Boy, is mama still adjusting to being out of the house three times a week! This was our actual first week of our new full schedule. We were gone on Monday morning (which stretched into Monday afternoon by the time we met daddy for lunch) and Wednesday morning (which stretched into Wednesday afternoon by the time we went to the library and the park), and I was gone to work all day today. What that means is that we didn’t learn anything new at learning time; instead, we focused on putting sounds together to make cvc words. Lulu is still not quite getting it on her own just yet, but she can quickly identify the words if I sound them out for her. Surprisingly, Louise even figures our the word first sometimes! I suspect that when Lulu begins kindergarten next year, Louise will also be a kindergartener!
Title: The Book Thief
Author: Markus Zusak
Length: 552 p.
Synopsis: The Book Thief is the story of Liesel Meminger, a child in World War II-era Germany, who, after being abandoned by her mother to a foster family, finally finds her place in her disintegrating world thanks to her loving Papa; her best friend/partner in crime/next door neighbor/would-be boyfriend, Rudy Steiner; a Jew named Max who hides in her family’s basement; and most importantly, her words. The most interesting thing about this book, and the thing that makes it so unforgettable, is the fact that it is narrated by Death. By the end of the novel, Death becomes almost an object of pity because he has come to sympathize so with the humans who are at his mercy because of the destruction of that madman, Hitler, and the war.
My Thoughts: This is a book that really stuck with me. In fact, when I finally finished it late one night this past week, I commented to my husband, Steady Eddie, that I wished I had not finished it when I did because it stayed on my mind so much that I could not go to sleep for a while. I am no stranger to World War II and Holocaust fiction, but something about this book made it extremely poignant and compelling. Zusak does excellent job of creating characters that are realistic, but in the end, almost every one of them has become beloved by the reader. That is no small feat, especially when a character like Rosa, Liesel’s foster mother, is considered. She rails against Liesel, curses her (and anyone else within hearing distance) in both English and German, and even beats her with a wooden spoon. In the end, though, this is what Death has to say about her:
Make no mistake, the woman had a heart. She had a bigger one than people would think. There was a lot in it, stored up, high in miles of hidden shelving [. . .] She was a Jew feeder without a question in the world on a man’s first night in Molching. And she was an arm reacher, deep into a mattress, to deliver a sketchbook to a teenage girl. (532)
The story itself is fairly complex, but the humanity of it reaches deep. This is a coming-of-age novel in which the protagonist comes of age at one of the worst times and in one of the worst places in history. It’s a story about the amazing power of words. Something about Zusak’s style reminds of E.L. Konigsburg’s. While I would not recommend this novel to just any teen (or adult, for that matter) due to the violence, profanity, and serious themes contained therein, I do think it’s a worthwhile read. Zusak has written a unique book in The Book Thief, one deserving of the 2007 Printz Honor it received.
Life has gotten tremendously hectic this past week, hence the late posting of our week-in-review. In fact, we only did any formal learning time twice this week. On Monday, we learned the /v/ sound and did our usual activities. Then, on Tuesday, I had to work all day at a local semiannual children’s consignment sale, so the girls got to spend all day with my parents. On Wednesday I attended a leadership training session for Community Bible Study, so it wasn’t until Thursday that we could actually pick up with our learning time again. On Thursday we reviewed all the sounds we’ve learned thus far and even started putting some sounds together to form words. With a good bit of help, Lulu is able to sound out a few cvc words! That is extremely gratifying to me as her teacher and mother. The smile on her little face is priceless! Then, for a special treat, we read A Baby Sister for Frances and made our own secret hideaway under a quilt suspended across four kitchen chairs. On Friday my part-time job resumed for the semester, so we once again missed learning time. Of course, there was the usual copious amount of reading aloud all week, and even the beginning of a brand new chapter book, Mary Poppins. I missed our learning times, though.
This week has shown me that once we reach the age of formal schooling (say, next year), that our outside commitments are going to have to be drastically curtailed. This is somewhat difficult for me because my biggest outside commitment, CBS, is one that I feel is so very worthwhile. I will certainly have to pray about whether or not this should remain a part of our life somehow, even after we begin school in earnest.
Author: Amanda Grange
Publisher: Sourcebooks, Inc.
Length: 329 p.
Synopsis: If you’ve read Pride and Prejudice (and chances are, if you’re reading this review, you have), you’ve already read this story. This is simply the story told from Mr. Darcy’s perspective.
My Thoughts: I love this book. It really served to endear Mr. Darcy to me even further. Of course, after watching this movie, I already love him. Although this book can in no way compare to reading Elizabeth Bennet’s wit and interior conversations first hand (and that is certainly not the author’s intention), I appreciate how Mr. Darcy’s side of the story is very straightforward in Mr. Darcy’s Diary. It actually clarifies many things for me. Several places in the book paint such a picture of what it feels like to truly be in love for the first time that I found myself recalling how I fell in love with my own sweet husband. I suppose that since I already knew the story of Darcy and Elizabeth, I could focus on more of the nuances and little details. I really like that the author takes the reader just a little way into the married life of Mr. and Mrs. Darcy, as well. It makes me want to watch the movie again right now. In fact, I might just do that. However, not before I record a few of my favorite quotes from the book:
“I should have been angered by her sauciness, but somehow I felt an answering smile spring into my eyes. It seemed absurd, all of a sudden, that I should expect so much from the opposite *** [sic], when a pair of fine eyes was all that was needed to bestow true happiness. It is a happiness I have never felt when listening to a woman sing or play the piano, and I doubt if I ever will.” (53)
“But Elizabeth, who was not in the least mortified at being used so ill, merely smiled mischievously and said that we looked so well together the group would be spoilt by a fourth. Then wishing us goodbye she ran off gaily, like a child who suddenly finds herself free of the schoolroom. As I watched her run, I felt my spirits lift. I felt as thought I, too, was suddenly free, free of the trammelled dignity of my life, and I longed to run after her.” (67)
- Lulu is only four, so she is not even technically old enough for school. In my mind, this means that whare we’re doing is just extra, above-and-beyond stuff. Who needs a plan for that, right?
- I’m still having a hard time wrapping my head around the concept of homeschooling so if I kind of sneak in the back door and do it, maybe it will become “what we do” instead of “what we’re going to do.” Do you follow?
I guess you could say that we’re simply working on pre-reading skills. Here are the sounds we learned this week:
Tuesday–c (hard c)
Friday–a (short a)
I know that there is some sort of phonemic notation that I’m supposed to be using (and I’ve even had a couple of linguistics courses, ‘though you’d never know it now), but I haven’t looked them up.
We followed essentially the same lesson plan that we followed last week. I tried to make a big deal out of /a/ (is that the notation?), as per The Ready-to-Read, Read-to-Count Handbook that I’m using as my guide. For example, instead of making a a sandpaper letter, I made it a felt letter so that it would both look and feel different. Instead of cutting out pictures of a words from our old magazines, we made an a necklace (another suggestion from the book).
when Lulu was extremely excited about Friday’s learning time because I had really built it up to her that we would be learning something different (the short a sound)
when Lulu, after learning /h/, wanted to write “the cat in the hat.” Of course, we did that.
Try as I might to get her to do something more age-appropriate, Louise insists on doing what big sister does. Here is her whiteboard work: