Printable “Around the World in Eighty Days” Word Find Puzzle — Places #3

Here’s my fifth and final word find for Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne.  There were so many character and place names in this novel!

Simply click on the link below and either print, or save it to your computer and then print.  Enjoy!

“Around the World in Eighty Days” Word Find Puzzle – Places #3

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Printable “Around the World in Eighty Days” Word Find Puzzle — Places #2

Here’s my fourth word find for Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne!

Simply click on the link below and either print, or save it to your computer and then print.  Enjoy!

“Around the World in Eighty Days” Word Find Puzzle – Places #2

Printable “Around the World in Eighty Days” Word Find Puzzle — Characters #2

Here’s my second word find for Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne!

Simply click on the link below and either print, or save it to your computer and then print.  Enjoy!

“Around the World in Eighty Days” Word Find Puzzle – Characters #2

Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine

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Title: Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine

Notable: Newbery Honor Book, 1998

Premise:

When Ella is born she is given the “gift” of obedience by a well-meaning, but clueless fairy.  No matter the order, Ella must always obey.  After Ella’s mother dies, her father eventually remarries and Ella must go to finishing school with her two obnoxious stepsisters, Hattie and Olive.  When Hattie gives Ella a terrible order, she runs away so that it won’t have to be fulfilled.  Eventually Ella finds her true love and escapes the curse.

My thoughts:

This book was so much fun!  A number of years ago I watched the movie “Ella Enchanted,” without every having read the book.  I thought the movie was really cute, but now I have to say that I like the book even more.  As with most books which have been made into movies, the book far surpasses the movie.  The character development in the book was much more satisfying.

Ella’s character in the book is just so darn likable!  She’s spunky, funny, down-to-earth, affectionate, compassionate, and knows her own mind.  Even though she suffers a lot because of her curse/gift, Ella doesn’t give up and keeps trying to exert her own will.  Her relationship with Char was very satisfying.  It’s deep and meaningful, without any hints at inappropriate conduct between the young people.  It’s so refreshing to see a love interest for young people which maintains its innocence.  That’s a rare thing nowadays.

I recommend Ella Enchanted to anyone who enjoys a good fairy tale!  It’s a unique take on the Cinderella story.

Possible Objections:

  • Some talk about ogres eating people

Rating: 4 1/2 Stars

Until next time…

Lori

OTHER ELLA ENCHANTED POSTS:

The Littles Go to School by John Peterson

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Title: The Littles Go to School by John Peterson

Premise:

Lucy Little is worried about going to school for the first time.  Her family reassures her that she will enjoy it, but she’s still scared.  When Tom and Lucy find themselves accidentally transported to school in the gerbils’ cage, Lucy gets a chance to explore the school and find out how fun it really can be.

My thoughts:

My son and I just finished this chapter book for school.  I think we may have made it through all the Littles books we own!  For some reason this wasn’t my favorite Littles book.  I think it may be because the action and adventure was very tame, apart from their being transported to the school by mistake.

My son enjoyed it and got a kick out of the silly things Tom and Lucy did while exploring the school, so I suppose it’s a bit more appealing to kids.  It may have also sounded similar to our homeschooling experiences.  Just like us, Tom and Lucy do the majority of their school work at home through mostly child-led activities.  They go to the “big school” for one week per year to meet with their classmates and teacher, Ms. Beta Gogg.

I recommend The Littles Go to School to those who are already fans of the Littles.

Rating: 3 Stars

Until next time…

Lori

The Elixir Vitae Adventures: Ortus by Stacey Horan

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A special thank-you to Stacey Horan for providing an ARC for me to review!

Title: The Elixir Vitae Adventures: Ortus (Book 1) by Stacey Horan

Premise:

Abigail and Quinn Link must go live with their grandpa when their mother suddenly dies from cancer.  Their grandfather, Professor Larson, asks the children to fill in where their mother left off — guarding the elixir vitae or fountain of youth from those who would use it for their own gain.  They travel around the United States finding and solving clues, while trying to simultaneously fit in at their new boarding school.

My thoughts:

I love the cover of this book!  I know that seems kind of silly, but I wanted to share something that I think was absolutely spot-on with this book.  I also loved the personal note which I received from the author when I won it through Goodreads.

The premise of the story is a good one.  The children go on adventures with their grandfather to find clues all around the United States to discover the whereabouts of the elixir vitae.  They do this by means of a magic portal map and key.  So far, so good.

Unfortunately, the execution of the story leaves something to be desired.  The actual narration sounded like a teenager telling about the events of their day — more like a diary entry than a novel.  I found myself wishing for more detail throughout the story, more richness, more variety in sentence structure, and more complex thoughts.

The characters were okay, but I didn’t become attached to any of them.  They needed more fleshing out and a closer glimpse into their psyches to show readers what makes them tick.  It also seemed that their emotional reactions were off at times.  Sometimes they had extreme negative reactions in situations which didn’t call for it.  I wondered why this person was all of a sudden screaming at that person.  Would they all benefit from some anger management classes?

Finally, there were enough errors in the text itself that it couldn’t be overlooked.  The editing wasn’t awful, but it wasn’t careful enough, either.  Of particular note, I counted eleven instances of the wrong word being used.  That’s kind of a lot.  Throw in a few misspelled words, missing words, extra words, and a paragraph break in the wrong place, and you can see how it could become a problem.

I recommend The Elixir Vitae Adventures: Ortus to those who like adventures which feature kids as the heroes.  If you’re willing to overlook some bumps in the delivery, you might enjoy this story.


Possible Objections:

  • One instance of taking God’s name in vain
  • One of the kids says, “Holy shhhhhh” – implying you know what

Rating: 2 1/2 Stars

Until next time…

Lori

The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart

mysterious-benedict-society

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I just finished The Mysterious Benedict Society.  Thanks for the recommendation, smile rac!

Premise:

A group of children who are without families are tasked with saving the world from the nefarious Mr. Curtain.  Does this group of kids have what it takes to foil the evil plans of a super-smart adult with seemingly unlimited resources?  Follow them to the Institute where they will have to work together–using their cunning, skill and physical prowess to prevent Mr. Curtain’s domination of the entire world!

My thoughts:

I enjoyed this story, though it’s a bit hard to categorize.  It reminds me of Harry Potter a little bit–with the kids going off to a special school.  Though it’s classified as science fiction, I’d say that element doesn’t stand out very much.  Sure, there’s Mr. Curtain’s invention which definitely falls into the science fiction category, but the remainder of the book seems as though it could happen in a very normal world.

The children whom the story revolves around are each interesting and unique in their own way.  And I enjoyed following them on their adventures and seeing how their group grew closer over time.  However, there seemed to be something missing from their characters.  Maybe it was that they were missing the playfulness and humor that you normally see in children.  There also wasn’t a lot of vulnerability.  They were a little too much like adults for my taste.  The supporting characters were interesting too, but their development seemed a bit stunted, as well.

The story line itself was interesting and inventive.  I would like to have learned more about Mr. Curtain’s plan–specifically why he was going to such great lengths to gain control.  If his back story had been more developed, it would have helped me understand his motivation.  As it was, it came across as Mr. Curtain is evil because he’s evil.  I see that there are additional books in this series, so maybe they will expand on the characters and back story at a more satisfying level.

I recommend The Mysterious Benedict Society to elementary-age kids and preteens.  It would also be a fun read-aloud for families.  I think it’s possibly a bit juvenile to appeal to high schoolers.

Rating: 4 Stars

Until next time…

Lori

Booker T. Washington: Great American Educator by Eric Braun

booker-t-washington

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Booker T. Washington is another educational graphic novel for kids which I found at the library.  I’ll just keep ’em coming as I find them!

Premise:

In graphic novel form, readers learn about the life of Booker T. Washington.  He was born into slavery in Virginia and gained his freedom after the Civil War.  Booker worked tirelessly at the Tuskegee Institute to provide African Americans with the chance to get an education and better their lot in life.  He also secretly fought to gain equal rights for African Americans throughout the United States.

My thoughts:

As you already know, I am loving these historical graphic novels for kids!  It would seem that I read them just as much as the kids do.  I read Up From Slavery by Booker T. Washington several years ago and thoroughly enjoyed it.  So I was curious to see which parts of his life they would highlight in this short kids book.

Booker’s life in slavery is only given a cursory glance and then it jumps right into his life after slavery–mainly focusing on his activities at the Tuskegee Institute.  I agree with his view that both the pursuit of knowledge and training in practical pursuits are important.  While it was wonderful that he advocated for equal educational opportunities for African Americans, he also recognized that in the workforce they would still be mostly relegated to jobs consisting mainly of physical labor.  At Tuskegee they taught students hands-on skills such as bricklaying, carpentry, sewing, and printing.  Of course the students also studied more cerebral subjects such as math, science, and history.  Booker was willing to work within the social confines of his time to set the groundwork for a better life for the next generation of African Americans.

I recommend Booker T. Washington: Great American Educator to families who want to give their kids a fun way to learn about history.  This book is a fairly innocuous introduction to the life of Booker T. Washington, which spares you any of the more unpleasant details. As your kids get older, they will want to read some more in-depth books about Booker T.

Rating: 4 Stars

Until next time…

Lori

Nathan Hale: Revolutionary Spy by Nathan Olson

nathan-hale-revolutionary-spy

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Here’s another book from my quest to find interesting graphic novels.  Nathan Hale: Revolutionary Spy is a book that can be digested in one sitting.

Premise:

Nathan Hale was a young man who lived in Connecticut immediately prior to the Revolutionary War.  He was a student at Yale and later taught others (even getting up to teach girls for free).  Having grown up amid the colonists’ unrest due to British taxes, he volunteered to join the army.  Nathan’s willingness to serve as a spy and his refusal to betray his country are commendable.  Unfortunately, his life was cut short when he was only 21 years old.

My thoughts:

I think this book is a great beginner biography for elementary-age children.  They get a quick overview of Nathan’s life–just enough to pique their interest.  Once they’re at a higher reading level they can come back to Nathan’s story and read a book that is more in depth.

I enjoyed reading about Nathan and the defining moments in his life.  He sounds like a remarkable young man, and it’s a tragedy that his life was cut short.  I’m sure he would have gone on to do many more commendable deeds had he lived longer.  Particularly gratifying was his view on the importance of educating women.  He was truly ahead of his times!

The book is divided into four very short chapters: Student and Teacher, Soldier and Leader, Daring Spy, and War Hero.  At the end, you’ll find a section with more information about Nathan Hale.

I recommend this book to kids who enjoy graphic novels and would prefer to learn about history through that medium.  This particular book is best suited to elementary-age children.

Possible Objections:

  • Nathan is hanged (while we only see his silhouette, kids may still find it disturbing)

Rating: 4 Stars

Until next time…

Lori

The Unschooling Handbook: How to Use the Whole World As Your Child’s Classroom by Mary Griffith

unschooling-handbook

I picked up The Unschooling Handbook at the library in the next town over when we made it into a day trip.  What can I say?  The most important feature to us in any community is the library.  We’re geeks.

They had a decent homeschooling section, and the topic of unschooling is mighty appealing to me.  I’d say we’re already half-way there with our relaxed way of doing school.  We keep holding onto a bit of guiding the kids’ learning though, because the idea of unschooling makes my husband panic.  Daddy is not a pretty sight when he panics about the kids’ schooling.  Usually lectures ensue.

So back to the book I’m reviewing.  The Unschooling Handbook is an excellent resource for anybody who wants to learn about unschooling, or who is already doing it themselves.  Not only is this a how-to of unschooling, but it includes a wealth of information from respondents, to questions which the author disseminated.

Here is an outline of what you can find in the book:

  • Information on how to incorporate reading, writing, math, science, history, and the arts into unschooling
  • Discussion on practical matters–legal requirements, monetary and time limits, working with multiple children, support group info., how to cope with doubts & challenges, etc.
  • Lots of discussion on learning styles, educational philosophies, the parent’s role in unschooling, etc.
  • A ton of additional resource suggestions
  • Sample schedules or activity lists
  • Many anecdotes & observations from unschooling parents & children

My thoughts:

I loved this book!  It is highly readable.  The author combines facts with anecdotes and, I believe, hits on a good balance between the two.  If you’re not a person who enjoys anecdotes and testimony, you will probably be frustrated with the book.

I highly recommend this book to anybody who engages in unschooling, is considering the method, or just wants to know more about it.  I think the book would also be beneficial for parents who want to stick with a more conventional homeschooling method.  If nothing else-–it may help them gain a bit more confidence in their child’s ability to learn and grow if allowed to blossom on their own timetable.

Favorite quotes:

“Unschooling would be helpful to all children.  It’s not one particular way of learning; it’s learning at your own level, in your own interest, and at your own pace.  What child wouldn’t benefit from a learning experience like that?”

(Laura, California, p.207)

“I feel that unschooling families often know a lot more about the nature of learning and education than just about anybody.  It’s unfortunate that professional educators are generally not able to grasp that.  We have a lot we could teach them, and I’m still always surprised when I realize that they think it’s the other way around.

As time goes by, I’m more and more stunned by the questions people ask: ‘What gave you the idea you were capable of teaching your child in the first place?’  The question seems strange enough, but they picture me sitting and ‘teaching’ him as if he’s an empty vessel who can’t learn on his own.  What an obnoxious image that brings to my mind, and yet it’s a perfectly natural thing for people to think.  ‘How do you know what he’s supposed to be learning?’  Huh?  In a world as vast and complex as this one, how did we ever come to this mutual understanding that there is just one neat package of stuff one needs to get into one’s head to be ‘educated.’  Who is the official authority on what he’s ‘supposed to be learning’? ”

(Lillian, California, p.204)

“I’ve always said that homeschooling in any form is really a lifestyle choice and not just an educational choice.  Unschooling just makes it more so.  It is a decision to put children first, to respect their needs and opinions, to treat them as fully human beings and not as property.  I find that unschooling has allowed me to live more the way that I want to live, in a slower, more deliberate, more thought-out way, and not in the rat race of constant busyness and rushing from one thing to another.”

(Carol, Florida, p.200)

“Unschooling has deeply affected our lives in general.  My attitudes toward society have changed–or, I should say, have become more clear.  When we took that first anxiety-filled step away from public school, I realized that we were leaving behind our place in society as well–casting off a whole life.  I knew that people would view us differently, maybe antagonistically; I knew that I was now standing up for my beliefs by living them where people could see and pass judgment.  It has led to being more forthright in all aspects of my life, and to having more courage in confrontations of all sorts.  It’s easier to see the charades of society, and how so much importance is connected to being part of a herd.”

(Liane, California, p.202)

Rating: 5 Stars

Until next time…

Lori

Wayside: The Movie – 2005

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I had no idea that there was a Wayside movie out there!  The kids and I watched it a few days ago to compare it to the books.  Though the kids enjoyed it very much, it’s a movie that I will never need to see again.

It’s like the books in that it’s completely nonsensical.  They got that part right.  To give this movie a little more plot than is contained in the books, they changed the story a bit.  Todd is new at Wayside School and is completely bewildered by all of its quirks.  He tries to fit in, but keeps making mistakes no matter how hard he tries.  Todd soon discovers that the classroom he is in, Mrs. Jewls’, was actually designed to be a trash compactor.  Every time the principal uses the p.a. system, the back wall starts to move toward the front of the room.  With the help of Louis and Miss Mush, Todd rescues his class right before they are squashed in their classroom!  The one character that I actually liked was Louis, the yard teacher.  He has a hippie persona in this adaptation.

The cartoon style of the movie is akin to Cartoon Network–with everything being fast-paced and frantic.  I don’t care for that style of cartoon, though I know it’s very popular with today’s kids.  For me, it’s sensory overload.

Possible Objections:

  • There is some gross humor involving boogers and vomit.
  • Mauricea keeps punching Todd as a way to show that she likes him.
  • There is a scene where a box full of toys goes through a wood chipper, which could be disturbing to some kids.
  • There is a dead rat in the kitchen–kind of gross.  It’s shown multiple times.

Rated: NR

Rating: 1 1/2 Stars

Until next time…

Lori

OTHER WAYSIDE SCHOOL POSTS:

The Complete Book of First Experiences by Anne Civardi

First Experiences

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The Complete Book of First Experiences is a fun book about many new experiences that kids may have.  It has stories about going to the hospital, going to the doctor, going to school, going to the dentist, having a baby, moving, getting a new puppy, going on a plane, and going to a party.

The illustrations are by Stephen Cartwright and they are so cute.  They have a lot of detail and are really fun to look at.  There’s also a little yellow duck for you to find on each two-page spread.

I like this book because it’s fun and exciting.  It’s good for preschool up to school-age kids.

Possible Objections:

  1. In the story about the new baby, the mom is shown breastfeeding her baby.  You can’t see a lot, but some people may not be comfortable with their child even knowing about how breastfeeding works.
  2. In the story about the party, some of the children are wearing Halloween costumes that some parents may not like (i.e. witch, vampire, ghost, monster).

 

Toodles,

Jewls

Disney Learning Wonderful World of Animals by Dr. Donald Moore

Disney Animals

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Disney Learning Wonderful World of Animals is a reference book about animals.  It has sections about mammals, amphibians, birds, insects and fish.  I like the pictures in this book .  As far as I can tell, there is nothing objectionable in it.  I would recommend it for school-age kids, though younger kids would like the pictures.

Later dudes.

Bubba

The Worst Class Trip Ever by Dave Barry

Worst Class Trip EverThis post contains an affiliate link.

The Worst Class Trip Ever is about Wyatt, Suzana, and Matt.  They go on a field trip to Washington, D.C.  While they are on the plane, Matt and Wyatt see two men looking at aerial photos of the White House.  They think that the two men are going to try to kill the president when they fly over the White House.  Matt takes something out of the two men’s backpack.  They find out that the thing that they took out of the men’s backpack is a laser radio jammer.  Read the book to find out what the two men were going to do with the jammer. I recommend it for preteens and up.  I would rate it PG for violence, action and peril.

Bubba says good-bye.

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