Still more fairy tales

Yes, we’re still reading fairy tales!  Next week will be our last week of fairy tales for a while, but the kids and I are enjoying reading them.

Our first book this week is Rachel Isadora’s The Princess and the Frog – I apologize for the tiny picture, it’s the only one I could find online and I’ve already returned the book to the library so I can’t take my own photo:

Isadora’s illustrations are soft watercolors, which is sweet but frankly I prefer more detail.  (Her style works better for me in The Little Mermaid, which we also read this week, possibly because I can imagine things looking slightly blurry underwater.)  The story is the familiar tale, minus any menacing elements – the princess drops her ball in a well, the frog retrieves it, and she is obligated to keep her promise to let him stay in her home.  The spell is broken and voila, he’s a prince!  Cue happily ever after.

Our next tale was Paul O. Zelinsky’s Rumpelstiltskin:

His oil paintings are just gorgeous, and the book is also appealing because of the beautiful language he uses to tell the story.  I think Zelinsky is my new favorite children’s book illustrator!

Our final fairy tale this week was another of Rachel Isadora’s – this time the aforementioned Little Mermaid:

She’s managed to retell this sad story in a beautiful way, though of course the mermaid’s visit to the sea witch may frighten some little ones, and the fact that her sisters try to get her to kill the prince in order to save herself in the end is a bit gory; but the ending is sweet, and the scary parts were not overwhelming, even for my sensitive boy.

Stay tuned for more fairy tales next week!

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Fairy tales

This week we started reading fairy tales – there are just so many great ones to choose from!

The first fairy tale we read this week is Rapunzel by Paul O. Zelinsky.  The illustrations are absolutely stunning, which is to be expected of a Caldecott-winning book!  Each page features pictures that look like Renaissance art, and the narrative is as beautiful as the illustrations.  The kids loved it as much as I did.

I was a little leary of reading my kids the story of Hansel and Gretel, as it is a bit dark – but this beautiful book tells the tale in a gentle manner that makes it palatable even for preschoolers (though Mr. S did hide behind me when I got to the part about the mean witch).  It remains true to the version recorded by the Brothers Grimm in their tome, and the illustrations are simple and eloquent.

Unfortunately our third book this week was a bit of a disappointment.  Lauren Child is probably best known for the Charlie and Lola books and tv show, and this book (The Princess and the Pea) retains those types of illustrations; but the text is a bit over the head of the average preschooler, and its tongue-in-cheek manner is almost more suited to the tastes of adult readers.  It was funny, but I don’t think Mr. S and Little T could appreciate the depth of the text, and it felt like the story dragged on a bit longer than was necessary.

More fairy tales next week!

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Valentine books

It’s February, and we’re getting hyped up for Valentine’s Day!  I managed to get quite a few  Valentine-themed books from the library, but I was disappointed to find that only a few of them were both meaningful and appropriate for my kids’ age level.  Oh well.

We read our first Valentine story book today – The Story of Valentine’s Day, by Clyde Robert Bulla and Susan Estelle Kwas:

This book is chock-full of interesting details about the history and traditions of Valentine’s Day.  It was a little too long for Mr. S and Little T’s attention spans, but with some minor editing it made a great intro to our Valentine’s Day unit!

Tomorrow and Friday, we’ll be reading stories about St. Valentine.  There really isn’t much in the way of picture books about him on the market, probably due to the vagueness and violence that plague this particular saint; but I did find two that I enjoyed (and was able to get from the library).

Saint Valentine by Ann Tompert is a little above the preschool level, but does a decent job of telling the story of the man who was martyred for his faith.

Robert Sabuda’s Saint Valentine is definitely my favorite of the two.  The illustrations and storyline are, in my opinion, much more approachable than the first book, especially for younger kids.

I’m a little disappointed that Tomie dePaola doesn’t have a St. Valentine book – I just discovered him at Christmas, and love the illustrations in his books!  Oh well, we’re already looking forward to reading his St. Patrick book in March!

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More snow books

We’re finishing up our winter unit featuring snow books and crafts this week.  I really wasn’t too thrilled with my book selections last week, but this week I’m quite happy with the ones I chose!  Here they are:

Snow by Cynthia Rylant is beautifully written and illustrated.  Seriously, it reads like poetry, but the language is plain enough to appeal to kids.


The Three Snow Bears by Jan Brett is a retelling of the classic tale of Goldilocks and the three bears, set in the great white North.  Brett is an amazing storyteller and illustrator, which is why our third book this week is another of hers!

The Mitten, also by Jan Brett, is another lovely tale featuring animals and snow.  I may have to do an author study on her in the future, she has so many incredible children’s books on the market!

Next week we’ll start two weeks of Valentine’s Day books and crafts, and after that I’m thinking of doing a unit on fairy tales – Cynthia Rylant has rewritten several that I’ve discovered lately, including Snow White and Hansel & Gretel, and if they’re anything like Snow we’re sure to love them!

Back to the grind

After taking four weeks off for the holidays, it’s been a little tough getting back into the routine this week.  Fortunately I had the foresight to do some lesson planning before we went to Florida for Christmas and New Year’s, so at least I didn’t have to do more than print out the craft instructions and make sure I picked up all the books I reserved from the library, and we were good to go!  The kids were excited to get back to school, and I’m rediscovering my enthusiasm too.

Back in December, I decided that after the holidays we’d spend a few weeks talking about winter and reading winter-themed storybooks, many of which are related to snow.  This turned out to be perfect timing, because Sunday night we had the biggest winter storm that Georgia has seen in years – nearly six inches of accumulation!  So in addition to reading snowy books and doing wintry crafts, we’ve been playing in the snow every day.  We even got to build a huge snowman yesterday!  Unfortunately we built him on an incline, so he fell over after an hour, but considering that I grew up  in Miami and DH in Puerto Rico, you can’t fault us for not having the mechanics of snowman construction down pat.

Anyhow, I do want to share the books we’ve been reading this week:

Jan Brett’s books are always well-told stories with beautiful illustrations, and Annie and the Wild Animals is no exception!


Kazuno Kohara’s Here Comes Jack Frost is my new winter favorite.  The blue and white illustrations are just gorgeous, and the story is simple but fun – perfect for preschoolers!


Snowmen at Night is the weakest of my selections for this week, but it’s still a cute story.  I read it to the kids on Monday as we were sitting outside in the snow, and we’ll read it again tomorrow before we make our snowman craft.

I need to get back in the habit of blogging – I do this mostly for myself, as a record of our homeschooling journey, but I’ve gotten out of the habit of both reading blogs and writing these past few weeks.  Need to reestablish my habits in the New Year!

Wordless Wednesday – books we’re reading


(Yes, I got my laptop back!  Apparently they overestimated the time it would take to get the parts, and my husband was able to pick it up yesterday.)

I’m taking the kids to see an abbreviated performance of The Nutcracker ballet tomorrow with our homeschool group – it’s put on by a local ballet school, and should be great fun.  I wanted to make sure they had at least a cursory understanding of the story before we got there, so I looked for a picture book that tells the tale. I found this gem, by Susan Jeffers:

The illustrations are beautiful and ballet-themed, and the story is concise enough for my little ones’ attention span.  It’s a fabulous telling of the tale, if you are looking to introduce your kids to The Nutcracker I highly recommend it!

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