Wednesday, November 4, 2015

When Lightning Struck! The Life of Martin Luther Review

When Lightning Struck! by Danika Cooley is a new historical fiction book about Martin Luther. Martin's entire life is covered. The story begins with his birth and baptism on the next day, the Feast of St. Martin. It moves on to his strict upbringing and education, the joys of marriage and family life, his fight to share Biblical truth, and events up to the time he dies. The story of Luther is told clearly, but is made interesting to captivate the reader or listener. The reader meets the Luther the man with all his questions, faults, and faith. It is designed for middle and high school ages, but slightly younger students may like it also. Adults may find it enjoyable as well.

The entire story of Luther is told with fast paced action, from Martin, caught in a thunderstorm, seeking shelter under a tree, praying to St. Anna to save him, to the very end of his life. It brings to life a period of history that sometimes is viewed as uninteresting and misunderstood.

Some of the features of  When Lightning Struck!

  • Vocabulary is not difficult, but very exciting to convey actions and feelings. Readers are brought into the story. It is easy to picture the action you read or hear.
  • The events of history are brought into the story as they impact Luther and his activities or actions. For example, Luther's response to plagues in 1503 and the mid 1520s, along with the Peasants war, are parts of the story.
  • Luther's writings and works are also prominent in When Lightning Struck!  His catechisms, the Augsburg Confession, his study of Romans and Psalms, as well as the translation of the Bible into German are all are part of the narrative. The reader also learns how much preaching and teaching Dr Luther did and the varied audiences that he addressed. 
  • An extensive list of sources that the author used in her research, which can be used as a springboard for further study. 

As the 500th anniversary of the Reformation approaches in October 2017, this volume will be a great resource for readers, young and old alike, who wish to learn about Dr. Martin Luther, a pivotal figure of the Reformation. However, I think for those readers who are familiar with Luther and his life and work, there may not be a whole lot of new information here. The story nevertheless is engaging and exciting .

When Lightning Struck! The Life of Martin Luther is available from Augsburg Fortress and Amazon.

To have some fun with the release of When Lightning Struck! there will be a Facebook Party on Tuesday November 10th at 9pm EST. You can learn more about the party and RSVP here.

If you haven't already entered the giveaway for a copy of When Lightning Struck! and many other great prizes, you can do so here. The winner will be announced at the Facebook Party.

Danika has also written a discussion guide (for grades 3-12) and 12 week unit study (for grades 6-12) to go along with When Lightning Struck! You can find both of them on her blog, Thinking Kids. At this time they are free!!

Also, to celebrate the release of When Lightning Struck! The Story of Martin Luther all Cobblestone Path Products and Bible Road Trip materials are on sale for 50% off through November 11th. Details can be found at Danika's Thinking Kids blog.

Affiliate links are used in this post.

Monday, October 26, 2015

A Non Traditional SAT Preparation Plan

I happened across The Perfect Score Project by chance. I was browsing the new books section at the library and saw part of the title on the spine. Intially I passed it by thinking "Oh, something that has the word perfect in the title isn't going to be something I'm interested in. It's too hard to be perfect". 

For some reason I decided to go back and look a little closer. So I pulled it off the shelf and looked at the cover information. A mothers quest to achieve a perfect SAT score. Hmm, might be interesting and useful as I have a ninth grader this year and the SAT's aren't too far off. I'll at least check it out and look at it. If it's not useful it hasn't really cost me anything but a little bit of reading time. The Perfect Score Project turned out to be very interesting and use. 

I started reading it that evening and could hardly put it down.  Debbie Stier was on  a quest to learn more about the SAT in order to develop a SAT preparation plan for her son prepare. She realizes he has some challenges and maybe not the most interested in academics, but that if he wants to pursue a college education he needs to score well both for admission as well as scholarships.

Debbie decided that in order for her to help her son formulate a preparation plan she needed to know what the test was like now. So she embarked on an ambitious year long plan to take the SAT each time it was offered over the course of a year. She also decided to use a different study prep method or resource in studying for each individual test.

In setting up her plan, Debbie quickly realized that the plethora and expense of preparation resources was overwhelming. Not just that there were many programs to choose from but that the costs of each were staggering and varied as well. In addition the results (in the form of test scores) varied widely.

A very surprising factor in her scores had to do with the location where she took the test. Some locations had better facilities and the quality of the proctors was different at the different locations. While many students may not have the option of choosing from different test sites, if you live in an area where different places are used over the course of the year it may pay to check things out before signing up for the SAT.

The results of Debbies' experiment are too varied to discuss here, but I want to share with you three key points to success which I came away with after reading The Perfect Score Project

1. Read, Read, Read   The more literature your child is exposed to and read before taking the SAT the better off they will be, especially when it comes to the written portion of the exam. I am using literature to mean those titles regarded as classics as well as more contemporary selections. Aim for a mix of titles which expose and explain culture and society over different times and places.

2. Use quality preparation materials, especially those put out by the SAT board. Those will be closest to what your child will encounter on the exam.

3. Keep those math and logic skills sharp. In some cases success on the test boils down to the students ability to think through a problem and determine the correct answer.

Debbie also has a blog  where she shares additional information. Visit Perfect Score Project.

The information shared in this book was gleaned from relatively recent test experiences and all of it may or may not apply to the coming newly designed test, but I feel it is valuable regardless. While the format, requirements and scoring may change I would imagine that the basic premise behind the test will remain the same. Even with the upcoming changes I feel it can't hurt to become familiar with some behind the scene tips and tricks for success. 

This is an insightful chronicle into college admission testing with many tips and insights from a parent who recently experienced these tests. It is an engaging read, yet filled with lots of good information.I would heartily recommend The Perfect Score Project to all high school parents, but especially homeschooling parents. I say this only because it can be harder for us to access some of the information that traditional schools already have. 

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

A Reformation Day Giveaway When Lightning Struck! The Story of Martin Luther

Reformation Day Giveaway

 October 31 is known as "Reformation Day." On October 31, 1517 Martin Luther nailed his ninety-five theses to a church door in Wittenburg, Germany. This action provoked a debate that resulted in what is now call the Protestant Reformation.

 As the “Father of the Reformation”, Martin Luther is a vital figure in Church history. His sacrifice and willingness to wage battle against the spiritual, religious, and political powers of his medieval world allowed Christians throughout time to embrace the truth of salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone as explained by Scripture alone. Author Danika Cooley has written Luther's story for young people in her new book, When Lightning Struck!: The Story of Martin Luther. I have the privilege of reading and reviewing this historical fiction novel and will share my thoughts with you in early November.

  Reformation Day Giveaway

 To celebrate Reformation Day and the release of When Lightning Struck!: The Story of Martin Luther, I've joined together with a team of blogger friends to host this wonderful giveaway, valued at over $500!

 One person will win ALL of the following:
 $100 Amazon Gift Card

  Fire 7-inch Tablet, WiFi 8GB ($49.99) 

  When Lightning Struck!: The Story of Martin Luther (hardcover $16.99)

 From, a $50 Gift Certificate

 From Nuremberg Tourist Board, a Playmobil Martin Luther figure ($9.99)

 From Thinking Kids Press, a curriculum bundle from When Lightning Struck! author, Danika Cooley:
From Fortress Press, a book bundle by author, Tim Dowley:
  1. Christian Music: A Global History  ($35)
  2. Introduction to the History of Christianity: Second Edition ($55) 
  3. The Student Bible Atlas: Revised Edition  ($12.99) 
  4. Atlas of the European Reformations ($24)
From Home School Adventure Co.:
  1. Philosophy Adventure: Pre-Socratics (digital $39.95)
  2. Mere Christianity Critical Analysis Journal (digital $18.95)
To enter the giveaway, use the Rafflecopter below.  a Rafflecopter giveaway
Terms and Conditions:
This giveaway is open to U.S. residents only.  Void where prohibited by law. Must be at least 18 years of age. This giveaway is in no away associated with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Pinterest. No purchase necessary for entry. Odds are determined by the number of entries. Selected winners will have 48 hours to respond to email notification to claim their prizes or another winner will be drawn. Entry into this giveaway will subscribe you to the Thinking Kids Press email list.