Monday, March 16, 2015

My Favorite Picture Books: Anna Hibiscus' Song

Anna Hibiscus' Song
by Atinuke
illustrated by Lauren Tobia

I have recommended Anna Hibiscus books before. Our library has a few chapter books that are perfect books on Africa for early readers. I only recently discovered this picture book of Anna Hibiscus.

It is outstanding.

Anna Hibiscus is so happy she feels like she's going to burst. She goes from one family group to another, sharing her happiness and asking what she should do. They all have suggestions, mainly based on what they do when they are happy. She tries them all and her happiness just grows. Finally, in the end, she finds her own way of expressing happiness. She sings.

The joy of this book is tremendous. The love of her grandparents, aunties, uncle, and cousins is the background against which Anna Hibiscus delights in her life. They are just as delighted by her happiness as she is and share her joy spontaneously and tenderly, each in their own way.

Anna Hibiscus lives in Africa (Amazing Africa). Her father is African and her mother is white. None of that matters in the story, though it would be lovely to share this book with a child who was similar to Anna Hibiscus in that way. This is one of those delightful books that features a child of color without color being a focus.

Anna Hibiscus is amazing and I love welcoming her into my home! In fact, I want to invite her whole family over.

The Amazon links above are affiliate links. I checked this book out of the library. This review is my honest opinion.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

February 2015 Book Report

Stout Hearts and Whizzing Biscuits: A Patria Story by Daniel McInerny is the first is a series (of two novels and one novella, so far) that has been highly recommended to me from a variety of sources. I was a little nervous because it looked like they might be self-published and sometimes those books were refused by publishers for good reason. I thought it was pretty fun and offered it to First Son (11) who declared it fantastic and read it in a few hours (over two days). First Daughter (8) is reading it now and also enjoying it. It seems to be just challenging enough for her. I had to request it through inter-library loan, but after I suggested it to the library, they have ordered both of the books. My kids are really excited to read the second one! (inter-library loan)

Happy Times in Noisy Village by Astrid Lindgren is a sequel to The Children of Noisy Village (recommended by Mater Amabilis for Level 1A and a truly delightful book). I learned only recently about the sequel and was thrilled when the library purchased a copy. It's just as delightful. The first book includes a bit more than a hint that Santa Claus does not actually deliver presents which I modified a bit when I was reading it aloud because we like St. Nicholas around here and I didn't want to ruin the fun too early for the girls. There's nothing like that in this book, so I'm comfortable handing it over to First Daughter (8) who will read it independently for her lessons when she finishes the Patria book. (library copy)

The Call of the Wild by Jack London was a book I was going to pre-read for First Son, but decided we'd just listen to it when I saw the library had it on audio CD. I have never read anything by Jack London myself. There were a few scenes in which animals were cruelly treated (most often by other dogs) and one fairly gruesome scene at the end where Buck attacks and kills a large number of people. As far as I know, it was all historically accurate (though fictionalized) and it was certainly beautifully written, but I probably would not have let my girls (6 and 8) listen to it if I had read it myself beforehand. They handled it without comment or gasp, though. It would have been worthwhile independent reading for First Son (11) either for school or summer reading. (audio CD from the library)

The Little Oratory: A Beginner's Guide to Praying in the Home by David Clayton and Leila Marie Lawler - my review. (purchased copy from Sacred Heart Books and Gifts)

The Bad Beginning: Or, Orphans! (A Series of Unfortunate Events, Book 1) by Lemony Snicket
We listened to the audio CD read by Tim Curry. It was delightful. Though awful things happen to the children, just as promised, there are frequent moments of laughter and ridiculousness. We love Violet, Klaus, and Sunny, and can't wait to hear more about them. (audio CD from the library)

The Bible Compass: A Catholic's Guide to Navigating the Scriptures by Edward Sri was recommended as background reading for Volume 1 of Connecting with History (Ancient History). I read The Drama of Scripture, which Kansas Dad recommended, but thought it would be nice to read this one as well for a Catholic perspective. The first part of the book was a little frustrating as I felt like he was telling me only what the Catechism would tell me about the Bible (which I could look that up myself), but as the book progressed there was more detailed information about Scripture and how to read it. Overall, I feel like it's a good overview, especially for someone who is feeling intimidating about reading the Bible. (purchased copy from Sacred Heart Books and Gifts)

Miss Happiness and Miss Flower by Rumer Godden is recommended by Mater Amabilis in year 2 of level 1A (third grade) for People and Places. I did not consider it for First Son when I saw the plot focused on Japanese dolls, so this is the first time I've read it. A family comes together to create something beautiful and perfect, in the process providing a path for a young girl to establish herself in a new home. First Daughter is going to love it! (library copy)

In Her Kitchen: Stories and Recipes from Grandmas Around the World by Gabriele Galimberti - my review. (review copy from Blogging for Books)

Bleak House by Charles Dickens - my review. (library copy)

Priest on Horseback: Father Farmer, 1720-1786 by Eva K. Betz is a book I read about but was always daunted by the high price as it is out of print. I was delighted to discover it on LibriVox coincidentally as we were studying colonial American history. First Daughter loved the story but the others were not as interested. This book gives a look at what colonial life was like for a traveling priest at a time when many people distrusted or outright hated Catholics. The reader is not my favorite, though I am glad she recorded this book. (listening with the children on LibriVox)

Marriage: The Mystery of Faithful Love by Dietrich von Hildebrand - my review. (inter-library loan copy)

Books in Progress (and date started)
Links to Amazon are affiliate links. As an affiliate with Amazon, I receive a small commission if you follow one of my links, add something to your cart, and complete the purchase (in that order). My homeschooling budget is always grateful for any purchases. 

Links to RC History are affiliate links.

Links to Sacred Heart Books and Gifts are not affiliate links.

These reports are my honest opinions.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

First Daughter's First Communion

First Daughter made her First Communion this weekend. I love how our parish celebrates First Communion with all the second graders during Lent because it means the blessing of the Eucharist is still fresh for the children at Easter. We have promised First Daughter we'll all go to the Easter Vigil this year, in honor of her First Communion.

Here is First Daughter all ready to leave for Mass. Her dress is made from my wedding dress, modified by a friend who skillfully changed our ideas about what she would like to a beautiful reality. She picked the tiara because of the dangling cross which is probably too small to see in the pictures, but it is sparkling.

We took a few pictures before Mass at the church, too. Here is First Daughter with the Holy Family. This is a new statue at our parish and I love seeing it each week outside our Atrium. You can see the cross a little better in the picture below.

We didn't take any pictures during the Mass, preferring to enjoy the time with each other and our parish family. Below is our lovely girl with our parish priest.

Here we all are. First Son served the Mass, which was wonderful. I think here he's really excited to go out to eat for lunch.

When First Daughter was just an infant, my parents traveled to Spain. At a monastery there, they bought a rosary for her. We saved it all these years and gave it to her today. (My friend also made a lovely rosary pouch for First Daughter out of the material. I didn't get a picture of it, but it's a great idea. It will always remind her of her First Communion.)

First Daughter's doll has her own First Communion dress, so we took a lot of pictures of them together.

To celebrate, we offered to take First Daughter out to lunch and let her choose the restaurant. We feasted at a Chinese buffet and then enjoyed our traditional frozen yogurt. We'll invite a few of her friends over for a luncheon and tea party in a few days.

Many blessings on you, our first daughter!

Monday, March 2, 2015

My Favorite Picture Books: The Girl and the Bicycle

The Girl and the Bicycle illustrated by Mark Pett

This adorable wordless picture book shows a young girl who works steadily to earn enough money for a new bicycle, in the process developing a relationship with a neighbor. It's a book of perseverance, success, disappointment, generosity, friendship, and family. All of my children have spent time engrossed with the illustrations and "reading" it over and over again.

This book is a kind of sequel to The Boy and the Airplane, but I like it even better than the first one.

The Amazon links above are affiliate links. I checked this book out of the library. This review is my honest opinion.