• books

    My Name is Blessing, and the organization behind the book

    The book My Name is Blessing by Eric Walters bears a lot in similarity to the book I Come from the Water. Both tell of a child finding a home in a children’s house (orphanage) and both are based on real stories. I Came From the Water takes place in Haiti. My Name is Blessing takes place in Kenya. The boy, Blessing, was not named that by his mother. Instead she named him after suffering. He was raised by his grandmother until she thought it best to take him to the children’s house. There he is told there will not be room for a boy named suffering. He thinks it…

  • books

    Jackanapes

    After reading about Randolph Caldecott I decided we should try to find some of the books he illustrated. The university library near us had an original copy of the book Jackanapes by Juliana Horatia Ewing with Caldecott’s illustrations. After reading the term Jackanapes was a reference to an upstart “new money” and also to a monkey on a leash I thought the book might be a comedy of sorts. Instead the story tells of a hero, Jackanapes. It starts with his birth to a young woman who ran off with a soldier to Gretna Green and then lost her husband in the battle of Waterloo and continues on through a…

  • Two children's books about Emily Dickinson
    books

    Sharing stories of Emily Dickinson with my children

    Reading about Emily Dickinson seemed like the natural progression after reading about Christina Rossetti. Both poets were born around the same time, though Emily died earlier than Christina. Emily probably read some of Christina’s writings, and we know that after Emily died Christina read a book of her poetry. Yet the two women were in different countries, with Christina living in England and Emily in the USA. My library had two children’s books about Emily Dickinson, both talking about a child’s view of Emily, so I started with those. Those weren’t nearly enough for me, so I dug around through some other books on Emily, and from those I could…

  • books,  gender,  politics

    “If you Give a Gay Mouse a Cookie” by Art for a Democractic Society

    I bought the book “If you Give a Gay Mouse a Cookie” by Art for a Democratic Society because a facebook friend recommended it, and I have to admit, I’m disappointed. I recognize the spirit of the book. I recognize that they are trying to rebut the crazy “gay marriage will lead to bestiality and people forcing you to marry them” nonsense by saying no, gay marriage will lead to good things, and as expected they followed the pattern established by Laura Numeroff where one (good) thing leads to another. What I didn’t expect was that the book would erase all earlier civil rights history and portray gay marriage as…

  • books,  history,  homeschooling

    great children’s books for exploring the 19th Century

    The 19th century was an amazing century of industrialization, railways and colonization. The Napoleonic wars, Crimean war, opium wars, the American civil war were just a few of the wars fought during the century. Beethoven was composing his symphonies. Railways were transforming travel, trade and many other things. My appreciation of Jules Verne’s Around the World in 80 Days grows as I learn to recognize how new and exciting the ability to travel far distances by rail was. My appreciation of feminism grows as I read about the nineteen century woman’s struggle to break free of the limits placed on her, but it helps too in recognizing the limits of…

  • books,  history,  homeschooling

    Dante Gabriel Rossetti

    While reading about Christina Rossetti, I couldn’t help becoming interested in the story of her brother Dante too. Dante Gabriel Rossetti was a member of a group that jokingly referred to themselves as the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, signing PRB after their names. He was the older brother of Christina Rossetti. Named Gabriel, he choose to add the name Dante, as the Italian poet was an important part of upbringing – each of the four Rossetti siblings published something about Dante at some point in their lives. Dante fell in love with one of his models, a working class woman named Elizabeth Siddal, but continued to put off marriage to her for…

  • books,  history

    Christina Rossetti – philosophical questions within her poetry & life

     This is a follow-up post to the my previous post about lesson ideas based on Christina Rossetti. These are the deeper topics I found while reading about Christina, and I felt the deserved a separate page rather than be mixed in with the previous posts ideas. These are things I’ve been discussing and will continue to discuss with my children, and they are questions I wonder about in my every day life. Feminism Christina Rossetti lived during a time when politicians were concerned about the number of single women (according to William Rathbone Greg in 1851 only 57% of women over 20 were married, 12% were widows and 30% spinsters).…

  • books

    Of Quarks, Quasars, and Other Quirks: Quizzical Poems for the Supersonic Age

    Of Quarks, Quasars, and Other Quirks: Quizzical Poems for the Supersonic Age is a neat book of poems for children. It was published in 1977 and includes poems dating back to 1925. The poems are skeptical of progress and the future, and yet the future they speak of seems quaintly past. For example: the 16 year old “telephone Queen” who uses her parents phone because using her own might prevent her from getting calls on it obviously doesn’t have call waiting.There are poems skeptical of the “all-electric castle” that can be defiled by an “errant fuse.” Other poems scoff at the isolation caused by the television or the elevator without…

  • books

    Goodnight Animal World

    Some books aren’t really books as much as they are activities in book form. Goodnight Animal World is one of those types of books. It’s subtitle is: A Kid’s Yoga Bedtime Story. After introducing six children from six different countries, the book announces its time to say goodbye to animals around the world. Then each page is says goodnight to an animal, with a large picture of the animal and a smaller picture of one of the children in a yoga pose. A map of the end shows which animals are from which of the six countries featured. Two pages summarize the list of animals and poses so that you…

  • books,  religion

    looking at the theology of God got a dog by Cynthia Rylant and Marla Frazee

    As soon as this book of simple blank verse poems about God showed up in the children’s section of my local library, I knew I had to grab it and check it out. What theology would peek through the cute word images? What does it say? In a style that reminds me of “One of us” by Eric Bazilian (sung also by Joan Osborn) or “Has heaven run out of miracles” the poems suggest God taking roles of normal people. However whereas in “One of Us” the emphasis is on how would the individual react if God was one of us, the poems are more focused on how certain of our…