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Lily Mollahan's bedroom was at the top of the stairs, the only one on the second floor. "The top of the house," Gram always told her, "the top of the world".
But Lily didn't feel like she was at the top of the world much during the summer of 1944.

Lily's Crossing, written by Patricia Reilly Giff , won a Newberry Honor in 1998 (The Newberry Medal Book of that year was Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse).
This historical fiction children's book takes place in Rockaway, New Jersey in 1944.  By summertime, it seemed life as she knew it was changing for Lily.  Even though she was headed for Rockaway, her usually summer spot by the beach, her best friend was going away for the summer to a wartime factory town, her father was leaving to go to war and the new boy, Albert, was a refugee from Hungary. Both Lily and Albert have secrets and a need to tell lies...

While my major goal is to read all of the Newberry Medal Books, I also have a desire to read the Newberry Honor books.  Lily's crossing was not a disappointment.  It is, I feel, one of the finer historical fiction books I've read geared for 8-12 years of age but a nice read for any age.

A theme of friendship intertwined among the historical hardships of the time.  Lily feels overwhelmed by the move of her best friend at the beginning of the story; her first encounter with Albert doesn't help!  But as the story progresses, their friendship develops and deepens and is a testimony to how vital a friendship can be during life's struggles.

Patricia Reilly Giff was born in Brooklyn, New York and spent her childhood with her nose in books.  Some of her favorite childhood books, like me, included Little Women and the Nancy Drew series! She also loved to write from early on.  Before becoming the popular children's author that she is, Giff spent twenty years as a reading teacher.  Her focus in the beginning, as an author, was to offer fun and exciting chapter books to grasp the attention of the reluctant reader and keep them turning pages.  She has received the Newberry Honor not only for Lily's Crossing but also Pictures of Hollis Woods.  Nory Ryan's Son was named an ALA Best Book for Young Adult and an ALA Notable Book.  She is also known well for her Polk Street School series. Ms. Giff  lives in Connecticut with her husband and cats.

What books have you read by Patricia Reilly Giff?

There's lots of things swirling around in my mind again today but for this post I'm going to briefly talk about one. English.

English is a very general term. It covers a variety of subtopics: Literature (my favorite), Writing (my favorite--- ooops...did I already have a favorite?), Spelling, Grammar(my least favorite), research, speech, vocabulary and ??? am I missing something?

Literature can be covered in so many ways and so can writing. Those are the parts of the curriculum I focus on the most and the rest generally fall into place at some point. If they don't, well, we can skip a year! LOL.

I'm thiking about stretching a 'one-year' American Literature program (Anthology) into two years, meaning he only has to do half of it next year, leaving lots of time to read full books - biographies, historical fiction (American history as he will be studing American History as well), classics and other books of interest. The hard part (and yet, fun) is coming up with the list... and deciding how many will be required. I've got lots of thinking to do. I am having trouble finding an actual list of historcial fiction books that are on American history and written at the high school level. So if any of my followers here have a recommendation, I would love to hear it.

Well, that's all for today. I am REALLY tired. I'm calling it an early night....before I accidentally delete any of this AGAIN (it's happened twice). Who knows if I've even made sense here....to tired to reread and edit! Goodnight!

Those are the four things taking up space in my brain today: Thomas, History, English & Lent

Thomas is the train. I am going to attempt (with the help of a wonderful neighbor) to make a queen size quilt for my toddler's bed. "Queen size?" you ask. Yes, well I didn't want to go out and buy a brand new bed or lose the potential guest bed that we have. So yes, he looks quite small in that bed - which is a good thing as he is growing and this makes him stay smaller in my mind 😉

History & English go together. Or they might be seperate. I'm not sure yet.
It's time to start thinking curriculum for next year already. I start now because it takes me forever to make a decision. This year all I really need to decide on is high school classes for my oldest son, though I can't seem to resist looking at classic book lists and preschool fun things for my toddler.... I know there's no need for anything formal yet - but he is progressing so far already without making much effort that I can't resist at least wanting to buy some fun games and books!

For my older son, I already have math and science figured out. It's history and english that are the mindbenders. First, because he's not really interested in them so I want to not only challenge and teach him something but I'd like to make it interesting or at least not as 'boring' as he usually finds these subjects. There are combined curriculums that take historical fiction and wrap them into a literature and history course. Those ar tempting other than to pick that curriculum you need to go with the text and the books they select and not always do I think their book choices are the best. I've actually debated on forming my OWN curriculum for history by somehow selecting about 200-300 or so 'facts' about American history and making up a list of questions and sources he is to use throughout the course of the year to find the answers to these questions. In the meantime, he would have to check with me the accuracy of what he finds and study them throughout the year to take a test on about half of those (of which I randomly choose which ones to test him on). Obviously these wouldn't all be things like who was the first president? But things he would really have to read something to find the answer to or really commit some things to memory for the test. I'm thinking this would really make him learn the material vs. just reading a chapter at a time from a text, answering some questions in an essay or a test and then moving on and forgetting most of what he covered. The biggest problem with that is me coming up with the material and source list for him to use. I'm thinking of putting some polls out there to the public (here) and friends to see what facts or information they think should be included. What do you think? Good idea or bad?

For English I'm thinking maybe pick a 10th or 11th grade literature anthology that goes with a curriculum and just have him do half this year and half the next. That way he'll get in the literary vocabulary and get a good introduction to answering questions about literature in the manner a text would teach it but also have enough time to read further books of fiction, historical fiction involving American history that I select and some biographies too. Then I can throw in some SAT vocabulary, a little grammar and still have room for a good writing program of some sort (need to pick that one too!).

As for Lent, it is approaching. I know, my non-orthodox friends are scratching their heads and thinking "What...didn't it already start?" No. In Orthodoxy, we still follow the old calendar and the timing of Pascha (the traditional word vs. Easter which is a western christianity term) is still determined according to the cylce of the moon and the Jewish Passover. This is actually our fast - free week. Next week is a 'normal week (fasting only on Wed and Friday) and then we have one week of abstaining only from meat products and then, on March 18th (a Monday not Wednesday like the Catholic Church) Lent begins and we follow a strict fast. Every year is different for us according to our needs but a traditional fast means abstaining from all animal products (meat, eggs, dairy, etc.) olive oil and wine thoughout all of Lent...with a few exceptions on oil and wine on a few select days. Naturally pregnent women or nursing mothers and small children are not expected to follow this. Which is why it's different for us every year. I'm not nursing anymore but we do have a 2 year old (who will be 3 soon!) to consider. So I'm not sure exactly how strict all of us will be. I do plan on eating salmon at least once a week and we are allowed spineless seafoods though I've never been one to think eating lobster or crab should be done during the fast...but remember, Orthodox Christianity was formed in 33 AD...and at that time those foods were not considered the delicacy they are today.

Oh well... I think that's enough for one day! Wow...that's quite a bit of unrelated topics all put together isn't it! Well, that's my brain for you! Have a delightful day! And if you have any suggestions on how to approach that history idea or any other suggestions, I'm all ears!