April 5, 2017

Shepherd, Potter, Spy--and the Star Namer {Book Review}

We love to read historical fiction in our family and when we were offered the chance to review a new book called Shepherd, Potter, Spy--and the Star Namer by Peggy Consolver - Author, we were very interested and looked forward to learning more. When I discovered this book is a historical fiction book based around the time of Joshua and the Israelites, I was even more eager to check it out. We hoped it would be another excellent novel to add to our book collection. 

About Shepherd, Potter, Spy--and the Star Namer

Shepherd, Potter, Spy--and the Star Namer centers around Keshub, a young shepherd boy from a pottery making family living in a valley in the midst of Canaan during the Bronze age. Keshub lives in the land of Gibeon and belongs to a family of many brothers and sisters--where he is constantly trying to prove himself among his older brothers. The story follows the family of Keshub as they experience the pending arrival of the Hebrews travelling through the land of Canaan. Keshub and his family learn of the tales of the Hebrews through caravanners who stop at his family's way-station. Tales of battles and incredible odds where the Israelites are victorious. He is intrigued to learn more about (and spy on) the Hebrews who are making their way closer--a threat to their city. Through the course of the story, we learn about the role the Gibeonites play in the story of the Israelites--but this time through the eyes of this young Gibeonite boy, who later becomes servant to the great Israelite leader Joshua. Could the god Keshub's family calls the Star Namer, be the same mighty God the Israelites worship?

Thoughts on the Book

I myself have not read the book yet. I wanted my son (age 11) to get to experience it first. Most of the rest of this review will be based on the information he has shared with me.

The book includes a lot of Canaanite names and words that he is not familiar with, but he says he just guessed what it would be, until I was able to pronounce it for him. He does reference the "Characters and Relationships" glossary in the front of the book to remind himself who some one is. He really enjoys the story of Keshub and has been slowly working through the book all on his own. At first he groaned at having to read it, but now he chooses to read it outside of the classroom, every night before he goes to bed. He has been freely sharing with me pieces of the story that interest him, or having me read a passage from it. He appears to be most intrigued with the cultural aspects of the story. He enjoys learning about the pottery business and how the jobs that Keshub has in his family business. 

I think he most enjoyed the part where the family gets to burp their appreciation of a good meal--from oldest to youngest. He laughing asked if we could start that tradition too--um. no.

Little Britches shared that the story is interesting as it ties in events that we have been reading in our own bible studies of the Israelites journey through Canaan. He eagerly shared the connection to Rahab and Jericho he had just read--and that the story climaxed with the Gibeonite men who tricked Joshua into making a promise of protection--the Gibeonite men in this case including Keshub's father. 

He hasn't quite finished it yet, but is getting very close. I would say it's one of the most difficult--reading level wise--that he has attempted. The print is smaller--standard to what I myself would read and the language as well. I would definitely put this book at a more high school level. It isn't considered a "children's book" at all. Honestly, it's a book that I would have picked up to read myself--before I ever gave it to my son. But he knocks about about a chapter every other day, because he wants to take the time to really understand the story and that means slowing down over the words. It would definitely be a good book for reading aloud.

When he's done, we are going to read the passage in the Bible about the Gibeonite men again, so that Little Britches can compare the story in the book. I am also going to have him discuss with me the Discussion Questions that are included at the back of the book. I think that will be a great way to sum out what the book was about.
Something interesting about this book, is that the author also has a Study Guide that is available to use with the book to take it further. It splits the book into 13 different units that contain everything from videos about bow making, to maps, to videos about the Bronze Age. A great way to help your student understand even more the time period and events from the story. 

My son gives Shepherd, Potter, Spy--and the Star Namer 4.5 ★'s
All in all, my son really enjoys this book, and though he says it's not the best book he's ever read, he definitely rates it up pretty high. He says it is interesting and funny which makes him want to keep reading it. 

Want to Know More?

We were given the Shepherd, Potter, Spy--and the Star Namer by Peggy Consolver - Author to review. You have seen how much my son has enjoyed the book, but I hope you will check out the opinions of other of my fellow crew members too.
Shepherd, Potter, Spy--and the Star Namer {Peggy Consolver Reviews}
You can always stay up to date on the latest news from Peggy Consolver - Author via her Facebook page--so I hope that you will go check it out!
Peggy Consolver - Author
I look forward to being the next one to enjoy Shepherd, Potter, Spy--and the Star Namer!
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