Herald Press republishes Rachel and Reuben of popular series

June 10, 2015

News release

Books 3 and 4 of Ellie’s People series released with new covers, textual updates

HARRISONBURG, Va., and KITCHENER, Ontario—Mary Christner Borntrager first published the Ellie’s People series of novels in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Herald Press is republishing most books in the series, and released books 3 and 4, Rachel and Reuben, this spring.

The Ellie’s People series chronicles the family and friends of the protagonist of book 1, Ellie Maust, across several generations. While fictional, the series focuses on real issues young people face within the context of an Amish life. Books from the series have sold over half a million copies.

In book 3, Rachel feels drawn to the Amish community, despite her parents having left that Rachelway of life before she was born. Rachel must decide whether to discard her dreams of becoming Amish or to follow what seems to be God’s will by joining them, though it could mean facing ridicule from her siblings and friends.

ReubenBook 4 focuses on an Amish boy named Reuben. Though he tries to do the right thing and loves the Amish way of life, Reuben occasionally falls short of his parents’ expectations, especially when egged on by his peers. This pattern leads to tragedy when, on a dare, Reuben tries to prove how fast a new horse can run.

The books are written for readers 10 years and up. The stories remain the same, but the language has been updated for today’s reader and the covers have been redesigned.

Growing up Amish near Plain City, Ohio, influenced Borntrager’s writing, and her work has been noted for its accurate descriptions of Amish life.


Author Mary Christner Borntrager signing books.

Suzanne Woods Fisher, coauthor of The Adventures of Lily Lapp series, says of Borntrager’s work, “This authentic series has much to offer readers about the ups and downs of growing up plain. A great choice for a family read-aloud.”

Book 1 of the series, Ellie, was republished in August 2014. Books 5 and 6 of the series, Polly and Andy, will be released later this year.

Rachel and Reuben are available for $7.99 USD/$8.79 CAD each from MennoMedia at 800-245-7894 or www.MennoMedia.org, as well as at bookstores.

MennoMedia Staff
High resolution photo available upon request.

For more on Mary Christner Borntrager read our two earlier blog posts on the author.

For more information
Melodie Davis
News manager


Amish Christmas Traditions – Step Inside an Amish Household

Guest Post by Lovina Eicher; with Sour Cream Cut-Out Cookies Recipe

We are delighted to share these reflections by Lovina Eicher, popular columnist and cookbook author, who has been writing Lovina’s Amish Kitchen syndicated newspaper column for us since July, 2014. Enjoy! And a blessed, peaceful, and simpler Christmas from your friends at MennoMedia.

DSC_0845-001 (3)

Christmas Day is only days away. Daughter Lovina, 10, and son, Kevin, 9, are keeping track of exactly how many days. Every morning they mark off another day on the calendar. Oh, to be so young and carefree, with only worries such as how many days there are until Christmas!

Lovina and Kevin will both be in the elementary school Christmas program on Thursday evening. Next year Lovina will be a fifth grader and in middle school. This is her last Christmas program and Kevin has only next year—unbelievable! My husband Joe and I used to sit in the audience with the little ones while our older children were in the program. Now the six oldest children are back in the audience sitting with us, and our two youngest children are in the program.

On Friday the school will only have a half day of school. Lovina and Kevin’s classes are having a gift exchange. Kevin is so worried that he doesn’t have his gift wrapped yet. I want to make snacks for their party, and he reminds me every evening not to forget.

We were disappointed to hear that our children’s bus driver, Rich, has quit driving the bus route. He was a great bus driver to our children for almost eleven years. Daughter Loretta, 14, with her handicap needs more time to walk out to the bus and to get up the steps. Rich was always very patient and caring. So far they have had only a substitute driver, but the children are hoping the next bus driver will be like Rich was. We wish Rich well at his new job.

Joe will have his forty-sixth birthday on Monday, December 22. I want to have a birthday supper in his honor but am undecided yet which night to have it.

On Sunday the women in our church all decided what each one of us would bring to the annual Christmas potluck. I plan to take a large roaster with a pasta casserole. The potluck will be after our next church services, which will be on Dec. 28.

Joe and I will have our family Christmas on Christmas Day. The children usually want to open their presents before they eat, so we usually end up having a brunch. May we always remember the true meaning of Christmas. Jesus is the reason for the season!

I wish all of you readers a joyous Christmas that brings blessings of peace and hope now and through the coming year 2015. May each of you stay healthy and enjoy being with family and friends through the holiday season. And most importantly, let us thank our Heavenly Father for bringing Jesus our Savior into the world so that our sins can be forgiven. Blessed wishes to all!

Here is a favorite recipe for sour cream cut-out cookies. We like this recipe to make Christmas cookies.

ChristmasCutouts ChristmasCookies

Sour Cream Cut-Out Cookies

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 large eggs, beaten
1 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons vanilla
3 1/2–4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda


1/3 cup shortening
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 cups powdered sugar, divided
1/2 cup milk
food coloring (optional)
colored sprinkles (optional)
chocolate chips (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly grease a baking sheet. Cream the butter and sugar together in a large bowl. Stir in the eggs, sour cream and vanilla. Combine the flour, baking powder and baking soda in a medium bowl, and stir with a whisk to blend. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, and stir until it forms soft but firm dough. Roll the dough out to a 1/2-inch thickness on a floured surface. Use your favorite cookie cutters to cut out the dough. Place the shapes on the prepared pan.

Bake until golden brown around the edges, about 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool on the pan for 5 minutes. Then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

To make the frosting: Cream the shortening, vanilla and 1 cup powdered sugar. Gradually add the milk and the rest of the powdered sugar, beating constantly. More powdered sugar can be added to make a thicker icing. Food coloring can also be added. Spread the frosting on the cooled cookies. Decorate with colored sprinkles or chocolate chips if desired.

Lovina Eicher is an Old Order Amish writer, cook, wife and mother of eight. Formerly writing as The Amish Cook, Eicher inherited that column from her mother, Elizabeth Coblentz, who wrote from 1991 to 2002. Readers can contact Eicher at PO Box 1689, South Holland, IL 60473 (please include a self-addressed stamped envelope for a reply) or at LovinasAmishKitchen@MennoMedia.org.


If you know of a newspaper who might enjoy Lovina’s weekly recipes and slice of life from inside an Amish home, let us know!
 Contact editor@lovinasamishkitchen.com


A show fort Lovina’s children made!

Amish Author Loren Beachy Answers Your Questions

Loren Beachy Answers Your Questions (Part 1)

We [Amish America] got your questions over to Loren last week, and on Friday I got a fax back from him.

“This is what I’ve got so far,” Loren writes. “I plan to give the other questions some attention, too.” You’ll find about a dozen-and-a-half responses below. I’ll get the rest up [at AmishAmerica.com when I get them in from Loren. Until then, I hope you enjoy. — Erik Wesner

[Editor’s note: Mistakes in spelling/usage etc. from readers are left in.]


Loren Answers Your Questions

Trish in Indiana: Sometimes, I wonder what it must be like to be so “visible” to the community around you, and to know that there are tourists who actually travel from miles around to see Amish people.

Can you tell me if you believe many Amish feel a “burden” of responsibility at being so identifiable to the public?

Thanks, Trish. Jesus calls us to be a “city on a hill”. Yes, that’s a burden, but an opportunity, as well. We are conscious of the scrutiny you mentioned (we even hear it in sermons occasionally), and it is probably good for us.

Bill Rushby: What don’t you like about being Old Order Amish? (Please forgive the impertinent question!) 

Nothing major comes to mind. You’re forgiven, go and sin no more.

Slightly-Handled-Order-Man: We’ve read through different Amish America posts that the farm life is not as lucrative as it once was for many Amish (and non-Amish alike) and that many Amish people seek out careers outside of the home / farm, for instance the biographical information provided for your book states that you are both a school teacher and an auctioneer in addition to author and columnist. Acknowledging that, have you ever found resistance among your community toward your career paths as perceived to be immodest, very much unconventional or against community rules, or perhaps just against the personal opinions of other people?

Amish communities across America vary widely in how conservative we choose to be. In more conservative communities my auctioneer career would not work. In our community, as in most large communities, it is accepted. I have encountered very little resistance and much encouragement from my community members in my careers.

Al in KY: Two questions:

How many Amish auctioneers are there in the U.S.?

Are there other training schools (like Reppert Auction school) for
other occupations that are OK with Amish districts for Amish men and women to attend?

Lots. Probably hundreds.

My dad attended a farrier school when he was young. There are probably others, like tax clinics for bookkeepers and so forth, though it’s not exceedingly common for Amish to go.

Kim Shinn: This sounds like a very unique book to be written by an Old Order Amish gentleman…can’t wait to partake in the humor! I am interested in knowing what percentage of the teachers are male, as Loren is, compared to the customary young females that are teachers. 

Thank you, Kim. In the past decade or so, the percentage of male teachers in our community has risen to perhaps 20 percent (my guess). In Pennsylvania, there are almost no male teachers.

HDL: As a school teacher, are you concerned with the federal government interfering with what and how you teach?

Not yet.

Theresa H: We have Amish friends in New York and one of their boys wants to be an Auctioneer when he grows up. Is their any books that we could get for him to read about Auctioneering?

Sorry, I don’t know of any.

lincolnlady1121: I would love to read your book. Seeing you are a bachelor I was wondering if there was a certain age that Amish men and women are expected to be married by? Are there many Amish who remain single all their life? If you were too marry, could you retain your job as a teacher or would you have to get another occupation? 


Not really, though I think the average is something like 22 years old for men and 20 for the ladies. There are some who remain single–I’m going to guess between 5 and 10 percent.

I could keep my job as a teacher, though some men quit upon marrying because of financial considerations.

tjk: I was wondering how far you travel for auctions, and is this your first book?


The rest of AmishAmerica’s blog post of Loren Beachy’s great and fun answers to questions that inquiring minds want to know can be found here.


[Editor’s note: Feel free to ask your local bookstore to order or carry Chasing the Amish Dream, or you can buy it at our store, here, for just $12.99.]


If you’d like to know how our designer came up with cover design, check this blog post from Merrill Miller. And no, the man running behind the buggy is not actually Loren!