Cheaper by the Dozen by Frank B. Gilbreth, Jr. and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey

Our latest bedtime read-aloud for me and the girls was Cheaper by the Dozen by Frank B. Gilbreth, Jr. and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey.  I chose it because it fit the time period we were studying; the girls loved it because they’ve seen the original movie a few times and so were very familiar with the story.  In fact, they (especially Lulu, who loves movies) are more familiar with the movie than I am since I didn’t see it myself until I was an adult, and I haven’t been what I’d call an attentive movie watcher in years.  (I usually multitask while I watch movies.)

This is the quintessential homeschooling book, even though the Gilbreth children attend school (though, yes, on their father’s terms).  I absolutely love the part where Papa makes the children listen to language lessons on the gramophone while they’re doing things like taking a bath or brushing their teeth–you know, so as not to waste time.  It reminds me of something I would do.  😉

I was surprised a microscopic amount at the amount of language and old-fashioned references to s**, dating, etc. in the book, but I have to also say that all of this made the book feel  more real to me–like it’s a real story told by real people (which it is), and not a made-up story told to please a reader.  The closest thing I can think of that’s like it that we’ve read aloud is the Little Britches series–very engaging and entertaining, but obviously real.  In this story I didn’t love Papa–he’s such a strong personality and he seems like something of a blowhard.  However, I was quite touched by this bit that comes in the last few paragraphs of the story:

There was a change in Mother after Dad died.  A change in looks and a change in manner.  Before her marriage, all Mother’s decisions had been made by her parents.  After the marriage, the decisions were made by Dad.  It was Dad who suggested having a dozen children, and that both of them become efficiency experts.  If his interests had been in basket weaving or phrenology, she would have followed him just as readily.

While Dad lived, Mother was afraid of fast driving, of airplanes, of walking alone at night.  When there was lightning, she went in a dark closet and held her ears.  When things went wrong at dinner, she sometimes burst into tears and had to leave the table.  She made public speeches, but she dreaded them.

Now, suddenly, she wasn’t afraid anymore, because there was nothing to be afraid of.  Now nothing could upset her because the thing that mattered most had been upset.  None of us ever saw her weep again.

I love this because I think I’d feel the same way if I were in her shoes.

I like the very end of the story–it’s abrupt and a wee bit unusual, but it gave me a little something to think about.  That’s all I’ll say about it.  :-)

The girls are already looking for a copy of the sequel, Belles on Their Toes.  I don’t think I’ll read it aloud, though I wouldn’t mind reading it myself one day.  That’s a pretty good recommendation.  (Perennial, 1948)


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Newbery Through the Decades–1950s

newbery through the decadesHappy April! :-) Here are this month’s eligible titles:

1959 Medal Winner: The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare

Honor Books:

1958 Medal Winner: Rifles for Watie by Harold Keith

Honor Books:

1957 Medal Winner: Miracles on Maple Hill by Virginia Sorensen

Honor Books:

  • Old Yeller by Fred Gipson
  • The House of Sixty Fathers by Meindert DeJong
  • Mr. Justice Holmes by Clara Ingram Judson
  • The Corn Grows Ripe by Dorothy Rhoads
  • Black Fox of Lorne by Marguerite de Angeli

1956 Medal Winner: Carry On, Mr. Bowditch by Jean Lee Latham

Honor Books:

  • The Secret River by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings
  • The Golden Name Day by Jennie Lindquist
  • Men, Microscopes, and Living Things by Katherine Shippen

1955 Medal Winner: The Wheel on the School by Meindert DeJong

Honor Books:

  • Courage of Sarah Noble by Alice Dalgliesh
  • Banner In The Sky by James Ullman

1954 Medal Winner: …And Now Miguel by Joseph Krumgold

Honor Books:

  • All Alone by Claire Huchet Bishop
  • Shadrach by Meindert Dejong
  • Hurry Home, Candy by Meindert Dejong
  • Theodore Roosevelt, Fighting Patriot by Clara Ingram Judson
  • Magic Maize by Mary & Conrad Buff

1953 Medal Winner: Secret of the Andes by Ann Nolan Clark

Honor Books:

1952 Medal Winner: Ginger Pye by Eleanor Estes

Honor Books:

  • Americans Before Columbus by Elizabeth Baity
  • Minn of the Mississippi by Holling C. Holling
  • The Defender by Nicholas Kalashnikoff
  • The Light at Tern Rock by Julia Sauer 
  • The Apple and the Arrow by Mary & Conrad Buff

1951 Medal Winner: Amos Fortune, Free Man by Elizabeth Yates

Honor Books:

  • Better Known as Johnny Appleseed by Mabel Leigh Hunt (Lippincott)
  • Gandhi, Fighter Without a Sword by Jeanette Eaton (Morrow)
  • Abraham Lincoln, Friend of the People by Clara Ingram Judson (Follett)
  • The Story of Appleby Capple by Anne Parrish (Harper)

1950 Medal Winner: The Door in the Wall by Marguerite de Angeli

Honor Books:

  • Tree of Freedom by Rebecca Caudill
  • The Blue Cat of Castle Town by Catherine Coblentz
  • Kildee House by Rutherford Montgomery 
  • George Washington by Genevieve Foster
  • Song of The Pines: A Story of Norwegian Lumbering in Wisconsinby Walter & Marion Havighurst

Unlike the past few months, this month I know which book I want to read, and I have it ready:

The Great Wheel by Robert Lawson caught my attention after I read Fair Weather, and I assigned it for Lulu to read.  She didn’t love it, but that might be more a product of her age combined with my recommending it to her rather than her own lack of enjoyment.  😉

Other than that, we’ll see.

What’s on your list for this month?

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National Poetry Month

April is National Poetry Month.  Did you know that?  I love poetry, and my kids love our weekly (ish) poetry tea times.    Poetry tea time provides a great opportunity for making something kids sometimes look askance at (what–surely not just my kids do this?!?) a little more appealing.  An exciting bonus this year is the inauguration of the brand new Poetry Tea Time website.  Y’all, I am so excited about this resource!  There are poet interviews, recipes (!!), stories of poetry tea time successes, tips to make yours successful, poetry recommendations and ideas for writing poetry, not to mention a free poetry tea time quickstart guide and a contest!  What better month than April to check out these wonderful resources and give poetry tea time a go in your home?

To get this month of poetry love started, I’m sharing a list of poetry related links from my archives.  Enjoy!

What’s your favorite poetry resource?  Do you read poetry in your home or school (or homeschool)?

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Newbery Through the Decades–1940s/March linkup

newbery through the decadesHappy April Fool’s Day Eve! :-) I haven’t quite finished my review of my March book, but I wanted to go ahead and put up a post about it in case anyone else is ready to share a review.  Just link ’em up in the comments.
You can read more about the Newbery Through the Decades Challenge here.

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Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor

Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor has long been on my TBR list (the one I carry around in my head).  I read Taylor’s The Land right after it was published, and as a prequel to Roll of Thunder, it really piqued my curiosity.  I devoured it and LOVED it.  Fast forward over a dozen years, and I finally got around to reading the best-known of the Logan family stories, Newbery medal-winning Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry.

Set in Mississippi during the 1930s, this story chronicles the Logan family’s desperate attempt to hang onto the land they own in the segregated South.  Told from the perspective of the family’s only daughter, ten year old Cassie, the story paints a picture of a loving family whose work ethic is honed razor-sharp by their desire to keep their land in a society where sharecropping for African Americans (as well as poor whites) was the norm.  What makes the situation even worse is, as history has shown us, that society is also characterized by suspicion and violence.  Cassie is full of moxie, to the point that she doesn’t use wisdom as she is so often admonished to do by her mama and her Big Ma (grandmother).  This story goes from one crisis to another, until the book finally ends just after the biggest crisis of all–one that leaves us perched on the edge of an emotional cliff (and which is presumably resolved in the next book, Let the Circle Be Unbroken).  My suspicions are there probably isn’t a real resolution for the Logan family.

I read this one aloud to my girls and used The Boomerang for dictation and discussion ideas.  I hope to take them out for fro yo tomorrow night and talk about the story.  I also hope to find the next book and hand it off to them.  We thoroughly enjoyed this one as a read-aloud.  I couldn’t help but compare this one to To Kill a Mockingbird just a wee bit, and I hope to remember to draw the comparison when we get to TKM in a few years.  My only complaints about it are the (unfortunately historically accurate) use of the N-word (which gave us food for discussion!) and the long chapters.  I prefer for my read alouds to have short chapters, and this one most definitely does not.  I have the novella The Friendship by Taylor, which is an episode from the Logan family chronicles, waiting in the wings for us to read while we wait for our next history read aloud to come in the big brown truck.  Highly Recommended.  (1976)

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