Category Archives: books

How to build your own country 1, 2, 3…

A alternative and fun July 4th activity!

I have mentioned before how much I love the “Kid Citizen Book Collection”  read about them here, a collection of books that inform children about the world and inspire them to be better global citizens. How bad can that be?

Recently I picked up “How to Build Your Own Country” by Valerie Wyatt from the library and again we were not disappointed.

Use the book as a guide and your off creating your very own personal country!

Step 1: Stake out your identity by creating a flag, writing a national anthem, putting your name on a map

Step 2: Run the country by holding elections, forming a governement, and laying down the law

Step 3: Meet the neighbors by joining international organizations and finding allies who will help you face the big issues of the world.

Next week I’ll share our country!


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Posted by on July 3, 2011 in books, crafting, Family


Thank- You Jean Craighead George!

You have read her books did you know what she looks like? I grabbed this photo from her website.

Jean Craighead George has written over 100 books. In 1973 her book, Julie of the Wolves won the prestigious Newbery Medal. This weekend on our 4 hour drive to NJ, Zoe and I listened to My Side of the Mountain,  a Newbery Honor Book in 1960.

To say we were both engrossed would be an understatement! The drive seemed like minutes and once there we didn’t want to get out of the truck until we knew the fate of young Sam Gribely. Most kids dream about running away, most don’t get to the end of their street, this is not the case with Sam. His desire for independence, and adventure lead him to the Catskills. For a year he lives in a hollowed-out hemlock tree, befriending animals, and hunting and gathering for his survival.  Sam seems to appreciate a healthy balance of adventure and solitude. I especially enjoyed the wild food chapters! sometimes detailed descriptions of what was served up in his turtle shell bowls! Zoe enjoyed the chapters on raising his falcon companion Frightful best. And now she wants to learn how to fish. Fishing is something I have never done maybe it is something we learn together in the years to come.

The book is written from Sams point of view in the past tense, it is so well written that as a reader you come believe that Sam did write this book. I think it is a book for all ages, I enjoyed it the second time around as much as I need the first, maybe more as I now have an understanding of wild foods and plants of the Northeast. As soon as Zoe got to school today she found the sequel and sent me home with it! ready to learn more about Sam this evening. So if you are looking for a good book for family enjoyment, reach for this one, you won’t want to put it down!

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Posted by on April 11, 2011 in books, Family


Mini Mags. . .

I’ve been really impressed with two new mini mags we recently downloaded

First up was Whip Action Pack March 11

A printable PDF form mini mag for kids aged 7+ filled with fun craft projects, outdoor activities, cooking, drawing and more. The paper and beeswax theme lended itself to great activities such as lip balms and lotions to beeswax candles, origami boats and even some fabulous cooking projects! a Honey Cinnamon Cake! The instructions and details are fabulous for children. Zoe was especially impressed with the printable labels which we printed on sticker paper. And the price a very fair $5!

Today in honor of our “April Fools Day” Snow Day downloaded Action pack: April 2011

With a 20% discount cost a mere $4 (check their website for discount coupons!! 2 days only) Can’t wait to make those seed bombs and beaded dragon flies!! WOW this is a great resource, beautifully done.

The other

Alphabet Glue from Annie of “Bird and Little Bird”

a reading list for spring
do-it-yourself library catalog cards
mix and match story cards
a printable reading record
a library scavenger hunt
tiny box accordion book tutorial
felt bracelet book tutorial
paper story character houses
wildflower seed pods

A quarterly downloadable magazine for families who love books! twenty-eight pages of projects, activities and printables. I loved the “Library” theme! It was perfect for my little book collector! the accordion book tutorial and the book bracelet the is on our list for this week-end! I loved some of the kid art in this publication. I would say that this one can be used with younger children also.

Both of these mini mags are FAB! and I highly recommend them.

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Posted by on April 1, 2011 in books, crafting, Family


Zoe’s book post for 7 1/2 year olds!

Since writing the previous book post for 7 year olds we have a new slew of books which we have enjoyed either reading or on book-on-tape. We listed to books on tape on our daily commute… All the following books we read or listened to together most would be too hard for independent reading.

Here you see Zoe’s pure joy when Gina gave her her old copies on the Anne Of Green Gables Series…She is already a collector of books and would rather an old used copy that a new one!

So lets start here

Anne of Green Gables and Anne of Avonlea by LM Montgomery

I still remember 1981, my teacher in Upper 3, Mrs (Louise) Hayes Headmistress of Fairseat, fresh in from Canada reading us this book…It is one of my fondest memories of the time and I read Zoe that same copy. At first I thought that I began too soon and it would loose the magic by going over her head but in no time she had fallen for Anne Shirley and Gilbert Blythe!

“I like that Anne is always in trouble, doing silly things like dying her hair green. I also like that she thinks so much about her nose! I really like Paul Irving best…he is one of the boys that Anne teaches when she is a school teacher in Avonlea, he seems like a really fun kid!’

Black Beauty By Anna SewellEvery girl loves a story about a horse right! We are deep in our horse love at present! Set in Victorian London, Historical Fiction.

“This is a sad book but I like that there is a happy ending, that the end of his life is calm. I also liked learning about the life of a horse long ago but this was too sad!”

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin

“My favorite part of this book is the selflessness of Minli” (I changed her words here as it was too much of a spoiler! Chinese folk tales meet land of Oz adventures…Great new book! Excitement, danger, magic, greed, kindness..

Harry Potter and the Sorcerers Stone By J. K. Rowlings. Has it been 10 years already! Of course this magical story was an instant hit and she wanted to race through the series. After some negotiating we decided to read one every 6 months! so the next book awaits us as soon as school is done for the summer. The story of Harry Potter has led to much magical play and even some lego excitement and play, naturally she is dying to get the Hogwarts Express set!

“I liked Dumbledore as I imagine him to be short and plump. I like everything about the invisibility cloak! and the owl mail. It was a great adventure…I wish I went to Hogwarts!”

Kaya by Janet Shaw. Kaya is one of the Historical Fiction American Girl Dolls, A Nez Perce girl in 1764. Another great choice for the horse lover!

“I like that Kaya always learns the lesson. Sometimes she makes a mistake but always learns from it. I also like how she lives and that she has a horse. She is also a good friend”

The Midwives Apprentice by Karen Cushman

Sarah Plain and Tall by Patricia Maclachlan

The Chronicals of Narnia by C.S. Lewis, so far we have read the Magicians Nephew, The Lion Witch and the Wardrobe, The Horse and His Boy. We are about to start on Prince Caspian

At school her teacher Dan is reading aloud another all time favorite of mine, The Birch Bark House by Louise Erdrich. We listened to this one on tape last december as we were driving to Arizona and I thought to myself that it needs to be read again so that she gets a chance to pick up all that she missed little did I know that it would be read in class! It is a must read for all in the category of historical fiction, the daily life of 7-year-old Ojibwa girl Omakayas, or Little Frog, in 1847 on an island on Lake Superior. Great intro to understanding native life.

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Posted by on March 1, 2011 in books, Family, Uncategorized


Peace Travelers: Kids Becoming World Citizens

As many of you know that up until last year Zoe was in a homeschooling program that I co-wrote with my friend Kate O’Shea called Peace Travelers. The program has presently taken a hiatus but the “organization” is still meeting and we are still putting together programs and curriculums.

One of our favorite books are “One Hen, How one small loan made a big difference by Katie Smith Milway. I may have even blogged about it before, I have read it to Zoe many times and it has sparked many a conversation. We have also gotten “If the World were Village “ from the library several times based on the quote I have pasted below, and also “One Well, the Story of Water on Earth”. Just this week did I realize that they are part of the same series Citizen Kid A Collection of books that inform children about the world and inspire them to be better global citizens. The “Good Hen” reminds me a little of “Beatrices Goat “ by Page McBrier based on the Heiffer International approach when a new goat arrives in Beatrices poor Ugandan big changes can be made. Another element of these stories that I really like is that they can also fit into a georgraphy curriculum as each one is set in a different country, Uganda, Honduras, Ghana etc.

The connection was finding the book “The Good Garden- How one Family went from Hunger to Having Enough” by Katie Smith Milway and Illustrated by Sylvia Daigneault. Another fabulous book to set kids on the “Peace Traveling” path, helping them understand some of the issues while promoting global connectedness and community and the concept of world citizens. All simple stories about Big issues, Global Issues such as Food Security. Community, Water.  There is also an interactive website connected the “The Good Garden” full of further activities for children aged 8-12ish


(The below statistics were derived from Donella Meadows “State of the Village Report” first published in 1990)



In the world today, more than 6 billion people live.
If this world were shrunk to the size of a village of 100 people, what would it look like?

59 would be Asian
14 would be American (North, Central and South)
14 would be African
12 would be European
1 would be from the South Pacific

50 would be women, 50 would be men
30 would be children, 70 would be adults.
70 would be nonwhite, 30 would be white
90 would be heterosexual, 10 would be homosexual

33 would be Christians
21 would be Moslems
15 would be Hindus
6 would be Buddhists
5 would be Animists
6 would believe in other religions
14 would be without any religion or atheist.

15 would speak Chinese, Mandarin
7 English
6 Hindi
6 Spanish
5 Russian
4 Arabic
3 Bengali
3 Portuguese
The other would speak Indonesian, Japanese,
German, French, or some other language.

In such a village with so many sorts of folks, it would be very important to learn to understand people different from yourself and to accept others as they are. Of the 100 people in this village:

20 are underonurished
1 is dying of starvation, while 15 are overweight.
Of the wealth in this village, 6 people own 59% (all of them from the United States), 74 people own 39%, and 20 people share the remaining 2%.
Of the energy of this village, 20 people consume 80%, and 80 people share the remaining 20%.
20 have no clean, safe water to drink.
56 have access to sanitation
15 adults are illiterate.
1 has an university degree.
7 have computers.

In one year, 1 person in the village will die, but in the same year, 2 babies will be born, so that at the year’s end the number of villagers will be 101.

If you do not live in fear of death by bombardment, armed attack, landmines, or of rape or kidnapping by armed groups, then you are more fortunate than 20, who do.

If you can speak and act according to your faith and your conscience without harassment, imprisonment, torture or death, then you are more fortunate than 48, who can not.

If you have money in the bank, money in your wallet and spare change somewhere around the house, then you are among the richest 8.

If you can read this message, that means you are probably lucky!


Posted by on February 18, 2011 in books, peace travelers


Our Daily Commute… (and mini book review)

This second picture reminds me of Zoe’s current favorite book “Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening” Susan Jeffers’ illustrated book of the well known Robert Frost poem. The illustrations are truly exquisite. Susan Jeffer’s captures the quiet beauty of the woods on a snowy evening. Animals peaking from behind trees and bushes watching the man and his sleigh, A beautiful snowy owl, birds of every color against the stark white snow.  Every page is a work of art. A family keep sake.

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Posted by on January 27, 2011 in books, Family, Our daily Commute


Zoe’s book reccomendations for other 7 year old girls

Here is the list of books that Zoe reccommends for other 7 year old girls:

The 7 Year Old Wonder Book by Isabelle Wyatt

True magic for a child turning seven!

All 14 Oz Books written by L Frank Baum

- The Wonderful Wizard of OZ

- The Marvelous land of Oz

- Ozma of OZ (Her favorite in the series)

- Dorothy and the Wizard of OZ

- The Road to Oz (my least favorite book in the series, in fact the only one i did not care for)

- The Emerald City of Oz

- The Patchwork Girl of Oz

- Tik-Tok of Oz

- The Scarecrow of OZ

- Rinkitink in Oz

- The lost princess of OZ

- The Tin Woodman of OZ

- The Magic of Oz

- Glinda of oz

Osma of Oz and Dorothy were her two favorite characters!

The Doll People by Ann M Martin

” I liked that the dolls were bold and went on adventures. I also like the friendship between Anabelle Doll and Tifanny Funcraft. They had a lot of fun together! It is also a little scary to see if Aunty Sarah would be in permanent doll state. I like books about old dolls and doll houses”

The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner (Books 1-4)

” I liked reading about how the Boxcar children set up their own home in an old boxcar in the woods. I liked how they looked after each other and their dog. They also went on many adventures. I hope there is always another Box Car Children Mystery to read!”

Nancy Drew (starter set) by Carolyn Keene

“Nancy Drew is the best, She has taught me all about sleuthing! but do not watch the original TV Series Nancy Drew!” Zoe’s words not mine. I found it quite entertaining in a 1950′s kind of way, black and white fun!

Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfeild

This was a great story about 3 girls (Pauline, Petrova and Posie) that are sisters by chance who chose their own last name “Fossil”. They live in London a long time ago with their nanna and guardian. It is a fun book for anyone who likes to perform or likes Ballet.

We never read other books in this series Theater Shoes or Skating Shoes. If you have we would love some feedback…on how they compare to the original which we loved. We also enjoyed the original Ballet Shoes movie the one made in 2000 not 2008.

Any book by Roald Dahl especially liked Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The BFG, Fantastic Mr Foxand Danny the Champion of the World


We would love to hear what books other 7 year olds reccommend.

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Posted by on November 25, 2010 in books, Family


A week of Gnomes….

Zoe has become strangely fascinated by Gmones. She has again and again flipped through  “Gnomeland: An introduction to LIttle People” She is fascinated it seems by the culture of gnomes and the naughty gnomes! It was her idea to feature a week of gnomes here

I would love to read her some of the great gnome books by Jakob Streit  that I have read book reviews of here but our local library great as it is doesn’t carry them. Of course the apple did not fall far from the tree….gnomes and mushroom are some of my favorite images……especially on fabric…..The new Michael Miller Gnomeville series or the Alexander Henry Willow Shrooms ADORABLE!! Who can resist those?!

so looks for our week of gnomes!

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Posted by on April 13, 2010 in books, Family, Random


Book Review: The Enchanted Wood By Enid Blyton

This was my favorite series growing up, originally published in 1939 it is a the story of Jo, Bessie and Fanny who move to the country and find an Enchanted Wood right on their doorstep!. Into the wood they go and discover the magic Faraway Tree, and the magical characters that live in the tree that soon become theirfriends – Moon-Face, Silky the fairy, and Saucepan Man. Together they visit the strange lands which lie at the top of the tree and have the exciting adventures and narrow escapes!

Enid Blyton is the author I remember most vividly from my childhood. Growing up in London England in the 1970′s would not have been the same without. The Secret Seven, The Famous Five, The Naughtiest Girl Series, Mallory Tower Series. I credit my love of reading to Enid Blyton for sure! Not always politically correct these book are a product of her times and some have been banned over the years more recent edition reprinted with a few changes.

The is the first one in the series the others are “The Magic Faraway Tree”, “The Folk of the Faraway Tree” and “Up the Faraway Tree.” They are all must reads to children aged 4-7 or independent reads for 7-9 years olds.


Posted by on March 19, 2010 in books, Family


Book Review…Tenzin’s Deer

The friday book reviews over at Ancient Hearth has reminded me to blog about some of the books we have been loving. I’ll try to keep a friday schedule for a book review also.

Tenzin’s Deer by Barbara Soros (Author), Danuta Mayer (Illustrator)  is a book we have loved for several years now. Tibetan boy Tenzin finds a wounded musk deer, Jampa, he asks for guidance and he receives it, both from his inner voice (that hears the deer speak) and his dreams. A book that shows what interconnectedness and compassion really is forming kind and gentle relations in a way that we can all relate.

The illustrations are also intricate and beautiful.

“May no harm come to us.

May we love each other well.

May we be kind to all the creatures of the earth.”

Who can resist a book with such a beautiful message!  Everytime I read it I feel that Zoe “gets” more and more. It is certainly a book to read cherish for many years. We have also used this book as a jump off point for many projects including prayer flags, and sand mandalas.

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Posted by on March 11, 2010 in books


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