With all our travelling this fall, we've had lots of time to listen to audiobooks and such. When we got the chance to review the Sugar Creek Gang audiobooks from Beloved Books, I was thrilled!
The Sugar Creek Gang was a series of Christian adventure books written in 1939 (my kids were really impressed to know these stories are "older than Papa"). More recently, the books were read "dramatically" to be used on the radio, and that is what we got to hear. This is one man reading the books, BUT he does so many different voices and inflections that it's much more . . . dramatic than just someone reading a book (not that we don't love straight audiobooks, but these were even better!).
We received Sugar Creek Gang Volume 1 CDs ($54.95). This is the first 6 stories on 12 CDs. Each story is approximately 2 hours long.
While each story would be enjoyable on it's own, they do build on each other so-to-speak, and listening to them in order makes them even more fun.
The stories are about a "gang" of boys who live in a farm community, are mostly Christian (I think by the end of this volume all of them have "been saved"), and have all kinds of amazing adventures while learning more about God, Christianity, and how to be decent people.
The stated age range for these CDs is 6-12. I'm not sure I agree with this, I can see where, when the books were written, a 6 or 7 year old would have enjoyed and understood them just fine, but while God's love is timeless, much of day-to-day life has changed in the last 70+ years, and I'd put an age range starting more around age 8 on these now. My 9 year olds have had several questions about what things mean and such, just because things are different now. I love that about these books, it's a built in history lesson as well, but I do think that bumps the age range up abit. I would also think that children older than 12 would enjoy them, the boys in the gang" range in age from 10 or a little younger to their mid-teens, and I would think that teenagers would also enjoy the stories, and the "old fashioned" aspect of them. I enjoyed them and I'm quite a few years past 12, but then again, I've always loved classic children's literature.
One thing that some might find disturbing is somewhat frequent references to spanking. It's not a major theme, and is generally mentioned in an off-hand way (the shed where Dad takes me when he has to give me a spanking, and things like that). My children haven't commented on it either way, and while we choose not to spank, they are aware that some families do and, perhaps more than that some families now do, that "in the olden days" people used spanking as a punishment. Families who prefer to avoid any reference to corporal punishment would probably not enjoy this series. In other ways also, the books are very different from "modern" writing. I find it interesting, and abit . . . jarring . . . that the main character/narrator refers to his best friend as being fat, and generally describes each of the boys in the gang's appearances using terminology that I'm not used to hearing. Nothing horrible, and obviously "Bill" doesn't have a problem with his friend, "Poetry" being overweight, it's just presented as a fact, no different than mentioning that someone has blue eyes or brown hair or is short or tall or whatever, still in our current, politically correct culture, it's abit surprising the first time you hear it.
One of my favorite "cultural" differences though, was when Bill matter-of-factly stated that girls are "fragile, helpless things" Little Bit was asleep, so Sassy knew she had to be quiet, but the expression of absolute rage (though good-natured, rage) on her face was PRICELESS! Again, different time, different norms . . . and we talked about that after Little Bit woke up. Sassy was somewhat appeased when, abit later in the story, Bill mentions that "boys are like dogs" and makes some comparision, that, Sassy found much more agreeable than his comment about girls LOL.
So, all that to say, just be aware, if you're looking for a typical, acceptable in today's culture, series, this isn't it. If you're looking for a series of books that teach good character and Christianity, flavored with the beliefs and culture of the 30s and 40s, these are great!
Not only have my girls eagerly asked for these whenever we've been in the car, but, when I told them we were on the last story, they asked "are there more?!?" When I told them there are 4 volumes all together, they asked if the "points" they earn by doing chores without reminders could be used to get the other volumes, so I'd say these are a hit around here.
I'd recommend these for conservative Christian families, taking into consideration the "disclaimers" about changing cultural norms and such. I also want to point out that, while my girls have LOVED these, they are also GREAT for boys! I know sometimes my friends with boys struggle to find as many books/stories that keep their boys' interest, as can be found for girls in this age range, these, I think would definitely qualify as "boy stories", though adventure loving girls like mine, love them too.
AND Beloved Books was kind enough to provide a coupon code just for you, my readers! Use coupon code BROADHORIZONS-20 to receive 20% off your entire purchase, how cool is that!!!
Be sure to check the other reviews to see what my fellow crew members thought of this series.
Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this product through the Schoolhouse Review Crew in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way. All opinions I have expressed are my own or those of my family. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC Regulations.