The Week in Books 2008, No. 25

I will definitely be using Drawing with Children with Hannah next year. I found out about the book via the Veritas catalog, and checked it out of the library to see what I thought. The author posits that we do not expect most children to play the piano or do ballet or the like without formal instruction, so it is ridiculous to expect most children to draw well without instruction. She discusses the developmental and educational aspects of drawing (both the stick figure/symbolic drawing children do and the formal representational drawing they can be taught to do), and then gives details and methods for teaching children as young as three up to adults how to draw. I learned a lot personally, and can see how this would be an excellent homeschool resource for all ages.

As with the Seton book I read last week, Dragonwyck is a historical novel, but this one is set in the mid-1800s along the Hudson River in New York. The book has a gothic tone and is dark, but not disturbing or graphic. I found I learned quite a bit about the class-based unrest going on in the north east in that period in time, and enjoyed the descriptions of the fashions and decorating that Seton uses throughout the book.
I decided to read The Pregnancy Book: Month-by-Month, Everything You Need to Know From America’s Baby Experts after a friend asked if it was better than What to Expect When You’re Expecting.
As I found “What To Expect” to be full of inaccuracies and hype, I thought maybe I’d enjoy the Sears version more. I think I would have if I had read this during my first pregnancy, however, unlike childbirth which is always different and depends a lot on what you know and what you choose, pregnancy is pregnancy with a few variations. The list of what not to do is the same, the general development of the baby is the same, etc. In short, I’d recommend this book to first time pregnant moms, but everyone else can skip it without missing anything.

This week a publisher sent me a review copy of Fairy Foals: The Journal of a Magical Garden by Suzanah to write about on my blog. I say that to let you know that I got the copy free, but was not paid for the review, and I will review the book as I would any other book.

Caveats aside, the book is probably aimed at older children, maybe first grade, and is the author’s fanciful idea of what her garden might look like through the eyes of tiny fairy horses. The concept will appeal to a certain kind of little girl, but some may find it silly. Although I found the text to be somewhat lacking in narrative coherence, I enjoyed the wonderful pencil sketches and watercolors of the author’s garden – there is some great detail and nature sketching mixed in with the whole tiny flying horse idea. I think the concept would be better if it were more of a story, like The Borrowers instead of the cast of characters feel that reminded me of the back of a trading card more than a book. I do think the author shows a lot of promise if only because of the strength of her illustrations, and I hope that her subsequent work is more story-like.

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