Hatchet

Dear Librarians

newbery award        caldecott award

Pick us!  Pick us!  We are ready to serve!  We’ve just been reading about the Association for Library Service to Children, which annually recognizes book and video excellence with ten different medals and awards.  Would my son and I love find ourselves on any of the award selection committees?  YES!  Pick us!  Pick us!  Once we settled down from our committee responsibilities fantasy, we narrowed our focus to learn everything about two of the ten awards: the Newbery Medal (literature) and the Caldecott Medal (book illustration):

– The Newbery Medal – we read “Balderdash” (Michelle Markel/Nancy Carpenter).  A snappy,  brief look at the life of publisher John Newbery.  Inspired by philosopher John Locke’s quote, “Reading should be a treat for children”, Newbery enjoyed enormous success by printing books that children WANTED to read (prior to this, most reading material for children was designed to put the fear of the afterlife into the reader’s behavior).  The first Newbery Medal was awarded in 1922.  We read through the list of Newbery Medal and Honor Book award winners and notated those books we had read:

  • 2016 – The War that Saved My Life – Important
  • 2013 – The One and Only Ivan – Liked
  • 2011 – Turtle in Paradise – Really liked
  • 2008 – The Wednesday Wars – Really liked
  • 2007 – Penny from Heaven – Really liked
  • 2003 – Hoot – Satisfying
  • 2003 – Surviving the Applewhites – Oh how we LOVE this book, have read 4 times
  • 2002 – Everything on a Waffle – Liked
  • 2001 – A Year Down Yonder – Really liked
  • 2001 – Because of Winn Dixie – Liked
  • 2001 – Hope was Here – Really liked
  • 1999 – A Long Way from Chicago – Really liked
  • 1999 – Holes – Important
  • 1991 – Maniac Magee – Liked
  • 1988 – Hatchet – we’ve read this 3 times
  • 1984 – The Sign of the Beaver – we are currently reading this, like it a LOT
  • 1978 – Ramona and Her Father – Liked
  • 1973 – Frog and Toad Together – Really?
  • 1963 – A Wrinkle in Time – Really liked
  • 1961 – The Cricket in Times Square – Liked
  • 1953 – Charlotte’s Web – The best
  • 1952 – Ginger Pye – Liked
  • 1939 – Mr. Popper’s Penguins – Liked
  • 1923 – The Voyages of Dr. Doolittle – we are currently reading this, LOVE this book

24 down, 74 to go – Question for my son:  shall we read every Newbery Medalist?  YES!  Why not, what else are we doing?  The challenge begins.

– The Caldecott Medal – we read “Randolph Caldecott – The Man Who Could Not Stop Drawing” (Leonard S. Marcus) – a most comprehensive biography, filled with Caldecott’s charming, skillful, intuitive drawings.  This book provoked us to order “Old Christmas:  Sketch Book of Washington Irving” (1876) with illustrations by Randolph Caldecott (we are saving this for December reading).  The Association for Library Services to Children began awarding the Caldecott Medal in 1937.

french fries    milkshakes    french fries

Story problem from the local diner – Miss Jeanette (the new diner manager) has an idea to spark positive PR (vocab) for the diner!  She is proposing that for the upcoming summer months, the diner  award “Shake and Fries” vouchers (vocab) to high school students who volunteer during story-time at the local library.  Miss Jeanette is projecting that 50 coupons will be awarded over the summer.  If a “Shake and Fries” voucher costs the diner $3, how much how much will the diner potentially spend supporting the story-time literacy event? 
A.)  $35     B.)  $53     C.)  $150     D.)  $350

Lactose intolerant students earning vouchers can substitute lemonade for the milkshake, and (happy day) the cost for the diner will be reduced by 20%.  If 10% of the students opt for the lemonade, what is the total projected cost of the diners’ voucher program?
A.)  $20     B.)  $45     C.)  $147     D.)  $235 (answers at bottom of post)

A Serendipitous Pairing – Two A+ books that we just happened to be reading at the same time, that SHOULD be read at the same time:

“My Life with the Chimpanzees”, an autobiography (vocab) by Jane Goodall
and
“The Voyages of Dr. Doolittle”, by Hugh Lofting

My son and I were about three chapters into the Dr. Doolittle book (and just loving it) (meaning that my son has a difficult time letting me shut the book at the end of each night’s reading) when we started the Jane Goodall book.  And then, WHAT A SURPRISE!  Jane Goodall mentions several times in her autobiography the impact the Dr. Doolittle books had in shaping her future.   My son and I love thinking that maybe Hugh Lofting (1886 – 1947) might know how much good work his books inspired.

Dr. Doolittle inspires our classical music selections – Right there, in chapter 6, Dr. Doolittle entertains the Stubbins family with his flute playing!  What doesn’t that man know how to do? The book states that the visit took place in 1839, so my son and I put together a little flute recital program, selecting flute pieces that were composed prior to 1839 – pieces that Dr. Doolittle actually could have played – 

  • Francois-Joseph Gossec’s “Tambourin for flute and orchestra”, composed in the early 1790’s.  This is just so darn sweet.  Play, Dr. Doolittle, play!

  • “Badinerie” from Bach’s Orchestral Suite No. 2, 1739.  We learned that a badinerie is a brief and lively dance.  We are not sure that anybody could play this piece with greater accuracy and speed than Sir James Galway (except, of course, Dr. Doolittle) –

  • Beethoven’s spritely “Trio for 3 Flutes in G major”, movement III.  The story goes that this piece was composed in 1786 when Beethoven was fifteen.  Whoa.  Vivacious and brisk – the perfect conclusion for our Dr. Doolittle mini concert –  

Welcome to the best part of my day!
– Jane BH
(Story problem answers:  C.)  $150 and C.)  $147)

We’ll take that with a side of music –

bat

Going Batty – A few weeks ago, my son and I retrieved a frog from the backyard pool and lifted it to safety.  A few days ago, we again saw something fluttering madly in the water, and assuming it was another frog, we were stunned to find a little bat in our net!  Now we needed to read about bats (the biggest take-away:  bats eat TONS of insects) (yay bats!) and celebrate our successful life-saving effort by listening to a waltz from Johann Strauss’s operetta of 1874, “Die Fledermaus” (“The Bat”) (which is not about bats, but about amusing revenge plotted by a man who one evening wore a bat costume to a party).  (Not much to look at in this video, but we love the conductor, Mariss Jansons.  Beware the LONG 1 minute 20 second introduction):

Teaser!  A few posts back (May 25, 2018, “It’s All about the Triangle”), I mentioned that my son and I learned about Janissary bands, and it seems unfair to leave it at that, so:  Ottoman Janissary Bands, thought to be the oldest type of military band, date back to the 14th century.  (The Janissary were the elite infantry guarding the sultan’s household.)  My son and I speculated as to the type of musical instruments used in the 1300’s in Turkey – certainly pipes and percussion.  The music pretty much sounds exactly as we imagined.  Stirring. Nobody sleeps when a Janissary band plays:

The Body Beautiful –  We are chock full of interesting information from Professor Astro Cat’s HUMAN BODY ODYSSEY, by Walliman and Newman:

  • we know about the most useful joint in the body (the thumb)
  • we know about the speed of a sneeze (100 MPH!)
  • we know about hiccups!

Last night we read about the lymphatic system; tonight, the endocrine system.  Every few days we toast the healthy body by tapping our toes to the Powers/Fischoff/Keith GIANT hit of 1967, “98.6”:

We keep learning:

thesaurus

The Reference Section – After my son and I talked about the difference between a synonym and a definition, we read through the fabulously illustrated “Roget and His Thesaurus” by Jennifer Bryant/Melissa Sweet, and then compared a few words (book, study, snack) from our Roget’s Thesaurus (“treasure house”) and our dictionary.

hatchet alone

A Reread – This is our third time through “Hatchet” by Gary Paulsen, a book found on every  young adult book list, so I don’t need to wax on about the author’s skilled command of great story, poetic pace, and worthy theme (self reliance).  Even the third time through we are leaning forward to hear what happens next.

sand dollar cookie

(Story Problem) Little Picnic Boxes at Le Fictitious Local Diner – To surprise little Miss G and little Miss P, the diner’s favorite mini customers, the chef has added onto the menu a “Mini Mermaid Summer Picnic Box” (teeny tuna sandwiches, sea salt chips, sand dollar cookies, and blue lagoon lemonade).  Priced at $5, the picnic box is such a hit! 

(For my son to compute in his head, no paper)  A local elementary school is purchasing picnic boxes for the final day of summer school.  If there are 85 students enrolled, the school accountant needs to write the diner a check for how much?  (answer at bottom of post)
A.  $225     B.  $325     C.  $425     D.  $525

(For my son to compute in his head, no paper)  Did we mention that the recyclable paper boxes are super cute and are purchased in units of 50?  If the diner projects that they can sell 750 Mini Mermaid Summer Picnic Boxes during the month of August, and they add on the summer school order, how many units need to be ordered?  (answer at bottom of post)
A.  15 units     B.  17 units     C.  20 units     D.  25 units

insect painting

Insects in the Air!   What we were also listening to this past week:

Spring, Movement 1, from Vivaldi’s “The Four Seasons” (1721).  For about a half a minute, beginning at 35 seconds into the piece, my son and I can hear a chaotic riot of buzzing cicadas, mosquitoes, dragonflies, and bees.  Wow:

Fireflies, from the solo piano work, “Four Sketches” by Amy Beach, composed in 1892.  We love this piece;  when we lived in Georgia, our backyard was alight with fireflies all summer long and Amy Beach has captured the sparkly magic:  

La Cucaracha – well, this is just so sad.  The original words to this traditional Spanish folk song (composer unknown) tell about a cockroach who has lost one of his legs!  Somebody actually wrote a song about this?????  OH DEAR, the poor thing is hobbling about on 5 legs – and yet – the melody is full of upbeat happiness, encouragement and warmth.  Let this be a lesson!

Welcome to the best part of my day!
Jane BH
story problem answers:  C.  $425, and  B.  17 units

Zootique

Animals all over the place – this week, all of our current reading seems to be focused upon les animaux.

animal books

First – the stunning “Animalium” by Katie Scott and Jenny Broom. The idea here is that the reader is walking through a natural history museum learning bits and pieces about biodiversity (vocab). Information is clearly presented, illustrations are sensational, and my son and I look forward to opening this book every night.  BTW, our favorite animal phylum so far?  Cephalopods (vocab).  Each member of this group is so very weird.

Then“This Side of Wild”, a new book by Gary Paulson, a favorite author of ours.  We have read his “Hatchet” many times, and the follow-up stories, “The River” and “Brian’s Winter”.  This book is autobiographical (vocab), with Mr. Paulson writing about his relationships with several animals.  Side note: due to something Mr. Paulson had written, we were provoked to view a youtube video demonstrating how to use “anti-bear” spray. Yikes. (More zigzag learning. LOVE it!) (and this video is surprisingly excellent).

Finally – we are are working our way through Ogden Nash’s book of poems, “Zoo”.  Each of his funny, astute (vocab) poems seems to need an explanation, so each becomes a conversation starter.  This book is delicious.

alphabet in chalk

Language Arts Class is now in session

– A few nights ago, my son and I used “Mad Libs” to work on parts of speech.  I don’t think my son saw this as a tremendously hilarious activity, but it was a passable diversion.

– As for even more new vocabulary – so many concept pairings from our animal unit: Matriarch/Patriarch, Predator/Prey, Carnivore/Herbivore, Bones/Cartilage

laminating machine

New menus at Le Fictitious Local Diner!  We worked our way through a really involved story problem last night: the diner is printing up new menus and they can’t decide whether to pay to have the menus laminated or to purchase a laminator and do the job themselves.  A laminator can be purchased for $200, and a package of 100 plastic “pouches” costs $55.  It takes 30 seconds to run one menu through the machine. So:

1) if the diner wants to laminate 200 menus, how long will it take?

2) if a junior employee is paid $10 an hour, how much will be spent on the labor of running the menus through the laminator?

3) how much will the diner spend at the office supply store with the purchase of the laminating machine and the pouches?

4) how much will the diner spend on supplies and labor to laminate 200 menus?

5) if the local print shop will laminate the menus for 85 cents each, is it more cost effective for the diner to pay the print shop to do the laminating?

batowlraccoon

Music!  Inspired by the nocturnal (vocab) animals we’ve been reading about, we decided to find out what musical “Nocturnes” were all about. After listening to a few, we decided that a nocturne might be described as a mature version of a lullaby.  Then, I gave my son a list of events that might or might not be enhanced by a nocturne as background music…on the “NOT” list: a birthday party, on the “YES” list: many Robert Frost poems, like one of our favorites, “Good Hours” (which we reread).

  • “Nocturne No. 2” by Frederic Chopin, composed in 1832.  We learned that Chopin is considered the go-to composer for nocturnes, having completed 21 polished works.  No. 2 might be the most famous of all nocturnes and is used in SO many movies.

  • “Nocturne No. 3”, (also known as “Liebestraum”) (Love Dream) was composed by Franz Liszt in 1850.  This nocturne is neck and neck with Chopin’s No. 2 for nocturne popularity.

Yes, yes, yes, both quite reflective and beautiful, but then we played “Harlem Nocturne” and WELL, we were overwhelmed!  WOW.  Had to listen to it two more times in a row.

  • “Harlem Nocturne”, composed by Earle Hagen in 1939. Lush and SULTRY (vocab).  This is the music used for Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer (hard-boiled detective) TV series.  (I deemed it unnecessarily confusing to explain “hard-boiled detective”).  We listened to this recording by the Duke Ellington Orchestra and it is PERFECTION.  My, oh my.

Welcome to the best part of my day!

– Jane BH

Flying, Farming, and Felix

sis book

Yet another splendid Peter Sis book – this one, “The Pilot and the Little Prince”,  about Antoine de Saint-Exupery, author of “The Little Prince”.  Besides the enthralling illustrations, there is much to fascinate in this book.  For example:

  • We learned that de Saint-Exupery’s primary focus, was not writing, but flying.  While reading about his remarkable flying adventures we came across a seemingly small fact that changed the direction of our studies last night: we learned that early French airplanes had no communication system, so they always flew with a cage of carrier pigeons. If a plane had to make an emergency landing who-knows-where, the pigeons could be released with an SOS message! OBVIOUSLY my son and I had to do an outside study of carrier pigeons. These birds are SERIOUSLY interesting!

pigeon

  • Of course, we need to get “The Little Prince” into our book line-up.  In researching “The Little Prince” we uncovered a heated controversy over various translations (the book was originally written in French).  Readers seem to be outraged over the current translation and show staunch loyalty to the translation by Katherine Wood. My, my, my.  Something new to investigate.

The Farm Unit – we have been learning about tractors, the true farm multi-tasker, and we welcomed a new vocab word: TILTH.  Meaning cultivated soil; soil that has been plowed and harrowed and is ready for planting.  We like this word.  We give it an A+.

book report

We write book reports – this was our first go at writing a book report, and heaven knows what took us so long venture into this activity.  We reviewed “Hatchet” and “A Young Reader’s Shakespeare: A Midsummer Night’s Dream”.   I made it easy:  I wrote out a basic book report with about a dozen fill-in-the-blanks (as in, “This book report is about _____________, and it is a ___________ story.”).  My son filled in the blanks and then I read the reports out loud. Most satisfactory. My son really liked doing this. I think this puts a final stamp on finishing a book, so we will be doing this again.

You would think I could get this in focus, but...no.

You would think I could get this in focus, but…no.

Le Fictitious Local Diner’s story problem – Last night we pretended that the diner needed to prepare 20 dozen Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies to sell during intermission of the spring band concert at the local elementary school. We used the unbeatable recipe on the back of the chocolate chip package to work out the amounts of ingredients needed.

Our music focus for last night – listening to some of the music Felix Mendelssohn wrote for “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”.

  • “The Overture” – Shakespeare wrote the play in the 1590’s and Mendelssohn wrote his overture (which is just so grand and descriptive) in 1826, at the age of SEVENTEEN!!!

  • “The Wedding March” – Years later, in 1842, Mendelssohn wrote a few other pieces for the play, most noteworthy is the glorious wedding march (which served three weddings at once – the Duke of Athens/Queen of the Amazons, Hermia/Lysander, and Helena/Demetrius) (and several million weddings ever since).

Welcome to the best part of my day!

– Jane BH

A Test of Faith

...possibly my worst photo ever.  Sorry!  The subject matter wouldn't cooperate.

…possibly my worst photo ever. Sorry! The subject matter wouldn’t cooperate.

A test of faith – This past week we completed our “Religions of the World” unit, using an Usborne book as a reference.  It was time to test and see what my son had retained.  I set up the iPad for a multiple choice quiz, and presented him with 30 questions regarding Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, and Sikhism.  Chalk up another A+.  Yay!

Incidental learning: Thermometers – While we were driving around the other day and the car thermometer read 37 degrees, I wondered if my son knew about temperatures.  So that night, we began a small study of temperatures and thermometers. We found a neat website: www.metric-conversions.org, offering loads of interesting facts with brief, understandable explanations.  We learned the difference between Celsius and Fahrenheit and how to convert from one to the other.  We learned that only the Bahamas, Belize, the Cayman Islands, Palau (Palau? We had to find this on the globe), the USA and its territories use the Fahrenheit system.  Consider us informed on the matter.

New academic unit – I am sorry to write that the chemistry unit we began crashed and burned by night number three. Darn book. When I don’t know what the author is talking about on page one, I start to think that this is not a book for us.  After shunning the chemistry book, we tried out a book on “Oceans of the World” and found conflicting sentences in the first paragraph, so we bypassed that resource, too.  This does not mean we are through with these units, it just means we are seeking the right books. (So many, many sub-standard learning materials out there.  How do they even get published?  Sigh.)

Not to be discouraged, we read through a few pages of “A Young Reader’s Shakespeare: A Midsummer Night’s Dream” by Adam McKeown.  Excellent!  We are loving this book. We are going slowly so we can keep all the characters straight.

3 books

Novels – Two worthy Newberry award recipients: “Hatchet” and “Flora and Ulysses”

  • Continuing on with “Hatchet”, by Gary Paulsen.  There is nothing original I can say about this important book.  There is a reason it is on so many reading lists.
  • “Flora and Ulysses”, by Kate DiCamillo (everything she writes is so great).  Things we’ve had to investigate while reading this book: CPR, near-death experiences (seeing the “white light”), the words “malfeasance” and “cynic”.  I love books that push us into further learning.

fleur de lis

Our music theme last night focused upon the work of French composers – I provided my son a list of compositions by the French composers that we are familiar with: Bizet, Debussy, Delibes, Gounod, Offenbach, and Saint-Saens.  He selected:

  • “The Infernal Galop”, (the “Can Can”) by Jacques Offenbach, what’s not to like?
  • “Clair de Lune”, by Claude Debussy, the soothing music we needed.
  • “March of the Toreadors”, (from “Carmen”) by Georges Bizet…a rather unusual rendition with bottles and a guy on skates.  Why not?

Welcome to the best part of my day!

– Jane BH

Barely Scraping By

green radargreen radargreen radar

I think I can put my finger upon one of the reasons I was barely scraping by (as far as grades go) in high school. SKIMMING. When I had to read something I was not interested in (i.e. textbooks), I SKIMMED.  My eyes were like radar screens, rapidly scanning every page for ANYTHING AT ALL that might prove interesting.  I evidently missed a great deal of information.  Cutting to the present: when I read aloud to my son, I wouldn’t dream of skimming.  And guess what? I am learning all kinds of stuff I probably should have learned during my formative years.   So, silver lining time:  my son learns something new and I learn something new, too.  I am grateful.

Current non-fiction studies: world religions – last night we were reading about Buddhism (“Usborne Book of Religions of the World”: A+), and non-vertebrate marine life – so elegantly photographed (“Spineless” by Susan Middleton: A+).

Current fiction: “Hatchet”, by Gary Paulsen (this is our third time through, and it is still riveting and important).

quill pen

Contemplating the quill pen: My son and I are learning about quill pens – the writing instrument of choice until the mid 1800s – so we thought we would try writing with one.  Holy cow, what a colossal mess! BLOTCH. DRIP. SPLOTCH.  Of course we had the cheapest of the cheap feather pen sets, so this may have been the problem (seriously, this WAS the problem), but it brought us to a new appreciation of documents such as the Declaration of Independence, which were handwritten with a quill pen. What an elegant hand penned the Declaration – not one inkblot or drip.

declaration    blotches

Last night’s story problem from “Le Fictitious Local Diner” – During the cold and flu season, townspeople flock to the diner to purchase quart upon quart of chicken soup to bring home. The diner uses organic chicken, celery, carrots and onions to make their soup and can make a gallon for $12.00. They sell a quart for $8.00. Each year the diner manages to sell 200 quarts of the chicken soup. What is their profit?

Last night’s music theme – “Summertime”.  This past week, the outside temp hovered around 30 degrees.  We needed to think about weather that was at least 50 degrees warmer, so we listened to –

  • “Summer” from Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons”, composed around 1720. (needs no comment)
  • “Fireflies” from Amy Beach, composed in 1892. This piano piece sparkles. It is one of our favorites.
  • “Summertime” from George Gershwin’s “Porgy and Bess” (1935). We listened to Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong sing – wow. Wow. Wow.
  • “In the Summertime” by Mungo Jerry, obviously not a melody that can compete with the others we listened to, and yet, this could be the consummate summer-vacation song.  Ridiculously rambunctious fun.

Welcome to the best part of my day!

– Jane BH