Eggs

 

See below for all things egg, including surprising eggs, scientific eggs, magical eggs, alien eggs, and jeweled eggs. Try the incredible egg drop experiment, make egg geodes, and find out the real answer to the troubling question of which came first: the chicken or the egg?

Related posts include BIRDS, PENGUINS , and CHICKENS, CHICKS, AND LITTLE RED HENS.

ALL ABOUT EGGS

 imgres-9 Laura Vaccarro Seeger’s First the Egg (Roaring Brook Press, 2007), a Caldecott Honor Book, is a cleverly designed explanation of what comes first: First the egg, then the chicken; First the tadpole, then the frog; First the caterpillar, then the butterfly; First the paint, then the picture…and all ties up neatly at the end. For ages 2-5.
 imgres-1 Tillie, of Terry Golson’s Tillie Lays an Egg (Scholastic, 2009) lives with six other hens in the henhouse in the backyard of Little Pond Farm. The other hens cooperatively lay their eggs in nesting boxes, but Tillie prefers the garden, the porch, the kitchen, the laundry basket, and the pickup truck. Color photographs follow the unpredictable Tillie around the farm. Think hide-and-seek, with a chicken and some eggs. For ages 3-7.
 imgres-2 Ruth Heller’s gorgeous picture book Chickens Aren’t the Only Ones (Puffin, 1999) is an irresistible rhyming account of egg-laying animals and their eggs – among them seahorses, snakes, spiders, and octopuses. You’ll never forget the meaning of “oviparous.” For ages 4-8.
 imgres-3 Mia Posada’s Guess What’s Growing Inside This Egg (Millbrook Press, 2006) is a fun interactive read. For each of the featured eggs, there’s a riddle-like verse providing clues; then readers turn the page to find out what’s inside the egg, along with a short informational paragraph about the animal. Attractive collage illustrations. For ages 4-8.
 imgres-4 By Priscilla Belz Collins, A Nest Full of Eggs (HarperCollins, 1995) in the Let’s-Read-and-Find-Out Science series follows a robin family through the year, beginning with nest building, then the eggs are laid and hatched, baby birds are cared for, and learn to fly. Nicely presented information in story form for ages 4-8.
Looking for more bird resources? See BIRDS for stories, poems, projects, math and science, arts and crafts, and more.
 imgres-5 Also in the Let’s-Read-and-Find-Out Science series, see Amy E. Sklansky’s Where Do Chicks Come From? (HarperCollins, 2005).
 imgres-7 By Nicola Davies, One Tiny Turtle (Candlewick, 2005) is the gentle story of a loggerhead turtle who lives in the ocean – until one summer night she arrives on the very beach where she was born to lay her own eggs. Notes provide additional information. For ages 4-8.
 imgres-6 Martin Jenkins’s The Emperor’s Egg (Candlewick, 2002) is the story of how the male emperor penguin – largest of all penguins – spends two months without food, standing with an egg on his feet. For ages 4-9.
From The Teacher’s Guide, The Emperor’s Egg Printouts are a collection of word games and puzzles to accompany the book.
For many more penguin resources, see PENGUINS.
 imgres-8 Gail Gibbons’s Chicks and Chickens (Holiday House, 2005) is an attractively illustrated picture-book introduction to chicken biology and behavior, variously covering egg-laying, embryo development and hatching, the characteristics of chicks, hens, and roosters, and a survey of chicken breeds. For ages 5-8.
 imgres By Dianna Hutts Aston, An Egg is Quiet (Chronicle Books, 2014) is an exquisitely illustrated introduction to the vast variety of eggs, discussing shapes, sizes, patterns, functions, and the many places in which eggs are found. A wonderful introduction for ages 5-8.
 imgres-10 By Dawn Cusick and Joanne O’Sullivan, Animal Eggs (Early Light, 2012) is a 48-page account of eggs, illustrated with creative color photographs. Covered is an amazing array of eggs, from those of skinks and spiders to frogs, turtles, birds, and more. Readers learn about egg shapes, sizes, and colors; the many ways in which animals protect their eggs; which animals steal eggs; and more. For ages 5-9.
 imgres-11 People have eggs too. Robie H. Haris’s 88-page It’s So Amazing! (Candlewick, 2004) – subtitled “A Book about Eggs, Sperm, Birth, Babies, and Families” – is a gentle, cheerful, and straightforward explanation of sex, birth, puberty, and different kinds of families (helped along with some banter between a talkative bird and bee). Very well done for ages 7-10.
 imgres-12 By photographer Rosamond Purcell, Egg & Nest (Belknap Press, 2008) is a gorgeous collection of color photographs of eggs and nests, accompanied by a helpful text on the history of egg collecting and the biology of birds. For teenagers and adults, but all ages will love the pictures.
 imgres-13 From the Food Timeline, Eggs has a lot of information about the history of eggs, egg symbolism, egg sizes and preservation, and egg cookery, with quotations and resources.
 imgres-13 A Day in the Life of an Egg Farmer includes a video on the journey of an egg from farm to table.
 imgres-13 All About Eggs from A to Z is an online encyclopedia of all things egg from Air Sac, Albumen, and Angel Food Cake to Yolk, Zeaxantin, and Zabaglione.
 imgres-13 From History for Kids, Eggs is a brief history of egg-eating from ancient times on, with project suggestions, recipes, and a book list.

LESSON PLANS

 images From First School, Eggs Theme is a multifaceted preschool lesson plan with printable worksheets (E is for Egg, N is for Nest) and coloring pages, online puzzles and games, and activity suggestions.
 images-1 Egg-Laying Animals is a lesson plan for grades 2-6 in which kids make papier-maché eggs and build appropriate habitats for them.
 imgres-14 From Egg to Chick is a lesson plan to accompany a chick-hatching project, with a long list of associated experiments and arts and crafts. For elementary-level students. (See EGG SCIENCE, below.)
 imgres-14 The Incredible Egg is a downloadable 72-page 4-H curriculum guide targeted at grades 4-5. It covers the parts of an egg, chick embryology, and egg nutrition and the food pyramid. Many illustrated worksheets.
 imgres-15 Education World’s multidisciplinary Five Lesson Plans for Easter: Just Add Eggs are really appropriate for any time of the year. For example, kids make and read maps leading to hidden eggs; make egg-based paints; experiment with eggs in saltwater; do math exercises with jelly eggs; and do art projects with egg cartons. Each lesson plan has extension activities. (There’s a lot here.) Appropriate for a wide range of ages.
 imgres-16 From the Utah Education Network, Food and Nutrition I is a six-day unit on eggs. Included are background info for parents and teachers, recipes, and printable worksheets. (Also see EATING EGGS, below.)
 imgres-13 The American Egg Board’s For Educators page has a great collection of lesson plans, categorized by age group (grades K-3, 4-6, 7-8, and 9-12). Also from the AEB, order a free copy of the 185-page Egg Science & Technology Lesson Plan.
 imgres-13 Conscious Consumerism: Egg Production is a lesson plan targeted at ages 9-13 in which kids investigate and discuss commercial egg production and design an ideal chicken coop.

IMAGINATIVE EGGS

 imgres-17 Barney Saltzberg’s Good Egg (Workman, 2009) is a delightful interactive book (with Egg). Flaps and tabs operate the egg as it’s told to sit, roll over, lie down, catch, and finally “Speak!” – at which point a bright-eyed chick hatches. For ages 2-5.
 imgres-18 In Andy Cutbill’s The Cow That Laid an Egg (HarperCollins, 2008), Marjorie is depressed because she’s just an ordinary cow, and can’t ride a bicycle or do handstands like the other cows. Then – after some clever chickens get to work with a paintbrush – Marjorie wakes to discover that she’s (apparently) laid a black-and-white Holstein-cow-spotted egg. The other cows refuse to believe in Marjorie’s egg and accuse the chickens, who refuse to tell. (“Prove it!”) Eventually Marjorie’s egg hatches a chick – whose first word out of the shell is “Moo!” With hilarious illustrations by Russell Ayto. Pair this one with Dr. Seuss’s Horton Hatches the Egg. For ages 2-6.
For more cow resources, see MOO! ALL ABOUT COWS.
 imgres-19 By Tad Hills, Duck & Goose (Schwartz & Wade, 2006) features a delightful pair who occasionally have trouble getting along. When they find an enormous spotted egg, both claim it (“I saw it first.” “I touched it first.”). They unite, however, in the process of caring for the egg – and aren’t at all dismayed when they discover that the “egg” is actually a polka-dot ball. One of a series. For ages 3-7.
 imgres-20 In Leo Lionni’s An Extraordinary Egg (Dragonfly Books, 1998), Jessica, an adventurous frog, finds and rolls home an egg – promptly pronounced by her know-it-all friend Marilyn to be a chicken egg. When the egg hatches an alligator, the frogs persist in calling it a chicken and all become friends – though it’s surprising how well the “chicken” can swim. When the baby is finally returned to its mother, the frogs all get a chuckle out of how she refers to the chicken as “My sweet alligator.” For ages 3-7.
 imgres-21 In Dr. Seuss’s Horton Hatches the Egg (Random House, 2004), Horton – surely the most lovable elephant in literature – faithfully cares for ditsy bird Maysie’s egg, despite trials, tribulations, and teasing. (“I said what I meant and I meant what I said/An elephant’s faithful, one hundred percent!”) Finally Horton’s much-cared-for egg hatches out an elephant bird. For ages 4-8.
For many more resources on elephants, see APPRECIATING ELEPHANTS.
Learn about real elephant birds at David Attenborough and the mystery of the elephant bird.
From Fun Trivia, see this interesting list of questions and answers about The Great Elephant Bird.
 imgres-22 I – well – just love Emily Gravett. In Gravett’s The Odd Egg (Simon & Schuster, 2009), all the birds had laid an egg – except Duck. Instead he finds an enormous green-spotted egg and, though all the other birds make fun of it, he persists in waiting for it to hatch (knitting all the time). Finally Duck’s egg produces an enormous baby alligator. The pictures are priceless. For ages 4-8.
 imgres-23 In Bill Peet’s rhyming The Pinkish, Purplish, Bluish Egg (Sandpiper Books, 1984), Myrtle, a turtle dove, adopts an enormous and peculiar egg, which hatches out a little griffin. Despite horrified responses from the other birds (“Just look! The thing is half lion, half eagle./I’m sure that it must be unsafe or illegal.”), Myrtle loves the griffin and names him Zeke – and Zeke, grown bigger, heroically saves the birds from a pack of foxes. For ages 4-8.
 imgres-24 Robert D. San Souci’s The Talking Eggs (Dial, 1989) is the adaptation of a Creole folktale featuring two sisters, Blanche (“sweet and kind and sharp as forty crickets”) and Rose (selfish and mean). Kind Blanche helps a strange old lady who gives her some talking eggs that provide her with wonderful things. Rose then sets off to get some eggs of her own, but – since she ignores the old lady’s instructions – ends up with eggs that release only snakes and wasps. With illustrations by Jerry Pinkney. For ages 4-8.
 imgres-25 In Patricia Polacco’s Just Plain Fancy (Dragonfly Books, 1994), Naomi, an Amish girl, complains that everything about her life – clothes, houses, and chickens – is just too plain. Then she and her sister Ruth find an unusual egg that hatches out a very peculiar chicken. They name it Fancy and try to keep it a secret for fear that the elders won’t approve – until one day. at a working bee, Fancy breaks out of the henhouse and shows himself to be a glorious peacock. (The elders think he’s just fine.) For ages 4-8.
 imgres-26 In Jan Brett’s Hedgie’s Surprise (Putnam Juvenile Books, 2000), a Tomten – a Scandinavian gnome – is pinching Henny’s eggs, but the problem is solved with some help from a little hedgehog. Wonderful illustrations with Scandinavian needlepoint borders. For ages 4-8.
 imgres-27 In The Crows of Pearblossom (Harry N. Abrams, 2011) – Aldous Huxley’s one and only children’s book – the crows who live in Pearblossom’s cottonwood tree are bedeviled by a rattlesnake, who keeps eating their eggs. Finally, with the help of an owl, they manage to trick the snake with a pair of fake eggs – and then live happily ever after, hatching out four families of seventeen children each. The illustrations are great fun – the crows’ nest, for example, includes a grandfather clock and a bassinet for the egg. A witty read for ages 4-8.
 imgres-28 In Alex T. Smith’s Foxy and Egg (Holiday House, 2011), Egg shows up on Foxy’s doorstep, and Foxy – who has a cunning plan concerning tomorrow’s breakfast – invites Egg in. She plies Egg with desserts (she wants a large egg), amuses Egg with games (she wants a fit egg), and finally tucks Egg into bed. In the morning, however, Foxy finds that Egg, overnight, has become simply enormous – and then, with a CRACK, Egg hatches out a large green alligator. The pictures add to the humor – for example, Foxy’s house is entirely decorated with chickens. For ages 5-7.
 imgres-29 In M.P. Robertson’s The Egg (Puffin, 2004), George discovers a truly gigantic golden egg in the family henhouse. He transports it (by wheelbarrow) to his bedroom, settles it on his bed, and reads it stories – and shortly the egg hatches, producing a baby dragon. George now sets about teaching the dragon the essentials of dragonly ways: flying, breathing fire, battling knights, and distressing damsels. The two can’t talk to each other, but they understand each other – as is revealed at the touching and grateful end. For ages 5-8.
 imgres-30 In Martha Freeman’s The Case of the Missing Dinosaur Egg (Holiday House, 2013), First Kids Cammie and Tessa – daughters of the first female president – are at the opening of a new dinosaur exhibit at the National Museum of National History, when a supposedly 70-million-year-old egg hatches and – an ostrich chick emerges. Off the kids go to find out what happened to the real egg. One of the First Kids Mystery series for ages 7-10.
See DINOSAURS.
 imgres-31 In William Joyce’s E. Aster Bunnymund and the Warrior Eggs (Atheneum, 2012), E. Aster Bunnymund – of the brotherhood of the Pookas, philosophical warrior rabbits of great intelligence and size – and his mechanical Warrior Eggs are off to battle Pitch, the Nightmare King. One of The Guardians of Childhood series for ages 7-11.
 imgres-32 In E. Nesbit’s The Phoenix and the Carpet (Puffin, 2012) – originally published in 1904 – five children discover a wonderful egg rolled up in the new carpet that has been purchased for the nursery. The egg falls into the fire and hatches out a fabulous (talking) Phoenix. In company with the Phoenix and the carpet (which turns out to be magic), the kids set out on a series of adventures. (A sequel to Five Children and It.) For ages 8-11.
 imgres-33 In Sarah L. Thomson’s Dragon’s Egg (Greenwillow Books, 2007), dragons are small farm animals – and Mella, who has a talent for dragons, is in charge of caring for her family’s herd. Then a knight arrives, following signs of mythical dragons – the fire-breathing monsters of legend – after which Mella finds a true dragon’s egg in the forest, guarded by a terrifying and enormous dragon. In company with the knight’s squire, Roger, Mella sets off to take the egg safely to the dragon Hatching Grounds. For ages 8-12.
Want more dragon books? See DRAGONS.
 imgres-34 In Oliver Butterworth’s The Enormous Egg (Little, Brown, 1993), one of the hens in the Twitchell family henhouse lays an enormous egg – which hatches out an infant Triceratops. Twelve-year-old Nate names the dinosaur Uncle Beazley and decides to raise it himself, but a growing dinosaur proves challenging, so Nate – with the help of a friendly paleontologist – decides to find Uncle Beazley a home. He doesn’t expect the resulting political furor. For ages 8-12.
 imgres-35 In Bruce Coville’s Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2007), 12-year-old Jeremy stumbles upon a mysterious magic shop and ends up with a dragon’s egg. Eventually the egg hatches and produces Tiamat, a dragon that only Jeremy and his friend Mary Lou can see. It’s not easy, however, raising an invisible dragon. One of the Magic Shop series for ages 9-12.
 imgres-36 By Diana Wynne Jones, The Pinhoe Egg (Harper Collins, 2006) is one of the Chronicles of Chrestomanci series, set in a parallel British universe featuring castles and magic. In this volume, enchanter Cat Chant and young witch Marianne Pinhoe find an incredible egg – hidden for years in an attic – that hatches out a baby griffin. A good bet for fans of Harry Potter. For ages 9 and up.
 imgres-38 In Kathy Mackel’s Eggs in One Basket (HarperCollins, 2006), football star Scott Schreiber – right in the middle of an important game – is blindsided by a horrible screeching noise that nobody but he and Stacia Caraviello (a Weird Band Girl) can hear. It turns out that Scott’s science project – a nest of odd eggs that he found in the woods – really come from outer space. Scott and friends are soon entangled in an intergalactic battle between the peaceful, but powerful, birdlike aliens, the Lyra, and the evil Shards. And there’s a space security cop who looks like a dog. For ages 11-13.

EATING EGGS

 images-3 Dr. Seuss’s Green Eggs and Ham (Random House, 1960) is the rollicking story of Sam-I-Am, who is doing his best to convince a friend to eat green eggs and ham. His friend DOES NOT LIKE green eggs and ham. For ages 3-7.
It’s also funny in French, as Les Oeufs Verts au Jambon (Ulysses Press, 2009).
See if YOU like green eggs and ham. From Seussville.com, check out these recipes. (Hint: you’ll need green food coloring.)
 imgres-39 Also see Dr. Seuss’s Scrambled Eggs Super (Random House, 1953) in which Peter T. Hooper sets out to find a fabulous collections of eggs for the most incredible breakfast ever. For ages 4-8.
 imgres-40 In Alison Jackson’s Eggs Over Evie (Henry Holt and Company, 2010), 12-year-old Evie – a budding chef – has problems: her celebrity-chef father’s new wife is expecting twins; her mother is starting to date; and Evie is feeling lost. Cooking turns out to be a way for Evie to find herself. Each chapter begins with a cooking quote and features a recipe (many with eggs). Try Evie’s Mount Vesuvius Omelet Souffle. For ages 9-12.
 imgres-41 By Roald Dahl (with great illustrations by Quentin Blake), see Roald Dahl’s Revolting Recipes (Puffin, 1997) for an irresistible recipe for Stink Bug Eggs.
 images-4 A recipe for perfectly cooked soft-boiled eggs (with science): from Scientific American, see Egg-cellently Cooked Eggs for instructions and explanations.
 imgres-42 Your scrambled eggs are wrong! Find out why here, with an explanation from America’s Test Kitchen.
The Science Behind Eggs has a brief explanation and a slide show of favorite foods made possible by eggs (say, angel food cake and custard).

EGG SCIENCE

 imgres-43 Steve Spangler’s Naked Eggs and Flying Potatoes (Greenleaf, 2010) is a collection of great science experiments, among them at least four with eggs. Cool for everybody; recommended for ages 9 and up.
Steve Spangler Science online has a great list of egg experiments, among them the Egg Drop, the Impossible Egg Crush, and the Incredible Egg Geode. Try them all!
 imgres-13 From the San Francisco Exploratorium’s Science of Cooking series, Eggs has illustrated information on egg science, recipes and activities, science experiments, and a (virtual) trip to an organic egg farm.
 imgres-44 From National Geographic Kids, Eggs-Periments lists several cool egg-based experiments, including an unusual way of getting a hard-boiled egg into a bottle.
Science Sparks has a list of ten interesting egg experiments, with instructions and explanations. For example, make a bouncing egg and a floating egg, and find out how strong an eggshell really is. (Very.)
 imgres-45 Chemistry and calcium! See Translucent Egg for an experiment involving calcium carbonate, acetic acid, and an egg.
Incubation and Embryology from the University of Illinois Extension has an excellent collection of detailed resources on chickens, chick embryology, and eggs. Included are instructions for building a simple cardboard-box incubator and a coffee-can egg candler.
 imgres-46 Also from the University of Illinois Extension, activities for younger students include a series of downloadable worksheets in which kids can label and identify the parts of an egg and a chicken, determine which egg is fertile, size and grade eggs, measure incubation temperatures, and more.
 images-6 Chickscope has a detailed account of the 21-day chick developmental process. Included for each day are diagrams, photographs, explanations, and related math and science projects.
 images-5 Sources for incubators, eggs, and chick supplies include My Pet ChickenStromberg’s Chicks and Game Birds, and the Carolina Biological Supply Company.
 imgres-47 Which came first: the chicken or the egg? See what science says with this great animated explanation from Gizmodo.
Chicken or Egg? Science Decides! is a great evolutionary explanation on YouTube.
 imgres-48 Egg Science: Dissolution and Osmosis has instructions for two simple experiments, illustrated with photos and diagrams.
 imgres-49 Microwave Egg Explosion. It’s an online video. Try to convince  the kids to be satisfied with that.
From the San Francisco Exploratorium, Egg Science: An Ova-view of Eggs is a fascinating 30-minute webcast on the biology of eggs.
 imgres-50 Try this online game of Guess the Egg. (Guess, then click on an egg photo to see the answer.)
 imgres-51 From AAAS, The Big Egg Mystery is: how can a bird sit on its eggs without breaking them? Included are discussion questions, a link to the PBS Kids video “An Egg is Quiet,” and printable student worksheets.
 images-7 Is it really hot enough to fry an egg on the sidewalk? Wait for a hot day and try this experiment.
From Science Friday, see this video on Cracking the Egg Sprinkler Mystery. (If you spin a hardboiled egg in a puddle of milk, the milk will wick up the sides of the egg and spray off at the egg’s equator. WHY?)
From the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry, see these illustrated instructions for making an exciting Egg Bungee.
 imgres-52 These great short videos explain the Chemistry of Easter Egg Dyeing.
The early Earth smelled like rotten eggs. Really! Read about it here.

DROPPING EGGS

 imgres-53 In Mini Grey’s Egg Drop (Alfred A. Knopf, 2009), the star character is an egg who wants to fly. Now. Without waiting to hatch. (“The Egg was young./It didn’t listen./If only it had waited.”) So, in the teeth of all advice, the egg climbs to the top of a tower and jumps. When the inevitable happens, and the broken egg can’t be fixed (not even with nails, tomato soup, or band-aids), it ends up on a breakfast plate, sunny-side-up. It’s hilarious, but some kids may not think so. For ages 5-8.
 fd26bf4b9e7d7c081fb29c395011e2e7d2c08101 The Egg Drop – a great experiment that illustrates the concept of inertia – is simple and thrilling. (A standard event here every Thanksgiving.) You’ll need a glass of water, a cardboard tube, a pie pan, and an egg.
 images-8 Can you save an egg from death? Try building a device that will keep your egg intact when it’s dropped from a height of ten feet. For ideas, see How can you keep a falling egg from breaking? from Science on the Brain, Egg Drop Experiment from Weird Science Kids, and Egg Drop from PBSKids.

ARTISTIC EGGS

 imgres-55 In Tom Ross’s Eggbert (Puffin, 1997), an artistic egg who sports a red beret is evicted from the refrigerator because he is slightly cracked. Eggbert, at first dismayed, soon finds out that that the world is full of cracks, in everything from clouds to volcanoes to the Liberty Bell. For ages 4-8.
 imgres-56 In Patricia Polacco’s Rechenka’s Eggs (Philomel, 1988), Babushka lives alone in a little house – dacha – in the Russian countryside, where she spends her winters painting beautiful eggs for the Easter festival. Then she rescues a wounded goose and names her Rechenka – who, once healed, accidentally breaks all of Babushka’s eggs. Babushka is devastated, until Rechenka miraculously lays a set of wonderful eggs to replace the ones that were lost. For ages 4-9.
 Sue-Pysanky-S From the Incredible @rt Department, the Pysanky Ukrainian Eggs lesson plan has a history of pysanky eggs, book and resource lists, a printable handout for designing your own eggs, a gallery of painted eggs, and more.  Adaptable for a range of ages.
Learn Pysanky is a detailed tutorial for making Babushka-style Ukrainian Easter eggs.
 tvs2818_l Ukrainian Easter Eggs is a project with instructions from Martha Stewart.
 P1160712_edited-1 From That Artist Woman, Easy Easter Egg Art Project has instructions for making beautiful paper pastel-resist pysanky eggs.
 imgres-57 In Katherine Milhous’s The Egg Tree (Aladdin, 1992) – the Caldecott winner in 1951 – Katy (who can’t find any eggs on the traditional family Easter egg hunt) finds a collection of painted eggs in her grandmother’s attic. She and her cousins then learn about the Pennsylvania Dutch tradition of the Egg Tree, a tree decorated with colorful eggs. For ages 5-9.
 imgres-58 Chuck Abrams’s Intricate Eggs (Running Press, 2008) is a coloring book of intricately patterned eggs to color. A gorgeous project for lovers of colored pencils. For ages 9 and up.
 imgres-59 Keep your eggs warm! Egg Cozies (Guild of Master Craftsman Publications, 2010) has instructions for many creative egg cozies – those little English-style hats used to keep teatime boiled eggs warm. Fun for beginning knitters on up.
 blue egg From the Happy Scientist, Egg Geodes is a great illustrated account of how to make crystal-filled egg shells.
 6134_041311_egg_geodes_hd Also see Martha Stewart’s impressively gorgeous Crystal Egg Geodes.
From Scientific American, Silky Science: Tie-Dyeing Eggs has instructions for dyeing eggs with a silk necktie.
 images-9 Eggshell People has instructions for making “eggshell people” from empty eggshells, potting soil, and grass seed (for hair).  Accompanying activities include charting the rate of growth of the grass hair, keeping eggshell people diaries, and writing eggshell people stories.
 imgres-60 Make gorgeous String Eggs with balloons, string, and glue.
 DSC_0037-600x398 From Tinkerlab, 60 Egg Activities for Kids is a great collection of arts and crafts projects, among them collage eggs, vegetable-dyed eggs, ice eggs, egg candles, egg shell sculptures, and more.
 imgres-61 From Crayola, Let Me Out! Dino Eggs has instructions for making a painted dinosaur egg and emerging model dinosaur.
For more resources on dinosaurs – lots of them – see DINOSAURS.
From DLTK’s Crafts for Kids, Egg Carton Crafts has a long list of projects: make ants, bats, chicks, snakes, dragons and more, all from cardboard egg cartons.
 imgres-62 From Scholastic, Recycled Egg Carton Flowers has instructions and a video demonstration.
Not enough egg cartons for your projects? They’re available from Nasco in packages of 70 ($14.50).
History of Egg Art briefly covers the high points, among them the Faberge eggs, Ukrainian and Persian egg-decorating traditions, and the art of ostrich eggs.
 imgres-63 Chinese artist Wen Fuliang makes spectacularly detailed egg shell sculptures.

FABERGÉ’S EGGS

 imgres-64 By Toby Faber, Fabergé’s Eggs (Random House, 2008) is the story of the fabulous jeweled eggs made for Russia’s czars by renowned jeweler Carl Fabergé. A fascinating historical read for teenagers and adults.
 imgres-65 Using Marty Noble’s Artful Eggs From Around the World Stained Glass Coloring Book (Dover Publications, 2011), colorers can make 16 “stained-glass” pictures of pysanky, washi, and Fabergé eggs.
 imgres-66 Faberge Eggs: Mementos of a Doomed Dynasty is a creative lesson plan for middle- and high-school-level students, designed to accompany PBS’s Treasures of the World series.
 images-10 From the Poetry Foundation, see Elizabeth Spires’s poem Fabergé’s Egg.

MATH AND EGGS

 imgres-67 By Janet Halfmann, Eggs 1,2,3: Who Will the Babies Be? (Blue Apple Books, 2012) is an interactive counting book in which readers lift a flap to discover what’s inside the egg: for example, a penguin chick, a pair of platypuses, or nine frog tadpoles. For ages 2-5.
 imgres-68 Michael Dahl’s Eggs and Legs (Nonfiction Picture Books, 2005) is a clever exercise in learning to count by twos, as a hen watches pairs of legs emerge from hatching eggs. For ages 4-7.
Math resources! See MATH I.
 imgres-13 Incredible Edible Eggs is a downloadable math activity book for preschoolers and early-elementary kids, illustrated with drawings and color photographs. Matching games, counting, and simple addition.
 smallMain_0_20 Math Eggs is a great game that lets kids practice addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division while helping a bright-eyed hen collect hatching eggs. Available as an app for iPod or iPhone. For ages 4-10.
 imgres-69 Try a game of Scrambled Egg Math. You’ll need a plastic egg carton, markers, and a couple of lima beans. Targeted at early-elementary kids, the game reinforces number recognition and sequencing skills.
 imgres-70 Fun with Buttons: Egg Math is a counting game in which kids pair numbers of buttons to big bright number-labeled foam eggs.
 imgres-71 Mancala may be the oldest game in the world. Egg Carton Mancala Game has instructions for making a mancala board from a plastic egg carton, with links to a You Tube video that teaches you how to play. A great fun way to encourage strategic thinking.
 imgres-72 Birds’ Eggs is a math project in which kids use a scatter graph to investigate the relationship between the length and width of birds’ eggs.
 imgres-73 From Chickscope, Egg Math has information and mathematical exercises involving egg shape (symmetry and cross-sections, ellipses and ovals), the white-yolk theorem, spherical geometry, and embryo calculus. For older students.
By Yutaka Nishiyama, The Mathematics of Egg Shape is an interesting illustrated essay for older students. (Did you know that eggs stop rolling on slopes? Check it out.)

POETIC EGGS

 imgres-74 By Russell Hoban’s creative little badger, Frances, Egg Thoughts are a collection of Frances’s poems on eggs. Frances’s “Soft-Boiled,” for example: “I do not like the way you slide/I do not like your soft inside/I do not like you many ways/And I could do for many days/Without a soft-boiled egg.” (From Russell Hoban’s Egg Thoughts and Other Frances Songs; Harper & Row, 1972.)
From Nursery Rhymes and Traditional Poems, this is a riddle-poem about (spoiler!) an egg. Pass it on to somebody else and don’t tell.
 imgres-76 Riddle Poems and How to Make Them has many examples of this very old tradition and helpful instructions for inventing some of your own.
 158B-Version-2 An Egg Poem – in which E is for Eating, not Egg – once appeared on late 19th-century cigarette cards. See images (and poem).
 imgres-75 Ezra Pound’s Poetic Eggs compared poetry writing to laying eggs.
 images-11 By Naomi Shihab Nye, see Boy and Egg, about finding fresh eggs in the chicken house.
 images-4 Featured on NPR’s The Writer’s Almanac, Baron Wormser’s A Quiet Life begins “What a person desires in life/Is a properly boiled egg./This isn’t as easy as it seems.” (Find out why.)
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Trees

 

Trees are wonderful, life-giving, magical, legendary, spooky, and just plain interesting. Think of the Ents from The Lord of the Ring, the dryads of Narnia, Robin Hood’s Sherwood Forest, Harry Potter’s Whomping Willow, and Bilbo Baggins’s Party Tree.

See below for the science of trees, tree stories, tree poems, tree art projects, mathematical trees, tree houses, and more.

CELEBRATE TREES!

 images National Arbor Day usually falls on the last Friday in April – but some states base Arbor Day on their best tree-planting times. See When is Arbor Day in your state?
 images Visit the Arbor Day Foundation website for affordable trees, an informational tree guide, resources for connecting kids with nature, forest replanting programs, a history of the holiday, and more.
 imgres In Kathryn Galbraith’s Arbor Day Square (Peachtree Publishers, 2010), a small Nebraska prairie town has houses and barns, a store, a church, and a school with desks for seventeen children – but no trees. The townspeople, among them Katie and her father, raise money to order 15 saplings from back East and plant them in the town square. Time passes and the trees grow bigger and taller; Katie grows up, marries, and has a little daughter – who helps her grandfather plant new trees. An appendix explains the origin of Arbor Day, first celebrated in Nebraska in 1872. For ages 4-8.
 images As of 2013, the United Nations declared March 21 to be the International Day of Forests. From the Huffington Post, see background information and a photo-illustrated list of 21 Reasons to Celebrate the Value of Trees.

TREE PLANTERS

 imgres-1 Jerry Palotta’s Who Will Plant a Tree? (Sleeping Bear Press, 2010) is a picture-book account of a lot of surprising tree-planters, among them squirrels, bears, geese, ants, and dolphins. For ages 3-8.
 imgres-2 In Mary Ann Rodman’s A Tree for Emmy (Peachtree Publishers, 2009), Emmy wants her own pink-flowered mimosa tree like the one that grows in her grandmother’s yard – and that Gramma claims is a lot like Emmy herself, “stubborn and strong and a little bit wild.” To her dismay, no garden store sells mimosa trees – but finally she finds the solution: a little sapling to transplant and nurture on her own. For ages 4-8.
 imgres-3 By Jeanette Winter, Wangari’s Trees of Peace (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2008) is a picture-book biography of Kenyan environmentalist Wangari Maathai, who won the Nobel Peace Prize for her tree-planting program. For ages 4-8.
 imgres-4 By H. Joseph Hopkins, The Tree Lady (Beach Lane Books, 2013) is the picture-book story of tree-loving activist Kate Sessions, who grew up in California in the 1860s, went to college to study science, and finally moved to the desert town of San Diego, where she established a nursery and populated the town and surrounding area with trees. A great story about a little-known heroine for ages 5-8.
 imgres-5 Jean Giono’s The Man Who Planted Trees (Chelsea Green, 2007) is the story of Elzeard Bouffier who spent his life planting one hundred acorns a day – through both World Wars I and II – in a desolate stretch of southern France, eventually transforming the region into a green woodland. A hopeful account of one person making a great difference for ages 12 and up.
  Read The Man Who Planted Trees online.
 imgres-6 Project Plant It is elementary-school tree planting program. Included at the site are detailed lesson plans, a tree reading list, varied activities for kids, interactive games, and more. You can also request a free tree through the program, though these aren’t always available.

 ALL ABOUT TREES

 imgres-7 Christie Matheson’s Tap the Magic Tree (Greenwillow, 2013) is a fun interactive read in which kids are first told to tap a picture of a  bare brown tree and turn the page – and a green leaf appears. Readers tap, pat, rub, “blow a whooshing breeze,” shake, and close their eyes and count to ten and, as they do, the tree moves through the seasons, hosting a bird nest, sprouting flowers and ripening apples, until apples and leaves fall, and the bare tree is covered in snow. For ages 3-6.
 imgres-8 Janice May Urdry’s Caldecott-winning A Tree is Nice (HarperCollins, 1987) is a gentle picture-book account of all the wonderful things about trees – they fill up the sky, provide shade from the sun, houses for birds, and escape routes for cats. Kids can rake their leaves, climb them, swing from their branches, picnic at their feet. A charmer for ages 3-8.
 imgres-9 Joseph Anthony’s In a Nutshell (Dawn Publications, 1999) follows the life cycle of an oak tree, beginning with the fall of one plump little acorn, who lands on the forest floor and begins its struggle to get back to the sun. For ages 3-8.
 imgres-10 By Clyde Robert Bulla, A Tree Is a Plant (HarperCollins, 2001) in the Let’s-Read-and-Find-Out Science series is a simple introduction to trees (“the biggest plant that grows”) for ages 4-7.
 imgres-11 In Zoe Hall’s The Apple Pie Tree (Blue Sky Press, 1996) two little girls watch their backyard apple tree through the seasons of the year, from leafless winter to the buds and blossoms of spring when robins arrive to build a nest, to ripening fruit in summer – and finally, in fall, harvest and an apple pie. For ages 4-7.
 imgres-12 In Gail Gibbons’s The Seasons of Arnold’s Apple Tree (Sandpiper, 1998), the apple tree is Arnold’s special secret place. He builds a snow fort around it and hangs strings of popcorn on its branches for the birds in winter; in spring, he builds a swing; in summer, a treehouse; and in the fall he rakes leaves and picks apples. Included is a recipe for apple pie and an explanation of cider-making. For ages 4-7.
 imgres-13 The Seasons of Arnold’s Apple Tree is a color-illustrated multidisciplinary lesson plan for elementary-level kids. Activities include determining the number of seeds in an apple, sprouting apple seeds, making “Apple Tree I.D.” pictures and apple sun catchers, and playing apple games. Included are printable worksheets.
 imgres-13 For many more resources on apples – including pie apples, Newton’s apple, and Johnny Appleseed – see APPLES ALL YEAR ROUND.
 imgres-14 Carol Reed-Jones’s The Tree in the Ancient Forest (Dawn Publications, 1995) is a cumulative environmental rhyme in the style of “This is the House That Jack Built,” that draws in all plants, animals, and features of the ancient forest. For ages 4-8.
 imgres-15 Lois Ehlert’s Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1991) is the simple story of a sugar maple from seed to sapling to tree, illustrated with colorful collages that incorporate real maples leaves and seeds. Included are instructions for planting a tree and making bird treats. For ages 4-8.
 imgres-16 Gail Gibbon’s Tell Me, Tree is a brightly illustrated introduction to trees covering the parts of trees, types of trees, tree shapes, seeds, bark, and fruit, and uses of trees. Included are attractive labeled diagrams, lots of tree facts, and helpful suggestions for making a personal tree identification book. For ages 4-8.
 imgres-17 In Barbara Brenner’s One Small Place in a Tree (HarperCollins, 2004), the “small place” is a hole in a tree, first scratched out by a bear, then hollowed by timber beetles. As the hole grows larger, it hosts animal after animal – salamanders, white-footed mice, bluebirds, squirrels, and snakes. For ages 4-8, who will then want to go look for holes in trees.
 imgres-18 Pam Marshall’s From Tree to Paper (Lerner Classroom, 2013), one of the extensive Start to Finish series, describes the process of papermaking in simple large print, illustrated with color photographs. For ages 4-8.
Paper Making Science Project has detailed instructions for making your own recycled paper. (That is, you start with paper scraps, not a tree.)
Also see Make Recycled Paper from the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry.
 imgres-19 Chiara Chevalier’s 48-page The Secret Life of Trees (Dorling Kindersley, 1999) is an informative read for beginners, illustrated with terrific color photographs and interesting facts in boxes. Did you know that when you look at a tree, you only see half of it? (The rest is underground.) For ages 5-7.
 imgres-20 Debbie Miller’s Are Trees Alive? (Walker Children’s Books, 2003) – inspired by a question asked by her young daughter – explains how trees are remarkably like people: they breathe, eat, and drink; the veins in their leaves are much like those in people’s hands; and their bark is the equivalent of skin. The book also takes readers on a tour of unusual trees around the world, among them the baobab, banyan, cocoa tree, weeping willow, paper birch, and sugar maple. For ages 5-8.
 imgres-21 Patricia Lauber’s Be a Friend to Trees (HarperCollins, 1994) in the Let’s-Read-and-Find-Out Science series explains why trees are important, providing food (fruit, nuts, chocolate), shelter, homes for animals, and – by way of photosynthesis – oxygen, which we all need to breathe. Associated activities include planting a tree and recycling paper. For ages 5-8.
 imgres-6 In Susan Coolidge’s The Stories Trees Tell (Banjo Dog Press, 2008), five animal pals (Bear, Raccoon, Possum, Snake, and Woodpecker) come up with imaginative explanations for why trees are the way they are. “Meet my friend Chestnut Tree. Look at how her trunk splits and grows sideways. What could have happened to her?” While the five friends come up with their own imaginative explanations, multiple margin notes and photographs tell the actual facts about trees. Included are 15 pages of creative tree-based activities. For ages 5-9.
 imgres-22 In Betsy Maestro’s Why Do Leaves Change Color? (HarperCollins, 1994) in the Let’s-Read-and-Find-Out Science series, readers learn about the many different shapes of leaves (How many can you find?) and the process of fall color change, starting with chlorophyll and a cross-sectional diagram of a leaf. Included are instructions for making leaf rubbings and a pressed leaf collection. For ages 5-9.
 imgres-23 Diane Burns’s Trees, Leaves, and Bark (Cooper Square Publishing, 1995) is one of the “Take Along Guides” for young naturalists. The book introduces kids to 16 different trees and suggests a handful of activities: make a pinecone “snackbar” for birds and a bark rubbing, for example. For ages 5-10.
 imgres-24 Barbara Bash’s Tree Tales series (Sierra Club Books for Children) includes Ancient Ones: The World of the Old-Growth Douglas Fir, Tree of Life: The World of the African Baobab, and In the Heart of the Village: The World of the Indian Banyan Tree. In each, a combination of evocative prose and gorgeous watercolor paintings combine to tell the story of the tree and its surroundings. Readers learn, for example, that the Douglas fir is one of the largest living things on earth, taller than a twenty-story building, and that some live to be a thousand years old. For ages 6-10.
 imgres-25 Gina Ingoglia’s The Tree Book for Kids and Their Grownups (Brooklyn Botanic Garden, 2013) first covers trees in general – why trees are important, why leaves change color, the process of photosynthesis – and then describes 33 different trees, each in a double-page spread. For each, readers learn about the tree’s anatomy and features, such as leaves, flowers, seeds, fruit, and bark, as well as assorted cool facts. (Ground-up horse chestnuts make great library paste.) For all ages.
 imgres-26 Nancy Ross Hugo’s 200+-page Seeing Trees (Timber Press, 2011) is a guide to viewing – that is, really looking at – trees, concentrating on ten common varieties. Lavishly illustrated with fascinating color photographs showing a wealth of unexpected close-up details. Intended for adults, but the pictures are so intriguing that the book can be enjoyed by all ages.
 images-1 From Cornell, Know Your Trees is a free downloadable tree identification key.
 images-2 From the New York Times, Olivia Judson’s Tree-mendous is a great essay on the meaning and importance of trees.
At Forestry Focus, learn about Sacred and Magical Trees.
 imgres-27 Find out How Trees Affect the Weather with clear explanations, colorful diagrams, and a tree image gallery. Also included are lists of related links and sources.
Gold in Trees May Hint at Buried Treasure. Really! Read all about it.
How do trees respond to drought? They call for help. Literally. From National Geographic, read about it here.
 images-2 Real Trees 4 Kids has a lot of information on trees and tree farming, categorized by grade level (K-2, 3-5, 6-8, and 9-12). Readers learn about tree anatomy, life cycles, and classification.
 imgres-28 What’s in the Amazon rain forest? 400 billion trees belonging to 16,000 different species, according to a new estimate. Read about it here.
 imgres-29 The Oldest Trees on the Planet is an annotated photo gallery – among them the incredible 4765-year-old California Methuselah tree.
 images-2 From SciStarter, Citizen Science Does Grow on Trees has a short list of citizen science projects for tree fans of all ages. Also see the New York Botanical Garden’s citizen science program, Listening to the Trees.

TREE LESSON PLANS

 images-2 Talk About Trees is a collection of nine downloadable lesson plans (with printable worksheets) on such topics as the forest food web, photosynthesis, the water cycle, the carbon cycle, and forest natural disasters. Included are activities, games, and lists of additional resources. Targeted at elementary-level kids.
 images-2 From Penn State, Forestry/Natural Resources Lesson Plans is an extensive collection, variously for grades K-5. Titles include Forest Stewardship, The History of Maple Syrup, Seasons of Trees, Trees and Their Parts, Tree Growth, Trees to Paper, Leaf Identification, and Build a Forest.
 images-2 Lesson Plans for Forest-Minded Teachers has a long detailed list, variously for grades K-12.
 images-2 From the Society of American Foresters, Tool for Teachers has comprehensive lesson plans and science fair projects for elementary-, middle-, and high-school-level students.
 images-2 From Education World, Trees Sprout Classroom Lessons Throughout the Year is a collection of five detailed lessons about trees. How Does Your Tree Measure Up?, for example, is a math-based lesson for grades 3-12 in which kids calculate the height of a tree, the area of its leaf cover, the number of leaves on the tree, the average size of a leaf, and more.
 imgres-28 The Rain Forest Alliance Curriculum has detailed lesson plans for grades K-8 with many downloadable resources. Topics covered include rainforest trees and animals, coffee and chocolate, biodiversity, deforestation, and more.
 imgres-30 For elementary students, the Inside a Tree Lesson Plan explains the layers of a tree trunk and their functions and has an activity in which kids make “tree cookies” from play dough or clay.

FICTIONAL TREES

 imgres-31 By Dorothea Warren Fox, Miss Twiggley’s Tree (Purple House Press, 2002) – originally published in 1966 – is a perfect delight. Told in bouncy rhyme, it’s the story of the shy and unconventional Miss Twiggley who lives in a tree with her dog and some supportive bears. (“Funny Miss Twiggley/Lived in a tree/With a dog named Puss/And a color TV./She did what she liked and she liked what she did/But when company came/Miss Twiggley hid.”) When the town is flooded, however, Miss Twiggley (and bears) come to the rescue. For ages 3 and up (and up).
 imgres-32 In Leo Lionni’s The Alphabet Tree (Alfred A. Knopf, 1990), each letter has a favorite leaf on the alphabet tree – until a gale-force wind swoops in and blows them all over the place. The solution is cooperation, as the letters band together to form words. For ages 3-7.
  The Alphabet Tree has multidisciplinary extension activities to accompany the book, among them learning about seasons, creating story sequence cards, making a word tree poster, and studying tree growth and planting seeds.
  For more alphabet resources, see ABC: The Alphabet (and Beyond).
 imgres-33 In Oliver Jeffers’s Stuck (Philomel, 2011), when Floyd’s kite becomes stuck in a tree, he hurls things after it, which all become stuck in turn – shoes, the kitchen sink, a boat, a rhinoceros, a lighthouse, a whale. Hilarious for ages 3-7.
  Listen to Stuck read by Oliver Jeffers on YouTube.
  Teaching Ideas: Stuck has resources and activities to accompany the book, variously categorized under Literacy, Math, Science, Technology, Art, Geography, Physical Education, and Foreign Languages.
 imgres-34 In Julia Rawlinson’s Fletcher and the Falling Leaves (Greenwillow, 2008), Fletcher – an adorable little fox – is convinced that his favorite tree is sick: its leaves are turning brown. His mother assures him that this is normal in autumn, but frantic Fletcher isn’t convinced, and as the leaves inevitably fall, he does his best to stick them back on the tree. Finally, despite his best efforts, the last leaf falls – but when Fletcher next visits his tree, he finds it covered with glittering (with real sparkle) icicles that laugh happily when Fletcher asks the tree if it is all right. For ages 4-7.
 imgres-35 Dr. Seuss’s The Lorax (Random House, 1971) – which features the Lorax, who speaks for the trees – may be everyone’s all-time favorite environmental picture book. For ages 4-8.
  The 2012 movie version of The Lorax is rated PG. It’s not as good as the book.
 imgres-36 In Alan Zweibel’s Our Tree Named Steve (Puffin, 2007), Steve, the tree, is felled by lightning and the family recalls all that Steve has meant to them over the years, providing everything from a swing to a camp site to a hammock stand for fat Uncle Chester to a meeting place for young lovers. At the end, Steve’s wood becomes a playhouse. Love and loss, with gentle humor, for ages 4-8.
 imgres-37 Lynne Cherry’s The Great Kapok Tree (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2000) is the story of a man who has come to the rain forest to chop down the great kapok tree, but instead falls asleep at its foot. As he sleeps, animal after animal arrives to plead for the life of the tree – snakes, monkeys, birds, frogs, butterflies, and a jaguar all join in – and when the man awakes, now knowing the importance of the tree to so many creatures, he shoulders his ax and walks away. A beautiful and thought-provoking picture book for ages 4-8.
 imgres-38 In Patricia Polacco’s The Bee Tree (Puffin, 1998), Mary Ellen is tired of reading and wants to go outdoors – so her grandfather decides that it’s the perfect time to hunt for a bee tree. Soon they’ve gathered a crowd of people and animals following behind them, all out to find some honey. (There’s also a nice little moral at the end about the joys of reading.) For ages 4-8.
 imgres-39 Lori Mortensen’s In the Trees, Honey Bees! (Dawn Publications, 2009) is a simple rhyming account of the life of a wild bee colony living in a bee tree; fact boxes provide more information for older children. For ages 4-7.
 imgres-40 For many more resources on bees and honey, see THE BUZZ ON BEES.
 imgres-41 In Bill Peet’s Farewell to Shady Glade (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1981), a host of forest animals, led by a raccoon, are about to lose their home to land developers with bulldozers. They set out by train to find a new home. For ages 4-8.
 imgres-42 In Ted Kooser’s House Held Up by Trees (Candlewick, 2012), a man struggles to keep his yard free of tree seedlings, while his children play in the woods adjoining his property. Finally the children grow up, the man leaves the house, and the property is abandoned – at which point the trees take over and slowly, inexorably, surround the house, hold it together, and lift it off the ground. A story of the power of the wild for ages 4-9.
 imgres-43 Leo Buscaglia’s The Fall of Freddie the Leaf (Slack, Inc., 1982) is a gentle explanation of the nature of death, through the tale of Freddie, a leaf whose time has come to fall. For ages 4 and up.
 imgres-45 Jane Ray’s Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden (Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, 2005) is a beautifully illustrated version of the Christian creation story, featuring a famously forbidden tree. For ages 5-8.
 imgres-44 In Arthur Levine’s Pearl Moscowitz’s Last Stand (Houghton Mifflin, 2000), feisty Pearl goes into action when the city threatens to cut down the last lone gingko tree on her multicultural urban block. For ages 5-8.
 imgres-46 The star of Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree (Harper & Row, 2014) is a kind and generous tree who loves a little boy. At first, he plays with her leaves and climbs on her branches; then as he grows older, he demands more and more from the tree: her apples to bring him money; her branches to build a house; her trunk to build a boat. Finally, the man is old and the tree has nothing more to give him – except her stump, which provides a place to sit. There he sits, “and the tree was happy.” A discussion-promoter for ages 5 and up.
  See The Giving Tree on YouTube narrated by Shel Silverstein.
  From the Teaching Children Philosophy website, The Giving Tree page has a summary, background guidelines for philosophical discussion, and a list of questions for readers.
 imgres-47 In Roald Dahl’s The Minpins (Puffin, 2009), Little Billy – despite awful warnings from his mother – goes into the Forest of Sin where, living in the tops of the trees, he discovers the Minpins, an entire village of miniature people who scamper around in the branches wearing little green boots equipped with suction cups. They are terrified by a monster, the Red-Hot Smoke-Belching Gruncher, and when Billy manages to dispatch it, he ends up with a liberating reward (magical nightly rides on the back of a swan). For ages 5-9.
 images-3 By Ingri and Edgar Parin D’Aulaire, D’Aulaires’ Book of Norse Myths (New York Review Children’s Collection, 2005) is a marvelously illustrated collection of tales of Norse gods, goddesses, and giants, including the story of Yggdrasil, the World Tree. For ages 5 and up.
 imgres-48 In Florence Parry Heide’s Treehorn’s Treasure (Pomegranate, 2011), Treehorn stashes his allowance in a hole in a tree and discovers that the tree is now sprouting dollar bills. His parents, however, refuse to believe him. Heide’s Treehorn stories are gems, starring the commonsensical Treehorn, who deals calmly with fantastic situations, and his oblivious parents. With great illustrations by Edward Gorey. For ages 7 and up.
 imgres-49 Linda Lowery’s The Chocolate Tree (Millbrook Press, 2009) is a retelling of a Mayan folktale about how the god Kukulkan brought the gift of chocolate to the people – in spite of the protests of the other gods, notably Kukulkan’s brother, Night Jaguar. For ages 7-10.
  For more on chocolate and the chocolate tree, see Robert Burleigh’s nonfiction Chocolate: Riches from the Rainforest (Harry N. Abrams, 2002). For ages 8-11.
  For many more resources on this topic, see CHOCOLATE. (It’s not just for Valentine’s Day.)
 imgres-50 The main character of Carolyn Sherwin Bailey’s Miss Hickory (Puffin, 1977), which won the Newbery Award in 1947, is a doll – a notably cross and cantankerous doll – whose body is made from an apple-wood twig and head from a hickory nut. Left behind when her owners move to Boston, Miss Hickory must fend for herself during the cold New Hampshire winter. She does so, with the help of assorted animals, and even eventually begins to amend her not-always-admirable ways. At the end, however – SPOILER – a squirrel eats Miss Hickory’s head, at which point she has an epiphany about the meaning of her life; her headless twig body then wanders off and is grafted onto an apple tree, where it begins to grow. Many people love this book; I have mixed feelings about it, having been horrified when I was eight by Miss Hickory’s sudden end. A discussion-promoter for ages 7-12.
 imgres-51 In Mildred D. Taylor’s Song of the Trees (Puffin, 2003), the Logan family of Mississippi – in a prequel to Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry – struggles with poverty, racism, the Depression, and the absence of Papa, who has gone to Louisiana to make money working for the railroad. Cassie, however, finds comfort from the great trees that surround their house, that seem to her to sing a special song (though others say it’s just the wind). Then Mr. Andersen, a local white businessman, tries to force Cassie’s Big Ma to sell the beloved trees for lumber. For ages 8-12.
 imgres-52 In T.A. Barron’s Tree Girl (Philomel, 2001), all nine-year-old Anna knows of her past is that crochety Master Mellwyn found her as a baby, lying in the roots of a willow tree. Now he warns her to stay away from the forest, which he claims is full of threatening tree ghouls – but Anna is drawn to the forest, believing it holds the secret of her mother. A short chapter fantasy for ages 8-12.
 imgres-53 In Kate Klise’s Regarding the Trees (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2007), the principal of Geyser Creek Middle School wants to trim trees on the school property, and so enlists the help of Ms. Florence Waters (first encountered in Klise’s Regarding the Fountain). Many misunderstandings ensue. The story is told through a creative mix of letters, announcements, newspaper clippings, and the like, with a lot of intercalated info about real trees, family trees, and Italian. For ages 8-12.
 imgres-54 In S. Terrell French’s Operation Redwood (Amulet, 2011), 12-year-old Julian discovers by means of an intercepted email (calling his uncle a world-class jerk) that his uncle’s company plans to cut down a grove of old-growth California redwood trees. In company with new homeschooled friend Robin – who lives near the grove – Julian and friends embark on a campaign to save the trees. A great eco-adventure for ages 9-12.
 imgres-55 The star of Rumer Godden’s The Doll’s House (Puffin, 1976) is Tottie Plantagenet, a little wooden doll, who in times of trouble remembers the tree from which she was made, standing tall against the storm. (“A little of that tree is in me,” thought Tottie.) Tottie needs all her tree’s bravery and determination when she and her family run up against the elegant, but evil, Marchpane. For ages 9 and up.
 imgres-56 In Natalie Standiford’s The Secret Tree (Scholastic, 2014), ten-year-old Minty discovers the Secret Tree – a strange hollow tree filled with slips of paper holding people’s secrets. (“I put a curse on my enemy. And it’s working.”) Minty sets out to solve the mystery of the secrets, struggles to understand the strange goings-on around town (what about the weird inhabitant of the Witch House?), befriends a parentless boy named Raymond, and deals with the ups and downs of friends and family. A coming-of-age story for ages 9-12.
 imgres-57 In Jean Craighead George’s My Side of the Mountain (Puffin, 2004), young Sam Gribley – miserable in the crowded city – runs away to the Catskill Mountains where he sets up house in a hollow tree. He copes with difficulties and dangers, makes unexpected friends – including a young falcon and a lost-in-the-woods English professor (who calls Sam “Thoreau”). A wonderful story of adventure and independence for ages 9-12. (The first of a trilogy.)
 imgres-58 Toby Alone by Timothée de Fombelle (Candlewick Press, 2009) features a world of extremely small – no more than two millimeters tall – people who live in a vast oak known simply as the Tree. The tree is in political and social turmoil: thirteen-year-old Toby’s scientist parents have been captured and imprisoned, and he is alone and on the run. The root of the problem is politician/industrialist Joe Mitch, who is bent on exploiting the sap of the Tree for business purposes – a project that will inevitably kill it. Despite its minuscule characters, the book has more in common with 1984 than The Borrowers. This is a complex and sometimes violent story about the uses and abuses of power, and the consequences of environmental destruction. A thought-provoking read for ages 12 and up. The sequel – you’ll want it, since Toby Alone ends with a cliffhanger – is Toby and the Secrets of the Tree.
  For more resources on tiny (or at least little) people, see VERY LITTLE PEOPLE: BORROWERS, LILLIPUTIANS, AND TOM THUMB.
 imgres-59 Betty Smith’s A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (HarperPerennial, 2006) – originally published in 1943 – is the wonderful coming-of-age story of young Francie Nolan, growing up in the slums of turn-of-the-century New York City. A recurring metaphor is that of the Tree of Heaven – the ailanthus – a tree so tough and determined that it manages to sprout and thrive in the unwelcoming cement of city streets. For ages 12 and up.
 imgres-60 In Ursula K. LeGuin’s The Word for World is Forest (Tor Books, 2010), humans have taken over the tree-covered planet of Athshe, whose small furry green inhabitants pursue a peaceful lifestyle that involves a state of lucid dreaming – “dream-time” – and ritual singing. Enslaved by the invaders, the Athsheans finally revolt. There are analogies to the treatment of native Americans by the Europeans and to the U.S. involvement in Vietnam. A powerful book for teenagers and adults.
 imgres-61 There are similar themes in James Cameron’s 2009 film Avatar, in which humans are exploiting the planet Pandora for a rare mineral (unobtanium) and in the process are destroying the native inhabitants, the Na’vi, tall blue-skinned humanoids who live in harmony with nature and worship the Hometree. Rated PG-13.

 SPOOKY TREES

 imgres-62 By Bill Martin, Jr., and John Archambault, The Ghost-Eye Tree (Square Fish, 1988) is a story-poem about a little boy and his older sister, sent out at night to fetch a bucket of milk, which involves passing the the truly creepy Ghost-Eye tree (“feared by all/the great and small”). The little boy wears his special hat, which makes him feel safer, even though his sister tells him it makes him look stupid. An owl panics them; he loses the hat; and his sister bravely goes back to retrieve it. A wonderfully illustrated account of being scared of the dark by a very spooky tree. For ages 4-8.
For more spooky resources, see GHOSTS!
 imgres-63 Ray Bradbury’s The Halloween Tree (Yearling, 1999) is the eerie tale of eight boys on Halloween night, headed for a haunted house – where they meet the skeletal Mr. Moundshroud and encounter the Halloween tree, hung with grinning jack-o-lanterns. The book traces the history of Halloween customs from the ancient Egyptians to the Mexican Day of the Dead. Eerie and wonderful for ages 9-12.
Madagascar’s Legendary Man-eating Tree is a hoax, dating to 1881. But it’s still an interesting story.

THROUGH HISTORY WITH TREES

 imgres-64 By author/musician Dana Lyons, The Tree (Illumination Arts, 2002) is told in the voice of an ancient Douglas fir: “For eight hundred years I have lived here/Through the wind, the fire, and the snow.” An inspiration for young environmentalists, illustrated with wonderful pictures of awesome trees. For ages 5-8.
 imgres-65 Karen Gray Ruelle’s The Tree (Holiday House, 2008) is a journey through time with the oldest elm tree in New York City, which sprouted 250 years ago on land that is now part of Madison Square Park. For ages 7-10.
 imgres-66 Holling C. Holling’s Tree in the Trail (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1990) – originally published in 1942 – is a 200+-year history of the Santa Fe Trail as experienced by a cottonwood tree, from the buffalo and Kansa Indians to the Spanish conquistadors, French trappers, and Conestoga wagon trains. Heavily illustrated with colorful paintings, sketches, maps, and diagrams. For ages 9-12.
 imgres-67 In Rudyard Kipling’s classic Puck of Pook’s Hill – available in many editions – Dan and Una are performing a version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream when Puck himself appears. Puck – who swears by the ancient English trees, oak and ash and thorn – magically conjures up people and stories from old English history for the children: Normans and Saxons, Roman soldiers and Picts, Vikings, explorers, and pirates, the signing of the Magna Carta. Included are wonderful poems, among them ”A Tree Song,” “A Smuggler’s Song,” and “The Bee-Boy’s Song.” For ages 9 and up.
  Read Puck of Pook’s Hill online here at Project Gutenberg.

 TREE POEMS

 imgres-68 Thom Wiley’s The Leaves on the Trees (Cartwheel Books, 2011) can be sung to the tune of “The Wheels on the Bus” – “The leaves on the tree are falling down/falling down/falling down/Autumn is here!” For ages 3-5.
 imgres-69 By Kristine O’Connell George, Old Elm Speaks (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2007) is an illustrated collection of short poems celebrating trees. “Oak’s Introduction,” for example, speaks directly to the reader: “I’ve been wondering/when you’d notice/me standing here. I’ve been waiting/watching you/grow taller. I have grown too/My branches/are strong. Step closer./Let’s see/how high/you can/climb.” For ages 4-9.
 imgres-70 Amy Ludwig VanDerwater’s Forest Has a Song (Clarion Books, 2013) is a collection of 26 short poems about the forest and its inhabitants, from chickadees and frogs to moss and trees. Illustrated with lovely stylized watercolor paintings. For ages 5-9.
 imgres-71 Selected by Mary Ann Hoberman and Linda Winston, The Tree That Time Built (Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, 2009) is an illustrated collection of over 100 poems about the natural world by such poets as Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, Langston Hughes, Eve Merriam, and Ogden Nash. See the “Think Like a Tree” section for many poems about trees. For ages 7-12.
 imgres-72 See Joyce Kilmer’s Trees, which begins “I think that I shall never see/A poem lovely as a tree.”
 imgres-73 Pair it with Ogden Nash’s Song of the Open Road. You’ll see why.
 imgres-74 I’ve always loved Philip Larkin’s The Trees. (“Last year is dead, they seem to say/Begin afresh, afresh, afresh.”)

MATHEMATICAL TREES

 imgres-75 At the Math Playground, experiment with Factor Trees.
 trees1 From the American Mathematical Society, learn all about the many different kinds of mathematical trees at Trees: A Mathematical Tool for All Seasons. For older students.
 imgres-76 From Khan Academy’s (delightful) Doodling in Math with mathemusician Vi Hart, learn about Binary Trees.
 imgres-77 Counting Trees is an excellent math lesson on estimation based on a tree farm. Included are printable worksheets, data sheets, and questionnaires.

TREES AND ART

 imgres-78 Barbara Reid’s Picture a Tree (Albert Whitman & Company, 2013) points out that “There is more than one way to picture a tree” – as a “sun umbrella” or a high-rise apartment for birds and animals; as a baby, a teenager, or a grandfather; as a “wild good-bye party” as its brilliantly colored leaves blow away in the wind in fall. Wonderful creative illustrations modeled in Plasticine. For ages 4-7.
Creating Picture a Tree is a YouTube video showing how Reid’s Plasticine illustrations are put together.
 imgres-79 By Morteza E. Sohi, Look What I Did with a Leaf! (Walker Children’s Books, 1995) has great suggestions for making collage animals – butterflies, fish, peacocks, cows – with leaves. Included are instructions, a simple identification guide, and an account of the life cycle of a leaf. For ages 4-8.
 imgres-80 Thomas Locker and Candace Christiansen’s Sky Tree: Seeing Science Through Art (HarperCollins, 2001) traces a single tree through the seasons of the year, pairing Locker’s gorgeous oil paintings with a brief descriptive text. For ages 5-8.
 imgres-81 From Steve Spangler Science, find out How To Make a Newspaper Tree. You’ll need newspaper, scissors, tape, and a cardboard tube.
 imgres-82 See Kirigami: The Ancient Art of Paper Cutting for a lesson in how to make a stylized kirigami tree.
 tree2 From the Incredible @rt Department, Emily Carr Trees is an art project in which participants make watercolor paintings based on the tree landscapes of Canadian artist Emily Carr. The website has instructions, examples of tree pictures, and a Power Point presentation on Carr.
 tree1 For images of ten famous trees in art, see Relevant Trees in Art History.
Trees in Nature and Art is an interactive online lesson plan in which kids (in grades 5-8) explore the use of trees in the arts, learn about the science of forestry, collect leaves, create leaf-based art, and write tree poems.
On Pinterest, see this particularly gorgeous collection of Tree Art Lesson Ideas.
 AutumnTreeCollage9RS6k From Busy Bee, Tree Crafts for Kids include an Autumn Tree Collage, a flip-book-style seasonal Changing Tree, a Falling Leaves project (the leaves really fall), a Japanese Cherry Tree picture, Tie-Dyed Leaves, and more.
 palmtree-step4 From First Palette, Making Plants and Trees for a Diorama has step-by-step instructions for making great plants, flowers, and trees from paper, crepe paper, and craft foam.
 6a00d8341cc08553ef0133f0776978970b-800wi The Crafty Crow’s Trees! has an assortment of great tree crafts, including 3-D paper trees and a mod podged hand tree.
 Spring-Cherry-Tree-11 Tree Activities for Kids is a long list including science explorations, craft projects, paintings, and learning and book-related activities.
 imgres-83 From DLTK’s Crafts, Famous Art Work: Tree Themes has images of works by famous artists such as Vincent Van Gogh, Georgia O’Keeffe, and Gustav Klimt,  and coloring pages and art projects based on their trees.
 arborday1small Make Recycled Paper Trees.
 fall-tree-3-dimensional-project-fall-crafts-for-kids1-300x225 These Fall Tree Crafts for Kids include a Fingerprint Fall Tree, Marshmallow Stamped Apple Trees, and Button Branches.

TREE HOUSES

 imgres-84 Andrew Larsen’s In the Tree House (Kids Can Press, 2013) is a story of two brothers, a tree house, and growing up. Narrated by the younger boy, the book describes how the family moved to a new house with a very tall tree, made plans for a spectacular tree house, and finally built one – and there the kids had great times. Then the older brother stopped visiting the tree house, preferring to hang out with new friends – until one night there’s a power outage. Together again, the boys have one more happy night in the tree house. A sweet and nostalgic story for ages 5-8.
 imgres-85 In Doris Burn’s Andrew Henry’s Meadow (Philomel, 2012), originally published in 1965, Andrew Henry’s inventions wreak so much havoc at home that, feeling unwanted and unloved, he sets off in search of a place of his own. He finds a sequestered meadow where he builds himself a wonderful little house. Soon other kids show up and he builds houses for them too, all peculiarly suited to their hobbies – Alice, a bird-lover, for example, gets a fabulous tree house surrounded by birdbaths and feeders, with a balcony just for bird-watching. Eventually the kids’ parents miss them and come to find them – and finally Andrew Henry, now appreciated, is given his own basement workshop at home. For ages 5-9.
 imgres-86 In Gertrude Chandler Warner’s Tree House Mystery (Albert Whitman & Company, 1990), 14th in the Boxcar Children series, the four children acquire a tree house and a spyglass, and discover a mysterious secret room in the house next door. For ages 7-10.
 imgres-87 In Andy Griffiths’s The 13-Story Treehouse (Feiwel and Friends, 2013), Andy and Terry live in the world’s most spectacular tree house – 13 stories of it, complete with bowling alley, shark tank, theatre, secret underground laboratory, and marshmallow machine. Zany adventures, lots of humor, and cartoon illustrations. There’s a sequel: The 26-Story Treehouse. For ages 7-10.
 imgres-88 David Stiles’s How to Build Treehouses, Huts and Forts (Lyons Press, 2003) provides detailed instructions for building an exciting range of kid-friendly structures, among them a lookout tower and (got snow?) an igloo.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in History, Holidays, Literature, Plants, Science | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Penguins

 

Penguins! See below for penguin books, penguin math, penguin science, penguin crafts, and where to buy a genuine made-by-a-penguin painting.

FICTIONAL PENGUINS

 imgres In Salina Yoon’s Penguin and Pinecone (Walker Children’s Books, 2012), a little penguin in a fuzzy orange scarf finds a “curious object” in the snow. It’s a pinecone and the two form an unlikely friendship – though Penguin’s Grandpa explains that a pinecone can only thrive in a warmer forest “far, far away.” Finally Penguin takes his friend there and leaves him – only to return, years later, to find a tall pine tree with a fuzzy orange scarf tied around the top. For ages 3-7.
 imgres-1 In Antoinette Portis’s A Penguin Story (HarperCollins, 2008), Edna, a penguin – yearning for something other than white ice, black night, and blue sea – sets out in search of color. She finds it in an orange Antarctic research station – but that only makes her wonder what else might be out there. For dreamers ages 4-7.
 imgres-2 The title character of Helen Lester’s Tacky the Penguin (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1990) is a nonconformist penguin who sports a gaudy Hawaiian short and doesn’t fall in line with his elegant penguin compatriots, Goodly, Neatly, Perfect, Lovely, and Angel. However, the wildly unconventional Tacky proves his worth when a gang of hunters arrive. For ages 4-8.
  Tacky the Penguin is a Reader’s Theater play based on the book, with parts for five narrators, six penguins, and four hunters.
  The Tacky the Penguin Activity Kit has party ideas, Tacky-friendly recipes, printable puzzles and stick puppets, and a complete list of the Tacky the Penguin books.
 imgres-3 Janet Perlman’s Cinderella Penguin (Puffin, 1995) is a perfectly delightful retelling of the Cinderella story, complete with a charming penguin prince, a fairy godmother penguin, and a little glass flipper. For ages 4 and up.
  For many more versions of Cinderella, see FAIRY TALES.
 imgres-4 In Polly Dunbar’s Penguin (Candlewick, 2010), Penguin is Ben’s disappointing birthday present – nothing Ben does will make Penguin speak a word (or even giggle). He tries to amuse Penguin; he makes fun of Penguin; he ignores Penguin – but Penguin says nothing. Until, that is, a passing lion eats Ben, and Penguin comes to the rescue. You’ll love Dunbar’s deadpan Penguin illustrations. For ages 4-8.
  See Dunbar’s Penguin on YouTube. It’s a charmer.
 imgres-5 In Jean-Luc Fromental’s hilarious 365 Penguins (Harry N. Abrams, 2006), on New Year’s Day, a delivery man drops off a box containing a penguin – and an anonymous note that reads “I’m number 1. Feed me when I’m hungry.” There follow deliveries of penguin after penguin, one for each day of the year – with a lot of accompanying mathematical scramble to organize and care for the rapidly accumulating penguins.  (Pack them into a 216-penguin cube?) The puzzle is finally solved at the end of the year – it’s a plan of Uncle Victor, the ecologist, to secretly export endangered penguins to the North Pole. Off he goes with the birds and all is peaceful – until a delivery man rings the doorbell and drops off one polar bear. For ages 4-9.
 images In Toni Buzzeo’s One Cool Friend (Dial, 2012), very proper, bowtie-wearing Elliot falls for the elegant penguins at the zoo – and gets permission from his distracted father (he’s on a bench, reading National Geographic) to have a penguin of his own. Rather than a plush penguin from the gift shop, Elliot picks one from the penguin pool and pops it into his backpack. Elliot figures out how to raise his penguin in his room (with ice and frozen anchovy pizzas) and names him Magellan. It all looks like a perfect storm of misunderstandings between father and son – until, at the end, readers discover that Elliot’s father has been concealing a Galapagos tortoise named Captain Cook. For ages 5-8.
 imgres-6 By Richard and Florence Atwater, Mr. Popper’s Penguins (Little, Brown, 1992) – originally published in 1938 – is the story of a house painter who dreams of polar exploration, and who receives as a present from explorer Admiral Drake a penguin named Captain Cook. Eventually a mate is found for Captain Cook and soon the Poppers have an entire family of penguins – at which point Mr. Popper, strapped for cash, decides to turn the penguins into a circus act and take the show on the road. For ages 7-11.
  The 2011 movie version of Mr. Popper’s Penguins, with Jim Carrey as Mr. Popper, is rated PG. Only vaguely based on the book.

 NONFICTIONAL PENGUINS

 imgres-7 By Florence Minor – and illustrated with wonderful paintings by Wendell Minor – If You Were a Penguin (Katherine Tegen Books, 2008) is a delightful account of all the things you could do if only you were a penguin, from flying underwater to tobogganing in the snow to singing a duet. Included are lists of Penguin Fun Facts and informational penguin websites. For ages 4-7.
 imgres-8 In Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell’s And Tango Makes Three (Simon and Schuster, 2005) – based on a true story from New York City’s Central Park Zoo – a pair of male penguins share a nest. Given an egg to nurture by a sympathetic zookeeper, the two hatch a little daughter, Tango, who becomes the only penguin chick in the zoo to have “two daddies.” A sweet, though much-contested, story for ages 4-7.
 imgres-9 Jean Marzollo’s rhyming Pierre Penguin (Sleeping Bear Press, 2010) is based on the true story of an African penguin at the California Academy of Sciences who begins to lose his feathers, and soon is too cold to swim. A creative biologist comes up with a clever solution: a little penguin wetsuit. For ages 4-7.
 imgres-10 Betty Tatham’s Penguin Chick (HarperCollins, 2001) – in the Let’s-Read-and-Find-Out Science series – is a simple nonfiction account of the laying and hatching of a emperor penguin’s egg. Illustrated with watercolor paintings. For ages 4-8.
 imgres-11 Martin Jenkins’s The Emperor’s Egg (Candlewick, 2002) is the story of how the male emperor penguin – largest of all penguins – spends two months without food, standing with an egg on his feet. For ages 4-9.
 imgres-12 Anne Schreiber’s Penguins (National Geographic Children’s Books, 2009) covers, in 32 creatively designed pages, where penguins live, what they eat, and how they spend their lives. Included are maps, boxes of useful “Bird Words,” and a lot of great color photographs. For ages 4-8.
 imgres-13 For the same age group, also see Gail Gibbons’s Penguins! (Holiday House, 1999).
 imgres-14 Seymour Simon’s Penguins (HarperCollins, 2009) covers all the basics of penguins with an informational text, full-page color photographs, and lots of fascinating facts. For ages 6-10.
 imgres-16 By field biologist and penguin addict Wayne Lynch, Penguins! (Firefly Books, 1999) covers – in 64 pages – penguin families, locomotion, food, mating habits, and enemies. Illustrated with color photographs. For ages 9-12.
 imgres-15 Also by Wayne Lynch, Penguins of the World (Firefly Books, 2007) has more detailed information for teenagers and adults.
 imgres-17 Beyond Penguins and Polar Bears focuses on penguins who don’t live in Antarctica. Included at the website are project suggestions and a reading list.
 imgres-18 Check out Live Penguin Cams from the California Academy of Science.
 images-1 From LiveScience, Penguins has a collection of excellent articles (with photos and video clips) on many aspects of penguins.
 imgres-17 Penguin Sentinels is an informational article and video on temperate Galapagos penguins.

 MATHEMATICAL PENGUINS

 imgres-5 See 365 Penguins, above.
 images-2 From Mathwire, Penguin Math has a range of math games and activities. For example, learn coordinate graphing with a game of “Capture the Penguin” or measure the world in penguin feet. (Some broken links, but still worth a visit.)
 imgres-19 Math Ideas for Penguin Theme has printable game pieces and instructions, a penguin tangram puzzle, penguin graphing exercises, patterning and counting activities, and more.
 images-3 From HoodaMath, Penguin Jump is a multiplication game with multicolored penguins.
 penguins3 From Coolmath, Penguin Families is a logic game in which small penguins must be moved via ice floe from one shore to the other. Tricky.
 imgres-20 From Starship Maths, Place the Penguins is a number place game (ones, tens, and one hundreds) in which players drag penguins into place to make numbers.
 imgres-21 Peabody the Penguin is a multiplication game in which players help Peabody collect fish while avoiding sea lions.

ART, CRAFTS, AND PENGUINS

 mfingerprintpenguin From Artists Helping Children, Penguin Crafts is a long list, including gourd penguins, fingerprint penguins, penguin puppets, papier-mache penguins, and more.
From Beyond Penguins and Polar Bears, Polar Arts and Crafts has instructions for making polar salt-dough maps, paper snowflakes, 3-D penguins, and more.
 FI418Q8HAQ3DAVK.MEDIUM Make a Footprint Penguin.
 FK0MOFEHAQ3DARG.MEDIUM From Instructables, step-by-step instructions for making an Egg Carton Penguin.
 6a00d8341cc08553ef016760eda83e970b-800wi From the Crafty Crow, Penguin and Polar Bear Crafts include potato-print penguins, penguin bean bags, and toilet-paper-tube penguins.
 586x388xPenguin-Art-Project.jpg.pagespeed.ic.V6TWWPcdEE From Deep Space Sparkle, see these instructions for making wonderful Penguin Collages.
 imagepic-PArt-P3-8x10 Penguin Picassos? Check out Penguin Art from the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo. Included: a penguin art gallery and (affordable) penguin paintings for sale.
Also see Penguin Art from the Mystic Aquarium (includes a video of a painting penguin).

POETIC PENGUINS

 imgres-22 By Judy Sierra, Antarctic Antics: A Book of Penguin Poems (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2008) is a catchy illustrated collection (with real penguin facts) for ages 4-8.
 images-4 Penguin poems aren’t just for kids. See Magellanic Penguin by Pablo Neruda.
 imgres-23 From William Jay Smith’s Laughing Time: Collected Nonsense (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1953), see Penguin and Polar Bear. (“I think it must be very nice/To stroll about upon the ice/Night and day, day and night/Wearing only black and white…”)

PENGUINS IN THE MOVIES

 imgres-24 The 2006 movie Happy Feet stars a tap-dancing emperor penguin named Mumble. Rated PG.
 imgres-24 Happy Feet is a multidisciplinary educator’s guide to accompany the movie, with writing exercises, simple science experiments, recipes, crafts, printable puzzles, and a resource list.
 imgres-25 National Geographic’s March of the Penguins is a stunning documentary about the penguins’ annual quest to find mates and raise chicks. Available on DVD or as an Amazon Instant Video. See the website for accompanying games and activities.
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Paul Revere

 

Who doesn’t love Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s “Listen, my children, and you shall hear/Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere”? See below for books, projects, and cool information on Paul Revere – and on the American Revolution’s other riders. Paul wasn’t the only one…

 

BOOKS: NON-FICTION

 imgres David A. Adler’s A Picture Book of Paul Revere (Holiday House, 1997) is a simple picture-book introduction to Revere’s life for ages 5-8.
 imgres-1 Jonah Winters’s Paul Revere and the Bell Ringers (Simon Spotlight, 2003) in the Ready-to-Read series is a simple large-print account of how Paul Revere, as a boy in Boston, started a bell-ringing club. For ages 5-7.
 imgres-2 Lane Smith’s delightfully clever John, Paul, George, & Ben (Disney Hyperion, 2006) is the tongue-in-cheek picture-book story of John Hancock (“a bold lad”), Paul Revere (“a noisy lad”), George Washington (“an honest lad”), and Ben Franklin (“a clever lad”) – plus “Independent Tom” Jefferson. A helpful appendix is titled “Taking Liberties: Wherein we set the record straight with ye olde True or False section.” For ages 5-9.
 imgres-3 Dennis Brindell Fradin’s Let It Begin Here! (Walker Children’s Books, 2009) is the story of the Battle of Lexington and Concord, beginning with Paul Revere’s famous midnight ride. Included are an hour-by-hour timetable of the battle (“9:30 PM: Paul Revere learns the British army is marching…”), a list of Who’s Who on both sides, and a map. For ages 6-9.
 imgres-4 Augusta Stevenson’s Paul Revere: Boston Patriot (Aladdin, 1986) – one of the red-white-and-blue-covered Childhood of Famous Americans series – is a fictionalized account of Paul Revere’s childhood through his teen years when he began carrying secret messages for Boston’s pro-Revolution activists. For ages 7-9.
 imgres-5 By the wonderful Jean Fritz, And Then What Happened, Paul Revere? (Puffin, 1996) is a superb biography, fill with human interest and real people – in short, history as it ought to be told. For ages 7-10.
See a complete annotated list of Jean Fritz’s terrific history books here.
 imgres-6 Roberta Edwards’s 112-page Who Was Paul Revere? (Grosset & Dunlap, 2011) is a short chapter biography that begins with Paul’s first plunge into business – as a boy, he and three friends became paid bell-ringers for Boston’s Old North Church. For ages 7-10.
 imgres-7 By Esther Forbes, America’s Paul Revere (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1990), illustrated with vivid paintings, is an excellent 48-page account of Revere’s life and famous ride. For ages 8-12.
 imgres-8 James Cross Giblin’s The Many Rides of Paul Revere (Scholastic, 2007) is a well-researched biography, illustrated with period prints, paintings, maps and documents, and photos of artifacts. The book begins with Paul’s childhood – he was the son of a French immigrant, Apollos Rivoire – and continues through his multifaceted career as a silversmith and his involvement in the Revolution (during which he made not just one, but many, rides). For ages 8-12.
From Scholastic, The Many Rides of Paul Revere has discussion questions, activities, and printable handouts to accompany Giblin’s book.
  images-1 By Esther Forbes, Paul Revere and the World He Lived In (Mariner Books, 1999) is an engrossing account of the life and times of Paul Revere, packed with fascinating details. Originally published in 1942, when it won a Pulitzer Prize. Highly recommended for teenagers and adults.
 imgres-9 By historian David Hackett Fischer, Paul Revere’s Ride (Oxford University Press, 1995) is a truly fascinating account of pre-Revolutionary Boston and the events surrounding Revere’s famous ride. (Nobody yelled “The British are coming!”) For teenagers and adults.

BOOKS: FICTION

 imgres-10 Robert Lawson’s Mr. Revere and I (Little, Brown, 1988) is a delightful “Account of certain Episodes in the Career of Paul Revere, Esq., as revealed by his horse, Scheherazade (Sherry) – once the pride of the Queen’s Own Household Cavalry and a thorough-going Tory. Sherry is shipped to the American colonies (populated by bumpkins), where his owner loses him in a game of dice to the owner of a glue factory. From there, he’s rescued by Sam Adams and ends up carrying Paul Revere on his famous ride. A great read for ages 7-11.
 imgres-11 Esther Forbes’s Newbery winner Johnny Tremain (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011) – originally published in 1944 – is the story of a 14-year-old silversmith’s apprentice, maimed in an accident, who then becomes involved in the American Revolution, meeting such luminaries as Sam Adams, John Hancock, and Paul Revere. An exciting read for ages 9-12.
The 1957 Disney film version of Johnny Tremain is 80 minutes long and rated “Approved.”
 imgres-12 By master historical fiction writer Ann Rinaldi, The Secret of Sarah Revere (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2003) is the story of Paul Revere and times through the eyes of Revere’s 13-year-old daughter Sarah. A mix of the historical and the personal, as Sarah deals with growing up and worries that her father’s friend, Dr. Joseph Warren, has too much interest in her stepmother, Rachel. For ages 13 and up.

PAUL REVERE’S RIDE

 imgres-13 This version of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem Paul Revere’s Ride (Puffin, 1995) is illustrated with moonlit paintings by Ted Rand. (“Listen, my children and you shall hear/Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere.”) All ages.
 imgres-14 Creatively illustrated by Caldecott Honor winner Christopher Bing, Longfellow’s The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere (Chronicle Books, 2001) combines the famous poem with historical context: included are reproductions of historical documents, letters, and maps, images of colonial artifacts, and drawings that look like period engravings. For ages 8 and up.
 imgres-15 From the Academy of American Poets, read Paul Revere’s Ride online. Or see the Poetry Foundation’s The Landlord’s Tale: Paul Revere’s Ride.

 PAUL WASN’T THE ONLY ONE

 imgres-16 Paul Revere wasn’t the only rider. Marsha Amstel’s Sybil Ludington’s Midnight Ride (First Avenue Editions, 2000) is the story of 16-year-old Sybil’s ride to warn the American troops of an attack by the British on Danbury, CT. For ages 7-9.
 imgres-17 Paul Revere’s fellow rider, William Dawes, disappeared from history. Learn about him at The Midnight Ride of William Dawes.
 imgres-18 Captain Jack Jouett – sometimes called Virginia’s Paul Revere – saved Thomas Jefferson from capture by the British. Learn about it at Colonial Williamsburg’s Captain Jack Jouett’s Ride of the Rescue.
 imgres-19 From Edsitement, Not Only Paul Revere: Other Riders of the American Revolution has information and activities about such less-famous riders as Sybil Ludington, Jack Jouett, and Tench Tilghman.

EVEN MORE…

 imgres-20 The website of the Paul Revere House has a virtual tour of the route Revere took on his famous ride, a Revere biography, and a gallery of Revere-made silver. Click on “For the Kids” for lists of activities, games, articles, and books for children.
The Historic Paul Revere has an illustrated timeline of Revere’s life from his birth in 1734 to his death in 1818 at the age of 83.
From the History Channel, see this great list of 12 Things You May Not Know About Paul Revere.
 imgres-21 From Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts, John Singleton Copley’s portrait of Paul Revere shows Revere as an artisan, holding a silver teapot. Zoom features allow visitors to get a closer look at the picture.
 imgres-15 From YouTube, The Ride is a well-done 10-minute educational film on Paul Revere’s ride.
 imgres-15 From ReadWriteThink, April 18: Paul Revere’s Ride has suggested activities and informational websites. For example, kids study Revere’s family tree and make one of their own, and read an account of the ride in Revere’s own words.
 imgres-17 From National Geographic’s Xpeditions, One If By Land and Two If By Sea is a lesson plan in which kids investigate the geography of Longfellow’s “Paul Revere’s Ride.”
 imgres-22 From Edsitement, Why Do We Remember Revere? has information, activities, and downloadable handouts on Paul Revere’s ride and the Battle of Lexington and Concord. Also see Midnight Ride of Paul Revere: Fact, Fiction, and Artistic License (illustrated with the painting “The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere” by Grant Wood).
 imgres-23 Paul Revere, as well as for his ride, was famous for making bells. Also see Paul Revere and His Bells.

GAMES AND ACTIVITIES

 imgres-24 2 If By Sea Lanterns has instructions for making papercraft tissue-paper window lanterns to accompany books about Paul Revere’s ride.
 images-2 From eHow, Paul Revere Craft Ideas for Children has instructions for making tin-can lanterns, dip candles, quill pens, tricorn hats, and cork-and-toothpick horses. (No illustrations.)
 images-3 From the National Park Service, The Patriot Spy is an interactive game in which players navigate colonial Boston, dodging redcoats, and attempting to deliver a secret letter to Paul Revere.
 imgres-25 From Cognitive Kid, Ansel and Clair Ride With Paul Revere is an interactive app in which Ansel and Clair – robots – learn all about Paul Revere. Included are games, maps, music, quizzes, rebus puzzles, and a rendition of Longfellow’s “The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere.” $4.99.

 

 

 

 

 

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The Civil War

 

THE CIVIL WAR: GENERAL

 imgres Kay Moore’s If You Lived at the Time of the Civil War (Scholastic, 1994), written in question-and-answer format, covers such topics as “How did the war start?” “Which states left the Union?” and “Did your home life change because of the war?” A good interactive read for ages 7-10.
 imgres-1 John Stanchak’s Civil War (Dorling Kindersley, 2011) in the Eyewitness series covers the war in 30 double-page spreads, each packed with information, period prints, maps, and terrific color photographs of artifacts. Topics include: “Slave life,” “The Underground Railroad,” “Outfitting armies,” “Great commanders,” “Army camp life,” “Gettysburg,” and more. For ages 8-12.
 imgres-2 Thomas Ratliff’s You Wouldn’t Want to Be a Civil War Soldier! (Children’s Press, 2013) – one of the extensive You Wouldn’t Want to Be series – pairs historical information with cartoon illustrations. Appealingly readable and not as silly as it initially looks. For ages 8 and up.
 imgres-3 Also see Kathryn Senior’s You Wouldn’t Want to Be a Nurse During the American Civil War! (Franklin Watts, 2010) (subtitled “A Job That’s Not for the Squeamish”).
From LibraryThing, here’s the complete list of titles in the You Wouldn’t Want to Be series.
 imgres-4 Janis Herbert’s The Civil War for Kids (Chicago Review Press, 1999) – a “History with 21 Activities” – covers the war in chronological order, illustrated with period prints, photos, and maps, along with capsule biographies and interesting facts in boxes. Included are a timeline, glossary, and resource list. Activities include making berry ink, butternut dye, and hardtack. For ages 9 and up. (Also see Projects and Activities, below.)
 imgres-5 By Pulitizer-Prize-winning historian James M. McPherson, Fields of Fury: The American Civil War (Atheneum Books, 2002) is a terrific 96-page overview of the Civil War, organized chronologically from start to finish. Included are drawings and paintings, maps, period photographs, and Quick Facts boxes. An excellent resource for ages 9-12.
 imgres-6 Joy Hakim’s eleven-volume A History of US (Oxford University Press, 2007) is a superb American history series, filled with photos and interesting asides, and told in the form of a compelling and absorbing story. The Civil War volume is titled War, Terrible War. This is history as it ought to be taught, but usually isn’t. Highly recommended for ages 10 and up.
 imgres-7 Don Nardo’s Civil War Witness (Compass Point Books, 2013) in the Captured History series (in which the central theme is how photographs can change the world) is an account of how photographer Matthew Brady documented the Civil War, illustrated with Brady’s own photographs. For ages 10 and up. For other titles in the series, see Capstone Classroom.
 imgres-8 Steve Sheinkin’s 250-page Two Miserable Presidents (Roaring Brook Press, 2008) aims to tell “The Amazing, Terrible, and Totally True Story of the Civil War.” The two miserable presidents are Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis; and Sheinkin does a good job of explaining the big picture and integrating the interesting stories that bring history to life. (It begins with Congressman Preston Brooks of SC about to bean Senator Charles Sumner of MA with his cane.) A good pick for ages 10-14.
 imgres-9 Jim Murphy’s The Boys’ War (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1993) is an account of the experiences of boys ages 16 or younger who fought in the Civil War, based on diaries, journals, memoirs, and letters – beginning with “So I Became a Soldier” to “We’re Going Home.” Illustrated with period photographs. For ages 12 and up.
 imgres-10 Stephanie Fitzgerald’s 64-page The Split History of the Civil War (Compass Point Books, 2012) is actually two books in one, one written from the Union point of view, the other from that of the Confederacy. Chapter 1 from the Union perspective, for example, is titled “1861: Insurrection!” while Chapter 1 from the Confederate perspective is “1861: A Quest for Independence.” Included are quotations and period photos. A discussion promoter for ages 10-14.
From the Smithsonian, this annotated Civil War Timeline begins in 1859, with John Brown’s raid on Harper’s Ferry.

THE CIVIL WAR: SPECIFIC TOPICS

 imgres-12 Candice F. Ransom’s Willie McLean and the Civil War Surrender (First Avenue Editions, 2004) is the story of Lee’s 1865 surrender to Grant in the McLean house in the little town of Appomattox Court House that finally ended the Civil War. The story features young Willie and Lula McLean; an afternote explains how Lula’s rag doll was taken by a Union officer and eventually, in the 1990s, donated to the Appomattox Court House National Historical Park. For beginning readers ages 6-8.
 imgres-13 From the Appomattox Court House National Historical Park, Lula McLean’s Rag Doll is an online story, told in the voice of the doll, of Lee’s surrender to Grant in 1865. There’s also a photograph of the doll.
 imgres-14 Cheryl Harness’s Mary Walker Wears the Pants (Albert Whitman & Company, 2013) is the story of the unconventional Mary Edwards Walker, suffragist, and one of the first woman doctors in the United States – who joined the Union Army as a doctor and became the only woman ever to win a Medal of Honor. (And she wore pants!) For ages 6-9.
 imgres-15 In Patricia Polacco’s Just in Time, Abraham Lincoln (Puffin, 2014), Michael and Derek walk through a door in a Civil War museum and end up back in 1862 just after the Battle of Antietam, where they meet Abraham Lincoln and bring him a hopeful message from the future. For ages 7-10.
 imgres-16 By Kate Boehm Jerome, Civil War Sub: The Mystery of the Hunley (Penguin, 2002) tells the story of the Confederate submarine that completed one mission, then vanished, only to be recovered in 2000. For readers ages 7-9.
 imgres-17 Fran Hawk’s The Story of the H.L. Hunley and Queenie’s Coin (Sleeping Bear Press, 2004) is the story of the remarkable Confederate submarine that became the first combat submarine to sink an enemy warship. It was recovered in 2000.  For ages 7-11.
 imgres-18 Sally Walker’s Secrets of a Civil War Submarine (Carolrhoda, 2005) is a fascinating and well-researched account of the design and building of the Civil War submarine, the Hunley, its one and only mission, and its recovery over 100 years later (with the bodies of the crew still on board). Illustrated with maps, drawings, and photos. For ages 12 and up.
Read more about it at The Hunley’s Daring Submarine Mission.
The Friends of the Hunley website has a history of the submarine and information about its recovery.
 imgres-19 Patricia Gauch’s Thunder at Gettysburg (Calkins Creek, 2003) is the story of the battle through the eyes of 14-year-old Tillie, based on an actual autobiographical account. For ages 7-11.
 imgres-20 Jean Fritz’s Just a Few Words, Mr. Lincoln (Penguin, 1993) is a reader-friendly account of the Gettysburg Address for ages 7-9.
Gettysburg by the Numbers discusses what the weather was like during the days of the Battle of Gettysburg, how it affected the soldiers, and how weather impacts battles in general.
 imgres-21 Jim O’Connor’s What Was the Battle of Gettysburg? (Grosset & Dunlap, 2013) has a brief overview of the Civil War and a detailed description of the Battle of Gettysburg and its importance. Illustrated with maps, drawings, and photographs. For ages 8-12.
For the complete list of the What Was? series books, see here.
 imgres-22 Jean Fritz’s Stonewall (Puffin, 1997) is a beautifully written 150-page biography of the Southern general who got his nickname from his stand at the Battle of Bull Run. It appears to be out of print – check your local library. Worth tracking down because Fritz is a superb historical writer.  For ages 8-12.
 imgres-23 By Kathleeen Krull, Louisa May’s Battle (Walker Children’s Books, 2013) is the story of how Louisa May Alcott’s Civil War experiences – she worked as a nurse – led eventually to the publication of Little Women, one of the first novels to be set during the Civil War. For ages 8-12.
 imgres-24 The featured women of Mary Rodd Furbee’s Outrageous Women of Civil War Times (Jossey-Bass, 2003) weren’t all what I’d call outrageous, but they were certainly prominent. The book is divided into four informational sections: Reformers and Writers, Saviors and Leaders, Soldiers and Spies, and First Ladies. Readers learn about Louisa May Alcott, Susan B. Anthony, Sojourner Truth, Clara Barton, Dorothea Dix, Belle Boyd, and more. For ages 9-12.
 imgres-25 Sally Walker’s Boundaries: How the Mason-Dixon Line Settled a Family Feud and Divided a Nation (Candlewick, 2014) is a well-researched and wide-ranging account of the boundary that played such a prominent role in the antebellum slavery debate and the post-Civil-War cultural divide. But there’s a lot more to it than that. A thoroughly interesting read for ages 10 and up.
 imgres-26 Lynda Jones’s Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker (National Geographic Children’s Books, 2009) is the story of the “unlikely friendship” between Mary Todd Lincoln and Elizabeth Keckley, a former slave and the First Lady’s dressmaker. For ages 10-14.
From the Smithsonian magazine, see The Story of Elizabeth Keckley, Former-Slave-Turned-Mrs.-Lincoln’s-Dressmaker.
 imgres-27 By Thomas B. Allen, Mr. Lincoln’s High-tech War (National Geographic Children’s Books, 2009) pairs an overview of the Civil War with an account of the technology that was used to win it, from the submarine and the ironclad warship to the telegraph, railroad, and repeating rifle. For ages 12 and up.

 

THE CIVIL WAR IN FICTION

 imgres-28 In Pat Sherman’s Ben and the Emancipation Proclamation (Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, 2009), Ben is a young slave boy in Charleston, SC, who has learned to read – though literacy is illegal for slaves. Imprisoned when the war breaks out, Ben uses his forbidden skill to read the newspaper account of the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation to his fellow prisoners. For ages 5-9.
 imgres-29 In Civil War on Sunday (Random House, 2000), one of Mary Pope Osborne’s immensely popular Magic Tree House series, Jack and Annie – attempting to help Morgan le Fay, librarian of Camelot – travel back in time to the Civil War, where they help Clara Barton, the “Angel of the Battlefield,” save wounded soldiers. For ages 6-9.
 imgres-30 There are many biographies of Clara Barton, Civil War nurse and founder of the American Red Cross. For ages 4-8, see Patricia Polacco’s picture book Clara and Davie (Scholastic, 2014); for ages 6-10, the TIME for Kids series includes the 48-page Clara Barton: Angel of the Battlefield (HarperCollins, 2008), illustrated with period and modern photographs.
For teenagers and adults, see historian Stephen Oates’s comprehensive Woman of Valor: Clara Barton and the Civil War (Free Press, 1995).
 imgres-31 In Lauren Tarshis’s I Survived: Battle of Gettysburg, 1863 (Scholastic, 2013) – one of the I Survived series – eleven-year-old Thomas and his five-year-old sister, Birdie, have escaped from slavery and are headed north, following the North Star. The two are adopted by a regiment of Union soldiers – and end up in Pennsylvania at the bloody Battle of Gettysburg. For ages 7-10.
Check out the complete list of the I Survived books here and take a quiz to test your survival skills.
 imgres-32 In Cheryl Harness’s Ghosts of the Civil War (Simon & Schuster, 2004), Lindsey – who has no interest in the Civil War – meets the ghost of young Willie Lincoln and ends up taking a personal tour of the war and its times. The book is packed with information – timelines, annotated maps, fact sidebars – and the dialogue is delivered in cartoon bubbles. A lot of interesting detail in 48 pages for ages 7-10.
 imgres-33 In Laurie Myers’s Escape by Night (Henry Holt and Company, 2011), 10-year-old Tommy and his sister Annie have been watching soldiers arrive in their Georgia town, where the local church has been turned into a hospital for the war-wounded. One of the soldiers drops his notebook and Tommy sends his dog to fetch it. He returns it to its owner – a soldier named Red – and a friendship begins. Soon, however, Tommy realizes that Red is actually a Union soldier – and he must make a decision based on his loyalties and his changing attitudes toward slavery and the war. For ages 7-10.
 imgres-34 In Trinka Hakes Noble’s The Last Brother (Sleeping Bear Press, 2006), 11-year-old Gabe is a bugler for the Union troops at the Battle of Gettysburg, while his older brother Davy – his “last brother,” Gabe has already lost two to the war – is in the thick of the fray. Before the battle begins, Gabe meets Orlee, a young bugler from Mississippi, and the two boys discover that, despite their opposite allegiances, they have a lot in common. Suddenly Gabe has questions about loyalties to family, friends, and country – and when the order comes to sound the “Charge!,” he has to make a decision. For ages 7-11.
The Last Brother is a detailed teacher’s guide to accompany the book, with exercises and activities. Some are more appealing than others – “Soldier Math,” for example, includes such unexciting problems as “Gabe practice the bugle for 3 hours each morning and 2 hours each evening. How many hours did he practice each week?” Other projects include making a Civil War diorama, writing an entry in Gabe’s journal, designing a medal for a bugler, and locating key sites from the Battle of Gettysburg on a map.
 imgres-35 Patricia Polacco’s Pink and Say (Philomel, 1994) is based on the true story of a pair of teenaged soldiers. Pink, an African-American, finds Say left for dead on a Georgia battlefield, and carries him home to his mother, who nurses him back to health. Pink’s mother is killed by marauders, and the two boys – later captured – end up in Andersonville Prison, where Pink is hanged, but Say survives to tell their story. A powerful, but heart-wrenching, tale for ages 8 and up.
 imgres-36 “Seeing the elephant” was 19th-century slang for a first experience of battle. In Pat Hughes’s Seeing the Elephant: A Story of the Civil War (Farrar, Straus, & Giroux, 2007), 10-year-old Izzie’s two older brothers are off to fight for the Union. Izzie wants desperately to go too – but when he meets a wounded rebel soldier at the hospital where his Aunt Bell works as a nurse, he learns that war is far more complicated than he had believed. For ages 8 and up.
 imgres-37 Barry Denenberg’s When Will This Cruel War Be Over? The Diary of Emma Simpson (Scholastic, 2011) in the Dear America series is the story in Emma’s words of life in Virginia during the days of the Civil War, dealing with hardship and scarcity, the absence of her father, the death of her brother. “I never realized how happy I was until this war besieged our land,” Emma writes. For ages 8-12.
 imgres-38 In Patricia Beatty’s Turn Homeward, Hannalee (HarperCollins, 1999), 12-year-old Hannalee is one of 2000 Georgia millworkers forcibly sent to work in the North after General Sherman passes through town and burns the mill. Hannalee is determined to find her younger brother and to return home to her mother. Based on true historical events. There’s a sequel, set in 1865: Be Ever Hopeful, Hannalee. For ages 8-12.
 imgres-39 In Carolyn Reader’s award-winning Shades of Gray (Aladdin, 1999), 12-year-old Will has lost his entire family in the Civil War, and now is being sent to live on a farm with unknown relatives.  There he meets his Uncle Jed, who has refused to fight for the Confederacy. Will considers him to be a coward and a traitor – until he gradually comes to see that there are many kinds of courage, For ages 8-12.
 imgres-40 In Rodman Philbrick’s The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg (Scholastic, 2011), Homer’s wicked guardian, Uncle Squint, has sold his older brother, Harold, to the Union Army, to take the place of a rich man’s son. Home, who has a talent for telling whoppers, sets out to rescue him, having adventures along the way with a host of colorful characters, among them a pair of repulsive slave catchers, a kindly Quaker, and the suspect Professor Fleabottom, owner of a medicine show called the Caravan of Miracles. Homer is accused of spying, but escapes in a hot-air balloon; finally he finds his brother and the pair end up fighting in the Battle of Gettysburg under the command of Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain. A great story for ages 9-12.
 imgres-41 In Avi’s Iron Thunder (Disney-Hyperion, 2009), 13-year-old Tom takes a job in the Brooklyn, NY, ironworks after his father is killed fighting for the Union. There he becomes friends with inventor John Ericsson, who is building a remarkable ironclad ship, the Monitor, destined to battle the Confederate Merrimac. Tom’s association with Ericsson makes him a target for Confederate spies; to escape, he ends up living on board the boat – and sailing with her when she heads for her great sea battle. For ages 9-13.
 imgres-42 Irene Hunt’s Across Five Aprils (Berkley, 2002) is the story of young Jethro Creighton through the years – five Aprils – of the Civil War, as his brothers and teacher leave to fight for either the Union or the Confederacy.  A good discussion book for ages 10 and up.
 imgres-43 Paul Fleischman’s Bull Run (HarperCollins, 1995) is a fascinating account of the terrible Civil War battle, told from sixteen different points of view (black and white, male and female, Union and Confederate). Excellent for ages 10 and up.
 imgres-44 By Craig Crist-Evans, Moon Over Tennessee (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2003), illustrated with wood engravings by Bonnie Christensen, is a free-verse “diary” of a 13-year-old farm boy from Tennessee who goes with his father when he joins the Confederate army, and stays with him until his father’s death at the Battle of Gettysburg. For ages 10 and up.
 imgres-45 Seymour Reit’s Behind Rebel Lines (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2001) is the incredible (true) story of Emma Edmonds who disguised herself as a man and joined the Union Army – and later became a spy, working behind enemy lines. A suspenseful read for ages 12 and up.
 imgres-46 Ann Rinaldi’s The Last Silk Dress (Starfire, 1990), set in the Civil War, is a story of conflicting loyalties. Fourteen-year-old Susan does her best to help the Confederacy, by collecting silk dresses to make a reconnaissance balloon to spy on the enemy forces. Then she meets her scandalous brother Lucien – who has long been banished from the family – and her views of the war begin to change. For ages 12 and up.
Other Civil-War-era books by Ann Rinaldi include Leigh Anne’s Civil War (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011), My Vicksburg (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011), The Last Full Measure (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2010), and The Girl in Blue (Scholastic, 2005).
 imgres-47 In James Collier’s With Every Drop of Blood (Laurel Leaf, 1996), 14-year-old Johnny – the book’s narrator – has promised his father (now dead of war wounds) that he’ll stay on the family farm in Virginia. Instead, he embarks on a dangerous mission to smuggle food into besieged Richmond, and is captured by black Union soldiers. One of these – Cush – is about Johnny’s age and eventually the boys develop a friendship. For ages 12 and up.
 imgres-48 Margaret Mitchell’s classic Gone with the Wind (Scribner, 2011) is the story of Scarlett O’Hara – beautiful, selfish, spoiled, and brave – raised in luxury on a plantation and then plunged into the horrors of the Civil War. A wonderful read for ages 13 and up.
 images The 1939 movie version of Gone With the Wind, starring Vivien Leigh as Scarlett and Clark Gable as Rhett Butler, is rated PG.
From Carol Hurst’s Literature Site, The Civil War in Children’s Literature is an overview of recommended books with Civil War themes, with some extension suggestions.

CIVIL WAR LESSON PLANS

 imgres-49 From the Civil War Trust, Civil War Lesson Plans is a great collection for a range of ages, categorized by Elementary, Middle, and High School. Sample titles: “Civil War Animal Mascots,” “Civil War Reader’s Theater,” Map the Civil War,” “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” and “Civil War Medicine.”
Teachnology’s Civil War Lesson Plans is a long list, including such titles as “Civil War Battle Map,” “Deciphering Morse Code,” “The Cost of War,” and more.
 banner_civilwar From inventive teacher Mr. Donn, Civil War has a collection of lesson plans and unit studies, most targeted at elementary- and middle-grade-level students.
 imgres-50 From the Tennessee State Museum, The Life of a Civil War Soldier is a multi-part lesson plan targeted at grades 5-12 in which kids variously study the war through period music, personal items (what did soldiers carry with them?), and letters home. Included are printable student worksheets, song lyrics, and period letters. (Also see Music and Poetry, below.)
 imgres-51 From the American Numismatic Association, Money and the Civil War is an upper-elementary-level lesson plan on money, mints, and maps at the time of the Civil War. Included is a list of vaguely connected arithmetic problems.
 women1 From Scholastic, Uncommon Soldiers: Women During the Civil War is a collection of projects and activities, many with associated reading suggestions, on women’s history in the Civil War era.

PROJECTS AND ACTIVITIES

 imgres-52 Dover Publications sells several inexpensive annotated coloring books with Civil War themes, among them The Story of the Civil War Coloring Book, Civil War Uniforms Coloring Book, From Antietam to Gettysburg: A Civil War Coloring Book, Famous Women of the Civil War Coloring Book, and (for fans of Scarlett O’Hara) Civil War Fashions Coloring Book.
 imgres-53 For paper-doll fans, Dover Publications has several Civil-War-era books, among them American Family of the Civil War Era, Southern Belles, and Abraham Lincoln and His Family.
 imgres-54 Maxine Anderson’s Great Civil War Projects You Can Build Yourself (Nomad Press, 2005) is divided into two major sections: “On the Battlefield” and “On the Homefront.” Battlefield projects include making a Civil War bugle – you’ll need a garden hose, duct tape, and a funnel; constructing a pinhole camera (while learning all about famous photographer Matthew Brady); building a model ironclad and paddlewheeler; making a periscope and a working telegraph; stitching a signal flag and learning how to send messages with it; cooking a batch of hardtack; and making your own Union or Confederate uniforms. (First visit a thrift shop to look for old blue or gray suit jackets, Anderson suggests.) Homefront projects are equally inventive, among them making berry ink and homemade paper; stitching a four-patch quilt and a rag doll; making dried apples and molasses taffy; designing a Scarlett-O’Hara-style fan; and constructing a banjo and an Underground Railroad lantern. Also included are a glossary and a resource list of books and web sites. For ages 8-12.
 imgres-55 By the Civil War Trust, The Civil War Kids 150 (Lyons Press, 2012) is a 96-page collection of Civil War projects and activities, intended to accompany the Civil War Sesquicentennial. Among the fifty activities: make your own signal flag and send a message, make your own Civil War map, make “flat soldiers” and take them to Civil War battlefields, locate someone connected to the Civil War, and memorize the Gettysburg Address. For ages 8-12.
 imgres-56 David C. King’s Civil War Days (Jossey-Bass, 1999) (subtitled “Discover the Past with Exciting Projects, Games, Activities, and Recipes) follows the lives of two children through the four seasons – 12-year-old Timothy Wheeler, an African-American boy from New York City, and 11-year-old Emily Parkhurst, a white girl from Charleston, South Carolina.  Activities include making a pressed-flower scrapbook, a papier-mache bowl, and a yarn doll, learning Morse code, playing a game of mankala, and whipping up batches of hardtack and shortnin’ bread. For ages 8-12.

THE CIVIL WAR ON FILM

 imgres-57 Ken Burns’s nine-episode PBS series The Civil War is a masterpiece. Episodes are “The Cause” (1861), “A Very Bloody Affair” (1862), “Forever Free” (1862), “Simply Murder” (1863), “The Universe of Battle” (1863), “Valley of the Shadow of Death” (1864), “Most Hallowed Ground” (1864), “War is All Hell” (1865), and “The Better Angels of Our Nature” (1865). See the website for episode descriptions, video clips, classroom activities and lesson plans, resources, and more. Highly recommended.
Top !5 Civil War Movies is an annotated list running, in reverse chronology, from the 2003 Cold Mountain to the 1926 The General, starring Buster Keaton.
Check out The Five Best Civil War Films to See, and Three to Skip, according to a Georgia political science professor.
 imgres-58 From PBS’s American Experience, Death and the Civil War is an account of the appalling toll the war took. See the associated Civil War by the Numbers.

MUSIC AND POETRY

 imgres-59 By J. Patrick Lewis, The Brothers’ War (National Geographic Children’s Books, 2007) pairs period Civil War photographs with poems in the voices of slaves, soldiers, both Northern and Southern, army nurses, and families impacted by war. For ages 10 and up.
 imgres-60 Poet Stephen Vincent Benet’s John Brown’s Body (Ivan R. Dee, 1990) – described as “an epic blend of poetry and historical fiction” – won the Pulitzer Prize in 1929. It’s filled with wonderful characters, both real and fictional: Clay Wingate, aristocrat from Georgia; Sally Dupre, daughter of a French dancing-master; Jake Diefer, the barrel-chested Pennsylvania farmer; Jack Ellyat, a scholar from Connecticut; and Melora Vilas, raised in the wilderness by her father – a “hider” – who wanted only to avoid the war. A wonderful read; highly recommended for teenagers and adults.
 imgres-61 By Jay Ungar and Molly Mason, who provided the soundtrack for Burns’s The Civil War, Civil War Classics is a collection of songs of the times, among them “Lorena,” “Hard Crackers,” and “Marching Through Georgia” – ending with Ungar’s haunting “Ashokan Farewell.” CD or MP3.
Poetry and Music of the War Between the States has many examples, categorized under Union or Confederacy.

 

 

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Vermont

 

First of a new project – Read Your Way Through Fifty States!

GENERAL RESOURCES

 images-1 Enchanted Learning has basic information on the state of Vermont, a state map, and assorted printable quizzes, coloring pages, and activity sheets aimed at elementary-level kids. The info is free to all; some printouts are only available to site members. An annual membership costs $20.
 images-2 The Vermont Historical Society sponsors both the Vermont History Museum in Montpelier and the Vermont Heritage Galleries in Barre. Visit the website for information on visits, as well as a wealth of information, online exhibits and photo galleries, research resources, and educational resources for kids – including over 200 printable articles, primary resources, maps and photographs, and an illustrated timeline of Vermont history.
 images-3 At the official Vermont State website, see the Historic Sites page for information on all Vermont historic sites, as well as Vermont archaeology, cultural landscapes, roadside historic markers (all 210 of them), and upcoming history-related events. Find out how to take a state History Trek!
 images By Ann McKinstry Micou, A Guide to Fiction Set in Vermont (Vermont Humanities Council, 2005) is an annotated guide to nearly 500 novels and short stories set in Vermont. Listings are alphabetical, by author. Reference.

READ! For Kids and Teens

 images-5 Caldecott medalist Mary Azarian’s A Farmer’s Alphabet (David R. Godine, 2012) has a wonderful woodblock print for each Vermont-themed letter of the alphabet from Apple through Lamb, Maple Syrup, Pumpkin, Rocker, and Zinnia. J is for Jump (as in the hay). For ages 3 and up.
 imgres By Woody Jackson, A Cow’s Alfalfa-Bet (Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, 2003) is a Vermont Holstein-cow-themed alphabet book illustrated with gorgeous watercolors. (A is for Alfalfa, B for Barn, C for Corn.) For ages 3 and up.
 images-6 For many many cow books and resources for all ages, also see MOO! ALL ABOUT COWS.
 imgres-1 Cynthia Furlong Reynolds’s M is for Maple Syrup: A Vermont Alphabet (Sleeping Bear Press, 2002) pairs (well, pretty lame) verses (“Alphabet and Animal begin with A/Our state animal says neigh-neigh!”) with illustrations and informative sidebars. Each letter stands for a Vermont feature: B is for (covered) Bridge; L for Lake Champlain; R for Red Clover. For ages 4 and up.
 imgres-2 “Nothing is more important on this farm than hay,” Nora’s grandfather says. In Jessie Haas’s Hurry! (Greenwillow, 2000), set on an old-fashioned Vermont family farm, Nora and her grandparents hustle to load their wagon and bring in the hay before the storm breaks. Other picture-book stories about Nora, her grandparents, and their farm include Mowing (1994), No Foal Yet (1995), and Sugaring (1996). For ages 4-8.
 imgres-3 The year is 1790, the first U.S. Census is underway, and not everybody is pleased about it. In Jacqueline Davis’s clever picture book Tricking the Tallyman (Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2009), when census-taker Phinease Bump rides into ‘Tunbridge, Vermont, the nervous citizens do their best to fool him into thinking that there are far fewer (or many more) of them than there really are. Finally, when they come to understand what the census is all about, they consent to be counted “Fair and true.” For ages 5-9.
From the Teaching American History Project, Tricking the Tallyman and the First U.S. Census is a lesson plan based on the book, targeted at grade 5.
 imgres-4 The Vermont Folklife Center has a series of books based on the Center’s historical oral storytelling collection for ages 6-10. Among these are Mildred Pitts Walker’s Alec’s Primer (2005), the story of a young Virginia slave boy, taught to read by his owner’s granddaughter, who escapes from his southern plantation, serves in the Union army, and eventually ends up living free on a farm in Vermont. See the website for a complete list of books with descriptions.
 images-7 Kathryn Lasky’s Newbery Honor book Sugaring Time (Aladdin, 1986) is the story of a Vermont farm family making maple syrup, illustrated with wonderful period black-and-white photographs. This is old-fashioned sugaring: Lasky’s family uses horses, sleighs, and sap buckets. For ages 6-12.
 imgres-5 In Natalie Kinsey-Warnock’s The Canada Geese Quilt (Puffin, 2000), set on a farm in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom, ten-year-old Ariel is having trouble coping with the changes in her family – first, with her mother’s pregnancy, and then with her beloved grandmother’s stroke and subsequent depression. The resolution ultimately comes from the Canada Geese quilt that Grandma was making for the baby before her stroke, based on a drawing of Ariel’s of a Vermont spring. Ariel – who hadn’t wanted to have anything to do with sewing the quilt – volunteers to help finish it. For ages 7-10.
 imgres-6 A Moose for Jessica by Pat Wakefield and Larry Carrara (Puffin, 1992) is the (true) story of a young bull moose who wandered into a field near Shrewsbury, Vermont, and became attached to a Hereford cow named Jessica. Illustrated with great color photographs. An NSTA Outstanding Science Trade Book for ages 7-12.
 imgres-7 Alice Turner Curtis’s A Little Maid of Ticonderoga (Applewood Books, 1997) – one of a series originally published in the early 20th century – is the story of young Faith Carew, growing up on a farm outside of Brandon, Vermont, who manages to give Colonel Ethan Allen help in capturing Fort Ticonderoga. For ages 8-11.
 images-8 In Dorothy Canfield Fisher’s Understood Betsy (Avyx, 1986), first published in 1916, Elizabeth Ann, aged nine, is an orphan, living with her over-protective Great-Aunt Harriet and Harriet’s middle-aged daughter, Frances. When Great-Aunt Harriet becomes ill, Elizabeth Ann is sent to live with another set of relatives, the Putneys, on their “horrible” farm in Vermont. There, now called Betsy, she discovers a competence and independence that she’d never known before. Fans of Anne of Green Gables will love it. A classic for ages 8-11.
 images-9 In Marguerite Henry’s Newbery Honor book Justin Morgan Had a Horse (Aladdin, 2006), set in the late 18th century, Justin Morgan, in payment for a debt, gets a small, scrawny colt, Little Bub. He enlists the help of young horse-lover Joel Goss to train his colt – and soon Joel discovers that Little Bub is truly special, stronger and faster than any horse around. Eventually Little Bub becomes the sire of Vermont’s famous Morgan horse line. For ages 8-12.
 images-10 For more information on Morgan horses, visit the National Museum of the Morgan Horse.
 imgres-8 In Julia Alvarez’s How Tia Lola Came to Stay (Yearling, 2002), nine-year-old Miguel with his little sister, Juanita, and his mother have just moved from New York to Vermont in the wake of his parents’ divorce. Miguel – the only Latino in his class – struggles to fit in, and worries that things will only get worse with the arrival of his flamboyant Tia Lola from the Dominican Republic, who wears wildly flowered dresses, speaks only Spanish, and paints the family’s conventionally white farmhouse bright purple. For ages 8-12.
 images-11 Eleanor H. Porter’s 1913 classic Pollyanna (Empire Books, 2012) is the story of the perennially cheerful 11-year-old orphan sent to Vermont to live with her strict and unsympathetic Aunt Polly. Her upbeat disposition wins the hears of all around her,  including, eventually, Aunt Polly. For ages 9-12.
 imgres-9 Robert Newton Peck’s Soup (Yearling, 1988) is the story of Peck’s rural Vermont childhood in the 1920’s with his best friend, Soup, whose creative ideas for adventures often go dreadfully wrong. Included is a great cast of characters, including their sworn enemy, the female class bully, Janice Riker. There are many sequels, all great, among them Soup & Me, Soup for President, Soup’s Drum, and Soup on Wheels. For ages 9-12.
 imgres-10 Lenore Blegvad’s Kitty and Mr. Kipling (Margaret K. McElderry, 2005), set in the 1890s, is a fictionalized story of writer Rudyard Kipling’s stay in Vermont, as told by Kitty, a young neighbor. Kitty is fascinated by Mr. Kipling and his stories from The Jungle Book, but the townspeople have problems with the new residents. For ages 9-12.
 imgres-12 Gail Gauthier’s The Hero of Ticonderoga (Puffin, 2002), set in small-town Vermont in the 1960s, is the story of sixth-grader Tessy LeClerc, who has been given the best class history assignment – an oral report on Ethan Allen – a project that was expected to go to the entitled class star, Peggy. Tessy ends up giving her report over and over again, trying to get it right – and discovering in the process both her own talents and many surprising parallels between herself and the feisty hero of Ticonderoga. For ages 10-12.
 imgres-13 In Katherine Paterson’s Preacher’s Boy (HarperCollins, 2001), the year is 1899 and in Robbie’s rural Vermont community, many think that the turn of the century may mean the end of the world. This is a complex coming-of-age story as Robbie struggles with questions of belief, social change, morality, and growing up. For ages 10-12.
 imgres-14 In Katherine Paterson’s Jip, His Story (Puffin, 2005), set in Vermont in the 1850s, the title character is a 12-year-old orphan, living and working at the local poor farm, where he befriends a fellow resident, Putnam Nelson, a supposed lunatic. Jip’s story coincides with the pre-Civil-War conflict between abolitionists and slave owners. When he eventually discovers that his mother was a slave, he and Put escape, fleeing to Canada via the Underground Railroad. For ages 10-14.
 imgres-15 Elizabeth Winthrop’s Counting on Grace (Yearling, 2007) is set in Pownal, Vermont, in 1910, where 12-year-old Grace and her best friend Arthur have been taken out of school and sent to help their mothers in the textile mills. With the help of a sympathetic teacher, Miss Lesley, they write a letter about the appalling conditions in the mill to the National Child Labor Committee – and get a response in the form of (real-life) activist/photographer Lewis Hine, who arrives to photograph the “mill rats” at work. Arthur eventually deliberately mangles his hand in the factory machinery in an attempt to escape the mill; and Miss Lesley is fired, though leaves Grace with the hope of becoming a teacher in her stead. A terrific, though sometimes painful, read about child labor. For ages 11-14.
 imgres-16 In Karen Hesse’s Witness (Scholastic, 2003), set in 1924 in a small Vermont town, the Ku Klux Klan has moved in, a frightening event for many, among them 12-year-old Leonora, who is black, and six-year-old Esther, who is Jewish. The book is beautifully written in multiple voices, in free verse. For ages 12 and up.
 imgres-17 Set in the 1920s in rural Vermont, Robert Newton Peck’s A Day No Pigs Would Die (Laurel Leaf, 1994) is a powerful coming-of-age novel featuring 13-year-old Robert, his father, a pig butcher, and Robert’s pet pig, Pinky. For ages 12 and up.
 imgres-18 Beth Kanell’s Darkness Under the Water (Candlewick, 2008) is the coming-of-age story of 16-year-old Molly Ballou, half Abenaki, half French Canadian, growing up in Vermont in the early 20th century at a time when a state eugenics program was targeting citizens deemed poor or undesirable. Molly has to deal with her heritage, her growing affection for an Abenaki boy, Henry, and the tragedy of her pregnant mother, who loses a baby, possibly at the hands of government nurses. For ages 14 and up.
 imgres-19 Sinclair Lewis’s classic novel It Can’t Happen Here (NAL Trade, 2005), originally published in 1935 and set in the era of the Great Depression, is still relevant, compelling, and frightening today. A new president – Berzelius (“Buzz”) Windrip – has just been elected, promising economic reform and a return to patriotism and traditional American values. Instead, he imposes a totalitarian regime, takes control of Congress, outlaws dissent, and begins to enforce his edicts by means of a paramilitary terrorist force called the Minute Men. Many Americans accept Windrip’s rule, believing it to be America’s path to world power. In opposition, however, is courageous Vermont newspaper editor Doremus Jessup. It’s a sobering account of how easy freedom is to lose. Highly recommended (and a great discussion book) for teenagers and adults.
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