Friday, 29 July 2016

Mentoring and educating the teens: week 5

It was an interesting week here. 

There was only one day of which we touched on grammar.  Normally, I like to have some form of grammar or poetry within or educational hours.  Instead there was more writing.

Assignments were set in accordance with what will be expected next year, as examination year approaches.  I thought there would be a little resistance, but the assignments were entered into with willing attitudes. 

I took a science encyclopedia, set copy work, re-writing assignments, and research missions for them and the absorption was really good.  It was quite interesting what they looked up, compared to what I would have been attracted to.

We finished all our past readings, and I started reading the classic version of "Oz, the Complete collection'.  Yes, you read that right.  As teens, this has been approached really well.  There has been much to discuss while comparing children's literature from the past with today.  Comparison is a task in most writing curriculum, what better task to enter into than comparing written literature?  Amongst the comparison they can compare language and grammar while also comparing the different levels of comprehension each contains.  In addition we have been able to discuss the differences in the expectations of each era. 

The rest of the week was spent absorbed in maths, drawing, character creation and trying to convince me of the benefits of computer games in education and strategizing.

Hope you all have an enjoyable weekend and find time to relax with a good book.

Happy reading

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Worthy of Repeating

Hi Everyone

I just had to put this up as my 'Worthy of Repeating' for this week because it made me smile.  I know so many people that do just this. 

It is a talent that I don't think I have, but then again how many people come out and say
"your confusing me". 

My friends are all too polite.

Friday, 22 July 2016

The A to Z of you and me

The A to Z of you and me
Author: James Hannah
ISBN: 9781492633167

There were a few things I liked about this book...

First, I liked the protagonist had diabetes rather than cancer, car accident or mind issues, which most books tend to feature.  We live in a time where the westernized world has vast amounts of diabetics.  Yet, cancer tends to be the main talking point.  I have known a few people now that have died with cancer, and I hate the disease.  Even though I have seen many cured, I know the damage it does to one's mind and body as it slowly eats the person away.  So, to read a book highlighting diabetes and learning a little more about a sickness that faces so many people, I found journeying through the book with this character enlightening.  I hope I can say I am a better person with a little more respect and understanding of diabetes, from reading this novel.

Second,  I enjoyed the nurse, Sheila.  I would be friends with Sheila.  She had a way of opening people up, caring, supporting, nurturing; while still being tough and professional.  I hope that if I ever need a nurse, I get one just like Sheila.

Third, I liked the way it this novel told two stories.  There was the hospital and his sickness that was far from weakly told.  Then there was the drama of his past life as he played the A-Z game.  This was an interesting concept; it was like reading two novels in one.

Finally, but not least, I enjoyed the journey from wonder, to laughing, to boarder-lining crying; the suspense, the want to skip a couple of pages to see what the happened (but I didn't) and the ending.  You have to read to the end!

Yes, I recommend this book, and I thank Netgalley for enabling me to read and review this book.   I will respect the food I put into my body more so than ever after reading this book, as I have been friends with characters that have shown me the world of diabetes in a very clever, enticing novel.

Happy reading


Friday, 15 July 2016

Oki and Harlo

Oki and Harlo: fairytale friends
Author: Cas Mesterom

I have a new friend.  He is a little goat and he is so adorable.  His friend is Harlo.   Harlo is a star that falls from the sky and needs a friend.  He finds one in Oki. 

Together they learn about:









believing in yourself

I am extremely grateful to Cas Mesterom for gifting me a copy of this book to read.  I absolutely love it!  The language is beautiful to read.  The whole story enticed me, mainly due to the language.  The story line was beautifully crafted and the presentation of the book was perfect. 

One of the special features of this books presentation is the added drawing pages.  This enables the reader to draw the illustrations to the story.  This is a brilliant way to bring children into the story, hence encouraging comprehension and engagement. 

Cas.... do not stop at this book.  I want to read more of your stories.  It would be a shame to not continue sharing the gift you have for writing and presenting your stories. 

Author: Cas Mesterom

You can connect with Cas, Oki and Harlo at:

This is available from: Amazon

Happy reading

Thursday, 14 July 2016

Saving my Assassin

Saving My Assassin
Author: Viginia Prodan
ISBN: 9781496411846

Oh my goodness! 

This book is so eye opening! 

From the first page, I was taken in to the life of this woman.  From her childhood, that was an act of survival in itself, to the final pages of her adult encounters, this was a book of faith and strength beyond anything I have ever read.  Virginia found herself on the wrong side of communist governance but continued to fight for truth and justice.  The way in which she remained calm in the face of her assassin, to the grace she showed while under house arrest (for no reason without even the ability to get more food for her girls) is indescribable, other than her account written in this books pages. 

What I found really good about the writing of this book, was the history and acknowledgment of the reality of the Communist ruling of Romania.  I had media knowledge of communism and media knowledge of Romania.  I had no real reality of the individual lives in such a country.  I come from a country where we are safe from such ruling and take plenty for granted.  This goes un-noticed until one reads a book like this one.

Virginia has written an amazing book here, showing her life and at the same time showing the rest of the world a little of the reality of Communist ruling and historical events in Romanian history.  This is a story that will probably never make the history text books, but stories like these are those that tell truth in history.

My highest credits go to 'Saving my Assassin'. 


"I should be dead. Buried in an unmarked grave in Romania. Obviously I'm not. God had other plans."

Virginia Prodan's compelling story of courage in the face of intimidation and even death on behalf of others is a testament to her unwavering faith in a God who delivers.

Happy reading

This was available from: Fishpond, Book depository and Amazon

Friday, 8 July 2016

Mentoring and educating the teens: Week 4

Hi everyone,

This week was a test of how much the kids could do on their own devices.  I had appointment after appointment this week and they had to keep going while I was gone. 

The question is did they?

They surprised me greatly and worked away while I was away.  In fact I think some may have done the work faster, so they could do what they wanted if time allowed before I got back.  It makes me smile to see that when they need to all will be completed.

We managed to get all assignments from the previous week completed.  We started reading a new book, and it took up too much time as we were all trying to solve the mystery as we read along.  There has been much debate over who took the painting in the case.

I purchased this book a couple of years ago as it was listed in the Sonlight Curriculum.  I cannot remember which core it went with, but it is a very enjoyable book.  It is the great-great-great grandchildren of Sherlock Holmes trying to solve the cases that Sherlock never had.  Very interesting concept which has grabbed the interest of my boy.  He will be adding the rest of the series to his Kindle, I am sure of that one. 

We have continued to read the autobiography of Benjamin Franklin.  This has come with mixed emotions but all have continued to trudge their way through the pages.  I recommend anyone who asks their teens to read this one, be ready to read it themselves so as to delve into conversation.  It has been the conversation that has opened up the depth of his life within this autobiography. 

Then to make the week just a little bit interesting, we had a broken computer screen.  Not a problem when there are boys around to make a new computer from the remains.  It took an afternoon of dissecting and arranging new cables to enable the now dead swipe screen to work, but a working computer was achieved.  What better electronic electives could I have organised myself!

Now we take a week of due to school holidays here in our country.  I will be back with the next issue of 'Mentoring and Educating the teens' in a fortnight.

Happy reading

The 100-year Old Secret was purchased from Fishpond

The Tank Man's Son

The Tank Man's Son
Author: Mark Bouman with D. R Jacobson
ISBN: 978-1-4143-9027-7

 I have to apologise, I will not be able to get my post up for 'mentoring and educating the teens' until tomorrow.  The reason is this book!  I just had to keep reading.  There was no helping it.  I was stuck in the pages of this boy/mans life.

The description claims this book is 'in the tradition of ... Angela's Ashes'.  With 'Angela's Ashes' being one of my favourite books from many years ago, I was interested in reading this one.  Did it add up to being in line with the accreditation of Angela's Ashes?  Yes, for me it did.  It was well written in that he didn't only tell the bad parts of his life, but also parts in which he did smile, and did learn things.  The things this this family went through because of the father is mind boggling.  The beginning was one of which society shaped the life's of two young people who had made the mistake of pregnancy, in a time when it was shunned.  I question what would have become of these two teens had a pregnancy not demanded marriage.  But it did, and life grew crazier and scarier as each year passed.  The children lived through the ever decaying relationship, in a home that I struggled to imagine, with a father that can only be explained within the pages of this book.  It was the most eye-opening story of abuse I have read, ever.  I question that statement when I think of Angela's Ashes, but I still come to the same conclusion, this story was beyond my comprehension.

Even though Mark's childhood was the main structure of this book, it was the final chapters that grabbed me the most.  The way his life transformed, to become the testimony which the final pages presents, left me wanting to know more.  I cannot say too much about the end chapters or I will spoil the book.  What I can say is I would like to see more books about what Mark Bouman is doing now.  What he did to protect the children in his care was outstanding and humanity as it should be.  As I write this I still sit in amazement as to where he was led, and how he now reacts to the childhood he missed; or rather how used it to bring some good to the world.


In the tradition of The Glass Castle and Angela’s Ashes comes the most unforgettable memoir you’ll read this year!“What did it mean to be the Tank Man’s son? To grow up overwhelmed by my father’s presence and personality? It was as if I didn’t exist, as if I was just something else for my father to crush.”

So begins the haunting memoir of Mark Bouman as he recounts the events of his childhood at the hands of his larger-than-life, Neo-Nazi father in brilliant, startling detail. From adventure-filled days complete with real-life war games, artillery fire, and tank races to terror-filled nights marked by vicious tirades, brutal beatings, and psychological torture, Mark paints a chilling portrait of family life that is at once whimsical and horrific—all building to a shocking climax that challenges even the broadest boundaries of love and forgiveness.

An epic tale of redemption and reconciliation, The Tank Man’s Son is a literary tour de force that is sure to become an instant classic

Book trailer taken from YouTube:
Tyndale House Publishers

Happy reading

This was available from: Fishpond, Amazon and Book depository:

Sunday, 3 July 2016

Me before you

Me Before You
Author: Jojo Moyes
ISBN: 978-0-7181-7702-7

I sat all Saturday afternoon reading this book.  Cooked tea for my family.  Then returned to reading.  That was how much this book grabbed me.  If you want to read this then I recommend you read it before watching the movie.  Do not look at the movie trailer as it will totally ruin the book!  Allow plenty of down time so you can justify becoming totally absorbed in the plot.  And... You many need tissues, for both laughing and crying.

The plot was not what I expected.  I didn't realise it was a movie, even though it is screening here at the moment, but did comment that it needed to be made into one.  I will now need to watch the movie, of which I will put up a comparison, book vs movie.  I am thinking the book may just win again as there are parts of the book that just need to be read and played through your own mind.

The characters were captivating.  There was a little bit of wit, arrogance, generosity, loneliness, compassion (the list goes on) in all the characters.  As I read I was able to see a realness in the characters and the lives of each.  I connected with each one in different ways as their realities communicated life in such real ways.  Every character strives to survive life through the emotional struggles handed to them by their situations.   The characters made this book real for me.

There is a sequel to this.  It is on my must read list.  There is no way I cannot see what happens from here.  Having said that, the sequel is not one of those must reads to find the answers books.  The book is rounded off and ended in a dynamic way that does not keep you guessing.  This book is finished.  But, the sequel will be another story all of its own that I just have to read, because I am nosey and want to know what the characters do next.

Yes, you should read this book.  Yes, you should watch the movie.  But, read the book first!


She knows how many footsteps there are between the bus stop and home. She knows she likes working in The Buttered Bun tea shop and she knows she might not love her boyfriend Patrick.

What Lou doesn't know is she's about to lose her job or that knowing what's coming is what keeps her sane.

Will Traynor knows his motorcycle accident took away his desire to live. He knows everything feels very small and rather joyless now and he knows exactly how he's going to put a stop to that.

What Will doesn't know is that Lou is about to burst into his world in a riot of colour. And neither of them knows they're going to change the other for all time

Happy reading

This was available from:  Fishpond, Amazon and Book depository

Friday, 1 July 2016

Mentoring and educating the teens: week 3

Hi Everyone,

Three weeks on and we are all into a routine of educating ourselves.  This has become quite refreshing.  There are still moments where studies go beyond the normal education time frame of normal school hours, but education is becoming a life style rather than a task. 

I have often wrestled with reading, writing, maths and other things that were school subjects, becoming a struggle outside 'schooling time'.  Reading was a struggle for one of the children and it soon became a school only subject.  Where I succeeded in teaching reading, I felt I had failed in achieving a love for reading.  It was the love for reading that school failed me in, and it is what I my passion for teaching is aiming to achieve.  I want to not only teach reading, but give the gift of reading to children.  I believe learning to read is not always the problem, but rather comprehension.  Comprehension's problem often comes from the lack of joy in reading.  The lack of going beyond words or decoding, and entering the world the book has behind the words.  Through allowing this young teen to take control of their study time, there has been more reading than ever before.  This has surprised me.  There are recommenations for reading being handed out by the most reluctant reader as they spend more time in their stories.  We are reading and talking about what is being read, engaging in conversations that lead to questions of which the need to consult 'Google" cannot be resisted.  The teens are looking things up that they would normally neglect, instead moving onto the 'required' work. 

I am seeing cognitive theory and freedomship education at work.   They are constructing their own questions, seeking the answers, constructing and conversing ideas, and maturing in their desire to learn.  Some days learning goes beyond the average hours because of procrastination, most days they are going beyond the average hours because they have found something worthy of their time.  I am enjoying being the mentor and standing back watching them learn, while learning more for myself.

Over the past couple of weeks, the Institute for Excellence in Writing posted a podcast on  'Strategies for maximising the high school years'.   I found it interesting to listen to and thought it worthy of sharing the link and  There are a few good ideas worthy of listening to in these two podcasts.

We also downloaded "Great inventors and scientists - Louis Pasteur"  This is by Homeschool Bits and I purchased it from Curriclick   This is proving to be well worth the purchase.  We are enjoying reading the linked information and it enables the student to go further than what is presented in the curriculum pages. 

I will enjoy the next couple of days reading books on my own reading list and doing some of the crafts that I have in action waiting for me to take a day off.  Then I will venture into another week with these teens as we continue to teach each other more than we all realise.

Happy reading