Chrysanthemum

Here’s another one of our top picks for August, celebrating the best in teachers, Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes.  Take a minute to revisit this delightful favorite, or meet a music teacher who knows exactly how to relate to a tender mouse-child with an unusual name.

Review:
With perfect trust in her doting parents, Chrysanthemum (a mouse) knows that her name is, as they tell her,  “absolutely perfect”–until she goes to school and is teased about it by her classmates, especially the imperious Victoria. Doubt sets in, to be allayed each night by  “hugs and kisses and Parcheesi,”  but then reintroduced next day.

Fortunately, a charismatic music teacher whose name happens to be Delphinium makes flower names a new fad. The ending here is preposterously tidy, contributing to the humor of a warmhearted story that celebrates the security of a happy family while gently satirizing its members.

Henkes’s language and humor are impeccably fresh, his cozy illustrations sensitive and funny, his little asides to adults an unobtrusive delight. Another winner from this perceptive artist.  KIRKUS review

Great classroom Chrysanthemum ideas/Pinterest HERE.

And here’s a reading of the book, Chrysanthemum by Kevin Hankes.  Enjoy!

 

A bird on the plate is worth two in the fridge….

Birds are a huge source of entertainment in this household.  The boys and I recently added a large birdfeeder outside our dining room window so we could keep better tabs on the neighborhood bird drama.  We live on the water and have feathered friends of all kind; from small sparrows to geese.  We even have one “city pigeon” that comes in every afternoon for his regular fly-by snack.  Our freezer always maintains extra bread for duck feedings and we have even had to start purchasing our bird seed from Sam’s to keep up with the high demands of our beaked buddies.
To say that the boys were excited to do a bird themed snack would be an understatement.  I knew we were going to have to provide some pretty incredible meals for my two bird-loving boys.  Thankfully, there was no shortage of ideas out there.  Since, we couldn’t choose between a few of them, we planned a whole day of bird themed meals.

BIRD’S NEST BREAKFAST

I found the idea for this on Pinterest and its just incredibly easy for a fast but adorable birdie breakfast for your babies.
All you’ll need is:
  • Bread (toasted according to your little one’s preference)
  • Hard boiled egg (we made this really easy by buying them right from the store)
  • Teensy tiniest bit of a carrot
  • Edible marker (thought you could easily use a small piece of raisin for her little eyes)
Simply cut your toast into strips.  Levi likes his with a little butter so we buttered it first.  Arrange your bread pieces in a nest shape.
Cut a small triangle shape from the end of a carrot for the birds beak and position on the egg.  With your edible marker, add two eyes.  Levi decided our bird was a girl (or “grill” as he pronounces it) so we gave her pretty little eyelashes.
Nestle her into her little warm and “toast”-y nest and serve to your overly enthusiastic little one.

FOR SNACKTIME:

Another very easy idea for a quick snack.
What you’ll need:
  • Pretzel sticks
  • Grapes
  • Carrot
  • Edible Marker

I snapped the pretzel sticks into smaller “twigs” and just tossed them into a small bowl.  Dot little eyes on grapes and set them in their “nest”.  Cut small triangles from carrots and place on the birds and you’re done!

FOR DINNER:

And finally for dinner, spaghetti noodles with bird meatballs on a celery branch.
What you’ll need:
  • Center stalk of celery (with the leaves on the end to look branch-like)
  • Cooked spaghetti
  • Meatballs or like we used, mini-hamburgers
  • Mozarella Cheese
  • Carrot
  • Edible Marker

Place celery branch across plate, use a fork and twirl a large section of spaghetti into a nest shape.  Place noodle nest on its side.  Tuck in two meatballs or mini hamburgers into the nest.  For the eyes, I cut slices of a cheese stick and used a piping tip to make a smaller circle cut out.  You could most certainly use the entire slice though.  Add a black dot in the center of the cheese slice with an edible marker or you could use a caper, piece of black olive or a piece of raisin.  Whatever you happen to have laying around in the pantry.  Position the eyes on the meatball/ hamburger.  Cut a small triangle out of a carrot and place under eyes to form the beak.

The boys loved this idea so much that we had a version of it for dinner the next night as well.  The second night, I made a nest of rice and tucked their meat into it.  Just as easy and just as entertaining for the little ones in your life.
Contributing author: Rachel Skvaril
Sugar Artist

Poem Share: Red Bird

The First Red Bird

by Evaleen Stein

I heard a song at daybreak,
So honey-sweet and clear,
The essence of all joyous things
Seemed mingling in its cheer.

The frosty world about me
I searched with eager gaze,
But all was slumber-bound and wrapped
In violet-tinted haze.

Then suddenly a sunbeam
Shot slanting o’er the hill,
And once again from out the sky
I heard that honied trill.

And there upon a poplar,
Poised at its topmost height,
I saw a little singer clad
In scarlet plumage bright.

The poplar branches quivered,
By dawn winds lightly blown,
And like a breeze-swept poppy-flower
The red-bird rocked and shone.

The blue sky, and his feathers
Flashed o’er by golden light,
Oh, all my heart with rapture thrilled,
It was so sweet a sight!

Another delightful interpretation of The First Red Bird by Sierra Valone.
“Thank you, Sierra, for reading this month’s poem for us!”

You Are My Work of Art!

From the Author, Sue DiCicco

You Are My Work of Art”,  was in development for many years. The fine art world is difficult for some to appreciate, the notion being pervasive that it is hard to understand, and beyond the average person to grasp. It frightens many away from something that has always brought me a tremendous amount of joy. As my son was growing up, our goal was to introduce him to the world of art and have him feel it was created for him and speaking to him, no matter what avocation he eventually would choose to pursue.
How does one instill a sense of belonging in children and forever cast away the sense of intimidation that has perpetuated in the world of fine art? How does one connect a young child to the iconic images of the art world, and instill an early sense of joy when encountering great art?
We actively toured museums around the world with our son, and engaged him in conversations about the images and how they related to him and his own world.

I wondered how to share the experience with other children that had limited opportunities for such field trips. The sketches developed over the years, eventually finding their way into book form. The poem followed as the images were assembled, designed to introduce any child (and perhaps even their parent) to 8 famous paintings for the very first time. I hope you enjoy it and look forward to hearing your review.

Sue DiCicco
August 2011

From Deni:

 

I found this book several years ago, a week before heading to DC to await the arrival of my third grandchild.  I immediately fell in love with it, so into the suitcase it went.   Even though it is geared towards very young children (it’s a board book), it perfectly captures what I was talking about in an early Fireflies’ post – Training your child to appreciate art. The author had the same desire that I had as a young mom; to introduce my children to art masterpieces.  Not only does DiCicco introduce major works of art in her board book, she emphasizes a theme that is dear to my mom’s heart – that our children are OUR works of art.

That night as I was working on posts for Fireflies, I received a text from my friend Julie Hagan – “You have to see this wonderful book I’ve found.”   It was You are my Work of Art, by Sue DiCicco.  She then linked the book to a song that had been very special to both of us as new moms.  If you know it, the mention of it will bring tears to your eyes.  If you don’t, then I’m excited to introduce this song to you; Masterpiece by Sandi Patty.   (Thanks for reminding me, Julie!)   I’ve posted the lyrics to Masterpiece below.  It has been remastered from when we first heard it (in the ’80s – I know…it’s ancient – as are we).

Enjoy, as we celebrate the masterpieces created by God’s hands and placed in ours!

Click here to listen to the song.

 

Before you had a name or opened up your eyes
Or anyone could recognize your face.

You were being formed so delicate in size
Secluded in God’s safe and hidden place.

With your little tiny hands and little tiny feet
And little eyes that shimmer like a pearl

He breathed in you a song and to make it all complete
He brought the masterpiece into the world.

You are a masterpiece
A new creation He has formed

And you’re as soft and fresh as a snowy winter morn.
And I’m so glad that God has given you to me

Little Lamb of God, you are a masterpiece.

And now you’re growing up your life’s a miracle
Every time I look at you I stand in awe

Because I see in you a reflection of me
And you’ll always be my little lamb from God

And as your life goes on each day
How I pray that you will see
Just how much your life has meant to me.

And I’m so proud of you
What else is there to say?
Just be the masterpiece He created you to be.