out of Africa:picture books

Another two months, another continent. Actually this time we have wandered around Africa and zipped over to the Middle East as well.

We have had a lot of fun with African sunset pictures with silhouette people stuck onto the backgrounds – multiple copies were made for us and then some more were made to send with our latest letters to our sponsored children in Togo. We have played some African games, were supposed to see African animals at the zoo (but we haven’t made it there yet) and have drawn maps and written a variety of pieces – stories, articles, biographies, fundraising speeches (not everyone has done everything).

As far as the African culinary exploits go, they have been decidedly NOT favourites – nothing wrong with the recipes, but just not anything we’d bother doing again. But I imagine even they will be sought after once the family discovers my plans for this week – I’m handing out the UN rations for a refugee in Sudan and that’s what they’ll have to cook with for the next few days!
Not all learning happens in books, you know. But here are the picture books we have dipped into…..(other ones will follow in another post because wordpress is playing silly games)

African picture books:

Papa, Do you Love Me? by Barbara M. Joosse

Handa’s Hen and Handa’s Surprise by Eileen Browne

So That’s What God is Like! by Leanne Hardy

One Hen

Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters by John Steptoe

The Butter Man by Elixabeth Alalou and Ali Alalou

Hands Around the Library by Susan L. Roth and Karen Leggett Abouraya

At the Crossroads by Rachel Isadora

Mandela by Floyd Cooper

A Country Far Away by Nigel Gray

Travelling Man by James Rumford

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Asia Adventure

For two months now we have been eating noodles for breakfast and rice for dinner….not to mention pad thai, Vietnamese rolls, curries, steamed pau, dumplings, sushi, chicken laksa, spring rolls, samosas……you get the idea!

We’ve also enjoyed some great read-alouds:

The Master Puppeteer by Katherine Paterson
The Thatched Hut by Marion R. Damon
Kim by Rudyard Kipling
The House of Sixty Fathers by Meindert de Jong
Traditional Stories from India by Vayu Naidu
Li Lun Lad of Courage by Carolyn Treffinger
The Kite Fighters by ??
Homeless Bird by Gloria Whelan
The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling

A few years ago we had read a number of novels set in South East Asia and so we dragged them off the shelves again and favourites were revisited by the older children, and the younger ones made a first acquaintance with them during their quiet reading time:

Good-bye Vietnam by Gloria Whelan
Dragonwings by laurence Yep
Chinese Fables compiled by Ma Da
The Land I Lost by Huynh Quang Nhuong
Water Buffalo Days by Huynh Quang Nhuong
Journey to Japan by Stacy Towie Morgan
Small Acts of Amazing Courage by Gloria Whelan
Sadako and the THousand Paper Cranes by Eleanor Coerr
Tangled Threads by Pegi Deitz Shea
Chu Ju’s House by Gloria Whelan
Parade of Shadows by Gloria Whelan
Miss Happiness and Miss Flower by Rumer Godden
The Big Wave by Pearl S. Buck
Hiroshima by John Hersey

Books about people ranged from picture books to lengthy biographies:
Gandhi by Demi
Genghis Khan by Brian Williams (and one by Demi)
little princes by Connor Grennan
Hudson Taylor and Maria
Mohandas Gandhi by Sheila Rivera
Mahatma Gandhi by Emma Fischel
Gladys Aylward by Janet and Geoff Benge
Teresa of Calcutta by D. Jeanene Watson
Mandela by Ann Kramer

We dipped into a number of other picture books too:
Grandfather Tang’s Story by Ann Tompert
The Children of China by Song Nan Zhang
A Child’s Day in an Indian Village by Prodeepta Das
B is for Bangladesh by Urmi Rahman and Prodeepta Das
P is for Pakistan by Shazia Razzak and Prodeepta Das
Shanghai Messenger by Andream Cheng
Grass Sandals by Dawnine Spivak
The Last Emperor by Jeremy Smith
Long Long’s Mew Year by Catherine Gower and He Zhihong
One Grain of Rice by Demi
The Empty Pot by Demi
The Greatest Treasure by Demi

Yes, we love Demi books round here! There are a few more that would have been good to read at this time, but we could not get hold of:
The Magic Pillow
The Boy Who Painted Dragons
Marco Polo
The Greatest Power
Happy Happy Chinese New Year
The Fantastic Adventures of Krishna
Mother Teresa
Kites: magic wishes that fly up to the sky
In the eyes of the cat (Japanese poetry)
Bamboo Hats adn a Rice Cake by Ann Tompert (another of our favourites that we couldn’t get)


The Settler’s Cookbook by Yasmin Alibhai-Brown
What’s for Dinner? by Virginia King
Rick Stein’s far eastern odyssey
Oriental Dinner Party Cookbook by The Australian Women’s Weekly
Chinese Food by Blaxland
660 Curries
The Indian Kitchen

Then there were stacks of  other non-fiction:
Bobbie Kalman books: India, the culture; Japan, the culture; China, the people; China, the culture; Vietnam, the culture; Vietnam, the people; Spotlight on Japan
discover countries series: Iran
kids around the world series: We live in….Japan, India….
Looking at countires series: China
Country Topics series: India
Eyewitness: Modern China
A Samurai Castle by Fiona MacDonald
The Silk Route by John S. Major
The Great Wall of China by Leonard Everett Fisher
Ancient China by Carol Michaelson
an illustrated atlas of Asia by Malcolm Porter and Keith Lye

Then there were the fun activities we played round with….making dragonboats, painting cherry blossom trees, origami, kites, calligraphy, painting Willow pattern (cardboard) plates, doing henna designs on hands, an obligatory museum visit, mapping, revisiting our Asia memories through photographs, and finally being awed and challenged by this work:




Posted in 180 Days Around the World, literature | Leave a comment


When we flew over Australia it seemed to go on and on and on and on forever…..so we had some understanding of the intent in this book before we even opened it:

Book Cover:  Are We There Yet?
We enjoyed our month with Australian writers…..
My Farm
(read aloud…..watched the movie and declared the book to be preferable to the movie)
All in the Blue Unclouded Weather (The Melling Sisters, #1)
(very light independent reading – enjoyed more by the girls and preteen boys)
 (read independently by the over-ten-year-olds)
and poets…. (well, one anyway – Grandpa A’s favourite!)
(beautifully illustrated book with pictures old and modern, linking the history of the song with its uses today, snippets of information sprinkled through out, lyrics and bars of music creatively displayed, plus a discussion of all things quintessentially Aussie and the song itself – highly recommended)
Mulga Bill's Bicycle: and Other Banjo Paterson Classics
….and one great book ABOUT Aussie:
Front Cover
….we watched an iconic series:

(no quicker-moving than Storm Boy!)

….kitchen capers were none too exotic, Aussie fare being along the same lines as kiwi fare (ie a little bit of anything from anywhere in the world)

(tasted very reminiscent of the seal stew we had during our Antarctica study!)

(best thing about this book is its cover – gorgeous! We dipped into the recipes and stories, but were not inspired to make any of them)

(perhaps strangely given the complete absence of any photos, this book did provide inspiration – we tried out a few recipes and enjoyed the little story snippets that accompanied each one)
As usual, the children covered their maps with all sorts of information, did some artwork (aboriginal patterns this time), took a trip (to the museum where we found all sorts of displays about Pacific Islands, but none about Australia!)….and for the first time they used the internet a lot for research….to find information about church attendance, to discover more about the concept of *walkabout*, to read some blog posts of people travelling across Australia…..
Posted in 180 Days Around the World, education, juvenile, literature, picture books | Leave a comment

the UK

England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland all mixed up together…..all recommended

Front Cover  Always Room for One More
Front Cover
Front Cover Front Cover Front Cover

Tam Lin

Book Cover Wildflower Girl (Children Of the Famine, #2)

Otto of the Silver Hand

Front Cover

Britannia: 100 Great Stories From British History

Front Cover
Front Cover
Front Cover
Of course we had to use books in the kitchen, and on this occasion turned to a tiny book we had picked up in Clovelly when we were there three years ago…
Front Cover
Front Cover
Front Cover
Posted in 180 Days Around the World, literature, picture books | Leave a comment


The reason to add in France was of course French bread and camembert cheese.
Those coupled with some wonderful stories off our shelves, that is.

And then there were the library offerings:

this last one had a few great activities to do
Having stopped in Paris last year to do the big art gallery hop, we had at that stage studied Monet, Matisse, Cezanne, Gauguin, Renoir, Degas and Seurat in some detail. This time there was a decided emphasis on re-enjoying our old favourite picture books!
Posted in 180 Days Around the World, fairy tale, history, literature, littlies (1-8ish) | 1 Comment


Stomachs directed our March learning, much as they had the first two months. Mama mia, we were off to Italy!

Ancient books were dragged out of the central library basement stack  at our request. What a pity they are languishing there, mostly unread, because they were real gems:

We got absorbed in a range of great picture books:
favourite, prompted wonderful discussions about community and tradition and death and food and friends
another favourite – oh you have to read it right to its magnificent end
prompted discussion about work ethic, business practices and of course, pizza
fresco-ish illustrations, fine tale
what a wonderful way to learn!
see above comment
fun story
seriously oversized, so pretty good detail in illustrations
Then there were all the general Italy books:
absolutely the best!

In the kitchen we perfected focaccia bread and made oodles of pasta, eating it the Italian way with very little sauce. We also switched to the Italian way with pizza, scantily cladding our pizza dough and enjoying it all the more.
We used an old little originally-titled “The Best of Italian Cooking” book that is so obscure there is no internet picture for it.
Posted in 180 Days Around the World, fairy tale, history, literature, littlies (1-8ish), middies (8-12ish) | Leave a comment


When you know you can’t focus on every country in a continent at one time, how do you choose where to start? We have a history with Poland and while having an excuse to drag out the old photos and retell our stories of our newly-wed years there probably played a part, it was a recipe book that sealed the fate of our activities for the month of February!

We made well over half the recipes in the book; only one was declared a failure, and many have been added to our big family recipe box. Plum dumplings were such a roaring success, we made them on four occasions and stopped at that number only because our trees stopped producing fruit!
But we did more than just eat.
We visited the Polish Heritage Museum in Howick (well worth the visit).
We made wycinanki (Polish paper cuts) – the youngest girls (6 and 8 years) made them day after day after day after day, and even the 12-year-old boy made extras after Monday Morning Class in his own time too.
We had the special opportunity to listen to a magnificent violinist right in our lounge play some Chopin (and then take us on a magical tour of European music through the ages).
We spent some time poring over the book gifted to us by Wanda Macedonska, a Polish artist who became one of our friends when we lived there (sadly, she passed away just as we were in the midst of this study – we were thankful that her son notified us and we could send our condolences to the family)

….and somewhat predictably, perhaps, we read lots of books:

this one tells the fictional-but-could-have-been-true story of a Polish refugee child
during World War II who was sent to New Zealand
a little paperback book with some delightful black-and-while illustrations
retelling in English eight traditional Polish tales – very well written
the book on the right was preferred by us

must-read novel!
Posted in 180 Days Around the World, fairy tale, literature, littlies (1-8ish) | Leave a comment