Author Archives: Amy

Read Aloud Thursday–September 2015


Did today sneak up on all of y’all like it did me?  :-)  Well, we’re here, so all is well.  We’ve been reading a lot here at the House of Hope, as is our custom, but I haven’t been sharing much because of that little thing called time–as in, I run out of it way before I’m through with things that are higher up on my priority list than blogging.  I do so love sharing things we’re doing and what we’re reading, so I keep on, even if I’m not blogging as frequently as I used to be able to.  Thank you all for sticking with me!

First I want to highlight a short stack of books my boys and I have been enjoying over the past week.
Do you check out board books from your library?  It’s something I’ve really just started doing.  When my girls were little, I was in the board book acquisition phase of parenting, so I never felt like I needed any from the library.  (Translation:  I bought new ones pretty often.  😉 )  Now that I’m on my second set of board book consumers, my boys, I have cut way back on purchasing them, yet I need a few new ones occasionally to liven things up.  Library board books for the win!  Diggers Go by Steve Light is one that I might just have to purchase anyway.  His Trucks Go is a favorite around these parts, and this one is identical to it, only instead of being trucks it’s heavy equipment.  Each two page spread is of some sort of machine (jackhammer, forklift, front loader, etc.)  and the noise it makes.  What’s more fun than saying loudly with your five and two year olds the noise that a wrecking ball (which is impressively tall–imagine the book turned on its side) makes:  “BOOOOOOOOOM!“?  Not much, at least in my book.  We give this one, as well as yet another of Steve Light’s books we’ve enjoyed, a Highly Recommended.  (Chronicle, 2013)
We have a new favorite tractor, and his name is Otis.  :-)  Ok, that’s not completely true–we’re pretty fond of Papaw’s and Uncle Jimmie’s IRL tractors that we occasionally get to ride.  However, when it’s bedtime and you’re looking
for an appealing story, look no further.  Loren Long‘s Otis is a friendly tractor who faces a problem in both of his stories we’ve enjoyed thus far.  In Otis the friendly little tractor is replaced by a big, shiny, yellow tractor and is feeling pretty bummed out until he befriends a calf in the barn.  Otis comes out the hero in this story when he rescues the calf from Mud Pond.  Otis and the Tornado involves a scary tornado and a really big bull, and again, Otis comes out the hero. A tractor, a tornado, and a bull–this is the stuff my five year old boy’s dreams (and nightmares) are made of.  We’re looking forward to reading more of Otis.  (Philomel, 2009, 2011)

The Magic Raincoat by Ryan David is a book that surprised me.  I pulled it out to read to Benny before naptime yesterday and was immediately pulled into this fun story about a little girl named Emily and her orange raincoat.  Disappointed that the raincoat isn’t her preferred yellow, Emily soon discovers that her raincoat is magic.  While wearing it, she gets whatever she wishes aloud:  her brother turns into a dog, she gets a million dollars, she’s visited by a purple gorilla, and so on.  All of that seems good to Emily until she wishes her dad were at home and he loses his job; then she realizes maybe it’s better to not get what you wish for.  The story is resolved with a funny little twist that the DLM (age five) enjoyed.  The storyline is better suited to ages five and up, but the emphasis on different colors that are mentioned in the text and represented visually throughout the story are appealing to even my two year old.  There’s a lot going on in this story.  Sibylla Benatova’s illustrations are very unusual and add interest.  (Front Street, 2009)


My girls and I (with the boys listening in) finished By the Great Horn Spoon! by Sid Fleischman last week, and I shared my thoughts about it here.  We’re currently reading Heart of a Samurai by Margi Preus, and we’re still making our way through Laddie by Gene Stratton-Porter.  We’re greatly enjoying both!  I’m considering tackling something daunting next–like maybe a bonafide classic or a long series–but I’m not sure what.  I’m still mulling it over.

What has your family enjoyed this month?  Please share in the comments by leaving a link to your own blog post or simple share in the comments.

Have a terrific Read Aloud Thursday!

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By the Great Horn Spoon! by Sid Fleischman

We finished our first history read-aloud of the new school year last week, and what a fun one it was!  I chose By the Great Horn Spoon! by Sid Fleischman because it fit with our U.S. History studies, and it is about a particularly exciting time–the California gold rush.  (I also chose it because there is a Brave Writer Arrow for it, but that’s sort of beside the point of this post. :-) )  It’s the story of a boy named Jack and his sidekick Praiseworthy, the family’s butler back in Boston.  Jack and his siblings are under the care of their Aunt Arabella, and the family has fallen on hard times.  Thus, Jack and Praiseworthy run away to California to strike it rich and save their family from financial ruin.  They board a ship but shortly realize that they’ve been pick-pocketed.  Thanks to Praiseworthy’s wit and wisdom, they’re able to raise the money for their passage.  This is but the beginning of their adventure; they go from one crisis to another, many of them humorous, with Praiseworthy coming out the hero each time.  From naive schoolboy and utterly proper butler to gold miners known as Jamoka Jack and Bullwhip, both Jack and Praiseworthy undergo a transformation as they travel by sea to California and then overland to the gold fields.  The story ends in a very satisfying way, with a bit of romantic drama that observant readers will have seen coming from way back.

My girls and I (and even the DLM, at times) really got a kick out of this one.  This is the first book by the very prolific Fleischman I’ve read, but it won’t be the last.  His writing is delightful!  Here’s an example:

“What’s that?”  Praiseworthy scowled.  “We don’t want to bathe in champagne.  Waterwill do, sir.”

“Champagne’d be almost cheaper, gents.  Water’s a dollar a bucket.  Unless you want to wait until next November.  Prices come down when it rains.”

“We’ll wait,” said Praiseworthy with decision.  In this part of the world, he thought, a man had to strike it rich just to keep his neck clean.  He signed the register and Jack gazed at a bearded miner pacing back and forth across the lobby floor.  He wore a floppy hat and chestnut hair tumbled out on all sides lke mattress stuffing coming loose.  (86)

We give this Highly Recommended and look forward to reading more of Sid Fleischman.  (Little, Brown, 1963)


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IMG_20150907_0955194_rewindSteady Eddie and I got away last weekend to Chattanooga, and one of the highlights of the trip was a visit to The Book Company.  I made away with a hefty bagful of treasures, to the tune of about $20.  Not bad.  The above collection includes a trio of serendipitous finds, especially Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy, which I’ll be reading for this month’s Newbery Through the Decades challenge.  I couldn’t resist the Nate the Greats since the DLM has a new-found fondness for them.

IMG_20150907_0954316_rewindThis is, by far, the prize collection.  I’ve been hankering after some new poetry books for our home collection, and I hit the jackpot:

  • Poetry for Young People:  Robert Frost
  • Poetry for Young People:  Emily Dickinson
  • The Beauty of the Beast:  Poems from the Animal Kingdom, compiled by Jack Prelutsky
  • My America:  A Poetry Atlas of the United States, compiled by Lee Bennet Hopkins
  • The Christopher Robin Book of Verse by A.A. Milne
  • I Am Phoenix: Poems for Two Voices by Paul Fleischman
  • Treasury of Poetry and Rhymes

Visiting a new-to-me used bookstone ranks pretty high on my list of favorite things.  The guy who went there with me and patiently waited while I look ’til my heart was content?  He IS my favorite.  :-)



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And Some More Bookish Questions

I saw this at Semicolon and thought I’d play along.  Why not?  I have nothing better to do at the moment.  😉  (If only this were true. . .)

1. What propelled your love affair with books — any particular title or a moment?
I suppose being read to as a child, though I don’t really think I truly fell in love with reading until I was about ten years old.  As a teen, every school trip I went on just about was commemorated by the purchase of a new book (since we almost always visited a mall to eat, and each big city mall had at least one bookstore).  Somehow books just grew on me.  :-)

2. Which fictional character would you like to be friends with and why?
Tough question.  I think I’d enjoy being friends with Puddleglum because we’re a lot alike, and you definitely couldn’t beat him for loyalty.

3. Do you write your name on your books or use bookplates?
I’m not organized enough to do anything like that.  😉  I used to almost always write my name in my books, but somewhere along the way, I stopped.  If I loan one out, I do try to make sure my contact information is inside.

4. What was your favourite book read this year?
This is almost impossible for me to do, but I guess I’d probably pick either Loved Back to Life by Sheila Walsh or All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr.

5. If you could read in another language, which language would you choose?
Since my girls and I have embarked upon an earnest study of Latin this year, I’ll go with Latin.

6. Name a book that made you both laugh and cry.

My girls would say every book I read (aloud). 😉  Seriously, though, if it doesn’t evoke strong emotion, why read it?  Our current bedtime read-aloud is Laddie by Gene Stratton-Porter, and it has made me laugh aloud on numerous occasions, but I’ve also shed a few tears over a poignant description of family life.

7. Share with us your favourite poem?
How to pick just one?  I do love Robert Frost an awful lot, and his “A Time to Talk” is a particular favorite of mine:

When a friend calls to me from the road
And slows his horse to a meaning walk,
I don’t stand still and look around
On all the hills I haven’t hoed,
And shout from where I am, What is it?
No, not as there is a time to talk.
I thrust my hoe in the mellow ground,
Blade-end up and five feet tall,
And plod: I go up to the stone wall
For a friendly visit.

If you play along, leave me a comment so I can read your responses!


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Circle Time: 1st six weeks of 2015-2016 year

This year we have an interesting schedule because some or all of us leave the house three mornings a week.  This makes it really difficult to be very consistent with circle time, but I’m giving it my best shot.  I also have to keep it rather brief, or as brief as is possible for me.  😉 Here’s the outline we’re following:

  1. Scripture reading–continuing with John
  2. Scripture memorization–Philippians 2:1-18 (all year)
  3. Latin memory work for current lesson
  4. Review poem from jar
  5. Review Declaration of Independence or Constitution preamble
  6. Review hymn
  7. Practice current hymn–“Before the Throne of God Above” by Charitie Lees Bancroft.  We’re using the arrangement by Sovereign Grace Music that features Kristyn Getty.
  8. Individual poems. Lulu chose Shakespeare’s eighteenth sonnet.   Louise chose the poem “John F. Kennedy” by Marilyn Singer from her collection entitled Rutherford B., Who Was He?  .  Louise already has hers memorized, and Lulu is close to having hers memorized, so I’ll probably let them go ahead and pick another.
  9. Read aloud, usually a work of historical fiction that goes along with our history studies

Things I’d like to do differently:  include the DLM more and include some “high brow,” “good” literature (like Shakespeare).  This isn’t the year for the latter, and I’ll tackle the former as he matures a bit.  



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