Good Queen Bess

IMG_3262For our most recent Mother-Daughter book club, our eldest member on the daughter side -a bona fide third-grader – chose nonfiction. Thankfully, rather than Who is Taylor Swift? or Who Was Elvis Presley? (though this one may have been interesting)…she chose Who Was Queen Elizabeth? At our house, I ended up doing a lot of the reading aloud to my second-grader. This is not light material. Aside from being shunned by her own father and imprisoned by her sister, her cousin plotted to have her killed. So, it felt somewhat comforting to be together while I relayed these very gruesome, though very real facts. I think a lot of it went over her head, of course, but the basic idea that Queen Elizabeth I overcame many obstacles to become a strong and prosperous ruler came across. And, I loved reading lines like these aloud:

“The young girl who had been shunned by her father had grown to become one of England’s greatest rulers. She had lived in a world where men were thought to be smarter, wiser, and better in all ways than women.” [Read more…]

On Good vs. Evil in Sofia the First

I recently shared an article on Facebook by a local writing instructor who describes literary fiction as follows: “‘Literary fiction boils down to: ‘Stories that are not obvious conflicts between Good and Evil’ and/or ‘Stories With Unpredictable Endings.’” I liked this succinct description as I often struggle with how to explain literary versus genre fiction other than “it’s deeper, not as black and white…it’s hard to explain.” But this explanation is very suitable and I found myself thinking about it as I watched “Sofia the First” last night with my children before bed. It’s one of the few Disney Jr shows I don’t mind paying attention to: there’s always a clear conflict with a few obstacles thrown in the way, and a neat resolution reached by the end of the thirty minute show – definitely more genre then literary. But last night I listened to my kids talk about one of the characters (a friend of Cedric’s, the Sorcerer) who they described as “a little bit good and bad.” Even Cedric – who usually appears hellbent on stealing Sofia’s magical amulet so he can have power over the kingdom – always makes the right choice in the end; he can’t bring himself to go all the way with his evil intentions. Though he craves prestige and power, he is ultimately not willing to sell his soul for all of that. In this episode, his friend appears generally naughty, stirring up trouble with spells, but by the end, both magicians are working together, under the orders of Baileywick, the Castle Steward (a total archetypal martyr character), to save many members of the royal family from sailing into a large rock. [Read more…]

Suspend

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Has anyone else played this  game: SUSPEND? Maybe, like us, you received it as a gift for the holidays? At our house, it has been a hit, for big and little kids. Here’s how Melissa & Doug describes it on their web site:

“Suspend comes with 24 notched, rubber-tipped wire pieces to hang from a tabletop stand. Sound easy? Try adding another piece! Each time a bar is added, the balance shifts, the difficulty changes and the incredible midair sculpture transforms. Can you add all your game pieces without making it fall? This tricky game for 1-4 players is a test of steady nerves and steady hands.” [Read more…]