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Usborne has been producing quality color reference books for children for several decades now. Their books have always featured lots of original color artwork along with short, explanatory paragraphs which function as expanded captions. Medieval World joins two other classic titles that we have long recommended, The Greeks and The Romans. Like them, it is a 96 page paperback, with color art-work printed on high-gloss pages.

The sequence of topics is arranged in chronological order, with broad coverage of cultural topics and details. The book opens with a 2-page spread on The Byzantine Empire, and then a page on The Barbarian Kingdoms, and a page on Return to Christianity which mentions the Irish monks, Augustine’s mission to the Angles, and an illustration from the Book of Kells. These are followed with coverage of the Rise of Islam and the Vikings.

In the middle third of the book, there are spreads on Living in a Castle, Living in a Village, and Living in a Town. There is also extensive coverage of church history, with pages devoted to The Power of the Popes, Enemies of the Church, Building a Cathedral, Going on a Pilgrimage, and Monks and Monasteries.

The High Middle Ages are well covered, with pages on The Rise of Burgundy, The War of the Roses, Triumphs of the Turks, The Rise of the Russians, and the Struggle for Spain.

The final third of the book takes a more global perspective with coverage of Africa, India, China, Japan, North America, Aztecs, Mayans, Toltecs, and Incas during the Middle Ages.

There are a few concluding spreads which introduce the developments which marked the transition from the later Middle Ages into the Renaissance. Topics include Artists of Italy, Ideas and Inventions, and Voyages of Discovery.

The reading level on the text is approximately grades 5-8. Younger children will enjoy looking at the pictures and having the text read to them. Older students (including high school and adult) will find a wealth of information here that goes well beyond what is covered in traditional textbooks (much more interesting, too!)

I highly recommend all of the books in this series. Medieval World makes a great companion to the Famous Men of the Middle Ages.

Medieval World is a paperback, 96 pages. You can order it directly from Greenleaf Press for $14.99 by clicking on any of the links in this review.

– Rob Shearer, Publisher

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I admit it. I am a sucker for pop-up books. I find the engineering fascinating, and take great delight in watching how a 3-dimensional scene pops-up when  you unfold the pages. The genre began in the late 19th century (when children’s books first began to develop as a separate category) and there were for a time several London publishers (Dean & Son and Raphael Tuck & Sons) who competed with each other in producing elaborate “movable books.”

I was delighted when Julie Salmon called my attention to this stunning pop-up book in an email last week. In the Beginning – The Art of Genesis
contains some of the most elaborate and stunning examples of paper engineering that I have ever seen. The book is a collaboration between author and designer, Chuck Fischer and “paper engineer” Bruce Foster. Fischer is a muralist, trompe l’oeil master, product designer and published author working out of his studio in New York city. Foster studied art at the University of Tennessee and has designed more than 40 pop-up books.

There are seven 2-page spreads in this book, each with an elaborate pop-up, three-dimensional design. The opening pop-up is a framed image from Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel. The 2nd spread is an overview of the Seven Days of creation which reads from bottom to top. Each day is represented by a separate disk. Each disk has a small pull-out circle in it which gives the biblical reference describing what was done on that day.

The 3rd spread is a mosaic style triptych which depicts the creation of eve, the temptation, and the expulsion from the garden.

The 4th spread tells the story of Noah’s Ark, choosing the moment at which the ark has come to rest on Mt. Ararat and the animals are emerging, with a rainbow arched overhead. There is a detail of Noah and his family offering a sacrifice of thanksgiving at an altar in the foreground.

The 5th spread is the most elaborate I have ever seen in a pop-up. It features a Tower of Babel which jumps to a full eighteen inches high. Quite a feat for a book which is itself, only eleven inches by nine inches!

The top of the tower encircled by clouds and thunderbolts and there is an impressive level of detail as we see the workers and materials being prepared at the base to push the top of the tower still higher.

Perhaps the most visually interesting is the 6th spread, which depicts Jacob’s ladder and the dream-vision of the patriarch as he saw angels going up and down a ladder to heaven. Most of the artwork of this scene is reproduced on acetate layers which gives it an overall “stained glass window” effect.

The final scene is set in the Egyptian court of Pharaoh and depicts Joseph interpreting Pharaoh’s dream. To either side of Pharaoh there are rotating disks which transform from the image of the seven fat cows to the seven lean ones, and the seven full ears of grain and the seven withered ones. There are fold-out panels with the text of the full story of Joseph from the last twelve chapters of Genesis.

This is NOT a book for small children to handle on their own. It IS a book that they will take great delight in looking at WITH an adult. And if you’re like me, you’ll have quite a good time opening and closing each spread, reading the text, and admiring and exploring the details.

This is a book that really cries out for a video of its own, and thankfully, the publisher has created one. Click on the play button below to see most of the spreads in this remarkable book as they unfold.


In The Beginning – The Art of Genesis is a hardback, with seven pop-up scenes and 15 bound-in mini-books of text. It is in-stock and available directly from Greenleaf Press for $35.00

Fischer and Foster have collaborated on two earlier pop-up books, also quite impressive. The first, published in 2006 was Christmas in New York, A Pop-Up Book. Christmas in New York has six pop-up spreads, depicting Radio City Music Hall, The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Angel Tree, Rockefeller Center, The Nutcracker, Fifth Avenue and New Year’s Eve in Times Square. Here’s a video that shows the remarkable scenes “popping up”:


Christmas in New York is $35.00, and also available directly from Greenleaf Press.

In 2007, they released Christmas Around the World, A Pop-Up Book, with fourteen pages of stunning pop-ups, pullouts, and booklets about celebrations in France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Latin America, Russia, Scandinavia, and the United States. Here’s a video showing off Christmas Around the World.


Christmas Around the World is $30.00 and also available directly from Greenleaf Press.

Any or all three of these would make great Christmas presents!

– Rob Shearer, publisher
Greenleaf Press

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It’s done! Finished, edited, proofed and approved. And we have copies on the shelves!

The sequel to Famous Men of the Renaissance and Reformation.

Rather than reprinting Famous Men of Modern Times (which is a bit uneven in both tone and selection), we have made the decision to complete the Famous Men biography series with four new books:

  • Famous Men of the 16th & 17th Century (Queen Elizabeth to Louis XIV) – available now
  • Famous Men of the 18th Century (Isaac Newton to Robespierre) – 2010
  • Famous Men of the 19th Century (Napoleon Bonaparte to Mark Twain) – 2011
  • Famous men of the 20th Century (Teddy Roosevelt to Ronald Reagan) – 2012

The 17th century was an age of religious wars and revolutions. The French had seven civil wars of religion from 1570-1590. The German Empire had a religious civil war from 1618-1648. The English had a civil war from 1642-1649. It was also the century in which the English and French settlements were founding colonies in North America at Jamestown, Plymouth, Boston, & Quebec. But learning the wars will not convey to students what the times were like. Biographies will. Twenty-eight key individuals are profiled in chronological order:

Birth Crowned Death




Catherine de’ Medici



Henry of Navarre (Henry IV)



Elizabeth I


Sir Francis Drake


Sir Walter Raleigh



James I


Matteo Ricci


William Shakespeare


John Smith





Gustavus Adolphus


Samuel de Champlain




Cardinal Richelieu



Charles I


Oliver Cromwell



William Bradford



John Winthrop


Blaise Pascal




John Milton


Johannes Vermeer



Charles II



Jan Sobieski



William of Orange (William III)


John Locke


Johan Pachelbel



Louis XIV

I am particularly pleased with how the chapters on the colonial founders turned out. John Smith (Jamestown), Samuel de Champlain (Quebec), William Bradford (Plymouth), and John Winthrop (Boston) all have incredible and fascinating stories. A simple comparison of their backgrounds and their reasons for leaving England and France will give students far more understanding about the founding of the colonies than any textbook can.

I also enjoyed greatly retelling the events of the English Civil War, the Restoration, and the Glorious Revolution of 1688. These events (with a number of larger-than-life characters) were critical in shaping the political ideas of America’s Founding Fathers – whose stories I am looking forward to telling in Famous Men of the 18th Century.

I’ve also included accounts of the lives of artists (Rembrandt, Vermeer), a musician (Johan Pachelbel), and writers (Shakespeare & Milton) so that students will become acquainted with more than just the political history of the times.

The reading level is targeted on upper elementary/jr. high, but even older students and adults will find much here that gets left out of the textbook accounts.

Famous Men of the 16th & 17th Century is 28 chapters, 228 pages and retails for $17.95, directly from Greenleaf Press.

Get ’em while they’re hot off the press!

– Rob Shearer, (author and) Publisher

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I’ve just finished several days of quite rewarding work re-organizing and generally making some welcome improvements to the Greenleaf Press website.
The short version: We’ve added categories and organized the books in a much more logical and convenient fashion for each of the major periods of history. Rather than having to wade through all 50 or so books in the Ancient Egypt category, you will now see our Study Package books on the first page, with links to Reference Books, Historical Fiction & Biographies, and Activity & Coloring Books. Here’s the way it now looks:

Over the past two years, my goal has been to make online shopping as easy and straightforward as browsing a print catalog. We had ten years experience putting a print catalog together, and I really enjoyed finding books, reviewing books, and then finding a spot in the catalog to put a group of books together that I wanted to highlight.

It’s been a struggle to figure out how to do this on the web. Over dinner the other night, I was discussing the current state of the web site with our son and daughter-in-law. Both have worked for Greenleaf in the past, and they have made lots of contributions to the development of books and web presence. While talking with them, I had an epiphany on how to present books to shoppers on the web.

Adding categories and additional links give more organization to how we present books and lets shoppers more easily find what they are looking for.

It has also let me re-discover and give more prominence to certain books and groups of books that were getting lost in long lists on several parts of our site.

Case in point: Ralph Moody’s Little Britches series. These are terrific books, and more timely now than ever. They were set in difficult economic times around the turn of the century and tell a powerful story of hard work, honesty, determination, and adaptation to change. But we carry 145 books in our main category of 19th century. How could shoppers find the books when they are listed on one page out of 15? The answer of course, was to help shoppers find what they are looking for by giving them more descriptive categories and links at the “top” page of each section.

Here’s what the re-designed entry page to our books on the 19th century now looks like:

greenleaf_19thThe Little Britches Series now has its own page and link from the top of the session. This is very close to the way I would have laid these books out in a printed catalog – with some visual box/background to set them apart and make them easy to find for people who are looking for them – and to try to catch the eye of people looking over and browsing by conveying quickly something what they are.

So now, if you know you’re going to be studying the middle ages and you want to find some coloring books for your younger children – click on the Middle Ages category in the left-hand column and you’ll see this:

greenleaf_midagesAnd now, click on the link to Coloring Books, either in the text in the center column or in the categories list in the left-hand column (now that you’ve clicked on Middle Ages, the categories list displays all of the sub-categories).

This reorganization of the e-store has taken several long days to implement (and there is still a bit of tidying up to do) – not unlike re-arranging a physical store! The goal is to make it easier or you to find the books you are looking forward.

Feedback and comments welcome! Thanks to everyone who has shopped at Greenleaf over the past several years. Your purchases are what makes it possible for Cyndy and  me to continue to write new books to help parents teach history and literature to their children!

– Rob Shearer, Publisher

PS: Check out some of our other category sections below the chronological coverage of the major historical epochs, like our collection of Biography Series (Landmarks, Childhood of Famous Americans, and Mike Venezia’s Artists, Composers, & Presidents), DK Eyewitness Books, and the Politically Incorrect Guides.

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With the imminent publication of Famous Men of the 16th & 17th Century, I decided to review, revise, & update the Greenleaf scope and sequence for the study of history.

After 20 years of teaching history, talking to homeschooling parents, and continuing to read and write on historical topics, I am more convinced than ever that the keys to teaching history to children are Chronology and Biography.

And I am also equally convinced that we need to be teaching the Bible to our children as a historical document. The Bible is not a collection of morality tales like Aesop’s Fables. The Bible is a historical account of God acting in history from the call of the Patriarchs through the Exodus, the Conquest, the Exile and the Restoration. I believe strongly that our kids should know the history of Israel as their first “model” for how to approach history. And the Bible’s pattern is to tell the story in chronological order and to focus on one key person at a time. The historical books of the Bible tell the story of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, etc… down to Daniel, Esther, Ezra, & Nehemiah.

With the new Famous Men book (and with a few excellent books from other publishers), Greenleaf is able to offer a complete history program for grades 1-8, and a plan for a second study of western civilization in the high school years.

You can download our 3-page Scope and Sequence here. Feel free to copy, forward, and/or print out as many copies as you’d like.

Page One is the plan for the elementary grades.

Page two is the plan for high school students:

And page three are alternate plans to do Western Civilization in four, five, six, or seven years of elementary school:

I’ll have more information about the imminent publication of Famous Men of the 16th & 17th Century over the next few weeks.

– Rob Shearer, Publisher

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1630-charles-04When he was 16, he had to flee England when the Puritans defeated and captured his father, King Charles I. His father was executed when he was 19 as he was trying desperately to organize an army to invade England and rescue him. He made promises to the Scots Covenanters that he had no intention of keeping in hopes of regaining his throne with a Scottish Army. Cromwell crushed his army at Worcester in 1651 and he had to flee for his life. He spent six weeks on the run, with a price on his head, often disguised as a servant or a groom. He and his friends tried to find a ship for France at three different ports and had dozens of narrow escapes before he was able to escape back to France.

He spent nine years in exile. The French signed a treaty with Cromwell and he had to flee to Cologne, Germany. He and his closest advisors were without funds and often went without food.

And then, in the ninth year of his exile Cromwell died and the Republic in England fumbled between Generals and Parliament over who his successor should be. Finally, the Governor of Scotland, General Monck had enough and marched to London, presided over the election of a pro-royalist Convention Parliament, and Charles was restored to his throne.

I’m about 2/3 of the way into the bio of Good Time Charley – a nickname perhaps he earned, though it is not completely fair to him. Still, he  had at least a dozen illegitimate children by seven mistresses, but no legitimate children.

Cromwell and the Puritans had closed the theaters in London. Charles and the Cavaliers reopened them (Cakes and ale for all!) and some very funny Restoration Drama was the result.

One of his friends composed the following bit of doggerel for him:

God bless our good and gracious king,
Whose promise none relies on;
Who never said a foolish thing,
Nor ever did a wise one.

To which Charles is reputed to have replied:

“That is true; for my words are my own, but my actions are those of my ministers.”

On the home stretch for Famous Men of the 16th & 17th Century. I have three more chapters to finished and three to edit.

Onward. . .

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With of the contraction in the book publishing world, it’s refreshing to “find” a persevering publisher with a number of very nice titles.

Kids Can Press is a Canadian publishing firm, founded in 1973 and headquartered in Toronto.

They have two series of children’s historical books that I find delightful.

Over the past six or seven years, they have produced six titles in a series titled the “Good Times Travel Agency.” I’m going to limit my review to the five that cover documented historical periods. They have a title, Adventures in the Ice Age that, chronologically speaking would come first – but it’s entirely a work of speculative imagination since there are no written records from anyone who lived during the Ice Age (or the Stone Age for that matter). My advice: if you’re teaching kids history, stick to history. Pre-history is, by definition, NOT history. It may be imaginative, but it’s not history.

So here are the five titles in the series:

Each of these is an 8.5″ x 11″ 48 page four-color romp through a particular time-period as we follow the adventures of the three Binkertons, Josh, Emma, and Libby. They KEEP returning to the Good Times Travel Agency, where one guide book after another magically transports them to a historical time and place. The guide book must be read to the end (every word) before the children can return – which is a clever way to get young readers to read the text that goes along with the adventures depicted in the humorous illustrations. In Egypt, Josh gets drafted into the corvee of workers who are helping to build Pharaohs pyramid. In the Middle Ages, he is first mistaken for a fool, taken to the castle, assigned to the kitchen (when he doesn’t prove very funny) and finally transferred to the stables. Each of the five books manages to provide an interesting story, the illustrations have lots of detail that conveys interesting tidbits, and the historical information presented is factual, reliable and non-politically correct.

Here are some sample spreads:

I’m REALLY hoping that Bailey and Slavin will add an Adventures in Ancient Rome to this series, but these five already are a great resource for families studying topics in world history in grades 4 to 6.

Greece, China, and the Middle Ages are $8.95. Ancient Egypt and the Vikings are $9.95. All can be ordered directly from Greenleaf Press by clicking on any of the links or book covers in this message.

The second series from Kids Can Press is their Kids Can Read series. In level 3 of that series, KCP has released eight short biographies for beginning readers. Many of these names will be familiar to most parents but for several KCP offers the ONLY biography in print for young readers. I think that KCP is the ONLY publisher currently offering children’s biographies of Samuel de Champlain (the French explorer who founded Quebec in 1608) and Lucy Maud Montgomery (the author of Anne of Green Gables). Each of these is 6″ x 9″, 32 pages, and four-color on all pages.

I really like both of the illustrators’ styles on these (John Mantha and Andrej C), and the story telling (by Elizabeth MacLeod) is very well done. These are perfect as first chapter books or practice chapter books for students in second and third grade.

Each of these is $3.95, and can be purchased directly from Greenleaf Press by clicking on the links or book cover images in this message.

– Rob Shearer, Publisher

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winthropI’ve just finished drafting a short biography of John Winthrop for my next book, Famous Men of the 16th & 17th Century. The biographies begin with Queen Elizabeth and will end with the death of Louis XIV in 1715.

This has been a difficult chapter for me to write, and taken longer than I expected. I have developed an admiration for Winthrop, even if I have not been able to muster a great deal of affection. If I had known him, I might have liked him – but on the whole he seems to have had a very serious bent. Luther did too, but Luther had a playful, mischievous side to him that I greatly appreciate. I can find no hint of mischief in all of Winthrop’s writings.

Still, he is a man to be admired.

Part of the difficulty in writing about him is having to explain the culture and institutions within whose bounds he operated. He is an Englishman of the 1600s. Further, he is Puritan in his religious convictions. Further, he is from a moderately well-off, connected family from the Stour Valley in Suffolk. And he was a lawyer. I hope you get my drift.

Reasons to admire him? There are many.

His family – when he died, he had six surviving sons. The oldest was 48, the youngest barely a year old. Winthrop was widowed three times, twice before he was 30. He and his third wife were married for 29 years and had raised four sons together when she died. Winthrop, a widower at 59, married for a fourth time, and had a son who was just a year old when he died.

His leadership / perseverance – He joined the Puritan company who were planning to plant a colony in the new world in 1629 and was almost immediately elected governor. He organized a fleet of 11 ships and 700 colonists who sailed for Massachusetts just six months later.

His moderation – As governor he sought to reconcile embittered parties who came before him with legal disputes. He knew what a great freedom the Puritans had achieved by being granted a charter that allowed the colony to govern itself – without a royal, appointed governor.

His resolve – The life of the colonists was harsh, and challenging. Mortality was quite high – over 50% for many years. Threatened by disease, starvation, Indian attacks, and on occasion by internal quarrels, Winthrop persevered in seeing the colony grow and prosper. It had a population of over 15,000 when he died in 1649 – nineteen years after the first 700 had crossed the Atlantic in the Winthrop fleet.

Some may think the cases of Roger Williams and Anne Hutchinson are damaging to Winthrop’s reputation, but the original sources do not reflect badly on him. I would argue that Williams’ banishment from Massachusetts was not so harsh as later historians wish to portray it. In fact, after settling in Rhode Island, Williams and Winthrop maintained a friendly correspondence and sent each other gifts from time to time.

Anne Hutchinson is another matter altogether. I believe that the popular story of Hutchinson as an early feminist and a martyr for toleration and religious freedom can only be described as a great historical fraud. She has been adopted by those pursuing modern ideologies for their own reasons. In the record, it is clear that she was as intolerant (if not more so) as the Puritans of Boston. She was, in fact, agitating and organizing a faction in the church at Boston in an attempt to have one of the ministers dismissed and her brother-in-law appointed in his place. She claimed to know “by direct revelation of the Holy Spirit” who were truly elect and who were not. She charged that only Rev. Cotton and Rev. Wheelwright (her brother-in-law) were true ministers of the gospel and that all the other ministers of Massachusetts were preaching a false “covenant of works.” Had she succeeded, she would have gladly seen Winthrop banished from the colony.

Well.. chapter 18 is now drafted. The page count stands at 163. I have to finnish finding illustrations for these last few chapters. I have seven more to draft myself, and three to edit from the original Famous Men of Modern Times. Time to push on. . .

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It’s been a busy year! And it’s only June!

It occurred to me that I should take a minute and update friends & gentle readers on what’s been going on at Greenleaf Press. A lot, actually. I forget, in the day-to-day press of the urgent some of the significant things that we have accomplished. Here’s a quick review:

Last summer saw the re-launch of Valerie Bendt’s Reading Made Easy and the publication of Cyndy Shearer’s Greenleaf Guide to Medieval Literature.

This year, Greenleaf has released three new titles and we have several more exciting projects under development.

In March we released Handwriting by George Volume 2.

In April we released Voices of the Renaissance and Reformation.

In May we released The Sayings of Mrs. Solomon.

Projects under development:
Famous Men of the 16th & 17th Century – I am happy to report that there are now twelve chapters written, out of a projected 28. Here’s the current, working version of the Table of Contents:


  1. Catherine de’ Medici (1519-1589)
  2. Henry of Navarre (1553-1610)
  3. Elizabeth I (1533-1603)
  4. Sir Francis Drake (1540-1595)
  5. Sir Walter Raleigh (1552-1618)
  6. James I (1566-1625)
  7. Matteo Ricci (1552-1610)
  8. William Shakespeare (1564-1616)
  9. John Smith (1580-1631)
  10. Wallenstein (1583-1634)
  11. Gustavus Adolphus (1594-1632)
  12. Samuel de Champlain (1570-1635)

Galileo (1564-1642)

Cardinal Richelieu (1585-1642)

Charles I (1600-1649)

William Bradford (1590-1657)

John Winthrop (1588-1649) combine with Bradford?

Oliver Cromwell (1599-1658) may be too much overlap with Charles I?

Blaise Pascal (1623-1662)

Rembrandt (1606-1669)

John Milton (1608-1674)

Johannes Vermeer (1632-1675)

Charles II (1630-1685)

Jan Sobieski (1629-1696)

William of Orange (1650-1702)

John Locke (1632-1704)

Johan Pachelbel (1653-1706)

Louis XIV (1638-1715)

When this project is finished, I plan to continue the series with the next volumes, Famous Men of the 18th Century, Famous Men of the 19th Century, and Famous Men of the 20th Century. I’m already looking forward to doing the chapters on Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, and Pope John Paul II!

Handwriting by George, volumes 3 & 4 should be ready to go to the printer shortly. When all four volumes are out, we will have covered all 100 of George Washington’s maxims. Volumes 1 & 2 included the first 55.

Cyndy is working on editing the text of Alfred Church’s The Odyssey for Boys and Girls, which will join her wonderful edition of Church’s The Iliad for Boys and Girls (Greenleaf title: The Story of the Iliad) which we published in 2004. She is also working on the next volume in her high school inductive literature guides, The Greenleaf Guide to Early Modern Literature. We don’t have firm dates yet, but Cyndy’s high school guides are based on ten years teaching in local tutorial and co-op programs. The Ancient Lit and Medieval Lit guides are what she uses for her 9th grade and 10th grade classes. The Early Modern Guide and 20th Century Guide already exist and she’s been teaching these classes at the Schaeffer Study Center for the past six years. But she won’t let me publish them until she’s revised them to her satisfaction!

As always, we continue to scour the publisher’s catalogs to find the best children’s books published each year. The outstanding selection this year, so far, would have to be Pharaoh’s Boat. I can’t say enough good things about this book. Full review is still on the blog.

To get the latest reviews of new books and news about projects, got to the Greenleaf Press website and sign up for the Greenleaf newsletter by clicking on “Store” and logging yourself in (if you don’t have an account, you can create one). In the right-hand column, there is a green box titled “My Account.” It’s the third one from the top. Click on the My Account link in the box and you can subscribe (or unsubscribe) to the newsletter.

– Rob Shearer
(Publisher, Editor, sometime writer, husband & dad – not necessarily in that order!)

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Adopted for Life: The Priority of Adoption for Christian Families & Churches

Lucas Cranach the Elder: Art and Devotion of the German Reformation

The Peasant Prince: Thaddeus Kosciuszko and the Age of Revolution

The Wisdom of Crowds: Why the Many Are Smarter Than the Few and How Collective Wisdom Shapes Business, Economies, Societies and Nations

Horse Soldiers: The Extraordinary Story of a Band of US Soldiers Who Rode to Victory in Afghanistan

Gotta love summertime reading lists – but first, I have to finish this:

Champlain’s Dream

which is a magnificent book. It’s 500 pages of narrative, 100 pages of appendices, and 200 pages of footnotes! The author is a brilliant writer. What has stood out for me though the book (I’m on about page 400) is the proximity in time and space of the French efforts with the English efforts – both somewhat belated attempts to find a foothold in the New World after a century of Spanish colonization. The French founded Port Royal in 1605, two years before Jamestown (although it was not continuously inhabited until after 1632) and Quebec in 1608, the year after. Also quite surprising was how small and precarious the French colonies were. The had fewer than 50 permanent residents for many years and only a few families. More on this later, when I’ve finished reading and draft a short bio of Champlain for the Famous Men of the 16th & 17th Century.

– Rob Shearer

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