We're studying the Great Artists at homeschool. So far we've had a little look at Cézanne, Monet and Picasso. Our introduction to this study was throu...moreWe're studying the Great Artists at homeschool. So far we've had a little look at Cézanne, Monet and Picasso. Our introduction to this study was through the delightful book, Meeting Cezanne, which gave us a little of Cézanne and Picasso, and then we met Monet when we were listening to some Debussy on YouTube and one of the pieces had a lovely lilies painting by Monet to illustrate. With those two instances happening coincidentally, I decided we should be a little more deliberate in our study - this book is a result of that.
At this stage in their lives (James is nearly 7 and Zenobia is 5), Zenobia is relating more to music and James is more interested in people and what they do. So James was riveted to this book - he loved the author's recollections of his childhood when he and his parents were good friends with Picasso. And the book is so well done. It has plenty of photographs (taken by the author's mother), as well as examples of Picasso's work. The information is given in an I-remember-when tone, but one that relates well to children. Top marks!(less)
We all need a holiday from time to time, and Little Miss Christmas had been wrapping presents day in and day out for years! So she organised her broth...moreWe all need a holiday from time to time, and Little Miss Christmas had been wrapping presents day in and day out for years! So she organised her brother (Mr Christmas) to come up from the South Pole and take over for her while she took a break. Well, as they say, 'the road to hell is paved with good intentions' (a saying that's close to a thousand years old!), 9and not that I believe in hell), (though I do believe in having fun with parentheses). Father Christmas decides to help Mr Christmas, as the latter is new to the job, and says after a morning's work that it'll take so little time to get it done that they might as well go have a game of golf. And the next day they go fishing. Etc.
This is the usual fun story from the Mr Men and Little Miss series. I shall borrow it again in December.(less)
James chose this book from the library. He'd looked through it a few times but today asked me to read it to him and his sister (James has one week til...moreJames chose this book from the library. He'd looked through it a few times but today asked me to read it to him and his sister (James has one week till he turns seven, and Zenobia is a quarter of the way along her sixth year). James is a bit like Grady - frequently not listening and being engrossed in what he's doing. The latter is a good thing, of course, but, as Grady found out, it can also be dangerous to forget about sticking together. Especially when you're a goose and the rest of your flock has headed off on migration.
The story has a happy ending, so all is well. And the children really enjoyed it. They asked lots of questions and were seemingly satisfied with my answers. Myself, though I thought the story a nice little lesson in the hatching and growth of goslings, and the eventual migration, I didn't like the counting lesson added to it. I can cope with anthropomorphism, though this mother goose was a little sappy for my taste, but I really would have preferred the story to not have a mother goose who could count to 12. Knowing Grady was missing (well, until it was time to fly off on their journey, when nobody bothered checking if Grady was with them then) could have been done without the counting.
James and I both wondered why Granny hadn't had everything prepared before Patrick came to stay, and when I suggested that it might have been a surpri...moreJames and I both wondered why Granny hadn't had everything prepared before Patrick came to stay, and when I suggested that it might have been a surprise visit James still looked doubtful. "She should have made the bed and the pillow and the blanket and the teddybear in the daytime," he said. He also wondered why Patrick had needed all those things, because when James comes to stay with his Granny he just sleeps in the oversized bed with me. "Maybe Patrick's Granny only has a small bed."
I just love the way children can read the most fantastical stories without blinking (with dragons, and aliens, and beanstalks to climb up, etc.) but still question the logic of everything, and think there ought to be an answer to every WHY! I've been finding myself more and more often having to respond with "because that's the way the author imagined it", following up with "How would you imagine it?" That, of course, always takes us on leaps of fantasy, and diverts us from pages of arithmetic and the daily handwriting practice!
As C.S. Lewis said
A children's story which can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children's story in the slightest.
I've read this book several times now and have chuckled all the way through each time. It has the most hilarious story, and is told with fabulous patterning and repetition in the text (but not such exact repetition that it's boring). On top of that, the illustrations are also hilarious. Patrick has that butter-wouldn't-melt-in-your-mouth look of sly innocence; Granny has a purple rinse and a handbag (the latter never leaving her arm, even while sawing logs of wood into the right lengths for Patrick's bed, or up a ladder making a giant teddybear); each spread has a little quirk, like the dog getting into the paint and leaving footprints over the page, or the sleeping sheep counting men in suits jumping fences.(less)
This gorgeous little book combines a lovely story about being different (and how to cope with that) and forgiveness, all within the context of New Zea...moreThis gorgeous little book combines a lovely story about being different (and how to cope with that) and forgiveness, all within the context of New Zealand's native bird, the kiwi.
Albie is an albino kiwi and the other grey kiwi ostracise him. His mother tries to help him see that he isn't any different, but mother love isn't quite the same as having friends, no matter how much we try to comfort our kids. Then a little brown kiwi arrives (different genus), is also denied being a playmate, but becomes friends with Albie.
I read this to the children at church this morning (actually, to the whole congregation, as everybody enjoys a good Children's Talk) as an illustration of "Don't judge others". Everybody loved it!(less)
Janet Frame is one of New Zealand's best-known authors, and this book is the third part of her autobiography in which she leaves NZ on a journey to 'b...moreJanet Frame is one of New Zealand's best-known authors, and this book is the third part of her autobiography in which she leaves NZ on a journey to 'broaden her experience'. Frame writes beautifully and honestly - her words are a pleasure to read and her life (and 'analysis' of it) is fascinating. Frame's novels aren't easy reads - she records what her British publisher said: "The critics love you, but nobody buys your books." - though I have read most of them. However, I found each volume of her story about herself to be extremely readable.
One minor gripe (and this is to do with this Audio edition, not the book itself): the narrator is Australian. She doesn't have a terribly strong accent, the kind that hits you the instant you hear it, and quite probably a listener from the UK or USA (or anywhere else in the world for that matter) can't hear the difference between an Australian and a New Zealand accent, but New Zealanders can, and Janet Frame is a New Zealander. Why did the publisher (Braille Audio Books) not hire a New Zealand voice? This thought flashed through my mind every time there was a word which betrayed the narrator's nationality, and I found it distracting.
I've written about this 'voice' issue on a number of other audio books I've listened to this year, and it's about being authentic to the nationality of the book's narrator.(less)
What do princesses with Marie Antoinette dresses and massively over-the-top pompadour hairstyles do when they're bored? They decide to swap with 3 ser...moreWhat do princesses with Marie Antoinette dresses and massively over-the-top pompadour hairstyles do when they're bored? They decide to swap with 3 servant girls for the day. And they command their servants' manager (I'm not looking at the book right now and can't remember what she's really called) to show them no mercy, because "Princesses are not Quitters".
I couldn't help thinking of various politicians or celebrities who have lived on a poor person's budget for a week, and what a farce it really is. Yes, they might discover who hard it is to live on a minimal income, but one week doesn't tell half of it. So I was reading this book to my granddaughter and thinking cynical thoughts. However, these princesses end up fulfilling every single job they're given, and then (**spoiler alert**, but don't tell the kids what you're reading here and it'll be okay) not only making a proclamation that gives the servants much better working conditions, but participating fully in the future to make their 'princessdom' a truly beautiful place to live in.
The grandchildren loved this book! And we all thought the gradual addition of all sorts of items to the princesses' hairstyles to be hilarious.(less)
Not all of Julia Donaldson's books are inspired, but they're certainly all very good. This one comes into the former category in my opinion, because i...moreNot all of Julia Donaldson's books are inspired, but they're certainly all very good. This one comes into the former category in my opinion, because it does an excellent job of talking about bullies (i.e. the tyrannosaurus family) getting their karmic come-uppance, all within a cute rhyming story. I often find Donaldson’s books a little too cute or a little too bright or something that doesn't quite appeal to me, but in this one the illustrations get top marks - as the symbolism of muted blue tones for the duckbill dinosaurs and red for the predators sits nicely with the underlying message.
The grandchildren really enjoyed this book too! (less)
This is a lovely, gentle children's book published in the 1960s. I borrowed it from the library because I was looking for a work of fiction set in And...moreThis is a lovely, gentle children's book published in the 1960s. I borrowed it from the library because I was looking for a work of fiction set in Andorra (for an obscure reading challenge that I probably could have met much easier by adding travelogues or other non-fiction works, but that wouldn't have been much of a challenge and I do like making things difficult for myself. Thankfully I hadn't limited myself to fiction for adults....). It took me back to my childhood - not to any specific scene, but to that contented feeling of knowing one is safe and loved.
The little girl, Maribelle, is a bit sad because the family's old horse has died and they won't be able to go to the Fiesta of Our Lady of Meritxell this year. But she doesn't dwell on that because there are cows to take to pasture and her friend Cisco to play with and grandfather to talk to and help out and the neighbour's child to babysit - and as I write this I think "So much to do!", but really it's all in an easy-going way, and in the most beautiful (if terribly steep) countryside. There's another story within, about a woman who collects butterflies. And there's a nicely happy ending for everyone.
The illustrations also are charming, with plenty of b&w pictures throughout, and a number of double-page watercolours. A lovely book, which I will borrow again in a year or two for my grandchildren.(less)