St. Patrick's Day Weekend

And it's Friday again!  Little Sis is riding in her St. Jude Trike-A-Thon this morning, then her spring break begins!  Big Sis was off as of yesterday.  We have a few things planned for the week, but first, we have St. Patrick's Day.  I doubt we have much time to enjoy it, but we tend to love St. Patrick's Day.  For one thing, I celebrate all the gorgeous green.  Green is my favorite color, of course.  I also love all things Irish.  (Like my love for all things Scandinavian, my love for Irish stuff has nothing to do with my own heritage.)  Big Sis loves Celtic music, and she loves it when I find her a fun station on Pandora.  And we always read Fiona's Luck by Teresa Bateman, with beautiful pictures by Kelly Murphy [Charlesbridge, 2007].  This one is so beloved that it lived in the little shelf by Big Sis's bunk for nearly two years.  We have other books on hold at the library to pick up today.  Tales from Old Ireland [Barefoot Books, 2006] is a favorite from last year.  We should own our own copy.  It's so well done, and it contains a version of "The Children of Lir," my favorite sad Irish fairy tale.  I'm looking forward to reading The Leprechaun's Gold by Pamela Duncan Edwards [Katherine Tegen Books, 2006].  Henry Cole's illustrations look lovely on the HarperCollins website.  And last, I thought we'd read Tomie dePaola's account of the real St. Patrick.  I think we may have checked it out before, but I honestly can't remember.  (Patrick, Patron Saint of Ireland by Tomie dePaola.  Holiday House, 1992.)

I don't know if I'll be able to fit in any crafts this weekend, or even some Irish soda bread making.  The girls are in a play, and the rehearsals are on the weekends.  The weather is supposed to be beautiful.  I may take them to a local parade Saturday morning, though.  We'll see.

And with or without the children, I may try to fit in one of my two favorite Irish-themed family films from the 1990s, Into the West and The Secret of Roan Inish.  

Neither of the girls have given Into the West a chance yet, but Big Sis watched The Secret of Roan Inish with me last year and loved it.  She surprises me sometimes.  It is a rather quiet, mystical movie, but she thought it was beautiful.  (Which didn't stop me from laughing hysterically at this Onion article a friend posted on my FB wall not long afterward.  Scroll down for the Roan Inish reference.)   And selkies?  They're just cool.

If you don't have access to the DVDs, Into the West is streaming on Netflix and someone has posted The Secret of Roan Inish on YouTube in its entirety.   

As always, Merry Weekend!  Happy Reading!  And 

Happy St. Paddy's Day!!!

Oh!  Wait!  Don't leave yet!  I almost missed it.  A milestone has been reached. This is my 200th post!  Woo hoo!  

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Everybody Wants To Be A Cat

Or maybe it's just Little Sis.

Her sister did her makeup.

Being a kitty is tiring stuff.

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Brave Girl: Clara and the Shirtwaist Makers' Strike of 1909 (Women's History Month)

Brave Girl: Clara and the Shirtwaist Makers' Strike of 1909 by Michelle Markel,
illustrated by Melissa Sweet.  Balzer + Bray, 2013.

I now have a huge stack of picture books checked out from the library solely on women's history or famous women in history.  It's a very cool stack.  And the first book we chose from this pile came out earlier this year.

Brave Girl tells the story of Clara Lemlich, a young Jewish-Ukrainian immigrant, who went to work at a shirtwaist factory shortly after her arrival in the United States.

 Despite her deplorable working conditions and long hours, Clara studied late at night to better educate herself.  She finally joins a union, spurring the women and girls in her factory to fight for their rights.  They picket, facing beatings and arrests.

But this isn't enough to change conditions at all the garment factories.  Clara believes that workers from all the factories in New York need to strike.  On a stage at a large union meeting, Clara calls out in Yiddish for all the workers to walk out of the factories.  This leads to the "Uprising of the Twenty Thousand," a massive strike by workers from garment factories all over New York.

The successes gained by the strike drives Clara to travel to other large cities to help workers there fight for better working conditions.

The text is clear and easy to follow, while age-appropriate in content.  It is only in the "More About the Garment Industry" section that follows the story that Michelle Markel mentions the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire, the tragic circumstances of which helped move the labor movement's cause.  Grown-ups may be interested in watching the PBS American Experience video about that event, or reading the book Triangle: The Fire that Changed America by David Von Drehle [Atlantic Monthly Press, 2003].

Melissa Sweet's illustrations are quite beautiful.  The paintings look like they have been stitched along the sides, echoing the sewing of the women in the book.  

Big Sis was quite taken with Brave Girl.  She loves stories of girls and women standing up for themselves and others.  I did have to spend time discussing what words like "union" and "strike" meant, although the first word I had to explain, right out of the gates, was "shirtwaist."

Illustrated by Melissa Sweet
Balzer + Bray (an imprint of HarperCollins), 2013.

Our next couple of books for Women's History Month are not quite as serious as this one.  We have an architect and a painter to read about!

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You can find the rules for Ringer all over the internet, but I think they're especially easy to follow at Scouter Mom.  Most people play it outside for obvious reasons.  Big Sis had her turn at a sick day yesterday, so they played inside after Little Sis came home from preschool.

Please think good thoughts for our Siamese kitty, Katie.  She's at the vet this morning.  She hasn't been feeling well.

Have a good day, everyone!

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Obsessive Nostalgia Disorder Monday: Runaway Slave, The Story of Harriet Tubman

Runaway Slave: The Story of Harriet Tubman by Ann McGovern, illustrated by R.M. Powers.
New York:  Scholastic Book Services, 1965.

When I was in elementary school, our school participated in the Pizza Hut Book-It program. It was, and is, a popular program, and my hometown loved its Pizza Hut.  (Fun Off-Topic Fact:  Wichita is Pizza Hut's hometown, and at the time, was still headquartered here.)  I made it my personal goal to read above and beyond the goal set by my teachers.  In second grade, I was ripping through so many books that my teacher handed me this one.  While the size of a small paperback picture book, it was really an early chapter book, wordier than the books I was reading for fun at the time.  I had never heard of Harriet Tubman.  I was just excited to have a "bigger kid" book to read.  I took it with me to my grandma's that night, and we sat curled up in her gold rocking chair, reading together.

This book amazed me.  Harriet Tubman amazed me.  The book, published by Scholastic in 1965, told the story of Tubman's early life as a slave.  She was sent away at age 7 to work for a woman who beat her every time her baby cried.  She was hit in the head with an iron weight by an overseer when she was 13.  She married a free man, John Tubman, who refused to help her run away to be free herself.  Then of course, it delves into her own escape via the Underground Railroad, and her many trips back south as a conductor.  We learn how she nursed the sick, black or white, and acted as a Union spy during the Civil War.  She helped free slaves at large plantations.  Finally, we learn how she settled in Auburn, NY, where the poor flocked to her.  She planted a vegetable garden, selling the vegetables from door to door, in order to feed the poor at her door.  People came to see her or wrote her letters from all over.  She even turned down an invitation from Queen Victoria to visit England.

Yesterday was the 100th anniversary of Harriet Tubman's death.  She was over 90 years old when she died.

I returned the copy of this book to my teacher.  A few months ago, I found another copy at my grandmother's!  It had a second cousin's name written in pencil inside the cover, and there was masking tape on the cover that said "25 cents."  Grandma said she must have bought it at my great-aunt's garage sale.

I read the book to Big Sis last night.  Her own jaw dropped multiple times as we read the story.  I had to explain that the word "Negro," as written a few times in the book, was a common, respectful word for "black" or "African-American" at the time, but that we don't really use the word anymore.  I told her it's fitting, having concluded Black History Month less than 2 weeks ago, and here in the middle of Women's History Month, to read about one of the great black women in American history, and on the anniversary of her death, no less.

If you want to check out a more recent picture book offering about Harriet Tubman, it's hard to go wrong with the award-winning Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People To Freedom by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by Kadir Nelson (Hyperion, 2006).  It is a deep, poetic work, better suited to ages 8 and up.  It focuses heavily on Tubman's religious faith.

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