Friday, 6 May 2016

Weekly Review: a bomb hoax and other interruptions

So far this year we've had regular interruptions - for good causes, but our routine has run off the rails to a certain extent. This weekly review has expanded to take in the last month so I can share an overview of what we've been doing.

Flowering Eucalypt

Wonder of wonders, miracles of miracles...

We booked tickets late last year for a performance of Fiddler on the Roof. My husband said he'd drive us to the train station so I didn't have to worry about parking. Great! Off we went and he'd no sooner dropped us off and disappeared, when we saw that there were police all over the station and they were allowing no one on the platforms. Benj said, "Quick, ring Dad!" So back he came and we jumped in so we could go to another station further down the line. Then Dad decides this would be a good opportunity for Benj to have a driving lesson...By the time we got anywhere near another station not affected by the stoppage, we realised we were going to be late for the show if we didn't get cracking. We did a quick stop and Dad got back behind the wheel, put his foot down, and dropped us at the door of the theatre with time to spare.
It was a fantastic show. We found out later that a hoax bomb threat had been made on the station.

What everyone's been reading:


Uncle Tungsten by Oliver Sacks - I wrote about this book here.
The God Who is There by Francis Schaeffer


All three of my girls inherited the Dicken's gene. It skipped the boys. Moozle read and mostly enjoyed Oliver Twist which is scheduled in Year 5 in the Ambleside Online curriculum. She wanted to read more so she started on David Copperfield, which she enjoyed. She kept asking for another of his books so I thoughtlessly suggested The Old Curiosity Shop, which she devoured, but on coming to the end of it she was disgusted that everyone died. Slight exaggeration, but she does have a point with this particular story. I read it last year so I should have had more sense.

Read Alouds

We completed Plutarch's life of Demetrius
Hamlet - we still have another two weeks before we finish

I'm reading Stories From the Faerie Queen by Mary MacGregor to Moozle - this is so good and reminds me a little of Pilgrim's Progress. The link is to a free online version. I don't mind reading aloud from an online source but I find it almost impossible to do my own personal reading from a screen. I like to be able to turn pages, look back, write in the margins...

My Reading:

Confessions by St Augustine - I started this early this year and am reading it very slowly.

All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque - reading this for the third time but it's still very powerful and heartbreaking. Written by a German veteran of World War I.

Testament of Youth by Vera Brittain - interesting to read this alongside the above book with two very different perspectives but with the same theme of the futility of war. Brittain had just got engaged before her fiancée was sent to the front and this is her 'elegy to a lost generation.' Remarque is more raw and selfless in his descriptions of the war but I'll leave it there and write about both books when I eventually finish them.

Parents & Children by Charlotte Mason - another slow read that I'm endeavouring to blog through as I go.
Ch. 1
Ch. 2

Recently finished:

Dombey and Sons by Charles Dickens - I'm a Dicken's fan and I liked this book but I think ?? I'm done with him now. I've read many of his books and the ones that are left don't really entice me (Edwin Drood, Barnaby Rudge, Martin Chuzzlewit and The Pickwick Papers) - unless someone can convince me otherwise...

Consider This by Karen Glass - I wrote about it here.

The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro (1989) - this book took me by surprise. It was nothing like I thought it would be. The author, if I hadn't known better, might have been writing in the 19th Century. It has 'classic' written all over it. Splendid!

Hymn Study

We're listening to this one during May:


I just planted baby spinach, watercress, leeks, oars key and coriander. I rescued my lettuce from the larvae of the cabbage white butterflies and a friend bought me a solar powered fake butterfly to put in the garden bed to deter them. We will see. They are territorial and the fake is supposed to keep the butterflies away. I also read you can scatter broken egg shell around the plants and that acts in a similar way.

Flowering Melaleuca quinquenervia, commonly known as broad-leaved paperbark

An Old Woman of the Roads

O, to have a little house!
To own the hearth and stool and all!
The heaped up sods against the fire,
The pile of turf against the wall!

To have a clock with weights and chains
And pendulum swinging up and down!
A dresser filled with shining delph,
Speckled and white and blue and brown!

I could be busy all the day
Clearing and sweeping hearth and floor,
And fixing on their shelf again
My white and blue and speckled store!

I could be quiet there at night
Beside the fire and by myself,
Sure of a bed and loth to leave
The ticking clock and the shining delph!

Och! but I'm weary of mist and dark,
And roads where there's never a house nor bush,
And tired I am of bog and road,
And the crying wind and the lonesome hush!

And I am praying to God on high,
And I am praying Him night and day,
For a little house - a house of my own
Out of the wind's and the rain's way.

by Padraic Colum

Linking up with Weekly Wrap-up

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Consider This: Charlotte Mason and the Classical Tradition by Karen Glass

Consider This has helped to fill in the gaps in my understanding of Classical Education and to affirm my own 'discoveries' in implementing a Charlotte Mason education. There are ideas on both sides that seem to be in total agreement on the one hand, or diametrically opposed on the other, and this has confused me at times. In recent years the Circe Institute has been instrumental in helping me to better understand classical education and now Consider This, in exploring the roots of Charlotte Mason's ideas, has provided a link between the two approaches.

Glass starts out with the question, 'What is the Classical Tradition?' before looking at whether or not Charlotte Mason has a place in it. She explains that we cannot fully understand classical education by looking only at what they did in the past. We must discover why they did it. We must understand the principles behind their teaching in order to make it serve us today.
Virtue was the goal of a classical education and all areas of education were brought into service to this end. The guiding motivation for classical educators was that right thinking would lead to right acting.
Glass discusses the "classical ideal" - the pursuit of virtue, humility, and synthetic thinking (poetic knowledge) that motivates to right action. Ancient thinkers believed that the universe was orderly and understandable, and that all knowledge was interconnected. Charlotte Mason's insistence that 'education is the science of relationships' is consistent with this classical understanding of the world.

In a brief overview of Charlotte Mason's background and life, Glass shows that Charlotte Mason read widely, but with discernment, and gleaned ideas from the classical world because they represented universal truths about education:

Her ability to see the "big picture" and draw out common principles from various philosophies was her particular genius.


* Humility is Necessary to Education - pride of knowledge closes the door to further instruction. Humility keeps us teachable. It is an intellectual virtue as well as a spiritual virtue. At the time I was reading these thoughts on humility, I came across John Ruskin's observation on Lilias Trotter related in the book, A Passion for the Impossible:

...she had a teachable spirit, that mark of humility often missing in the very talented. "Not seeing or feeling the power that is in you is one of the most sure and precious signs of it," he writes, "and that tractability is another. All second-rate people, however strong, are self-conscious and obstinate."

* In Chapter 5, Finding the Forest amid the Trees, the synthetic and analytic methods of learning are explored. Synthesis is the word Charlotte Mason used to describe what many of us would know as poetic knowledge. (I've also heard this described as 'analogical.')

Poetic experience indicates an encounter with reality that is nonanalytical, something that is perceived as beautiful, awful (awe-full), spontaneous, mysterious… Poetic knowledge is a spontaneous act of the external and internal senses with the intellect, integrated and whole, rather than an act associated with the powers of analytic reasoning… It is, we might say, knowledge from the inside out..

The Civilized Reader

Analysis should not be our primary approach to knowledge, especially in the early years. Augustine called education the "ordering of the affections," - every object is accorded that kind of degree of love appropriate to it (C.S.Lewis). Synthetic knowledge speaks to the heart, the seat of the affections, and not just the intellect.

*  The synthetic process of narration lays a firm foundation for analytical thinking later. Modern education jumps into the analytical, examining the parts, before it has experienced the whole.

Once the unity of all knowledge is comprehended and many relationships formed, we are able to employ analytical thinking without harming those relationships.

* Grammar, logic, and rhetoric are not subjects to be studied but arts to be practiced and refined in the process of reading, narrating, and writing (synthetic learning). It is possible to learn both grammar and rhetoric through exposure to correct speech and eloquent writers and speakers i.e. the classical practice of mimesis or "imitation."

*  The concept of the trivium as stages of child development can be found only in materials written within the last few decades, but the trivium, properly understood, is applied in every teaching moment at every stage of our learning and growth.

Consider This, besides being an encouraging read for those using a Charlotte Mason approach, is a valuable addition to anyone interested in a classical model of education. For those who think that Charlotte Mason works well in the younger years but isn't suitable for older students, or that your child doesn't have the intellect for a classical education, this book will be a breath of fresh air. If  home education has lost its joy and you feel you're in a 'classical grind,' Consider This just might be the tonic you need.

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Keeping & the Leisure to Stand and Stare

I'm joining in Celeste's monthly link-up for April at the eleventh hour. If you'd like to know more about this link-up, or what 'Keeping' is all about, have a look at her introductory post. This month Celeste asked us to share what inspires us in our 'Keeping' habits:

Do you have favourite books on the topic?

Charlotte Mason's Original Homeschooling Series is a constant reminder and inspiration to me of the ideas and practices that underpin various forms of Keeping.

Handbook of Nature Study by Anna Comstock - I love the wisdom and practicality of this book. Even though a lot of the content is more applicable to the USA, there is still much to be distilled from this huge book to help me better teach my children:

Nature study is...a study of nature; it consists of simple, truthful observations.

If nature-study as taught does not make the child love nature and the out-of-doors, then it should cease...However, if the love of nature is in the teacher's heart, there is no danger.

Literature in general - beautiful or striking passages inspire me to keep a Commonplace book. There are things I come across that I just don't want to forget, and allowing words to 'pass through my fingertips' onto a blank page helps to impress them upon my mind.

Australian nature resources - some that I use regularly include the books below. I posted a list a couple of years ago with links to some of these plus others here. Some are free online and they are all excellent.

How to Attract Butterflies to Your Garden by Densey Cline
First Studies in Insect Life in Australasia by William Gillies
Nature Studies in Australia by William Gillies

Has a poem inspired your Keeping heart?

Oh, yes! I wrote a separate post for the April Poetry Celebration I've been involved in where I included some nature poetry we've enjoyed.

Inspiration from nature itself - there's nothing like an unexpected encounter to inspire us. On the Easter weekend my 21 year old son called out to me from the back of the house. When I got there he motioned me to be quiet and pointed to a rock wallaby outside. We hadn't seen any for awhile and as we watched, out from behind the bushes came her little joey. So cute! I managed to get a photo from behind the glass door of the mumma, but not the little one. You can see her eyeballing me to make sure I wasn't going to come near her baby...

Sometimes this doesn't lead to a notebook entry - and it didn't that day. We all just savoured the moment. This poem expresses the idea of having leisure in our lives to wonder:


What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows.

No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.

No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night.

No time to turn at Beauty's glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.

No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began.

A poor life this is if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

William Henry Davies (1871-1940)

Another encounter - the kids thought this was great but I was ready to pack up and move. A diamond python that got into our garage a number of years ago because we accidentally left the door open overnight. This was a juvenile; non-venomous, but it can give a nasty bite.

What first inspired you to start notebooking?

I first heard about Charlotte Mason's educational ideas through Susan Schaeffer Macauley's book, For the Children's Sake, about four months before our eldest child was born. I lived on the ideas in that book for years before I came across any other resources. I think the original practice of nature study came out of the ideas presented in that book.
Later on, when my eldest was about 10 or 12 years old I read some other Charlotte Mason inspired books by Penny Gardener & Karen Andreola that helped give me more direction. Then more recently, The Living Page by Laurie Bestvater, has been very helpful as a go-to reference book about various forms of 'Keeping.'

Another inspiration for notebooks was born out of the fact that one of my sons was very late to read. I used notebooking as a way to record his education in areas such as poetry, history, Bible and oral narrations. He would narrate his lessons to me; I typed them out and then he'd illustrate the page. This gave him a visual reminder of what he'd done and were lovely to look back on.

News Articles & Statistics

Often I get inspired to get outside with my children when I read comments from news articles such as: It seems that education is distancing students from the natural world. (I lost the source of this). Or statistics like this one, which I found on an organic gardening website when I was wondering what I should plant this month:

Australia is one of the most urbanised countries in the world, and most people spend more than 90% of their time inside.

Working in the Garden

 I wasn't very inspired to find these little caterpillars eating my lettuce but we could still admire them, sort of, as we picked them off...

I haven't had a great deal of success with vegetable growing (although I'm getting better) so I don't think I'm a great inspiration in that way to my offspring, but the other day Moozle was very excited and took me out to the garden. She had found a piece of a pretty flowering plant the week before and stuck it in the ground like she sees me often doing. It had struck and looked nice & healthy and she was very pleased with herself. Now she's measuring it and watching for a flower.

My April entry...

Bird of Paradise

Moozle's notebook

Bleeding Heart

One man walks through the world with his eyes open, another with his eyes shut; and upon this difference depends all the superiority of knowledge which one man acquires over another.
Charles Kingsley

Golden Fiddles by Mary Grant Bruce (1928) Classic Children's Literature Event

Mary Grant Bruce is mostly known as the author of the Billabong books but she also wrote a number of other books. Golden Fiddles is one of these and is a stand alone book that tells the story of the Balfour family - Mr and Mrs Balfour and their four children, Kitty, Norman, Elsa and Bob - who are trying to eek out an existence on a farm in Tupurra, a fictitious town in country Victoria. Although the family barely makes ends meet, they live happily enough, although Mr. Balfour is taciturn and pre-occupied with their lack of finances. His attitude creates resentment in his older children and as the story begins we see this tension playing out in the family.

'I wouldn't mind being poor,' (Kitty) said. 'There aren't any rich people about here. But I'd like to be poor cheerfully - not to fuss and worry all the time, as Father does, and always making the worst of things. Why, he looks as if the world were coming to an end when any of us want new boots, till it makes one ashamed of having feet!'

...Father's hard to work for, Mother. A bit of praise doesn't cost anything, but he doesn't give that either. I suppose he has got so used to being economical that it affects his tongue! Norman won't stand it for ever, you know: when he gets a bit older he'll go away, and then Father will find out that he has lost a jolly good helper.

Kitty talks to her mother about leaving home eventually to become a chef...

'I want money, and I'm going to get it with the only talent I've got.'

'Money isn't everything, Kitty.'

'Well, Father has brought us up to think it is. And it does make the wheels go round, Mother. I want to be independent, and I want to see something beyond a hill farm in Gippsland...'

The family looked forward to one day in the year which loomed above all others: 'Show Day.' The whole family gloried in the occasion and entered the various competitions. This year each of the Balfour children won prizes in the different events. Bob was overjoyed when his pony won first prize in the ring and once at home he talked excitedly about entering the jumping event in next year's show.
Mr Balfour, however, dropped a bombshell by announcing he had sold Bob's beloved pony. Jim Craig had offered to buy the pony for more than it was worth after seeing him perform at the Show. It was an offer too good to refuse. Now Bob had to watch someone else ride his pony to school and put up with the chaffing and ridicule from his schoolmates as he rode double behind Elsa on her old nag.

He knew what he had to face at school; that ordeal could not be dodged. But no one watched him leave home, except his father; and Walter Balfour, seeing, from his work in the paddocks, the sad little trio go down the track, bit hard on his pipe stem and muttered curses on ill-luck and poverty. The thought of Jim Craig's cheque burned in his soul. He was by nature neither cruel nor hard, and he loved his children and was proud of them. But care and worry had made a crust over his heart.

A week of misery followed for everyone. Bob was sullen and had three fights at school resulting in a magnificent black eye. Norman didn't whistle as he went off to milk the cows. Mealtimes were unusually quiet and tense.
One hot evening they sat on the veranda after tea. Mrs Balfour opened a letter that had come earlier in the day and as she read, she grew white and began to tremble.
Her Scrooge of an uncle had died and left her eighty thousand pounds!

What follows is hinted at in this selection of chapter titles: The Recklessness of the Balfours; The Horizon Widens; The Golden Fiddles Play; The Growth of the Balfours; The Waking of Kitty; Realities and The New House of Balfour.

Through numerous circumstances and mishaps, the family learns that money doesn't buy happiness; that they all need some sort of work, not the gruelling type they had before, but something worthwhile that they can put their hands to. They also learn to appreciate each other as a family and to understand their father.

They talked of Tupurra and the old days. Time had drawn a veil over the hardships and the dullness of that long-ago life; looking back they seemed to remember many good things.

'All the same, it was a hard life,' Kitty said, at length. 'And yet, we were pretty happy, even if we used to grumble because we were so poor. The queer thing is that I believe we were happier then than we are now, when we've got everything we ever longed for. But that's ridiculous if course.'

'I don't know,' Elsa said slowly. 'Some things were better then. For one thing, I don't remember more than about three times that we ever quarrelled.'

Golden Fiddles is an enjoyable story with just the right level of realism for a reader of around 11 years of age and up. As it was written in 1928, the word N***er is used in places. In this story it's the name of Bob's pony, so it crops up quite a bit whenever the horse in mentioned. The only other occurrence is in a comment Elsa makes: 'Father works like a n***er in the garden...'

I wrote some thoughts on literature and its associated language when I talked about the Billabong series by the same author. I think C.S. Lewis's words below are helpful in this situation, and although a book written in 1928 is not old in the sense that Lewis was speaking about, it does reflect a way of thinking or an outlook which is quite different from the present.

Every age has its own outlook. It is specially good at seeing certain truths and specially liable to make certain mistakes. We all, therefore, need the books that will correct the characteristic mistakes of our own period. And that means the old books. All contemporary writers share to some extent the contemporary outlook - even those, like myself, who seem most opposed to it.

Authors such as Mary Grant Bruce (1878-1958) lived through the class conflict of the 1880's in Australia and the great worker's strikes, the First World War, and the lead up to the Great Depression, before she wrote Golden Fiddles. I couldn't begin to imagine what she lived through - incredible change, loss and upheaval but I am willing to overlook her mistakes in order to benefit from her truths. The discomfort that these older books sometimes generate opens our eyes and minds. Some of our best discussions at home have come via the avenue of literature when we've been faced with these uncomfortable ideas and attitudes. As I've often mentioned when writing about books, I often edit as I read aloud, depending on the child's age and/or maturity, or use the opportunity to discuss attitudes etc. when appropriate. It's easier for me to do this now than it was years ago as I've learnt the importance of preparing my children for a world that's often uncomfortable.

Linking this to Simple Pastimes as part of the Classic Children's Literature Event 2016.

PS. The book was made into a mini-series in 1991 but I haven't seen it.

Friday, 22 April 2016

Nature Poetry: Poetry Month Celebration

The author of the beloved children's book, Charlotte's Web, was not surprisingly, also a poet. I love this poem which he wrote for his wife in 1929...

 Natural History
  The spider, dropping down from twig
  Unwinds a thread of her devising:
  A thin, premeditated rig
  To use in rising.

  And all the journey down through space,
  In cool descent, and loyal-hearted,
  She builds a ladder to the place
    From which she started.

  This I, gone forth, as spiders do,
  In spider’s web a truth discerning,
  Attach one silken strand to you
  For my returning.

   E.B. White (1899-1985) 

Garden Orb Weaving Spider I came across on my walk

A Noiseless Patient Spider

A noiseless, patient spider,   
I mark’d, where, on a little promontory, it stood, isolated;   
Mark’d how, to explore the vacant, vast surrounding,   
It launch’d forth filament, filament, filament, out of itself;   
Ever unreeling them - ever tirelessly speeding them.            
And you, O my Soul, where you stand,   
Surrounded, surrounded, in measureless oceans of space,   
Ceaselessly musing, venturing, throwing, - seeking the spheres, to connect them;   
Till the bridge you will need, be form’d - till the ductile anchor hold;   
Till the gossamer thread you fling, catch somewhere, O my Soul.

Walt Whitman (1819-1892) 

 Australian Magpie (c. Toby Hudson)


Along the road the magpies walk
with hands in pockets, left and right.
They tilt their heads, and stroll and talk.
In their well-fitted black and white.

They look like certain gentlemen
who seem most nonchalant and wise
until their meal is served - and then
what clashing beaks, what greedy eyes!

But not one man that I have heard
throws back his head in such a song
of grace and praise - no man nor bird.
Their greed is brief; their joy is long.
For each is born with such a throat
as thanks his God with every note.

Judith Wright (1915-2000)

Sunrise, Northern Territory, north of Alice Springs, 2011

The Australian Sunrise

The Morning Star paled slowly, the Cross hung low to the sea,
And down the shadowy reaches the tide came swirling free,
The lustrous purple blackness of the soft Australian night,
Waned in the grey awakening that heralded the light;
Still in the dying darkness, still in the forest dim
The pearly dew of the dawning clung to each giant limb,
Till the sun came up from ocean, red with the cold sea mist,
And smote on the limestone ridges, and the shining tree-tops kissed;
Then the fiery Scorpion vanished, the magpie's note was heard,
And the wind in the she-oak wavered, and the honeysuckles stirred;
The airy golden vapour rose from the river breast,
The kingfisher came darting out of his crannied nest,
And the bulrushes and reed-beds put off their sallow grey
And burnt with cloudy crimson at the dawning of the day.

James Lister Cuthbertson (1851-1910)

Leaf-tailed Gecko by Moozle aged 11

The Gecko

The Gecko lying on his stone
Is always very much alone,
Nor is the reason hard to trace
By those who've seen its form and face
It's hard to realise a mite
Can be so venomous a sight,
Or in its little frame compress
Such concentrated ugliness.
Now wonder other creatures fly
Each time a Gecko ambles by.
No wonder that its chosen mate
Recoils from the connubial state.
Yet underneath its skin, we're told,
There beats a heart of purest gold.
Its children do not know neglect;
It treats its mother with respect.
It never, ever beats its wife,
And lives a most unblemished life.
Its aspect is its sole defence
Against the world's malevolence.
So when you see a Gecko stay
Uncharitable thoughts and say:-
"The gruesome are not always gross-
even a reptile bears its cross!"

Leon Gellert (1892-1977)

Monday, 18 April 2016

A Little Bush Maid by Mary Grant Bruce (1875-1958) - Classic Children's Literature Event 2016

A Little Bush Maid was published in 1910 and is the first book in the Billabong series by Mary Grant Bruce. There are fifteen books altogether and they follow Norah Linton from when she was a twelve year old growing up at Billabong, her father's property in rural Victoria, through to her adult years.

It's best to read the books in chronological order just to get the characters straight (although we didn't because it took us a decade to gather all the titles in the series) but the books do stand alone.
The author wrote the Billabong series over the years 1910 to 1942 and they reveal a very different Australia than that of today. They are historically interesting - three of them have World War I as a backdrop (From Billabong to London; Jim & Wally; Captain Jim) and are set in locations other than Australia.

A Little Bush Maid starts off slowly as Norah and the other characters are introduced. Norah's father was widowed when she was a baby, and he was left to bring up both her and her beloved older brother, Jim. Her upbringing so far has been unconventional. She has had no formal schooling and she spends her days in her father's company, helping out on the property and growing 'just as the bush wild flowers grow.' Jim is at boarding school in Melbourne and as the story opens, he comes home with two of his friends, Wally and Harry, for the school holidays.

A Little Bush Maid may not immediately entice a young reader as they may initially be put off by the lack of action, but it is worthwhile to keep going. There is still a good deal of lighthearted, humorous banter between the characters and when the action does begin, the story picks up quickly. Norah discovers the camp of a mysterious old hermit, the young people have encounters with venomous snakes, a disgruntled swaggie sets fire to the Linton property and a visit to the circus nearly ends in tragedy.
The title of the first book probably isn't appealing to boys, but although Norah is the main character, there are strong male characters in all the books.
Age-wise, a confident reader of nine would enjoy this book, but if they like the book as much as some of my children did, you will want to start looking for more books in the series. They are out of print but the first title can generally be found easily enough and a kindle version is available online at Gutenberg (see below).
The Mary Grant Bruce Official Website has a list of the books in chronological order.

As the book was written in 1910, the attitudes and views reflect that time period. Chinese workers, Aboriginals and servants have attributes ascribed to them that are not acceptable these days and in 1992 a revised edition produced by Angus & Robertson was published with some omissions to reflect this.

 1992 Version

We have an unabridged copy and a 1992 edition and I noted some of these changes:

Norah was driving a horse and carriage and referred to the two horses as 'Darkie' and N***er. In the revised edition the second horse's name was changed to 'Blackie.'

A remark made about black Billy, the Aboriginal station hand was omitted:

"Queer chap, that," said Dr Anderson, lighting a cigarette. "That's about the only remark he's made all day."

I'm surprised they didn't omit the reference to the cigarette...

This sentence referring to the Chinese gardener was omitted:

Wally's own idea was to tie him up by the pigtail, but this Jim was prudent enough to forbid.

In the afterward written by Barbara Ker Wilson in the 1992 revised edition she states:

With hindsight, we disclaim many of the ideas, opinions and attitudes of 1910, and a few paragraphs which might be thought of as racist today have been omitted from the text. But it would be profitless to criticise the author of a story written at that time for relaying the attitudes of her day through her characters.

Another revised edition (illustrated, same text as the book above & easy to find)

Interesting - we've been listening to an audio version of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain and I was thinking how that book would be absolutely decimated if you took out the ideas, opinions and attitudes of the time in which it was written.
Literature is the product of a culture. Alexandr Solzhenitsyn said that 'literature is the living memory of a nation.' If we sanitise our past we are removing those memories and how do we learn and overcome our blind spots if we do not remember?

Gutenberg has four books in the series available in a kindle edition:

1) A Little Bush Maid
2) Mates at Billabong 
6) Captain Jim
7) Back to Billabong

This hardback version is unabridged and was published by John Ferguson Pty Limited in 1981. It also contains the next book in the series, Mates at Billabong:

An unabridged audio published by Bolinda Publishing is also available. I haven't listened to it but there's an excerpt here.

The Billabong books fit chronologically into Years 5 & 6 of Ambleside Online but we used them as free reads from the age of around 9 years.

Linking this to the 2016 Children's Classic Literature Event at Simpler Pastimes.

Monday, 11 April 2016

Poetry Celebration Tag

As part of  the Poetry Celebration at The Edge of the Precipice during April, Hamlette has posted some questions which I've answered below.

What are some poems you like?

I've loved poetry for as long as I can remember so I'm culling a lot here...

The Hound of Heaven by Francis Thompson (1859-1907)

"Ah, fondest, blindest, weakest,
I am He Whom thou seekest!
Thou dravest love from thee, who dravest Me."

The Fool's Prayer by Edward Rowland Sill (1841-1887)

"The ill-timed truth we might have kept -
Who knows how sharp it pierced and stung!
The word we had not sense to say -
Who knows how grandly it had rung!"

When You are Old by William Butler Yeats (1865-1939)

Ozymandias by Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822)

The Pulley by George Herbert (1593-1633)

Scots Wha Hae by Robert Burns (1759–1796) Because I'm a Scot...

What are some poems you dislike?

Nothing really stands out. There are lots I don't care for but there are so many good poems anyhow I don't think too much about those I don't fancy.

Are there any poets whose work you especially enjoy?  If so, who are they?

George Herbert
William Butler Yeats
Leon Gellert

I like the humourous poetry of Hillaire Belloc, Arthur Guiterman, Edward Lear, and this piece by Australian poet, Thomas E. Spencer, How McDougal topped the score

Do you write poetry?

Yes, I do but I haven't written much in recent years. Most of my poetry has been reflective & personal but I've written a number of songs - poetry set to music.

Have you ever memorized a poem?

I've memorised poems I've read to my children, because I read them over & over for years and I know snippets of longer poems. Poems set to music have definitely helped me enjoy and memorise poetry and these days it seems to be the only way I really memorise well.

Do you prefer poetry that rhymes and had a strict meter, or free verse?  Or do you like both?

I probably prefer poems that rhyme as long as it's not forced but they don't have to have a strict meter.

Do you have any particular poetry movements you're fond of?  (Beat poets, Romanticism, Fireside poets, etc?)(If you haven't got any idea what I'm talking about, that's fine!  You can check out this list for more info, if you want to.)

I'm not familiar enough with all these terms to answer this question properly but I'm not fond of poems that are too flowery and have an overabundance of references and allusions to matters I have no idea about. I like to be able to make a connection in some way with what I'm reading. I enjoy reading ballad poems aloud to the kids - some favourites have been:

The Destruction of Sennacherib by George Gordon Byron
Horatius at the Bridge by Thomas Babington Macaulay
The Highwayman by Arthur Noyes
Lady Clare by Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Some other posts related to poetry:

Poetry Selections for Memory Work
Poetry as a Means of Intellectual Culture
Ideas for Poetry with Children