Moby Dick

October 10, 2015 at 4:00 am (Education, Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , )

61YmF0KEKoL._SX444_BO1,204,203,200_We’ve all read Moby Dick – I think – unless you’re a very small child, like my child.  As a classical homeschool Mom, I like to expose my kiddo to classic literature early, even before she’s redy to read it for herself.  So, finds like Eric A. Kimmel’s picture book Moby Dick with paintings by artist Andrew Glass are gems.

My four year old had a lot to take in – the enormity of the whale, the importance of Ahab’s obsession, and why anyone would kill a sperm whale anyway.  This picture book has a neat educational page in the back regarding Melville and the ship Essex and how that true event played a role in the cultivation of the original novel.

The illustrations are gorgeous… we love paint work, MobyDick14-700x395as the kiddo considers herself a painter and has been mastering her technique since she was 15 months old.  (I vote to always give kids real paints and actual canvases, if you can.  It’s helped her to be much more adventurous in her artistic pursuits.

We can’t wait to read this one again and again, and hopefully, by the time she reads the novel, she’ll have these beautiful images so ingrained she’ll fall in love with Melville – despite the fact that it takes forever to even get to the whale.

Permalink Leave a Comment

Peter Pan 360 – How to Take a 5 Year Old on a Girls Night Out

October 5, 2015 at 3:03 pm (Education, Events) (, , , , , , , , )

Kiddo is turning 5 this month and my best friend won’t be here the day of, so Mommy, Tia, and the Nugget did a birthday Girls Night Out a tad bit early.

We started with reservations at Bucco di Beppo, at the kitchen table.  I thought the kiddo would be riveted by the concept of hanging out in the kitchen and watching food get made and processed through the expo line. In the future, she informed me, she wants to sit in the real restaurant.  She ate pepperoni pizza, toured the whole restaurant, and inspected the restrooms, with no idea that this adventure was not the main event of the evening.

We took an after dinner stroll through Party City where she declined a new Tinker Bell costume because she was fully satisfied with her old one.  Practical and not-as-indulgent-as-I-thought kid I’ve got.

Finally, in the parking lot of Peter Pan 360 – the plan was revealed.

“So, because I’m not going to be here for your birthday, I wanted to give you your present early? Do you want it.” (I’m definitely paraphrasing my best friend.  This quote should not hold up in court.

She nodded profusely, despite the fact that she had been insisting to me all morning that birthday surprises could NOT happen on a day that was not her birthday. “YOU HAVE TO DO SURPRISES FOR ME ON MY BIRTHDAY IF IT’S FOR MY BIRTHDAY.”  That is a direct quote, screaming caps and all, from my daughter just hours before. And should hold up in court.  It also included some foot stomping.  I’ve never seen someone so upset at the very idea of getting a present too early.

“Do you want to wear your Tinker Bell costume?” One of us asked.

She shook her head no, but as it dawned on her that I had packed it in the bag that was sitting in the car to her left she quickly changed her mind.

I do not have pictures of my adorable child donned in a bright green fairy costume as we attended Peter Pan because she was too cool for school and uninterested in photography last night.  But I’m ok with that, we actually  managed to be the people who were completely IN the moment all night, and I love that.

So what’s this magical Peter Pan performance surprise we took her to?

[T]he theater is the world’s first fully 360-degree projected backdrop for a live, theatrical performance with the largest surround CGI (computer-generated imagery) venue in the world. There are 12 projectors that deliver 10 million pixels on 15,000 square feet. 400 square miles of virtual London were rendered and it took 100 computers four weeks to create the Hi Resolution images. If a single computer had been used, it would have taken 8 years to render the images. – http://www.theblondeblogger.com

And it’s in a circus style pop-up tent!

My precocious darling spent the first 15 minutes of the show asking me how they got the pictures on the ceiling. I tried to explain the concept of a projector but – thankfully – the show was too loud for us to communicate effectively (which also meant we weren’t disturbing the rest of the audience).  I was able to pull up videos online when we got home and tell her about it then.

Once understanding the mechanics of the show was put off for later, she really got into the magic of it all.  Her great critique is that Tinker Bell wears pink instead of green and this bothered her.  She insisted they needed her to play Tink and asked to go on stage – a lot – because, after all, Peter Pan needed her.  (I thought the performing Tink was pretty darn cool.)

There’s a 20 minute intermission about an hour into the show.  Popcorn and drinks were purchased, restrooms were visited I was pleased to discover the portable restrooms were real flushies and a thousand times cleaner than I anticipated. A little disappointed that they ran out of coffee.

After the show, there was a line for a meet and greet with a few of the actors, but being that little girl is still not quite five and it was getting late, we skipped that bit of fun.

Should it come to town again, we would do a repeat adventure in a heartbeat.

https://www.facebook.com/PeterPan360Tour?fref=ts

Permalink Leave a Comment

An Education in Crabs

September 8, 2015 at 8:51 pm (Education) (, , , , , , , )

Not too long ago, I wrote an article for Money-Fax.com that featured this paragraph:

Hermit Crabs

Hermit crabs are fantastic little creatures. You might even have fond memories of fishing them out of the ocean yourself or keeping them in your elementary school classroom. Hermit crabs are popular, and with good reason. They are just about the least expensive terrarium dweller you can hold.

A small plastic container, a fish bowl, or an old tank you find at a garage sale – almost anything can serve as a hermit crab habitat. Fill the bottom with sand and rocks and place a tray of water and a few extra shells larger than the one the crab currently inhabits in the tank. Again, only $10 spent at your local Wal-Mart or pet store can set you up for life of the crab.

The crab itself will cost anywhere from $5 – $15 and their food will cost about $3 per can. While that may sound like a lot for a hermit crab, these cans last quite awhile. All in all, you could easily have a hermit crab join your family for an initial cost of $20 – $40, depending on what you choose to purchase. – http://money-fax.com/4-inexpensive-family-pet-ideas/

A few weeks ago, however, we went to the beach and caught ourselves a few hermit crabs with our four year old.  Remembering my own article, I thought, we should keep these – it would be a fun starter pet and kiddo has already been begging for a new pet.  (We have two dogs, but you know kids, they want tiny creatures to pester and nurture.)

So I headed up to the gift shop and bought a hermit crab kit. $25.  It came with a free crab, but I told the lady at the counter that we had two downstairs under the dock.

“Oh, those are saltwater.  They’ll die if you take them home and don’t have a saltwater aquarium.  You should probably take the free one anyway and let those ones go.  These are freshwater brought from Florida.”

“Oh, ok.”

Then, she informed me that it’s best to buy an extra one.  They are community creatures.

“Sure, let’s do it.  We’ll let the other two go and take these two home.”

So, I took the little plastic container downstairs, full of gravel, a shell, a sponge, and food – plus two tiny crabs.house_hermit_crab

We explained to kiddo that the others needed to be free and she had no problem with that, after all, we were taking these fun ones home and she understood that the others had come from the ocean and these two from a shop.  She asked about extra shells, because we’ve read Eric Carle’s Hermit Crab book a thousand times.

We set the crabs up in the house when we got home from the beach that day and made plans to do some research and visit the pet store within the week.  We knew the plastic container was too small for our comfort – but we thought we were just being those people who spoil their pets.  I had no idea. No. Idea.

Nerd that I am, naturally, I bought a book.  I was a little disappointed that it was a “for dummies” title, 51MS-sTSuJL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_because I’m a book snob and they seem so over marketed and written – well – for dummies.  BUT, they are actually great starting points for any kind of research on anything.  They are simplistic, concise, and give you the terms you need to dive deeper.  Terms you wouldn’t know to look up otherwise.  Like wikipedia, but more reliable, except the links aren’t necessarily up to date.

So it turns out, hermit crabs ARE community creatures.  In the wild they live with hundreds of other crabs.  It also turns out that the smallest container you want for these guys is a ten gallon tank for two small crabs.  Cheap guru that I am, I could have gotten one from a garage sale, but I didn’t.  I gave my sister our unused 20 gallon tank when we moved and my niece’s and nephews now have a tiny pet turtle.  I went the lazy route and bought a brand new ten gallon at PetsMart.  $30. (If you’re keeping track – remember my article peaked at a $40 expense to keep a crab alive.  So far in this story we’re at $55 pre-tax.)

EVOLUTION OF A CRABITAT

I bought more gravel to cover the bottom of the tank. $10.  I bought a crab shack because they need a place to hide. $8. A fake plant my daughter loved to make “it all so beautiful.” $4 (Actually, she paid for that one.) I was feeling pretty good about this terrarium.  Really good.

Then, I served pinterest.  I know.  Pinterest!

It led me to a lot of websites, blogs, and hermit crab advocates.  I discovered that I wasnP1030909‘t supposed to have gravel in the tank. They don’t like gravel.  They like soil substrate.  They like to bury themselves.  Not just like, they NEED.  Hermit crabs molt and to do so, you need 6 inches of soil for them to dive into.  Also, they’re climbers.  They want tree limbs.  Also, each crab needs its own hiding place, so one crab shack won’t cut it.  They want to live together but need their own bedrooms.  Who knew?

Also, they need a fresh water pool and a salt water pool.  So you need two kinds of water conditioners.  And two kinds of pools. And a mister to keep their climate humid enough because they have evolved gills – they can’t breathe in dry air.

By this time, I lost track of itemizing – but one trip to PetCo later and I’d spent another $70 or so.  While I was there, I also bought a wheat-germ plant that they had for sale for cats, but is actually good for crabs, which the workers didn’t know, I had just discovered this in all my internet surfing and wild book reading at the library.

I still need a heater, but I can’t afford one at the moment.  We’re in Texas, so I set the tank outside if I think they’re getting too cold – but come winter, these guys are having another $50-$100 spent on them.

On the plus side: I think they’ll live.  In captivity – because we con people into $25 habitats that slowly kill the crab – they live 3 months to 3 years.  In the wild, they live up to 30 years.  We’re shooting for a longer lifespan here.  We’re also using this as an educational project… we’re building an ecosystem.  Soon, we’ll add rolly pollies (they help keep the terrarium clean and co-habitate well with the hermies… again, who knew?)

P1030904

(Additional notes: hermit crabs can eat from your kitchen and like a wide variety of things in their diet that include meat, vegetables, and fruits.  We have begun a notebook compiling these lists.  One of ours has already changed shells twice – because he’s indecisive, not because he’s growing so much – and apparently this is common so it’s good to have not just one or two shells but a wide variety of empties at their disposal.)

Permalink Leave a Comment

Fibonacci

May 8, 2015 at 11:39 pm (Education, Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Unknown-1Title: The Man of Numbers

Author: Keith Devlin, PhD

Publisher: Walker & Company

Genre: Math History

Length: 183 pages

Swirl by Swirl – a child’s picture book – is where it started.  We checked it out from the library once, then twice, and finally again and again.  It’s about the Fibonacci sequence found in so many spirals in our natural world.  We love it.  Of course, it has a bit in the back about the Fibonacci sequence and the math involved, and that’s cool too, something to instill in young minds so that theP1000952re is familiarity with the topic before they begin Algebra in their tweens.

Of course, at some point I picked up The Pythagorean Theorem, and there Posamatier mentions Ptolemy and his great work The Algamest as well as Fibonacci’s Liber Abaci. Naturally, I requested these at my local library.  “There’s a book about Fibonacci called The Man of Numbers that’s here if you want to read that while you wait for the others to come in,” she told me.  Yes, yes, I would like to read that while I wait for the others.

I checked it out.

I ended up starting and finishing it, however, in one sitting while my kiddo made use of the sixty minute literacy computer session I allow her if she’s been good prior to coming to the library that day.  It was good.  Quick.  Informative.  And of course, just made me want Liber Abaci even more.

Devlin gives you all the necessary history in the concise nature of a mathematician.  He even laments how most mathematicians are concerned about the math and the theorems and not necessarily who originally came up with them or their history, causing much of the history surrounding mathematical ideas to be lost or misconstrued.  Who cares? It’s about the numbers.

I care.  Historians care.  We don’t care as much about the numbers as we do about the theory, the philosophy… we care about math’s heritage more than the practice of being all mathy.  At least that’s how I feel.  I’ll leave number crunching to my husband and daughter – I’ll just be able to tell them who came up with that particular way to crunch.

With all this caring comes the discovery that Fibonacci’s name wasn’t even Fibonacci.  Devlin recounts the fact that the man’s name was Leonardo and he hailed from Pisa.  Leonardo Pisano, as the people of that time and culture would say.  But he referred to himself as fillies Boracic, “son of Bonacci.”  Yet, his father’s name wasn’t Bonacci, so people assumed he meant that he was of the family Bonacci… the Bonacci family evolved and later historian Guillaume Libri coined the name Fibonacci.  Hundreds of years later.  Leonardo was renamed Fibonacci in 1838.

Fibonacci also referred himself as Leonardo Bigolli… a named once translated would be “Leonardo Blockhead.”  Though, Devlin asserts, it’s doubtful that Fibonacci was calling himself a blockhead.

Unknown-2That brings us to our latest picture book selection… Blockhead: the life of Fibonacci.  This delightful picture book was written by Joseph D’Agnese and was illustrated by John O’Brien.  Even though there’s a lot we don’t know about Fibonacci’s real life or how he came to discover his mathematical findings the way he did – it’s fun to imagine what his life was like and where he might have come up with his self-proclaimed nickname “Bigolli.”

For good measure, we re-read Swirl by Swirl afterward and are looking forward to memorizing a few things in the upcoming months.

The first is from Brahmagupta (quoted in Devlin’s book):

“A debt minus zero is a debt.

A fortune minus zero is a fortune.

Zero minus zero is a zero.

A debt subtracted from zero is a fortune.

A fortune subtracted from zero is a debt.

The product of zero multiplied by a debt or fortune is zero.”

The second are the first ten numbers in the Fibonacci sequence: 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55.

Permalink 2 Comments

Swirl By Swirl

March 9, 2015 at 4:42 pm (Education, Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

P1000952

Title: Swirl By Swirl

Authors: Beth Krommes & Joyce Sidman

Genre: Picture Book / Educational

We actually read this one quite a bit ago, I was hoping to review it when I finally got around to purchasing it, but I can’t wait any longer.  It’s too wonderful to keep under wraps any longer and it has been an inspiration to my kiddo who now draws swirls and “round ups” into all her artwork.

P1000953

The book is all about finding math in nature.  About how snails, flowers, and everything have mathematical patterns that create functional things we can see.  It first page by page identifies all these things… spider webs, tendrils on foliage, the curls of animals’ tails, etc.

Then, it explains the how and why of it all.

Kiddo’s eye lit up at the end of the book every time (we had to read it over and over again before we turned it back into the library).  My four year old’s mind was blown.

P1000956 I want to have this book on hand when she’s older as well, to revisit and enjoy the beautiful illustrations again and again through out her studies.  It’s so lovely.

P1000955

Permalink Leave a Comment

Abuse, Affairs, and Amateurs

March 8, 2015 at 9:11 pm (Education, Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Usually if I don’t finish a book, I don’t review it.  If I don’t finish it, am I truly the most qualified person to throw opinions on it around to the public.

I’m not talking about books that you CAN’T finish because they are too awful.  I’m talking about the ones that I start, I sorta enjoy, and then I simply abandon to read something else – or, I decide that even though it’s interesting, it’s not quite interesting eno6022200ugh.  Or, I just get bored with the topic halfway through.

I used to not be this way.  I used to barrel through.  I used to treat a book like a ship, me its Captain, and come hell or high water I would make it to its end – together.  This practice became cause for some dark moods and much wasted reading time.

I picked up Wedlock when I took a sabbatical from my family (sort of) to work full time in the bookstore for a few months.  I saw it on the shelf as I was running history and thought, this looks interesting, and I loved Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire.  I thought this one would be similar.  And it was.  But it wasn’t.

Although the life of Mary Eleanor Bowes is one for the history books, and she was an incredible closet botanist for her time, I found that reading about her life, unfortunately, felt more like reading about Kim Kardashian or Brittany Spears than, say, reading about Marie Curie.  The heiress was often in the social limelight, easily wooed by absurd men, and seemed to spend her life being abused by the system.  This is to no fault of the biographer, but to the fault of society and the fact that, although intellectuals will complain how enraptured we are as a modern society by celebrities and trashy magazines – the reality is that sMail Wedlockociety hasn’t changed all that much over the last few hundred years.

Moore’s book includes reports worthy of People magazine and Star.  Elite gossip regarding who has married whom, how much money so-and-so is in debt, affairs, bastard children… If these things excite you, this book is for you.  It just made me tired.  It made me very tired, indeed.

So I gave it up.  I was halfway through, and I pulled my bookmark and re-shelved it.

I’d love to do a full on study of her botany research.  I’d love to visit museums dedicated to her pursuits outside of her abusive marriage. (Alas, I must be content to surfing the internet for now, visiting other bloggers’ reports)  I wish I could see her experimental hothouses where she grew exotic plants.  But it seems we are mostly to be doomed to read about her trials of being swayed by sociopaths and used for her money.  That’s what makes sensational stories, after all, both now and then.

Most people will hear or read her story and say, “Aren’t we lucky that post suffrage, women now will not suffer like this!”  But I don’t feel that way.  Women will suffer like this as long as they behave like idiots, as long as they swoon over a seemingly kind word, as long as they can’t keep their panties up.  I found myself feeling less sympathetic for Mary’s plight and more and more annoyed that she seemed to just dig her hole deeper and deeper.  The simplest version of events, boiled down to all the ways she was victimized can be found here: http://historyandotherthoughts.blogspot.com/2013/03/mary-eleanor-bowes.html.  Beating and torturing your wife is never ok.  Treating any human the way Stoney treated Mary is completely unacceptable.  I’m not saying that these things in her life were not awful.  I’m just saying there is much she could have done to avoid additional pain, even in that era.

Although I agree with the commentator below in many ways, it pained me to see – centuries later – Mary’s missteps, all the things she could have done to avoid such a terrible life.

I have just finished reading Wendy Moore’s fantastic “Wedlock”, an account of Mary Eleanor Bowes’ life, in particular, her disastrous marriage to Stoney. What a woman, not only did she survive incredible domestic abuse and terror at the hands of her second husband, who tricked her into marrying him, but also had to suffer the heartbreak of losing her older children because of the dictates of the Georgian society of the time. Yet Mary Eleanor’s spirit was not crushed and eventually she managed to escape Stoney’s clutches and obtain just retribution for all his wrongdoings through the courts. The biography reads like a novel, I have never read a historical account so quickly. I can only recommend it.

I didn’t make it to the triumphs.  I didn’t make it to the courts.  I was still plodding through the terrible ache of lost children, another affair gone wrong with poor Mary not finding true love with her sexual partner yet again.  Tip: Keep your dress on, dear.  Don’t “fall in love” so quickly, and if you do, practice some propriety.  Knowing that bastards very rarely stay with their mothers, why risk having them?  I’m not talking about abortion, that to me is also unacceptable.  I’m talking about keeping a marriage bed pure – even if you’ve fled from your psychotic husband, shacking up with someone else isn’t going to make everything right, it just makes it all a little bit worse.

Has anyone else studied the life of Mary Eleanor Bowes?  What are your thoughts.  What do you suppose she was like aside from the tabloids and history books?  What would you say to her?  What would you ask her?

I’m filing this one away with Anna Karenina. 

Permalink Leave a Comment

There is a Season

February 26, 2015 at 4:34 am (Education) (, , , , , , , , )

As a homeschool mom there’s a constant struggle for designating specific “school times” through out the day.  She is learning that education is a life pursuit, and at four can tell you that.  I can’t tell you how adorable it is to have a four year old look at someone when they ask her about school and tell them, “Education is a life pursuit.”  Every day, every moment, is a chance to learn something – and she is extremely aware of this as we stop to read information along trails, get sidetracked by research projects after asking a simple question, and discuss the scientific reasons things are happening in the kitchen as I cook.  But sitting down for specific lessons, that’s a bit harder to grasp.  We open our reading book and she thinks that crazy silly time shall commence.  She has a stubborn nature she gets from me combined with her father’s joy of watching me fume with frustration, seriously, I get angry and she laughs at me.  It’s a problem.

Someone from one of the homeschooling forums on Facebook gave us a great idea, though.  Read Ecc. 3:1 before every lesson.  Don’t know that one off the cuff?  The “lyrics” were made famous in the 1950’s by The Byrds.

The concept of there being a proper time and place for every activity and emotion, is a necessary lesson to teach toddlers (and kids, and teenagers, and humans at large).  Emotions, feelings, and attitudes toward chores can be intense.  There is a time to feel those things and a time to suck it up and do what you have to do.  Just like a gardener has “a time to plant and a time to uproot” there’s also “a time to weep and a time to laugh.”  We end the reading of these verses with, “there is also a time to be silly and a time to focus on your lessons.”

Needless to say, both little girl and I were excited to find this book at the public library last month.

P1000943

This picture is beautiful. It reveals art styles from all different regions, cultures, and time. It gives a child a great sense of the impact these words have on every human throughout history. Everyone must learn this lesson, the fact that everything has a time and place. That feelings can and will be embraced and (if we want to be overly bookish and quote An Imperial Affliction – a book by a character imagined by John Green in The Fault in our Stars) and say, “Pain demands to be felt,” but as every grown person has learned at some point, sometimes it can’t be felt right now. For a four year old, the wiggles must come out… but they can’t always come out right now either.

And everyone must learn this lesson.  Whether you are from China, Russia, Germany, Egypt, or Ancient Greece.  Whether you are Native American or from the heart of Mexico.  Whether you hail from the Ukraine or Australia, Japan or England.  Humanity is united in this one all encompassing lesson of life: “There is a time to mourn and a time to dance… a time to search and a time to give up… a time to love and a time to hate… a time for war and a time for peace.”

P1000944

P1000945

P1000946

Permalink Leave a Comment

Hello Wilderness, We’ve Missed You

February 13, 2015 at 3:04 am (Education, The Whim) (, , , , , , , , , )

Since moving away from our beloved Timberlane Estates, we’ve been in dire need for nature.  Especially with this winter we just had – harsher than I remember winter being – wet, muddy, colder sooner, and nowhere cozy to defrost.  Temporary living arrangements have caused us to leave the comfort of having a nearly 1000 square foot library just down the hall from our beds.  We also don’t have a fireplace here.  It’s been a long time since I lived without a fireplace.  But the change is good, it’s helped us redefine necessities, discover the beauty of new public libraries we hadn’t yet visited, save mP1000764oney for the land and dream home we want, and teach our daughter lessons she might have otherwise missed.

We’ve also discovered the Lake Houston Wilderness State Park.  We went from 100+ acres of trails and exploration that we knew like the back of our hands to not having anything most of the winter, to Lo! And Behold! 4700+ acres of trails and wilderness closer than we could have ever imagined.  Ask and ye shall receive.  Take a ride down the highway and pay attention to those marvelous brown signs!

It costs $3 per adult to get in, kids under 13 and senior citizens are free.  OR (and this is what we’ve done) it’s $25 for a year pass for an adult and three adult guests; basically, a family pass.

We’ve been back about every other day since we’ve discovered it.  We walk, tromp, and read.  We snack and picnic, we play in the creek, we stare at the trees.  We read all the sign posts and discover new plants we’ve never heard of.  We soak up vitamin D and work our muscles.

P1000723

To the left you’ll see a Hercules’ Club. We were pretty excited about this discovery and did a mini-research project on it when we got home.

In all this much needed tromping and new library resources at my fingertips, I stumbled across a Guide to Wild Foods and Useful Plants by a fellow named Nyerges.  It isn’t the best resource for Texans, only a few plants were ones I recognized, but if you hail from California then it’s right up your alley.  Either way, if you’re in the foraging scene, this book is a great read.  Nyerges personalizes a lot of his foraging facts with anecdotes of how he has confirmed or debunked various myths, legends, and general assumptions for certain plants.  My favorite was a bit about the Native Americans and poison oak – eat the young, red leaves and you’ll be immune to the rash for the rest of the season/year.  The science of immunizing oneself at its finest.  Already this is how we tackle seasonal allergies when it comes to pollen, it would not have occurred to me that there is a practical pre-remedy for poison oak.

 

Permalink Leave a Comment

Teaching Life and Liberty

February 3, 2015 at 11:17 pm (Education) (, , , , , , , , , , , )

P1000701Title: Thomas Jefferson

Author/Illustrator: Maira Kalman

Publisher: Penguin

If you want to teach about the founders of America via biographical picture books, Maira Kalman is a great place to start.  With spunky pictures and fonts, Kalman introduces children to Jefferson (and in another book she tackles Lincoln), his love for books, language, and gardening.

Kids can discover in Thomas Jefferson quirky details about how Jefferson got out of bed in the morning, his obsession for peas, and learn the quote he told his wife:

“Determine never to be idle.  No person will have occasion to complain of the want of time who never loses any.”

There’s a few pages dedicated to Jefferson’s friends: John Adam, Benjamin Franklin, and George Washington, and the ideals the team struggled for.

Kalman doesn’t pull any punches.  She talks about slavery and addresses the truth of Sally Hemings.  Jefferson had so many wise quotes that adults praise and sharing them with a four year old is especially wise:

“When you are angry, count TEN before you speak; if very angry, to ONE HUNDRED.”

The book ends with a visit to his burial grounds and notes regarding his epitaph.

As a whole it’s lovely and educational.  When I told kiddo I was finally posting the review and asked her what she wanted to say about it, she said, “I think we should read it again.”

President’s Day is fast approaching.  This one is worth having in your hands on that day.

Permalink Leave a Comment

A Boy Called Dickens

January 21, 2015 at 12:56 am (Education, Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , , )

* A Weekly Low Down on Kids Books *

P1000704Title: A Boy Called Dickens

Author: Deborah Hopkinson

Illustrator: John Hendrix

As a homeschool family, we’re suckers for the educational picture book.  Especially biographies.

A Boy Called Dickens tells the life of Charles Dickens.  Obviously there are some creative liberties taken with Dickens’ boyhood thoughts and how he might have come to write certain stories, but that happens with any piece of biographical fiction.

As an adult Dickens fan, you recognize characters peeking around corners and haunting the boy’s subconscious as he works at the factory, tells stories to his friend, helps get his family out of debtor’s prison, and finally returns to school.

When I finished read the book, kiddo said, “Let’s read it again.”

I was out of breath from my strained fake British accent.  I’m not an actress, but I like to make story time fun.  It takes more effort than I’d care to admit.  “No, I’m not reading it again right now.”

“Well, I think we should do the same thing with this one – let other kids read it!”

“You mean you recommend it?”

“Yes.” She gave it a literal thumbs up, with a tongue half sticking out the side of her mouth in thought.

Any biographical picture books you can find are great teaching tools, and you might as well fill them with as much information as you can while they’re sponges.  History is easiest to remember as a tale, Dickens world and era becomes one you can touch and taste.  Telling it from his boyhood makes it more relatable to a tiny one.  Whether you’re a homeschool mom, or just someone who reads to your kids when you can, this book is a great resource; it’s colorful, factual, and engrossing.

(If you’re a seasonal reader, this one is perfectly wintery.)

Permalink Leave a Comment

« Previous page · Next page »