Friday, April 29, 2011

Review: Pumpkin Seed Press

One of the workshops I attended at the Midwest Homeschool Convention this April was one by Shelley Noonan on mentoring your daughter.  A friend had listened to this workshop last year and recommended it as one I might like. As Ms. Noonan spoke from her heart about her past, her relationships with her daughters, and her advice for mothers like me, I became curious about the products of her company, Pumpkin Seed Press.  Fortunately for me, at the end of the workshop it was announced that product reviewers were being sought and interested individuals could visit the booth in the vendor hall.

I was graciously provided with several titles to review, detailed below, followed by my thoughts.

Beautiful Girlhood
Revised by Karen Andreola (original by Mabel Hale)

This title, originally published in the 1940s, is intended for girls ages 9-15.  It covers such topics as ambition, dreams, friendships, dress, a Christian life, the quiet hour, responsibility, and more.  There are 33 topics/chapters covered in this 205 page book.

The Companion Guide to Beautiful Girlhood
Shelley Noonon and Kimberly Zach

This guide is to be used as a mother/daughter study for girls ages 9-12.  It includes 32 weeks of character building lessons that correlate with the chapters in Beautiful Girlhood.  This study was developed as a result of precious "tea time" Ms. Noonan had with her daughter discussing Beautiful Girlhood.  Each chapter has three sections: Discussion Questions, Bible Activities/Applications, and Journal Topics. It is a flexible tool for a mother to guide her preteen daughter from child to woman.

Beyond Beautiful Girlhood Plus Companion Guide
Margaret Elizabeth Sangster, Revised & Expanded by Shelley Noonan

 This title, recommended for ages 13-20, is the next step after Beautiful Girlhood.  This book is actually only the first part of the 4-part Winsome Womanhood, written in 1900.  It has been expanded to include the following sections for each chapter:  Mother to Mother, Mother's Journal and Bible Study, Daughter's Journal and Bible Study, Projects, and Resources.  Over the course of 7-21 weeks, mother and daughter are to read the chapters, either aloud together or individually, and complete her portion of the companion.  Then they meet together on a regular basis to discuss the questions and share.  Using the Projects section, mother and daughter can decide on an activity or further explore the topic with additional resources.  In addition to an introduction to womanhood and character building, topics such as friendship, hobbies, reading material, education, and career as also covered. This title and companion is essentially a home economics guide with a Bible study.

The Three Weavers Plus Companion Guide
Robert and Shelley Noonan

Designed for a father to discuss purity with his daughter, this title is meant for use with girls ages 12-18 years.   The Three Weavers is actually an excerpt from a chapter of a 1903 book titled The Little Colonel by Annie Fellows Johnston. It is an allegory about the responsibility of a father to guide, guard, and train his daughter in the selection of suitor. The Companion Portion includes a discussion guide, a Bible study for the father, and an activity section.  There are six chapters and the study should take 7 weeks, with the last week to be set aside for a Purity Ceremony.

My Thoughts

The Three Weavers Plus Companion Guide was not a favorite of the four titles I reviewed. This was based more on a philosophy of approach, rather than a disagreement that parents have the responsibility to train both daughters and sons on purity.  I did enjoy the allegory of the story and would definitely have my daughter read that as a stand alone.  However, I don't really see my husband doing this type of study, discussion, and the related activities in this title, nor my daughter being at all receptive to this approach.  Instead, this topic is something we approach more naturally in normal conversations, and have since a young age. For those looking for this type of study, it may fit the bill. The directions are concise and the discussion questions clear, paving the way for a father to more easily approach this subject with his daughter.

At 14 years old, my daughter is beyond girlhood and plummeting, rather quickly, toward womanhood.  While many of the topics in Beautiful Girlhood are still relevant, it and the Companion Guide would have been better suited about two years ago.  Given that this title was originally written in the 1940s, there are portions, such as wearing a simple hair style (in the modesty chapter), that would cause definite eye rolls from a modern teen.  Depending on your teen, it may be better to pick and choose chapters that apply more to your daughter.  Or, perhaps it could just spur further discussion of how what seems outdated may or may not apply today. Regardless, this would be a worthwhile title for a mother and teen daughter to read together as a baseline for discussing matters of the heart and maturing as a young Christian woman. Preteens will get even more out of the chapters and discussions. Ms. Noonan has also provided a wonderful resource for Beautiful Girlhood with her blog,

For the younger set, The Companion Guide to Beautiful Girlhood is a lovely mother/daughter character Bible study that guides a preteen during a normally rocky time of change. It opens of the lines of communication and directs both mother and daughter to reflect on important life lessons that many don't learn until adulthood. What is nice about this study is that it is very flexible, and no matter how you go about it, you are bound to achieve the end result of developing a closer relationship with your daughter.

Though Beyond Beautiful Girlhood is based on a title written in 1900, I actually liked this title better than Beautiful Girlhood,written 40 years later. It is better suited for the issues my 14-year-old is now dealing with or will soon be approaching.  However, I also like the layout better with the companion and Bible study in the same book, and find the text more readable.  While this title also deals with character and issues of the heart, it also includes projects and resources that are more along the lines of a home economics course and/or preparation for adulthood, including career paths. One of the most surprising chapters for me was the one on higher education.  I fully expected to read an outdated chapter encouraging young women to stay in the home rather than pursue a college education or aspire to be a life-long learner through rich experiences. As with Beautiful Girlhood, this study is quite flexible and would make an excellent mother/daughter Bible study and tool for purposeful mentoring.

One of the things I keep reminding my daughter is that she needs to start setting aside some of her younger tomboy ways.  She's gregarious, and usually often loud.  She has many male friends, mostly because she finds them less complicated than her own kind, and her interests in the past have related more to boys than girls. Dare I say one of her favorite things to do is spar in her karate class! I have to admit, I love her spunk and spirit, though I know some would frown upon it as not being ladylike.  I disagree; I think she just needs some refining...and maybe I do too (smiles).  I want to keep all that spirit and spunk, full of life and boldness, but in a package that is distinctly different than "one of the guys".  As she and her peers, both male and female, mature, I can see we are well on our way to that distinction.

I wasn't sure how I'd like these guides. I have some old-fashioned ways, but with quite the modern flair.  However, after hearing Shelley Noonan speak from the heart with passion about her experiences and raising her daughters, I was drawn to learn more about these titles. I did not have this sort of purposeful training as a young woman and have been fumbling along in providing that for my daughter. While I tend to do my mentoring throughout the daily happenings of life, I can certainly see the value of a purposeful study for training and building of relationships and these titles have given me some thoughts on how to do that. Sipping tea from pretty cups and eating scones is not my style nor my daughter's, but there is no reason why some of these same discussions can't take place with a Starbucks and a muffin, no? There is something to glean from the Beautiful Girlhood and Beyond Beautiful Girlhood titles for all mothers to help guide a daughter into the woman she is to become.  There may be a definite old-fashioned tone in the titles, but it sure beats some of the modern titles I've seen that supposedly are meant to direct young women!

Whether you have sons or daughters (or both), Pumpkin Seed Press has a variety of tools to assist you in Biblically training and mentoring your children. Visit their website at  Readers of this review may use promo code FREESH to receive free shipping on all orders over $50.

Disclaimer: I was provided the product free of charge in exchange for my honest review. I have received no other compensation. I strive to give a balanced overview of each product, detailing my opinion of both pros and cons and how the product worked for my family. What works for one family may not work for another. I encourage you to read other reviews and research sufficiently to determine if any product will be a benefit to your homeschool.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You've done a great job with your review! I love the "series" and enjoyed listening to Mrs. Noonan at the Indy conference a few years ago.