Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Tails of Castle Hill Acres

The Tails of Castle Hill Acres is an adorable collection of short stories by Valerie Grimes. Each story is about an animal living on the grounds of Castle Hill Acres, a farm nestled between rolling green pastures, a dark forest, and a bright blue stream.

With names like King Flash, Naughty Cat (to be renamed Good Cat) and Princess Flower, the animals are sure to delight children. Readers will easily recognize (and may even relate to) the animals' positive and negative personality traits and behaviors. Although characters overlap from story to story, there is no need to read the chapters in order.

Grimes weaves a Christian message throughout each story. For example, compassionate hunting dog, Master Bernie, steps in to raise a family of ducklings after their father is killed; Naughty Cat learns to be a friend instead of acting out of jealousy and spite, and Princess Inday, the horse, learns the disastrous consequences of disobeying the rules. King Flash is the gentle, but regal older horse whom all the other animals rely on for wise advice and biblical instruction.

Heavy ink line drawings with lots of white space, reminiscent of coloring books, accompany each story. There is also a free audio book download coupon included at the back of the book.

What I Like: These stories are fun to read, fast-paced, and engaging. The book is perfect for reading aloud to younger children, but older children would enjoy finding biblical stories or verses to tie into each story's lesson.

I especially liked the drawings. . . they are perfect for coloring. My four-year-old was very careful to imitate the colors on the cover of the book!

The gentle lessons promote positive character traits such as honesty, hard work, and knowing who we are in Christ.

What I Dislike: The book is a small size. Merely five inches by seven inches, it seems a bit expensive at full price.

Also, some animals do get injured or killed, so be sure to screen stories before reading them to younger children.

Overall Rating: Very Good

Age Appeal: 4-8

Publisher Info: Tate Publishing and Enterprises, 2011; ISBN:978-11-6777-758-5 ; Paperback, 92 pages, $9.99

Buy it at for $9.99.

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