Joan of Arc by Mark Twain

I just finished Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc.  Most people don’t realize that Mark Twain ever wrote a book about Joan of Arc. He published it under the name of Samuel Clemens. This book, he said, was his favorite. He didn’t want it compared to any of the more popular books. This one took him 14 years to prepare and write while the others took little time at all.

Joan of Arc is a truly remarkable figure. I knew just what the paragraph in the history textbook says. I had no idea how her story truly went. From every movie I’d seen about her,  I was left with the idea that maybe she was a little bit crazy. After reading this book,  I know that is not true. She was truly inspired and the men who prosecuted her and ultimately killed her were nothing but cowards. But I want you to read it for yourself!

I laughed. I cried. I got chills. I was touched.

It’s one of those books that you want everyone to read because the value that is in it.

If you’re looking for a great book for spring break or summer vacation, put this one on your list! I gave it to my dad for our last vacation and he still speaks of it with tears in his eyes.

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Here is what Goodreads has to say about it:

I like Joan of Arc best of all my books; and it is the best; I know it perfectly well. And besides, it furnished me seven times the pleasure afforded me by any of the others; twelve years of preparation, and two years of writing. The others needed no preparation and got none.” –Mark Twain

“Mark Twain comes furtively like Nicodemus at night with this tribute to one of God’s saints. In doing so he tells a secret about himself. It is as though the man in a white suit and a cloud of cigar smoke thought there just might be a place where people in white robes stand in clouds of incense.” –Fr. George Rutler, Author, The Cure d’Ars Today

“Joan of Arc is the lone example that history affords of an actual, real embodiment of all the virtues demonstrated by Huck and Jim and of all that Twain felt to be noble in man, Joan is the ideal toward which mankind strives. Twain had to tell her story because she is the sole concrete argument against the pessimistic doctrines of his deterministic philosophy.” –Robert Wiggins, Mark Twain: Jackleg Novelist

The “Glad” Game

In Pollyanna, the main character (Pollyanna) plays the “glad game”. She is always looking at every scenario with the outlook that there is always something to be glad about. We started playing the game too. We aren’t as good as it as we should be, but we’re working on it. It’s so easy to be discouraged or disappointed in this world. It’s easy to become bitter and for the good to seem rare. It’s not really that rare; we just don’t look for it like we should. So, for this Thanksgiving month, I’d like to challenge everyone out there to play the “Glad Game” with us. Look for the good. Find something to be glad about. Reflect on all that you have to be thankful for. image

Celebrating Earth Day

The kiddos woke up to an Earth Day breakfast. I thought that Earth pancakes sounded so cute. image

They were not the hit I’d hoped they would be. Only one of my children would even try them. Good thing I knew that was going to be the most probable outcome and made the rest of the batch normal.

Later, we read The Lorax by Dr. Seuss and the two little girls did a couple of worksheets pertaining to the book.

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After some school work, we made seed paper out of old catalogs. We tore paper into about 2 to 3 inch pieces and put them into a blender filled about halfway with water. After blending, we took the pulp outside and used an old screen to press out the excess water and mold them into shapes. Then we added marigold and hollyhock seeds. We plan on giving these away once they dry.

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We even had a Lorax themed dinner and an “earthy” dessert.

I got the coloring sheet printable from Dawn Nicole Designs. Olivia loves to color and after we read The Lorax, she was so excited to color and frame her work.

I made bow tie pasta (the Lorax’s mustache) with broccoli (truffala trees) with homemade low carb Alfredo sauce with Keto fried chicken. For dessert, the kids used chocolate pudding, smashed Oreos, and gummy worms to make their “earthy” dessert.

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I hope you had a nice Earth day too.

The Little Duke

One of the books we read for school this year is The Little Duke by Charlotte Mary Yonge. It is a great story and very well written. It has some dated language and some of the names are hard to pronounce, but we enjoyed it nonetheless. There were definitely things I had to stop and clarify, but I think this is a benefit. It allows for better comprehension and it makes the story more relatable if they truly understand what is going on and can put themselves in the story. If the records are accurate this is their 34th great-grandfather, so it makes it even more special to learn about someone in our own family.

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This true story is about Richard the Fearless, the Little Duke, who became the Duke as a child. The description of the back cover of the book says,

Richard the Fearless, the great grandfather of William the Conqueror, became Duke of Normandy at just 8 years old, after the assassination of his father. The Little Duke tells the heroic tales of his trials at home in Normandy and at the court in France where he was a prisoner.

My children would beg me to read more, but as we got close to the end they begged me not to finish just yet. They were sad to be done with the story.  This historical novel makes history come alive for children. They get the opportunity to “get to know” a figure from the past. They get the chance to see that kings and dukes were once little children too. One of my favorite parts of the book, was when they found a chest that contained Richard’s father’s  (William Longsword) “treasure”. The priest explained to Richard and the men why the contents of the chest were his father’s greatest treasure. It is a beautiful story, and it shows why Richard would become the kind of man that he was.

We truly loved this book and I’m looking forward to reading it again someday with my little boy.

Gift Giving {Books}

There are two books that I love and want to share with as many people as possible. I give these books to every child I buy gifts for and recommend them to adults with little ones. At the last baby shower I hosted, we requested that people bring books instead of a card and I gave these books.

The first book is The Jesus Storybook Bible. It is the very best children’s Bible I have ever seen. It weaves the Bible stories all together to make the message of the Bible more transparent.

Goodreads says,

The Moonbeam Award Gold Medal Winner in the religion category, The Jesus Storybook Bible tells the Story beneath all the stories in the Bible. At the center of the Story is a baby, the child upon whom everything will depend. Every story whispers his name. From Noah to Moses to the great King David—every story points to him. He is like the missing piece in a puzzle—the piece that makes all the other pieces fit together. From the Old Testament through the New Testament, as the Story unfolds, children will pick up the clues and piece together the puzzle. A Bible like no other, The Jesus Storybook Bible invites children to join in the greatest of all adventures, to discover for themselves that Jesus is at the center of God’s great story of salvation—and at the center of their Story too.”

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The second book is The Selfish Giant by Oscar Wilde. I love this story so much and I usually get teary at the end. Oscar Wilde has a number of children’s stories and they are all really good; but this one is my favorite. I don’t want to spoil the book because the end is the best part. Just trust me.

Goodreads says,

“This magnificent new edition of Oscar Wilde’s beloved tale tells the story of the selfish giant who built a wall around his beautiful garden to keep children out. It was always winter in the garden, for no other season would venture there. Then one morning…..”

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If you’re looking for books to give as gifts, these are great ones to consider.

 

Understood Betsy {Great Books}

 

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Another great book that we discovered this year is Understood Betsy. This may be in my top ten favorite books of all time. The narrator is funny and sharp. The characters are so well developed that you will feel like you know them personally by the end of the book. The story couldn’t be better. I loved every page in this book. I told my husband about each chapter after we’d read it. Just hearing about it from us left him wanting to know how it all worked out in the end.

Here’s what Goodreads has to say about Understood Betsy

A warm and charming portrayal of life in the early 1900s. Sheltered 9 year old Elizabeth Ann has always heard her Aunt Frances talk about “those horrid Vermont cousins.” Now she is terrified. Aunt Frances can no longer take care of her, and she has been sent to stay with her New England relatives. “Betsy” gradually comes to enjoy the challenge of living with her country cousins, and she has a difficult choice to make. A delightful book.

This was a literature book for our homeschool. It didn’t feel like school at all. We all cried at certain chapters and my girls made me hold off with the final chapter for a week just because they could barely stand the thought of it being over.

This would make a lovely Christmas or birthday gift for a child.

 

 

The Hundred Dresses

Yesterday was National Young Readers Day. It is suggested that on that day parents and adults read to the children in their lives. This book is a great book to do just that!

I homeschool my children with the exception of my high schooler. I have homeschooled them from the beginning and for our family it was a very good decision. Anyway, with all that I have going on I usually only have time to read the books my children are reading or that I am reading to them. One of these books is “The Hundred Dresses” by Eleanor Estes. I read it aloud to my youngest two girls and then made my older two read it because it is just so good! I cried. I usually do at good stories and this one is so very good.

Goodreads says,
“Eleanor Estes’s The Hundred Dresses won a Newbery Honor in 1945 and has never been out of print since. At the heart of the story is Wanda Petronski, a Polish girl in a Connecticut school who is ridiculed by her classmates for wearing the same faded blue dress every day. Wanda claims she has one hundred dresses at home, but everyone knows she doesn’t and bullies her mercilessly. The class feels terrible when Wanda is pulled out of the school, but by that time it’s too late for apologies. Maddie, one of Wanda’s classmates, ultimately decides that she is “never going to stand by and say nothing again.” This powerful, timeless story has been reissued with a new letter from the author’s daughter Helena Estes, and with the Caldecott artist Louis Slobodkin’s original artwork in beautifully restored color.”

This book was written over 70 years ago; but the message and the moral still ring true. Bullying is wrong. It hurts more deeply than we may ever realize. The bully is wrong, but the people who watch and do nothing are wrong too. One of the beautiful things in this story is the way that the girls who bullied feel remorse and have a true desire to make it right. The old saying, “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me”  is proved WRONG in this book. The girls in the story come to learn that words have weight and they can hurt more than a stone. The best part of all is that Wanda is one of those people who doesn’t carry bitterness.There is much to take away from this little 90 page book!  I think this is a must read for all children and this parent loved it too!

Today is Veteran’s Day so to all those who have served and those who are currently serving
: THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU.