Maggie Tulliver is a quick-witted child, one with appalling manners for her strict Victorian house and community. She cannot seem to be a proper young lady. When the novel opens, she is about nine years old, and I couldn’t help adoring her childish antics, especially as she regularly brought disappointment to her mother and aunts with her lack of girlish charm. From my perspective, who wouldn’t love a girl who is so determined to read, to learn, and to be all the imaginative things she desires?
Unfortunately for Maggie, her life in small-town Victorian village does not allow for women that are different from the norm. Her story, as told in George Eliot’s The Mill on the Floss (1860), was both frustrating and emotional for me to read, because as Maggie herself desired, I wanted so much more for her. (more…)
Animals, whether they are talking animals or pets, are a popular subject in picture books. Below, I mention a few of the many Cybils Fiction Picture Book Nominees on the subject, from zoo animals and farm animals to wild animals, including some animals who don’t quite behave like animals “normally” do. Most animals in picture books talk or otherwise have some marvelous talent and personality. No wonder kids all want a pet! Animals are so exciting in picture books. (I may have to revisit the animals theme for Cybils this year: there are plenty omitted from this list.)
Although the RIP challenge technically ended last week with Halloween, I had one more week of ghostly short stories to enjoy. As with past weeks, I enjoyed how each of the stories I read had a different feel. Walter de La Mare’s story was probably my least favorite of the week, but I enjoyed each story (also including stories by Penelope Lively, Alison Lurie, and Ray Bradbury) to some degree. (None of these stories are in the public domain, so I cannot link to them for you.) (more…)
Although I file this post as a review, I cannot really review The Well-Trained Mind: The Guide to Classical Education at Home by Susan Wise Bauer and her mother Jessie Wise (third edition, 2009). I only read the Elementary chapters (Part I) in full and bits and pieces of Part IV since my son is only four years old.
As I have pondered my son’s next year and a half before he begins kindergarten, I’ve found myself rather concerned about the local public schools and I’ve been pondering home schooling or other options. Obviously, I don’t have to make any decisions right now, but The Well-Trained Mind gave me some ideas for how homeschooling can work right. This book is one extreme because it provides ideas for giving a fully Classical education at home — including heavy emphasis in memorization during the early elementary years, and teaching your third grader Latin. They also promote their own textbooks ad nauseum (textbooks which get horrible reviews on sites where they are sold). If I were to home school (again, jury is still out), this would be a fantastic place to start for ideas on what to teach: I’d probably find my own less expensive resources and modify the programs to be a bit less labor intensive on mother and child’s part. The authors indicate that modifications are to be expected depending on your teaching style and preferences. I appreciated their acknowledgement of the need for flexibility.
All that said, The Well-Trained Mind certainly delivered what it promised (at least for the parts I read): it guided a parent on how to begin the intimidating process of teaching your child the classics in a classic style at home and from a young age. This is something to revisit if I do decide to home school my son (or even if I decided to supplement his daily life with home lessons in addition to what he learns at school; I believe it can be done and can be fun).
If you home school, I’d be interested to know how you incorporate classical literature into your curriculum. What’s your home schooling style?
Just months before Molly Birnbaum was to enter the Culinary Institute of America to fulfill her dream to become a chef, she met with a violent accident. Although she escaped with her life, in addition to other physical wounds she had lost her sense of smell. Season to Taste: How I Lost My Sense of Smell and Found My Way (Ecco, July 2011) is Molly’s story of finding her place in the kitchen again. But Season to Taste is far more than a personal memoir: it’s also a journalistic study of what smell means to flavor, cooking, and daily life. (more…)