We Recommend

Every time I type “recommend”, I have a very worried feeling that I’m spelling it wrong.  I’ve even tried to find other words for it so that I don’t have to use it.  But it’s such a good, sturdy word.

rec-om-mend: to present as worthy of acceptance or trial; to endorse as fit, worthy, or competent

A few good things have come our way, and we’d like to recommend them to you as being worthy and far more than merely acceptable.

Bad Influence


Our first recommendation comes from Matthias. I held an Usborne book party last month and thought he might like one of the books. I asked him to flip through Things for Boys to Make and Do and let me know if he wanted it. He didn’t come back, and so I went looking for him. I found him surrounded by paper, tape, scissors, and pencil crayons.He had made a wanted poster from the book and was then inspired to create paper mustaches and a variety of other cowboy gear. That seemed like all I needed to know and I ordered it.




The book has now been in our house for 18 hours. In that time, creativity has been unleashed to an extraordinary extent for Matthias. Paper hat, badge, holster, gun, and belt all completed. Soccer drawing underway. Wanted poster underway.  This book has really great projects that have simple, eye-catching illustrated directions and a wide range of great topics: pirates, knights, mummies, soccer, cowboys, dragons, and more. The types of projects are equally broad: drawing, collage, building, paper mache…I’d tell you more, but he’s using the book.

Our next recommendation is from Sandra. Writing Magic: Creating Stories that Fly is a wonderful book by the renowned author Gail Carson Levine. (Here’s a review.) Sandra loves to write and is working on a number of stories. She started writing even before her reading took off. During all those years of struggling to learn to read and vision therapy, we never stinted on promoting a love of stories. In her spare time she’d reenact books and movies in her room, adapting them as well as faithfully repeating their plots. This naturally led to thinking of her own stories and wanting to get them down. Her spelling – to this day – atrocious. That didn’t need to stop her, though.

Reading Writing Magic has encouraged her and inspired her. She feels reassured on a number of points. The other day I walked in to find her writing beside a piece of paper that had “Shut Up!” emblazoned across it. I was taken aback. She explained that it was written to her nasty voice, the one telling her that her writing was stupid and that she was lazy and that her story was boring.

She’s been inspired to set her own challenge.


100 Days


10 minutes of writing per day, 100 days in a row. She plans to reward herself at 50 as well as at 100, and is currently mulling over such prizes as a fountain pen and a new iPod Nano.

My recommendation, aside from being compassionate to yourself and aside from allowing your children to have time for whimsy and self-directed projects, is to read To the Heart of the Nile: Lady Florence Baker and the Exploration of Central Africa. Well written, this book takes you into a life almost too fantastic to believe. You’d dismiss it as outlandish if it were fiction: a beautiful Hungarian girl raised to be an Ottoman courtesan rescued at her auction by an Englishman; a love story that becomes a tale of adventure and suffering as they set out to discover the source of the Nile.

And lastly, from all of us, the album Ocean Eyes by Owl City.  You’ve probably heard the ‘Fireflies” song already.  We’re finding these cheerful, whimsical songs the perfect soundtrack to our days as we wait for spring to arrive.

3 thoughts on “We Recommend

  1. GailV says:

    My older daughter requested a copy of Writing Magic as a birthday present last fall — it’s great to hear that other people/kids are enjoying it too.

    And I have to giggle about the recommendation for Owl City — also VERY popular at our house.

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