• About Farm School

    "There are obviously two educations. One should teach us how to make a living and the other how to live."
    James Adams, from his essay "To 'Be' or to 'Do': A Note on American Education", 1929

    We're a Canadian family of five, farming, home schooling, and building our own house. I'm nowhere near as regular a blogger as I used to be.

    The kids are 18/Grade 12, 16/Grade 11, and 14/Grade 10.

    Contact me at becky(dot)farmschool(at)gmail(dot)com

  • Notable Quotables

    "If you want a golden rule that will fit everybody, this is it: Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful."
    William Morris, from his lecture "The Beauty of Life"

    "‘Never look at an ugly thing twice. It is fatally easy to get accustomed to corrupting influences."
    English architect CFA Voysey (1857-1941)

    "The world of books is the most remarkable creation of man. Nothing else that he builds ever lasts. Monuments fall, nations perish, civilizations grow old and die out; and, after an era of darkness, new races build others. But in the world of books are volumes that have seen this happen again and again, and yet live on, still young, still as fresh as the day they were written, still telling men’s hearts of the hearts of men centuries dead."
    Clarence Day

    "Anyone who has a library and a garden wants for nothing."

    "Histories make men wise; poets, witty; the mathematics, subtile; natural philosophy, deep; moral, grave; logic and rhetoric, able to contend."
    Sir Francis Bacon, "Essays"

    "The chief aim of education is to show you, after you make a livelihood, how to enjoy living; and you can live longest and best and most rewardingly by attaining and preserving the happiness of learning."
    Gilbert Highet, "The Immortal Profession: The Joys of Teaching and Learning"

    "Good judgment comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgment."
    Walter Wriston

    "I'd like to give you a piece of my mind."
    "Oh, I couldn't take the last piece."
    Ginger Rogers to Frances Mercer in "Vivacious Lady" (1938)

    "No race can prosper till it learns that there is as much dignity in tilling a field as in writing a poem."
    Booker T. Washington

    "Please accept my resignation. I don’t care to belong to any club that will have me as a member."
    Attributed to Groucho Marx in "The Groucho Letters" by Arthur Sheekman

    "If you can't say something good about someone, sit right here by me."
    Alice Roosevelt Longworth

    "If we bring a little joy into your humdrum lives, we feel all our hard work ain't been in vain for nothin'."
    Jean Hagen as "Lina Lamont" in "Singin' in the Rain" (1952)
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  • Copyright © 2005-2016 Please do not use any of my words or my personal photographs without my express permission.


Shannon at Phat Mommy has a terrific idea:

Many people’s eyes glaze over at the mention of homeschooling, as they envision a family of ten living on the homestead and wearing pilgrim-like clothing. Social misfits who’ve never heard the name Harry Potter. But alas, this is not the face of homeschooling that I know. And I often wonder if it’s the world “homeschooling” that freaks people out. …

How do you think people would react if I said, “Oh, my kids don’t go to school. They’re learning how to think for themselves out in the world. They read and write and research their interests on the internet and at the library. They travel and take field trips and, my gosh, their schedule is just so full of social activities that they simply aren’t able to spend entire days in school! Homeschool? No, we’re not homeschoolers. We’re worldlearners!”

Shannon, count us in, and if you’re making T-shirts, put us down for three kiddie sizes and a totebag for me to cart along on our travels and learning adventures.

HT to Melissa at her new blog


Decoration Day: "with the choicest flowers of spring-time"

[No, I’m not a day late, I just thought I’d get the long weekends, white sales, and pool openings out of the way]

From General Order No.11, Headquarters, Grand Army of the Republic at Washington, DC, May 5, 1868, by Commander-in-Chief John A. Logan, establishing what is now known as Memorial Day:

I. The 30th day of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village, and hamlet churchyard in the land. In this observance no form or ceremony is prescribed, but posts and comrades will in their own way arrange such fitting services and testimonials of respect as circumstances may permit.

We are organized, comrades, as our regulations tell us, for the purpose, among other things, “of preserving and strengthening those kind and fraternal feelings which have bound together the soldiers, sailors, and marines who united to suppress the late rebellion.” What can aid more to assure this result than by cherishing tenderly the memory of our heroic dead, who made their breasts a barricade between our country and its foe? Their soldier lives were the reveille of freedom to a race in chains, and their death a tattoo of rebellious tyranny in arms. We should guard their graves with sacred vigilance. All that the consecrated wealth and taste of the Nation can add to their adornment and security is but a fitting tribute to the memory of her slain defenders. Let no wanton foot tread rudely on such hallowed grounds. Let pleasant paths invite the coming and going of reverent visitors and found mourners. Let no vandalism of avarice or neglect, no ravages of time, testify to the present or to the coming generations that we have forgotten, as a people, the cost of free and undivided republic.

If other eyes grow dull and other hands slack, and other hearts cold in the solemn trust, ours shall keep it well as long as the light and warmth of life remain in us.

Let us, then, at the time appointed, gather around their sacred remains and garland the passionless mounds above them with choicest flowers of springtime; let us raise above them the dear old flag they saved from dishonor; let us in this solemn presence renew our pledges to aid and assist those whom they have left among us as sacred charges upon the Nation’s gratitude,–the soldier’s and sailor’s widow and orphan. …

If it’s Tuesday it must be Belgium

The dishwasher broke down several days ago but was a replaced by a shiny new model when the VP of appliances around here decided that after six-and-a-half years of heroic service a repair probably wouldn’t cut it. Very kind and coincidental of Sears to be holding a clearance sale of this year’s already outdated models (none had the child-lock which is apparently de rigueur now — that’s what I get for letting my toddlers unload the pointy cutlery a few years ago). Much as I appreciate the machine and the fact that he installed it the day after bringing it home, I’m hoping Tom is not counting this toward an anniversary present when the big day rolls around next month.

My truck broke down on Saturday night, spewing oil everywhere and frightening Tom into thinking that serious and hugely expensive engine repair bills were in our future. But it was only a tiny plug in an O-ring (thank goodness we’re talking about trucks and not shuttles) and should be fixed cheaply tomorrow. Until then Tom is the the official chauffeur to Swim Club, and I’ll just have to force myself to enjoy the break from my appointed rounds.

Oh, when we went back to town yesterday morning — and it was so very much not in my plans to wake up bright and early on a Sunday morning and spend the time looking into the hood of an ailing truck — we ended up bringing back our friends’ two kids while the friends’ went househunting. Good news though. Not only did all the kids have fun together yesterday (and honestly, at this point I don’t even notice the addition of another two kids) but our friends have decided to postpone the househunting (scary house prices in Edmonton among other things) and think about staying here. A very very big hurray from all of us.

The last heifer calved and we have nine babies, the last one last night a little bull calf (for a total of two males, seven females, and one open heifer who will, sadly, be sold) appropriately named Rainey.

It’s still raining. That makes seven days and counting. Farming neighbors and friends are starting to tear their hair out and mutter weirdly, especially since Crop Insurance requires that all crops be seeded by May 31st, which would be…tomorrow. Good luck, even with pontoons on the tractor. Tom has decided we have so little land left to seed that if necessary he’ll summerfallow it. But the weather hasn’t kept the kids from roaming around outside, on bike and on foot, or from building and outfitting a “fort” under some bushes outside near the side of the road. So much for my hope that this was good stay-indoors-and-get-the-schooling-done weather.

Homeschool funding paperwork due Wednesday.

Last official day of piano lessons is tomorrow (unofficially Laura has one lesson to make up next week) and piano recital is Friday evening. And I’m trying to decide what to do about music lessons because this year was decidedly uninspiring, especially for Laura. Learned on the weekend about the hint of a possibility of voice lessons, guitar lessons (classical), and another piano teacher (offering classical or jazz) in town next year. If so, may trade Laura’s piano lessons for voice, and trade Daniel’s piano teacher in for a more inspiring model. Davy still holding out for banjo lessons though. By the way, have not put nearly as much thought into curriculum plans as I have for extracurriculars. If this concerns you more than it does me, drop by Lynx and be comforted and amazed. I am, knowing that she has Grades 5 through 12 already sorted out for me. Thank you, my dear…

Wednesday is the last day of Brownies and Friday one of the girls in the troop is having a big party at her house since the troop isn’t making it to the big Revel (think Jamboree for Girl Guides) up in Cold Lake on Saturday, a schlep of about three hours by car or truck, and they’re supposed to be there at 9 a.m. No wonder all the parents said no thanks.

Local production of “The Pied Piper,” modernized and musicalized and starring some friends (mother and two kids) terrific. Quickly reread Browning’s poem to the kids last week because I figured Davy wouldn’t remember much from last year. Definitely helped, even though the golf-playing, secretary-chasing mayor wasn’t in the original.

Just enrich their lives

Roger Sutton at Read Roger has a post today worth your time, especially if you have a child at home. He’s been reading through an autographed advance copy of Marni Nixon‘s I Could Have Sung All Night: My Story and offers the following from Miss Nixon on Leonard Bernstein, with whom she worked on his Young People’s Concerts: “Lenny had the innovative and wonderful notion (to which I wholly subscribe) that if we exposed children to the best that music had to offer it would enrich their lives.”

As Roger adds,

Forget about Mozart for your baby getting the kids into Harvard. Just “enrich their lives.” I wonder if we will ever again learn to treat reading for children with the same simplicity.

Well worth reading the comment, too.

Summer reading list time: Canadiana

While browsing around the other day looking for an audio CD version of W.O. Mitchell’s Who Has Seen the Wind, which seems to available through interlibrary loan only in audiocassette edition, I was reminded that online CanLit specialist Northwest Passages (based in real life in Vancouver) has what is probably the largest set of Canadian literature links on the Internet, from book, author, publisher, and literary award lists to some lovely poetry sites, author websites and more. A truly public-spirited gift.

Also, while Northwest Passages is an online bookseller, there are people there behind the computers, specifically people who know and read and love books. Which include Canadian fiction, nonfiction, poetry, drama, and literary criticism, with a special link on the main page for “Hockey Lit” (not to be confused with “Hockey Writing in Canada”). There are also links for “Multimedia” where you can find lots of books, including Who Has Seen the Wind, on audio cd.

Fay Wray’s day

Today Cardston, Alberta, native Fay Wray was honored with her own stamp by Canada Post, as part of the “Canadians in Hollywood” series. The other stamps include Mary Pickford (who was Canada’s sweetheart first) and — I kid you not — Lorne Greene and John Candy.

Wake up and smell the cookies

Heidi at 101 Cookbooks offers up a recipe for Triple Chocolate Espresso Bean Cookies, which I think I can smell through my computer. Give the kids some homemade chocolate chip cookies, and save these for the grownups.

Melissa has a new blog

If you enjoy Melissa’s Here in the Bonny Glen, you’ll be happy to hear that she has a new blog over at ClubMom (co-founded in 1999 by then not-busy-enough Meredith Vieira), a paying gig no less, The Lilting House. As Melissa writes, Bonny Glen will continue to focus primarily on literature and the living books lifestyle, and The Lilting House will focus on homeschooling, educational issues, and special needs children, with lots of overlap and intertwinings promised!

Poetry Friday: To make a prairie

To make a prairie it takes a clover and one bee,
One clover, and a bee,
And revery.
The revery alone will do
If bees are few.

By Emily Dickinson (no. 1755)

As usual, Kelly at Big A little a and Liz B at A Chair, A Fireplace and A Tea Cozy will have listings of the day’s poetic offerings from around the blogosphere.

Everything old is new again: Personifying punctuation and saving the endangered comma

Had a call from our friendly library lady today letting me know that my interlibrary loan copies of Talk to the Hand and the illustrated Elements of Style are finally ready for pick-up. Which was quite a coincidence — or maybe not, considering the way the publishing world works — reminding me of the July publication of Eats, Shoots & Leaves: Why, Commas Really Do Make a Difference!, the illustrated kiddie version of Lynne Truss’s adult bestseller. The pictures are by Bonnie Timmons, whose animation you might remember from the “Caroline in the City” TV credits.

According to an article in the Independent Online several months ago, Truss’s original UK publisher heard from teachers eager for a version to use with their pupils. The sales and marketing director avowed that “Loads of teachers wrote in to say how marvellous Eats, Shoots & Leaves was and that they were going to use it. They were always saying that there was nothing enjoyable that taught kids punctuation. There’s a real need. I think this will be an extremely useful resource for schools.” Tellingly, the U.S. publisher jumped on the bandwagon first, and the UK edition won’t be out until September.

According to another article, Truss said she took “the lightness and humor that characterized the funny examples in the first book, and [directed] it at smaller people who are just learning that a mark can change the sense of a line of words.” She added that such books used to be rather more common: “in my research I came across lovely old children’s books on grammar — a delightful 19th-century pamphlet called Punctuation Personified and a wonderful 1940s book called The Grammatical Kittens, in which a couple of kittens were given basic grammar lessons by an old sheepdog.”

(Since the picture book version of Eats, Shoots has been slashed to a rather mingy 32 pages, perhaps school teachers around the world will be as delighted as I am to find that the recommended Punctuation Personified, or Pointing Made Easy by Mr. Stops (1824) is available as a facsimile edition, published by the Bodleian Library, from Amazon for only $10. The cute kittens, however, are out of print.)

The U.S. marketing blitz includes the not-so-serious “National Comma Awareness campaign” by way of a new website, Save the Comma, which should be up and running by the book’s July publication date. I’m all for saving commas, just as long as they don’t start reproducing like mad and running amok.

At this rate, I wouldn’t be at all surprised to find later this year a 30th anniversary edition, complete with pictures, of William Zinsser’s On Writing Well, or, heavens, the picture book version of Fowler’s Not-So Modern but Charmingly Illustrated English Usage. Unfortunately, it looks as if Patricia T. O’Conner missed the boat with the unillustrated second edition of Woe Is I. Unless of course the publisher wasn’t exactly relishing the idea of sketches for Chapter 6 (“Comma Sutra”).

Road SCHOLA is here!

L. and family have surfaced on the other side of the world, and L. is already blogging here. Main page, with link for photos, is here. What else do you do when the jet lag wears off and you’re up at 3 a.m.?!

Impromptu reading festival

The past seven days have been a blur, but after one rainy day and the promise of several more to come before the weekend, I’m feeling ready to relax. And what better way than with some of my favorite online blogging friends, who’ve come prepared with a spontaneous carnival of books! Jen Robinson’s Book Page has a fun Sunday Afternoon Visits entry, chockablock with links. And assuming you had them all read within a few days, Kelly at Big A little a stepped into the breach with her Tuesday Review Roundup. Both were more than kind enough to include a link to my recent post on travel books about children’s lit locations.

And I’ve been remiss in my erratic blogging not mentioning that the latest edition of The Edge of the Forest: A Children’s Literature Monthly is up, with a bunch of articles including a review of Bodies From the Ash: Life and Death in Ancient Pompeii by James Deems, about which reviewer Liz Burns writes, “This isn’t about history that is dead and buried in the past; it’s about history that is alive.” Liz also reviews the movie version of Cornelia Funke’s Thief Lord, which was released straight to DVD. And don’t miss the Kid Picks column, where every month Edge talks to group of kids about their favorite books. This month, Fuse #8, New York City blogging children’s librarian extraordinaire, chats up her homeschool group at The Donnell Central Children’s Room, where the kids put in a plug for Freddy the Pig, Jack London, and Jules Feiffer’s A Room with a Zoo. And don’t miss the link to the Multnomah County Library’s website, which offers tips on how other libraries can start their own children’s book discussion books. Just the sort of info a homeschooling family might want to pass along to its favorite librarian.

Long weekend report

Tom got the wheat in yesterday, and I got most of the vegetables planted, except for the potatoes, pumpkins, and zucchini, which need more room than my raised bed can afford; they’ll go in our garden plot at the corrals, and I also decided that I’d make a “sunflower house” there for the kids to play in. And Tom said that he’s going to cultivate the old, large “Baba” (Ukrainian grandmother) garden in our front yard and seed it to grass for a ball diamond, a very popular decision all round.

And we got everything done last night just in time to help with the second-to-last calf, whose mother was struggling a bit, and before the thunder, lighting, and rain rolled in. Always a relief to have the newly-planted seeds tucked in with some showers, which also means the kids and I don’t have to water the apple trees this morning before leaving for piano lessons. More relief, especially since after piano lessons we’re on to homeschool Gym Day, followed by a quick trip home, a dash back to town for Swim Club, then dinner and, for the kids at least, bed.

I’m relieved to get the main crop for the year in. There’s still a bit of barley to go, but we’re more than halfway done with the spring seeding. And now for the fun part — watching everything grow.

New Latin curriculum comparison chart

Paula at Paula’s Archives has a brand new page with a Latin curriculum comparison chart, gathered up from discussions at the Well-Trained Mind K-8 curriculum board. I don’t frequent the boards, so I’m happy for this resource.

If you’re a classical homeschooler and you’re not familiar with Paula’s Archives, you and your kids are missing a tremendous resource (not entirely secular, by the way). Check the previous link for an index which includes Story of the World resources; lists of literature to supplement history, living science books, movies to co-ordinate with your studies, easy chapter books, oodles of links, and much, much more. And I learned about the brand new Latin page since I’m signed up to receive e-mail alerts via Paula’s Yahoo group, a very low-traffic, virtually one-way, group.

Happy Victoria Day

Today is Victoria Day, which in Canada means that this is the long weekend known as the gateway to the summer, much like Memorial Day in the US. Also like Memorial Day in the US, the reason behind the long weekend has been pretty much forgotten. Not only is the occasion now known mostly as “the May long weekend” but many folks at least in Alberta, apparently too tired from making all that oil money, have taken to referring is as “The May long,” which makes me shudder.

Victoria’s birthday was in fact 24 May 1819, but Canada appropriates the penultimate Monday in order to make a three-day holiday. We Albertans owe her much, not least our province’s name, after her daughter, Princess Louise Caroline Alberta, herself named after Victoria’s beloved Albert.

While most of our family and friends have run off to their cabins at the lake, or their rattletrap tin-can campers near someone else’s cabin at the lake, we stayed put to enjoy the creature comforts of a well-stocked pantry and fridge and our own beds. All of which were much enjoyed last night after a long day of gardening (transplanting, weeding, pruning, accompanied by mama meadowlark bringing worms to her newly-hatched babies) and farming (cleaning last year’s wheat for this year’s seed, hooking up the air seeder). I’m off shortly to do some watering and load up the truck with all the branches and other detritus from yesterday’s efforts, and then to plant potatoes, if it’s not too muddy in the potato patch. We’re in a race to get the seeding done before the forecasted rain for the rest of week starts.

Almost forgot Saturday, which wasn’t a very pleasant day at all weatherwise — rainy (but which our little trees enjoyed and which softened up the ground for me considerably yesterday) and exceedingly windy. But not a problem as we spent most of the day indoors at the local museum’s grand opening for the summer. Laura wore her c1900 dress, charmed all of the adults, did a marvelous job cutting the cake (“I was nervous, could you tell, Mom?”) decorated with dozens of tiny icing wild roses.

And I was gifted with some lovely compliments, not just how sweet the children looked (Laura in her dress and the boys as cowboys complete with Stetsons) but how well-behaved they kids were. These last started coming so thick and fast that after some thought on the way home I realized what everyone really meant — that three kids under the age of nine were interested, cheerful, polite, and made themselves very useful, throughout three hours at a history museum in the company of mostly adults, and senior citizens at that. A good lesson in the practical power of lots of sunshine, water, diligent weeding and patience, not to mention delighting in the dandelions as well as the roses.

The 4th Carnival of Children’s Literature is up!

The Carnival is here, the Carnival is here!

In Canada, it’s the Victoria Day long weekend, so unless you’ve been spending your days outdoors gardening putting the crops in, sit back with a cup of coffee and enjoy the fun! I’m going to skim through the Carnival quickly now, and return tonight to savor…

There is no Frigate like a Book for summer holidays

There is no Frigate like a Book
To take us Lands away …
(Emily Dickinson, no. 1263)

One of my favorite subcategories in children’s literature are those books about the locations of favorite books and stories, and it occurs to me that it’s a wonderful and particularly useful niche for this time of year, for those of us (like me) who won’t travel too far from home this vacation season and also for those (maybe you) who might be more footloose and fancy free.

So, whether you’re planning to spend your summer vacation at home, on the porch or under a favorite tree with a pitcher of lemonade and a stack of books, or whether you have a pin poised over the map and your travel agent on speed dial, here goes:

Heidi’s Alp: One Family’s Search for Storybook Europe by Christina Hardyment (published in 1987); I found this shortly after it was published, in my single days in a Washington, DC, independent bookshop, years before I met Tom and long before the kids were even glimmers in my eye, and was enchanted. A family with four daughters, ages five to 11, travels from their Oxford home in Bertha, the yellow camper van, through Hans Brinker’s Holland, Hans Christian Andersen’s Denmark and Germany, and searches for Pinocchio in Pisa, Babar in Burgundy, and, of course, Heidi’s Alp. The first chapter, “The Life Adventurous,” about how the trip came to be — fell into place, really — is marvelous and just as good as the adventures themselves that follow. Both lyrical and practical for anyone contemplating something similar.

Where Was Wonderland?: A Traveller’s Guide to the Settings of Classic Children’s Books by Frank Barrett, with lovely map illustrations by John Woodcock (published in 1997); I stumbled across this one at BookCloseouts the other year and have been delighted ever since. As Barrett writes in his foreward,

But while you may never find Neverland, you may be as surprised as I was to discover that the home of the Darling family is just a short walk from a London tube station. …This discovery made me wonder how many other children’s books had real-life locations.

The answer, as Barrett discovered and then shares with us, is a great many; included in the book, with excerpts and illustrations from the books themselves as well as the story of how each book (mostly British, with a few exceptions) came to be, are The 101 Dalmations, Watership Down, Thomas the Tank Engine, Lorna Doone, The Secret Garden, The Tales of Beatrix Potter, The Sheep-Pig (aka “Babe”) by Dick King-Smith, The Railway Children, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Rob Roy, Winnie-the-Pooh, Cider with Rosie, The Little Prince, Anne of Green Gables, Swallows and Amazons, and more. It’s a fairly slim volume, just over 200 pages, and easy to pop in your suitcase.

Once Upon a Time in Great Britain: A Travel Guide to the Sights and Settings of Your Favorite Children’s Stories by Melanie Wentz (published in 2002); this was another BookCloseouts treasure. Wentz, an American teacher, did much of the research while exploring England and Scotland with her family. While she covers some of the same ground as Frank Barrett (Watership Down, Thomas the Tank Engine, 101 Dalmations, Railway Children, Cider with Rosie, Swallows and Amazons, etc.), there are some different titles. As well, Wentz divvies up the titles into three sections, “Much-Loved Classic Stories,” “More-Recent Favorites” (including Harry Potter), and “British Favorites for Americans to Enjoy”. Lots of information for anyone headed across the pond. Curiously, though, the bibliography at the back doesn’t include Barrett’s book published five years earlier.

Storied City: A Children’s Book Walking-Tour Guide to New York City by Leonard Marcus (published in 2003); this one came with us on the kids’ first trip to visit Grandmama and Grandpapa in the fall of 2004. The book includes 21 walking tours through all five boroughs and features over 100 “places and spaces” from the obvious, such as the Plaza Hotel (Eloise) to the Metropolitan Museum of Art (From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler), to the considerably less so (the Imagination Playground in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park, where you can find the sculpture of Peter, Ezra Jack Keats’s young protagonist from The Snowy Day, Whistle for Willie, and Peter’s Chair). Since Davy was not quite four years old at the time and we had only two weeks and lots to see, we didn’t use any of the walking tours as scripted, but used the book to help locate and learn more about the places and spaces we came across in our travels. The book was also especially handy in putting together a reading list of titles to help the kids prepare for their first ever trip to the Big Apple; I never would have come across The Park Book, written by Charlotte Zolotow and illustrated by H.A. Rey, otherwise. At 154 pages and about 4″x8″, Storied City is a good fit for a jacket pocket or tote bag. Highly recommended, and I keep hoping that Mr. Marcus or a colleague will come up with something similar for, oh, say, Boston…

Here’s another, one I haven’t read, that popped up while I was writing this:

Storybook Travels: From Eloise’s New York to Harry Potter’s London, Visits to 30 of the Best-Loved Landmarks in Children’s Literature by Colleen Dunn Bates and Susan La Tempa (published in 2002); includes some of the usual suspects as well as Brighty of the Grand Canyon and the France of Linnea in Monet’s Garden.

And, because they’re tangentially related to the subject of children’s literature and might be nice for those families also sticking close to home this summer:

For the kiddies (best served with lemonade):

Storybook Parties: 45 Parties Based on Children’s Favorite Stories by Penny Warner and Liya Lev Oertel; you can save these up for birthday parties, but so much better to trot out just for fun, for a tea party or a sunny day, or because you just inflated the kiddies’ pool or finished reading If You Give a Mouse a Cookie and want the fun to continue. Lots of fun for the younger set.

Plays Children Love: A Treasury of Contemporary and Classic Plays for Children, volume II, edited by Coleman A. Jennings and Aurand Harris; we don’t have volume I, but volume II includes Charlotte’s Web, The Bremen Town Musicians, How the Camel Got His Hump, Pyramus and Thisbe, The Three Little Kittens, and oodles more.

For the adults (best served with iced coffee, iced tea, or a G&T):

Boys and Girls Forever: Children’s Classics from Cinderella to Harry Potter by Alison Lurie

Don’t Tell the Grown-Ups: The Subversive Power of Children’s Literature, also by Alison Lurie

Poetry Friday: Bird Talk

Bird Talk
by Carl Sandburg

And now when the branches were beginning to be heavy,
It was the time when they once had said, “this is the
beginning of summer.”
The shrilling of the frogs was not so shrill as in the
first weeks after the broken winter;
The birds took their hops and zigzags a little more
anxious; a home is a home; worms are worms.
The yellow spreads of the dandelions and buttercups
reached across the green pastures.
Tee whee and tee whee came on the breezes, and the grackles
chuzzled their syllables.
And it was the leaves with a strong soft wind over them
that talked most of all and said more than any others
though speaking the fewest words.
It was the green leaves trickling out the gaunt nowhere
of winter, out on the gray hungry branches–
It was the leaves on the branches, beginning to be heavy,
who said as they said one time before, “This is the be-
ginning of summer.”

We shall never blame the birds who come
where the river and the road make the Grand Crossing
and talk there, sitting in circles talking bird talk.
If they ask in their circles as to who is here
and as to who is not here and who used to be here,
Or if instead of counting up last year as against
this year, they count up this year as against next
year, and have their bird chatter about who is here
this year who won’t be here next year,
We shall never blame the birds.

If I have put your face among leaf faces, child,
Or if I have put your voice among bird voices,
Blame me no more than the bluejays.

From Rainbows Are Made: Poems by Carl Sandburg, selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins

Go to Liz B at A Chair, A Fireplace and A Tea Cozy and Kelly at Big A little a for the complete round-up of all the day’s poetry offerings.


Because we’ve started cultivating in preparation for seeding, which we hope to have done by Sunday, and are up to our necks in things to do (not including a bridal shower tonight and attending the pioneer museum’s grand opening in town, a big deal because of the town’s centennial this year, and to which Laura has been asked to wear her period dress to help the Mayor cut the cake); and because my shopping cart yesterday in 90-degree heat included a watermelon, three water pistols, a water sprinkler, Dawn dishwashing liquid, and a bottle of glycerin, I leave you with this — much cheaper than the ready-made stuff and, along with a box of Popsicles, guaranteed to make you universally beloved by small fry — and hope to see you on the other side.

Bubble Formula

2/3 cup Dawn or Joy dishwashing liquid
1 gallon water
2 or 3 tablespoons of glycerin

Mix gently, and let the children loose with it.

Bon voyage,

best wishes, and safe travels to the Schola family — L., Jorge, and the girls — who depart Saturday, portable schoolhouse in hand, on their six-month grand adventure Down Under as they more than live up to the “ola” (Odyssean Learning Adventure) in Schola, from North Cape to the Bluff in the wop-wops. Just remember, malum est consilium quod mutari non potest.*

* from your pal Publilius Syrus. Literally, it’s a bad plan than cannot be changed. Not so literally, hang loose, kids, and have a fantastic time. Keep us posted, L. (via Road Schola, coming soon)!