Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Salem Ridge Press- Wholesome works of fiction for all ages

I admit it, I am a fiction addict. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE fiction books and if I could design the perfect day it would definitely involve spending a significant amount of time with a well written work of fiction. Imagine my joy when three historical fiction books arrived in my mailbox for me to read and review. They are the products of Salem Ridge Press, a publishing company established in November 2005, by Daniel Mills, homeschool graduate and young entrepreneur.

Salem Ridge Press is dedicated to bringing back the best of classic children’s literature of the 1800’s and 1900’s. Heroic themes and high moral standards are prevalent in all the titles along with finely crafted prose. Daniel Mills stated in a letter that he sometimes jokes that “the number one rule for their books at Salem Ridge Press is ‘No Kissing!” The company upholds a high standard for purity and language in the books it chooses to publish. Their decisions are based using the Biblical standard best stated in Phillipians 4:8, “Whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”

The company carries books appropriate for all levels of readers. Most could easily be considered as a family read aloud choice or literature addition to history study. I was given Mary Jane-Her Book, The White Seneca, and Glaucia the Greek Slave to review. In my opinion all three were an outstanding read and left me feeling uplifted, entertained and enlightened.

Mary Jane-Her Book by Clara Ingram Judson reveals the day to day adventures of 5 year old Mary Jane Merrill. It is recommended for ages 6-10, but in my opinion due to the unique vocabulary and word usage present in the book because of being written in 1918, the younger end of the age group would benefit more highly from having the story read aloud to them. My 11 year old daughter and I thought the book was a wonderful window into the world of a wealthy American family of the 1900’s. The entertaining story of Mary Jane and her family reveals the activities and lifestyle of children of this era in a subtle way. Most of this was lost on my 7 year old who listened along, but was equally entertained by the precocious Mary Jane. According to Salem Ridge Press, 4 titles are currently available for the younger reader set.

The White Seneca by William W. Canfield is a must read for anyone studying the American Revolutionary time period of history. It gives a unique insight into the political realities of 1777, through the eyes of 15 year old English settler, Henry Cochrane, kidnapped and then adopted into a tribe of Seneca Indians. The novel follows the life of Henry for nearly three years detailing tribal life and experiences. Themes of honor, courage, family devotion, loyalty, and patriotism are artfully woven throughout the story.

I thought the book had a bit of a slow start, but very soon was drawn into the story with a thirst for more. I began reading the novel aloud during a car ride with my family. My husband enjoyed it so much that he requested I continue reading aloud the entire trip and the next day as well. The book is listed by Salem Ridge Press as appropriate for ages 12-adult and I think their age suggestions are excellent as some of the realities of tribal life are a bit harsh for consideration by younger readers. The novel is extremely boy-friendly as proven by my non-reader husband being captivated, and although truly a tale of adventure a love story is woven within to keep the women folk happy. This novel lives up to Salem Ridge Press’s edict of “no kissing” as the romance blossoms only in the hearts and minds of the young couple.

Glaucia the Greek Slave by Emma Leslie is a tale of Athens, Greece, in the first century. It is the first title in her 12 book church history series. The first seven titles are currently available from Salem Ridge Press with the next five scheduled for release. The series will span the time of Paul to the French Revolution making them a must read for all students of church history.

Within the text of Glaucia, characters speak in the King James style of language. I am not sure due to my lacking of linguistics if this is historically accurate or not, but I did find it just a tad tiresome to read through the “thees”, “thous”, “dost”, etc. Any potentially difficult vocabulary, however, is defined at the bottom of the page where used; a service I dearly appreciate as stopping to look up a word in the dictionary in the midst of a great story would just never happen at my house.

Glaucia and the Greek Slave reveals much of the work of the great missionary Paul. Leslie cleverly works in historical highlights of Roman and Greek life throughout the storyline. I find this subtle approach both effective and ingenious in keeping the interest of the student. During times of Biblical account references a scripture citation is listed at the bottom of the page along with the vocabulary allowing the reader to easily study the account further within the Bible. Glaucia is recommended for ages 10-adult.

Books published by Salem Ridge Press are available on-line through, and through many smaller bookstores. If you are a bibliophile like me, looking for a great Christmas or birthday gift, or simply wanting to add another dimension to your history studies you cannot go wrong with choosing any of the titles offered by Salem Ridge Press. Their vigilant pursuit of excellence can be trusted and enjoyed by all ages.

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