Chapter Book Review (2024)

Vetting children's chapter books during 2024.

Adding wholesome, values-based children's books to your home library that you don't have to pre-read and vet is only made possible by Big Sky Life Books' strict vetting process.

In January 2024, we conducted a comprehensive customer survey. Our customer's number one ask was about us starting to vet chapter books. Many of you knew this would be a challenging and time-consuming task. But I am happy to share with you that in March, we were able to start vetting chapter book titles to add to our Big Sky Life Books store inventory.

This post will share every chapter book we read in 2024. If a book fails to meet our standards, we will add a short description to explain why. If a book meets our vetting process, we will provide a link to our store from this page.


Moon Over Manifest

  • Author: Clare Vanderpool
  • Pass/Fail:
  • Page 57: Quote directly from the book. "Silence. The spirits will not be rushed." Miss Sadie was working up a sweat. I'd had no idea it took such effort being a spirit conjurer. I stared wide-eyed as the diviner began.
  • Reason: This is witchcraft.

The Phantom Toolbooth

  • Author: Norton Juster
  • Pass/Fail:
  • Page 66, 71: Mentions witches, demons, and monsters.
  • Reason: We do not sell children's books with witches, demons, and monsters.


The Tuttle Twins and the Leviathan Crisis

  • Author: Connor Boyack
  • Pass/Fail:
  • Page 8, 29, 42: Scary images of dragons and beasts.
  • Reason: Seven-year-olds should not be exposed to this type of imagery.

Misty of Chincoteague

  • Author: Marguerite Henry
  • Pass/Fail:
  • Page 38: He sighed heavily. "Seems as if the devil is allus sittin' cross-legged of me."
  • Reason: There is no reason for a children's book to mention the devil in any context.

Gooseberry Park and the Master Plan

  • Author: Cynthia Rylant
  • Pass/Fail:
  • Page 43: "It all began at a Zen retreat in Half Moon Bay." Morton began. "I was searching for answers, and in time I discovered that the answers were already within me."
  • Reason: Children should not be exposed to new-age spiritual fables.

The Adventures of Sophie Mouse: The Emerald Berries

  • Author: Poppy Green
  • Pass/Fail:
  • Page 43: She left it on the table. It's not the whole truth, thought Sophie. But it's most of it.
  • Reason: We only sell books that promote positive character development, where children encounter positive examples in their books. This example of telling a half-truth teaches children that lying may be permissible.

The Very Far North

  • Author: Dan BAR-EL
  • Pass/Fail:
  • Page 41, 85, 89, 111: Mentions monsters and ghosts.
  • Page 113: One of the characters is named Magic.
  • Reason: Monsters and ghosts are neither pure nor noble nor virtuous.

In Times of Rain and War

  • Author: Camron Wright
  • Pass/Fail:
  • Page 19: "There is an echoing darkness, " She added, "where you play a demon's waiting game to see if you can summon the strength never to blink as you wait for the light to return. Because if you blink, Clair – even once — then the fiend tears you apart and you've lost.
  • Reason: Children should not be exposed to the concept of a demon. According to the dictionary, a demon is:
  1. An evil spirit.
  2. A fallen angel or Satanic divinity, a false god.
  3. One's inner spirit or genius, a daimon.
  • Reason: Describing melancholy or anxiety as an inner demon that you are fighting is not biblical either. Teaches children the wrong concept of how to manage emotions and learn self-control.

Willa and the Whale

  • Author: Chad Morris and Shelly Brown
  • Pass/Fail:
  • Page 19: Parents are divorcing, and the character struggles to understand why.
  • Reason: We endeavor to sell books showing examples of joyous marriages and relationships. Conditioning a young child to learn about divorce is erroneous, and we want to avoid burdening a child with that concept for as long as possible.

The Bronze Bow

  • Author: Elizabeth George Spear
  • Pass/Fail:
  • Page 80: All I know is I hate the Romans. I want their blood. That is what I live for. It's all I've lived for since –. (Revenge theme)
  • Quote from the book: "Jesus smiled. You think that is impossible, don't you? Can't you see, Daniel, it is hate that is the enemy? Not men. Hate does not die with killing. It only springs up a hundredfold. The only thing stronger than hate is love."
  • Reason: The conversation in this book between Jesus and Daniel (the main character) is fictitious and made up. We don't want children to think that Jesus spoke with Daniel. Nothing can be added or subtracted from the Bible.

The War the Saved My Life

  • Author: Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
  • Pass/Fail:
  • Summary: The mother of the girl is a lesbian.
  • Reason: The Bible is clear on same-sex relationships/marriage. It's a sin. Marriage is between a man and a woman.

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind

  • Author: William Kamkwamba & Bryan Mealer
  • Pass/Fail:
  • Summary: The first chapter delves into the magic of the witch doctors and how the main character was afraid of the magic they may use against him.
  • Reason: One approach would be for the author to simply share details about witch doctors and their magic from a cultural perspective. However, he goes further, expressing his fear and providing detailed accounts of his encounters. We do not want children to learn about magic and witchcraft from that perspective.


Snow Treasure - Lines of Courage - Seaman: The Dog who Explored the West with Lewis & Clark - The Sign of the Beaver - Approved wholesome chapter books for kids - Big Sky Life Books
Approved wholesome chapter books from March.

Snow Treasure: The Classic Story of Courage and Adventure

  • Author: Marie McSwigan
  • Pass/Fail:
  • Summary: This is a fantastic story from WWII. Norwegian children moved over nine million dollars of gold on their sleds. And all this right under the noses of German soldiers. It will teach your (grand)children about courage, determination, and perseverance in the face of great danger and adversity.
  • Product link: Snow Treasure

Lines of Courage

  • Author: Jennifer A. Nielsen
  • Pass/Fail:
  • Summary: Describes events from the perspective of four children during WWI. The First World War was terrible, and each child describes their experience. Throughout the book, the author connects each story until all four main characters meet in a surprising turn of events. It will teach your (grand)children about diligence, courage, perseverance, compassion, kindness, and thankfulness.
  • Product link: Coming soon!

Seaman: The Dog Who Explored the West with Lewis & Clark

  • Author: Gail Langer Karwoski 
  • Pass/Fail:
  • Summary: A well-crafted chapter book about Seaman, the dog who accompanied Meriwether Lewis on his famous expedition from St. Louis to the Pacific Ocean in 1804. An accurate and well-researched account of the famous Lewis and Clark expedition from the perspective of Seaman. I enjoyed reading this page-turner because it puts the reader squarely in the middle of raging snowstorms, grizzly attacks, and trading with new Indian tribes in this epic journey that is part of American history.
  • Product link: Seaman: The Dog Who Explored the West with Lewis & Clark

The Sign of the Beaver

  • Author: Gail Langer Karwoski 
  • Pass/Fail:
  • Summary: Imagine you are Matt, a 13-year-old boy, and your father has asked you to stay and keep watch over the new homestead you built in the middle of the wilderness in Maine. It's the 1700s, and it will take months before your dad returns with your mother, sister, and baby brother. Dad left you a rifle to hunt for food and protect yourself. One of your chores includes tending to the cornfield. Then, one day, a stranger steals Matt's rifle. This is the story of a 13-year-old boy who befriends Indians and learns from them how to survive for almost six months on his own while waiting for the rest of his family to arrive. This book teaches self-reliance, patience, courage, and discipline.
  • Page 107: The Indian boy who teaches Matt to fish and hunt in the forest explains his spiritual beliefs to Matt. This is an opportunity to talk with your child and explain to them how Indians have different beliefs and how, throughout life, we will encounter people who hold different beliefs than what is stated in the Bible.
  • Product link: The Sign of the Beaver

The Puffin Keeper

  • Author: Michael Morpurgo 
  • Pass/Fail:
  • Page 18: Miss Duval (Miss Devil, to me under my breath). This description of the nanny is repeated numerous times.
  • Reason: This language use is inappropriate for young readers.

Ranger in Time: Journey: Journey through Ash and Smoke

  • Author: Kate Messner
  • Pass/Fail:
  • Page 57: Mentions Sleipnir and Odin, the god of wisdom and war.
  • Reason: We cannot assume a parent has had the time to teach their child the difference between God and Norse mythology (fables). We do not want to expose children to ancient mythologies unless they are a certain age and understand the difference. We leave the timing of that conversation to the parents.

One Amazing Elephant: A Story of Two Unlikely Friends

  • Author: Linda Oatman High
  • Pass/Fail:
  • Page 16: Describes how the elephant prevented the suicide of the main character's mother. There is no reason for a children's author to ever allude to suicide or describe suicide to children.
  • Page 47: Introduces the concept of a spiritual advisor and animal communicator. Children's books will fail our vetting process whenever an author mentions spiritual concepts that don't align with Biblical teachings.
  • Multiple pages: The main character (a little girl) observes numerous examples of poor parenting. We noted many behaviors in the book that would negatively affect a child's character development.

Betsy Tacy (Betsy-Tacy, 1)

  • Author: Maud Hart Lovelace
  • Pass/Fail:
  • Page 61: The author describes Heaven in a manner that will leave a child confused and unsure.
  • Reason: Any mention of Heaven in a chapter book must meet the description of Heaven as it is written in the Bible.

Summer Party (Part of Cobble Street Cousins)

  • Author: Cynthia Rylant
  • Pass/Fail:
  • Page 28: Mentions how the girls write down their fortunes.
  • Reason: We don't sell any chapter books with magic or practices related to magic or witchcraft.

The Finest Hours: The True Story of a Heroic Sea Rescue

  • Author: Michael J. Tougias & Casey Sherman
  • Pass/Fail:
  • Page 59: One of the characters in the book curses.
  • Reason: Cursing has no place in our day-to-day nor in the books our children read. Unfortunately, the author felt inclined to add cursing to this otherwise great story of courage and determination. We will look for another chapter book that captures this story wholesomely.