Surviving the Applewhites

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)

Second Time Around

blue moon       blue moon

July 2, 2015                       July 31, 2015

Blue Moon!  My son and I observed the blue moon on the final evening of July.  We learned that the term “blue moon” (the second full moon, if there are 2 full moons in one month) (very rare) does not refer to the moon’s color, but rather to the centuries-old phrase, “once in a blue moon” (something that occurs with preposterous infrequency).  For the vocab list: lunar.  And preposterous.

dictionary best

Our first research project!  The question was, “which letter of the alphabet begins the greatest number of words and which letter of the alphabet begins the fewest number of words?”.  My son guessed that the most words started with “E” and the fewest number of words started with “Z”. We used a real (non-electronic) dictionary and simple subtraction to find the number of pages (2 letters per night). We saved “E” and “Z” for the final night (he was pretty darn close with the “Z” choice). This was such a simple assignment, but surprisingly, it started a number of conversations. We want to do another research project!

The tally, in order of most words to fewest:  S with 167 pages, C, P, T, A, M, B, D, R, F, E with 52 pages, H, I, G, W, O, N, V, U, L with only 15 pages (this was a surprise, we thought there would be loads of “L” words), J, K, Q, Y, Z with 3 pages, X with 2 pages.

applewhites books

What we were reading this past week –

  • “Albert Einstein”: two thumbs up for this DK Biography by Frieda Wishinsky (regretfully, we have been disappointed with several DK books, but this one is excellent).
  • “The Merchant of Venice” (Shakespeare, obviously): we are reading a retelling of the play by Charles and Mary Lamb (this is a complicated plot line, and this version is OK, not great, but OK).
  • “Surviving the Applewhites”: our fourth time through this novel by Stephanie S. Tolan. This book is a treasure! It is funny, it is quirky, it is a hot mess – and the message! Wow. It is all about the single-minded pursuit of one’s passion. LOVE THIS BOOK.
English-Breakfast-Tea-Tin-276x300   English-Breakfast-Tea-Tin-276x300

Breaking news (and story problem) from Le Fictitious Local Diner! No more baskets of mish-mashed teabag options at the diner!  The hot tea service is being classed up and now only English Breakfast Tea (regular or decaf) will be served.  The diner’s supplier sells a tin of 200 regular teabags for $35 and a tin of 200 decaf teabags for $40.  On an average, 150 customers drink hot tea every week, half of them drinking decaf. How many tins of each should the diner purchase every month? How much should be budgeted annually for the purchase of teabags?  If one fourth of the tea drinkers want a thin slice of lemon with their tea, and there are 8 slices per lemon, how many lemons should the diner have at the ready every week?

blue moon

Tunes for Blue Moons 

  • “Moonlight Serenade”, by Glenn Miller. HUGE hit in 1939.  HUGE.  This melody was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1991.  We talked about Glenn and listened for his trombone.

  • “Rhapsody in Blue”, by George Gershwin.  This piece was written for piano solo and jazz band, and was composed in one big hurry (5 weeks!), premiering in 1924.  We love this video, showcasing not only Leonard Bernstein at the piano, but also clarinet master Stanley Drucker.

  • “Clair de Lune” (the 3rd movement of his “Suite Bergamasque”) (we did not know that!), by Claude Debussy, published in 1905.  Soothing to the extreme.  This video clip features piano virtuoso, Claudio Arrau, and was recorded in 1991, when Arrau was 88!  This should give us all hope!

Welcome to the best part of my day!

– Jane BH

Garden Par-tay

  cicadas on leaf

Cicadas Party – Every summer, it gets really loud in our backyard garden.  It sounds like a golf course sprinkler system going full blast, but it isn’t that, it is the CICADAS!  Last night my son and I did a mini-study of Cicadas.  We learned that cicadas sing their song during the hottest part of the day; we learned that the males make all the noise; we learned that people actually eat these insects (deep fried or stir fried) (gag).  We watched this well filmed video of a male cicada making his rattling noise (7 out of 10 on the repulsive scale).  In truth, my son wasn’t terribly interested; I sort of had to force him to watch this…good thing the video only lasts a minute:

Vocabulary update – two items:

First, I went through the list of vocabulary words we have accumulated over the past year (see “The Wordery” in menu area) and selected 15 words.  I presented the list as a quiz with multiple-choice options.  Happy report: 100% correct!  So pleased with my son’s vocabulary retention.

Second, our Rasputin and Einstein books and our current novel (“Surviving the Applewhites”) have presented us with more unfamiliar words and concepts: crude, dynasty, fasting, heir, hemophilia, icons, monarchy, stage mothers, Swiss neutrality, recluse, and thesis.

plums

The Farmer Brown story problem – Farmer Brown is going to be on local TV, showing everyone how to make his grandmother’s prize-winning Damson plum jam!  After the demonstration, he is going to give everyone in the audience (3 girl scout troops), a pint sized jar of the jam.  There are 16 girls in each troop.  If Farmer Brown’s recipe makes 2 quarts of jam, how many times will he need to multiply the recipe?  Farmer Brown does NOT want to disappoint the girl scouts.

ship

Our music theme from last night was inspired by “The Clipper Ship, Flying Cloud”, printed by Currier & Ives in 1852. A few years back, my son and I did a study on American illustrators, and we both loved learning about the firm of Currier & Ives (Currier, the accomplished lithographer and Ives, the finance brains…the selling pitch was, “the Grand Central Depot for Cheap and Popular Prints”).  When we finished our study, my son picked out “The Clipper Ship, Flying Cloud” as a poster to put up on his wall.

Music to accompany “The Clipper Ship, Flying Cloud”:

  • “Sea Songs” by Ralph Vaughan Williams, composed in 1923.  This is a 4 minute march bringing together 3 British sea songs. This video clip shows the Houston Youth Orchestra from two years ago.  Exceptionally well done for a youth orchestra.

  • “Overture to HMS Pinafore” by Gilbert and Sullivan, from their very popular comic opera, which premiered in 1871.  Jaunty!

  • “Over the Waves” by Juventino Rosas.  We often get this piece confused with “The Skater’s Waltz”, and guess what? The Skater’s Waltz (by Emile Waldeufel) was written in 1882 and “Over the Waves” was written in 1888.  (Perhaps another story for another time.)  ANYWAY,  take a look at this video!  The composition is played with surprising delicacy by the intimidating looking Central Military Band of the Russian Ministry of Defense.

Welcome to the best part of my day!

– Jane BH