Under the Maple Canopy

Singing Union Songs Since 2009

2014’s Year in Books

I finalized our Read Aloud Project book list for 2014.  The kids and I doubled our book total this year for a grand total of 52 books.  At least half of the books were audiobooks which the kids vastly prefer to the radio these days.  I can’t say as I blame them and we even converted Daddy over to the audiobook side.

I completed my Book a Week (BAW) challenge in October with double my original goal of 104. Since October I managed to finish three additional new books and seven re-reads for a total of 114 books this year. I also have three books I’m currently working on – two of which I could conceivably finish before the end of the year.  114 is a pretty decent finish all things considered.

If I add the 52 read alouds from the kids’ list to my list, I’ve read 166 books in 2014 (not including those we’ve read for school subjects or picture books with the girls).  Not a bad way to spend a year!

2014 Book a Week

107 – “Letters from Skye” by Jessica Brockmole
106 – “I Remember Nothing” by Nora Ephron
105 – “10% Happier” by Dan Harris
104 – “Bento Box in the Heartland” by Linda Furiya
103 – “Written in My Own Heart’s Blood” by Diana Gabaldon
102 – “An Echo in the Bone” by Diana Gabaldon
101 – “A Breath of Snow and Ashes” by Diana Gabaldon
100 – “The Fiery Cross” by Diana Gabaldon
99 – “Drums of Autumn” by Diana Gabaldon
98 – “Voyager” by Diana Gabaldon
97 – “Dragonfly in Amber” by Diana Gabaldon
96 – “Outlander” by Diana Gabaldon
95 – “Beyond Band of Brothers” by Dick Winters
94 – “Mad About the Boy” by Helen Fielding
93 – “Band of Brothers” by Stephen E. Ambrose
92 – “The Edge of Reason (Bridget Jones, #2) by Helen Fielding”
91 – “Paris Letters” by Janice Macleod
90 – “Next to Love” by Ellen Feldman
89 – “Murder and Mendelssohn (Phryne Fisher #20)” by Kerry Greenwood
88 – “Unnatural Habits (Phryne Fisher #19)” by Kerry Greenwood
87 – “Dead Man’s Chest (Phryne Fisher, #18)” by Kerry Greenwood
86 – “Murder On A Midsummer Night (Phryne Fisher, #17)” by Kerry Greenwood
85 – “Nemesis” by Agatha Christie
84 – “Murder In The Dark (Phryne Fisher, #16)” by Kerry Greenwood
83 – “At Bertram’s Hotel (Miss Marple, #11)” by Agatha Christie
82 – “The Thirteen Problems (Miss Marple #2)” by Agatha Christie
81 – “A Caribbean Mystery (Miss Marple, #10)” by Agatha Christie
80 – “Death by Water (Phryne Fisher, #15)” by Kerry Greenwood
79 – “Queen Of The Flowers (Phryne Fisher, #14)” by Kerry Greenwood
78 – “The Mirror Crack’d from Side to Side (Miss Marple, #9)” by Agatha Christie
77 – “Murder in Montparnasse (Phryne Fisher, #12)” by Kerry Greenwood
76 – “4:50 from Paddington (Miss Marple #8)” by Agatha Christie
75 – “The Goldfinch” by Donna Tartt
74 – “The Castlemaine Murders (Phryne Fisher, #13)” by Kerry Greenwood
73 – “A Pocket Full of Rye (Miss Marple, #7)” by Agatha Christie
72 – “Away With the Fairies” by Kerry Greenwood
71 – “They Do It with Mirrors (Miss Marple, #6)” by Agatha Christie
70 – “So Many Books, So Little Time: A Year of Passionate Reading” by Sara Nelson
69 – “Call The Midwife: A Memoir of Birth, Joy, and Hard Times” by Jennifer Worth
68 – “Bridget Jones’s Diary (Bridget Jones, #1) by Helen Fielding”
67 – “Death Before Wicket (Phryne Fisher, #10)” by Kerry Greenwood
66 – “A Murder Is Announced (Miss Marple, #5)” by Agatha Christie
65 – “Raisins and Almonds (Phryne Fisher, #9)” by Kerry Greenwood
64 – “The Moving Finger (Miss Marple, #4)” by Agatha Christie
63 – “Urn Burial (Phryne Fisher, #8)” by Kerry Greenwood
62 – “The Body in the Library (Miss Marple, #3)” by Agatha Christie
61 – “Ruddy Gore (Phryne Fisher, #7)” by Kerry Greenwood
60 – “Blood and Circuses (Phryne Fisher, #6)” by Kerry Greenwood
59 – “The Murder at the Vicarage” by Agatha Christie
58 – “The Green Mill Murder (Phryne Fisher, #5)” by Kerry Greenwood
57 – “The Book Thief” by Markus Zusak
56 – “Death at Victoria Dock (Phryne Fisher, #4)” by Kerry Greenwood
55 – “On the Noodle Road: From Beijing to Rome, with Love and Pasta” by Jen Lin-Liu
54 – “Marshlands” by Matthew Olshan
53 – “Quilt Trip: A Southern Quilting Mystery” by Elizabeth Spann Craig
52 – “Provence, 1970: M.F.K. Fisher, Julia Child, James Beard, and the Reinvention of American Taste” by Luke Barr
51 – “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” by J.K. Rowling
50 – “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” by JK Rowling
49 – “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” by JK Rowling
48 – “Murder on the Ballarat Train (Phryne Fisher, #3)” by Kerry Greenwood
47 – “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” by JK Rowling
46 – “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” by JK Rowling
45 – “The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves, and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History” by Robert M. Edsel
44 – “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets” by JK Rowling
43 – “The Language of Baklava: A Memoir” by Diana Abu-Jaber
42 – “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” by JK Rowling
41 – “Flying too High” by Kerry Greenwood
40 – “A Bad Day for Mercy” by Sophie Littlefield
39 – “A Bad Day for Romance” by Sophie Littlefield
38 – “How Reading Changed My Life” by Ana Quindlen
37 – “A Bad Day for Scandal” by Sophie Littlefield
36 – “A Bad Day for Sorry” by Sophie Littlefield
35 – “A Bad Day for Pretty” by Sophie Littlefield
34 – “Sizzling Sixteen” by Janet Evanovich
33 – “Finger Lickin’ Fifteen” by Janet Evanovich
32 – “Plum Spooky” by Janet Evanovich
31 – “Fearless Fourteen” by Janet Evanovich
30 – “Plum Lucky” by Janet Evanovich
29 – “Lean Mean Thirteen” by Janet Evanovich
28 – “Takedown Twenty” by Janet Evanovich
27 – “One for the Money” by Janet Evanovich
26 – “Plum Lovin'” by Janet Evanovich
25 – “Twelve Sharp” by Janet Evanovich
24 – “Eleven on Top” by Janet Evanovich
23 – “Ten Big Ones” by Janet Evanovich
22 – “To the Nines” by Janet Evanovich
21 – “Visions of Sugar Plums” by Janet Evanovich
20 – “Hard Eight” by Janet Evanovich
19 – “Seven Up” by Janet Evanovich
18 – “Hot Six” by Janet Evanovich
17 – “High Five” by Janet Evanovich
16 – “Four to Score” by Janet Evanovich
15 – “Cocaine Blues” by Kerry Greenwood
14 – “Notorious Nineteen” by Janet Evanovich
13 – “Explosive Eighteen” by Janet Evanovich
12 – “Smokin’ Seventeen” by Janet Evanovich
11 – “If Bread Could Rise to the Occasion” by Paige Shelton
10 – “The Violets of March” by Sarah Jio
9 – “Cutting for Stone” by Abraham Verghese
8 – “And the Mountains Echoed” by Khaled Hosseini
7 – “The Giving Quilt: An Elm Creek Quilts Novel” by Jennifer Chiaverini
6 – “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens
5 – “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” by Rebecca Skloot
4 – “From the Top: Brief Transmissions from Tent Show Radio” by Michael Perry
3 – “The Snow Child” by Eowyn Ivey
2 – “On Chesil Beach” by Ian McEwan
1 – “Letters From Home” by Kristina McMorris



I’m calling it quits for the year with our read alouds a few days early.  2014’s list is up and 2013’s list is finalized with a few geeky number-y bits.  I blame E. Nesbit’s “The Enchanted Castle” which on its face seems like such a wonderful book, but in practice is not easy to read aloud.  If it weren’t for the fact that Lou picked it out, I would have dropped it a month ago.  Here’s hoping 2014 likes it better!



  • Kids Bowl Free – a summer of bowling at least once a week
  • Summer Camp – through the city rec department and College for Kids
  • Summer Reading Program – two different programs both completed and new books and passes in pocket
  • Camping – we only went once, but it was a blast
  • Summer Trimester – not technically finished until tomorrow, but we started homeschooling again July 1st and will finish up our Summer Trimester tomorrow.
  • Read Aloud – “The Mark of Athena” by Rick Riordan

Begun and In Progress

  • History – the Middle Ages through History Odyssey
  • Math Catch-up – multiplication, division, shoring up fractions, and geometry (all of the things they didn’t cover in school last year)
  • Read Aloud – “Because of Winn-Dixie” by Kate DiCamillo to go along with The Arrow by Brave Writer
  • Soccer
  • Fall Trimester (on the 7th)

Waiting (Soon)

  • Guitar Lessons
  • Homeschool Gym & Swim
  • 4-H
  • Tea & Art Tuesdays
  • Reading to Maggie May
  • Wisconsin Science Festival


Finished Since Last Time…

We’ve finished three books in the last two weeks and are very close to finishing a fourth. Books #8, 9, and 10 were “Stuart Little” by EB White, “Bartleby of the Mighty Mississippi” by Phyllis Shalan,t and “A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Bad Beginning” by Lemony Snicket. Book #10 is E.L. Konigsburg’s “From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler” which has been equally as delicious to read as #s 9 and 10.

From there, we’ll be on to #12, “The Son of Neptune” by Rick Riordan.

Another thing that I have settled on declaring finished lately is this here blog. I’m not done writing (seeing as writing is a lifelong process), but my writing ambitions are definitely finished. My apologies to those who have commented within the last month or so. I really did mean to get back to you, but the reality is that I won’t. I do feel the tiniest bit sorry about that. Only the tiniest bit, though. Much as I meant to get back to writing here, as time went on I found that what seemed so urgent or necessary before didn’t any longer.

The short version? I still have plenty to say, but I have no desire to say it here.

So, dear reader, my deepest appreciation to all of you for reading along with me. You are certainly welcome to continue, but know that I’m going to be shifting focus and what will follow in this space will primarily be a personal record of next year’s homeschooling. In other words, less blog, more record keeping. Read alouds, units I have created myself, resource lists, etc.

I won’t begrudge you if a litany of lists and records does not thrill you. :0) You have my permission to go therefore and read someone else.

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Book #7 is Finished!

lostheroIn what feels a bit like a whirlwind of reading, tonight we finished book #7 for the year, Rick Riordan’s “The Lost Hero.”  The kids loved this book to pieces and can’t wait for the next one in the series.  We’d actually start the next one right away…except that I discovered that we don’t actually own it.  Oops!

So…rather than try and wait for it to arrive from inter-library loan or buy it at Target for full price (perish the thought!), the kids are just going to have to wait.  In the meantime, book #8 is E.B. White’s “Stuart Little.”

A quick read with a movie on the other side?  Yup, they’ll get over it.

Book #6 is Finished!

trumpetoftheswanA couple of days ago we finished book number six, “The Trumpet of the Swan” by E.B. White.  Groceries has already added this to his “books I’m going to read after I finish the Harry Potter series” list – a sure sign of a winner around here.  We found it a fairly easy read with wonderful illustrations and an entertaining story.

I rearranged the list a bit again after enduring constant reminders from the husband and the children about the Rick Riordan books they don’t think we have and by the way, when are we going to start the new series?

So much for my short book hiatus.

You have to give the people what they want even if it’s over 500 pages.  Book #7 for the year is Rick Riordan’s “The Lost Hero.”  We started it on the same day we finished “The Trumpet of the Swan” and if the “please read another chapter” pleas win out, we’re in for some long reading sessions!


Book #5 is Finished!

cwYesterday we finished book #5 of our 2013 Read Aloud Project, “Charlotte’s Web” by E.B. White.  A fast read, a cute story, Garth William’s wonderful illustrations.  Yup!  Loved it all around!

We’ve already started book #6, “The Trumpet of the Swan” by E.B. White.  It’s the second of three E.B. White books I have planned for this year.  On to the next!

Looking for more reasons to read aloud to your children?  Patricia Zaballos of wonderfarm had a fantastic blog post last week that talks a bit about the link between reading aloud and a child’s development as a writer.  It’s also the third part of a three-part series on how homeschooling parents can become their children’s writing mentor.  Not a homeschooling parent?  Still oodles to read there for anyone with children in their lives.

Here’s to more language rich homes!

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Book #4 is Finished!

WITWThis past weekend we finished book #4 for 2013, “The Wind in the Willows” by Kenneth Grahame.  I had my doubts about the book considering that the language is a bit more difficult than perhaps the kids are used to.  I am pleasantly surprised to say that I was wrong.  The kids absolutely adored this book, tough-ish language and all.

Loved it.

We’ve already begun book #5, “Charlotte’s Web,” by E. B. White while I try to ignore that Groceries has been watching the movie at school….and they didn’t READ the book!  Who does this?  Mama’s cardinal rule for books and movies?  You can’t watch the movie until you read the book!


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Book #3 is Finished!

512WT5icxEL._SL160_ “Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle’s Farm” by Betty MacDonald was a quick, but enjoyable read. The kids adore Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle so there are usually many choruses of “Read another chapter!’ to be had.

We started book #4 of The Read Aloud Project, “The Wind in the Willows” by Kenneth Grahame, immediately after finishing Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle.  The first chapter was a challenging read, but I suspect that once we really get into the story (or meet Toad) the kids will be eager to hear more.

Book #2 is Finished!

calpurniatateWhen we first started “The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate” by Jacqueline Kelly, I was afraid it might be a bit of a dud for us.  The kids seemed to have a hard time settling into the story and I just about quit not more than 50 pages in.  I really wanted them to like the book, though, so we kept on.  Once we hit about a third of the way through the book all thoughts of quitting were long since left behind.  In the end, we all loved the book.  My only wish is that the author had left things a bit more settled for the main character.

I’ve already brought book #3 upstairs.  We’re going to start “Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle’s Farm” by Betty MacDonald tomorrow evening.  I’m looking forward to some fun reading for a bit.  Short.  Sweet.  Giggles.  Silly.

Yup, that’s just about right.