Snow White and The Seven Robots: A Graphic Novel by Louise Simonson

Now here’s a Snow White we feminists can get behind! There is not one mention of Snow White’s beauty in this entire “Far Out Fairy Tale,” a new series of children’s graphic novels from Stone Arch Books, a Capstone Publishing imprint.  Instead, this girl’s threat to the queen is her intelligence. On a planet called Techworld, scientists create a future successor to their queen, only the selfish queen messes with their potions, which makes the child’s skin a pale white–did I mention that everyone’s skin is green on Techworld?  Snow White is born.

  
As Snow White grows up, she turns out to be a quick study and soon becomes smarter than the queen, at which point the queen banishes her to live in Lowtown and apprentice to the trash robot. Snow makes friends with another human, Doc, and while he tends to people, she uses her intelligence to learn to fix robots. She also builds a rocketship with spare parts that she uses to save herself during one of the queen’s attempts on her life. 

The seven robots of the title are a motley assortment who finish each other’s sentences, but we never know their names and they are important in the story only as far as they are the ones who send out a plea for help after Snow is poisoned. With less time spent on the robots, there’s more space for Snow’s character development and adventures. Kindness and friendship are the main themes, and it’s a fun adventure in an attractive format for kids.

Is there anything missing in this retelling?  Oh yes, no prince. Prince absent. Prince, in a word, unnecessary. 

Next in the “Far Out Fairy Tales” series that we’ll be reading: Ninjarella. Bring it. 

Darwin for Kids

One Beetle Too Many, by Kathryn Lasky with illustrations by Matthew Trueman, is a fabulous introduction to Charles Darwin for children.  Published by Candlewick, known for putting out gorgeous all-ages picture books, this is evidently one of about a dozen Candlewick Biographies, “Portraits of People Making History and Shaping the Future,” and I will definitely be checking out other books in the series.

   
Beetle is a relatively short chapter book at forty-three pages, yet each chapter distinguishes itself with the kind of detail a child delights in, like the fact that one time Darwin ran out of places to hold the beetles he was collecting, so he popped one in his mouth! The book is loaded with richly colored, detailed illustrations that reward close study and feel like an integral part of the story. With titles like “Butterflies and Gauchos” and “Seashells on Mountaintops,” each chapter is its own adventure, propelling the reader along further.

As a homeschooler, I couldn’t help but be delighted to learn that Darwin was a rotten student and hated school.  He was an excellent observer, and had his own methods of study that didn’t fit with the education his father tried to force on him. Lasky shows how important Darwin’s early curiosity was in his development as a scientist, and describes how difficult it was for Darwin to put his ideas about evolution out into the world, which felt like an important facet of his life to share with children, that sometimes the most important ideas you have can give you a stomachache, and that’s okay.  Highly recommended.

Sir Cumference Rocks Homeschool Math

Today we read two of Cindy Neuschwander’s fabulous math adventure books about Sir Cumference and his family, son Radius and Lady Di of Ameter, who all live in Angleland (say it out loud to yourself, you’ll get it).  My daughter loves these because they are stories and math at the same time, so she says they are “true stories.”

sir cumference viking map cover sir cumference round table cover

In Sir Cumference and The Viking’s Map, cousins Per and Radius get lost in the forests of Angleland, but find a Viking’s treasure map that teaches them to use coordinates.  In Sir Cumference and the First Round Table, all the knights are meeting with King Arthur to discuss what to do about the Circumscribers, who have been seen at the edges of Angleland, possible arming for war.  They start out with a long rectangular table, but people at opposite ends have to shout to be heard.  Then Sir Cumference discusses the problem with Lady Di, and has his carpenter Geo of Metry reshape the table into a square.  This is better, but no one likes being at the corners.  They eventually come up with a circle, after many other shapes are tried and rejected.  The circle is as wide as Lady Di’s reach, so King Arthur decrees that the span of any circle shall henceforth be known as the diameter.  See, isn’t that cute?  Neuschwander uses wordplay to create heroes and quests in each story, and it’s a great combination that immerses kids in geometry in a memorable, entertaining way.

There are about seven or eight of these books, but I see just from checking her name, that Neuschwander has oodles of other math story books as well.  We’ll be checking these out for sure!

When I’m Not Blogging…

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Today Elsa and Anna were visiting with Tigress, her cub Kote, and Twilight Sparkle, who is a magic unicorn and and was going to give Elsa and Anna wings so they could experience flying.  E&A wanted to fly after watching a dragon and pterodactyl do tricks in the air while flying.

No, I was not playing by myself.  I was playing with my homeschooled kiddo, and she was having a blast.  I wish I could read and blog several times a week, but I have other obligations, you see.