redwall

Not-So-New Books: Redwall

It’s been a challenge to find books that my 10-year-old son likes to read or listen to, but we have hit gold with the first book of a very long series: Redwall by Brian Jacques. It has everything that my son likes: nature (the characters are all animals), adventure, and rebellion (he is a Star Wars fan, after all). 

Redwall is an ancient stone abbey, inhabited by peaceful mice that take care of and offer comfort to all the woodland creatures living in Mossflower—the forested area around the abbey. Unfortunately, an evil, one-eyed rat named Cluny and his followers are on their way to Redwall, aiming to conquer it and seize control of all of Mossflower. The mice of Redwall and their friends have to band together to save their home. Among them, a very special mouse named Mathias is on an epic journey to find the sword that belonged to Martin the Warrior, an ancient hero in Redwall history. He knows that if he can find this sword, he might be able to save Redwall. 

This book is on one hand a classic story of good versus evil, but it’s also a very intelligent book. I love how unlikely characters are brought together and become friends in order to fight against injustice. Female characters take on key roles in the fight too. The author shows how pride, arrogance, and greed will eventually send a character to his or her doom. This is a book that as an adult, I enjoyed just as much as my son. We are now reading the second book in this series, Mossflower, and oh my, there are twenty more books after that! I’m pretty sure my son will want to read them all.


Stuff We Like :: 5.12.17

home|school|life’s Friday roundup of the best homeschool links, reads, tools, and other fun stuff has lots of ideas and resources. 

This week's Stuff We Like comes courtesy of HSL's fab senior editor Shelli.

Homeschool

I’m loving delving into world history with my boys, especially with this Kingfisher Encyclopedia, my husband’s history podcasts, and lots of library books.

My young classical pianist is enjoying these “Masterpieces old and new” music videos on Khan Academy.

 

My Faves this Week on Twitter

On Getting a Starter Kit for a Butterfly Garden

Stunning art made out of driftwood

I always heart owls.

 

At Home/School/Life

in the magazine: everything in the spring issue that just came out!

in a future magazine: I’m really enjoying perusing some Spanish curriculums for a review I will write for a future issue.

on the blog: This Civil War reading list

one year ago: What we did in kindergarten

two years ago: Rhythms and routines in unschooling

 

Books We’re Loving Right Now

All of us: The Game of Silence

The 10-year-old: Mossflower

The 7-year-old: The Complete Adventures of Curious George: 75th Anniversary Edition

Me: The new Pevear and Volokhonsky translation of Anna Karenina

 

Games

I am constantly losing to my seven-year-old son in Star Wars Monopoly, and to make matters worse, I am miffed that Rey was left out of the character tokens. (Though happy to hear many people have complained, and they will include her in a later edition.) Still, it’s a fun game.

I fare better at Qwirkle, or my old favorite, Yahtzee.


June Pep Talk

home|school|life magazine's Monday Pep Talk has lots of fun ideas for planning your homeschool week.

We’re taking a break from our weekly pep talks this summer, so for June and July, we’re hooking you up with an over-stuffed monthly pep talk instead.

 

10 FUN THINGS TO DO THIS MONTH

Set up your telescope on June 3 to see Saturn at its brightest—with a decent telescope, you should be able to see some of the planet’s rings and moons.

June is Camping Month, so pitch a tent in your backyard for an outdoor sleepover. Make s’mores on the grill, put on a flashlight shadow puppet play, and do a little star-gazing. 

Take advantage of the sunshine and turn your nature walk into art by making sun prints.

Make sponge balls and have a backyard water battle.

Celebrate Maurice Sendak’s birthday on June 10 by watching Where the Wild Things Are and reading your favorite Sendak books. (I vote for the creepy, Labyrinth-ish Outside Over There.

Turn making lemonade into a fun science project.

Celebrate Drive-In Movie Day (June 6) by seeing a movie at a drive-in theater near you.

The Magna Carta was signed on June 15, 1215. Learn more about why this 13th century document still matters today by watching this video lecture from the James Otis Video Lecture collection.

I think we all know the best way to celebrate World Juggling Day (June 18). This video is a great tutorial for newbie jugglers.

To mark Log Cabin Day (on June 26), watch the documentary Alone in the Wilderness, a really fascinating account of a man who left the plugged-in world for the wilderness, building a log cabin and living off the land.

 

10 IDEAS FOR THIS Month’S DINNERS

When you want to grill but are feeling a little burned out by the same-old dishes, try this linguine with grilled clams and bacon. It’s unexpected and delicious.

If you bought more eggplant than you know what to do with, serve these falafel-stuffed eggplants with tahini sauce and tomato relish.

When the thought of cooking is just too much but everybody is insisting on eating dinner anyway, this chicken and peaches platter requires assembly only.

Mix and match whatever’s in your fridge to make this leftover salads Nicoise.

Anything you serve for dinner will taste better with this arugula, potato, and green bean salad.

This tomato chèvre tart is delicious just out of the oven, but I’ve also been known to eat a cold slice right out of the fridge for breakfast.

If it’s sunny, cook these Thai peanut chicken thighs on the grill; if it’s not, pop them in the oven instead.

Feeling adventurous?  This chilled crab and shrimp ramen salad is a staple on restaurant menus all summer long in Japan.

This summer minestrone is easy to adapt—and a delicious way to stretch those first tiny garden harvests.

Also a great way to use that late spring produce: spring vegetable bibimbap.

 

FOUR GREAT READALOUDS

I feel like book series and summer just go together, so for this list, I’m highlighting the first books in series I think make great readalouds—whether you stop after book one or keep going until the end.

Redwall (Redwall, Book 1)
By Brian Jacques
The Borrowers
By Mary Norton

Brian Jacques’ birthday is June 15, and Redwall makes the perfect summer series readaloud: epic adventure, talking animals, and plenty of irresistible characters.

Arietty, Pod, and Homily are just trying to live their lives in a way-too-big-for-them world in The Borrowers. I love the way this book blends matter-of-fact details (like peeling potatoes!) into a fantastic world.

You’ll be captivated by the adventures of Assistant Pig-Keeper Taran and his friends (an enchantress, a bard, a dwarf, and a, um, Gurgi) in The Book of Three, the first book in Lloyd Alexander’s Chronicles of Prydain.

Cara discovers a magical world full of dragons, dwarves, nightmares, and more when she heads Into the Land of the Unicorns.

 

ONE THOUGHT TO PONDER

Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under the trees on a summer’s day, listening to the murmur of water, or watching the clouds float across the blue sky, is by no means waste of time.
— John Lubbock

 

IN CASE OF EMERGENCY (BECAUSE SOMETIMES YOU NEED SOMETHING STRONGER THAN INSPIRATION)

bluenerry lavender vodka spritzer