Award-winning author Wanda E. Brunstetter reaches a younger audience with a new Amish series: Rachel Yoder: Always Trouble Somewhere. School's Out!, Book 1 of the series, introduces readers to nine-year-old Rachel, a mischievous Amish girl who seems to always get more than she bargains for.
School has just let out for the summer. Rachel is brimming with ideas for fun, but trouble seems to follow her everywhere. Instead of sunny afternoons of freedom, she often gets stuck with extra chores when plans go awry. Readers join her on one country adventure after another -- from being locked in the cellar during a thunderstorm to adopting a new kitten and accidentally setting frogs loose during church. Rachel gets some birthday surprises then watches as the family barn burns during a terrible storm. A barn-raising and a few more mishaps finish out the summer. Through it all Rachel learns a little about patience, hard work, and having a cheerful heart. Most importantly she learns that she is loved, no matter how much trouble she gets into.
The author uses Pennsylvania Dutch words sporadically throughout the book. A glossary is offered on the pages just before Chapter One.
Characters occasionally quote Scripture. Whenever they do, it is in the New International Version.
WHAT I LIKE: Rachel is a sweet character to whom readers can relate. This title reminds me much of the "Little House" books. Fans of Laura Ingalls will likely find a new friend in Rachel.
WHAT I DISLIKE: It starts slowly. I fear the cultural differences and foreign words might require too much effort for some to get "into" the book. I think kids will enjoy it once they get into it, but pushing them through the first 30 pages may not be easy. Also, I think Rachel complains and whines far too much for an almost ten-year-old.
OVERALL RATING: Good.
Tanya -- Christian Children's Book Review