Archives for October 2014

Paul Bunyan

Author and Illustrator:  Steven Kellogg


Few things excite the imagination like the reading of a well written tall tale.  Add a bit of humor,  superbly detailed illustrations and you have a story to delight any audience.

Who couldn’t love the largest, smartest, strongest baby ever born in the state of Maine? And Paul Bunyan kept growing at an astonishing rate.  He raced with deer and wrestled with grizzly bears! At 17, Paul and his constant companion, Babe, the blue ox he had rescued from a snowdrift as a calf, took off on their own.  They headed west to join a lumbering crew.

Paul was known for his love of pancakes. It’s said that he once took a few days off from work to dig the St. Lawrence River and the Great Lakes so that barges could bring maple syrup into the lumberjack camp!  Another time he drug his great ax behind him, and it gouged a huge jagged trench, which today is the Grand Canyon!

After reading this delightful tall tale, there will likely be some lively fun and silly time of discussing the happenings of the story.  Perhaps you can even come up with some ideas of your own as to how certain landmarks “might” have come to be! 🙂

Critical thinking questions based on Blooms:

1.  How would you describe Paul Bunyan?
2.  Can you explain what happened when Babe put on the sunglasses?  How did this stop the blizzard?
3.  What would you choose to change if you were Paul Bunyan?

Kellogg believes that tall tale heroes are our mythology; they capture the spirit of the American imagination and American creativity and humor.

Papa Is A Poet

Author:  Natalie S. Bober
Illustrator:  Rebecca Gibbon



        Robert Frost once said, “When I was young, I was so interested in baseball that my family was afraid I’d waste my life and be a pitcher.      Later, they were afraid I’d waste my life and be a poet.  They were right.”

There is, however, a world of readers that would disagree that his life as a poet was wasted.  This storyteller poet has become one of the finest voices in American literature, through his beautiful and moving poetry.  “Papa Is A Poet”  is told from the point of view of Lesley, the Frost’s oldest daughter, when she was just a child.


Lesley shares sweet, personal memories of their everyday lives; their Mama teaching them to read, count, sing, tell stories, while Papa taught her to use his typewriter to sound out words and begin writing stories.  “Papa studied the heavens, and he shared with us his delight in astronomy.  He gave us each a star to ‘own.'”  She tells of her father milking their cow at midnight so that he could stay awake and read Shakespeare and write poetry while the family quietly slept.


Robert Frost once wrote,

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I –

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference. “

The insights into the Frost family shared in this book are most endearing.   There is also an Author’s Note page providing further depth into Robert Frost’s life, as well as a few of his interesting quotes.  You’ll be further  impressed to find several pages of Frost’s best loved poems printed at the back.

1.  What is the “road” that Robert Frost took?

2.  How would you explain a metaphor? Did Robert Frost explain it well?

3.  What did Lesley mean when she wrote, “Papa wanted to make music out of words”?

Mary Kline

The Beeches


“The Beeches” 1845, by Asher B. Durand (American, 1796–1886)

Oil on canvas; 60 3/8 x 48 3/8 in. (153.4 x 122.2 cm),
Bequest of Maria DeWitt Jesup,
from the collection of her husband,
Morris K. Jesup, 1914 (15.30.59)

Isn’t God’s creation amazing? Look at the way this artist painted the light in this scene! Since this month is our study of light month, we are taking a look at the art of Asher Durand, who was a student of the Hudson River Painters the mid 1800s in America. The Hudson River Painters were a group of painters believed that painting nature was a way to study and share the character of God and should be painted as realistically as possible. Many of their paintings show the light coming from behind, illuminating their paintings in a way that speaks not only distinguishes their landscapes, but has spiritual symbolism.

Reflection Questions:

  1. Where do you see light in this painting? A. It is mostly in the background, shining on the path from the lake through the trees. This is called a backlit painting.
  2. Why do you think the artist, Asher Durand, painted the light coming from behind the trees instead of in front of the trees like we see in most modern paintings? What is different about how he painted the light? A. He wanted to catch the light in a distinct way that contrasts darkness.
  3. What do you see besides light and trees? A. A shepherd with red fabric hanging from a stick or staff on his shoulder along with his sheep on a path.
  4. Which story or stories in the Bible do you think this painting might refer to? A. Possibly that Jesus is our Good Shepherd, the Light of the World, and he who follows him will not walk in darkness. John 8:12.
  5. Why do you think the man and the sheep are so small compared to the trees? A. This makes the man and the sheep appear farther away.
  6. How do you feel when you look at this painting? A. Peaceful? Still? Quiet?

Join us for a deeper look at the use of “light” as it relates to art next week on
October 22, 2014, at 10:00 a.m. and a make-up session on October 29 at 1:00pm,
as Fireflies Blog presents two opportunities for literature, art and legacy moments at:

Coffee and Canvas art studio
Springs Plaza Shopping Center

2401 W. State Road 434, Suite 163
Longwood, FL 32779


We will be reading “On a Beam of Light,” carving beautiful clay pumpkins, then painting them will colorful glazes. This project you and your family will be able to use for years to come as a fall tea light! Call for more information and to register for this fun fall project! This is a great way to make time to share the Fireflies opportunities we blog about with your children!


Laura Bird Miller

Owner, Coffee and Canvas

On A Beam Of Light

Author:  Jennifer Berne

Illustrator:  Vladimir Radunsky

“Over 100 years ago, as the stars swirled in the sky, as the Earth circled the sun, as the March winds blew through a little town by a river, a baby boy was born. 

His parents named him Albert.”


 Can you guess who this little Albert grew up to be?

Even as a young child, Albert Einstein was endlessly distracted by the wonder of the world around him.   Riding his bicycle down a dusty road caused his curiosity to imagine himself traveling at a speed beyond imagining, “on a beam of light.”  He felt he was racing through space.  And it filled his mind with questions.


Albert began to read and study everything he could about light, sound, gravity, and magnetism.  He loved working with numbers.  Everywhere Albert went he would think and think. His thinking and figuring helped prove that everything in the world is made of atoms. Even us!  He did not like to wear socks and he said playing his violin always helped him figure out problems.  One of his favorite places was his little sailboat.  Perhaps that is where he learned so much about motion.


Albert’s thinking helped us understand our universe as no one ever had before.

1.  How did Albert’s lump of sugar and pipe smoke help him learn about atoms?

2.  Why do you think the author chose “On A Beam of Light” for the title of the story?

3.  Do you think it is important to ask questions? Dream? Imagine?