Several years ago in our homeschool journey, all three of my children were studying ancient history together. To go along with the studies, there were several books that we used as read-alouds; reading together these fictional stories written in the time frame and setting of the historical era that we were studying helped the kids to really get the feel of life in that time period.
This book, Shepherd, Potter, Spy--and the Star Namer, which is produced by Peggy Consolver - Author, is a book which I think would have fit very nicely in as another read-aloud with those studies of ancient/Bible times. It is the story of the Gibeonites (are you familiar with their story? Check it out in the Bible in the book of Joshua chapters 9 and 10). The main character of the story, Keshub, is a young teen whose family members are potters in Gibeon. The Amorites are their enemies, as are a newly-learned of people, the Hebrews, who appear to be taking over the land of Canaan.
Some of the events that are covered in the story are the conquering of Jericho, the story of Achan, the fight at Ai, and others. Of course, the deception of the Gibeonites, which you are sort of awaiting throughout the entire book, is kind of a turning point in the story.
Though the story is fiction, much of the historical and geographical setting has been deeply researched and is related in great detail by the very knowledgeable author. It gives the reader more of a comprehensive feel of the society/setting of the times of Moses and Joshua and the Hebrews entering the Promised Land. The author actually has personal experience in this land (see an article in which she discusses this as well as her book here.)
So...what did I think of it? I think that if it were used as a read-aloud in conjunction with a study of ancient times it would be a very helpful addition to a curriculum. As just a plain old book to read for "fun" I found it a bit dry and long, something that just kept going and going. The build-up to the climax of the story takes a long time, but--though long--it does a good job of giving the reader an understanding of the times and family/society life of the time.
There was a little discussion guide at the end of the book with ten brief and pretty generic questions. The author also has a study guide available for purchase; a sample of this study guide along with some research links can be viewed on her website.
One thing that I REALLY liked in this book was a description of Sabbath, which was like a light-bulb moment for me. I feel like this one statement is the most important point in the book for me. On p.359, Keshub relates, "Joshua explained it to me that when we rest on the Sabbath we show our faith in God who provides everything we need. We depend on Him, not ourselves." Nice! Great explanation of Sabbath!
So, bottom line, as a read-aloud addition to an ancient history curriculum, I'd recommend Shepherd, Potter, Spy--and the Star Namer by Peggy Consolver.
For more reviews of this book, feel free to check out these!