book notes for June

First, I will start with a book review:

"The Mother-Daughter Book Club" by Heather Vogel Frederick
is about 4 very different girls roped together by their mothers- to form a book club. The mothers decide the book for the year will be "Little Women". The story of what happens next is told in alternating chapters between the four girls. The girls are each very different from each other, I think young girls reading will find someone in the story to identify with.

Emma is the quiet, bookish daughter of the town's librarian. Jess is Emma's close friend and lives on an organic farm- her mother is working in New York and Jess finds herself missing her mother and dealing with a broken family. Cassidy is the new girl in town, her mother is an ex-super model- a lot to live up to, or to live down- if you are a hockey playing tom-boy who looks nothing like her. Megan is from a newly wealthy family, and used to be best friends with Emma, but is now running with the mean girls.

There is enough information sprinkled throughout the book to get girls interested in Little Women if they have not read it, and girls will not be handicapped by not having read it.
I loved that the girls begin to ask themselves..."what would Jo March do?" - and that at the end of the book when asked which March girl they identified the most with, the girls gave some surprising answers.

I am wary of books with spoiled/bratty kids, disrespect towards family, plain old attitude....we skip over many popular series for this reason...but this book was free from anything off-putting, I thought. There was some tension between a few of the girls and their mothers, but normal - mother/daughter angst...'she doesn't understand' type stuff that was realistic and not over-the-top. The ending was a little too fairy-tale-ish for me- despite the fact I love a happy ending, it was a little too-sweetly wrapped up...but yet, a fun, clean read for girls.
I think it is a can't miss summer read for girls ages 5th to 6th grade...even 7th.

Next, our Summer reading- so far...

I am reading "When the brain can't hear, unraveling the mystery of auditory processing disorder" -see it here at Amazon, I am reading this to understand better how to help our bonus student, Teddy, who has been diagnosed with APD.

I am also reading "Pride and Prejudice", just because I needed a Elizabeth/Darcy fix...

Meg is reading "Double Identity" , which is a mystery/thriller- she has a thirst for those, but it is hard to find ones that are age-appropriate, clean, and won't give her nightmares...I read this one first and approved it- and enjoyed it, a very well-done story. The main character in the story is twelve, and the grade level is listed as 5th to 8th.

Meg is also re-reading the Harry Potter series...

Josie is re-reading the Warriors series... I am reading "Fairy Dust and the Quest for the Egg" with Demi and Amie right now, and Demi is reading lots of "Calvin & Hobbes", as always.

Next up on our list is "Peter and the Starcatchers" which was recommended
by OC Mom, and "The Mob-feather and bones series" which is a series about crows- a favorite study subject of Meg's, I think she might like it...

So, what are you reading? Any good recommends?


I just love it when learning comes as easily as breathing. Yesterday, the whole family was out in the street, playing football with the neighborhood kids...when I looked behind me and saw a small swarm of bees in our yard. I gathered the kids to make a run for the neighbor's house across the street...but we noticed the swarm move to the corner of our yard and get smaller.
It was a spring-time swarm looking for a new home, and they picked our fence. The first photo most of the bees are inside the rock column, but you get the idea...

Today, as we loaded up the van to head to the library, my 3 youngest students began asking all manner of questions about bees. I picked out several books on bees of course, and a dvd. I think we have our science for the month decided on...

So far, we have Bees (under the microscope),
Honey in a Hive, and Time for kids-Bees!

Sentinel- an allegory for growing godly young men

Here is a book that would make a great devotional read-aloud.
Sentinel, city of destiny is aimed at boys ages 8 and up- but girls will enjoy it too.

The story, written in an allegory-pilgrim's progress meets Narnia style-
is about two brothers setting out on a coming of age quest toward the city of Sentinel. They must travel far, face many challenges and find the four keys (courage, integrity, service and vision) to unlock the gate of Sentinel and enter in to serve the King.

The two brothers make very different choices on their journey- beginning with the choice of brother brings a royal falcon named Prayer, the other brother brings his pet pig named Sin.

The Author wrote this story for his own sons, and he touches on several important topics young men need to consider and learn to approach wisely as they grow up; subjects such as the narrow vs. the broad road, idleness, debt, gambling, gaming, corrupting music, greed, etc.

One brother Jerol, faces his quest with courage and steadfastness...

"As was his morning custom, Jerol spent time reading and meditating upon the Logos, immediately followed by sending Prayer off with more notes to the King." page 131.

Jadan is ruled by his impulses,...
"The brothers stopped and stood in silence studying their choices. "Well, the best way to me is obvious. Come on, follow me," Jadan barked as he hoisted his gear, winked, and quickly headed down the wide road with Sin hurrying to catch up. "Anybody with half a mind can see that the way traveled by the most people has got to be the best way to go!" page 89

The author added his own illustrations, all well done and a helpful addition to the text. My favorite part of the story was the warning on debt- and the illustration was great- here it is:

A picture of Jadan with his fetter, debt- who had grown too large to manage...

Here is an excerpt from that chapter...
"By Jadan's estimation, she was growing at least three hands wider every day! Jadan was in a desparate situation. To feed her, he was forced to trade back every belonging he owned just to survive." page 153

Jadan and Jerol's story is one of warning, imitation and encouragement. Through the actions and choices of the two brothers, your young boys should find warning of what not to do and be, and good example of what kind of character to strive for. The allegory is a gentle way to impress on your boys the lessons you hope they will learn, without lecturing to them- I think story is more often the better vehicle for life's lessons to youngsters.
Passages such as this one; "One particular morning, Jerol began his day as he had many times before. First, he searched the Scrolls for direction. This discipline had proved its worth like a candle in the dark, helping him often to avoid unseen dangers. He then called Prayer and launched him off ..." page 209 and this one, "I know what I can do. I will send out Prayer on his behalf. Prayer is so much stronger than I am.." page 208 - coupled with our example can often speak to a heart better then a hundred urgings.

This story is written for ages 8 and up, and while Demi-Sky, age 8, was really captured by the action, I do think the finer lessons escaped him. I will be re-reading Sentinel to him at age 10 when I think he will absorb it better. Meg age 12 and Josie age 11-though girls and not the intended audience, really enjoyed the story and understood the underlying themes.

The book is meant to be entertaining for the boys and a teaching tool for parents, to that end, you will find a study guide at the back of the book.

The last sentence of the book sums it up, really...

"I hope that hearing about Jadan and Jerol's crossing will help you to find your way to manhood. Just like them, you must choose which road you will take.
Choose Wisely."

Sentinel can be purchased through Amazon, Barnes & Nobles, Borders, etc.

Children of the 70's

Last night I started this read aloud with the younger kids.
Ribsy by Beverly Clearly is a favorite I remember from my childhood.

This book takes place in the 1970's (at least from what I can tell by reading it) and the first chapter was in large part, sights and scenes from my childhood.

Sky and I were discussing it later that night, how I could see, smell, feel and touch Cleary's descriptions because they were the backdrop of my childhood. It was kind of humorous to have to describe for my kids what a station-wagon was, and Sky started in with a "do you remember?-" of the feel of the plastic faux-leather seats that were used in most of the cars then. Sky brought up the memory of how they hardened with age, began to crack and split and then poke you very sharply on your bare legs when you climbed in wearing shorts. All of this remembering-springing from Cleary's descriptions of the new car and plastic smell from Ribsy's point of view. She also described the family going to a shopping center, where the novelty and attraction were several stores in one spot, and a parking lot with plenty of parking and no parking meters. So, again a description was needed for my kids to understand a time before malls and its precursor- the shopping center.

The family read-aloud that began as a literature assignment has morphed into history.

It's kind of strange, being a relic of history past.

p.s. Neil Patrick Harris narrates the audio version of this book, and we thought he did a wonderful job with "Socks", if you are looking for a good audio book...

Book Meme

Here is a fun meme I found over at By Sun and Candlelight...

Book Meme


  1. Pick up the nearest book (of at least 123 pages).
  2. Open the book to page 123.
  3. Find the fifth sentence.
  4. Post the next three sentences.
  5. Tag five people.
Well, the nearest book at this desk is a dictionary-but that wouldn't work... so this is from our read aloud:

"If we had tried to see what a dreadful muss we could make, things could have looked no worse. I think father told her to wait in the carriage, but we heard her cry: "Oh Mr. Stanton, let me see the dear children I'm to teach, and where I'm to work."
Hopped is the word. She hopped from the carriage and came hopping after father."
-Laddie by Gene Stratton-Porter (one of my all time favorite books)

So, I am going to tag OC Mom at An Orange County Sitcom, Dawn at Picking up Pebbles,
Daisy at Lesser Road Academy, Lisa at Koinonia Academy and then leave it open for anyone else who would like to play...

Fall into reading challenge 2007 - wrap up!

I know I am way behind on this, but here goes....
The results of my 2007 Fall reading challenge hosted by Callapidder Days


Lies My Teacher told me- about 2/3 finished...very well written, I am just slow working on this one- I recommend it highly.

Confessions by St. Augustine - barely 1/4 thru...very slow with this one, I am also doing a Teaching Co. audio course on St. Augustine- again, slow going with this.

Added: 101 devotions for Homeschool moms - not finished, but I am trying to stick to one devotion a day so it will last. Sometimes I cheat and read 2... I am enjoying it, very well written and thought provoking.

Added: Jane Austin and her times- Finished! Enjoyed it, though I didn't always agree with the authors conclusions about some of the points in Austin's books.

Added: Mosaic by Amy Grant- Finished! I enjoyed reading it and learning more about the songs I have loved for so long. I thought it was very well written, and I admired that she did not avoid mentioning her ex as if he did not exist, but yet she kept everything private. The book did make me sad though. I enjoyed most discovering that Amy Grant does something we call "pray reading" at our church- each morning before she starts her day.

Dropped: City of God-St. Augustine (because Confessions was first on the teaching co. course)
Orbit- just never got around to it
Teaching the Trivium- just didn't get it ordered

Read aloud:

Laddie - still working on it, but the older girls really love it- I just need to stay consistent about getting the book out to read (this is one of my all-time favorite books!!!)


Miss Julia stands her ground - Finished! I think this was the Miss Julia book I enjoyed the most, because it showed inside her heart regarding little Loyd and his mother. Miss Julia is a hoot, I recommend all the books in the series.

Nineteen Minutes - Finished! This book was one of the hardest for me to read...I will do a book review on it soon. It was a painful read, and it haunted me for weeks.

Size 12 is not fat, Size 14 is not fat either, and added Big boned -all by Meg Cabot
Finished all three! These are all part of a series, and I am hooked review coming

By Bread alone- Finished! Author of one of my favorites, "Blessed are the Cheesemakers"- it was a good read, really sad in some parts, not on my favorite list- but the bread making directions at the end are worth your perusing.

Added: (because fiction is like chocolate and you just can't stop...)

* Cornelia and the audacious escapades of the somerset sisters by L. Blume -*my review*
*Princess in Pink by Meg Cabot (because I am addicted to them)-Finished!

*Miss Julia meets her match, *Miss Julia Strikes back (on a Miss Julia run, too) -Finished!

*Persuasion, Mansfield Park and Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen (because I was on a Jane Austin kick, and nothing else would do...) -Finished all! -old favorites

I enjoyed:

I enjoyed the last two Heather Wells mysteries by Meg Cabot- the most (size 14 is not fat, either and Big boned) I was pleasantly surprised how much I enjoyed them, I was not sure after the first book how much I could like the heroine- but she has grown on me- I hope she has another one on the way!!

I also really enjoyed Lies my teacher told me, though parts of it curled my hair...!

I did not enjoy

Nineteen Minutes ;it was a painful read, a painful subject and story. I thought the author did a superb job telling the story. As a homeschool mom it was just awful to read, because all I could think the whole book was, "why didn't they pull him out of school?", and regretting that so many people failed one little boy. The book depressed me, and haunted me for weeks. I do have to say that it changed me some, too. I thought much more about the little moments with my little boy, holding his hand seemed so much more precious.

Well, that wraps up my fall reading challenge- stop by Katrina's place to read more wrap-ups and reviews.

See you at the next challenge!!

begs to be read aloud

I stumbled upon this great read quite by accident, I picked it up thinking it would interest Josie age 10- who seems to be between books right now...She hasn't picked it up yet, but I did- and wow, what a cute/fun/sweet book.

This is homeschool family read-aloud-fun, people!

Cornelia and the Audacious Escapades of the Somerset Sisters by Lesley Blume is listed for grades 4-6 or 5-7, but I think it would have a wider interest range as a read-aloud.

Cornelia is the 11 year old heroine of this story, mostly left to herself home alone with servants while her famous, pianist mother tours or vacations. Cornelia is a quiet, introverted little girl-and the housekeeper's attempt to compensate for the lack of attention by her mother -by smothering her-pushes Cornelia to resort to using big words as a shield, isolating her even more. Cornelia also struggles mightily with hating how people only show interest in her because of who her mother is. Just as Cornelia is feeling more alone then ever, a new neighbor moves into the apartment next door. Cornelia becomes friends with fascinating Virginia Somerset who begins to share wonderful stories of the four Somerset girls and their daring adventures during the 1930's and 40's. Cornelia begins to change alittle, and to become a little more adventurous due to the impact Virginia and her stories have on her. The ending was sad, Virginia is elderly and dying, but she makes an effort to connect with Cornelia's mother and influence the healing of their relationship. It was a good, fun story, though sad at times too. The ending was satisfying. Virginia herself says in the story,

"Notice I didn't say that story endings should be tidy, Cornelia," she added solemnly. "Very few stories have tidy endings, or entirely happy ones. But a story can have a positive ending without it being wholly happy."

That is exactly the sort of ending this story has.

It was a really fun, witty and satisfying read that just begs to be read aloud, specially the French parts. The next time you go to say "what?", you just might find yourself asking, "comment?", and you will always think of French china and chiens together and have to laugh.

Put it on your next read aloud list, you won't be disappointed.

Fall into reading challenge 2007

Katrina over at Callipidder Days is hosting the Fall into reading challenge 2007- go on over to see a list of participants and to join in.

Here is the list of reading I will attempt to finish this fall:

Fiction: because I blaze through fiction...I love a light read...

Miss Julia stands her ground by Ann B. Ross (imagine a book read out-loud by BooMama) Finished!

Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult Finished!

Orbit by J. Nance (was on my Spring reading challenge and I never read it)

Added: Size 12 is not fat-Meg Cabot, Size 14 is not fat, either.
By Bread Alone by Sarah-Kate Lynch Finished, finished, finished!!!

I am sure I will add more later, that is all I can think of right now...

Read aloud with the kids: Laddie by Gene Stratton-Porter (last list too, just got too busy)


The City of God by St. Augustine (going to listen to a Teaching Co. lecture series on him)

Teaching the Trivium

For the Love of Learning: information and resources for combining Charlotte Mason and Classical education by Jenny Sockey

Added: Confessions by St. Augustine, Lies my teacher told me

Kind of a short list, at least on the fiction kidding, I blaze through fiction. I am sure I will find titles to add.

If you post a list, let me know and I will come look! Happy reading!