the goblin's puzzle

Stuff We Like :: 4.29.16

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

Happy birthday today to my mom, who always bought me all the books I wanted from the Scholastic order form!

around the web

I have always suspected this: Speed reading is really just a fancy term for skimming

I will always love A Little Princess, but this critique of Sara’s wealth morality is pretty spot-on.

Just for fun: If we wrote about men’s athletic wear the way we write about women’s fashion

Being busy and distracted is actually retro. Like 1700s retro.

The brief, glorious life of Boaty McBoatface


at home | school | life

on Have you downloaded our Homeschool Recharge workbook yet? It’s free for everyone through the end of May (and always free for subscribers)

on the blog: I have been living vicariously through Shelli’s Citizen Science posts, but this one is so easy, I have no excuse not to try it!

also on the blog: I'm really excited about our new bloggers, who you'll get to meet next month!

in the classroom: Registration for our summer classes starts on Sunday!

on Facebook: Weigh in on what you’d like to see more (or less) of on the home | school | life blog.


reading list

I’m trying to get back into the routine of doing a new book review for the blog every Saturday—which means I finally got around to reviewing The Goblin’s Puzzle, which we really loved.

On my night table: Inventions of the March Hare, Loquela (so weird and challenging, but I kind of love it)

On my 8th grader’s night table: Goth Girl and the Ghost of a Mouse, thanks to Suzanne’s spring column. (We ordered ours from Abe Books, but it looks like there’s U.S. edition coming our way this fall.)

On my 3rd grader’s night table: A giant collection of Pokemon cards. (But he’s been reading his sister’s old Amanda Pig books when no one is looking. Honestly, I have no idea how to classify his reading level at this point, so I’m just going to eat some chocolate and try not to think about it.)

Next up in our readaloud queue: Holes


at home

watching: Doctor Who, now that it’s finally returned to streaming on Amazon Prime

knitting: Nothing! I can’t decide what to knit next

planning: Our first Homeschool 101 online workshop with the fabulous Suzanne and figuring out how to set up a private chat group for the participants

eating: Every artichoke I can get my greedy little hands on

listening: Prince, Prince Prince

New Books: The Goblin's Puzzle

That was the trouble with fate. When you were sure what everyone’s fate was, everything worked nicely. When you were not, things got confusing fast.

Take one boy without a name who may or may not be a slave. Add a girl named Alice who wants to be a sage but can’t seem to break into the smart boys’ club and a girl named Alice who happens to be a princess. Mix in a goblin with fondness for puzzles, a mind-controlled dragon who does his hunting by name, and a nefarious Duke scheming to overthrow a kingdom, and you’ve got all the ingredients for The Goblin’s Puzzle, a really clever middle grades fantasy that raises questions about slavery and women’s rights, absolute versus relative truth, heroism, and more.

The book starts with the boy, a slave without a name, who—through a series of unfortunate events—finds himself in possession of an-almost-all-knowing-but-certainly-not-telling goblin and in pursuit of Just Alice, who’s been captured by a dragon who’s confused her with the princess because they have the same name. But rescuing Just Alice—who desperately wants the chance to prove that she’s as wise as any sage her age—is just the beginning of the boy’s adventures, which take him across a kingdom on the brink of war and which, the goblin implies, will lead him to the truth of his origins and the discovery that he is not really a slave after all.

This book has a Roald Dahl/Lemony Snicket irreverence and a twisty-turny plot that make it perfect for a readaloud. (I also kept finding parallels to The Horse and His Boy, though the books are completely different.) I could quibble that Princess Alice deserves a more nuanced character development (she does) and that the villainous duke is a bit two-dimensional (he is), but these are small issues in an otherwise excellent book. Add this one to your library list.

Stuff We Like 2.5.16

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

We’re busy, busy, busy around here — diving into the spring issue, making some big plans for this summer, booking a spring vacation, and getting into a high-intensity homeschool mode (which happens when one of the kids gets obsessed with a certain topic). It’s the good, happy kind of busy, which I love.

around the web

I totally believe in the health benefits of knitting. (It’s like meditation for people who have to be doing something to relax.)

And speaking of, I completely relate to this hilarious guided meditation for the anxious mind.

I’m slow getting around to reading "The Myth of Easy Cooking", but it’s so true! Sometimes dinner is just fuel, and that should be okay.

I’ve heard more than once that homeschooling is hard on schools because it means active parents are funneling their resources into homeschooling rather than into improving local schools, so I found this piece about rich parents, fundraising, and school inequality fascinating.


at home/school/life

in the magazine: The first articles for the spring issue are in!

on the blog: I really identify with Lisa's post about the joy of following your kids' passions.

on pinterest: I’m kind of in love with the idea of making tea time a thing. I feel like we need more regular rhythms right now. 


reading list

I have rarely looked forward to reading a book as much as I am looking forward to reading Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho, which Suzanne swears is a Jane-Austen-P.G.-Wodehouse-Georgette-Heyer delight but also with magic. It’s at the top of my weekend to-do list.

Speaking of delightful, we loved The Goblin’s Puzzle as a readaloud. I should give it a proper review.

A perfect combination: Bill Bryson + William Shakespeare in Shakespeare: The World as Stage. (It’s looking like a summer of Shakespeare at Casa Sharony.)


at home

This has been the season of frogging in my knitting life. I frogged my White Russian so that I could slim down the shouldersand just haven’t gotten the motivation to cast back on for that big cowl neck yet. And I frogged my Zick Zack scarf because as much as I loved it, I kept thinking that I would love it even more if there was more color and size variation in the stripes. That one I cast back on pretty much immediately, and I am so much happier with it, even though I have to reknit for miles to catch back up to where I was.

Apparently physical therapy makes me want to eat all the time. I cannot get enough roasted chickpeas or soy sauce eggs. (I use the recipe from Lucky Peach’s 101 Easy Asian Recipes, which is reprinted at the link, and they are totally addictive. Actually, this whole cookbook is pretty great.)

For Settlers of Catan nachos, I will even pretend to watch the Super Bowl.