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Next in my current series called TWELVE CLASSIC BOOKS YOU SHOULD HAVE IN YOUR HOME SCHOOL LIBRARY. Here is my pick for April:

Author:           WASHINGTON IRVING
Genre:             Historical fiction—essays and short stories
Setting:           Sunnyside, Tarrytown, New York (along the Hudson River)
Timeline:        Early 1800s

About:             THE SKETCH BOOK OF GEOFFREY CRAYON, GENT., sometimes just referred to as THE SKETCH BOOK, is a collection of 34 essays and short stories. The  most famous of the short stories are THE LEGEND OF SLEEPY HOLLOW and RIP VAN WINKLE.
Washington Irving is important to American Literature because he was one of the first authors to become popular in England and Europe, thus giving our fledgling nation some well-needed “street cred.”  Irving was known for his use of pseudonyms, i.e, Diedrich Knickerbocker and Geoffrey Crayon.
Irving’s life spanned from the REVOLUTIONARY WAR to just before the CIVIL WAR. The settings for these essays are geographically diverse so I listed the author’s home in Tarrytown, New York.
Since my goal is to promote classic literature for homeschoolers, I defer to the Wikipedia page that contains an excellent synopsis on this book for further information. What a loss if your kids miss learning about this great man in American history and literature.  MLJ



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Next in my current series called TWELVE CLASSIC BOOKS YOU SHOULD HAVE IN YOUR HOME SCHOOL LIBRARY. Here is my pick for March:

Title:              Hoggee
Author:          Anna Myers; author of other YA titles.
Genre:            Historical Fiction/ life along the Erie Canal.
Setting:          Erie Canal, State of New York

Timeline:       1830s

About:           Hoggee (2004) was written by Oklahoma author Anna Myers. I was doing some research on the Erie Canal when I came across this gem. The term “hoggee” refers to boys who were hired to “man” the draft animals (mules) that towed the boats along the 363 miles of Erie Canal from Albany to Buffalo. Not protected by adequate child labor laws, these fellows were treated rather roughly, often alone and miserable, fending for themselves for food and lodging. This story concentrates on one boy and the circumstances of his life as a hoggee.

“Howard Gardner is starving to death. All spring and summer, Howard and his older, more charming brother Jack worked as hoggees, driving the mules that pulled boats along the Erie Canal. In a misguided attempt to outshine his brother, Howard chooses to stay behind in Birchport for the winter to save his traveling money and send it home to his family. After his winter job falls through, Howard fears that he might not survive the winter.”—AMAZON

I found it charming, tender and very informative. Here is another historical book illustrating that in our present time, we may be a bit softer and less hardy than were our ancestors.

This book may be generally out of print but the last I checked, copies were available from other sellers on Amazon and EBay.

Also, for those of you who get these posts by email, please visit my website for previous articles and to take a peek at the books I have written. Keep checking back. My plan is to publish at least three more books by the end of this year.  Thanks.


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I have a new series called TWELVE CLASSIC BOOKS YOU SHOULD HAVE IN YOUR HOME SCHOOL LIBRARY. Here is February’s classic pick:

Title:               A Girl of the Limberlost
Author:           Geneva Grace Stratton-Porter (1863-1924)
Genre:             Autobiographical Fiction; rural life in northeastern Indiana
Setting:           Limberlost Swamp near Geneva, Indiana, the author’s home
Timeline:        Early 1900s

About:            A Girl of the Limberlost (1909) was written by popular Indiana author, photographer and naturalist, Gene Stratton-Porter. This author and her works are most often associated with the one-time great Limberlost Swamp (13, 000 acres) near Geneva, Indiana by the Ohio border. AGOTL uses the Limberlost and the fictional town of Onabasha as its setting.
The primary character is Elnora Comstock, a young girl of high school age who lives with her mother near the swamp in poverty. Her mother treats Elnora abominably and blames her for the death of her husband, Elnora’s father. Due to the kindness of others, however, Elnora does “come of age” and eventually reconciles with her mother.
I have referred to the book as autobiographical fiction because of Stratton-Porter’s intense love of the Limberlost Swamp where she spent a great deal of her time exploring. Also, Stratton-Porter cleverly injects herself into the story as the character of  “the bird women.”
Other recommended reading:  A Girl of the Limberlost is the sequel to Stratton-Porter’s book Freckles (1904).

Visit the Limberlost State Historic Site in Geneva, Indiana. Although the great Limberlost Swamp is gone, parts of it have been restored and can be visited: https://www.indianamuseum.org/limberlost-state-historic-site

Also, for those of you who get these posts by email, please visit my website for previous articles and to take a peek at the books I have written. Thanks.  MLJ


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Take us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines: for our vines have tender
Song of Solomon  2:15

We often say “it’s the little foxes that spoil the grapes!” Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived apart from the Lord Jesus, penned this under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. It can be used to illustrate that it’s not the big things in our lives that destroy us but the little things. It’s the little flaws in our character that are allowed to come in under the radar unnoticed, that develop into monsters that gobble us up in the end.

Although most things are not fatal, they do leave scars that preclude us from accomplishing great things. Everyone of us has them. Procrastination is the flea that bites and bites, wasting time and resources, causing us to settle for ten acres of corn when we could have harvested one hundred. Idle words that hurt and hinder, always seeming to get back to the person we were talking about. We fail to take the wisdom, gifts and resources that God has given us. Waste! Time wasted, resources wasted and words wasted!

The little foxes rarely clean out your vineyard overnight; they do it little by little, over the course of a lifetime. You will drink no wine from your vineyard if you do not shoo out the little foxes and repair the breach in the fence that allowed them to sneak in!  MLJ

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Keeping my promise to you, I am beginning a new series called TWELVE CLASSIC BOOKS YOU SHOULD HAVE IN YOUR HOME SCHOOL LIBRARY. Here is January’s classic pick:

Title:               The Long Winter
Author:           Laura Ingalls Wilder
Genre:             Historical Fiction; semi-autobiographical
Setting:           De Smet, Dakota Territory (S. Dakota)
Timeline:        Winter of 1880-81

About:            The Long Winter is book six in the Little House Series depicting pioneer life in Dakota Territory, specifically, the struggles and survival during the famous blizzard of 1880-81. Historically known as The Snow Winter, the story is seen through the eyes of Laura as a thirteen year-old girl, and records her remembrances written down many years later by herself as a mature author and women in her sixties. Although Laura wrote this book as historical fiction, most of the events, locations, and people are real. The story centers around the life of her pioneer family in keeping with the general theme of the other Little House books.
Interestingly, the Ingalls family had boarders living with them in their drafty, uninsulated storefront in De Smet during the hard winter, adding another dimension of drama and complexity to the story. However, you will not read about this in The Long Winter because Laura saw fit to sidestep the unsavory details that might have seemed too “adult” and inappropriate for schoolchildren.
The Long Winter doesn’t seek to soften the hardships of that time and is pretty straightforward, confirming the shear character and spine needed for survival in those days. How different we are, indeed, from our pioneer ancestors.
A good follow-up for high school students would be The Children’s Blizzard by David Laskin, Harper Perennial, 2004, which deals with the equally famous blizzard of 1888. This book does mention Laura’s blizzard and will give you an idea of how severe it really was.  MLJ

jpeg long winter childrens blizzard

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