Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Three Swedish Sisters

I must confess, I have always had a bit of a soft spot for Swedish children's literature; Astrid Lindgren, Elsa Beskow and Maj Lindman. As a child I adored the sweetness of the books, the coziness, and the abundance of ginger snaps!

I was so excited to come across a little stack of Maj Lindman's Flicka, Ricka, Dicka books on a recent visit to my local library. These picture books are about the adventures of three Swedish sisters who look alike and dress alike. They have sweet and gentle adventures (growing vegetables for a local market, going on picnics, and looking after kittens). Originally written in the 1940s, these are ideal picture books for a bedtime read or for sensitive children in need of a gentle read.

The author of the Flicka, Ricka, Dicka series also wrote a similar series about three brothers, Snipp, Snapp, Snurr. Same wholesome storylines, same gentle narratives.

My three kiddos just loved these! Even my eight year old boy was requesting these :)

The four we have recently enjoyed are Flicka, Ricka, Dicka and the Strawberries

And now I'm off to hunt some more Maj Lindman books down!

Monday, August 15, 2016

All The Horses

Oh my lands! 

I'm just so excited to start this year's homeschool history adventure. Last year we used Beautiful Feet's Early American History for the primary level, as our spine; it was such a good year for us. Great books, rabbit holes a plenty, juicy conversations - what's not to love?!

So this year we decided to do another year with Beautiful Feet, with  the History of the Horse curriculum. I've been slowly gathering bits and pieces for this, with a thrift store find here, an Amazon splurge there, and filling in the gaps with our trusty library card. The reading list for this curriculum looks so delightful, I can hardly stand the wait! 

Top row, l to r:  
Album of Horses, by Marguerite Henry (MH), White Stallion of Lipizza by MH, History of the Horse by Hilary Berg, Draw 50 Horses by Lee J. Ames

Bottom row, l to r:  
King of the Wing by MH, Smithsonian Handbooks: Horses by Elwyn Hartley Edwards, Justin Morgan Had a Horse by MH, Misty of Chincoteague by MH, Brighty of the Canyon by MH. 

Do you have a favorite horse book for children?
What are your home education plans for history looking like this year?
Do tell! Do share!!
Leave a note in the comments, and share your favorites :) 


Wednesday, June 1, 2016

A Mother and Child Summer Book Plan

I don't know about you, but I like to keep a healthy TBR (To Be Read) stack going at all times. Heaven forbid that I run out of reading material, lined up and ready to go ;)

We will be shifting into a lighter homeschool schedule now that warmer weather has arrived, but we will still have plenty (plenty!) of books around; picture books and chapter books, audio books and novels. 

Two quick caveats. This list is of possible reads; I don't read to a schedule or stick rigidly to a list. But I do like to have a rough idea of what is ahead. And, some of these will be in Audio book format, perfect for car trips (with the children) and evenings of sorting laundry and doing dishes (just for me).

What is on your summer reading list?
Feel free to leave a comment; I'd love to hear from you!

Monday, May 30, 2016

A Quick Sale Post!

A very quick little post!

One of our favorite nature study writers has not one! - but two books on sale right now, in Kindle format. I don't know how long this price will last, but at only 99c a piece, they are well worth their price. 

Beautiful books visually, and superbly written! Just had to let you know :)

(A third book by the same author, A Seed is Sleepy, is also on sale right now, for $4.99. Yes, I *had* to purchase all three!)

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Our Week of Reading

Another week; another wonderful stack of books!

(Particular favorites are marked with an asterisk!)

Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt, by Deborah Hopkinson
A simply told account of a young girl's journey from slavery to the Underground Railroad.

Sleeping Beauty, illustrated. K. Y. Craft *
The illustrations in this book are exquisite. Painted in a pre-raphaelite style, the pictures are a veritable treasure trove of hidden nuggets and foreshadowing.

A Beetle Is Shy, by Dianna Hutts Aston
We LOVE Aston's books! They are quite simply some of the most beautiful non-fiction picture books we have read.

Press Here, by Hervé Tullet *
This fast became a firm favorite! Clever and funny, all three of mine declared this their favorite book of the year (high praise indeed!)

Like Press Here (noted above), this book is clever and very very funny. We read this one multiple times over the course of a few days, and it reduced all three of my kiddos to puddles of giggles every single time.

I adored this book. The illustrations are so vibrant, and the story is delightful, inspiring and fully satisfying. (Make sure you have tissues at hand; this book had me in tears).

Annie and Helen, by Deborah Hopkinson
Another pick from Deborah Hopkinson this week! This is a biographical account of Helen Keller and her teacher Annie Sullivan. A wonderful introduction to the life of Keller, plus sign language and braille. Fascinating!

This book is a short read, and a seemingly simple tale of a mole who learns to play the violin. This is a perfect example of the illustrations helping to tell the real depths of this story.

An ostentation of peacocks, a pod of whales, a gaggle of geese! This non-fiction book is beautiful, with delightful fabric cut pictures, but with lovely gems of information as well. Another firm favorite!

Lovely! The perfect bedtime book for those young ones who may be a wee bit reluctant about bedtime *ahem*

Sweet illustrations, and a lovely story about a young girl in the Appalachia area.

By this stage, you may be seeing a bit of a theme! We were definitely in the mood for silly, funny reads this week! And here is another one; a box of crayons goes on strike and leaves notes of complaint to their owner. My seven year old loved this one, but my four year twins did not quite get the subtlety of this book.

A book of few words, a simple concept, but a huge social message. I won't ruin the surprise, but this is a hide and seek book with a twist for the preschoolers. I loved this one.

We recently read Hans Christian Andersen's original Ugly Duckling, so this book really captured the imagination of my three kiddos. I really appreciated the realistic visual portrayals the young dancer.

A wonderful verse book for preschoolers; the illustrations are striking!

Oh my goodness! How did I make to adulthood, and through nearly a decade of teaching, without reading this book? It is sublime! My children were mesmerized by this one, and played Roxaboxen for days afterwards. An added bonus? The wonderful illustrations from Barbara Cooney. Probably my favorite book of the week!

What have you been reading?
I'd love to hear from you; feel free to leave a comment with your favorite books this week!

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Our Weekly Bookshelf

It's so much fun to share our highlights with you, and if you're anything like me, I love seeing what other folk are reading!

(Extra special favorites this week are marked with an asterisk).

As the title implies, this is indeed a silly tale, that had my three kiddos in giggles. This is a reread for us, and just a delightfully goofy story. 

My four year old twins enjoyed guessing who liked in each of the homes depicted. A sweet book. 

A lovely glimpse into a young girl's Sabbath preparations with her Nana. The illustrations in this book are wonderful; we really enjoyed this one b

What is Uptown? This book answers that question with wonderful art work and a sparse narrative. 

Hands down, my children's favorite book of the week! A little surreal (similar to Ruth Krauss' A Hole Is to Dig), this book is a series of vignettes, rhymes and whimsies. 

This one was my personal favorite of the week. Beautiful illustrations (by P. J. Lynch), this book shares the story of a young girl immigrating to the States in the early 1900s. Stunning. 

A funny, sweet book about a homeschool home; as homeschoolers, my children loved reading a book that captured their homeschool-home!

When a young boy wants a doll, some friends and family members are critical. This book is a gentle nod of approval to every boy who wants to care for a doll. 

"Crinkleroot was born in a tree and raised by bees ... " We are huge fans of the Crinkleroot books, and their nature focus. 

This book follows the journey of a storm; the double page illustrations were particularly popular with my audience!

A surreal little book, exploring the imaginative creations possible with pen and paper. A great read for any budding artists.

What have you been reading and enjoying just recently?
Feel free to leave a comment; I'd love to hear from you! 

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Just For Me

If you are anything like me, most of my book buying budget goes towards books for the children. I read a lot, but tend to make do with books borrowed from my local library, my personal library or borrowed from friends. Earlier this year, when I received an Amazon gift card, yes, my immediate thought was to buy something from my wish list for my children. But it was my husband who suggested that I treat myself to something I wouldn't ordinarily buy for myself. What a fun, and difficult, prospect!

It took me nearly a month of wondering and poring over Amazon suggestions, but finally took the plunge and ordered a few books *just for me*!

The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady, by Edith Holden was a phenomenally popular book in the 1970s in England; it seemed that every home had a copy of this beautiful book. And honestly, it really is a fantastic addition to any home library. Originally written in 1906, it is full of beautiful pen and ink drawings, poems, observations and notes - everything that my own dream Nature Journal would have. This is an outstandingly lovely book, and one that is easy to dip into for just a few pages.

Beatrix Potter: A Life in Nature, by Linda Lear is a biography of the famous children's book writer and illustrator, and I have to confess that I although I have not read this book cover to cover, the prologue and photos have so far won me over. (I recently saw Miss Potter, with Renee Zellweger and Ewan McGregor, such a delightful film, which really whet my appetite to learn more about Beatrix Potter's life). If you have read this one, I would love to hear from you though - did you enjoy the book?!

The Private World of Tasha Tudor, by Tasha Tudor and Richard Brown, is just sublime. The book contains beautiful photographs of Tasha Tudor's farm and home in Southern Vermont, along with small essays written by her, and peppered with her signature-style illustrations. The effect is an utterly delightful book, and a peak into a life of simple beauty.

Sense and Sensibility: The Screenplay and Diaries, by Emma Thompson - yes, I love the novels of Jane Austen. And, although I can be a little picky on this count, I adore some of the film adaptations of Miss Austen's works. Sense Sensibility, starring Emma Thompson and Kate Winslett is one of them. I won't bore you with details of how many times I have watched this film (ahem - a lot!) or how many tears I have shed over the denouement (many!), but this book containing the screenplay written by Thompson for the film, and the accompanying diaries during the filming are so lovely. If you are a fan of the film, I defy you to read the screenplay without reciting lines with Emma Thompson's clip or Alan Rickman's drawl. This book begs to be read, cuddled under blankets, preferably while it is raining, and enjoying tea and scones!

What would you add to your own Just For Me book list? 
Feel free to share in the comments; 
it's always fun to see what other treats other book lovers are enjoying!

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Blankets, Warm Milk and Picture Books

One of my favorite times to read aloud, and in particular picture books, is at bedtime. You too?!

The kiddos are in their pajamas, cups of milk at hand, snuggled in beside me for one or two (or three. Or four!) picture books. Perfect way to round out the day. 

We've read a couple of picture books recently that were particular favorites. 

Library Lion, by Michelle Knudsen and illustrations by Kevin Hawke, is one of those picture books that I wished I had read as a child. That story is delightful, and the illustrations are beautiful. Plus, it's a lovely story about one of my family's very favorite places!

Iggy Peck, Architect, by Andrea Beaty and illustrated by David Roberts, was one that we read repeatedly for a few evenings - my engineering-obsessed boys particularly enjoyed this one. The illustrations do a lovely job of straddling the more technical architectural depictions alongside the whimsical cartoons of Iggy Peck and his building adventures. 

And last but not least, Hoot and Peep, written and illustrated by Lita Judge. This sweet book about a little owl and her older brother is a little silly, yes, but really fun (all three of my kiddos were giggling their way through this read aloud). As for myself, I appreciated the story's message of embracing each person's, and owl's, individuality. A fun read!

What have been your favorite recent picture books?

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

First of Many: Zoology!

So, it occurred to me when I first began this blog that you all will basically be following along with whatever our current obsessions and book loves are!

#sorrynotsorry ;-)

This past few years, we have been reading more and more, going deeper and deeper into our studies of zoology. All three of my children are really fascinated, but just recently this interest has become a little more serious, with requests for more extensive research and study. Okay then!

(Thus the title of this particular post: 'First of Many' ... I have a feeling there will be quite a few zoologically themed books over the next few months).

We have been big fans of Gail Gibbons for years, and if you have an elementary aged child who is even interested in zoology or science in even a passing way, you have no doubt seen her books too. They are perfect introductions to scientific topics, from animals to botany, astronomy to meteorology. 

You may have seen the photo that I recently posted on my Instagram and Facebook accounts (are you following me there? No! Find me here and there!)

This was my eldest, The Little Guy, and Baby Girl with Wolves by Gail Gibbons. We recently found four copies of Gibbons' books that came with read-along CDs, and my children were literally smitten. Smitten!

We read through each of the four several times over the course of a few days - the partnership of the wonderful books along with the cd was such a winning combination. 

The Little Guy's favorites - Spiders and Wolves

Baby Girl loved Whales

And Little Boy was particularly engaged with Sea Turtles

Whether you find these with the read along CDs or not, these are fabulous books for preschool to early elementary aged children interested in science. So, so good!

What are your favorite zoology books for children?

Saturday, February 20, 2016

A Different Kind of Fairy Tale

I know I can't be the only mama with this dilemma ... I'm mama to a young girl, who is interested in fairies and mermaids and princesses and unicorns, but struggling to find decent books that fit her requests for read aloud books in that genre.

My four year old daughter is just such a little girl, but as neither of us are 'girly girls', and I have a particularly low tolerance for reading twaddle (this article from Simply Charlotte Mason does a much better job of describing 'twaddle' than I could!)

Enter my amazing local librarians!

When I asked the librarians in the children's department of my local librarian for recommendations for picture books about fairies that were rich and beautiful, I was pointed in the direction of these two gems.

The Mud Fairy, by Amy Young, is a lovely tale of Emmelina the young fairy who would rather play in the mud with the frogs than traipsing around in pink tutus. The story follows her journey of self discovery, becoming a fairy in 'her' way! This was a huge hit with all three of my children (boys and girl alike!)

This book is just so magical, a lovely book for wee folk who are enchanted by the idea of fairies living in the world around them. The illustrations are lovely drawings incorporated into photographs, which further deepens the idea that the young reader could go off in search of their own fairies. Beautiful!

What are your favorite fairy books? Feel free to share in the comments!

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

What We've Been Reading, 17th February 2016

We have had some pretty amazing picture books in our stacks just recently, you know the ones? where all three kids are sitting as quiet as little mice (usually one at each elbow, while the third lies across the back of the sofa next to my shoulders!)

By chance we checked out two library books just recently, by Janice May Udry. We read another book by her last month (Let's Be Enemies, which we loved and mentioned in this post!)

Our latest two are A Tree is Nice, and The Moon Jumpers. Both are lovely, whimsical, and beautifully illustrated.

The Moon Jumpers, illustrated by Maurice Sendak especially captured us. The story is deceptively simple; a group of children play outside one evening, but the pictures and the story are really magical! We read it quite a few times over the course of a couple of days - this Caldecott Honor book is definitely one to look for.

These three full page illustrations are from The Moon Jumpers - I must admit, I could eat them up with a spoon! They are just so magically beautiful and enchanting. This book - *such* a treat.

We also dived into a bit of Jan Brett love-fest! I must admit that I adore her illustration style; I can look at her books for hours, they are just so beautiful.

Her fore-shadowing style (with secondary pictures on most pages) is such a lovely little extra nugget on each page. I don't usually mention them to my children, just wait until someone notices them and their significance.

If you are a fan of fairy tales, her Beauty and the Beast is a treat. Those illustrations? Sumptuous!

The Three Snow Bears is perfect for the return of our snowy weather, and a lovely twist on the well known Goldilocks story.

And, finally The Mitten! This is a firm family favorite for us, one that we return to over and over again. (Every family has those books that are worn with multiple readings, the page corners softened by multiple fingers and the bindings suffering from a child's often less than respectful handling. But I must confess, I rather like to see those books in a home - the really well LOVED ones!)

What about you? What are you reading, and loving, right now?