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Review: Henry Barrie: Vimy Ridge Survivor

Like many country boys in the early 1900s, Henry Barrie of Lanark was ready for adventure. His best friend Jimmie put it well, “Day after day, milking the cows, chopping wood, feeding the chickens, fetching the water and that is all I’m going to do the rest of my life.  Eventually, I’ll get married and show my kids the same thing as well. It would be nice to have a story.” So Henry, Jimmy, and many other young men left the eastern Ontario routine of winter, maple syrup, summer farm work, and turkey harvest, and went off to war together, eager to ‘do the right thing’ for many reasons.

They trained endlessly in Quebec and then, after an event of great significance on board the enormous SS Lapland, they continued their training in England.  It was boring, but as Henry told Jimmy, “I suspect drill is probably better than war.”

It was.

When Henry and Jimmy were unexpectedly separated at the front lines, Jimmy gave Henry a little diary so that they would be able to swap stories.  In hospital after his first injury, Henry began to use it reasoning that, “Maybe if I write this down it will help me to stop thinking about this.” He continued this diary, against regulations, when he went back to the trenches, creating a rare day-by-day account of World War 1 from the front lines.

Author Robert More took Henry’s diary and his letters home, weaving them together with historical research to write Henry Barrie: Vimy Ridge Survivor, a riveting 90-page story for children that will fascinate adults as well.

From Henry’s youthful eagerness to do the right thing while seeing a bit of the world, and his days in the trenches, to his recuperation from serious injury in England and his return to Lanark, this book shows what World War 1 was like.  Henry Barrie did not waste words; likewise the book itself is full of references to the trenches, going over the top, and injuries that are both powerful for adults yet suitable for children because of their brevity.  Robert More seamlessly inserted Henry’s diary entries into the story, explaining where necessary without over-emphasizing the terror.

For example, on the day that the Canadians took Vimy Ridge under the leadership of Sir Julien Byng, Henry simply wrote:

“April 9  Went over the top.  Took three lines of trenches.  Was a wet day.  Seen an airplane come down.”

Robert More filled in historical details, ending with, “…it was a day he would never speak of to anyone, ever.”

During the horrible final winter of the war when the cold was intense and letters scarce, Henry wrote, “Jesus really is my best friend now.  He is the only one who is with me every single day.”  This certainty of faith was central to Henry’s life and Robert More suggests that it was the reason he came back from the war essentially unchanged.

Although, like many of his day, Henry was intensely private even in his journal, it is evident that he was filled with longing for Nettie back home, love for his family, loyalty to his pals, especially Jimmy, and joy in occasionally attending church.

Henry Barrie:  Vimy Ridge Survivor is realistic but also optimistic.  Henry must have learned this attitude from his father who would thank God for ‘a fine day’ and his wife for delicious food even when the children would be complaining about having to eat porridge for supper yet again.  After interviews with his children, the author told me that  Henry himself later also used the phrase ‘a fine day’ when giving thanks each evening, and it shows up throughout the diary—not on the day they captured Vimy Ridge, when over half of his battalion died, but so often.  Even the day he was seriously injured was called ‘a fine day’ and when he later wrote his mother about it he said, “Jesus was definitely watching out for me.  Praise God!”  It is this positive outlook that makes this book suitable for children despite the terrible subject matter and that gives Henry’s story its unique strength.

In the world of children’s war books, Henry Barrie is a refreshing representation of reality.  Henry depended on God, and that is openly acknowledged in this book.  Traditional publishers liked the incredible story but wanted Robert More to omit references to Henry’s faith, as though belief in God did not matter in the life-and-death existence of World War 1. But God is not irrelevant, either in the trenches or in the rest of life, and Henry Barrie’s story is yet another example of this.

Even though I have emphasized the Christian aspects of the story in this review, Henry Barrie itself is very much an exciting tale of an ordinary young man who heads off to war with his pals and who, unlike many of them, survives.  It’s a good story, both gripping and moving, and the fact that is based on an actual diary gives it historical significance as well.

There are few godly history stories like Henry Barrie: Vimy Ridge Survivor, and we desperately need them.  Robert More has done us a great service by transforming Henry’s diary and letters into an exciting story suitable for children and fascinating for adults.  I highly recommend this inspiring book as we remember World War 1 this November.

The Henry Barrie website includes purchasing information,  a free children’s study guide (written by More’s grade four students), and a free devotional guide for adults.  Henry Barrie is also available on Kindle, but with different cover.


  • The cover photo of Henry Barrie is from World War 2 when he served again, not from World War 1 which is discussed in the book.
  • Unfortunately, as in most books from micro-publishers, a few typos were missed.

Related links:

They Shall Never Grow Old by Peter Jackson, released a few weeks ago in the UK but not yet in North America, shows life in World War 1 based on old films. I expect it will be an incredible accompaniment to Henry Barrie for older teens and adults.  For more information and the trailer, see the Imperial War Museum’s site which states, “Peter Jackson, best known for directing The Lord of the Rings trilogy, has created a new film using original footage from Imperial War Museums’ extensive archive, much of it previously unseen, alongside BBC and IWM interviews with servicemen who fought in the conflict.”

I Was a Spy! by Marthe McKenna (link to my review):  True personal account of a World War 1 Belgian spy that kept Winston Churchill up till 4 AM, although years earlier he had already passed on ‘the appreciation of his Majesty’ to the author for her espionage work.

High as the Heavens by Kate Breslin (link to my review):  A Christian novel based on Marthe McKenna’s story.

Leadership Lessons from Vimy Ridge by John Pellowe,  a free audio file of a dramatic production that discusses a different angle of World War 1 (or here, to arrange to listen to John Pellowe’ presentation in person, an memorable experience).

If you enjoyed this review, you might want to follow me on Google+, where I often mention helpful or interesting ideas, friend me on Facebook where I occasionally show up, or connect with me on GoodReads where I eventually share what I read. 

Disclosure: I received a review copy of this book from the author.

This article may be linked to Saturday Reviews, Booknificent Thursdays, 52 Books in 52 Weeks Challenge, Literacy Musings Monday, and The Book Nook  as well as to Inspire Me Monday, Raising Homemakers, Friendship Friday, Make My Saturday Sweet.

Fall Recipes: 15+ Ways to Enjoy or Preserve the Harvest

Every fall, I search my own blog for our favorite harvest recipes.  This year I decided to compile a list so you can enjoy them as well.  These are all favorites that we have used over and over, from salsa and sauerkraut to pumpkin slice, apple salad, soups, and Thanksgiving turkey.  I have included a few helpful fall kitchen tips, a favorite fall memory, and a bit of encouragement, too.

I was hoping to make all these recipes printable and to spruce up the pictures, but there is no time for that (we are still working on apples and tomatoes as well as the carrots, turnips, and kale that are still in the garden).  However, the recipes themselves are great, and that is what counts, and you can always print them out by copying and pasting into Word.

Apples Breton Style

Fall Recipes

Stress-Free Succulent Turkey

Turkey or Chicken Soup

Tasty, Easy, Frugal Ham

Broccoli Soup

Cauliflower Soup

Spicy Apple Salad

Apples Breton Style

Pumpkin Slice with Pie Options

The Simplest, Tastiest Butternut Squash Recipe and the Next Best

Butternut Squash Oven Fries

Barbequed Zucchini and Zucchini Chips

Cauliflower Soup

Preserving the Harvest


Salsa and Salsa Soup Stock

Freezing Peppers

Microwave Blanching for the Freezer, a Three Batch Process

Pickled Beans, Large and Small Batches

How to Pit Plums for Jams and Sauce

Preserving Basil

Making Sauerkraut

Fall Food Tips

Microwaving a Pumpkin

Shelled vs Unshelled Nuts:  Which are a Better Deal?

Harvesting and Homeschooling

Just for Fun

Today We Ate a Beet


And, if you need encouragement to just keep on picking the next vegetable, preserving the next batch of fruit, cooking the next meal, and doing the next thing…because all this enormous amount of effort seems so trivial in the grand scheme of things, please do read my post about Harvest, Health, and Thanksgiving.

May God bless us all as we use his gifts of health and harvest to his glory!

If you enjoyed this article, you might want to follow me on Google+, where I often mention helpful or interesting ideas, friend me on Facebook where I occasionally show up, or connect with me on GoodReads where I eventually share what I read. 

This article may be linked to Saturday Reviews, Booknificent Thursdays, 52 Books in 52 Weeks Challenge, Literacy Musings Monday, and The Book Nook  as well as to Inspire Me Monday, Raising Homemakers, Friendship Friday, Make My Saturday Sweet.

Review: No Christian Silence on Science by Margaret Helder

No Christian Silence on Science

Your teen is interested in science and, as a Christian parent, you worry about what an evolution-dominated university education will do to his or her faith. Many years ago, the father of a bright young girl named Margaret worried the same way, but he needn’t have. Now this Margaret, who has become Dr. Helder, is one of the most prominent women in creation science, and her recent book will help you and your teen.

After many years of writing, speaking, and lecturing—as well as raising six children and teaching science to homeschoolers from K-12—Dr. Helder has written a book that will inform, guide, and encourage young people interested in studying science. No Christian Silence on Science: Science from a Christian Perspective aims ‘to show that science, when critically evaluated, does not threaten a biblical understanding of how we came to be here.’

No Christian Silence on Science

Although this book is not written specifically for high school students, it can be used to teach teens who want to understand science from a biblical point of view and be able to talk about it wisely. This slim book covers a lot of ground; each of its five chapters is distinctly different, and some will be easier for teens than others, but all are worthwhile.

…To read more about the book itself, please see my complete review of No Christian Silence on Science on the Curriculum Choice.  For more discussion of the book, continue reading below.

Although Dr. Helder does not emphasize it explicitly, the key to her book and to all Christian scholarship is to realize that discoveries in the world God created will not contradict the Word he gave.  With that firm confidence, one is able to ask questions, to understand societal issues, and to deal with ethical issues in all disciplines.  Of course, it requires both Bible knowledge and a deeper knowledge of their fields than students currently have, but just knowing that this is a possibility can be an encouragement.  And learning some of these ideas while still in high school will begin to equip young people.

After studying high school biology a teen will, with effort, be able to understand much of the science in this book.  No Christian Silence on Science also discusses history and some philosophy, and as such is not an easy book.  In fact, since research level science is being discussed, the reader must fully expect to not understand everything, and rather learn to delight in what can be understood.  But that, too, is a common part of learning about God’s creation.  Lord willing, my girls will be studying this book after they finish Apologia’s Biology.

No Christian Silence on Science is a must-read resource for all Christian young people interested in science, whether they are in high school or university. It will remind them of the influence of prior beliefs, show them the ever-increasing problems with evolutionary theory both in science and in society, and equip them to challenge inaccurate scientific claims with grace and confidence.  It is a challenging book, but anyone planning to study science should learn to accept the fact that there will be things they will not be able to understand. Ideally, all older Christian teens and adults will read this book.

Although No Christian Silence on Science is not written for homeschoolers, it could be used in the homeschool as extra reading for a biology course, or in a Bible, apologetics, worldview, or career planning course.  It is a versatile book with many possible options and it could be one of the most worthwhile books your teens will ever study, because it will strengthen them to stand firm in their faith and even to be able to reach out to others.

…To read more about the book itself and for purchase information, see my complete review of No Christian Silence on Science on the Curriculum Choice.

…For some fascinating online science articles, ideal for homeschool science reading, see my list of Dr. Helder’s online articles.

If you enjoyed this article, you might want to follow me on Google+, where I often mention helpful or interesting ideas, friend me on Facebook where I am just a newbie, or connect with me on GoodReads where I, eventually, share what I read. 

Disclosure: I received a review copy of this book; my opinions and thoughts are my own and I am not compensated for them.

Harvest, Health, and Thanksgiving


We have been busy harvesting these weeks: raspberries, those delicious bits of goodness, as well as endless piles of tomatoes, a study full of apples, pails of sauerkraut fermenting on the counter, crispy fall salads, luscious melons, and so much more.

Now that I have better balance, doing all these things is more possible.  We are so thankful, not only for the food but also for the ability to harvest and preserve it!

We ask God for health and for food.  He gives them, but I’ve been realizing again how much he makes us work for them, and how the work is part of the answer to our prayers for health.  Yes, our garden is full of healthy food, but the planting, weeding, caring, picking, and preserving each contribute to health as well.  Sun, fresh air, gentle exercise, and the beauty and smells of growing plants are blessings as much as the harvest is, even though at times we see only the work.

This thanksgiving week, I give thanks for the food we were able to grow and for the work we were and are able to do for it.

I am also pondering how all this relates to the biblical command to work out our own salvation as I continue to work out my own health and our harvest.  Somehow the gift and the duty are so closely related that they are aspects of the same thing.

I pray that we all may see what God has given us to do and then do these things wisely and well, realizing that the work and duty themselves are a gift, not just a means to God’s gifts, and that without God’s care we would not have the ability to work, nor the work itself, nor its results.

So, let’s be thankful and let’s get working!  May God bless us all.

Related posts:

The Best is Yet to Come —for when it feels like there’s not much in your life to be thankful for.

Looking for Health:  Balance

Harvesting and Homeschooling

If you enjoyed article, you might want to follow me on Google+, where I mention helpful or interesting ideas, friend me on Facebook where I occasionally show up, or connect with me on GoodReads where I eventually share what I read. 

This article may be linked to Inspire Me Monday, Raising Homemakers, Friendship Friday, Make My Saturday Sweet.

Looking for Health: Balance

Very early one recent morning I took a little walk.  A fox bounded laboriously through the tall meadow grasses and I could hear the swish of each jump.  So did our dogs.  A fuzzy black and white caterpillar twisted its way through the lawn, and up above I heard the dry woosh of wings as a small skein of geese circled indecisively.

Other mornings I step into fog or watch the sunrise glint off a spider web that resonates in the breeze a vibrating drum in a physics textbook.

I have been able to go for such little walks for a few weeks now.  Before that, walking and standing took an enormous amount of physical and mental effort because I had balance issues.

Balance issues can be related to inner ear or even brain problems, but then they are often accompanied by dizziness and vertigo.  Since I’ve been taking regular, long-term supplements of vitamin B12 (see below) the dizziness and vertigo have almost completely disappeared, but I’ve still needed to hold onto things or people to stand for any length of time. I’ve regularly used shopping carts as walkers, even considering getting a real walker or cane for myself, and my family and friends have often steadied me as I walked short distances, although at times I was able to walk well myself.

But now I can regularly go walking, by myself, over uneven ground, in a straight line, completely effortlessly, and all it took was a person trained in neurokinetic therapy to discover and correct muscle imbalances that had developed over the years.  First she worked on the back and forth swaying that made standing a difficult task requiring conscious and sustained effort.  That correction exaggerated the side to side wandering that made it so difficult for me to walk in a straight line even while concentrating, but she fixed that as well, in just 10 (painful) minutes!

So now I can walk a straight line while thinking about other things and can stand effortlessly when chatting with my friends.  I also have more energy for everyday life now that the ‘simple’ tasks of standing and walking no longer take up so much of it.

How did these muscle imbalances develop?  Perhaps they began when I was seriously dizzy a lot of the time, or when I was too weak to walk much, or because I have been driving a lot (one of the imbalanced muscles is in my leg).  Who knows?

All I know is that God created bodies in an amazingly complex way.  Of the many things that can go wrong, some are easy to fix, and I am very grateful to have discovered this.

To do if you have balance issues: 

Obviously, see your doctor for a thorough check up.

If you are both unsteady and dizzy and suspect B12 deficiency (and the likelihood of this increases as one ages or if one has absorption issues such as celiac disease), it’s worth your while to ask your doctor to test your B12 level.  If your B12 level is low, then take B12 as a sublingual (dissolves under the tongue) tablet, being sure to buy the more effective methylcobalamin form.  (Not all doctors will tell you these details.)  If your B12 level is very low, you should ask for an injection or a series of injections.

If you are unsteady as you walk but not really dizzy, it might be worth your while to see a person who knows neurokinetic therapy.  These therapists are often chiropractors, massage therapists, etc. who have learned this relatively new technique.

If, however, you are unsteady due to a concussion, try to find a doctor who specializes in post-concussion syndrome who will likely refer you to an array of other specialists, depending on the nature of the damage.

If you stumble because the ground seems uneven although it isn’t (the disorienting feeling of the ground not being where it should be), this is worth mentioning to a physical therapist as well.

Miranda Esmonde-White mentions balance in her practical books Forever Painless and Aging Backwards, and Norman Doidge shares cutting edge research for extreme balance issues in The Brain’s Way of Healing.

If you are in eastern Ontario, I can pass on the name of the neurokinetic therapist who ‘rebalanced’ me as well as the name of a pediatric concussion specialist.

Disclaimer:  I am not a medical doctor of any kind and am just sharing what I learn as I try to regain my own health, things that might be worth looking into for anyone else for whom standing and walking are difficult due to balance issues.  I am sharing this information because it is not easy to find, and many doctors do not seem to know about it.  Yet these suggestions are safe, simple ways, supported by medical research, to get your life back.

If you enjoyed this article, you might want to follow me on Google+, where I often mention helpful or interesting ideas, friend me on Facebook where I occasionally show up, or connect with me on GoodReads where I eventually share what I read. 

This article may be linked to Saturday Reviews, Booknificent Thursdays, 52 Books in 52 Weeks Challenge, Literacy Musings Monday, and The Book Nook  as well as to Inspire Me Monday, Raising Homemakers, Friendship Friday, Make My Saturday Sweet.

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