Find Joy. Seek Truth. Be Kind.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Reading lists

Books. There's never enough of them, nor enough time to read them all. But I keep at it anyway.

I just finished "The Name of the Wind" by Patrick Rothfuss - a most excellent way to enjoy several late nights. So of course I had to see if the sequel was out. It is, but not at our library. Gotta love Prospector! It'll be winging it's way to me soon, I hope.

All this led me to check out this new author's blog where I found his excellent lists of SF/F books. (If you go link to this be sure to scroll through the comments as there are other authors recommended there too.) Now, I've read most of the books on these lists, but there are some books I haven't, and even a few authors I wasn't aware of. Yea!!

As I look through this list it dawns on me that most of these books are appropriate for what is now called the "young adult" audience. Back in my day we called ourselves teens, while holding jobs, walking miles to school (uphill both ways, I'm sure), and doing the house work at home. Now a days, apparently "teens" are "young adults", although fewer of them seem to be holding jobs or doing housework, and most seem to have cars and cell phones. What's up with that?

Anyway, these lists might be a great resource to young readers, like my 13yo, who feel they have read all the good books already. :-D

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Homeschooling Shakespeare

We are lucky enough to live near a college town.. The school started as an agricultural school, but has grown into a full fledged university, complete with a theatre department that does an annual outdoor production of Shakespeare. This year the production is a comedy, "Twelfth Night". Yea for us!

I used this as an excuse to start Shakespeare with the kids. Yes, they're just 13, 10 & 6. Yes, some of it is over their heads. (Less than you'd think!) The hardest part is that the tragedies are, well, tragic. My young kids have challenges around anything to do with suspense, people getting into trouble, or getting hurt. That kinda puts a dent in how we can approach Hamlet and Macbeth, ya know? That's why I was so glad to find a comedy being produced this year.

So, for those who have asked "How do you do it?" regarding homeschooling in general, this is an example of how I throw something at the kids.

First of all it helped that I had a goal. By the end of June I wanted the kids and I to be comfortable with Shakespeare's language, the plot and characters of Twelfth Night, and have some understanding of the historical context of Shakespearean times. Why the end of June? That's when we get to go see the live performance!

First I did a little poking around. I found Twelfth Night, by Leon Garfield, illustrated by Ksenia Prytkova at the library. It was a fantastic introduction to the play - a much abbreviated cartoon book that gave us the gist of the plot and characters with lots of visuals to grab the kids attention.

I also found the much touted Tales from Shakespeare by Charles and Mary Lamb on audio at NetLibrary. Now this was a lucky find for us, but not in the way I expected. I found the stories to be watered down and almost boring. It left out the witches' "Double, double, toil and trouble; Fire burn and cauldron bubble " verses in Macbeth. That's a terrible oversight. It's worth the whole bloody play just for that scene. In addition, the language was archaic (having been written at the turn of the 19th century) yet had little to no Shakespearean phrasing or flow. For my (over) sensitive kids though, this was perfect! The tragedies were so watered down that nearly all the emotion was taken out and the kids could get through the stories. By the end of the book the boys were predicting whether it was a tragedy or a comedy within the first few scenes of each story. "It's a tragedy. There's a character with ambition." or "This must be a comedy Mom! It's got twins and women cross dressing."

Next we listened to a Recorded Books "Shakespeare Appreciated Production of Twelfth Night" downloaded from Netlibrary. This was fantastic. It had a woman narrating, with actors playing each role. The narrator set the scene as if we were watching the play in Shakespearean times and interrupts the play to explain word uses and historical context. Now, if you want a watered down version, this isn't for you. Shakespeare was rather bawdy. If you object to an explanation of how "my golden rod" really means penis, or how one character was really calling another character "urine face", or how a male sea captain falls in love with a rescued boy, then you should probably skip this. I have 3 UU boys though, and they thought all this quite hilarious. In addition, since the actors were really saying the lines as written, the kids got a taste of Shakespeare's true genius. As my 10 yo said, "He uses a lot of the same stories, but he says it different every time"

Now I could stop there. We are ready to see the play and enjoy it without getting too lost. But I still have some resources I haven't gotten around to yet. There's the audio of Edith Nesbit's "Beautiful Stories from Shakespeare" we got off of Librivox. There's "Shakespeare's Greatest Hit's" by Bruce Coville from the library. There's "Shakespeare Stories" by Leon Garfield, illustrated by Micheal Foreman. There are all the books about Shakespeare himself, about the Globe Theatre, about the Elizabethan era .... Well, you get the idea. We might take a break, but we will never be done with Shakespeare!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Art for me!

A couple of weeks ago I found Totally Tangled waiting on my library hold shelf. I honestly don't remember how I came to put it on hold. I'm sure I found it while surfing the web or from a link from a friend, but I had totally forgotten about it until I checked it out. Now I'm hooked!

Look what I did!

But I like these better

And then I saw the one my husband did:


Here's some more tangled inspiration:

Tangle Patterns
Tangle Images
Video of Tangle Mandala (Zendala!)

Saturday, June 11, 2011

The Great Family Escape.

Those of you who know me IRL know that one of our dreams as a couple was to sell it all and sail away. That was why homeschooling was always in the back of my mind as a possibility and eventual likelihood.

The Great Family Escape is a website/blog after my own heart. We're not doing it yet. And maybe we won't ever, at least like we had originally planned, but when the time comes to put on our traveling shoes this site has both inspiration and practical suggestions.

Safe travels everyone!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

May Books

Only 3 books? Pretty obvious we've had a really busy May.