june’s book gems

Jun 11, 2013 by

Ack! I still haven’t posted about Annesley’s first lost tooth, our hike at Cress Creek, or our swimming adventure and now it is time for me to be off again. Tomorrow I am taking Blythe to Present Yourself, a class on learning impactful public speaking and mastering one’s body language. She earned a free ticket back in November by writing an awesome essay about her mission in life.

Before I go though, I wanted to share a few of our newest book finds!

The Serpent Came To Gloucester is so fun! The entire book is written as a poem and reading it out loud to Fisher this morning was a treat. I could read it all day! It is a long, meandering poem told from the perspective of a little boy who wants the sea serpent to live and frolic while his fellow townsfolk hunted it across the sea. Fisher identified immediately with the little boy and kept hoping the sea serpent would escape.

By the way, after his itsy-bitsy snake he adopted at Swim Camp escaped, he found a new one in our yard a few days ago. It is about five times as big and he loves it with all his bug-loving heart. We even found him sleeping with it in his sleeping bag! Thank goodness he was outside! I don’t think this boy is scared of any creature out there. He is sure he can tame them and make them his friend.

We are huge Anno fans over here and Anno’s Alphabet is one of our latest delights. If you are looking for a new spin on the old alphabet book, here are some we are reading with Annes right now. The City ABC Book is full of pictures of big city objects that have letter shapes in them. It is super fun to see my little one’s eyes light up when they spot the elusive letters. ABC Bunny is a treasure from 1933! It looks just like a vintage book should and is written in a sing-songy prose that is quite lovely. My children love the nature pictures and I love the unique story they tell.

Last but not least, 13 Words by Lemony Snicket is a gem. I am not a Series of Unfortunate Events fan, but The Conductor is Dead and now 13 Words has made me rethink my first impression of this author. This book is built on the foundation of thirteen words (bird, despondent, cake, dog, busy, convertible, goat, hat, haberdashy, scarlet, baby, panache, and mezzo-soprano) and the magic is in how they are brought together to develop an entire story. The vocabulary and humor are simply delectable!

As for our family read-aloud we are still plugging away on Freckles. Papa, Mama, Blythe, and Fisher are loving it. Keziah and Annes, not so much. I am on the lookout for our next read-aloud. Please share your suggestions for a great story sure to be loved by children from 17 – 5.

Richard and I are on a World War II kick. I am reading The Longest Day and have to force myself to stop reading and get some sleep each night. The story of D-Day has always fascinated me and this collection of eyewitness accounts is superb. If you have any interest in WWII, pick this one up! Richard is reading Unexplained Mysteries of World War II and is always surprising me with amazing anecdotes and little-known facts.

I think I need to hook up a hammock so I can spend the hot afternoons lazing around in the shade of my yard reading a book and napping. That, my friends, is something I dream of often – I think it is time to make it happen.

Happy Reading!

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narration with peter spier

May 14, 2013 by

My Annesley cracks me up. She is so stinkin’ hilarious. Yesterday I had to make a DI run to dump off the stuff from the garage clean-out on Saturday (Did I tell you I cleaned the garage out? Well, yes, I did. It was a long, filthy day, but now we can walk through there without breaking a leg.) Since I was going into town, I decided I might as well return the huge pile of library books that were due last Friday and pay my $26 fine so our renewal and checkout privileges would be restored.

I was tempted by a few books and just had to bring them home for my children. One of them was Rain by Peter Sprier. I llllooovvveee Peter Sprier’s other books, Noah’s Ark and People and decided Annesley would love Rain. Peter’s books are illustrations only – there are no words. Last night I showed it to Annesley and asked her if she would like to tell me the story. She was so excited and pored over the book until bedtime. This morning she asked me if I was ready for her story. I quickly hit record on the iPad (she didn’t know what I was doing) and she proceeded to tell me her creation for the next ten minutes. She told her story in a rhyming, sing-songy voice, but her words didn’t rhyme at all. She repeated the phrase “Oh, No! What will we do?” on almost every page. She talked about all the animals and the umbrella and the brother and sister and how the sister had to protect her brother because she was six and he was four. Her whole story cracked me up, but I was able to keep a straight face and listen while she turned the pages. When she finished her adventurous narration, I hit play and her face lit up as she realized she had been recorded. She listened to her story and giggled the whole time saying things like “Did I really say that?” and “That was FUNNY!”

I love learning with my children. I love being part of their discoveries and creations. I especially love sharing books with them while we snuggle up together.

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some recent book treasures

May 9, 2013 by

some recent book treasures

My mom recently surprised Fisher with There Was A Coyote Who Swallowed A Flea and he can’t put it down. He reads it over and over and giggles the whole time. It is written in the same style as There Was An Old Woman Who Swallowed A Fly, but it is much more hilarious. Fisher’s favorite parts are when the coyote swallows the cactus…sideways…and when he swallows the moon. Every single time he gets to those pages he curls up in a ball and shakes uncontrollably in fits of laughter.

I taught a class this semester on Jewish Festivals and loved sharing my passion for all things Jewish-y. I checked out gobs of books from the library and found a few gems. Jewish Fairy Tale Feasts: A Literary Cookbook is SO fun. Not only are the stories charming, the illustrations are delightful and the recipes look delicious.

The book is constructed to share a folk tale type of story and then teach how to make one of the traditional festival foods, like challah, hamantaschen, latkes, or noodle kugel. I think any family interested in different cultures would swoon over this book. I can’t wait to buy it for myself!

We had a road trip last week and listened to The Wonderful Wizard of Oz with Anne Hathaway reading. Oh my. What a delight. Her voices for each character were phenomenal and we loved it so much we listened to it two times all the way through! I guess my little ones are ready for a journey into Oz. The last time I visited was when Blythe was about six and we read all the Oz books over the course of a year. Here is a really fun YouTube video of Anne discussing this performance…so fun to see her reading the story!

I am currently reading Frankenstein for my colloquia group. My dear friend, Kate, recommended it to me several years ago and I am finally taking her up on the suggestion and having my whole discussion group read it. I thought I knew the story, but I totally didn’t. It is SO much more thought provoking than I ever imagined. I cannot stop thinking about creation and my responsibilities as a creator, treating people as children of God vs. treating them as irritants or even worse as monsters, the power of the atonement to make things right, judging a person by their outward appearance, and good vs. evil.

What are you reading right now?

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potw: windy nights

Apr 9, 2013 by

Oy, the wind. It has been blowing and gusting and wheezing. I heard it blew the power right out a little bit south of us and it is still shaking our trees and rattling our home more than 24 hours after it started. In honor of these gusts, we are memorizing Mr. Stevenson’s ode to the man in wind.

Windy Nights

by Robert Louis Stevenson

Whenver the moon and stars are set,
Whenever the wind is high,
All night long in the dark and wet,
A man goes riding by.
Late in the night when the fires are out,
Why does he gallop and gallop about?

Whenever the trees are crying aloud,
And ships are tossed at sea,
By, on the highway, low and loud,
By at the gallop goes he.
By at the gallop he goes, and then
By he comes back at the gallop again.

Does the wind sound like a horse to you?

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potw: cats

Apr 1, 2013 by

We started a new poem today. We haven’t done very many poems these last several months, but I decided to pull out our new poetry book, The Barefoot Book of Classic Poems, and let Keziah select a poem for us to memorize. Having a poem to memorize all together brings some fun and unity to our weeks. Everyone is learning different things, doing different projects, and a weekly poem for each of us to learn gives us one thing to all learn together. It also brings some beauty into my soul…and today I need all the beauty I can get.

By the way, the Barefoot Book of Classic Poems is oh, so lovely. I am love with the illustrations, the text layout, and the wide variety of poems. We have a lot of wonderful poetry books and this one is one of my favorites. I am so glad I got it on Jessica’s book co-op last fall and now that we have pulled it out of our secret box of book surprises, I can’t wait to delve into it every week!

Cats

by Eleanor Farjeon

Cats sleep
Anywhere,
Any table,
Any chair,
Top of piano,
Window-ledge,
In the middle,
On the edge,
Open drawer,
Empty shoe,
Anybody’s
Lap will do.
Fitted in a
Cardboard box,
In a cupboard
With your frocks –
Anywhere.
They don’t care!
Cats sleep
Anywhere.

Isn’t that cute? We used to have a cat like that. Her name was Sarah and we got when Blythe was about six. She gave us many litters of kittens and loved on that girl more than I thought possible. She died about 18 months ago and Blythe’s poor heart still hasn’t recovered.

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book bonanza: bear feels sick

Mar 12, 2013 by

 

We love the entire Karma Wilson line-up of books, especially the Bear books. Today we read Bear Feels Sick for the first time and thoroughly enjoyed the whole thing. Karma writes in a wonderful, rhyming cadence that has children shouting out the last word of each line as soon as they figure out the rhyming pattern. In Bear Feels Sick, the story of Bear and his friends continues, this time with all of his forest playmates taking care of him while he has the sniffles and chills. They gather herbs, stoke the fire, wrap him up, and pat him down. Finally Bear feels better and is ready to play, but wouldn’t you know it, his faithful nurses start sneezing and now it is his turn to nurse them back to health. If you haven’t already read Bear Snores On and Bear Feels Scared make sure you check them all out as the whole set of books is adorable.

Other Karma Wilson favorites are A Frog In The Bog and Mortimer’s First Garden.

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winnie-the-pooh

Feb 18, 2013 by

Fisher has been asking me to read him Winnie-The-Pooh for quite a while now. I have never read Winnie-The-Pooh and know very little about it, but he has been looking at our big, blue, beautiful treasury and has decided he must know all about this little bear.

We started it last week and while I still don’t quite understand the fascination with this story, I will keep reading it to him because he is loving it. It has sat on our shelf for years and years and this is the first time one of our children have been interested in it. What about you? Are you a Pooh fan? If so, why?

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fiar: down down the mountain

Sep 19, 2012 by

What a sweet story! Hette and Hank want some shoes, some special shoes that go creaky-squeaky-creaky-squeaky, but Papa and Mama say there is not one single cent to buy shoes. They don’t give up though and ask Grandma who tells them to plant and grow turnips and then sell them down the mountain in the village.

The two children work hard all summer and grow the biggest turnips anyone has ever seen. At harvest time they make the long journey to the village. Along the way they run into people who are hungry and need some of their turnips. They end up giving all of them away except for one giant turnip. Now they can’t buy their special shoes! Hette and Hank are determined and find another way.

I love the gumption of these two kids and how they are willing to work hard for their dreams. The illustrations are top notch and make the story come alive. I love that my children are learning how much they have and what it has been like living in other time periods and in other places. Such a wonderful story of family life, courage, and hard work!

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oxes and meese

Sep 17, 2012 by

I am working on cleaning out my email box (started with 25,000+ emails) in an attempt to save my computer from dying and I found this hilarious poem on the crazy English language. I can’t wait to read it to Blythe and Keziah – they will die laughing!

ONLY THE ENGLISH COULD HAVE INVENTED THIS LANGUAGE

We’ll begin with a box, and the plural is boxes,
But the plural of ox becomes oxen, not oxes.
One fowl is a goose, but two are called geese,
Yet the plural of moose should never be meese.
You may find a lone mouse or a nest full of mice,
Yet the plural of house is houses, not hice.

If the plural of man is always called men,
Then shouldn’t the plural of pan be called pen?
If I speak of my foot and show you my feet,
And I give you a boot, would a pair be called beet?
If one is a tooth and a whole set are teeth,
Why shouldn’t the plural of booth be called beeth?

Then one may be that, and three would be those,
Yet hat in the plural would never be hose,
And the plural of cat is cats, not cose.
We speak of a brother and also of brethren,
But though we say mother, we never say methren.
Then the masculine pronouns are he, his and him,
But imagine the feminine: she, shis and shim!

Let’s face it – English is a crazy language.
There is no egg in eggplant nor ham in hamburger;
neither apple nor pine in pineapple.
English muffins weren’t invented in England.
We take English for granted, but if we explore its paradoxes,
we find that quicksand can work slowly, boxing rings are square,
and a guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor is it a pig.

And why is it that writers write but fingers don’t fing,
grocers don’t groce and hammers don’t ham?
Doesn’t it seem crazy that you can make amends but not one amend.
If you have a bunch of odds and ends
and get rid of all but one of them, what do you call it?

If teachers taught, why didn’t preachers praught?
If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat?
Sometimes I think all the folks who grew up speaking English
should be committed to an asylum for the verbally insane.

In what other language do people recite at a play and play at a recital?
We ship by truck but send cargo by ship.
We have noses that run and feet that smell.
We park in a driveway and drive in a parkway.
And how can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same,
while a wise man and a wise guy are opposites?

You have to marvel at the unique lunacy of a language
in which your house can burn up as it burns
down, in which you fill in a form by filling it out,
and in which an alarm goes off by going on.

And, in closing, if Father is Pop, how come Mother’s not Mop?

(I would like to add that if people from Poland are called Poles, then people from Holland should be Holes and the Germans, Germs.)

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