THE TABLE WHERE RICH PEOPLE SIT :: you probably have one at your house

This story was first published in 1994, perhaps intended as an antidote to 90’s consumerism. There’s certainly a flower child, peace loving vibe about it – I love it!

 
 

Age guide: 4 to grown-up

A young girl tells us in a conversational way about a problem she has with her parents. She thinks their family doesn’t have enough money.

So she calls a family meeting to discuss the matter. And in the course of trying to convince her parents of the need for ‘better’ jobs so that they can ‘buy a lot of nice new things’, the girl becomes convinced of the value of the life they live. 

It’s a free and earthy life, the sort that doesn’t usually attract a monetary value, but the family decides to make a list of the money they earn in a year. 

At first the girl is frustrated when her parents insist on giving a dollar value to things like seeing sunsets, hiking around looking for eagle nests, seeing the sky, feeling the wind and smelling the rain.  

Gradually though, the girl, whose parents call her Mountain Girl, begins to remember and see the value in those things too. 

Finally she suggests that the cash part doesn’t matter and that it really doesn’t even belong on a list like theirs - and she sees the table they sit at, made from discarded timber, as a place where rich people sit.

 

There are a lot of words in this book (for a picture book) but they're conversational rather than descriptive and that makes for easy reading and listening. And the illustrations are beautifully simple so there's a calmness to each page that allows for longer reading time.

It’s a nice book to settle down with at the end of a story reading session when little minds have started to slow and get ready for a more sustained story. A book to pull out when:

The tug of the economic world gets a little strong.
You’re about to go or have just been to somewhere natural and beautiful.
When someone is in need of reassurance about their place and value in the family or the world.

It’s also a favorite for times of grieving. We grieve for many things – loss of a job and economic upheaval – when sickness comes to a loved one – loss of opportunity – death – loss of friendships – and so on. This lovely story holds the promise of beauty in any life.

It’s true that most of us don’t have, and probably don’t want, a life like this family. Most of us enjoy our work and our lives and we enjoy the middle ground we work towards finding. It’s also true that it’s easy to forget the wonders in our own lives. Wonders that might include the things that are listed on this family’s balance sheet (the sky, the rain, the mountains), but might also include things like the fascination of tall buildings, the joy of a late winter afternoon when all around us are people hurrying to warm homes and loved ones, or the fun of being with a crowd on a day of celebration. 

This is simply a book to remind us of the joy in life – whether it’s joy in the natural world or in the joy in the life we live.

Reading this story always helps me to remember that rich people sit around our table too.

THE TABLE WHERE RICH PEOPLE SIT was written by Byrd Baylor, pictures by Peter Parnall

GUT: THE SECRET POWER OF A LITTLE-KNOWN ORGAN :: a fascinating look at the gut - and poo!

GUT: THE SECRET POWER OF A LITTLE-KNOWN ORGAN :: a fascinating look at the gut - and poo!

Giulia Enders is a twenty-something microbiologist and she has written a blockbuster bestseller book about the gut and poo. It's pretty fascinating - I heard her interview with Natasha Mitchell on Radio National Life Matters today and loved it.

One part that I found super interesting was that the gut has its own nervous system. It's a system that's big, vibrant and active enough to rival the brain!

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DEAR ZOO :: lift-the-flap surprises and fun on every page, just add noises!

Ivy (23 months) read me her first book last week, it was a well-loved copy of ‘Dear Zoo’.

We were sitting on the floor and she ran up to me book in hand, so I asked if she'd like me to read it to her. To which she replied “No, I read." She plopped herself down, opened the book and started:

‘What will be next? Elephant!’ (insert elephant noise here!).

‘What will be next? Raff!’ (Giraffe) (apparently Giraffes growl :))

‘What will be next? Camel!’ (which is her favourite)

All the way to the end which consisted of – ‘A Puppy! Hooray!’

It was a very endearing and comforting moment. 'Dear Zoo' was one of my favourite books as a child (because I wished the zoo would send me all those pets!) and it's the first book I remember reading all on my own. It was also a favourite of my husband's when he was little, so it was special for both of us that it was our daughter's first ‘read’.

Ivy is a whirlwind, she doesn’t stop - and getting her to sit still long enough to read a whole book is a very rare occurrence. So it's also comforting to see that the snippets of time we spend reading still do have an impact. She's loving and learning from all the stories we share, doing it in her own way and in her own time.

DEAR ZOO is a fabulous lift-the-flap book for 0 to 5-year-olds: 

The easy-to-read, simple, repetitive phrases make it a great early reader (all those animal names and adjectives).

Lifting the flap provides an element of  surprise, no matter how many times they read it (because maybe this time it might be different!).

It’s great fun to dream and discuss what life would be like with an unusual pet!

It's a cuddle-up opener for talking about things like:     

What animal would you want the zoo to send to you?
How would you take care of --- if you had one as a pet?
Responsibilities of pet care – dedication and work involved.
The many different words that can describe each animal.

And here are a few activities you might like, they're simple and good fun:

Play Charades – with two blocks. On each face of one block write animal names, then emotions like scared, angry, happy etc on the other.

Roll both blocks like dice and act out the result – like scared elephant, happy tiger etc. You can read more over on Craftionary.  And we pinned it here.

Create a ‘zoo’ with all your toys. Have your child/children take you on a tour explain about each animals habitat, behaviour etc (can lead to more in-depth researching with younger children).

Cut out pictures of animals from old magazines and make your own ‘zoo’

DEAR ZOO is by Rod Campbell - if you buy it, I hope you have as much fun with it as Ivy and I do!

THE LITTLE WORLD OF LIZ CLIMO :: every single page is a laugh, so good for the soul!

This is such a funny book. Liz Climo draws amazingly appealing animals in all sorts of situations - but her talent extends way beyond the drawings.

How she gets the humanity into them I don't know, every situation is completely relatable to ourselves or to someone we know. I've had the book sitting on our coffee table for a month or so now and it brings giggles from everyone who picks it up.

It's wonderful for kids but I've tagged it for adults because it's the kind of book that makes a perfect present for so many hard-to-buy-for people - I'm thinking of my uncles!

Here's Jone's relatable, she bought the print and it's now on their kitchen wall. And I'm liking this one to add to my Christmas cartoons collection.  

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There's a sale on at National Geographic Kids!

There's a sale on at National Geographic Kids!

Have you seen the National Geographic Kids site? It's great to explore with kids and I really like their straightforward no-frills explanations for myself.

Try this link for an example, in their Science and Nature section. It drew comments from kids like: Too scary for me - WOW - Awesome! - That is so cool -  Tsunami's are pretty powerful! How many horse power?

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MILLIE :: a 'lesson' about unconditional love

MILLIE :: a 'lesson' about unconditional love

There's one particular book that I've read and re-read to my class this term. The first time it was my idea, since then it has been requested over and over: "Could we please read that Millie book again Jesse?"

With an age guide of say 4 to 9 years, Millie by John Marsden with Illustrations by Sally Rippin is a book of less words, more thinking. It begins with the line:
“Everybody loved Millie. She was so good.” 
The reader is led to believe that everybody’s love of Millie is BECAUSE she is so good.
“Millie ate her broccoli and cauliflower, peas and pumpkin”
But there is something not right, as the next page reveals…

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WILFRED GORDON McDONALD PARTRIDGE :: a loving look at memory loss and friendship

WILFRED GORDON McDONALD PARTRIDGE :: a loving look at memory loss and friendship

Ages baby to 8 years and grown-ups
Some years ago, after my grandmothers died, Roger and I realized that our children didn’t have any old people in their lives. (They had their own grandparents of course – but they hardly qualified as old.) That’s a major gap in a child’s life and one we tried to fill with elderly friends from church and other grandparents and great-grandparents of friends. 

I think that one of the reasons we realised this was so important was that we had both read Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge dozens and dozens of times.  

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Found On The Web :: a gorgeous bookplate embosser

“Books are a uniquely portable magic.”
— Stephen King

It's wonderful to lend books to friends, to have the pages turned and softened by other hands. And it's helpful to all if there's a little something on the fly leaf to show where the book actually lives.

Plus, how nice when you're the recipient, to see a familiar name in the front. Even nicer to run a finger over that name and feel a lovely tactile surface.

We're all pretty excited about finding this embosser - if you'd like to see more about it just click here or on the image.

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COLLECTIONS :: 12 beautiful board books, for baby showers, newborn gifts, or simply for love

COLLECTIONS :: 12 beautiful board books, for baby showers, newborn gifts, or simply for love

Baby Oliver has arrived! My fourth grandchild. He’s number three in his family, after Savannah and William, so when I visited I took a board book version of The Boss Baby.  It's sturdy enough to stand up to three little ones playing with it and amusing for parents who know just how much a baby is the boss!

In celebration of Oliver’s arrival here are a few board books that are great for baby showers or newborn gifts or simply because you love a baby or the parents of a baby.

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DREAM ANIMALS :: sweet slumber comes in many ways

DREAM ANIMALS :: sweet slumber comes in many ways

Ages birth - 8 years
It’s nice, especially on cool, dark nights, to think about how wonderful it is to dream. To dream about our friends and fun, or dream about places we have never been, or about our hopes and dreams. Dreams that beckon and entice us to a deep and peaceful sleep.

Dream Animals is just the book for that kind of night.  Arrays of ‘animals from long ago’ come to help children on the way to their dreams. The words in rhyme are simple and sweet and lead in an enticing way into each picture - and that’s where the magic lies. 

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MAX'S WORDS :: brilliant for children who feel a little left out, or who might be excluding others

MAX'S WORDS :: brilliant for children who feel a little left out, or who might be excluding others

Ages birth – 8 years
It sometimes happen that we value things that are rare over things that are common. That’s not always a good idea. 

In this story, Max has two brothers with impressive collections – one collects coins and the other collects stamps. They hold those collections pretty tightly too. 

When Max asks if he can have a coin or a stamp he is roundly refused

So he decides to start a collection of his own – a collection of words. Could there be anything more commonplace?  

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Found On The Web: a great opportunity for kids to get involved with micro $'s

Found On The Web: a great opportunity for kids to get involved with micro $'s

When we first moved into our current house there was no electricity – for a year (a year!). Actually it was kind of fun – you know, dark nights, lots of reading, less interruptions etc. But the cost of running a generator and refuelling kerosene lamps even for a couple of hours a night was obscene.

And the thing is, for people living in very poor circumstances in very poor countries who rely on kerosene lamps for lighting at night, the cost becomes completely untenable. There are also the fumes, the danger, and the environmental costs ...... The Gravity Light is going to be a real game-changer. -

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DRAGONS LOVE TACOS :: a heap-of-fun book to increase imaginations and appetites!

DRAGONS LOVE TACOS :: a heap-of-fun book to increase imaginations and appetites!

Ages: 2 - 8 
Dragons have shifted in childhood imaginations in recent decades. There was a time when they were the embodiment of evil and needed to be slayed, or fought, or at least feared. As in St George and the Dragon, or Smaug from The Hobbit who was ‘the chiefest and greatest of calamities.’ Now, although we still enjoy a frightening dragon, they are often likeable and even friendly, as in movies like Mulan or How to Train your Dragon.

The Dragons in Dragons Love Tacos are the likeable kind … until  -

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Exploring the Categories :: KINDNESS

When Max was very little, he hatched a plan to leave a note for someone in his class that said: ‘ugly and fat and stinky like a rat’. The conversation then went like this:

Kim: (aghast) How do you think the other person will feel when you do that?
Max: (amused) They'll be really mad.
Kim: (carefully) What do you think they’ll do?
Max: (triumphantly) They’ll chase me.
Kim: (patiently) Do you think you should change your plan then?
Max: Yes, I’ll give it to someone slower than me.

It was all a bit hilarious, but you can imagine the mad scramble at our house to teach more about kindness! -

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FASCINATIONS :: May '15

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I ordered that print this week. Right after reading The Little World of Liz Climo.

It's the best ever coffee table book; every single person who picks it up rolls about laughing, the pages are so hilarious and relatable.

My print is going to be totally right for our kitchen wall!

Book Depository has Liz's book for about $14 AUD including postage, but you could add a zero to that and you'd still be getting your money's worth -

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A COOL DRINK OF WATER :: a National Geographic Society book

A COOL DRINK OF WATER :: a National Geographic Society book

Lovely for all ages, newborn to grown-up.
This morning, I woke up and had a drink of water, then a shower, then put on some washing, all without ever once contemplating the incredible privilege that it is to have water so readily available.   

You probably did too, I guess. And for children who have been lucky enough to grow up with water literally on tap, it's hard to imagine the level of work that some of the world’s people put in to have access to water. That’s a good thing, don’t you think? If only...

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THE GARDENER :: a wonderfully rich book about loving and growing plants and people.

THE GARDENER :: a wonderfully rich book about loving and growing plants and people.

Ages: 2 - 8 
Tucked in and around this story about a young woman in the Great Depression are a myriad of really valuable thoughts and lessons. The Gardener is Lydia Grace

Lydia Grace is sent to live and work with her uncle in the city because her parents have no more work. She's worried of course, but also well aware of her own gifts and abilities. The story is told in a series of letters from Lydia to her uncle in the city and then home to her family. 

In her first letter to her uncle, Lydia Grace writes: “I’m small but strong, and I’ll help you all I can.” Her willingness to try and her faith in herself shine through the rest of the story ...

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