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Our Family

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Schoolhouse Review Crew: Salem Ridge Press

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Salem Ridge Press  is a publishing company who is "dedicated to bringing back quality children's books of the 1800's and early 1900's for a new generation of readers."  The company was founded in 2005 by Daniel Mills, a homeschool graduate.  The underlying philosophy of the company can be found in the Bible,"Whatsoever things are true, 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." (Philippians 4:8)

I had an opportunity to review 3 of their books in 2010, Soldier Fritz and the Enemies He Fought, Down the Snow Stairs, and Young Robinhood.  You can read my review here.   I was delighted to have the opportunity to review another of their wonderful books,  Elfreda the Saxon.

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 Elfreda the Saxon, Or, The Orphan of Jerusalem was written by Emma Leslie (real name Emma Dixon) in 1875.  It is the sequel to Loefwine the Monk.  Elfreda the Saxon is a paperback book that is 265 pages long.  The book is recommended for ages 12 to adult.  The paperback version costs $14.95 and the hardcover is $24.95.

The story is set in Medieval Europe and the Middle East in 1189-1215 A.D.   Elfreda, after being orphaned in Jerusalem is sent back to England to live with her mother's sister, Alftruda.  But, her aunt is not happy to see her because she is afraid that people will find out her true identity as a Saxon and it will disgrace her husband and children.  Rather than let her secret be known, Alftruda sends her to live with her brother, William Longbeard.    William is afraid that Elfreda has brought the family's curse back to England.  Elfreda's cousin Guy (her aunt's son)  finds out who Elfreda is and how she is related to his mother.  She tells him about the curse and he promises her that he will win such honor as a crusader that the curse will be removed.  However, many bad things happen to the family over the next several years and they fear the curse will never be lifted.  Elfreda and Guy have to learn that "there is no curse but sin, and that hath been borne by the great Sin-bearer, Jesus Christ."

You can read a sample chapter by clicking here.

I love Historical Fiction!  I think it is a great way for history to really come alive.  The reason that I chose Elfreda the Saxon is that we are studying the same time period in history and just finished reading about the Crusades.  I thought that my 16 year old daughter would enjoy reading this book and it would make what she had learned a little more "real."  I read the book and then handed it over to Chelsea to read.  She read it over the course of a week, then went back and reread it again.  She loves to read and always rereads books that she enjoys.  It was really interesting that so many characters and events we had just learned about were included in this book such as: Robin Hood and his Merry Men, Prince John, King Richard, Saladin, Thomas a Becket, Frederick Barbarossa, Saxons, Normans, the Crusades, and the signing of the Magna Carta and more. All of these real life characters were wrapped into the fictional (yet believable) story of Elfreda and Guy. The story was very well written and we enjoyed being drawn into that time period and the lives of Elfreda and Guy.

One of the things we enjoy most about books from Salem Ridge Press, is the illustrations that are throughout the book.  Chelsea specifically asked me to include a photo of illustrations from the book because she really enjoyed the illustrations and they give the books a more personal touch.

One of the other features we love is the vocabulary that is defined at the bottom of the pages.  The English language has changed quite a bit, and there were several words throughout the book that we had never hear before.  Having the definitions at the bottom of the book was very convenient.  Instead of having to stop and look up the word, or write it down to look up later, all we had to do was glance at the bottom of the page to see the meaning of the unknown word.

I completely agree with the suggested age range of 12 and up.  The language would be difficult for children younger than 12.  Also, some of the subject matter, although completely wholesome in nature may be difficult for younger children (such as the crusades, killing of the jews.)

We really enjoyed this book and Chelsea would like to read Leofwine so she can know more of the beginning of the story.

Salem Ridge Press has a wide variety of books available.  To see the whole list click here.

To see what other Crew Mates had to say, click on the banner below.

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