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The Boy with Green Thumbs
Beautiful, sensitive illustrations in soft pencil drawings
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Here is a story that is not only heartfelt, healing and beautiful, but would make an excellent reader for Waldorf Grade 5!
When eight-year-old Tistou is sent home from school his parents decide he shall learn from real life instead, and where better to start than gardening? With Moustache the dreamy gardener, Tistou discovers a remarkable gift – that he has green thumbs! Everything he touches sprouts beautiful plants. Now Tistou has lots to do. With the power of flowers he can change everything: prisons, slums, hospitals – even war.
"Tistou's name deserves to be on the lips of anyone who cares about the future of our Earth."
- Ashley Ramsden, Storyteller
At the Hot Gates
An Account of the Battle of Thermopylae
Illustrated by Adam Agee
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We welcome this outstanding reader for the Waldorf Grade 5 curriculum! Between the excitement of the story and the resounding history that lies behind it, any student (an their teacher!) will be hungry to get to read more.
It’s the year 480 BC and the greatest army ever gathered in the ancient world is on the march to conquer all of Greece. An irresistible force, they are destroying whatever dares to stand in their path. One man steps forward to stop them, followed by 300 companions. His chances are next to null; yet he goes. This man is Leonidas. And his companions are Spartans. They go to stop the Persian advance and meet their destiny at the narrows known as The Hot Gates.
The Boy Who Knew What the Birds Said
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This is a gem of a book by the renowned poet, dramatist, novelist, folklorist and storyteller, Padraic Colum. No less than three of his books for children received retrospective citations for the Newbery Honor. Filled with drama, action, tenderness and adventure, Padraic Colum spins a series of tales which draw us into a world of imagination and beauty. The tales have a strong and clear storyteller's voice which is still as alive, fresh and direct as it was when first spoken.
This edition has been edited by the artist, teacher and author, Reg Down, with grade 4 to 8 students in mind. In addition to editing for clarity and pronounceability (Celtic spellings are sometimes impossible!), he refreshed the original illustrations by Dugard Stewart Walker, inserted footnotes where a word was uncommon or seldom used, added a map to show where countries and mountains mentioned in the book are located, added a section with characterizations and drawings of all the birds which appear in the book, included the Celtic Ogham alphabet referenced in one tale (plus examples for the reader to deciher and encouragement for them to write their own Ogham), and finally, added a brief biography of Padraic Colum, with a description of his dramatic life and times in Ireland and his arrival in the land of hope, America.
Outstanding! Highly recommend for ages 9 and older.
Little Bee Sunbeam
This story reader for younger children relates the adventures of a honeybee named Little Bee Sunbeam. The little bee is in a search for a particularly good nectar to make honey when it suddenly becomes very cold. Honeybees cannot fly when the temperature drops so abruptly and our little bee must spend the night alone in the forest where an exciting adventure unfolds.
I would recommend it for Grade 5 as a reader based on the level of vocabulary used - it also fits in beautlifully with the Botany lesson block. For grades 3 and up, it can be used as a story to be read by an adult.
The Bee Book
Streit’s father was a beekeeper and it was in early childhood that Jakob developed a passion for the honeybee. This exquisite reader factually and scientifically allows one to enter into the magic and mysterious world of the bees.
The Bee Book offers a beautiful transition from the Animal and Human Being lesson block of Grade 4 to the Botany lesson block of Grade 5 - and would be an appropriate reader for those grade level.
Sticks Across the Chimney
A Story of Denmark
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When young Siri, Erik, and their widowed mother buy a deserted farm with an ancient Viking grave mound on the land, they have no idea of the challenges and adventures that await them. First they must use their wits and humor to survive without money, as well as deal with superstitious townspe0ple. Later they participate in mysterious and exciting events that lead to the opening of the mound and the discovery of unbelievably ancient Viking treasures.
The interweaving of an exciting mystery and the adventures of surviving on the farm with tales of Danish Viking life and lore is irresistible to both children and adults. Brought back for all of us after too many years out of print, this is a book to welcome warmly back into our homes, classrooms and hearts!
Sticks across the Chimney is a wonderful addition to any child's library and an exceptional book to offer 4th graders during the Nordic myths blocks of the Waldorf curriculum.
The Gate Swings In
A Story of Sweden
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The Gate Swings In is a lovely companion to Burglon's Sticks Across the Chimney. I love the ruggedness and ingenuity of the characters in this story - there is a warm self-discipline and love of the land that shines through the story in evocative, inspiring ways that are sure to move young hearts in wholesome directions.
The central character is Minda, an inspiring young heroine. Together with her intelligent, crafty goat, she goes out to earn enough money for her winter schooling. Throughout her efforts, she has frequent talks with a wise Tomte (Swedish farm elf/gnome - see The Tomten and The Tomten and the Fox) and shows herself to have the fortitude to move ahead in the midst of all kinds of struggles and hardships. At each turn, friendship and love of the land and animals open paths and inspire new directions.
Very highly recommended - especially good in conjunction with the Waldorf Grade 4 curriculum, but wonderful for children of all ages at other times, too.
Gilgamesh - Man's First Story
Softbound - elegantly illustrated
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This is a powerful - and powerfully beautiful - retelling of one of the oldest stories known to humanity. Bernarda Bryson tells this story with simplicity and grace - retaining as she does the uniquely Sumerian view of the world, some of the poetic responses, and above all, the heart and soul of this story that combines in equal measure the elements of both transcendent victory and deep tragedy. This retelling was written for children, but I can't think of any adult who wouldn't enjoy it as well. Ms. Bryson is rightly remembered as an author whose sensitivity was matched by her literary skill - and who used the fullness of her capacities in the making of this book.
The story of Gilgamesh was first written down about 3000 BC in Sumeria. It tells of a great flood and of one man, befriended by the gods, who survived by building an ark. In the feats of Gilgamesh and his companion, Enkidu, a monster who turns into a gentle man who loves and respects the King, are found the sources of great mythological heroes: Hercules, Jason and Theseus.
In addition to its vital importance in the history of literature, Gilgamesh is an exciting and often amusing tale - setting jealous god against jealous god, god against man, and man against man in remarkable battles of wit and strength.
A must for fifth graders - wonderful for the rest of us!
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This is a book I've been hoping to see for years - it is happy news that it is now available. Isabel Wyatt's retelling of the Odyssey is masterful and engaging. Without sacrificing any of the grandeur or scale of the original, she tells the complete story in a way that makes it a bit more immediate, more alive than the translations. This is the perfect reader for Grade 5 students in the Waldorf Curriculum, and a great story for everyone else.
String, Straight-Edge and Shadow
The Story of Geometry
Julia E. Diggins
Wonderful duotone illustrations by Corydon Bell
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2003 has become one of the best years in my memory for outstanding new releases and especially outstanding republication of long out-of-print treasures. String, Straightedge and Shadow is one such treasure - and it is so very good to see it returning to print.
Geometry was the one high school mathematics class in which I did not have to struggle - in large part because I happened to be in a school district that chose to teach it through theorems and proofs (this was like sitting in Pythagoras's classroom - truly wonderful!) with practical explanations similar to (but not as beautifully extensive as) those in String, Straightedge and Shadow. As a result, I can personally attest to the wonders this book holds for any student fortunate enough to encounter it.
Since the 1960s, when it went out of print, String, Straightedge and Shadow has made its way into classrooms and homeschools via multi-generation photocopies - it is so highly valued that even without the beautiful illustrations, its contents are treasured by anyone who has used them.
The fabric of the story is woven out of archeological and historical records and of legends about the major men of mathematics. By reconstructing the events as they might have happened, Julia Diggins allows us to easily follow the pattern of reasoning that leads to an ingenious proof of the Pythagorean theorem, an appreciation of the significance of the golden mean in art and architecture, and the construction of the five regular solids.
Using only three simple tools - the string, the straightedge, and the shadow - men discovered the basic principles and constructions of elementary geometry more than two thousand years ago. This engrossing book reveals how these discoveries were made and shows how they were related to the early civilizations of Mesopotamia, Egypt and Greece.
Whether you are learning geometry for the first time, teaching it to students at home or in the classroom, or are parents helping your children through their first geometry course, this is a must-read for everyone! You will be fascinated with the graphic illustrations and written depiction of how the knowledge and wisdom of so many cultures helped shape our civilization today.
Geron and Virtus
A Fateful Encounter of Two Youths A German and a Roman
A Reader for 6th or 7th Grade
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Geron and Virtus written by master storyteller and Waldorf teacher Jakob Streit, is a remarkable book. It is a story about two boys during the Roman campaign to conquer the Germanic tribes. It was out of this Roman/German encounter that a new Europe and the transition to a new time was born. The story is about friendship, slavery, honor, and adventure. The text is rich with spiritual insights provided by Druid priests and their stories of Nordic mythology. The book has vivid illustrations and is aimed at sixth and seventh grade students.
Milon and the Lion
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I don't know how it came about, but I first encountered this story of an Athenian slave's kindness to a lion and how that lion later saved his life when I was about 10 years old. My guess is that it was either told to me in Sunday School, or was in a book I read to myself. In any event, it has lived in my heart all these years as a beautiful reminder of the nature of goodness and the bond between man and animal.
Needless to say, I am grateful toJakob Streit for retelling it and to Floris Books for making it available in English so that we can share it with today's children.
Young slave Milon starts his journey at home in Athens. When he sets sail on a ship bound for Italy his adventures really begin. He narrowly escapes with his life in Pompei as the great volcano Vesuvius erupts and destroys the town; he experiences the colourful life of the metropolis of Alexandria in Egypt, and he faces a battle fo rlife and death in the Colosseum in Rome.
When he meets a small community of Christians in Rome, he finally gains his freedom and finds a purpose in life. At the center of the story is Milon's relationship with a wounded lion who he bravely helps. Will the lion remember him and return the favor when Milon faces death at the hands of the mighty Roman emperor?
Because this story presents the world of the early Christians in an engaging way for children, it is ideal for use in Steiner-Waldorf Class 6 (ages 11-12).
Translated by Nina Kuettel
Illustrated by Christiane Lesch
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Jakob Streit's Columban tells the story of St. Columban (540-615 AD), also known as St. Columbanus or St. Columbano, but not to be confused with St. Columba of Iona who was also Irish and a contemporary of Columban's.
Columban is largely credited with the development of monasteries and monastic life, and revered for his tireless travels and the development of "Celtic Christianity," thereby merging the Celt's reverence of nature with Roman Christianity. More recently, though this of course plays no part in the story, St. Columban was officially endorsed by the Vatican as patron saint of motorcyclists.
As a reader, Columban serves as an interesting story of a fascinating life, told well by a master storyteller. The story takes us from his early years through to the completion of his life, and lifeworks. It fits well into the transition between Roman and Medieval history, usually taught in 7th grade in the Waldorf curriculum. [And what 7th grader wouldn't want to learn about the patron saint of motorcyclists?]
A Story of Frederick II of Hohenstaufen
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Federico II was a fascinating man in whom it seems that much of the Middle Ages, its greatness and its turmoil, were gathered up into one person. Christopher Sblendorio, a class teacher at the Great Barrington Waldorf School, has written this beautiful biography of the man who became the Holy Roman Emperor during the early 13th Century. It is frankly all too rare to find a book for students that is so very well researched and equally well written as is The Falconer.
Splendorio's biography does what every biography should do: it approaches its subject with what I'll call a compassionate objectivity that looks at as many facets of the life that was lived as are possible to know about. The story moves along like an exciting novel, the portrait of Federico becoming richer and more alive with each turn of the page.
This wonderful book could be read and enjoyed by anyone ages 11-12 and older. It was written with the author's 6th grade class in mind.
The Boy Apprenticed to an Enchanter
Illustrated by Patrick Reinhart
Wonderful as a 6th Grade Reader - a beautiful read-to for earlier years
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Padraic Colum was one of the greatest English language storytellers ever to have lived. In general, his work was focused on retelling the classic tales of Western history, shaping them with vivid language and a lilting cadence such that you could almost hear his Irish voice ringing forth from the pages. Sometimes, however, he burst into a tale of his own (see, The King of Ireland's Son, for instance) and took us into new worlds with a feeling for both story and language that is rare and unique. I just love his work.
The Boy Apprenticed to an Enchanter is one of Colum's own creations - and it is a rich and masterful treasure. It languished in the hazy realms of out of print books for years and years, almost entirely forgotten save by a few whose tattered copies were still passed from hand to hand. Now, one of my favorite publishers, Whole Spirit Press, has brought it to life again. Hooray! It is a perfect 6th grade reader and a wonderful read-to for earlier years.
The story unfolds during the Middle Ages and is filled with mystery, intrigue and adventure. There are battles against evil in several forms, and a long journey to find the truth and Merlin the Magician (who knows all the answers). Revelation and adventure abound and include Eean arriving at the Tower of Babylon and meeting Chiron the Centaur and Hermes Trismegistus.
This is fabulous, wonderful reading that will fire the imaginations f children and adults. How lovely to see it in print again.
Legends of King Arthur
Medieval Stories Collected and Retold
Formerly published as Tales the Harper Sang
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Enter a world of duels and jousting, where knights battle to protect the honor of fair maidens and defend King Arthur’s castle. Knights meet in fellowship at Camelot, where they are entertained with feasts and pageantry. Honor and chivalry are valued above all else, and courageous knights fight strange, unearthly foes to prove themselves worthy of a place at King Arthur’s table.
These ancient tales have been told since the fifth century, when Welsh bards traveled the countryside, entertaining lords and ladies with stories and songs. Those exciting tales were retold in verse by Chretien de Troyes in his twelfth-century Le morte d’Arthur and in prose by Sir Thomas Malory during the fifteenth century.
The book includes a selection of these enthralling legends, skillfully retold by renowned storyteller Isabel Wyatt.
True Stories of Fateful Encounters
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This is a lovely little book - a gift of the heart for children and adults.
The stories in this book are based on actual events. Some of them were told to me during conversations, and a few are taken from my own experiences. Still others came to me by way of letters that were written in answer to a survey. Only a portion of those were suited for the purpose of re-telling as a story. However, all the people who reported such experiences were consistent in their belief that a guiding force had intervened in their destiny.
Jakob Streit, from his Preface
Struggle and Victory
Translated by Monica Gold
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Originally published in 1949, this lively book is an established treasure in Germany. It depicts the life struggles and striving of the Polish astronomer Nikolaus Copernicus and makes a wonderful reader for seventh and eighth grade Waldorf classes, as well as an excellent book for anyone interested in Copernicus and his world.
The Star Rider and Anna McLoon
Two Tales from Ireland
Retold by Jakob Streit
Translated by Nina Kuettel
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These two tales, one believed to date from the 17th Century and the other from more recent times, were collected by Jakob Streit and a friend while in Ireland.
The first story, "The Star Rider," is a legend about a young man who comes to learn of a dreadful destiny said to be laid upon him by the position of the stars at the moment of his birth. It is a story of uprightness and acceptance, of injustice that is turned to right through the honesty of both accused and judge. It is a truly beautiful story with a warm, heart-opening ending.
The second tale, "Anna McLoon," tells the story of Ireland's last travelling storyteller, her life and the tales she told. It also speaks of a deeper connectedness to the rhythms of the world and life and death themselves.
I very much appreciate the rich and gentle translation that Nina Kuettel has provided us - her words echo the beauty of these stories in a lovely way.
As a reader, this would be good around 6th grade or later. The stories could be told a bit earlier, but there is a depth to them that will be better appreciated by older students and adults.