Saturday, March 28, 2009

How to Get Rich in the California Gold Rush

Want to have fun and learn something at the same time? I highly recommend the following book, whose title is so long it deserves its own paragraph.

How to Get Rich in the California Gold Rush: An Adventurer’s Guide to the Fabulous Riches Discovered in 1848 was written by Tod Olson and illustrated by Scott Allred, with an afterword by Marc Aronson.

This book is hilarious! And it’s presented in a scrapbook style that never bores or bogs you down. You just switch your attention, limited as it may be, to whatever grabs it on a given page.

The tale is supposedly based on a manuscript written by one Thomas Hartley, who leaves New England and goes California’s gold fields to make his fortune. In Chapter 2, Home Sweet Home, Hartley offers comments, opposed and in favor of his plan, by friends and family members. And he observes, under the title, “O’ New England,” that “It is widely agreed in these parts that farming is an honorable pursuit, for it requires long hours of backbreaking labor with little chance that wealth or comfort will ever corrupt one’s soul.”

In future chapters he offers various bits of essential advice, such as a list of what to bring along, and the cost, how to get there, warnings (“Do not be shocked to see crates of food and other supplies rotting at the docks. The city lacks storage.”), a list of supplies for gold prospectors, directions on mining for gold, and a lot more.
If you read this book, you’ll learn just as much as you would in reading a ordinary nonfiction book about the California gold rush, and you’ll enjoy it a lot more!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Kid Music

Most parents find it easy to entertain children in the car or at home if they have music. The Children's Department has a large and varied collection of CDs for young children, shelved on Aisle 6, next to the children's books on CD.
There are CDs of the music from Disney movies, like Lilo & Stitch or Finding Nemo. There are songs to dance to, go to sleep to, or learn to.
A few examples:
World Playground takes children on a musical trip around the world. Beethoven's Wig Sing Along Symphonies sets silly lyrics to some of the greatest hits of classical music. The Real Mother Goose features classic nursery rhymes set to music. Sing Me to Sleep, Daddy is a collection of original ballads and lullabies that share God's love with children.
The Mozart Effect and Smart Music: Classical Music for Babies help develop the mind, memory and creativity of youngsters. Other CDs are designed to teach basic learning skills like counting and the alphabet.
Parents with young children will find the children's CD collection an invaluable resource for both learning and entertainment.

Pippo the Fool by Tracey E. Fern

This is a delightful picture book that educates as well as entertains. It is the story of Filippo Brunelleschi, a 15th century architect and inventor in Florence, Italy.
Like many brilliant people, Brunelleschi didn’t get much respect in his earlier years. His inventions were considered silly, giving him the nickname of Pippo the Fool.
Fern describes a little man who’s grouchy and prickly, but also determined to make a name for himself and gain the respect he knows he deserves. Other people may not respect Pippo’s mind, but he knows his own worth. And he’s willing to work hard.
When the city fathers hold a contest to design a dome to complete the city’s new cathedral, Santa Maria del Fiore, Pippo recognizes his chance – and his challenge.
Nobody has ever built such a large dome. Nobody even knows for sure that it can be done. Surely the weight of the building materials would cause it to collapse!
A number of master builders, including Pippo’s arch-rival Lorenzo Ghiberti, enter the contest. The judges are unimpressed with most of the designs, including Pippo’s, which lacks any visible supports. They throw him out, and continue to mull over the various submissions.
But Pippo doesn’t give up easily. He goes home and starts collecting the materials to make a model of his dome. He completes the model and shows it to the judges. Two years after the contest began, the judges make their decision.
So who won the contest? Did Pippo ever earn the respect he craved? You can find out by reading this book!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

The Adventures of Pippi Longstocking

I read the “Pippi Longstocking” books by Astrid Lindgren when I was a child, about 45 years ago. I loved them! So when the library got a brand-new copy of “The Adventures of Pippi Longstocking,” which includes three of the books, I decided to re-read it and see if it was as great as I remembered.
In all honesty, it was. This book is hilarious! It was so interesting that I didn’t want to put it down!
Pippi Longstocking is a 9-year-old girl who lives by herself in an old, tumble-down house. Her father, a sea captain, has been lost at sea and is presumed to have died, though Pippi is certain that he is now the king of a cannibal island. Before his final, perhaps fatal voyage, he bought the house and parked Pippi there, along with the treasures she’d amassed during her years of travel with him, and a suitcase full of gold coins.
Not every nine year old would be able to survive on her own, even with all that money. But Pippi is unique. She’s resourceful, generous, uniquely intelligent, enormously strong, and possessed of a bizarre sense of humor. Along with her next-door neighbors, Tommy and Annika, she has the most entertaining adventures imaginable.
For example, when Tommy and Annika have to go to school, Pippi decides to join them. It’s not because she has any burning desire to learn – no, it’s because she figures out that she won’t get any Christmas vacation unless she goes to school.
School becomes a huge challenge for her, though, as is apparent from the moment the teacher asks her what seven and five are. Pippi’s response: “Well, if you don’t know that yourself, you needn’t think I’m going to tell you.”
It goes from bad to worse, and finally Pippi and the teacher part ways, having decided that school and Pippi are not right for each other.I highly recommend this book for kids of all ages.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

The Sandman

Not many children these days have ever heard of the sandman. But there was a time, a couple generations ago, when everybody knew about him. They even wrote songs about him.
The Sandman by Ralph Fletcher is a fun, fanciful story about how the sandman got started doing what he does. He’s a tiny man named Tor, and he rides around in a chariot drawn by a mouse. And he has a problem: He can’t sleep!
But Tor finds a solution, and it has to do with a dragon, a grinding stone, and magical sand.
To find out how Tor finally got to sleep, and how he continues to help a whole lot of kids with the same problem, you can read this book!Or you can ask your grandparents.