Library Chicken Special Edition: Short Stories for your Spring (and Summer)!

Library Chicken Special Edition: Short Stories for your Spring (and Summer)!

All that short story reading has paid off: Suzanne has the definitive guide to the best short stories for your middle school or high school homeschool (or for your own personal reading list).

Library Chicken Update :: Top 10 Fiction Books Read in 2017

Library Chicken Update :: Top 10 Fiction Books Read in 2017

Suzanne's best fiction reads of last year include more than one addictive series, plus haunted houses, Sherlock homages, classic Hollywood in space, and more.

Stuff We Like :: 5.19.17

home|school|life’s Friday roundup of the best homeschool links, reads, tools, and other fun stuff has lots of ideas and resources. 

Can we just all pretend that the whole Anne-with-an-E thing isn’t happening?


around the web

There’s some solid advice here: How to read aloud to a child who won’t sit still

I’m totally counting down the days to the new Twin Peaks (and obsessively listening to the soundtrack), so I found this piece on the real-life murder that inspired the original show fascinating.

Another reason to play Library Chicken: People who read books are nicer.

I’m always trying to explain to my kids that the idea of a totally objective history curriculum is impossible because we’re always reading the facts from a subjective place. Maybe this is especially true with U.S. history.

And just a little post-Mother’s Day reminder that motherhood is hard, especially if you are medieval royalty.

This will totally be the best part of your week. (I know I’m blind teasing, but please click on it anyway—you will not be sorry, and no words can capture the joy.)


at home/school/life

on the blog: We’re so thrilled to welcome Beverly and Nanette to the blogging team! (And you get to meet Maggie next week!)

one year ago: 9 Books for Latino Book Month

two years ago: How can I help my student focus?


reading list

I scored a bunch of cheap Agatha Christies when they were on sale earlier this week, so I’ve been rereading some of those that I haven’t read for years: Five Little Pigs (which struck me as so sad this time around), Sleeping Murder, and Death in the Clouds (which I had forgotten completely and so I got to be very pleased with myself for figuring out who the murderer was using the Least Likely Suspect method).

I’ve got my AP English students reading All the King’s Men this summer, so I’m rereading it myself. It feels like the right time to pull out this complex and nuanced political novel that eschews anything resembling an easy answer.

I totally lost at Library Chicken this week—I had to return two books unread, and everything I actually read was either 1. on my Kindle or 2. an advance copy. I did read a very fun middle grades-ish book called The World’s Greatest Chocolate Covered Pork Chops, though—look for a review in a few weeks.


in the kitchen

These tostadas are delicious, whatever they actually want to be.

Officially adding this to our Easy Breakfast file. (My kids will eat anything baked in a mug.)

Not a cookie, but close enough, right?: Cream cheese poundcake with citrus glaze


at home

Oooh, the newest season of Sherlock is on Netflix. I know what I’ll be doing this weekend.

Before we got a dog, I was like, eh, dogs are fine. Now I’m more like “Oh, small furry ruler, how can I serve you today?” 

Stuff We Like :: 1.22.16

home|school|life's Friday roundup of the best homeschool links, reads, tools, and other fun stuff has lots of ideas and resources.

We’re back with Stuff We Like after a much enjoyed holiday break. (Did you have a wonderful break? We sure did!)

around the web

I can totally get behind a television series about non-Caucasian Nancy Drew, but why would they make her thirtysomethibng?

I thought this piece from Fast Company about working and homeschooling got a lot right. (It also made me feel really lucky to have the life I have.)

The idea of a new planet is awesome, but I still really want Pluto back./

Not to get all serious, but this essay about casual racism really hit home for me. I try to be aware of my privilege, but I really struggle with how to deal with situations where someone who’s really a nice person is being racist in a way that seems genuinely unintentional. I feel like I would want someone to call me out—kindly—in that situation, but would I really? Anyway, no answers here but good questions are always the place to start.


at home/school/life

in the magazine: Our winter issue is out! But be warned: Your reading list might explode.

on the blog: Tracy’s post on rhythms and routines feels like just what I need as we ease back into our regular schedule.

on pinterest: I’m really tempted to try to Ikea hack a version of this awesome worktable—I love the picture book/workbook/curriculum shelf.


reading list

We’re finally taking Suzanne’s great advice and reading The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making. Delightful!

I loved Ruth Reichl’s novel Delicious!, and I am so glad I saved it for a time when I could just curl up with a book from start to finish.

I’m brushing up on Einstein for a piece in the spring issue, so I’m working my way through Walter Issaacon’s Einstein biography.


at home

True confession: I am a little obsessed with the game Tetrobot and Co. (Seriously, if you like computer puzzle games, do your life a favor and do not start playing this because you will never catch up on your laundry.)

I loved The Abominable Bride so much that I watched the New Year’s Sherlock special twice in row. I came to Sherlock as a fan of the Conan Doyle stories, so I loved the way this episode played with some of the ways the series deviates from the books. Plus: Victorian wardrobes!

I’m watching Wolf Hall (free on Amazon Prime!) because is someone made an infomercial about the Tudors, I probably would watch it twice.

Now that all my holiday knitting is done, I’ve cast on a White Russian for myself (but I think with longer sleeves). (Thea Coleman, babycocktails, may be the nicest designer on Ravelry, so if you are thinking of knitting a first sweater for yourself, consider her patterns — she gives awesome support. I knit a Cassis last year and love it.)

Monday Pep Talk No. 19

home|school|life magazine's Monday Pep Talk has lots of fun ideas for planning your homeschool week.

Are you still basking in the post-Thanksgiving glow? I don’t know if it’s the residual tryptophan or just the fact that it’s a post-holiday Monday, but this week’s pep talk feels particularly necessary!

3 fun things to do this week

Celebrate Dice Day (this Friday) by playing your family’s favorite dice games. (We love Can’t Stop, which is fast-paced and fun but easy for inexperienced gamers, and To Court the King, which is a little like a more sophisticated, strategic version of Yahtzee.

Hanukkah starts this weekend, which means it’s time to brush up on your dreidel playing skills. (If you need a refresher on the rules, here’s a handy one.) We have never had good luck making our own dreidels out of clay, so I am tempted to try this recycled CD version this year.

What better way to commemorate Sherlock Holmes’ first appearance in print (“A Study in Scarlet” was published Dec. 1, 1887) than by marathoning the BBC’s modern-day adaptation Sherlock? (This will also help you prep for the show’s upcoming New Year’s special.)


3 ideas for this week’s dinners

A fragrant mix of apples and onions puts a wintry spin on your standby chicken dinner—and makes your whole house smell so good while it’s cooking.

I like mine with parsnips and lima beans, but you can really use any leftover vegetables to make this spiced veggie rice with poached eggs.

For a warm-you-to-the-bones dinner, it’s hard to beat the classic ham bone, greens, and bean soup.


one great readaloud

Celebrate Georges Seurat’s birthday (on Dec. 2) by exploring one of his best known paintings in depth with Robert Burleigh’s engrossing Seurat and La Grande Jatte: Connecting the Dots. (A lot of kids' art books end up being biographies of the artist—which is fine—but I love that this one really focuses on the work itself.)


one thought to ponder


in case of emergency {because sometimes you need something stronger than inspiration} 

The Sufganiyah

Stuff We Like :: 7.24.15

home|school|life's Friday roundup of the best homeschool links, reads, tools, and other fun stuff has lots of ideas and resources.

First stories are starting to roll in for the fall issue around here, but we are firmly committed to believing that summer will never end. Hence: Much time at the pool, coffee dates with new friends, matinee movies, and reading on the porch.

around the web

It’s no secret that I love Joss Whedon, but Joss Whedon + a female Victorian Batman? Sign me up now.

This review of the Egg Master make me laugh out loud. (Under redeeming features: “It’s quite space-efficient, being so dense with evil.”)

I was fascinated by this article on the physiological effects of reading great literature — and pretty delighted by the possibility that thoughtful reading might make us, ultimately, smarter.


at home/school/life

on the blog: People often ask us why we don’t have a print edition of home/school/life — here’s the answer.

on pinterest: Wouldn’t it be fun to make a set of these storytelling dice with images that inspire your kid’s imagination?

on the blog: Have you been following our summer reading series?


reading list

My daughter has had her nose buried in Ready Player One for most of the summer — I think she’s on her second reread.

I feel like I’ve been waiting forever to read The Curious World of Calpurnia Tate, which I’ve finally gotten my hot little hands on.

I’m a sucker for a good biography, and David McCullough’s The Wright Brothers has been my poolside reading material recently. I thought I knew all about the Wrights, but this book has been full of fun surprises.


in the kitchen

Tacos are my oops-I-forgot-about-dinner solution, and this vegetarian version (with goat cheese!) is a great way to use a little summer produce, too.

I've been freezing basil puree (puree 1 cup of basil leaves with 1 tablespoon of olive oil) in an ice tray so that I can pull out the taste of summer for pesto and salad dressing throughout the year. Lucky for me, there's tons of basil at the market right now.

I made these ginger-peach cobbler bars as a back-up dessert, and they were a sleeper potluck hit.


at home

Jason and I went to see Mr. Holmes, which I loved — it feels ragged and lyrical next to the logical cohesion of the Holmes narratives, and to me, that felt just right for a detective near the end of his days. Plus, Ian McKellen can do no wrong.

I’m prepping for my Buffy the Vampire Slayer seminar this fall by screening season two. It's obviously a tough job.

I knitted a longer version of this little lacy top (free pattern) in recycled silk/cotton yarn for my daughter’s swim cover-up this year — it’s really cute and a super-quick knit.

I think Space Camp was our favorite week of Camp Google so far.


notable sales

Craftsy has a big supply sale going on this weekend through Monday, July 27. I’m tempted to pick up a pack of Copic Multiliner pens for our sketchbooks bag (they’re 40% off), and I think I’m going to finally shell out for a Trim N Turn Cake Turntable so that I keep my frosting tidy (it’s on sale for just under $14), though of course, then I will have no excuse for my messy frosting. It's a real dilemma.

A few good young adult book deals: John Greene’s An Abundance of Katherines is just $5.92 in paperback right now, and the Kindle version of Rainbow Rowell’s (delightful) Fangirlis just $4.99.

New Books: Jackaby

Jackaby by William Ritter

Imagine a supernatural Sherlock Holmes with a competent female Watson at his side, and you’ve got the plot of the delightful Jackaby, the first installment in Ritter’s new young adult series. (Its sequel, The Beastly Bones, is due in September.)

Abigail Rook, runaway from a life of British privilege, finds herself in New Fiddleham, New England, via a roundabout route that included a lengthy stopover at a dinosaur dig. Abigail, who’s very much a Watson in the Martin Freeman vein — smart, stout-hearted, and adventurous — needs a job, and R.F. Jackaby, supernatural consulting detective, needs an assistant. Abigail is not put off by the fact that Jackaby’s former assistant is now a duck living on the mysterious third floor of his haunted mansion, and she determinedly follows her new boss on his investigation of a mysterious serial killer, matching her keen observation and logic skills to Jackaby’s otherworldly knowledge.

The serial killer plot is fine, but the real charm in this book — and trust me, there’s lots of charm — is the world Ritter has created. Abigail is a delight — so often, headstrong, determined young women like Abigail disappoint in books. They are too brittle or too competent or too inclined to go weak in the knees around young men who could be their soulmates. Abigail is none of those things — she knows her strengths, recognizes her weakness, is equal parts wise and foolish, and feels like a real, complicated human being. Her cohort is a bit more mysterious, but Jackaby's paranormal powers isolate him from other people in a distinctive way: He literally sees things other people can’t. All the time. And while he radiates the kind of prickly attraction that Benedict Cumberbatch brings to the role of Sherlock Holmes, he’s not the cheese to Abigail’s macaroni. They are partners in the old-fashioned sense of the word, and the development of their friendly, respectful relationship is much more interesting than any love story. (Abigail does develop a little crush on a friendly police officer who has a secret of his own.)

“Marlowe is a good man, but he only knows how to slay dragons,” Jackaby tells Abigail during their investigation. “The world is full of dragon-slayers. What we need are a few more people who aren't too proud to listen to a fish.” This odd little book makes me want to listen to fish a little more often.

Buy It: Jackaby on Amazon

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