Mr. Man loves all things history/war related. He also loves his graphic novels. So when I had the opportunity to review Timberdoodle’s True Stories of War Graphic Novels 4-Book Set, I jumped on it. Mr. Man seemed excited when I showed him what I got and he quickly sat down to read. He asked a few questions about the first story and soon lost interest. His lack of interest truly surprised me. I sat down to find out why these were not the success I thought they would be.
The first thing I noticed was how the illustrations were different from other graphic novels that Mr. Man reads. He’s a very visual child, so my instinct says this is a big part of his disinterest. The colors are very dull and uninviting. I understand this was done purposefully to match the time period and mood of the topic, but this does not help draw in his interest. Two of the books (World War I and The Civil War) are done by a different illustrator and are a bit more colorful and interesting to look at than the other two.
The second problem I noticed is that the books give short snapshots of different key figures lives from the time period. This style of writing, while not inherently negative, makes it difficult for younger readers to follow since this is different from the normal flow of stories they are used to seeing. Even reading them as an adult, the tales felt very disjointed. I did like the excerpts given at the beginning of each story to explain who the person was and how they fit in with the events. However, I don’t think it was enough to help Mr. Man understand who the person was or why they were important to the event.
Overall, these books were a no go in our house. If a child isn’t interested in reading a book, it’s a pretty pointless read. That being said, there isn’t anything necessarily bad about them, they are an interesting approach to the various sides of meaningful events in history. It’s important for us to know our readers and Mama missed the mark on this one. For the right reader, these would be wonderful. They just weren’t for my reader. The recommended age range for True Stories of War is 3rd-9th grades. Mr. Man is at the end of 3rd grade. He’s a strong reader but does struggle with comprehension. I would recommend these books for children higher in the recommended age range. I definitely plan to hang on to these books to try again in the future. If nothing else, we can use them to reference some of the figures and events mentioned in them. They may not have worked for Mr. Man, but perhaps in a few years Monkey will find them enjoyable.
Disclaimer: Timberdoodle provided me with a discounted True Stories of War book set in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review and received no further compensation.
Monkey and I have been working really hard on learning the difference between a continent, a country and a state. I thought I would take a moment to review one of the products we are using to learn this. The World Scrunch Map, from Timberdoodle.com, is a fun little portable map that is designed to be used anywhere you explore. What is so unique about this map is that you don’t need to worry about little hands folding, creasing or otherwise destroying a beautifully made map. This map is made out of water and tear resistant material and is designed to be scrunched into its very own portable pouch, no need to fold! This beautifully designed political map measures 36 x 24 inches and is a great addition to any classroom.
Pros: There are so many! We really love this map. It’s durable, beautiful and easy to read. The boys love that it looks like an “adult” map and we love that we don’t have to worry about them destroying the “nice” maps. It scrunches so nicely into its cute little carry case, which hangs on a hook from our school cart. I also love how the map wraps around to show how one side connects to the other. This gives the children a better view and understanding of the bearing straight than a typical flat map.
Cons: I really don’t have many cons and even the few I have are minor. First, even though it says tear-proof, given to two boys who are fighting over it, the map can be stretched and distorted if pulled too much. (I’m talking extreme roughness here, not usual movement). So, while it’s tear-proof, it’s not indestructible. This is minor as I would expect most products to have a hard time standing up to our extreme boy behavior. For a typical child handling situation, it is plenty tough. Second, we own both the United States and World Scrunch Maps and I feel like the US Scrunch Map has more vibrant colors. I wish this one was a little more vibrant. Again, minor complaint.
Overall, we love this map. It’s beautiful, durable and stores great! At a price point of $9.99 it’s a great addition to our education! *Sadly, due to demand at the time of this post, this map is only available as part of the 2020 First-Grade Curriculum Kit and 2020 Nonreligious First-Grade Curriculum Kit (which are great kits, check them out!) Hopefully, this product will be available for individual purchase again, soon.
Disclaimer: Timberdoodle provided me with a discounted World Scrunch Map in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review and received no further compensation.
I love coffee. I blame my parents….I’ve been drinking it since I was a kid. Terrible, I know, but I LOVE coffee. Partly because of the memories. I had my own special cup and got to sit with the big people. Coffee made me feel special. I LOVE the aroma. When I smell coffee, I feel my body relax. I am a chronic migraine sufferer. I also struggle with chronic fatigue. There have been many days when coffee has been my lifeline… more literally than I care to admit. I remember days when I would make coffee and one of the boys would ask, “Mama, your head hurt?” Such sweet concern. Days when I would be cranky and one of them would say, “Mama, do you need coffee?” I guess I passed the love to the boys. Most kids play with pretend food, my boys had a toy cash register and would play “Making coffee”. You can say I have prepared them for teenage employment.
I recently had the opportunity to sit down with one of my college friends and share a cup of coffee. I haven’t had the opportunity to do this for FAR too long. I realized something that day. How many times have I not invited someone over because I’ve been embarrassed about the condition of my house? A LOT. My friend’s kitchen wasn’t clean and I didn’t care. I understood. In reality, we all do. As we talked, her two year old overturned all of the toys in the other room… ALL of them. Insert smile. I remember those days. She knew I understood and we enjoyed our morning.
How many of us can relate? ALL of us! But we still allow these things to keep ourselves separated from others. We don’t connect. How many times have we talked about the crazy loneliness of young motherhood? Yet, we usually do this to ourselves. If you’re one of those people who somehow always has a miraculously clean kitchen, awesome! Don’t judge the rest of us. We judge ourselves enough and we let that fear of judgement keep us from the simple joys of a cup of coffee with a friend, an understanding ear and a few minutes of normal adult conversation. If you are like me (I am just beginning to realize that many more people are than I thought) realize that your friend’s kitchen probably looks just like yours and she doesn’t care. Somewhere along the line authenticity got lost and we feel the need to pretend life is perfect. In case this comes as a shock to anyone, life isn’t perfect. It’s just the opposite and it’s usually messy.
If I’ve learned anything over the past year, it’s that we can’t let stupid things like a messy kitchen stop us from spending time with people. Because the chance may not come again. I don’t want to look back and realize I missed the opportunity for friendship because I was preoccupied with a messy house. We all need to do each other a favor, stop pretending and enjoy the coffee.
As we celebrate Read Across America today, I thought it would be fitting to post a review of the Read Across the USA Challenge Bundle that we have been working on over the past week. This reading challenge is put out by Timberdoodle and challenges students to read a book set in (or about a person from) all 50 states. The bundle includes a downloadable file that gives book suggestions from each state, a map to fill in for every state they complete and a list to keep track of what books they read for each state. You also receive a physical copy of a giant poster to color and create. The poster is a map of the United States and shows capitals, landmarks and interesting facts about the states.
What we thought?
Monkey LOVES reading and enjoys his United States puzzle, so this was bound to grab his interest. I used the tracking pages as a way to plan what books we would read and what books I needed to order from the library. Monkey used the small map to fill in each state as we read a book for it. He enjoyed this. He also enjoyed showing off that he already knew where some states were because he paid attention when doing his puzzles. To my surprise he was willing to color the poster page for Arizona (Monkey doesn’t color as a general rule). “I don’t do that!” Needless to say, we haven’t completed the poster because I don’t want to push it, but he did make an effort to color some of it. Hopefully, the interest in putting the giant puzzle together will entice him to complete more of it.
Cons: I wish there were more variety within the book suggestions. I found a lot of the suggestions were either very young or too advanced for Monkey. I also noticed that many of the choices were parts of a series, which feels a bit useless if you haven’t read the earlier books in the series. I ended up having to do a lot of researching myself to find books.
Pros: The giant poster is printed on thicker, quality paper. The perforations are good quality and make taking the pages out to color and assemble quick and easy. The poster also contains a great amount of information and fun facts about the states. Price point is low at $10.
Overall: While I felt the bundle was a bit lacking. It did provide a good ‘jumping off point’ to introduce my young geographer to the 50 States. It’s a nice theme if you are simply trying to get your child to read more. If your child enjoys coloring, the poster is a lot of fun. I, myself, probably wouldn’t use this on its own, but it would compliment a more in depth study on the 50 States very nicely. Even if you decide to just use it as a fun way to encourage extra summer reading, the price point is worth the giant poster coloring book and the amount of fun facts that can be gleaned from it.
Disclaimer: Timberdoodle provided me with a free copy of the Read Across the USA Challenge Bundle in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review and received no further compensation.