After reading Ben Pepper, by Margaret Sidney, we wanted to make a review to show what we found useful in a homeschool curriculum. This review and its rating include the storyline, religious content, possible social issues, school subjects and availability of various book formats and supplemental activities for the book. As well, the recommended reading age and vocabulary were noted. The book was given a 4.75-Star Review, which rounded up to 5 stars.
How did we determine the rating? The following chart provides a very brief explanation of the information found in the book Ben Pepper and how each was rated.
|Rel||.5||Op vs cont||1 in context||.5|
|Soc||.5||Op vs cont||2 in context||.5|
|Age||> age 6|
|Sub||.5||>1 Sub||Lit, Soc. Stu/Good Cit.||.5|
|Formats||1.5||Bound, eBook, Audio – .5 ea||Not on Audible||1.25|
|Activities||1||Dir .5 & Alt .5 if avail||Both avail||1|
For a more thorough explanation of the categories (above) that we have looked into, and to find out more about the book, we have gone into a bit more detail below.
Hopefully, we have laid out exactly what you will find inside its covers without giving everything away.
Plot & Storyline of Ben Pepper
The plot and storyline section of this review was rated on if it was able to keep our attention and provide entertainment. Doing so gave Ben Pepper 1 full star.
Synopsis for Ben Pepper
This is the story of the five little Pepper children, the oldest boy, Ben Pepper, and their friends. Many little adventures find the children making friends, helping strangers, and learning lessons about how to properly behave in a variety of situations.
The book includes many descriptions of manners and social etiquette; presumably in the late 1800s. And while the story focuses on the main character, Ben, a bit more than the other Pepper children, it does not solely concentrate on this character.
This book was, on the whole, entertaining. Because of this, the book received the full one-star credit.
Religion in Ben Pepper
Since the exclusion and inclusion, of religion in student texts are such an important topic in the modern world, we decided to include this in our review for half a star in the rating.
To maintain the half-star any religious content must have either been in a book specifically about a religious subject or used religion as a descriptive part of the text without trying to deliberately sway the reader to any specific religion.
Religious Occurrences in the Book
In Chapter 13 of Ben Pepper, the book describes how the minister was sent to read a letter. This mentions that the minister was a missionary newly released from the theological seminary. This character makes an appearance in other chapters, as well.
However, this was simply the description of a character that would normally have been depended upon for help during the time period of the story. In fact, the minister does not preach religion in any part of the book.
For this reason, the rating maintained its half star for this section of the review.
Social Issues in Ben Pepper
This section in the star rating was worth half a star and concerned any content that might be considered sensitive or offensive in modern society.
If the social issues found were that of the author’s own opinion, a deduction was made. When the issue described the mindset and culture of the characters for the time period in the story, the rating was not deducted.
Furthermore, deductions were fractioned depending on the number of issues found.
Social Issues Found in the Book
Due to the topics in this story, as well as the time period in which it was written, Ben Pepper had two occurrences that might be considered “socially unacceptable” in the modern world.
One was merely strong content, while the other was more socially incorrect. The evidence below should help you navigate these more sensitive topics.
Occurrences of Social Issues
Chapter 7 mentions the possibility of the night-watchman being drunk but does not expound on the idea.
In Chapter 19 is included a part where Ben picks up a stick to scare a monkey as he explains that it must have been whipped before and so they ought to show the monkey “something he will respect.” While the characters in the book value the creature, his treatment might be frowned upon in modern society.
However, neither of the actual issues was portrayed by the characters and the book describes the characters as being displeased with the issues, not supportive of them.
For this, the book received its half-star.
Suggested Age and Reading Level for Ben Pepper
This section did not have any effect on the star rating for this book review. However, we felt that it is important to know before reading the book and before moving on to the next section of this review.
Ben Pepper is suitable for Children readers.
This means that it can be read from approximately 1st grade into adulthood, or beginning at around 6 years of age. However, a young reader might wish to keep a dictionary nearby while reading.
Subjects Covered by Ben Pepper
The number of School Subjects covered by the book counted as half a star in the rating. To maintain this half star, the book merely had to cover more than one subject.
We found two subjects which might be covered while reading Ben Pepper. These are Literature and Social Studies, or Good Citizenship.
While the subject of Literature is fairly broad, we were able to zone in on the Social Studies and Good Citizenship aspect of the book. The depiction of manners and good citizenship could easily become a focus of further study while reading this book.
Vocabulary and Spelling Opportunities
While vocab and spelling had no bearing on the star rating, it was worth mentioning since the vocabulary used in Ben Pepper was quite advanced when compared with more recent literature.
Despite (or maybe because of) its advanced level of vocabulary, I was able to read and understand the book well.
Keeping this in mind, approximately 600 words were noted by The MiniMize Life as worthy of being studied further in vocabulary and spelling. However, some of these words may have already been covered in our booklist before reading this book.
The vocabulary used in this book should stretch the modern reader’s understanding.
Availability of Book Formats
The availability of books considered three formats; ebooks, audiobooks, and physical or bound books. These were each worth half a star. This means that one and a half stars could be effected in this section.
Likewise, ebooks and audiobooks were broken into the two subcategories of free books and those for purchase.
Ben Pepper by Margaret Sidney is available in all three formats. However, it did lose a fraction of a star in one of these formats.
The links to these may be found on the resource page for this book found at the end of this post.
Many ebook sources for Ben Pepper are available for download; both free and for purchase. Depending on your personal preference, any of the following would suffice.
It is available for purchase on Kindle, or the free e-book can be found at Project Gutenberg and Google Books.
The audiobook of Ben Pepper is available on both LibriVox and YouTube for free. Unfortunately, it is not yet available on Audible.com.
For this lack of an available book for purchase on Audible, a quarter star was taken. However, since the rating system does not allow for quarter stars, this would be rounded back up to a half-star unless another section also reduced the score by a quarter.
Ben Pepper is available for purchase in both paperback and hardbound copies on Amazon.
There are also many editions of Ben Pepper. Some are older used books, and others are reprints of the original version. However, many of the reprints do not have good formatting and so caution must be taken to research reviews of each.
Normally, physical books are not available for free, except in a library, which I am unable to gauge. Therefore, free copies were not included in the rating for bound books.
The MiniMize Life has taken care to recommend acceptable, unabridged editions of this book on the resource page.
Availability of Supplemental Resources
Supplemental activities were gauged in two parts; activities directly related to the book worth half a star and alternative activities related to the book topics worth another half star.
Furthermore, alternative activity ratings could be reduced to fractions depending on how many topics needed an activity.
For this book, there was only one additional topic. This was, therefore, worth half of a star.
Direct Activities for Ben Pepper
There were no existing activities or worksheets found which were directly related to this book.
Half a star would be taken from the review rating for this. However, The MiniMize Life has rectified the situation and made worksheets available for this book.
Therefore, no changes were made to the star rating.
Alternative Activities for Ben Pepper
For alternative activities, we looked into the subjects that may be covered while reading the book. Specifically, this was the good citizenship and manners that were portrayed in the story.
There were lots of activities to build upon the social studies portion of the book, and so this section also kept its half-star.
More About Ben Pepper, by Margaret Sidney
In an effort to make Ben Pepper more user-friendly in a homeschool environment, The MiniMize Life has done a bit more work and research.
Besides including it in our Homeschool Elementary Booklist with instructions on how to use the book; The MiniMize Life has created worksheets directly related to this book.
We have also provided more information including links to where to find it and resources on its topics.
Links to all of these may be located on our resource page for Ben Pepper, by Margaret Sidney.
Have you read Ben Pepper? Tell us what you thought in the comments below.