The Bravest Knight

Sometimes when I go to school we talk about jobs that dogs have, and about my job as a therapy dog and library dog, and about how I was headed towards being a guide dog but ended up taking a different path.

CIMG3393This sometimes leads to talk about what kids want to do when they grow up. When my Mom Person was little she wanted to be a horse. What?! I don’t think that she has achieved this goal yet. I don’t really understand this concept of “growing up.” The idea of things in the “future” is a little murky to me. My days are centered around the here and now. The future means dinner and maybe some tennis. And those dreams are for NOW! Most little kids think a lot like me. They don’t seem to know how to dream about “some day.” But those bigger kids DO! And they tend to have BIG dreams! Kids are so funny! They ALL say that they want to have lots of dogs! Then there is talk about being super heroes and conquering bad guys. Or being sports stars. Lots of kids want to be firemen. Some want to be teachers. Some want to be farmers or ranchers or rodeo stars. It’s fun to listen to imaginations going wild. Where will those imaginings take them?

We read a book this week about big dreams. About a young boy, who is obviously quite a  reader, looking for adventures.

IMG_1310The Bravest Knight
by Mercer Mayer
published by Dial Books for Young Readers in 2007
originally published by The Dial Press in 1968 under the title Terrible Troll

This is a fiction book suitable for ages 4 and up

Themes would be fairy tales, knights, dreaming big, doing good deeds

It begins
I wish I lived a thousand years ago.
There would be beautiful castles, kings and queens,
good knights, bad knights, fair ladies in danger,
evil dragons from the mountains, and a giant troll
that roars and eats anything.

Are those not the words of a big dreamer! This boy imagines himself being the squire of the bravest knight in the kingdom. I’m impressed that he knows what a squire is! My readers sure didn’t!! See what kinds of doors a book can open?! Anyway, the boy squire envisions all the tasks that he would have to do as a squire and all of the adventures he would be a part of. He would help the knight in times of trouble and the knight would help him. There is quite a twist at the end of this tale that I am NOT going to reveal to you. Suffice it to say that it brought GASPS from my readers!!

IMG_1315This is an incredible picture book! It’s got it all! A fanciful tale with lots of suspense, a fantastic little hero, morals about working hard and taking care of your friends, and some incredible illustrations. I had one little reader on this day who was a real wild child. She would not sit long enough to read one page. But when she sat down with this book, she was mesmerized! We read the whole thing through and she even studied the pictures on every page. It was incredible!

Mr Mayer has a couple of websites that you might want to check out –
One is a gallery of his artwork HERE.

The other website is the Little Critters official website with lots of fun interactive stuff.
You can find it HERE.

Hear Mr Mayer talk about his name — http://www.teachingbooks.net/qlqswpm

This book is a perfect jumping off spot for some dramatics! Playing at being knights and trolls and damsels in distress. What would it be like to live in a castle? What kind of food would the kings and queens and knights eat? What kinds of pets might they have? This young squire has a cat – but no dog! What’s up with that?!

HERE is a link to some great crowns that kids could make for their play time.

And a link to a clever DIY Knight’s helmet HERE.

Susanna Leonard Hill keeps a list of Perfect Picture Books and resources to go along with these books. Fridays are devoted to these perfect books. You might want to check it out at her website HERE.

So, go slay some dragons this weekend and save some damsels in distress. And maybe toss a tennis ball to your best dog —

IMG_1329Your dreaming friend
Rhythm
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The Adventures of a Chicken

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We recently got some new baby chicks. They came in the mail. Little baby chicks chirping in the box. It must have been quite an adventure for these tiny things. I wonder what they were thinking in that box. With my big eyes and nose staring at them.

I happen to like chickens. (I like to EAT chicken!) But right now I’m talking about real live chickens that chirp and squawk and have feathers. Feathers do not taste good.

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I like to watch real live chickens strutting around and doing their pecking  and digging  and flapping. I find them amusing. I often lay in the shade of a nice tree and watch them scratching around in the dirt or chasing a grasshopper and I wonder what kinds of things they might dream about. What kinds of imaginations can be found in those tiny brains?

There happens to be an amusing little book by Kate DiCamillo about a chicken with a big imagination.

IMG_0129Louise, The Adventures of a Chicken
by Kate DiCamillo
illustrated by Harry Bliss
published by Joanna Cotler Books
(an imprint of Harper Collins Publishers)
in 2008
Fiction

Suitable for 1st grade and up

Themes – chickens, adventure, “There’s no place like home.”

Louise is a plump white chicken with big eyes and a big imagination. She looks like any other chicken on her farm. But she happens to have a real longing for some adventure. So one day she heads out in search of some. She finds LOTS of adventure. Maybe more than she bargains for. She has a scary time on a pirate ship, a heart stopping adventure with a circus, and a narrow escape from an exotic bazaar. Through all of her adventures she exhibits great naivete and is blessed with the greatest of luck! She also finds that she misses her cozy home and longs for her sister hens.

IMG_0131This was a really fun, swash-buckling book to read! It’s a big picture book with 56 pages. And it has chapters! Four! Each adventure is a new chapter. It also has some interesting words like fricasse and auditions and aerialist and “mon cheri” and mundane and coq au vin. There is some violence and some scary moments that make your heart beat a little faster. This story is anything but mundane! And it is hilarious! My readers loved it! We loved the story and the illustrations. Ms DiCamillo and Mr Bliss are quite an incredible duo!

My reader kids talked about what kinds of adventures they would have if they could. They all liked the idea of pirate ships. One wanted to go diving in the ocean with sharks! One wanted to race cars and one wanted to go on a safari. No one thought that they were brave enough to just leave home and go find adventure all on their own. They all thought Louise was very brave to do that. I just thought she was a little crazy.

There is an interesting interview with Ms DiCamillo on the Amazon page for this book. Visit it HERE. You’ll have to scroll down the page to find the interview.

Harper Collins has some teacher activities HERE.

Kids could make a paper plate chicken like these —

and take them on some adventures!

I leave you with a little entertainment – (I think that this is what my chickens do at night) —

Now skip on over to Susanna Hill’s blog HERE to check out the list of Perfect Picture Books that she keeps. You could make a reading adventure of it!!!!!

Be safe in all your adventures!
Your chicken loving friend
Rhythm

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My Painted House, My Friendly Chicken, and Me

maya angelouMs Maya Angelou died this week. A very sad time for the literary world and the world at large. Before this week I did not know much about this lovely lady. Most of her writings, I believe, are a little heavy for the kids who read to me. But I am a bit familiar with her. I have heard her enchanting voice on the radio and seen her face in magazines. And we do have one of her books on my bookshelf. A picture book that we like to take to school to share with my reading buddies.

IMG_0125My Painted House, My Friendly Chicken, and Me
by Maya Angelou
photographs by Margaret Courtney-Clarke
designed by Alexander Isley Design
published by Clarkson Potter in 1994

Themes – South African culture, traditions

Suitable for ages 3 and up

It begins ….
Hello Stranger-friend
I am Thandi, an Ndebele girl in South Africa.
I am eight years old, and my best friend is a chicken.

This is a fascinatingly unique book. It is filled with beautiful photographs of Ndebele women, children, and painted houses. It is also filled with the rhythmic words of Ms Angelou painting a picture of life in a South African village. A life quite alien to what my reading buddies are used to. Many of the kids in Glen Rose have chickens. And some even talk to their chickens like Thandi does. Thandi has a mischievous younger brother that she would like to give away. Many of my readers can sympathize with those feelings! But Thandi’s village life is quite a bit different from our small town life. For one thing, Thandi and her friends don’t wear much clothing! Mostly LOTS of beads. And they are quite proud of their beadwork. The women do all the beading and Thandi looks forward to one day being able to make her own beaded apron. The women also paint their houses in fantastic geometric patterns – using chicken feathers as brushes! These are traditions that will be passed down to Thandi and her girl friends.

IMG_0128Thandi says that Ndebele people do not call anything beautiful. They say that the best thing is GOOD. This is a very GOOD book full of joy and the music of hope.

When we read this book, we have Good discussions about different cultures and traditions and how traditions get handed down from one generation to the next. We talk about family traditions that the kids might have.

It would be fun, if you have thumbs, to try painting some pictures using the Painted Houses as a model – and paint them with feathers!

To learn more about the art of the Ndebele visit HERE.

Here are some instructions for GOOD beaded snowflake or star ornaments.

Have some fun and laugh and play like Thandi and her friends!

And try this little game!

Now you might want to venture over to the GOOD Ms Susanna Hill’s blog where she keeps a list of Perfect Picture Books.

I challenge you to go out and find your Rhythm
and Dance!
In memory of the GOOD Ms Maya Angelou
Your dancing friend
Rhythm
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Gone to the Apes

As you may (or may not) know, I have a particular fondness for Apes. Gorillas in particular. My sleeping buddy when i was a wee pup was a cuddly gorilla who kept me safe at night.

IMG_3871I have talked about apes and ape books on several occasions. HERE. and HERE. and HERE. and HERE. One of my most favorite author/illustrators is Mr. Anthony Browne who is quite famous for his depictions of apes. Do you know the difference between apes and monkeys? Apes don’t have tails!

IMG_6017Today for Perfect Picture Book Friday, I have two, yes TWO, Perfect Picture Books about Apes. One is non-fiction and one is considered fiction but is actually a biography. I get so confused about these things sometimes!

IMG_6020APE
by Martin Jenkins
illustrated by Vicky White
published by Candlewick Press in 2007
a non-fiction book about the five great apes
suitable for pre-school and up

It begins —
There are five kinds of great apes in the world.
Each of them is different from the others …
but not so very different.
They’re all part of the same family.

Mr Jenkins goes on to tell us about the great apes of the world. The Orangutan of Borneo and Sumatra, the Chimpanzee of central and west Africa, the Bonobo of central Africa, the Gorilla of central Africa, and ….. Humans who are found all over the world.

Mr Jenkins tells us about each ape family’s habitat and habits, what they eat, and what their personalities are like. This is all accompanied by the most unbelievably beautiful artwork by Ms White. Publisher’s Weekly says about these illustrations – “White makes an intense emotional connection between subject and reader. …. The great apes have found their John Singer Sargent.”

IMG_6019At the back of the book is a world map showing where the Great Apes are found, and links to some conservation organizations who are working to save the great apes.

This is a most incredible book! You can read Publishers Weekly’s review HERE.

IMG_6021Me … Jane
by Patrick McDonnell
published by Little Brown and Company in 2011
a fictional biography of Jane Goodall – champion of chimpanzees
suitable for pre-school and up

It begins —
Jane had a stuffed toy chimpanzee named Jubilee.
She cherished Jubilee and took him everywhere she went.
And Jane loved to be outside.

This is an exquisitely joyful look at Jane Goodall as a wee young girl. She spends her time immersed in the world around her. She is a watcher of nature – the plants and animals that fill her habitat. She studies and keeps detailed notes in her journals. Jane reads about Tarzan of the Apes and dreams of being in Africa herself living a life “with, and helping, all animals.” And Jubilee is with her always.

IMG_6018The illustrations in this book are the cute, sweet pictures that Mr McDonnell is famous for. But there are also some of Jane’s own artwork from her journals. And pages of subtle realistic nature pictures.
At the back of the book is a brief biography about Ms Goodall and links to her websites. You can get to those HERE. and HERE. There is also a message from Ms Goodall herself.

Besides learning about chimpanzees at Ms Goodall’s website, you can find more about gorillas at the Gorilla Organization. More about orangutans at the Orangutan Foundation. More about Bonobos at the Bonobo Conservation Initiative.

Here is a link to some activity sheets and a cool gorilla mask.
A great lesson plan about apes with crafts and activities can be found HERE.

And now you might want to visit Susanna Hill’s blog where you’ll find a great list of Perfect Picture Books and helpful resources to go with.

Ms Jane Goodall recently celebrated her 80th birthday. Here is a video tribute to her —

Now go out and do something good for your neighborhood!

Your ape watching friend
Rhythm
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Rugby & Rosie

We are all about guide dogs here at the 7 Acre Wood. And goats. And grapes. And swimming. And tennis balls. But I digress. I want to talk about guide dogs today. My family here has raised guide dog pups off and on for a good number of years. The very first one was a black Lab named Gretta. During her long, illustrious life she actually achieved Sainthood. St Gretta came from a guide dog school in California called Guide Dogs For the Blind.

img502All the other pups that have passed through our gates have come from a guide dog school in Florida called Southeastern Guide Dogs. Including myself.

img338And my buddy Walker –

scarb fair 5-08 016And now Electra –

IMG_5312There have been others in between. Some have made the humans proud and become working guide dogs. Some have made the humans proud and been extraordinary therapy dogs.

The life of a guide dog puppy in training is an emotional ride – for the humans and for the pups. There is a real bond that develops and lots of love is invested and then the pup has to move on to other things. The humans have to let go. The pup has to let go. And both have to create new bonds and new attachments. Some dogs just can’t do it. I couldn’t and came back to live where I knew I belonged. Only about half of the pups that return to school actually go on to become working guide dogs. Statistics show that a higher percentage of Labs become working guide dogs than any other breed. I think that that may be because we Labs are basically happy with anyone who feeds us on a regular basis.

Anyway, I have a Perfect Picture Book for you that’s about a year with a guide dog pup.

IMG_5796Rugby & Rosie
by Nan Parson Rossiter
published by Dutton Children’s Books
in 1997

Theme – dog training, guide dog pups, friendship

It begins-
Rugby is my dog. He is a chocolate Labrador, and we have had him for as long as I can remember.
………..
We used to do everything together – just the two of us.
Then Rosie came.

The narrator of the story is a young boy who has a really close friendship with his dog, Rugby. One day his dad comes home with a little yellow pup named Rosie. Rosie was a guide dog pup and would only live with the family for one year. The boy knew all about this, but didn’t know how to tell Rugby. Rugby was not happy about the new pup. She tried to get him to play, but the wasn’t interested. It took him quite a while to decide that she wasn’t going anywhere and he might as well make friends. After that the two dogs were always together, romping and playing and napping. Rosie needed a lot of extra training out in public where Rugby didn’t get to go. But he was always waiting when they returned home.

Then the day came that Rosie had to return to the guide dog school. Everyone was sad. Even Rugby. Rosie became a guide dog and the family, along with Rugby, got to go to the graduation ceremony and see Rosie again and meet her new person. They saw that Rosie was happy and making a difference in the life of this new person. All because of their love and devotion. They were all very proud of her.

IMG_5793This book makes my Mom Person cry every time she reads it. It’s a well done story. You can see and feel all the emotions tugging at everyone. Even the dogs. When we read this book to kids, there is always a discussion about letting go. Life is full of letting go. Even if you’re a little person growing up.

There are 13 accredited guide dog schools in the United States. For information about all of them visit the Guide Dog Users, Inc. website.

If there is a school near you, you might want to go for a visit. I know that Southeastern has puppy hugging days when they let people come play with all the pups. You can visit their website and find out all about pups and being a volunteer puppy raiser.

HERE is a link to some thoughts on etiquette when encountering a guide dog team.

HERE is an article for kids about blindness.

You could have a discussion about being blind. Put on blindfolds and take a Listening Walk around the room. Think about how you would be using all your other senses if you couldn’t see.

Here is a little video to show you what it’s all about — enjoy —

And now you might want to venture over to Susanna Hill’s blog to see a whole big list of Perfect Picture Books and resources to go with! — Enjoy!!

Your friend indeed
Rhythm

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Some Swell Pup

As you may know already, we have a new pup in our house. A Guide Dog Puppy who will grow up to be “eyes” for some lucky blind person. Her name is Electra and I am in charge of training. (With some help from the Mom Person and my buddy, Walker.)

Training a puppy is not an easy task! Ms Electra is a Mini-Godzilla! Chewing and eating everything in her path! What’s a good dog to do?!

IMG_5174The Mom Person to the rescue! She pulled a book off of our shelf that is a story about puppy training. And written by none other than Mr Maurice Sendak and his dog training buddy, Mr Matthew Margolis.

IMG_5376The book is titled SOME SWELL PUP or Are You Sure You Want a Dog?

written by Maurice Sendak and Matthew Margolis
illustrated by Maurice Sendak
published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux in 1976

Suitable for K and up

Theme – puppy training, being kind to animals, the power of love

IMG_5378I think that this would be considered a graphic novel. It’s done in comic book style. It begins with a brother and sister pining for a dog of their own. And then a pup is left on their doorstep. They are thrilled! Until the puppy proves to be a Mini-Godzilla! Chewing and eating everything in its path! They get angry at the pup and decide it needs to go off to school. The pup is soon returned to them with a note saying the pup is too young to train and the school is now a wreck!

What are two kids supposed to do now?! Well, a stranger comes along and tries to show them that what the pup needs is lots of love. That everything it has been doing is normal puppy stuff. The kids continue to argue with each other (as siblings are wont to do) but soon realize that talking kindly and showing love to the pup is the right thing to do.

The sub-heading of this book “Are You Sure You Want a Dog?” is a fitting one. This is a tale of a Godzilla pup. But it is a realistic view of what it is like to have a puppy in the house. It is a BIG responsibility! They chew things, they pee and poop, they jump, they whine and bark. Having a new puppy is not just fun and games!

This is not really a “training book.” It is a Maurice Sendak take on a training book. It is a very old book and hence has very old ideas. One thing that is a bit befuddling is that it asserts that the pup is too young to train and you should wait until a pup is 12 weeks old. That’s just crazy!! Training needs to start at day ONE!!! The sooner the better. The book does show that shouting and hitting and ignoring are NOT the ways to deal with a young pup. A pup needs lots of love and understanding. And that’s the main thing about pup training. Love and patience and understanding.

The story could also be seen as a story about getting along with other PEOPLE in the big world. The book is actually a good lesson in how to treat ANYBODY. Not just pups. Be kind and gentle. Always. Show some love and it will be returned to you. A BIG lesson to learn!

I am trying to be patient and understanding with my Godzilla pup. It’s not always easy. But I can already see some improvement in her understanding of household rules. She is learning to be more polite. It’s not easy for her either. She is just a pup after all.

IMG_5177There are some good pup training books out there for kids.
Dog Training for Kids by Carol Lea Benjamin
See Spot Sit by Carol Lea Benjamin
My Dog! A Kids’ Guide to Keeping a Happy & Healthy Pet by Michael J. Rosen

Martha Stewart has instructions for making some cute origami animals from napkins.
Southeastern Guide Dogs likes to get donations of DIY paracord puppy collars. They provide instructions HERE.
HERE are instructions for making a great fleece tug toy for your dog. We LOVE these toys! And our detention boys sometimes make a bunch of these to give to the local animal shelter.

Now you might want to visit Susanna Hill’s Blog for a list of more PERFECT PICTURE BOOKS and fine resources to go with!

And here is a little training video with a 5 week old pup!

I wish you success and love in all your endeavors!
Your friend in training mode
Rhythm
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Abe Lincoln Crosses a Creek

img450Let me begin by wishing you HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY! A day for celebrating loving relationships.

And now — on with the show!

My Mom Person has been reading Abraham Lincoln books lately. To be precise, she has been reading books about the women in Mr Lincoln’s life, but by default these books are about the man as well. We recently came across this grand book about Mr Abe and an adventure with a childhood friend.

IMG_4932Abe Lincoln Crosses a Creek, A Tall, Thin Tale (Introducing His Forgotten Frontier Friend) was written by Deborah Hopkinson and illustrated by John Hendrix.

It was published by Schwartz and Wade Books in 2008.

This is a historical fiction tale about Abraham Lincoln and friendship.

It is suitable for ages 4 and up.

There is an Author’s Note in the beginning of the book attesting to the truthfulness of the story. It includes some bibliographical references.

The story begins:

“Now, here’s an old tale of two boys who got themselves into more trouble than bear cubs in a candy store. I like it so well, I’ve asked my friend John to help out by drawing some pictures. “

And we see John’s hand painting a lovely scene of a valley with a flowing creek and a young man hiking through. Next we meet seven year old Abe Lincoln, working hard to help out his Mom and Dad. And we meet Abe’s friend Benjamin Austin Gollaher. Austin really is a real person and three years older than Abe.

Abe and Austin decide to go look for partridges down by Knob Creek. They “scurry” there “wearing nothing but long homespun shirts!” (I like that word scurry.) The creek has become raging rapids after some big rains, but the birds are on the other side! What to do?! The water is really high and the boys can’t swim! (When my river is like this after a big rain, I’m not allowed to go near it – and I can swim!)

Abe sees a big log laying across the creek and dares Austin to go across it. Now we see Austin’s muddy feet going across that log! And then —- HE MADE IT!!! Next it’s Abe’s turn. It’s slippery. And — SPLASH! Abe is in the rushing creek water! (I LOVE the illustrations in this book!!!!! They make all of this feel real!) (Just like a movie!)

IMG_4934Now Ms Hopkinson STOPS the story! She says it couldn’t have happened like this! They wouldn’t have been so foolish to walk across a wet slippery log! And next we see Austin crawling across the log. Then Abe starts across. But alas, the same outcome. 😦 He’s in the creek! And it’s time for his FRIEND to come to the rescue! But now Ms Hopkinson is not sure exactly how Austin saves Abe! Fine time for indecision! So she lets John make some sketches and he decides that Austin used a big branch to help his friend. And there he is — Austin with his big branch, saving his friend Abe, and saving the day, and saving the story, and saving history!

After that, the Lincolns move away and the two friends never see each other again. But Austin tells stories of his friend and Abe supposedly remembers Austin in times of crisis.

And Ms Hopkinson’s moral to the story — “Remember Austin Gollaher, because what we do matters, even if we don’t end up in history books.” And that’s sure something to think about.

Monday, February the 22, is Presidents’ Day. Officially it’s Washington’s Birthday, but on most calendars it’s Presidents’ Day and in most places that has come to represent the birthdays of both Mr Washington and Mr Lincoln. You can find out more about this federal holiday HERE.

Ms Hopkinson has resources and class activities on her website HERE.
A video interview with her can be found at Reading Rockets.

You can visit John Hendrix’s fabulous website HERE. And his Blog HERE.

This IS Perfect Picture Book Friday! If you would like to see more Perfect Picture Books and a list of resources to go with, then you must visit Susanna Hill’s Blog!

In honor of Presidents’ Day, I give you
Kid President!
with some words to think about!

I wish you a Grand, Long Weekend
Be careful going over water!
Rhythm

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The Big Snow

I have heard that some parts of the country are experiencing more of that stuff called snow. I hear that in some places it is really BIG snow and really BIG cold.

Not here. It’s COLD. Really Cold! But no snow for us.

But in honor of BIG Snow in other places, I’m sharing a rather chilling book called

THE BIG SNOW

This is a rather old book published in 1948 by E.M. Hale and Company (by arrangement with The MacMillan Co.) There are newer versions of this book to be found. We found this really lovely, old copy at our library.

It was written and illustrated by husband and wife, Berta and Elmer Hader, and describes the big blizzard of December, 1946. (the book says 1946, research tells me that it was  Christmas of 1947.) The book was awarded the Caldecott Medal in 1949.

IMG_4874

The theme of the Big Snow would be Snow! and winter and wildlife survival in winter.
It’s suitable for age 5 and up.

It is an old book, but it is pertinent to current times. It’s basically a nature book. It begins – “Honk-honk-honk.” “The wild geese were flying south.” Mrs. Cottontail and the littlest rabbit watched them from the vegetable garden. She tells the little rabbit that he must eat plenty of cabbage leaves and carrot tops so that he will have a thick coat for winter.

We see all the other animals watching the geese fly by and learn how they will get through the winter. The ground hog and the skunks and raccoons will all take long naps in dark dens. All of the other birds – the cardinals and sparrows and jays and pheasants – believe that they will be able to find plenty of seeds and be just fine through the cold weather. The chipmunks and squirrels and mice have stored nuts and seeds away. The deer are comfortable in their woods. All of the animals thought that they were ready for winter.

IMG_4875Then it began to snow. And it snowed and snowed. The snow was deep and thick and covered everything. The animals discovered that it was not going to be so easy to find food in all that snow. But the jay saw an old man and an old lady putting out seed and nuts and bread crumbs and hay. The jay called out to all the other animals on the hill. Everyone passed the word along that there was food at the little stone house and they all made their way to the feast. In the end, the ground hog saw his shadow and hurried back to his den to wait out the rest of the long cold winter.

HERE is a link to Life Magazine photos of New York City in the snow – 1947.

If you do have snow where you are it would be fun to just go out and walk in the snow. Scatter some seeds and bread crumbs for the birds.

HERE are some instructions for making pine cone bird feeders.

Rubber Boots and Elf Shoes has directions for a fun “Winter Calming Jar” filled with sparkly floating glitter.

And of course there’s always snow ice cream!! I’ve never had any myself. I just eat my snow plain. When I can get it.

And of course on this bitter cold Friday, while you’re nice and warm at your computer, you might want to venture over to Susanna Hill’s blog to find more Perfect Picture Books and some great resources to go with them.

Stay warm!!
Rhythm
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Three Names

img487I don’t have three names. I have one name. One tail-wagging name. Rhythm. Makes my tail wag anyway, when I hear it. Rhythm. A catchy name. My name came from my puppy obedience trainer. I was named in memory of her favorite German Shepherd Dog. I guess there’s some meaning somewhere in that. I guess I’m carrying on some kind of legacy.

And the legacy continues, because quite a few kids in Glen Rose have named their dogs Rhythm. I guess there’s some meaning in that as well. Names do carry a lot of meaning. I don’t know about Human names, but all of my canine friends have names that fit them pretty well. Walker can’t sit still. His favorite job is walking the halls. Jolly ALWAYS has a smile and a wagging tail. Jazz is a crazy, happy girl. Hank was a good ole boy and superstar ball player. Now, here’s the thing — Do we become what our name ordains? Or are we SERENDIPITOUSLY given the name we need? I don’t know the answer to that, but I ponder it a lot.

Now all of this rambling about names leads me to my PPBF pick for the week. A book about a dog with Three Names.

Copy of IMG_4781Three Names was written by Patricia MacLachlan and illustrated by Alexander Pertzoff.

Published originally by Harper Collins in 1991 and then by Scholastic in 1994.

Suitable for ages 5-9. I think that older kids would enjoy this one as well.

This is a fictional memoir about life on the prairie “back in the day” a hundred years ago or so.

It begins, “When my great-grandfather was young – a hundred years ago, he likes to say, but that’s not true — he went to school on prairie roads in a wagon pulled by horses.” This is Great-grandfather’s tale of a year in a one room school house. When Great-grandfather went to school in that wagon, his dog went, too. Great-grandfather called the dog Three Names, because everyone in the family had a different name for him. Lily called him Ted, Mama called him Boots, and Papa called him Pal.

This book is a fictional story, but I feel like it’s kind of about me. Three Names even LOOKS like me! Three Names went to school every day with the kids. It was a long way to school, but nobody worried about the kids because Three Names was there to take care of them along the way. Three Names loved all the children, except William, “who was sly.”

IMG_4783Three Names loved going to school. And he was welcomed as one of the class. This story is about a dog named Three Names who went to school, but it’s also about the beauty and magic of the prairie and about life in a one room school house. The bigger kids took care of the smaller ones. They all were kind of a big family.

Summer on the prairie was a fine time, but the kids and Three Names missed school. Every day Three Names would prance and dance around the wagon wanting to go down the prairie road. But he would soon sigh and settle down next to Great-grandfather and the two of them would dream about school.

This is a beautifully poetic book. Ms MacLachlan has an incredible knack for putting the reader in her “place.” I felt like I was riding along in that wagon, down the dirt road with the sun beaming down and the wind blowing my ears. This book would provide great fodder for a discussion of “place” in stories. The watercolor illustrations by Mr Pertzoff are a perfect accompaniment to Ms MacLachlan’s words. Soft and breezy. Unfortunately I could find very little about Mr Pertzoff. He was an avid naturalist and died of cancer in 1995 at the age of 56. A sad loss.

Patricia MacLachlan grew up on the prairie and knows it with her heart. She has written several books about that “place” that is home for her, namely, Sarah, Plain and Tall. You can find out more about her HERE.

An interesting article about Ms MacLachlan’s father Philo Pritzkau HERE.

Scholastic has a lesson plan for Three Names HERE. And suggestions for discussion groups HERE.

If you would like to look into the meaning of your name check out Behind the Name.

For more Perfect Picture Books and resources to go with, visit Susanna Hill HERE.

What does your name say about you? What “place” holds your heart?

I send a wag and a smile and a dance out your way – from the 7 Acre Wood, the place that holds my heart!
Rhythm

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Koko’s Kitten PPBF

IMG_3871I have a thing for gorillas. I have my very own that kept me safe when I was a wee pup. Gorillas are special creatures that are endangered. That means that they are in danger of becoming extinct. That would be a bad thing for the world.

There is a very famous gorilla named Koko. You may have heard of her. She was born at the San Francisco Zoo in 1971 and in 1972 Ms Francine Patterson, who was working on a graduate school project, became interested in studying the language abilities of animals. She was allowed to use Koko as her subject.

Dr. Patterson taught Koko American Sign Language and claims that Koko can now communicate using over 1000 words and phrases. (Very much like Chaser the dog!) Koko and Dr. Patterson are still together, working and learning and teaching the world about gorillas.

KoKo’s Kitten is a book about Koko and her 1st pet.

It is a non-fiction story written by Dr. Francine Patterson and has photographs by Ronald H. Cohn

It was published in 1985 by Scholastic.

Theme — gorillas, endangered animals, animal communication, pets

There are a lot of words in this book so it is best for older kids – 2nd grade and up. But with some adjustments in storytelling, younger kids like this book a lot. The pictures are everything!

IMG_3869There is a preface that gives some history to Koko’s story and the story itself begins with Koko’s birthday. “Koko knows what birthdays are. When asked what she does on her birthday, Koko answered, ‘Eat, drink, old.”

For this birthday, (the story does not say which birthday) Koko wanted a cat. Dr Patterson decided to get her a toy cat, but the one she chose didn’t come in time for the birthday so Koko received it at Christmas. But Koko did not want a toy cat. She wanted a real cat and was very angry about the toy one.

Some months later, some abandoned kittens were brought in and Koko got to choose which kitten she wanted for a pet. She chose one without a tail and named it All Ball. Koko loved her kitten and was very gentle with it. She treated it like a baby.

You will have to read the book to find out the rest of the story. It is a fascinating one.

To find out more about Koko and gorillas in general visit the Gorilla Foundation. Kids can even communicate with Koko!

And for more Perfect Picture Books and resources visit Susanna Hill’s blog HERE.

Here is a video of Koko with some new kitties –

Learn about gorillas, see what you can do to help gorillas, spread the word. And make a new friend today!

Joy to you!!

Rhythm

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