phd mama

from diapers to deconstruction


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“Mad about Matisse”

And here’s another tangent from our study of France, a list dedicated to the masterpieces of Henri Matisse.

  1. Bonjour, Mr. Satie by Tomie dePaola
  2. Colorful Dreamer: The Story of Artist Henri Matisse by Marjorie Blain Parker and Holly Berry
  3. Crayola’s Craft “In Matisse’s Garden”
  4. Getting to Know the World’s Greatest Artists: Henri Matisse by Mike Venezia
  5. Henri Matisse (1869-1954) by the Metropolitan Museum of Art (includes slideshow of images)
  6. Henri Matisse: Drawing with Scissors by Keesia Johnson, Jane O’Connor, and Jessie Hartland
  7. Henri’s Scissors by Jeannette Winter
  8. The Iridescence of Birds: A Book about Henri Matisse by Patricia MacLachlan and Hadley Hooper
  9. The Life and Work of Henri Matisse by Paul Flux
  10. Matisse the King of Color by Laurence Anholt
  11. Matisse: Life and Painting
  12. Oooh! Matisse by Mil Niepold and Jeanyves Verdu
  13. When Pigasso Met Mootisse by Nina Laden


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“Delighted by Degas”

Here’s an offshoot of our study of France–a list devoted to Edgar Degas, complete with delightful ballerinas!

  1. Chasing Degas by Eva Montanari
  2. Crayola’s Craft “Dancing Sculptures”
  3. Dancing with Degas by Julie Merberg and Suzanne Bober
  4. Degas and the Dance by Susan Goldman Rubin
  5. Degas and the Little Dancer by Laurence Anholt
  6. Edgar Degas: Coloring Book by Annette Roeder
  7. Edgar Degas (1834-1917): Painting and Drawing by The Metropolitan Museum of Art (includes slideshow of images)
  8. Edgar Degas: The Complete Works
  9. Edgar Degas: Paintings that Dance by Kristin N. Cole and Maryann Cocca-Leffler
  10. Tour: Edgar Degas at the National Gallery of Art


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Feasting in France

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My elder daughter and I have a pact to visit the Eiffel Tower together some day, so it’s no surprise that she chose France for our country-a-month study. We previously did a unit study called “Paris in the Springtime,” so I’ve tried to expand to France more broadly here, and I’ve avoided duplications from that list. During our study, we discovered that we wanted to explore two artists in greater depth, so I made separate lists for Edgar Degas (“Delighted by Degas”) and Henri Matisse (“Mad about Matisse”). My daughter is still delighted by the Eiffel Tower, but one of our favorite parts of studying France is, of course, the food. Bon appétit!

  1. Anatole by Eve Titus and Paul Galdone (part of a series)
  2. An Armadillo in Paris by Julie Kraulis
  3. Beauty and the Beast by Ursula Jones and Sarah Gibb
  4. The Cat Who Walked across France by Kate Banks and Georg Hallensleben
  5. Cézanne and the Apple Boy by Laurence Anholt
  6. Cinderella (Adaptations of Charles Perrault’s Version)
  7. Count Your Way through France by Jim Haskins, Kathleen Benson, and Andrea Shine
  8. Crayola’s Coloring Pages of the French flag, Joan of Arc, and Napoleon Bonaparte
  9. Crêpes by Suzette by Monica Wellington
  10. The Fantastic Jungles of Henri Rousseau by Michelle Markel and Amanda Hall
  11. France: The CIA Factbook
  12. The Inside-Outside Book of Paris by Roxie Munro
  13. Joan of Arc by Demi
  14. Kiki and Coco in Paris by Stephanie Rausser, Jess Brown, and Nina Gruener
  15. A Lion in Paris by Beatrice Alemagna
  16. Minette’s Feast: The Delicious Story of Julia Child and Her Cat by Susanna Reich and Amy Bates
  17. Mirette on the High Wire by Emily Arnold McCully
  18. Monsieur Marceau: Actor without Words by Leda Schubert and Gérard Dubois
  19. Papa Chagall, Tell Us a Story by Laurence Anholt
  20. Puss in Boots: A Tale by Charles Perrault and Fred Marcellino
  21. A Walk in Paris by Salvatore Rubbino


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Indian Food for Thought

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(Image includes a page about India from Usborne’s Sticker Dolly Dressing: Costumes around the World.)

My husband and I suggested studying a country each month, beginning with India, largely because we wanted to take our girls out for Indian food. This unit contains a lot of folk and fairy tales from ancient India, but one of the things I love about this unit (and unit studies more generally) is the interdisciplinarity. We read folk tales about mathematics and played related games on our own, explored the geography of a nation and its neighbors, and investigated the animals who turned up in so many stories. I was conscious, as I selected these texts and pursued them with my children, of the complicatedness of studying other cultures; as the Indian feminist Uma Narayan says “[t]hinking about food has much to reveal about how we understand our personal and collective identities. Seemingly simple acts of eating are flavored with complicated, and sometimes contradictory, cultural meaning.” We approached India as outsiders and came away with a cross-disciplinary perspective that gave us a glimpse into the subcontinent—and food for thought about our own place in the world.

  1. Anklet for a Princess: A Cinderella Story from India by Lila Mehta, Meredith Brucker, and Youshan Tang
  2. A Bucket of Blessings by Kabir Sehgal and Surishta Sehgal, illustrated by Jing Jing Tsong
  3. The Elephant’s Friend and Other Tales from Ancient India retold and illustrated by Marcia Williams
  4. Elephant Prince: The Story of Ganesh by Amy Novesky and Belgin K. Wedman
  5. Grandfather Gandhi by Arun Gandhi and Bethany Hegedus, illustrated by Evan Turk
  6. The Gifts of Wali Dad by Aaron Shepard and Daniel San Souci
  7. Grandma and the Great Gourd by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni and Susy Pilgrim Waters
  8. The Hallowed Horse by Demi
  9. I is for India by Prodeepta Das
  10. Monkey: A Trickster Tale from India by Gerald McDermott
  11. The Monkey and the Crocodile by Paul Galdone
  12. Monsoon by Uma Krishnaswami and Jamel Akib
  13. National Geographic Animals: Indian Rhinoceroses (use search function for more animals)
  14. No Dinner! The Story of the Old Woman and the Pumpkin by Jessica Souhami
  15. One Grain of Rice: A Mathematical Folktale by Demi
  16. Listen to Putumayo Presents India
  17. The Rajah’s Rice: A Mathematical Folktale from India adapted by David Barry and illustrated by Donna Perrone
  18. Rama and Sita: A Tale from Ancient Java retold and illustrated by David Weitzman
  19. The Road to Mumbai by Ruth Jeyaveeran
  20. Stories from India by Anna Milbourne and Linda Evans
  21. The Story of Little Babaji by Helen Bannerman and Fred Marcellino
  22. The World Factbook: India by the Central Intelligence Agency


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From Pole to Pole

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My elder girl is always cold; she’s the one who even wears her slippers and her bathrobe to bed, but she’s also the one in our family who adores all things winter. That means even at the height of summer, she wants to play polar bears. I’ve already documented her love of whales (especially belugas), but we recently expanded to a reading/watching list about the polar region more generally. We looked at poetry, fiction, and non-fiction, focusing on the geography and science of the poles as well as the animals and people. The films and stories brought to life a dramatic snowscape that we’re unlikely ever to see in person, so this year, when my daughter plays “Polar Bear Mountain” on the snow piles in the yard, she’ll have even more knowledge and inspiration.

  1. Antarctic Antics: A Book of Penguin Poems by Judy Sierra, Jose Aruego, and Ariane Dewey
  2. Arctic A-Z by Wayne Lynch
  3. Arctic Peoples by Robin Doak
  4. Watch Arctic Tale
  5. Arctic Tale: A Companion to the Major Motion Picture by Rebecca Baines
  6. Atuk by Mischa Damjan and Józef Wilkón
  7. Caribou Crossing: Animals of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge by Andrea Helman and Art Wolfe
  8. Watch The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot about That: Told from the Cold
  9. Endangered Animals of Antarctica and the Arctic by Marie Allgor
  10. Here is the Arctic Winter by Madeleine Dunphy and Alan James Robinson
  11. How Snowshoe Hare Rescued the Sun: A Tale from the Arctic by Emery and Durga Bernhard
  12. Ice Is Nice! All About the North and South Poles by Bonnie Worth, Aristides Ruiz and Joe Mathieu
  13. Kumak’s Fish: A Tall Tale from the Far North by Michael Bania
  14. Over in the Arctic Where the Cold Winds Blow by Marianna Berkes and Jill Dubin
  15. Polar Bear, Arctic Hare: Poems of the Frozen North by Eileen Spinelli and Eugenie Fernandes
  16. A Polar Bear Journey by Debbie Miller and Jon Van Zyle
  17. The Polar Bear Son: An Inuit Tale by Lydia Dabcovich
  18. Watch Snow Babies
  19. Tundra Discoveries by Ginger Wadsworth and John Carrozza

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A (Wolf)Pack of Stories

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Recently, my younger child requested stories “where wolves wear clothes.” It’s one of the things I love about our wolf unit study—the way that fairy tales and folk tales intermingle with scientific accounts about these amazing creatures who, sometimes, wear clothes. We saw a wolf exhibit on a trip to the zoo, and both of my children loved climbing and exploring the nearby wolf den play area; wolves have always fascinated my girls, and we stand in a long tradition of awe for these creatures too often misunderstood and mistreated. In this list, the fairy tales, folk tales, and legends show different cultural perspectives on wolves, and the scientific reads illustrate the wolves’ own lives and habitats. Together, they form a fuller picture of a pack of animals who occupies our land, our history, and our imaginations.

  1. Beware of the Storybook Wolves by Lauren Child
  2. Big Wolf and Little Wolf by Nadine Brun-Cosme and Olivier Talec
  3. Dream Wolf by Paul Goble
  4. The Great Fairy Tale Disaster by David Conway and Melanie Williamson
  5. Little Red Riding Hood by Paul Galdone
  6. Nutik, the Wolf Pup by Jean Craighead George and Ted Rand
  7. Israel Philharmonic Orchestra’s Peter and the Wolf
  8. Tell the Truth, B. B. Wolf by Judy Sierra and Otto Siebold
  9. There’s a Wolf at the Door: Five Classic Tales by Zoë B. Alley and R.W. Alley
  10. The Three Little Pigs by Paul Galdone
  11. We Are Wolves by Molly Grooms and Lucia Guarnotta
  12. Wild, Wild Wolves by Joyce Milton and Larry Schwinger
  13. Wolf and the Seven Little Kids by Ann Blades
  14. Wolf Tales: Native American Children’s Stories edited by Mary Powell
  15. The Wolves Are Back by Jean Craighead George and Wendell Minor
  16. The Wolves in the Walls by Neil Gaiman
  17. Wolves by Gail Gibbons
  18. Wolves by Emily Gravett
  19. Wolves by Laura Marsh
  20. Wolves by Seymour Simon

* For more fairy tale revision wolf stories, see my Reading Empathy post.

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“There is no Frigate like a Book”

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Every spring, our town displays miniature painted boats along the main road. The marine-inspired artwork will be auctioned off in the fall, and many of the previous boats still decorate lawns and businesses around town. It’s a kind of yearly homage to the character of a town shaped by the Hudson River, the ever-flowing backdrop to our daily affairs. We gaze at the river and play by the river, and this year, my girls and I took several “boat walks,” where we tried to see and photograph as many of the ships as possible. Those walks, and a life lived alongside the river in our “hamlet on the Hudson,” inspired this list of basic boat books.

  1. The Boat Alphabet Book by Jerry Pallotta and David Biedrzycki
  2. Boats by Anne Rockwell
  3. The Boats on the River by Marjorie Flack and Jay Hyde Barnum
  4. Boats: Speeding! Sailing! Cruising! by Patricia Hubbell, Megan Halsey, and Sean Addy
  5. Ferry Boat Ride! by Anne Rockwell and Maggie Smith
  6. Fireboat: The Heroic Adventures of the John J. Harvey by Maira Kalman
  7. Jonathan and the Big Blue Boat by Philip C. Stead
  8. The Lamp, the Ice, and the Boat Called Fish by Jacqueline Briggs Martin and Beth Krommes
  9. Little Bear and the Marco Polo by Else Holmelund Minarik and Dorothy Doubleday
  10. Little Boat by Thomas Docherty
  11. The Little Sailboat by Lois Lenski
  12. Little Toot by Hardie Gramatky
  13. Little Tug by Stephen Savage
  14. Sea Stories compiled by Cooper Edens
  15. Scuffy the Tugboat by Gertrude Crampton and Tibor Gergely
  16. Sheep on a Ship by Nancy Shaw and Margot Apple
  17. This Boat by Paul Collicutt
  18. Three Bears in a Boat by David Soman
  19. Toy Boat by Randall de Sève and Loren Long
  20. U.S. Navy Alphabet Book by Jerry Pallotta, Sammie Garnett, and Rob Bolster
  21. Where Go the Boats? Robert Louis Stevenson and Max Grover
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