Two Children’s Books by John Boyne

It seems I am not capable of writing more than brief thoughts these days, so that is what I’ll do for the next few books I have thoughts on. These two books are by John Boyne. Though they are written for children and definitely intended to be children’s books, they have so much in them that I really enjoyed them. Boyne writes for a younger audience with a talent, even about complex issues. While I didn’t finish either book in love with them, they both provided much room for thought and are enjoyable reads.Continue Reading

Love’s Labour’s Lost by William Shakespeare

I had hoped that by waiting a week or two I’d know what I want to say about Love’s Labour’s Lost, but after all this time I still have very little to say. I worry that I feel this way because I read a free Project Gutenberg version of it, and as I read in Shakespeare on Toast a few weeks ago, that is not necessarily a good thing: not every version is created the same.

Love’s Labour’s Lost is an amusing Shakespearean comedy: light, pure entertainment. I found few memorable lines in the version I read, but it was an enjoyable plot. I also watched Kenneth Branaugh’s version of the play, which was a completely original take on it. I loved that he was able to reinvent the play, using Shakespeare’s own words, in a modern scene without too much pain.

The play is about the king of Navarre and his court — four men who take a vow of celibacy for three years while they pursue their studies, forbidding women to even enter their court. When the princess of France hears of this development, she and her court decide to visit and see what kind of reception they can receive. Of course, the young men fall secretly in love with the lovely ladies, despite the King’s decree, and when they all discover the other’s pining love, they decide they should abandon their pledge and flirt with the women. Crossed love letters and a group of women determined to mock the royal court ultimately result in the four young men failing to accomplish their goal of wooing the women, but it makes for an amusing ride for the audience as we watch it unfolding!

Branaugh placed this mythical Basque kingdom and court in Europe in 1939, giving his lovebirds the tendency to burst into songs — Gershwin, Cole Porter, Irving Berlin. It’s a musical, it’s light. Is there any substance to it? Not a whole lot, but Shakespeare’s original didn’t have much either. There is a lot of play on words, most of it groan worthy. Apparently, Branaugh’s movie had less than half the original words as Shakespeare.

Love’s Labour’s Lost is the least often performed of Shakespeare’s plays. Nevertheless, I’m glad I gave it a try. It’s nice to know that even Shakespeare doesn’t do everything perfectly. Although, I will say that even this mediocre and less than impressive play still has delightful wordplay. Shakespeare didn’t do too badly.


Introducing… Picture Book Learning and More at My Store at Teachers Pay Teachers

I feel that, in many ways, my blog is transforming yet again. For a while, I was an eclectic book blogger, blogging about everything from the new releases to the oldest of classics. Then, I focused on classics almost exclusively. For the past year, I’ve been reading a lot of history books, but I’m still getting my classics read and reviewed. I still love the classics first and foremost.

You other book bloggers may have noticed my presence has decreased significantly in the book blog world. So much is happening right now in my life, and it has been like this since my dear little Strawberry was born nearly a year ago! Wow. Amazing how quickly a year passes by. I still intend to keep this blog a reading blog, highlighting the books I’ve been reading, both fiction, nonfiction, and children’s literature (from picture books to the occasional young adult). But there is so much more to my world these days that I can’t avoid letting some of it slip in.

Part of that will be occasional mentions about what I’m working on for homeschooling. You’ve seen my children’s picture book mentions that relate to what my son is learning: I have also been busy working some of the games and activities that Raisin and I have enjoyed into products that would also work for teachers in a classroom or other homeschooling parent.

My store at Teachers Pay Teachers has seven products so far, three of which are free. I hope to keep adding more products as the weeks pass, mostly because I am enjoying the challenge (yay for design!) but also because I have created many products for my son already that I think I can rework for a larger group and other people.

One project that I have been thinking of for months is teaching about poetry through classic picture books. The first in that series is up in my store (Introduction to Rhythm) and the second (Introduction to Rhyme) is in progress. I also have a unit on Paul Bunyan based on some favorite picture books.

So far, I love the design aspect, and I’ve had some success in the past two weeks since I joined the site. If you are a public or homeschooling teacher, I’d love to hear if these products help you. Also, what are you looking for to make your teaching easier? I’d love to create new lesson plans that could be of use to you.

Homeschooler -

Good Prose by Tracy Kidder and Richard Todd

Good Prose: The Art of Nonfiction by Tracy Kidder and Richard Todd (Random House, January 2013) is a volume about what makes nonfiction great. Using their own experiences as a writer of nonfiction (Tracy Kidder, bestselling author) and an editor of creative nonfiction (Richard Todd, Atlantic editor), the two friends provide a compelling tale of what makes good writing good, and what makes a good writer a good writer, covering everything from how to begin and how to structure a narrative to the more complicated specifics of memoirs, essays, style, and writing as job in today’s society.Continue Reading