This is a delightful book! The story is about a man and his love for the Antarctic and the explorers who venture there. He becomes the unlikely owner of a penguin and the story revolves around how he rearranges his house and life to accommodate his new friend. Really playful and funny, the kids ate this book up.
My verdict: buy it and read it again and again!
Mountain Born by Elizabeth Yates
Sonlight has a tendency to group books that are age-appropriate with some more difficult books in their core. This was one that falls in the latter group. We started it on a Monday, and only one chapter in, I could tell the language was going to be too complex for my kids. I always struggle with just giving up on a book, but when I saw the suggested ages on the back cover said 9-12 years, I was easily convinced to shelve it for later. I understand it to be a book about a boy's friendship with a sheep, but I can't confirm that since we didn't get past page 8!
verdict: skip this one for your 4-7 year olds. We'll try it again in a few years.
This story is about a small, one-room school in a remote part of Alaska, set in the mid-20th century. All of the teachers the village brings in end up leaving after one year, complaining of how hard it is to live there. The story is told from the perspective of 10-year old Fred (Frederika) and it is obvious that not much has been learned in this little school. Everything changes when Miss Agnes arrives, who does not teach like her predecessors. The children begin to thrive and learn, but will she stay for more than one year?
This book was very enjoyable to me, but the descriptions and Alaskan vernacular were more difficult for the kids. They didn't complain, but questioning them after I read each day, I found they weren't really able to grasp exactly what was going on.
verdict: I'm glad we read it - maybe it stretched their minds a little bit. But possibly save it for 8 or 9 year olds next time.