Sunday, February 28, 2010

Dr. Seuss: Hooray for Diffendoofer Day!

The nice woman working in the children's section of the bookstore recommended Hooray for Diffendoofer Day! and I decided to give it a try, since I haven't met a Seuss I don't like.

The Story:  The school in Dinkerville is different.  The teachers teach things like poodle identification and painting pictures while hanging upside down.  The students are happy and enthusiastic, until one day, the principal comes and tells them that they have to take a test.  If they fail this test, their school will be closed and they'll be forced to go to the dreary, boring Flobbertown School.  The students are scared, the principal is nervous, but the teacher is sure of the children - because they have been taught, among other things, how to think.  She is sure that they will pass any test, because they have been well-armed.  She was right, and the children get the highest score on the test, saving their fabulous school.  The principal declares it Diffendoofer Day, and everyone rejoices.

The Good:  This book emphasizes how important it is to learn to think for yourself, instead of just memorizing facts.  If you are well armed to use your brain, you can do anything.  The book was finished after Dr. Seuss' death (from some of his notes) and the illustrations are not typical Seuss, but they are fun and colorful.  It's a really fun book.

The Bad:  I can't think of anything, other than the fact that it might make you grumpy about the state of so many schools today, where memorization of rote facts seems to be the norm.  The purist Dr. Seuss fan may have issues with the non-Seussical illustrations.

The Verdict:  I want to share this book with everyone I know.  It's not that long, and it's got a great message.  Learn to use your fabulous brain, and anything is possible!  Thank you, Book Store Lady!

Dr. Seuss: New Books!

We went to the bookstore today and picked up some new Dr. Seuss Books in honor of his birthday (on March 2).

I'll review them as we go through them.

Dr. Seuss Fun: Making Oobleck!

This afternoon, we made Oobleck using this great tutorial.  I made a half recipe, and let the girl have some fun playing with it.

Put water in a bowl, add food coloring
Add in cornstarch

Mix well

Keep Mixing

Play with it


Keep playing!

Then, wash off!

Friday, February 26, 2010

It's that time Again: Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss! (on March 2)

We are still busily chugging along on Inkspell, and it's going to take us a while (though we are nearly halfway through!).  So, I interrupt your regularly scheduled blog to remind you that Dr. Seuss' birthday is coming up on March 2!

Last year, I told you about some of our favorite Dr. Seuss books in honor of his birthday.   This year, I thought I'd share some other ideas to celebrate the day.

I know it's not until next Tuesday, but this will give you some heads up to plan.
  • I found this great site, where you can download your own Seuss Reading Passport.  Yes, I've printed a copy for each of my kids (not all the books are on there, but most of the real classics.  Maybe I'll add some pages for the rest of them....)
  • I'll be making a themed lunch for my daughter on Tuesday.  Check it out on my lunch blog when the day comes.
  • I think we'll make some Oobleck.  Here's a great looking tutorial.
  • You better believe we'll be having Green Eggs & Ham for breakfast.
  • There are some cool game ideas at, too.
  • We have one of the Dr. Seuss board games (Cat in the Hat - I Can Do That!) and I think it'll be obligatory to play a couple rounds.
  • Of course, read one of your favorite Seuss books.  Or two.  Or three.  Or, pick up a new one to expand your horizons - and stamp your Seuss Passport!
Happy (early) Birthday, Dr. Seuss!

Monday, February 1, 2010

The Witches

I had never read The Witches, but had once seen the movie (though it was long ago), so all I remembered going into this is that it had to do with witches and mice... since we've been on a Roald Dahl mission, we had to read it.

The Story:  The books starts out unceremoniously with the death of the narrator's parents in a car crash.  This tragedy puts him in the care of his Norwegian grandmother, who tries to lighten his somber mood by telling him stories of witches.  When they have to move back to his home in England, and end up taking a holiday at a fancy hotel, they come face to face with a whole slew of witches, who have a devious plan to turn all the children in England into mice!  Unfortunately for the boy, they start with him.  However, he finds that he rather likes being a mouse, and maybe by being a mouse, he has a unique advantage in trying to stop the witches...

The Good:  The boy's grandmother is wonderfully written.  She's compassionate and kind and accepting.  The boy's own acceptance (and even happiness) of becoming a mouse makes the whole metamorphosis a little less disturbing.  As always, Dahl captures joy and humor in unexpected places.

The Bad:  Those witches are scary!  Anyone could be a witch, as they are masters of disguise.  If your child is the nervous kind, this could upset them.  The boy's grandmother smokes a cigar, and while it is always described as "stinking" and "foul," it might take explaining.  The way that his parents are killed off and then never spoken of again except in passing is a little disturbing, too.  It is typical of Dahl, though.

The Verdict:  Very good, and funny, though not my favorite Dahl.  It is recommended for ages 7-12 on Amazon, and I'd say that's about right.  It was a good read, and Evalina liked it, but as I said... not my favorite.  Still, definitely worth the read.