Thursday, June 14, 2018

Free Fun Fridays June 29, 2018


The Highland Foundation is kicking off their first Free Fun Friday of the year on June 29, 2018. Check out the venues being offered this year and for more information about other Free Fun Fridays see their website here.


Lyric Stage Company of Boston
MIT Museum
Berkshire Theater Group
Nantucket Whaling Museum
The Mount: Edith Wharton’s Home
Concord Museum
Worcester Art Museum
Clark Art Institute
Children's Museum in Easton
Edward Gorey House





Wednesday, June 13, 2018

See and Sew



See and Sew: A Sewing Book for Children is a craft book designed to teach children how to hand sew.

The book begins with an introduction to the tools of the trade, giving child and parent ideas about what types of tools and materials are needed to begin to learn to sew. The suggestions are practical and a good introduction to a basic understanding of materials.

The book continues on with basic sewing and embroidery stitches, before moving on to buttons and trims. The pictures and descriptions were quite useful and I found there were a couple things I found helpful with my doll donation projects. Sometimes it doesn't hurt to review your early techniques.

The book continues with projects and the final chapter is on finishes and trims. The tassel directions were particularly helpful for a graduation project I'm making.

This is a nice book to have on hand as your child is learning to sew as a reference. I've given this as a gift to family members interested in beginning sewing. The patterns for sewing cards were particularly useful.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales: One Dead Spy



Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales: One Dead Spyis the first book in the graphic history series. I came across this series when it was requested as a birthday gift. While purchasing the books I found myself interested in reviewing them and checked the first out from our local library to see if it was as interesting as I'd been told. I am open to pursuing a wide variety of materials that engage children in learning as long as the material is accurate and relevant. Graphic novels do provide engagement, the key is making sure they are providing relevant and accurate information to move them beyond entertainment into actual valuable educational tools. I think this book achieves that goal.

The story begins at the hanging of the namesake of the series, Nathan Hale. In a reference to Scheherazade of the Arabian Nights, Nathan Hale is able to put off his hanging as long as he entertains his hangman with the story of the American Revolution. The story begins at the site of the hanging with a British soldier marching Hale to the hanging site. The soldier has forgotten his orders to hang Hale, so he is forced to leave Hale with the hangman while he returns to get the orders that make the execution official. The hangman proceeds to ask Hale about his final words, attempting to inject some humor to the situation. A disturbance occurs finding Hale getting eaten by an American history book, filling him with the knowledge of not only what has happened, but will happen in history.

When the soldier returns he and Hale debate and argue about the events that have occurred leading up to Hale's hanging. The executioner acts the part of the audience asking questions for clarification and understanding. He also continues the part of jester, making jokes at times.

I found the book flowed well and gave an overall interesting account of the American Revolution with a fantasy spin. What intrigued me is that while it covered all the main events it focused less on events more heavily covered in traditional books about the Revolution and put more emphasis on events that tend to get less coverage, including the people of the period. For instance, I've always found Henry Knox to be an amazing Revolutionary figure. What he accomplished moving the canons from Fort Ticonderoga was an amazing feat for someone who had no previous military or transport experience. He was primarily self taught from what he read. The graphic version of Knox is quite entertaining, but it also provides the historical importance of why what he did mattered.


The book also describes the military tactics behind the Battle of Bunker Hill without it being dry and dull. While the argument between Hale and the British officer is funny, it also does provide some insight into how the British and the Colonial troops did see the battles differently. The British won the Battle. but their losses were significant. The Colonials were able to escape to fight another day with significantly fewer losses. This is all explained in graphic format in a way kids can read, process, and understand. It is accurate without being dry.

Another area of the war I've not often found well covered is the war in New York. This book does a remarkable job describing what choices were made on both sides, the battles, and the outcomes.

Then of course we come back around to the story of how Nathan Hale took up spying, got caught, and was sentenced to hang. For those of you concerned he doesn't hang in the book, he's put off his hanging by promising more stories.

The book is a graphic novel and it does have fun with characters to provide humor and engagement with the story. Henry Knox is very entertaining in this story, I sincerely doubt he was that entertaining in life. However, it is a way to engage readers to want to know more about the events, people, and outcomes mentioned in the story. It would be addition to any unit on the American Revolution or a fun read for kids who like historical fantasy in a graphic novel format.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Summer Reading Programs 2018




My first suggestion is always check out your local library. Ours has wonderful programs for little ones all the way up to adults every summer. The programs are generally free and involve lots of motivation and other enticements to engage your child in reading.

However there are other companies also looking to engage your kids in summer reading as well and I've updated my list from previous years to see what is still out there.

Barefoot Books
This is less of an incentive program and more of a program to help parents encourage their children to read over the summer.

Barnes and Noble
This program is for kids in grades 1-6. Download the form to participate in the program. Your child is required to read 8 books of his/her own choosing. After reading the books they need to list the book and a favorite part of the book on the form. When the form is completed, return the form to the store and receive one free book from the options listed on the form by grade level.

Books a Million
This has a restricted book list to choose from to qualify for the prize  The list is here..  You can find the form that needs to be filled out here. You need to read 4 books from the list and the prize is a pencil case.

Chuck E. Cheese
They offer a program that requires the child to read every day for two weeks and record it on a chart found on the website. The chart can be returned for 10 free tokens.

Denver Broncos Bookworms
June4-Agust 17
Read 5 books, submit your log, and receive the following:
Certificate of Achievement
Broncos Bookmark
Invitation to Exclusive On-Field Bookworms Recognition Event
Opportunity to win Broncos prizes

Dogo Books
Read and Review 3 books from a select list of what looks to be 50 books and pick a prize book from a selection of another 50 books. Looks like you can participate until prizes run out.

Half Price Books
This program is available to children under 14. The program requires 300 minutes of reading and a form that must be filled out and turned in at your local Half Price Book store.  If you have teens there is a program for teens that provide credits in return for book reviews.  Details for both programs are available by following the above link.

HEB Reads

Read Between the Lines Patriot Place
This program runs from July 1-August 31 and is open to children ages 5-17. Students must read 1,000 minutes during that time. You can get more details about signing up and prizes at the website.

Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge

Showcase Cinemas Bookworm Wednesday

This program runs from July 11-August 1
Price of admission to a special movie each Wednesday is a book report. Find the book report form on the website.

Super Why PBS Right On Read a Thon 

TD Bank

TD Bank has a program in conjunction with their Young Savers Accounts. The program is available to students in grades K-5. They read 10 books, fill out the form found  here and they get $10 deposited in an existing or a created TD Young Savers account. Not a TD customer so I don't know anything about these accounts. Just listing the available summer reading programs.