Posts from the ‘homeschooling’ Category

PROUD AND FREE

America’s Star Spangled Story Celebrating 200 Hundred Years of the National Anthem

Written by Jane Hampton Cook

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An interesting book that uses each line of The Star Spangled Banner to trace the history of the events of the War of 1812 when the British attempted to control Washington, DC, the key players in the events, background events, and photos from the past and present. The author narrates the history of the battle for control of Fort McHenry relating to the lines of the song as it was penned in the midst of the battle. Occasionally the author dips back in time to muse about the thoughts of the Pilgrims as they landed on the shores of America, and the Patriots as they fought for freedom from Great Britain during the American Revolution. They believed that The War of 1812 and the destruction of the Capitol by the British added insult to injury.

Readers are encouraged to think about the images that each line of this now famous song evoke in their minds and hearts. Perhaps few Americans are aware that the song did not gain widespread notoriety until the end of the nineteenth century and was not made the official national anthem until the administration of Herbert Hoover.

Anyone with an interest in American history and this beautiful song will find the short book entertaining and informative. Appropriate for readers age ten and older.

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A SYMBOL OF PRIDE

African Wild Dogs: Amazing Facts and Fun Photos About African Wild Dogs

Written by Rita Terry

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An interesting picture book for elementary school children and all those who are interested in unusual animals. African wild dogs are related to canines and wolves. Unlike domesticated dogs they have four claws instead of five. Like wolves they live in packs. They are carnivores and their hunting habits require a rather large habitat area of 1,500 square kilometers. African wild dogs are sometimes called painted dogs because they are covered with patches of red, black, white, yellow, and brown patches. Today their habitat has been largely reduced to South Africa due to rabies, vehicle accidents and the rapid encroachment of farmers upon their territory.

Terry discusses how these creatures communicate and the rituals they perform before the hunt. She explains how the pack is dominated by an alpha male and female, but stresses the fact that all members of the pack understand their roles and are protected and maintained by the rest of the family. The inside photographs are excellent; they capture the spirit and character of the animal. The print is large and easy to read for the younger reader, and the text well-written for the most part. Nice book to put on a classroom reference shelf for those interested in animals or dogs in particular. The author has written other nonfiction books about many other animals living in the past and present. Available in kindle and print format.

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ALONE NO MORE…

Gumbo Goes Downtown

Written by Carol Talley

gumbopicA tale that is charming and sweet, yet focuses on some important issues. The obvious story line is about a guard dog named Gumbo, who lives in a shotgun house on St. Charles Street in New Orleans. He spends most of his time barking at any one who comes near the chain link fence, such as the girl in a polka dot dress and the postman. When the postman fails to close the gate one day, Gumbo seizes the opportunity to see the world. He follows the trolley tracks downtown to New Orleans. Here he meets up with a poodle named Pompon and a champion pure breed named Stella. Gumbo has the time of his life in Jackson Square with clowns, dancers, jugglers, musicians and the like. Soon his friends leave to go home and be pampered by their owners. Gumbo begins to miss his house and owner Gus, whom he never appreciated. Will Gumbo decide to remain free in the big city on his own and fend for himself or return to his former life?

The book description suggests an audience of K-2. While the simple story of Gumbo’s adventure is appropriate for that age group, the larger issues of homelessness and running away from home are better addressed to a middle grade audience. Talley provides a nice guide for parents and teachers to set up a discussion on these issues. Maeno’s illustrations are soft, colorful and appealing, but the text is small and difficult to read on some of the pages. I recommend the book especially for parents and teachers who would like to open up a discussion on homelessness, running away, and poverty. Talley also includes an interesting background section on New Orleans and the points of interest mentioned in the story.

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REFLECTING BACK AND LOOKING FORWARD…..

HAPPY NEW YEAR 2017!

Wishing my family, friends, and followers health, happiness and prosperity in the year to come.

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Looking back to 2016, I count my blessings. I released the seventh book in the award winning Little Miss HISTORY Travels to….children’s nonfiction book series, Little Miss HISTORY Travels to MOUNT VERNON.

Little Miss HISTORY and I traveled near and far to visit old friends and acquire new ones. I’d like to share a few memories with you….

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In January, we assisted a local girl scout troupe working on earning their community badge by reading about Little Miss HISTORY’S trip to The Statue of Liberty.

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We participated in READ ACROSS AMERICA in March with our friends at Temple Hill Academy in Newburgh and had a pajama reading party at Ralph R. Smith Elementary School in New Hyde Park.

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One of the highlights each May is Children’s Reading Week. Little Miss HISTORY Travels to Intrepid, Sea, Air & Space Museum was my feature book in 2016 at the Hudson Children’s Book Festival, the largest children’s book festival in New York state.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              babswithhost

 

Our summer travels included a trip to eastern Long Island, where I discussed the Little Miss HISTORY book series with Linda Marie Frank on her TV show, The Writer’s Dream.   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qNXOKQBolik

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We journeyed to the Museum of Science and Innovation in Schenectady to read about SEQUOIA NATIONAL PARK at the four day Science and Technology Festival.

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For Thanksgiving I traveled south to the Carolinas to visit with family and read to first grade children at Harrisburg Elementary School in South Carolina.

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I welcomed the opportunity to share in the holiday spirit with authors Iza Trapani and Michael Garland at FDR’s home and presidential library in New Hyde Park for the Children’s Holiday Reading Festival in December.

As 2016 comes to a close, Little Miss HISTORY has plans to travel to new and exciting destinations by some unconventional means of transportation. I hope that children and adults will enjoy a new opportunity to put their creative stamp on the adventures of Little Miss HISTORY. In just a few weeks, her very first coloring book will be available online and in your favorite bookstore. You can add your personal touch to images from her adventures and read words of wisdom from historical figures. Take a sneak peak at the cover!

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Please continue to follow my family friendly book reviews  for ages preschool through adult on Wednesdays and Sundays. To subscribe click on the word Follow or hit the orange RSS FEED button in the upper right hand corner of this page.

Look out 2017, here we come!

 

INSIDE OUT

THE LADYBUG PRINCESS

Written by Julie Schoen

Illustrated by Marina Veselinovic

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Charming early chapter book that relates the tale of a little girl who loves picking flowers, hearing birds sing, and the beauty of nature. Audrey adores her parents and they support her. On a rainy day, Audrey often dresses up in her mothers fancy clothes and jewelry, while pretending that she is a beautiful princess. When Audrey is old enough for school, her mother encourages her to dress as she wishes so Audrey appears at school on her first day dressed as a princess. An older student makes fun of her; Audrey races to the farthest point in the playground to hide. A swarm of ladybugs cover her from head to toe and speak to Audrey. They tell her that beauty does not exist solely in outward appearance like the clothes she wears. Audrey is a beautiful princess because she sees the good in others and expresses her goodness in the love that she shows other people. As long as Audrey loves life and expresses herself in the same way toward others, she will always remain a princess. Audrey learns how to deal with bullies, not to overvalue material things, and the importance of self-esteem.

A few creative illustrations enhance the beauty of the message in this short chapter book that is appropriate for beginning readers in the seven and up age group. Highly recommended for parents and teachers to boost self-confidence.

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BEAUTY IS IN THE EYE OF THE BEHOLDER

Becky and the Butterfly Girl

Written by Janet Young

Illustrated by Vladimir Cebu

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Charming picture book featuring a child named Becky who guides her young readers on a tour of her butterfly garden. Becky’s garden is designed as a wild flower garden with water features, a pond filled with fish, birdhouses and bee houses, but most importantly it provides a safe haven for butterflies. Monarch butterflies are quickly disappearing due to the rapid expansion of roads and cities. Becky’s tour leads us through cone flowers, monarda, asters, goldenrod and milkweed. This garden is free of pesticides and chemical fertilizers. The monarch butterflies lay their eggs on the underside of milkweed leaves; which are the only kind of food they eat, but which are poisonous to humans. Once the eggs become caterpillars, Becky’s dad carefully moves them to a cage where they continue to feed on milkweed leaves until they form a chrysalis. After about ten days they emerge as butterflies, when they are carefully released from their cage.

The illustrations depict Becky and her beautiful garden plants and animal friends. Story is based on Becky Lecroy, a genuine character whose parents raise monarch butterflies in their own wild flower backyard. Nice way to teach children about the life cycle of the monarch butterfly and the importance of conserving the species. Targeted for grades preschool through grade four, this book should be included on classroom shelves in elementary school as well as those in libraries and environmentally conscious parents who might want to undertake the project on a smaller scale. I personally plant milkweed in my tiny garden to encourage monarchs to settle there. Sadly, in recent years, I have noticed a dramatic drop in the lovely creatures that used to fill my backyard.

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FROM RAGS TO RICHES

The Improbable Rise of Paco Jones

Written by Dominic Carrillo

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A very well-written novel that traces the experiences of a Mexican-American eighth grader struggling to fit into an exclusive private school and falling in love for the first time. Paco Jones is taunted by his classmates as Taco Jones; he is unattractive, nonathletic, uncool and poor. Paco’s biracial parents are determined to see that their son has a chance of success and struggle to give him a good education. Paco wants to gain the acceptance of his peers and please his parents. To complicate his situation further, Paco falls desperately in love with a black girl named Naomi, who is dating Trent, one of the popular jocks at school. When Naomi becomes impressed with Paco’s intelligence and honesty; she takes him into her confidence and reveals her true feelings about Trent. Strangely enough, Trent also enlists Paco’s help in his effort to woo Naomi. Paco becomes trapped between his two friends, and almost gets expelled in the process. Despite the trouble in which Paco finds himself, he remains true to his principles revealing his real character.

This tale deals with many issues that young adult readers face. Paco faces racial discrimination, economic insecurity, first love issues and parental child responsibilities. He winds his way through a myriad of difficulties, only to find out that there is not always a simple solution or a rosy ending. Characters are well- developed multicultural, and multidimensional; readers empathize with Paco, find a strong female role model in Naomi, and discover the strengths and flaws in others like Trent and Mr. Holiday. As a bonus, the author/teacher provides discussion questions that align with the US common core standards. This book also provides a flashback for adult readers who may have forgotten those turbulent junior high days. Recommended for readers age twelve and older.

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