Saturday, June 23, 2012

This Week's Books - Trash, Oceans and Emil

Well, we are actually reading quite a bit less this week than usual. Maybe it's because it's summer and we're trying to be outside as much as possible. Or maybe because we are visiting grandparents in NY for a couple of weeks and there's just way too much going on here. So here are the books:

I was very happy to find this book, Tracking Trash: Flotsam, Jetsam, and the Science of Ocean Motion, at the library. It blends M's interest in trash, recycling and protecting the Earth with our Ocean Odyssey theme at his Junior First Lego League club. Did we read the whole book? No. It's written for older children. But we looked through the pictures and read selectively from the text. We also learned about Earth's oceans, major currents, the Great Garbage Patches, and talked about different marine animals (in the context of them getting hurt by all the trash in the oceans).

The following Lego League meeting was all about intertidal zone. As part of their learning experience, kids did a little craft, trying to make an animal or a plant that inhabits the intertidal zone. Some made anemones, others - mussels, yet others - starfish. M was pretty stubborn about sticking to his choice - ocean surface littered with trash. When I pointed out that it was neither animal or plant, he said that he knew it, but if he didn't do it, nobody would remember about it. And so there it is on the poster - blue "bubble" pattern with ugly brownish marks on it for trash.

Ah, I love the Magic School Bus books and so does M. We picked this one at the local B&N store to go along with the Ocean Odyssey theme. This's been the hardest one for me to translate so far. I just don't know the names of all the different fish and mollusks mentioned here. I had to constantly look up the correct translations. And I kept forgetting them right away 'cause I had more to look up. And then the online translator I used had no options for "ocean floor vents". Urghh... But still, it's a cool book and we'll return to it again. Plus, as usual with MSB books, it has lots of cool project ideas.

This TinTin book M picked up at the library because it had a rocket on it and it was about the Moon. Plus, as he later explained, the dog in a spacesuit was funny. I was a bit concerned about being able to sight-translate the entire book. But it was really not a big deal and I managed it ok. I think it's mostly because I've read so many space stories to him that I got the vocab down pat. M got so into the narrative, which gets pretty suspenseful at times, that he was literally biting his nails. And every time Tintin would get out safe, M jumped on the couch and did a bit of a victory dance. So funny!

 After we were done, M ran into the family room, pulled out these Melissa and Doug cardboard blocks and promptly built himself a lunar tank. If you are wondering about all those cylinders, those are spare oxygen tanks, just in case (in the story Tintin and friends run low of oxygen on their voyage to the Moon).

The big exciting news is that Grandpa got back from his trip to Russia with a ton of great books for M. So we've got plenty of new stuff to read. For now this is our bedtime reading - Emil of Lonneberga. Unfortunately, this book is not well-known in the US. But it's extremely popular and well-loved in Russia and deservedly so (just as all the other books by Astrid Lindgren). I've read abridged versions of a few stories to M before. But this time, these are full-length, very detailed stories, each taking a good half-hour to get through. And they are funny too! So we are both enjoying them a lot. Unfortunately, this edition is terribly illustrated (as so many Russian children's books are). Still, we're happy we got this book!

Ah, I almost completely forgot about this one! This book, Fixiki, is another one from the stash Grandpa hauled from Russia. I'm not crazy about Fixiki, the tiny people that live inside appliances, computers and mechanical contraptions. Mostly because the cartoons are annoying. Plus the big green Fixik's name is Papus, which in Russian sounds just like "papoose". But M loves Fixiki and can't get enough of them. Plus, this book is very well illustrated (with still frames from the Fixiki cartoons). It's a pretty good read although there's really no story, just lots of trivia info about each of the characters. It's not a long book either, so we went through it in just a couple of days. And that's all we've been reading this week.


  1. I am impressed that you can sight translate. I am totally not up to this task :) We love that MSB book, and we have quite a MSB collection at home. Thanks for joining WMCIR!

  2. It's getting easier as I go along. What helps is that we usually read the same book more than once. The drawback, of course, is that I never translate it exactly the same :) But my son doesn't seem to mind :) But I am still not sure what we're going to do once we start chapter books.