WARNING: Reading this article may give away things in the story ranging from unimportant to plot turners.
Samantha Learns a Lesson (American Girl Series) by Susan Addler
Type: Children’s, Historical Fiction
Basic Idea: Samantha Parkington’s friend Nellie has come to live in her town again thanks to her Grandmother and is even going to school! Unfortunately, Nellie is bullied because she is in a lower grade than the other kids her age, spurring Samantha to help her friend improve.
Plot: 4/5 Well Done: Like the first book, Samantha learns more about different types of people and discovers how to use her skills and resources to help others. Again, the book takes a path that discuses two major plot points, this time being more closely related than in the previous book.
Writing Style and Setup: 4/5 Well Done: Like the first, book, this one uses a simple, direct style that is easy to read and understand, yet still create beautiful pictures in the mind. It is always a pleasant surprise to read a book that is short and simple, yet has its sentences structured and words chosen to deliver a powerful, full message.
Moral: 4/5 A Great Moral: Unlike the first book, this one has a purely good moral. Samantha learns two important things about life. First, she again learns how to be a giving, kind person. She volunteers to help her friend get better at school, helping her to look at others and their needs as well as take initiative. Second, she learns about how life is not always easy for others. It is very easy for children to think life is just as good or bad for them as it is for everyone else. Samantha learns from her friends that life for poor people isn’t just less glamorous, it’s sad and even dangerous at times. This is a good way to introduce to our own children topics such as poverty in other countries or children who may not be treated kindly by their mothers and fathers.
Overall: 4/5 Well Done: As a whole, the book helps children grow and presents another time period in a relatable way. I definitely recommend it to girls eight and older.
Sexual and Inappropriate Content: 0/5 None
Violence: 0/5 None
Swearing and Using the Lord’s Name in Vain: ½/5 Brief Mention: A girl writes “the dickens” and Samantha thinks to herself that it is “almost-swear-words.”
Emotional, Intense, and Disturbing Content: 1/5 Brief, Light Mention: A girl talks about factory work, mentioning her “back and [her] legs hurt” and that one could easily break something. She also talks about a time a girls hair got ripped out by the machine, causing her to scream and to nearly bleed to death. A girl briefly wishes girls could fight. A girl says she will faint but does not. Consumption is briefly mentioned. “Army sergeant” is used for descriptive purposes.
Religious Issues: 0/5 None
Magic: 0/5 None
Others: Girls briefly playfully dance together when they meet. “Danced” is used for descriptive purposes.
Overall: 1/5 Child Appropriate: Some parents may not like the briefly recount of sad life of a child laborer or the brief mention to “almost-swear-words.” I would recommend it for children eight and older.
Here is the review to the next book in the series, Samantha’s Surprise. https://christianentertainmentreviews.blog/2018/10/22/a-parents-guide-to-samanthas-surprise-book/