
And didn't that just say it all? 
(A New Home for Lily, page 44)   
Sometimes when we move, all we can say is that each community has their own way of doing things. Lily learns to adjust to a different way of doing things, and eventually learns that a new place to live will still bring happy stories and adventures. In time, a new place to live will stop being so "new" and will just feel like home. Those lessons sound awfully familiar for our family.

Lauren has enjoyed reading about Lily Lapp and often begs for me to read "one more chapter." She also often reminds me to make sure I put the Lily book in my purse if we are heading out for an appointment or some other place where we might have a few moments to read. She says that the books are funny and was particularly amused when Joseph broke his arm by trying to fly off the chicken coop. Coincidentally, we read that chapter of the book shortly after Lauren broke her arm.

These books are recommended for children ages 8-12. Prior to the review, I had Lauren read a sample chapter. She reads roughly at a second grade level. The sample was just a bit difficult for her to read independently, but I thought it would be perfect for us to work on together. Unfortunately, Life with Lily is so long (288 pages) that she quickly became overwhelmed with the idea of reading it on her own. Later I did some reading level calculations and found that the books are written on a fourth to fifth grade level. For my seven-year-old, they're perfect to use as read-alouds. I expect that she'll reread them on her own when she's a bit older.

The Adventures of Lily Lapp series would also be perfect for an elementary student with advanced reading skills. I remember when Addison was in first grade and was already reading at a fourth-sixth grade level. It was difficult to find quality books that matched her reading level and weren't too advanced for her maturity wise. These books would have been perfect, and I think Addison would have loved them when she was younger.

The Lily Lapp books are available from Baker Publishing Group for $12.99. The third book in the series, A Big Year for Lily, is due to be released in July, and the final book, A Surprise for Lily will be published in September. Both of the new books in the series are on my list of Christmas gifts to give this year.

Life with Lily and A New Home for Lily are touching our lives. We've enjoyed sharing them as read-alouds, and I wish I could have offered them to my oldest daughter (an advanced reader) when she was in first or second grade.


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