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Winding Oak's Bookology Magazine

Tag Archives | journal

Does Research Count?

Lots of people ask me for advice on writing.
That’s a hard one to answer. Writing is personal, and it’s different for everyone.

But people are curious about my process, the daily practice of my craft.
They think that hearing about my process might help them in their own work.

Maybe it will. At any rate, it is a question I can answer.
This column, Page Break, is my answer to that question.  Welcome to my world.

Lynne Jonell's Page Break

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Collecting your observations

Welcome to New Zealandby Vicki Palmquist

I never kept a journal. Why? It never occurred to me. It wasn’t within my realm of familiarity. I started writing many stories on notebook paper and stuffed them into folders. But how satisfying to have a journal, specifically an observation journal to keep track of what you see, hear, and think.

As a child, I was a hunter-gatherer. Were you? Did you have a collection of rocks? Leaves? Agates? Animals? Perhaps you still do. Or perhaps you know a child who has these tendencies.

I think of Rhoda’s Rock Hunt by Molly Beth Griffith and Jennifer A. Bell (Minnesota Historical Society Press). Rhoda collected so many rocks on her family’s camping trip that she couldn’t walk—they weighed her down.

Adding to Rhoda’s story, I think of Lois Ehlert’s The Scraps Book and Leaf Man. Author and illustrator Lois Ehlert is renowned for her collections, her “scraps,” and how she puts them to use. A consummate hunter-gatherer.

Then there’s a brand new, absolutely amazing book about creating a nature journal, Welcome to New Zealand by Sandra Morris (Candlewick Press). This picture book combines the record-keeping, visual art satisfaction, and examples of different things to observe in nature that will keep a hunter-gatherer busy for years. I admire this book on so many different levels.

Welcome to New Zealand

Very cleverly designed as a journal, this book shows examples of different types of art, ways to arrange things on pages, labels, and note-taking. There’s advice on pressing leaves, observing clouds and phases of the moon, and making a landscape study. Every turn of the page brings a new surprise and something to try on your own. (And you can do this—none of these excuses about not being an artist—you are!)

Morris writes, “Create a layered map of the birds on the shoreline as the tide changes, like my high-tide journal page here. Working from the top of the page downwards, draw the different flocks as they advance closer.” Much better than ANY video game (and I like playing video games).

Welcome to New Zealand

Examples of crayon, pencil, watercolor, and charcoal drawing will inspire each reader. Plentiful samples of creative hand-lettering encourage the freedom to make your journal quite personal. Morris provides ideas, but unless you’re sitting on a beach in New Zealand as you read this, your journal will be all your own.

And that’ just it. If you’re not in New Zealand, reading this book will teach you a lot about the landscape, the mammals, the trees, the insects, and the seasons.

This book is great for any young hunter-gatherer and observer but any old person will like it, too! It’s a treasure.

Other Resources

Smithsonian Kids has a site devoted to collecting.

Kids Love Rocks Fun Club

Dr. Patricia Nan Anderson, Advantage4Parents, writes “Why Kids Love to Collect Stuff.

Now that you know about this book (you’re welcome), and you try out some of the suggested activities, send me a sample in the comments. Most of all, enjoy the time you spend with nature and your journal.

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Bookstorm: Catherine, Called Birdy

Catherine Called Birdy Bookstorm

In this Bookstorm™:

Catherine, Called BirdyCatherine, Called Birdy

written by Karen Cushman
published by Clarion Books, 1994
Newbery Honor book

“Corpus Bones! I utterly loathe my life.”

Catherine feels trapped. Her father is determined to marry her off to a rich man–any rich man, no matter how awful. But by wit, trickery, and luck, Catherine manages to send several would-be husbands packing. Then a shaggy-bearded suitor from the north comes to call–by far the oldest, ugliest, most revolting suitor of them all. Unfortunately, he is also the richest. Can a sharp-tongued, high-spirited, clever young maiden with a mind of her own actually lose the battle against an ill-mannered, pig-like lord and an unimaginative, greedy toad of a father? Deus! Not if Catherine has anything to say about it!” 

Arranged Marriages. From the beginning of Catherine, Called Birdy, our heroine is aware that she will be married off to a man who can bring her father more land and more worldly goods, an alliance, something of monetary value. She is particularly determined not to let this happen. We recommend other books written for teens about arranged marriages. 

Birds. Catherine has many birdcages filled with winged friends in her bedroom. They bring her peace of mind and she treasures them. From true stories about birds, field guides, to alarm over the disappearance of songbirds, there are bird books to introduce to your readers. 

Crusades. With many eyes focused on the Middle East, it is likely that you’re finding interest in the history of the conflicts there. Catherine, Called Birdy is set at a time when religious and military warriors are returning to England from the Crusades. We recommend several excellent nobels and biographies set during this time. 

Embroidery. The women in Birdy’s home embroider. They couldn’t go out and buy ready-made clothes so the only way to make clothes prettier was to decorate them with patterns of thread. Does someone in your class already embroider? Will you schedule an embroidery demonstration for your classroom? You’ll find some books with patterns that will appeal to the crafters among your students. 

Fleas. Hygiene wasn’t as well-known in Birdy’s day. House were not as protected from the elements. Fleas were a fact of life. They caused personal discomfort but they also caused plagues and changed politics. Certainly there will be those students in your classroom who will be intrigued. 

Illuminated Manuscripts. Birdy’s brother works at a monastery where they are illuminating manuscripts. We recommend several websites that will help you demonstrate this forerunner of the printing press. 

Journals/Diaries. Catherine’s story is told in first person in the form of a diary she’s keeping. Many students are asked to keep journals. Here are several favorite books told in this format. 

Judaism: the Edict of Expulsion. Few people realize that Edward I ordered all Jews to leave England forever on July 18, 1290. Birdy meets a group of Jews who are departing and finds it hard to understand how they are any different than she and her family. We reference articles that will give more background on this topic. 

Medieval Life. Novels, picture books, and true stories for young readers have often been set in the medieval world. We offer suggestions for a number of them, ranging from Adam of the Road, published in 1943, to Stephen Biesty’s Cross-Sections Castle from 2013. 

Peerage and Nobility. Whether you’re fascinated by the titles used in England or you find them confusing, here are a few guides to enhance your students’ understanding. 

Saints Days. Birdy prefaces each of her journal entries with the reflection of a saint whose day was celebrated on that day. We’ve found a few references that will explain who these people were and why they became saints from an historical viewpoint. 

Women’s History/Coming of Age. At the heart of Birdy’s story is the fact that she is leaving childhood behind and becoming a young woman. We’ve included recommendations for books on this theme that include fictional and true stories over a wide span of years..

Techniques for using each book:

Downloadables


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Gifted: The Matchbox Diary

When a young girl visits her great-grandfather for the first time, her imagination swirls with everything she sees in his antique shop. He asks her to pick out her favorite item and he will tell her a story about it. She chooses a cigar box filled with match boxes. As it turns out, this is […]

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