children

The Mark of the Dragonfly

I just finished reading The Mark of the Dragonfly by Jaleigh Johnson.

Mark of the Dragonfly Cover

Mark of the Dragonfly

Piper lives in one of many scrapping towns that skirt the edge of a meteor field. Once a month or so the barrier between worlds thins a bit and the meteors hit. These meteors aren’t your standard meteors, made up of space rocks and metals, these contain items from other worlds. The people in the towns go out to salvage what they can from the fields after each fall.

Piper’s mother died when she was younger, and her father died more recently leaving Piper to fend for herself. She has a knack for mechanical things and is able to fix things.

Piper goes out to save a friend and finds another as well. Anna has the Dragonfly mark tattooed on her arm, she is a relative to, or protected by, the King of the Dragonfly Territories. When a strange man that Piper doesn’t trust comes after Anna, Piper decides to take Anna to the Territories to get her back where she belongs.

The only way out of town is on the 401, a steam train taking cargo from the Merrow Kingdom to the Dragonfly Territories.

Much of the story takes place on the journey. Piper learns things about Anna and herself and the crew of the 401.

I very much liked the story and the characters, and I’d like to read more about them.

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Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy

By Karen Foxlee
Published by Knopf Books for Young Readers

Eleven year old Ophelia Jane Worthington-Whittard  lost her mother exactly three months, seven days, and nine hours ago. Her father has brought Ophelia and her older sister Alice with him while he prepares an exhibit of swords in a museum in a town where it always snows.

There are only three days to prepare the exhibit for its opening on Christmas Eve.

Wandering through the museum, Ophelia finds The Marvelous Boy and finds out that she only has three days to save him, and the world!

This is a really fun read.  It would be fun to read with your child, discussing as you go.

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Mister Max: Book of Lost Things

By Cynthia Voigt; illustrated by Iacopo Bruno

The first in a series.

A great little read. We are interested in Max and how he can overcome his difficulties. The time period is when automobiles were becoming more popular, but many deliveries were still by horse-drawn wagons. Many people moved about the city on bicycles or their own two feet. The place could be anywhere, money is mentioned as just numbers, no particular currency.

Twelve-year-old Max’s actor parents are invited to set sail for India and Max is supposed to meet them just before sailing. When he gets to the docks, the ship is gone. Max’s Grammie lives in the house behind Max’s so he’s not completely alone, but he does need to find ways to take care of himself.

Max is a clever boy and finds ways to earn money by finding things and solving problems for people, some problems people didn’t even know that they had.

All the while, Max and Grammie (the town Librarian) are trying to solve the mystery of where Max’s parents have gone, and why.

 

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Palace of Spies

A Children’s/Young Adult novel by Sarah Zettel, published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

A great read about a young girl (Peggy Fitzroy)  in the early 18th century thrust into intrigue and mystery as a lady in waiting to Caroline of Ansbach, Princess of Wales. The story takes place near the beginning of King George the First’s reign. He was the closest Protestant in the line of succession, and his throne was threatened by the Stuarts of Scotland. Lots of history and detail about being a lady in waiting at the royal court.

The story takes you from Peggy’s life as an orphan living with her uncle and his family. Her best friend is her cousin. When a proposed betrothal fails spectacularly, Peggy is left to fend for herself. She is taken in by a strange little man and taught to become another girl who had been a lady in waiting, and had died while away from the court. Peggy was to spy on the court and report back what she learns. Peggy soon begins to worry that her predecessor had been murdered…

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Education

I went to a meeting last week with the School Board and parents. The school board is talking about some restructuring they need to do because the district isn’t meeting the NCLB standards.

At the meeting there was a parent of a couple of children in the district. She also is a day care provider. She said that she gets two-, three-, and four-year-olds who don’t know their colors, shapes, numbers, or letters. These are things parents should be teaching their children. But they’re waiting for the government to do it for them.

The district just started to accommodate our gifted children with accelerated classes. Last year they started with fifth grade mid-year because enrollment required another classroom and they put together a class from all the five elementary schools at one of the schools. This year they added fourth grade to the fifth grade class and provided accelerated math and language arts classes at one of the middle schools.

Common Core is requiring changes. TheIllinois State Board of Education is raising the scores required to meet standards on the  Illinois State Assessment Test (ISAT). As parents we were told that our childrens scores might “fall” in relation to meeting standards based on last year’s scores due to the range increase. Personally I’m glad they’re increasing the score needed rather than dropping it to give the impression that more children are meeting the standards than actually are. Finally, they are raising standards. Children will rise to meet them.

There are about one hundred schools on the chopping block in Chicago alone because they are failing the children. Teachers and parents are up in arms over the closings.

One union hack said something like, “they want to close the schools only so they can reopen them as charters!”

Unions don’t want the charters in Chicago to expand. Charter schools are consistently doing better even with the same students (no changes from previous student body – no “getting the best students into the charters” crap…)

Charter school teachers aren’t in the union. They work longer hours. They have more flexibility to do what works for their students rather than being hogtied by the union to certain work rules.

Parents don’t want to lose their free daycare.

 

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Snow Day!

The Little Guy is happy. We have to take Grandma to the airport later if her flight hasn’t been canceled.

[flickr]6779705906[/flickr]

 

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Where Has The Time Gone?

As November rolls around I start thinking about birthdays. That’s because two of my children have birthdays this month. My youngest will be eleven years old on the 18th. The very next day, my eldest will be twenty-one. Twenty-one years old! How the heck did that happen? I don’t feel any older…

I remember when my daughter was born. So tiny she was. Four pounds, ten ounces and eighteen inches long at birth. She was about three weeks early. Actually The Little Guy was as well. We were in an old house and to make sure she stayed warm I would swaddle her snugly and set her in the bassinet. She was so tiny that regular receiving blankets worked to swaddle her for the first few months.

As she got older and bigger, the blankets became too small for proper swaddling. I could have used one of the Aden and Anais large swaddling blankets that will work for newborns and older babies. Swaddling makes a baby feel secure and swaddling along with “shhh”ing noises can calm a baby and help the baby go to sleep. Overnight of course, the dangers of leaking diapers are higher and an Aden and Anais Swaddle four-pack will help ensure there’s a clean one available.

She has special needs; epilepsy, a developmental delay, a moderate hearing impairment, and lupus. She loves to watch Nick Jr. and Barney. She loves the Transformers movies, Bumblebee, and Sam.

She also loves puzzles. Some of the best I’ve found are from Melissa and Doug toys. There’s also a wooden “paper dolls” set that she loves. Different clothing items stick to the figures using magnets. These are great toys for younger children as well. Sturdier than cardboard puzzles, yet still intricate enough for small motor skills work.

She’ll be 21 later this month. My older son just turned 17 in August. My little guy will be 11 the day before his sister turns 21. It feels as if all three were born only the day before yesterday. Where did the time go?

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1960s Baby Walker

It’s amazing I survived! 🙂

[flickr]6243533161[/flickr]

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