Baker Publishing Group sent us free copies of the two first books in their Lily Lapp series: Life with Lily and A New Home for Lily. These books are written at a 8-12 year old reading level, but I actually enjoyed them completely as an adult. They both sell for $12.99.
I was particularly excited to get these books, as I grew up in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, home of MANY Amish and Mennonite folk. As a child we used to joke that you could find our house because it was the only one (on our street) with power lines running to it. I ran around with my barefoot Mennonite friend on my neighbors' farm, and I witnessed their life firsthand. As a 7 year old in that world, I saw many of the same things Lily Lapp did. These books were a delicious retreat into my own childhood!
I must also note, I very rarely read Amish fiction. Whenever I do I am disappointed that it is just another fictional author trying to capitalize on the popularity and fascination the public has for these amazing simplistic folk. These books were a delightful surprise. The facts and stories are accurate and real, drawing from Mary Ann Kinsinger's own real life childhood memories.
My daughter, Emma, and I read these books. We actually raced to finish the first book, and Emma beat me through it, winning a candy bar in the bet. ;) I finished the second book before her. I had to win once. It was easy to do. Though the first book is 280 pages, and the second one is 264, they are light and enjoyable reading, and I was through them in a flash.
The first book, Life with Lily, introduces Lily Lapp as a five year old girl, living in New York. Her Amish community is tight knit, and her family is young, but growing. In fact she and her younger brother are surprised with a new baby brother early in first chapter. I am friends with a midwife to the Amish, and I know first hand that babies are always a surprise. They never speak of their coming, and I've heard the comment that children even think maybe the midwife brought the baby in her bag! I loved how they portray this in the story, as a special surprise gift from God. As Lily grows and learns new lessons, they are told from her perspective. It's a beautiful inside look at life as she learns about school, friendship choices, hard work, financial hardship, and big changes. It is all painted into the setting of the simple farm life the Amish lead, and their Faith intertwining with their life on every level.
The second book, A New Home for Lily, begins with another big change, as Lily's family moves to Pennsylvania. She has to begin in a new school, and make new friends. Her family has to adjust to a new church, with slightly different rules. They never complain, and they teach Lily to love and serve in a way that honors her Faith. Her family grows again, as her third brother arrives, and many other changes in her life take place. The story line follows her intense disdain for a little boy in her school who teases her. Yet in the end of the book, her kindness to him helps bringing their community together in new and special ways. The book ends with her entering the 4th grade. I think this book was the best of the two. Now I'm anxious to read the 3rd book in the series, due out in July.
We also enjoyed exploring the website, The Adventures of Lily Lapp, where there are quizzes, games, contests and giveaways. Be sure you hop over there too!
I loved these books, and while they are fiction, I found them to be very accurate to REAL life. My daughter loved them too. They are factual, yet entertaining. Colorful and delicious (oh the food!), they are filled with Faith and family love. For a good story, and a window on a lifestyle we don't see often, they hit the mark. I would recommend them to any young girl, like the one inside me. ;)
(PS: I really do try and come up with pros and cons on every review, but this is my HONEST opinion: these were just plain good! No big agenda, or anything, but very entertaining and a bit educational.)
To read other's thoughts on these two books, visit the Crew Blog!
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