Originally posted on Roxie Munro:
EcoMazes: 12 Earth Adventures uses mazes to explore and understand ecosystems, to see the vegetation and geology, and a finding/counting game to learn about which animals live in the habitat. In Hatch! an egg or a clutch of eggs is shown. Children try to guess what kind of bird it is from hints (“The bird that lays these eggs is found on every continent except Antarctica.” “This one never drinks water” “…fastest running two-legged animal on Earth. But it can’t fly.”). In Busy Builders children see the giant bug, and then turn the page to check out the unusual kinds of structures certain bugs make, and why. In Slithery Snakes they are encouraged to try to figure out what kind of snake it is from the close-up scaly skin patterns shown, along with tantalizing facts about the critter: “Its common name comes from its skin pattern (like a precious stone) and its unique tail (which sounds like a child’s toy).” Turn the page and the answer appears, visually, with its name, and more fun facts – you see the snake in its home, with other creatures that live in the same habitat. In Mazeways: A to Z, the letter of the alphabet forms a maze … A is for Airport (ever been to Heathrow or JFK? They really ARE a maze!), H is for Highway, L is for Library, R is for Ranch, and so on - you are playing, but also learning more about the places and how they work. In MarketMaze (Holiday House, Spring 2015) children explore where food comes from and how it arrives at their town greenmarkets. All of these are nonfiction subjects, with a structure that encourages play, learning, and engagement.
Many subjects lend themselves to these sorts of game-like interactive formats. Authors and illustrators of children’s nonfiction materials should consider these devices. For learning about a person, an animal, a historical period, science, a place, or even a fictional character, you can start with a question, and note fun facts that may allow the child to guess who or what you are interested in, before they get to the satisfying answer. Or in a more interactive way, they can lift flaps, play matching games, find and count things, solve a maze…
Engaging in games helps children with concentration, setting goals, problem-solving, collaboration (many allow multiple players), perseverance, and celebrate achieving goals. Many games, and mazes in particular, also help children learn decision-making and critical thinking skills. They make them think ahead and plan steps in advance. Mazes teach alternative ways to solve problems and judge spatial relationships. For younger children, they help develop fine motor skills; for older children, maneuvering through mazes helps improve handwriting. Game formats are particularly suited to reluctant readers, boys, and special needs children. And they’re fun!
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I came to this book fresh off the BBC series, Desperate Romantics, on the Pre-Raphaelites. The mini-series wove the period story around Elizabeth Siddal, John Ruskin and Annie ( a model for Holman Hunt). It surprised me and captivated me. I was left wanting more and thus set on a quest for a good novel set in that world. The novel that the series is based on: Franny Moyle’s factual book about the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, Desperate Romantics: The Private Lives Of The Pre-Raphaelites, did not catch me from the reviews, so I sought out another option.
I found Young PRB to fill only a bit of that gap. I really love the story that Ms. Lee brought to life. By the end I realized that it was more the history than her particular telling of the story that I was in love with.
The characters here, always came a little short of whole. The smaller roles were thin and at times without much life at all. That said, I appreciated the research done which ever-presently made the main characters more rich. Elizbeth Siddal and John Ruskin are almost not-present in her story. What Ms. Lee did really well was create the backstory of the artists. I was left with a much better sense of where they came from. I didn’t get the depth or perspective that I was hoping for.
I tore through pages to get to the scene that would sustain me. The scene that never came. While left still wanting more, I can honestly say I enjoyed my time with the characters in this novel.
I’m still not satisfied. Off to find another better novel set in this period. Do you have a recommendation? Please leave me a note!
I love this recipe, because it’s easy, delicious and beautiful. The purple corn flour makes the dish even more colorful, but you can use regular yellow or white corn flour. You can also use frozen white corn. This cornbread is richer and more cake-like than traditional cornbread but it’s also not as sweet. It’s also easily made Gluten-free, by switching the Spelt out for your favorite GF baking mix.
1c Purple corn flour*
1/2c Spelt flour
1/2c Stone ground polenta (fine)
1 1/2 tsp Baking powder
1/2 tsp Baking soda
1/4 tsp Salt
2 tsp Sugar
1 1/2c Whole Corn Kernels (Frozen Okay – room temperature)
3 tbsp Salted butter
Preheat the oven to 425F
Halve the leek and chop the white part thin rounds (which should easily fall apart). Chop the bottom third of the green part of the leek finely. Keep the top 2/3 for your next stock project. (I keep a bag in the freezer as a stock pot in progress.) In the preheated oven heat the butter until it’s melted. I used a round pyrex pie plate but you can use a square pyrex dish or a ceramic one. Carefully pull out the pan and add the leeks to the butter making sure they are well coated. Return the pan to the oven until the leeks are starting to color about 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, add the eggs to the flour, polenta, corn flour, salt, sugar, baking soda and baking powder. Mix well and then add the buttermilk. The result should look somewhat like pancake batter.
Take the leek and butter mixture from the oven and add the corn coating it well in the butter sauce. Carefully pour the batter over the corn/butter/leek mixture. It should cover it completely – don’t mix it in the pan or you’ll mess up your pretty top.
Bake for 25mins or until the internal temp is above 180F.
Remove from oven. Cool 5 minutes then carefully flip onto a plate larger than your pie plate.
Serve immediately or at room temperature with your favorite soup or chili.
Optional: Add 1/4c of shredded cheese to the batter. You can make this recipe Gluten Free by switching the Spelt Flour with your favorite GF baking mix.
* I used Organic Purple Maiz Morado Flour from Zocalo Gourmet
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Throughout the novel I was wishing for more. The Zombie/Warlock/Victorian/Steampunk mix was a great idea, but Dennard never went far enough or deep enough with it. I wanted desperately to root for the hero but in the quest to make him more human he became lackluster. I stuck with it because the heroine had great moxie. In the end we are offered a bit of resolution but there’s really no bread crumb trail to the next book – except that our hero leaves. Yes, I can imagine our heroine taking off after him, or him coming back to save her from something or other. However, I don’t really care enough about any of the characters to read about that next adventure. I did love what Dennard did with magic and zombies and tech but I wanted so much more than a dusting of it.