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  • Sharon Tootill 5:06 pm on March 6, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , literature, Peter Pan   

    Hook Was an Old Eton Man 

    peterpanI could hardly believe when I checked how much of the year has gone by since I last posted! Time flies by when you’re having fun!

    We’ve had lots of adventures and shenanigans and, when I get a minute, I’ll come back and tell some stories around the camp-fire, but I just wanted to mention our latest very popular read-aloud. Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie and abridged by er… well actually I can’t check because I think Pony-rider has gone to sleep with it under her pillow. I suspect that any version will do – the adventure is so much fun whichever way it’s expressed, but the original is a bit wordy and difficult to read, so although I don’t generally like abridged version, this is a story that I recommend you find a good abridged version (the same is true of Moby Dick and a lot of classic books written during that era).

    The funniest (or is it disturbing) thing is the way I’ve noticed the story coming out in their play-times: Dragon-tamer isn’t too affected – he views the whole story quite philosophically (“it is quite an odd tale”, he told me before I read it – I can’t keep up with him, he has taken to pre-reading everything now!), Pony-rider has been spotted rooting through sock drawers for shadows, and generally loitering around windows in the vain hope that Peter will visit, but Motor-biker has been caught curling his forefinger into a hook on several occasions! If he had a pipe, I’m sure he’d smoke it…

    I did worry that J. M. Barrie’s axe-grinding over growing up was affecting Dragon-tamer when he remarked “I hope I won’t get to 12 too soon”, but it became clear that this was prompted by a big sign at the play-ground which read “No children over 12 may go on the equipment, by order of the Management”.

     

    Originally posted on the Svengelska Hemskolan blog (and given that Dragon-tamer will turn 21 this year, probably almost 10 years ago!).

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  • Sharon Tootill 1:34 pm on January 11, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Belgariad, , , David Eddings, , literature, ,   

    Pawn of Prophecy 

    pawnofprophecy

    The ME/cfs Book club challenged us to read a book we already read, so I just read this again after 20-ish years, and it’s still good! I love David Eddings’ style and the way he weaves all the strands together. But I’m surprised I didn’t go on to read the rest of the series, as it feels as though it ends with a lot of story yet to be told. So I’ll be hunting down the next one and the rest of the Belgariad series, and maybe all of the David Eddings collection.

    Garion is the central character in this first book of the series, with no real idea of who or what he is, and his journey from quiet, inconsequential farm boy to consorting with kings and nobles is really a journey of coming-of-age.

    The idea of being a ‘pawn of prophecy’, having a plan and purpose that you know nothing of, and having everything happen around you, with the powers that be moving him around the ‘board’ of life, but at the same time not wanting to believe that such things are true or possible, makes Garion easy to identify with, so I’m interested to know what will become of him (although there are plenty of clues, I won’t give it away – the reader knows really, but Garion still hasn’t quite figured it out).

    I’m also hoping that, in the next book, Pol will soften a bit and let in some romance with the trusty Durnik who obviously dotes on her. I hope that’s not too spoily. πŸ™‚

    Nice, gentle escapism with a wholly believable otherworld of gods, sorcery and deception, although I did find it hard to keep all the characters, gods and nations straight in my mind – who was who and which nation they came from (especially when they started introducing new names!), who was married to whom etc. But David Eddings’ skillful writing had me so immersed, that I felt I was in the places and journeying alongside the characters. One of those books that I’m really sad to finish!

     
  • Sharon Tootill 10:30 pm on December 28, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Guernsey, literature, , WWII   

    Book Review: The Guernsey Literary Society and Potato Peel Pie Society 

    guernsey

    The Guernsey Literary Society and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

    β€œThat’s what I love about reading: one tiny thing will interest you in a book, and that tiny thing will lead you to another book, and another bit there will lead you onto a third book. It’s geometrically progressive – all with no end in sight, and for no other reason than sheer enjoyment.”

    I haven’t read many books this year. I have started quite a few, but not sure I have finished any of them (unless you count textbooks and literature for homeschool, which would bump the number up a bit).

    I had forgotten how much I loved reading and enjoyed literature until I joined a new group on facebook, The ME/CFS Book Club. It’s now one of my favourite places online, and certainly my favourite facebook group.

    This book was one of their monthly reads and although I am running behind, I decided to get it because the title was so intriguing.

    It ended up being the best book I read this year, it was probably the only book that made me enthusiastically want to read it to completion, and I laughed and cried and felt deeply invested in the characters’ lives all the way through it.

    It is written in the form of a series of letters, between a young writer, Juliet Ashton, her publisher and friends, and members of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society after a Mr Dawsey Adams contacts her about a book of hers by Charles Lamb that had found its way into his possession, and she becomes intrigued about the society’s unusual name.

    The setting is post-war London and Guernsey, and the letters convey the story of the German Occupation of Guernsey during the war, the grief, sorrows and anguish as well as the joy and adventures of the eccentric islanders during that time, and the friendships forged through their common experience of war, and the beauty of literature that makes the increasingly brutal occupation bearable.

    I loved the lively way the letters were written, the post-war British voices rang surprisingly true considering the authors were American. It was quite unlike anything I have read in a long time.

    The ending is surprising and beautiful, with unexpected friendship, love, romance and comedy, and it is filled with delightful literary references and connections. (The story about Charles and Mary Lamb was so dreadfully sad and interesting, since we have loved Lambs’ Tales from Shakespeare as a family as part of our homeschool experience.) Mary Ann Shaffer is clearly a fellow book lover. It is all the more poignant because Mary Ann Shaffer was ill during the writing and had to call in her niece , Annie Barrows, to help her finish the book, knowing that it would be her only published novel.

    In her afterword, Annie Barrows writes: “This profusion of questions, exclamations, and tales is the new version of the Society. Its members are spread all over the world, but they are joined by their love of books, of talking about books, and of their fellow readers. We are transformed – magically – into the the literary society each time we pass a book along, each time we ask a question about it, each time we say, ‘If you liked that, I bet you’d like this.’ Whenever we are willing to be delighted and share our delight, as Mary Ann did, we are part of the ongoing story of The Guernsey Liteary and Potato Peel Pie Society.” I am glad to be able to offer my small contribution.

     

     
  • Sharon Tootill 2:39 pm on December 11, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: fun, Jane Austen, Jennifer Ehle, literature, Pride and Prejudice, quiz   

    Which Jane Austen Heroine Are You? 

    I do have some more serious posts that I’m working on (or rather, in fact which are just rumbling about my brain) but in the meantime, I found this fun quiz on one of my old blogs and thought I would share πŸ™‚

    I am Elizabeth Bennet!

    I am Elizabeth Bennet!

    Take the Jane Austen Character Quiz here!

    I couldn’t resist this!

    “You are Elizabeth Bennet of Pride & Prejudice! You are intelligent, witty, and tremendously attractive. [Yes, that’s right! – ed.] You have a good head on your shoulders, and oftentimes find yourself the lone beacon of reason in a sea of ridiculousness. You take great pleasure in many things. You are proficient in nearly all of them, though you will never own it. Lest you seem too perfect, you have a tendency toward prejudgement that serves you very ill indeed.

    I was of course most pleased to discover myself to be Elizabeth Bennet. I loved and do still love the BBC mini-series, which is affectionately known in our house as ‘The Wedding Story” (and is one of the favourites that gets fished out whenever any of us girls are really poorly) and I loved Jennifer Ehle as Elizabeth. She was so good, it’s a shame that she hasn’t been in much of note since.

    But just to remind me not to idolise my heroes of the silver screen, I checked her out on Twitter and she’s exceedingly un-like her character in P&P. Foul-mouthed, but otherwise quite boring.

     
  • Sharon Tootill 8:06 am on June 20, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: American history, Apologia, , , Box Day, British history, , , , , , , , , literature, , ,   

    Plans for September 

    After going to and fro in my mind over what to do – follow the national curriculum more closely with a view to doing GCSEs? Concede defeat over the severe dyslexia and put them all in school (it was a serious consideration, but none of us want to go that route), or go back to our Sonlight-style, literature-based lifestyle.

    I wondered seriously about starting GCSEs at home, but again, nobody really wants that. We have found two possible options for maths and English post-16, both of which are free, so I think there’s no rush for that. Heck, I’m doing GCSE maths myself next year, and I’m 44! πŸ™‚

    I decided to go back to the literature-based lifestyle. I call it a lifestyle, because when we were doing Sonlight, we weren’t cooped up at home or in the classroom the way we have been recently, trying to squeeze ourselves into the National Curriculum boxes (although now I look back, I wonder why?! It has been miserable for all of us, and really, worse than unproductive, it turned them off learning).

    On the contrary, the books we found were always portable, it meant that we could be out and about everyday – at the woods, at the beach, visiting with other home educators, whatever really, and we could still get the ‘work’ done, and it didn’t really feel like work (except on my throat which was known to need a constant supply of hot tea!)

    Despite eldest’s difficulties with the system (possible Asperger’s without a firm diagnosis or Statement), his knowledge base was much larger than my own when I left school, so I’m confident that Sonlight gave him a good all-round education. The skills will come, but they have come frustratingly slowly.

    My kids are just bright, late starters πŸ™‚

    The next question was, do we go on with Sonlight itself or another literature-based curriculum I have used in between, Heart of Dakota.

    I actually decided to do both: I will be doing two levels anyway – we’re going to finally go back and finish the Sonlight read-alouds from core C over the summer, and then go on to start core D. We never did cores D and E first time round because they’re based on American history, but we always felt we had missed out on all those fantastic books!

    coreD

    So, as always, we will do a hotch potch – we’ll intersperse the American history with some British history and geography. But we’ll be moving away from the textbooks and back to the literature. They recall it so much more fully that way.

    heart-of-dakota-world-geography

    For my daughter, I decided to do Heart of Dakota’s World Geography year. The titles look really interesting, and I’ve been wanting to do it for a while.

    I rather enjoyed HoD’s early grades, which I used (mainly for language arts) for my two youngest alongside Sonlight’s early grades, although we didn’t do all the books (HoD are much more Amero-centric than Sonlight, and more religious! But I like it because it has a much more Charlotte Mason style) but I skipped the first three higher levels in the ‘Hearts for Him Through High School’ series (although I have the guides if I want to go back to them).

    300

    And, because I am a book addict, I also ordered Sonlight’s core 300 (20th Century World History for high school) instructor’s guide, but not the books. I thought I would get the books gradually as we need them. And I’ll read these myself even if my daughter’s not interested. (I had been toying with doing their Church History core for myself but we hadn’t done the 20th Century in any great depth so I thought we should do this first) I rather think she will be interested anyway, and I know my eldest will love them.

    So there will be a whole lot of reading going on in this house, and out of this house next year, all being well!

    But as ever, the strict following of guides and manuals, ticking off every box, and doing every assignment, probably won’t happen.

    We’ve tried that, and it sucks the joy out of it all, and it kind of defeats the whole purpose of home educating in the first place, which is freedom to enjoy learning.

    For science, we’ll carry on with Apologia but I think we may set aside some more time for hands-on experiments. That’s one think I may go back to the National Curriculum for, but as I said many years ago, I will use it (as I’ll use the HoD manuals and the Sonlight instructor’s guides) more as a curriculum bank of ideas, a tool rather than a master. We won’t allow ourselves to be straight-jacketed by curriculum.

    When things start to arrive, I’ll post again with details about the individual books and resources.

    So I’m excited right now! We haven’t had a ‘Box Day’ for a few years now! How about you? What are you planning? What resources will you be using? What would you like to learn this year?

     
    • The Garners 3:08 am on June 21, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      We loved Core D/E – lots of great classic books!

      Like

      • lillbjorne 12:26 am on August 10, 2015 Permalink | Reply

        I’m really looking forward to it! I feel really privileged to have this opportunity to learn about American history – something that no schools in the UK would cover!

        Like

  • Sharon Tootill 9:08 pm on February 4, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , literature, ,   

    Picture Book Reading Challenge 

    I’ve just heard about this lovely challenge: to read 300 picture books to your children, in a year.

    Since we are starting in February, our allocation is reduced to 275.

    It’s only ’11 books per fortnight’, so that seems fairly manageable.

    http://childledchaos.me.uk/2013/12/31/picture-book-reading-challenge-2014/

    I used to have pages on Goodreads, Shelfari, and Library Thing (back when we had internet 3 years ago!) So I will check them out again when I have a chance.

    Of course, since my children are older, I may have to include books other than picture books. I have been aiming for one book weekly, but life has just been whizzing by too fast to actually manage to fit that much reading in.

    We keep trying though! (We’re currently still reading “The Avion My Uncle Flew”)

    I think perhaps a trip to the library is in order! πŸ™‚

     
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