My family LOVES to visit bookstores (because of course it fuels our passion for books!). I especially love to hang out at Christian bookstores, and since our schedule is so crammed full, online bookstores give me a place to explore and discover as I’m trying to relax and unwind in the evenings, or sometimes in the wee hours when I can’t sleep.
So I have this amazing little online bookstore I’d love to share with you. When I read the name Beloved Books I immediately concluded that it must be a wonderful place full of discovery. I clicked over to the website and my first glance over some familiar, beloved books told me I was right. I had discovered a JEWEL of a place!
The store was created by a Christian family who wanted to share and make available some of the favorite life-affirming, wholesome literature that has touched their lives. While they love reading books together, they also love listening to audio resources. One of their main missions as a family is to share the fabulous Sugar Creek Gang audio series with folks worldwide. They believe that this series of audio cd stories has had an incredible life-changing impact on young people everywhere. I’d heard of and seen the Sugar Creek Gang around, but my family has never experienced it for ourselves. After reading what a powerful ministry it is, I was eager to receive the Sugar Creek Gang Volume 1 cds to review!
We received a neat little case full of 12 cd’s containing 5 stories narrated and produced by Paul Ramseyer in the studios of Northwestern College Radio from the original book series by Paul Hutchens. This evangelist who graduated from Moody Bible institute and preached all over the world, found his gift for writing in 1939 when his first Sugar Creek Gang book was published by Moody Press.
The complete 36 book Sugar Creek Gang audio series has been made available on 72 cds put together in 6 volumes that cost $54.95 each or currently on sale for $279.70 for the whole set. The Volume 1 cd’s like we received currently have free media rate shipping too! Also, you can purchase the first 2 hour story with free shipping for just $4.95 if you just wanna check it out, but I’m telling you, you’ll want more once you hear it!!
So what stories did we get to listen to on the Volume 1 set?
~The Swamp Robber
~The Killer Bear
~The Winter Rescue
~The Lost Campers
~The Secret Hideout
And just what is so amazing about these stories- after all aren’t they old and boring, especially since they were written so long ago?
Oh man, let me tell you they are anything but boring. I have to admit that thought crossed my mind; I too wondered if my busy, can’t-sit-still, wiggly boy and rather-be-outside girls would sit and listen to these. Especially since we don’t spend much as much time in the car traveling as we used to. But once we popped the first cd into our cd player and began to listen- we were hooked. The narrator’s voice is fabulous and changes with each character. The stories are totally engaging and leave your imagination soaring. I was completely blown away by how they include Biblical principles, scriptures, poetry, lots of good character and sound moral principles- while making them look “cool”. As I was listening and watching my 6 year old son completely entranced and involved in the stories, I just couldn’t help but be totally thankful for this amazing example. I have to fully agree that this is a worthwhile and WONDERFUL ministry to share with kids!
The Sugar Creek Gang visits Gunn Ranch Academy
I’ve already let you in on the fact that we LOVE and have befriended the Sugar Creek Gang here at Gunn Ranch. But I must elaborate a bit more.
When my girls were younger we spent much more time in the car traveling, and especially during our active duty Army years. We are a very literature-thriving family, much like the family over at Beloved Books. We love to immerse ourselves in read-alouds, and old time audio programs alike.
But once Levi came along and then we got busy with our ranch, we seem to spend much less time cuddled together reading, and more time outside. This is not a “bad” thing, but it just means that I really need to make our literature-time count. Levi is a much tougher customer when it comes to the patience to sit still and listen. He listens more out of obedience than the joy of the adventure many times. That’s not to say he doesn’t like a good book, but I definitely have to pick and choose more carefully to gain his full attention and engage him. I wasn’t sure how I was gonna accomplish him listening to hours of stories. That’s a long time to sit still.
Alas, I found out early in the game I had no worries. I popped the very first cd in the player in the truck on our drive to the city. Once we arrived at our destination (the dentist’s office :)), he was disappointed we had to turn it off. We talked about the Sugar Creek Gang boys while in the dentist’s office; we discussed each character, and the who he thought the swamp robber might be. Once we loaded back up into the truck, I had ejected the cd because we were running a few more short errands before the trip home and I hated to keep interrupting the story. Levi kept asking and asking for me to turn it back on. He was a happy camper once we were headed home, and when we got home he took the cd inside and popped it into the cd player where we finished listening to the story.
Each chapter of the story is divided into separate tracks on the cd, so you can stop at the end of one chapter, and/or listen one or two chapters at a time. The end of each chapter is repeated at the beginning of the next for a refresher of what is happening, which is helpful when listening a chapter or two at a time.
That evening I found Levi and Taylor snuggled in her room listening to the next story, and for several days after I could find them in there laughing and spending time with their new friends. Levi began to refer to the stories and characters daily, and was excited to tell me all about the adventures he had heard about.
Levi said his favorite story is The Winter Bear. He says he likes it because, “the bear is so cute. The bear’s name is Triangle because he does a dozen tricks.”
Levi’s favorite character from the Sugar Creek Gang is Big Jim. He likes Big Jim because “he can do almost everything. He can make a tourniquet if someone is bleeding and keeps all the boys in line. He was strong, could tie all different knots and could do anything”. (I love Big Jim because his number one rule was to not cause any of their parents to worry.) 🙂 Levi then described how he liked each of the other characters as well: Lil Jim, Dragonfly, Poetry, Circus and of course Bill.
Levi liked how all the boys in the gang had nicknames. “Well most of them did, in the first cd, the gang was all introduced by name, and explained a little bit about them. Each nickname was explained. The boy telling the story didn’t have a nickname, his name was just Bill, short for William.”
I love how the stories share good morals of everyday living; Bill was worried about getting his overalls dirty! The stories are examples of wonderful family values, and great adventure. The “gang” of six boys are wholesome, fun-loving, adventuresome boys who try to do the “right” thing and obey their parents, yet have the adventures, temptations, and boyish ideas of “real boys”. The boys have very real emotions, they wrestle just like boys will do, and share the same questions and curiosity our boys have. Bill (the boy narrator) refers to getting “lickins” and even talks about how he was glad his parents cared enough for him to keep him in line.
I loved in the Winter Rescue how Bill describes his little baby sister as she was teething and a bit fussy. There are so many great references that kids can relate to from growing up in a family. There are many, many lessons from nature and everyday “science lessons” such as descriptions of all the different types of dog tails, animal instincts, insects, thanksgiving turkeys, compasses, fishing, etc. It’s amazing how so many lessons of all types are tied into the story! There are many references to Boy Scouts for those who are scouters!
I love how they reference how to pray in many of the stories. In the first story Bill describes how he and his friend Poetry read their scriptures together in the tent they were staying in, and how sometimes he prayed a poem, but “added his own words”. In other stories Bill describes how he prays. He also mentions several place how “God likes boys as good as anyone”. 🙂
There are elderly characters that the boys interact with, and there is much respect and many lessons to be learned from them. This is a great tool for showing young people how to interact with elderly people and adults.
I was a bit surprised at the references to one of the boys in the gang as “fat” and “big”. But this was not malicious or making fun of him, it was just a character description, and never used to make fun of or in a sarcastic way. As we were listening through the stories, the detailed descriptions of the kids as “having teeth to big for his face, but they will look normal once his face grows,” and other descriptions from Bill’s point of view became part of what makes the story honest and imaginative.
There’s just nothing more delightful to my momma-heart than to hear Levi refer to good morals, good manners, Biblical scripture and evening reciting poetry in a fun and confident manner. This is such a great way to build courage, wholesome imagination, and character in God’s little ones! And I totally enjoy listening to these myself. They are simply delightful!!
If ever I pop a Sugar Creek gang cd into the computer, it’s not but a minute that Levi is snuggled up listening.
As with all great literature, the characters have become friends of our family. That speaks volumes! I am planning to budget the rest of the cd’s in at some point. These would make fabulous gifts!
Check out my Crew Mates’ adventures with the Sugar Creek Gang over at the Schoolhouse Crew Blog!
~”Step back in time…to one-room schoolhouses, hot summer days of fishing, fun and barefoot boys!”~
~Disclaimer- we were given this set of audio Cds as members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew for review purposes. No other compensation was received and opinions are our own.