Wednesday, August 28, 2019

What Book Swept My Children Up in Adventure & Mystery? {A Britfield Review}

Britfield.  Ever heard of it? 

I had not until I was offered a chance to review Britfield & the Lost Crown by C.R. Stewart - the first book in a series of five adventure novels that transport readers into the action-packed and suspense-filled world of orphans Tom and Sarah.

I certainly am glad I know about the series now, though, because I thoroughly enjoyed reading it to two of my children, and my third child has been curled up with the book for the past several days. 

A 9-Year-Old Loves the Adventure

My youngest child quickly became enamored with Britfield & the Lost Crown and asked me to read it every night at bedtime. He had this to say about the books:
Britfield & the Lost Crown is about two orphans who escape from an evil orphanage and have to go through London, Canterbury, and other places in England in a hot air balloon to run away from a person named Gowerstone who is a detective that they think is going to send them back to the orphanage. 
Along the way, they meet a professor who helps them escape and travels with them. They also find an evil person who tries to kill them, because one of the orphans might the be the son of a Britfield, a person in the royal line.
The book was exciting! I liked the part where all the orphans went crazy before the escape. I also liked the chase.
I think people who are awesome should read the book because the book is cool. Kids from 9-12 and their parents would enjoy it. My mom did!

My son is correct. I did enjoy the book and was as curious about how it would develop as my children were while reading it to them.

A 12-Year-Old Liked Asking for "Just One Chapter"

The only thing I did not relish about Britfield & the Lost Crown was the length of its chapters. As a mom who reads aloud to her children, I often "cave" into "just one more chapter" even as bedtimes get late. I learned early on that I could not do that with Britfield & the Lost Crown because some chapters were over 30 pages long!

Luckily, though, the chapters have breaks in them that make good stopping points for tired moms whose children are begging for more and more and more...

Laughably, the chapters also can become a family joke when on a night when Mom is busy the children ask Dad to read, "just one chapter" and keep hi to his promise and, later, Dad comments on how the book was good, but the length of the chapters... (cue laughter!)

Chapter length, then, became both a fun joke as we happily read 
Britfield & the Lost Crown the sometimes a chapter at a time, sometimes more than a chapter at a time and sometimes, I admit - much to my 12-year-old's chagrin - only a portion of a chapter at a time.

She had this to say about the book:

In the beginning, Tom and Sarah are in a terrible orphanage that has child labor. They end up escaping and an intense chase begins as the orphans are tracked down by the most famous detective in Great Britain. 
The orphans find a hot air balloon - and Sarah is afraid of heights. 
They meet a professor that helps them on their journey, and Tom figures out that he might be of royal blood. The detective Gowerstone and queen's butler figure it out, too, and the queen's butler and his followers try to kill the orphans. 
The story gets exciting and my mom sometimes managed to read the 30+ page chapters in one sitting which I loved. (I also tricked my Dad into reading to us for a long time by saying, "Hey, Dad, will you read us a chapter?) 
Overall, I liked the story, because it was exciting, it made you have a strong dislike for the people who ran the orphanage and it had a twist. I won't tell you what that was.  You'll just have to find out about it on your own. It would be too much of a spoiler for me to tell you. 
I think this story is good for kids ages 6-13 and moms who read to their kids (because 30-page chapters can be overwhelming for some kids.) 
I cannot wait to read the next book in the series!

A 13-Year-Old that Has a Hard Time Putting the Book Down

For our review, we were given a choice of a physical or digital copy of the book and also offered a free 83-page e-book study guide.  Since it has been summer time, and we are often out during the day and have our reading time at bedtime when I like screens off, we took the softcover option.

Good thing we did, because on a no-screens day for my oldest son, he picked the book up and has barely put it down since and is already.  (He did not want to listen to it as a bedtime story with his younger siblings, because he doesn't like to wait to hear the rest of a story when I pause reading until the next night, and he had not picked the book up previously as he was immersed in other things and was not sure he'd like the story.)

My oldest is already on page 306 of 383 pages after just a couple days! He had this to say about the book:

Although I am not yet finished with
Britfield & the Lost Crown, so far the tale of Tom and Sarah has been exhilarating. 
I have found the tale interesting. Although not as good as some other books I have read (Sci-fi and Fantasy are my favorites!), it is still interesting and well written.
It is interesting how all the people's lives are mixed in and how they play into the story, but the mystery is just - ugh! I don't really like mysteries. They make me scratch my head. I prefer when an author lets you know the mystery through one character, but does not tell the other characters, so you can scream at the other characters when they make stupid decisions.  This book does this somewhat, but mostly keeps me guessing, and I don't like to be left in the dark. 
Still, the book is well-written.

The plot is complex, which in the case of the story, makes sense. Basically, some kids tried to escape an orphanage called Weatherly, stole a poor guy's hot air balloon, and are now being chased by three different entities at once: the villainous Weatherly orphanage group, the British police force, and royal fanatics who want to kill anyone who has the last name of Britfield for some reason. It is exciting. Nobody has died yet.
The characters are not as developed as some characters I have seen, but are realistic, because they are not perfect, nor completely stupid, nor completely defenseless. They all have thought, emotions, and quirks. Patrick - an orphan from the beginning of the book- is my favorite character, because he is funny when he steals a car and is wise, but not obnoxious. 
The setting is real world.  As a fellow author, I know it is extremely hard to place a story in the real world, so I think the author wrote a fictional story in the real world well. He takes you all around Britain. 
I would suggest that people who have lots of time on their hands and don't want to sleep at night read this book, because the chapters start off short, but then become long and you want to keep reading to solve the mystery. It's killing me. I want to find out what happens. 
I think children and adults would like this book, but mostly 10+.

I just love that my son, who lately prefers to read only Sci-Fi and Fantasy books and has not cared for Mysteries for a few years has been enjoying Britfield & the Lost Crown. He can get rigid in his thinking and choices, so it is wonderful to see him broadening his fiction reading again.

A Study Guide Could Make Britfield a Comprehensive Unit Study

Although I chose to use 
Britfield & the Lost Crown as a fun read and for gentle, natural learning (as in getting a flavor of Britain, reading a well-told tale, chatting about virtues and vocabulary as conversations flowed, etc.), I could have easily turned the experience into a full unit study with the free 83-page e-book study guide that is available.

The study guide has a synopsis and some information about the author.

Then, it is broken down by chapters, with chapters 1 and 2, together, 3 and 4 together, 5 and 6 together, and then 7-17 as sand alones.

Each section of the guide contains:

  • vocabulary from the story presented as multiple choice, matching, crossword puzzle, and fill-in-the-blank activities
  • comprehension questions related to the chapters of the book, which can be answered orally or in writing
  • a going deeper section that encourages you to think beyond the book and to discuss it orally or in wring
  • a learn more with technology section that invites you to look up information on topics given as a prompt and covers such topics as British Authors, locations in Britain, the British Monarchy, the history of orphanages, maps,etc.

At the end of the book, there is also an answer key for the vocabulary and comprehension questions.

A Wonderful Website

Not every book is paired with a great website, but 
Britfield & the Lost Crown sure is.  It contains information about places mentioned in the book, some beautiful photographs, and more.  It is truly worth a look!

Connect with Britfield & the Lost Crown on Social Media

Learn More

Seventy-five Homeschool Review Crew families had a chance to follow the adventures of orphans Tom and Sarah.  Read all the reviews!
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