Book of the Week: Millie’s Chickens

Happy World Egg Day!

Yes, it’s World Egg Day, a day for celebrating and informing the world about eggs and their benefits. (There are actually a LOT of food-based holidays throughout the year. Humans really like food!) So today I’m going to briefly talk about Millie’s Chickens, a sweet book about raising happy hens and where eggs come from.

Millie’s Chickens by Brenda Williams and Valeria Cis.

Millie’s Chickens is a short, easy-to-read book with the story told in rhyme. It takes you throughout Millie’s day and night as she takes care of her chickens and gathers their eggs. The end of the book is packed with information about chickens — different breeds, anatomy, how to raise happy ones — and eggs — how to gather them, different parts of an egg, and how to cook them!

Keeping chickens has become pretty popular recently; I know a bunch of people who do so, both for the chickens’ eggs and because chickens make great pets! I think a lot of people are wanting to become more self-sufficient and finding alternate ways of providing for themselves. Millie’s Chickens, as a companion book to The Beeman (which talks about beekeeping and where honey comes from), is a great introduction for children to the world of chicken-raising.

Also, I personally think we need to teach kids where their food comes from. We’re rather disconnected from that reality in modern society, and I don’t think it’s good for us, emotionally. Millie’s Chickens will teach kids where eggs come from, which in turn engenders empathy and respect for the animals that bring us those eggs.

Do you raise chickens, or have you ever thought about starting?

-Katje

21st Annual Fort Langley Cranberry Festival

A wood carving of a First Nations wolf design rests on a sign on a traffic island.
The Kwantlen Wolf Spirit Square in Fort Langley.

On Saturday it was the 21st annual Fort Langley Cranberry Festival. I’d never been before even though I’ve lived in Langley for two years, so I decided to check it out.

It was raining, so I didn’t expect a massive turnout. I was wrong. The entire street was closed off for tents with vendors, food trucks, entertainment, and, of course, cranberries. There were throngs of people (and a lot of dogs) roaming around: checking out the vendors, jamming to the music, eating food truck food, and cleaning up on cranberries. Multiple food vendors had cranberry-specific items, such as cranberry honey, and there was a huge tent from Ocean Spray where they were selling cranberries by the pound.

(All the cranberries are local, though they are shipped down to Washington for packaging, as that’s where Ocean Spray is located.)

White tents decorate a rainy, closed off street, and groups of people mill around.
The filled street and throngs of people.

I didn’t even get to see the whole festival, as my back is not back to 100% after September. I tired halfway down the street and knew I had to turn back or I wouldn’t make it home.

Foolishly I forgot to bring cash, thinking there wouldn’t be many vendors and that I didn’t need to spend any extra money anyway. Well, I don’t need to spend extra money, but there were a lot of vendors. And I should have picked up a pound of cranberries! Then I could have made cranberry sauce from scratch this year. Next year I’ll go on a shopping spree!

Musicians perform in an open-air truck-stage in front of a big yellow building with the words "Fort Langley Community Hall" on it.
The musicians performing in front of Fort Langley Community Hall (which is actually where I got married!).

Though I didn’t see all of it, Cranberry Festival is pretty amazing and I am duly impressed with it. If you are in Langley for Canadian Thanksgiving weekend next year, you should definitely come check it out!

-Katje

Book of the Week: The Boy Who Grew Flowers

Hi! Katje here.

Getting back into the swing of things with a Book of the Week post, I’m going to be talking today about The Boy Who Grew Flowers by Jen Wojtowicz and illustrated by Steve Adams. The Boy Who Grew Flowers was an instant favourite for me and remains one of my top Barefoot Books to this day. I constantly recommend it to people of all ages, because it’s a beautiful story not only for kids, but for adults too.

(I last talked about this book in my post on World Kindness Day, but this review is more in-depth.)

A photo posted by Katje (@katgoesbarefoot) on

A bit about the book: The Boy Who Grew Flowers is a story about “feelings and firsts” that is designed to teach children compassion and to let them know that it’s okay to be different. I’d personally classify it as an “American folk or faery tale,” as it’s obviously set in America, but has the trappings of a fairy story. It’s full of beautiful illustrations and has a simple, but deep and meaningful story. It’s a good book for kids aged 4 to 10 years, but of course can be enjoyed at any age.

Story Summary: Rink Bowagon lives with his strange family on Lonesome Mountain. His uncle tames rattlesnakes, his cousins and brothers are shape-shifters, and Rink himself sprouts flowers all over his body every full moon. Rink enjoys school even though he doesn’t have any friends; the other children think his family is too weird to talk to him much.

When a new girl comes to school, Angelina Quiz, Rink immediately likes her, and notices several small details about her, including the fact that one of her leg’s is shorter than the other and she wears a flower behind her ear. Angelina comes from a dancing family and loves music, but when the dance comes up she says no to everyone who asks her to go, saying she won’t be able to dance with her legs different lengths.

Rink is driven to do something nice for the kind girl in his class, so he rushes home and works for three days building her a pair of snake-skin shoes from the supplies in his family’s house. One of the shoes has a higher heel than the other, so when Angelina wears them her feet will hit the ground evenly.

Rink is so enamoured with Angelina that when he thinks about her wearing the shoes and dancing, he sprouts a bouquet of pink roses from his head, even though it’s not the full moon. He goes to visit her and gives her the flowers and the shoes, and Angelina asks him to the dance, teaching him all the steps she’s known by heart her whole life. They have a wonderful time, and they sit and talk, sharing their secrets with each other. Angelina reveals the flower behind her ear grows out of her head.

Rink and Angelina live happily ever after: they remain friends until they are older, and then later they get married and have seven children, all of whom are especially gifted with plants. They start a family gardening business and live on Sweet Blossom Hill, once known as Lonesome Mountain.

Why I think it’s special: There are a lot of beautiful messages in this book. Rink comes from a family deemed strange, but throughout the story he learns to find strength in that strangeness, in his own differentness from other kids. When he reveals his strange secret to Angelina, he finds that she’s not so different from him. This teaches kids that we’re all a little weird, and that we don’t have to be ashamed of our weirdness, because chances are what makes us different is also what makes us special.

I think this book also teaches us that just because someone’s different, doesn’t mean they don’t have value, and that we should be compassionate when dealing with people who challenge our expectations. This is an important thing for children to learn, as I’m sure most of us remember the agony of being the “new kid” in class. If you don’t get accepted, the school year can be very difficult.

As well, I think this book is good at breaking down gender stereotypes. At no point is it suggested that Rink is less of a boy because he grows flowers; the only reason it’s seen as strange is because sprouting any kind of plant out of your body is considered strange. But it’s never used to make him seem less manly, like if he were sprouting weeds or something that would be more acceptable. As well, Rink is a gentle and loving child, and he is never bullied by his family for being like that, being told to be more manly. He is allowed to be who he is, and who he is is special.

Finally, I think this book also works well at breaking down the stereotypes that cover a certain type of person in America — the rural family. The stereotype of the rural person in America is one of someone who is uneducated, bigoted, and someone who lacks value in society. This book shows that this is simply not true, and even if people are different, they still have things to contribute and we should honor that.

How are you different from others? What makes you a special person?

Katje

Wow, that was a long hiatus!

It’s been a long time since my last post here. (And for a long time this site was down.)

So, 2015 was kind of a big year for me, and I ended up getting caught up in a lot of…well, life. I was ill, I got a part-time job that actually turned out to be full-time, I planned and executed a wedding (my own; yes, officially married now though we’ve basically been an old married couple since we got together), and I dealt with the fallout of our house flooding the week before the wedding and having 2 months of renovations basically be the tail-end of the year.

At some point in the middle of all that stress, I stopped posting, and then I completely missed the emails about renewing the domain name…and the site went down.

I had to put off restoring the site, because every time I tried it asked me for 100 dollars for some reason. But today I tried again, and it was back to its regular domain registration price of 10 dollars. I thought this meant that all my stuff on the site would be gone for sure and I’d have to start over, but nope! All here and waiting for me.

So that’s a happy surprise!

In the next little while I’ll be easing back into blogging here and doing Barefoot in general. Recently mom and I did an event in Langley, the Country Celebration Fair. It was a nice way to get back into the swing of things.

If we met at the event, hello! Welcome to my blog! The link to the right will take you to my profile on the Barefoot website, where you can order books online. Or, if you’d prefer to order via me, you can email or call me.

And don’t forget to subscribe to the blog via email so you don’t miss a post.

Well, that’s all for now. Stay tuned for more posts about Barefoot books and so much more. Lots of exciting stuff happening and I can’t wait to share it with you!

-Katje

Book of the Week: Dara’s Clever Trap

Hello! Katje here.

It’s February already! Can you believe it? I sure can’t.

The theme I’ve chosen for February is Love, because Valentine’s Day is coming up and, well, I’m a total romantic. I even made my fiance a Valentine’s Day card out of construction paper this year. (Romantic and a bit dorky. ;))

Not all of the books I’ll be focusing on for this month’s Book of the Week posts will be love stories, per say, but love will play a large part in the story — and not always romantic love! There are so many types of love, and all are fair game.

The month’s first pick, however, definitely has romantic love as a character’s motivation. Today I’ll be talking about Dara’s Clever Trap by Liz Flanagan and illustrated by Martina Peluso.

A photo posted by Katje (@katgoesbarefoot) on

A bit about the book: Dara’s Clever Trap is one of the stories in Barefoot’s line of books about princesses — the others are The Princess of the Springs and The Barefoot Book of Princesses. (There are other books about princesses, but these ones are part of the actual line. Searching “princess” on Barefoot’s website will bring up quite a few books, though.) It’s originally a story from Cambodia, retold by Liz Flanagan. The book is a chapter book designed for early readers.

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Book of the Week: Baby’s First Book

Hi there! Katje here.

Today I’m going to talk about Baby’s First Book by Clare Beaton. (Currently discounted as part of our Winter Sale!)

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A bit about the book: Baby’s First Book is a large book full of pages that go over basic concepts, grouping them appropriately. For example, there’s a page called “My Toybox” and it has pictures of the various toys one might find in a child’s toy chest. There are also lots of traditional nursery rhymes with illustrations and, down at the bottom of the page, instructions on the physical actions that go with the rhymes. The book covers concepts like different types of animals, weather, clothing, and much more.

What I think kids will get out of it, and why it’s special: The illustrations are bright and colorful, which is pleasing to young eyes. Very young children are attracted to bright, bold colors, and this book delivers in that aspect. I also really like that the traditional rhymes have instructions for the actions that go with them — I sort of vaguely remember rhymes that my parents did with me when I was a kid, but not well enough to effectively do them with my own future children. Having instructions nearby will help immensely.

This is a book to be read from parent or caregiver to child. It is not a book that’s intended for a child to read on their own. So a big thing kids will get out of this book is together reading time with adults in their lives. Being illustration-heavy, there are lots of opportunities for picture walks to happen on different pages, even if there’s no overarching story. You can spend a lot of time pointing out the pictures, associating words with them, and just having fun with the book.

This is the most important thing. The words in this book are very simple. The concepts are simple: weather, animals, clothing, vegetables. The point is, they’re bundled up into one package so it’s easy to spend a good chunk of time with this book going over these concepts with a child. The happy memories you’ll make reading this book to your child will help encourage early reading readiness and literacy. Reading this book with a child and talking about the content of the book are great ways to encourage literacy.

On that note, it’s Family Literacy Week right now, and it’s wrapping up tomorrow. To read more about Family Literacy Week and the different ways you can help build literacy in your own home, check out the website here.

See you next month with another Barefoot Book!

-Katje

Book of the Week: We All Went on Safari

Hello there!

It’s time for another Book of the Week post, and this week I’ll be covering We All Went on Safari: A Counting Journey through Tanzania by Laurie Krebs and Julia Cairns. (Currently one of the books discounted for the Winter Sale!)

A photo posted by Katje (@katgoesbarefoot) on

A bit about the book: We All Went on Safari is a story about a group of children and adults hiking around Tanzania. Every time they see animals, they count them in English and in Swahili. (Or, if you get 1, 2, 3, nous partons en safari! in French and Swahili. Or Spanish and Swahili, if you get Nos fuimos todos de Safari.) Animals they spot include leopards, giraffes, hippos, warthogs, and more. The text is rhyming, and the numbers go up to ten. The back of the book is full of information on the animals spotted, the Maasai people, and Tanzania. There’s even an illustrated guide to counting in Swahili.

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Book of the Week: Alligator Alphabet

Hi there! Katje here.

Today I’m going to talk a little about the book Alligator Alphabet by Stella Blackstone and illustrated by Stephanie Bauer as part of my Book of the Week series.

A photo posted by Katje (@katgoesbarefoot) on

A bit about the book: Alligator Alphabet is a book full of rhyming sentences that teach the letters of the alphabet using animals. Animals covered include alligators, emus, llamas, owls, wolves, rabbits, and more. The illustrations are bright and colorful. Many of the pages include tidbits about the animals — owls hunt and hoot; yaks have long shaggy hair, etc.

What kids will get out of this book and why it’s special: We’re all familiar with the ABCs song, but it’s not the only way to learn the alphabet and sometimes might not even be the best way! For kids who are more visually oriented learners or who struggle with auditory learning, a book like this will work better for familiarizing them with the letters of the alphabet, as well as teaching them about different animals. The colorful illustrations are attention grabbing, and the rhymes and association of animals with letters help with memory retention.

This is one of the few Barefoot Books that doesn’t really have a story attached, except the lines that give the animals quite a bit of depth. There’s no beginning, middle, and end, but there are memorable characters — like the camels who dare you to chase them, or the zebra who gallop here and there!

Alligator Alphabet is a board book, too, so it’s appropriate for very young children. (As are the two related books, Counting Cockatoos and Octopus Opposites.)

See you next week with another Book of the Week!

-Katje

Books for Pagan Parents: Top Books About Nature

Different kinds of parents are going to want different sorts of books for their kids. While I would never say that all pagans are alike — we are a very diverse group! — I have noticed that the pagan parents I know generally want to instill similar sorts of values in their children: compassion and respect for other beings (human, animal, and plant!), knowledge of the natural world and its cycles (my use of “nature” here includes our solar system and the universe), knowledge of mythology, folk lore, and fairy tales, a desire to learn, and a healthy imagination. I know that as a future parent of the pagan persuasion these are things that are important to me — I want my kids to feel the same wonder for natural cycles, and to have the same compassion for other beings that I try to cultivate in my own life.

While, of course, books are not the only route towards cultivating these values — nor should they be! — they are an important one, in my opinion.

There are so many Barefoot Books that can help with these areas, so I’ve decided to start a series here on the blog. I’m calling it Books for Pagan Parents and each post will feature the top books in one specific category.

The category for the inaugural post is — you guessed it — Books about Nature.

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Book of the Week: The Real Princess (A Mathemagical Tale)

Hello everyone, Katje here. Welcome to 2015! I hope the new year is treating you well so far.

As it’s the first month of the year, for my Book of the Week posts I’ll be focusing on books that cover the basics: literacy, numeracy; words and numbers. Our first book is The Real Princess (A Mathemagical Tale) by Brenda Williams and illustrated by Sophie Fatus.

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A bit about the book: The Real Princess is a re-telling of The Princess and the Pea — in it, the prince is looking for a princess, but she must be a real princess, according to his mother. This means she must be sensitive enough to feel a pea under several mattresses — because a princess must be sensitive and empathetic to what her people need.

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