Experimenting with Babies: 50 Amazing Science Projects You Can Perform on Your Kid by Shaun Gallagher, 5/5
This book is very good for what it is–a light-hearted and accessible collection of activities, based on scientific experiments, that highlight the nuances of a baby’s development. The presentation is not at all rigorous and might even uncharitably be considered “dumbed-down,” but does go well beyond the few common reflexes (e.g. rooting, Moro, stepping, etc.) with which parents might already be familiar. Personally, I do not feel motivated to actually perform any of the experiments with my own baby, but it was still fascinating to learn more about his fascinating progression from potato to person.
Why I read it: A friend lent it to me.
Magical Swimming and Flying Adventures by Elsa Fujinaka, 5/5
This little book has as many fairies and mermaids as you could possibly wish for, but my favorite character is the merfairyunicorn with two problems (don’t worry, the delightful duo on the cover are very good at solving problems). I was especially impressed by the detailed artwork, which is impressively consistent for all 16 pages and complements the story perfectly. I hope the author writes more books in the future!
Why I read it: What proud aunt could resist?
Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, collected by Alvin Schwartz, drawings by Stephen Gammell, 3/5
It is clear that children are the target audience for this book, but the simple layout and child-friendly writing style provide a disturbing contrast with the extremely dark and gross stories it contains. I wouldn’t have wanted to read such terrifying things as a kid and certainly wouldn’t want my own children to be exposed to these ideas at a young age. As an adult, I found the stories to be entertaining, if a bit simplistically retold, and the artwork in particular is outstanding.
Why I read it: a thrift store find. I’ve always been interested in fairy tales and myths, so paranormal stories are not that much of a stretch.
My friend wrote a book! It is, unsurprisingly, just like her: intelligent, passionate, inspiring and humorous. Despite possessing an impressive formal education that includes degrees from England’s Royal College of Music, Oxford, and UCLA, Alison wasn’t afraid to embrace unconventionality when it came to successfully homeschooling her large family. Her decision to work with life’s chaos instead of fighting it resulted in a homeschooling style that is joyful and realistic, integrating learning naturally into every aspect of life. Hilarious anecdotes and creative educational ideas are woven into a family narrative that provides an antidote to the sort of dry, rigidly-structured homeschooling ideologies that crush children’s natural love of learning and burden their parents with unrealistic demands on time and patience. This is the sort of book that is written out of love, and, I have no doubt, in response to demand from people who have seen the fruits of Alison’s labour in her loving family and successful children, now grown up.
[Why I read it: No one who has read Alison’s hugely-entertaining Christmas letters, met her talented family or talked to her in person could resist the opportunity of reading an entire book written by her! Also, I was honored to edit the book, design the cover, convert it to e-book formats, put it up for sale on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Google Play, create the website and Facebook page, as well as whatever other things needed doing. It was a challenging project that took over a year to complete, but provided great fun and satisfaction, as well as invaluable learning experience.]
Update: Since writing this review, Entropy Academy has been further refreshed and published by Propriometrics Press.