Saturday, February 06, 2016

Series books for a Voracious Girl Reader

The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place series // One of the best kids' series I've read in my quest to find good stuff for my kids. Quirky characters, orphans raised by wolves, delicious dialogue ... fun for mama and munchkins to read. It would make aThe Prydian Chronicles by Lloyd Alexander // a great beginning fantasy series! Very reminiscent of The Lord of the Rings but scaled way back for younger readers. We have read the first three together and I'm ready to go back and finish the series. #MMDrea

A friend recently stopped me and asked me for some book suggestions for her daughter who is a voracious reader. This girl is somewhere between my two N's ages and needed some ideas of new series and authors to try and boy, did my eyes light up when she asked me for some ideas. I just adore giving book suggestions to folks ... I gives me an excuse to keep justifying my reading of junior and young adult literature! : )

Anyway, I decided to cut and paste the list to my blog so that if asked the question again, I can point someone to the list without having to rethink and type it out again. So, without further ado, my list of recommended series for girls, aged 10-12, who love to read:
The Mysterious BenedictSociety – a trilogy with nice thick books + a 4th book which is a prequel.

*** Trenton Lee Stewart has a new book coming out this fall. Enabler alert!!!! ****

The Incorrigible Children ofAshton Place – there are five books in this series and she has one more to go, as yet unpublished

The Penderwicks – four books in this five book series have been published.

The Chronicles of Prydian – these fantasy books remind me so much of The Lord of the Rings, but in a much younger, scaled back way. N2 has LOVED these books as we have read them aloud (we still have two more to go to finish the series.)

The Wingfeather Saga by Andrew Peterson – these might be a bit too old for her, but if she has read the entire Harry Potter series, I would think she could handle the suspense of them (they aren’t gory at all). Very Narnia-ish as far as fantasy with lots of wonderful characters and creatures.

Horten's Miraculous Mechanisms: Magic,Mystery, & a Very Strange Adventure and it’s sequel Horten's Incredible Illusions: Magic, Mystery & AnotherVery Strange Adventure – a fun quirky series

Mr. Lemoncello’s Library – a mystery in a library with lots of literary references. There is also a sequel now!

Saavy, Scumble and Switch by Ingrid Law – three book series about a family that all develop curious abilities when they reach thirteen.

Inkheart, Inkspell andInkdeath. These might be a bit too old as well, but I would have probably eaten them up at 5th or 6th grade so I’m recommending them.

Betsy-Tacy series. If she hasn’t read these, she must. The first four are when Betsy and her friend Tacy are grade school age; the second four in the series are highschool and early married life. We haven’t read the second foursome yet, not because they are inappropriate in anyway, but just because I don’t think the girls will “get it” as much. But totally clean and delightful.

She might not be ready for Anne of Green Gables yet – I fell in love with the series around 6th grade so she’s not far off. If you want to try some of L.M. Montgomery’s books with her, I would suggest Jane of Lantern Hill, or The Story Girl and it’s sequel, The Golden Road. The girls and I have read those three outloud and loved them. We are currently reading the first Anne book outloud and N2 and B are very into it. (N1 not as much, but just because she’s listened to it on audio!)

The All of A Kind Familybooks by Sydney Taylor. Five Jewish sisters living in depression era New York. So so good.

The Sisters’ Grimm – N2 just finished reading this series and loved it. All the fairy tale characters intermarried with real life and modern times.

Happy reading!

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Books about Snow :: Big Snow by Jonathan Bean and Blizzard by John Rocco


A couple weekends ago I was able to listen in to a part of the Read Aloud Revival's author talk with Jonathan Bean. This is the first one that I have sat in on and I didn't finish it, but it was very interesting listening to him talk with the host, Sarah Mackenzie, about how he creates and illustrates his books. While listening, I hopped on the library website and requested his book Big Snow. That led to a whole bunch of other winter book searching and we came home this week with these two winners when we dashed by to pick up our holds that came in.


Big Snow tells the story of David who is anxiously awaiting a BIG SNOW. He asks his mom throughout the day if the big snow has arrived, and mom tries to distract him with a few jobs around the house. However, everything he does reminds him of the snow that is to come. The flour falling into the cookie bowl reminds him of the snow coming down white and fine ... so he goes outside to check on the snow.


The clean white bedsheets remind him of the snow blanketing everything white and cool ... so he goes outside to check on the snow.


You'll have to read the rest of the book to find out if the big snow finally arrives. I loved the illustrations in the book and I think it captured perfectly a little boy's excitement on waiting for the snow to arrive. Something like this:

Watching the snow. Hoping to knock out our school this morning so we (they) can go out and play after lunch when we have some decent accumulation. ❄️

Our own dude waiting for the snow to accumulate last week.


The second book we brought home was called Blizzard by John Rocco and tells a boy's memories of the blizzard in 1978 that blanketed much of the East coast. My mother-in-law remembers this blizzard and how it impacted her that February in Ohio and the lack of power and inability to get out because of the snow. This story tells of the drifts as high as the house and how they had to go out the window to get outside. (You can imagine how quickly the boy here asked if he could climb out the window to get to the snow. Ahem).


It also tells about how food started to run low after being trapped for so many days and how the little boy because a hero in his neighborhood when he takes his sled and snowshoes his way to the small market and then delivers a small supply of provisions to the neighbors on the way back to his home.


We certainly enjoyed these two books that we found at the library and decided to share them in case you are looking for some fun winter reading in your homes. They have been on repeat here the last few days even though all our snow has long melted and we're supposed to be back up to sixty degrees this weekend (what?!) I'd be okay with a little more snow headed our way!

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

January's Reading Report ... or Lack Thereof

It's been a while since we've been in the routine of an evening read-aloud. The goal is to finish this one tonight. #readaloudrevivalWe started a new read aloud yesterday. #readaloudrevival #itssimplytuesday


January has been super slow on the reading front. My plans for lots of snuggling under blankets and reading lots of books didn't pan out for me quite as I expected ... some due to circumstances and some due to my own frittering away of my time. As of today, with four days left in the month, I've read:
  • Anna and the Swallow Man which was a young adult World War 2 book sent to me by Amazon to read and review. I didn't love it, but I didn't hate it so I'm not going to say much about it period.
  • Winter by Marissa Meyers I finished this highly addictive science fiction series of books and could not put this down. That might have been one of the reasons that I had a hard time picking up another book. This book was pure candy and fun and it ended perfectly.
  • The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis One of my goals for January was to get us into a semi-routine of reading aloud a little bit on those cold evenings where we don't have anywhere to be. As a result, we finished re-reading the first Narnia book, this time with the boy who has not yet read these aloud. Always wonderful, no matter how many times I've read it.
  • We are currently about 2/3 of the way through Anne of Green Gables as our post-lunch read-aloud, but I don't think we'll finish it before the month is out.
And that's the list!


I tried reading The Trumpeter of Krakow for Amy's Newbery Challenge in January and I just couldn't get past the first two chapters. I'm sure it is the fault of the reader because I picked it up right after I finished Winter and two more different books couldn't be found. Poor timing on my part! I also have a ginormous stack of non-fiction that I want to start and it has resulted in some sort of paralysis because I'm having trouble just picking up one and getting going on it! It didn't help that I've been glued to my phone watching weather apps, twitter for school cancellations (so I know when the neighbors will be knocking on the door), and Facebook due to the winter weather we had last week and throughout the weekend. Not at all severe compared to what is happening in the East, but mildly paralyzing in our neck of the woods. Time to sever the phone from my hand, once again.

Here's to better reading in January with new goals and lists and plans! 

Thursday, January 21, 2016

The Arnold Lobel Treasury :: A Boy Recommended Read-Aloud


It's been a good long while since I've shared a boy-centric read-aloud in this spot. This book was one of the surprise hits of Christmas this year. I can honestly tell you that there have been very few nights that we have not read one of the stories from this treasury that I bought the boy. I have had the pictures languishing here for a while and today seems as good a day as any to share them!


Many moons ago (or really, something like seven years!) I blogged about an Arnold Lobel book that we happened on by chance at the library - The Great Blueness and Other Predicaments. This was one of those books that came home on repeat from the library, so much that I decided we needed to purchase a copy. Imagine my dismay when I found out that it was out of print and those copies that I did track down were well outside my budget for a loved children's book that I knew would get a lot of hand-holding in our house!

This year, I decided once again to hunt for it, as I'm realizing that I'm down to just a couple of die-hard picture book readers left here in my house. (Sniff, sniff.) When I found this treasury on Amazon, I immediately put it on the boy's list.


Arnold Lobel is probably most famous for his Frog and Toad books. The Great Blueness tells the story of a time where there was no color in the world. Every thing was gray; thus the period was called the Great Grayness. A wizard, who liked making things in his workshop was puttering around one day and came up with an interesting concoction - he called it BLUE! Once the townspeople saw the blue (and because they were so tired of the Great Grayness) they asked the wizard to share his blue with them and soon everything was blue.

Well, of course, there were problems with everything being blue, so the wizard makes another color. And another. Until finally the color challenged townspeople reach a solution that makes life wonderful and splendid! 


We found another gem in this treasury that also bears mention based on the number of repeat readings we have had. This is totally a boy story ... Prince Bertram the Bad is the only son of the King and Queen and he is bad. So bad that his parents just don't know what to do with him. Unfortunately for Bertram, one day he threw a rock and hit a witch who was flying by on her broomstick. She was not a fan of such treatment and turned him into a dragon! The story ends well (i.e., he doesn't stay a dragon) and we can chalk this up to another Lobel favorite in our house!

Other boy recommended read alouds:
Earl the Squirrel by Don Freeman
The Star Wars Little Golden Books
From the Boy's Shelf
Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt / Books by Kate Messner
What He's Reading Now

Monday, January 18, 2016

Around Here


Around here we are finally seeing frost in the mornings and are very hopeful for a first snow later this week!


Around here someone is very into rescue bots and transformers. Boy toys really are quite cool.


Photo from @our.littlehouse on Instagram, because I can't figure out how to imbed an instagram shot other than a screen shot on my phone!

Around here I made some homemade almond coffee creamer for me and vanilla for a little girl that likes some coffee with her creamer. That's good stuff.

Introducing the girls to a side of Professor Snape that they have never seen. One of my favorites.

Around here, we are sad about the death of Professor Snape and introduced the girls to his other side this weekend with Sense and Sensibility. It has been several years since I have watched this movie and it is so so good.

Sunday family game night. Teaching the kids the finer points of Yahtzee.

Around here we are trying to have family game night on Sunday. Last night we taught the kids how to play Yahtzee and were creamed by the 9 year old.

Painting with egg yolk and chalk in the style of Giotto. #classicalconversations #itssimplytuesday

Around here we are back to Classical Conversations and art projects like painting with egg yolks and crushed chalk in the style of Giotto.


Around here it is Monday and the struggle is real. (Semi-staged photo). : ) It's hard to be a homeschooler and doing school on MLK Day when the public schools are out. We do school when Dad goes to work though, so it's all business here with a side of bacon to improve our mood, and we have a trip to the symphony later this week with friends to look forward to. For now, it's math, memory work, and reading aloud.

Happy Monday!