Thursday, March 5, 2015

Reading Round-Up ~ February

Reading Round-up @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

I’ve spent the past two months sick, which means life has been chaos and unproductive around here for the whole of 2015 (because nothing gets done if I’m not standing over someone enforcing it, argh!!). Reading, however, is what does happen. And it’s times like these that I am more grateful than ever that my boys love to read.

Luke and Leif have tackled the book stack with characteristic enthusiasm.

A few of the books they have enjoyed in the past month:


:: What's Smaller Than a Pygmy Shrew? (Wells of Knowledge Science Series) is a simple picture book that does a great job of introducing molecules and atoms. I now know what a quark is. Well, I know more about quarks now than I did before reading this book (which was nothing).

United States

:: Government (Chester the Crab's Comix with Content). I was delighted to discover this educational comic series, and the boys have been devouring each one I purchase for them. Nothing like a comic book to make economics, government, civil rights, and the reconstruction of the South accessible to elementary-aged boys.

:: The Skippack School by Marguerite de Angeli, published in 1939, is a sweet, easy chapter book set in a Mennonite community in Colonial America

:: Eli Whitney, Master Craftsman by Miriam Gilbert, published in 1956, is another sweet and simple chapter book.

:: The Story of Eli Whitney by Jean Lee Latham. This is a slightly longer biography of Eli Whitney, written in 1953.

:: Robert Fulton Boy Craftsman by Marguerite Henry, published in 1945, is a simple chapter book about another key player in the Industrial Revolution.


:: Favorite Fairy Tales Told in Russia retold by Virginia Haviland. We own many books in this series, and Luke in particular loves them.

:: Classic Tales and Fables for Children by Leo Tolstoy

:: The Language of Birds by Rafe Martin. A picture book Russian folktale.

:: Hidden Tales from Eastern Europe by Antonia Barber. Another picture book with several tales from Eastern Europe.

England and France

:: Perrault's Fairy Tales. Fairy tales written by the French author Charles Perrault in the late 1600s.

:: Charles Dickens: The Man Who Had Great Expectations by Diane Stanley. I love Diane Stanley’s meaty picture book biographies.

:: Charles Dickens and Friends: Five Lively Retellings by Marcia Williams is written in comic-strip form.

:: Oliver Twist (Eyewitness Classics) by Charles Dickens. We own several of the DK Classics. These illustrated retellings include many factual details and historical content that correspond to the story.

:: We are still reading aloud A Tale of Two Cities, and will be working on that for some time. It fits in beautifully with our current history studies (England and France around the time of the French Revolution). I read slowly, and we stop often to discuss or clarify.

:: We also watched Les Misérables (the movie) together one afternoon. (I fast-forwarded during a couple scenes.) I spend so much time feeling unsure of myself and a great deal of time feeling guilt for the things I know I do poorly, but occasionally I have a moment in which I think I must be doing something right. That afternoon was one of those moments. My boys love Les Miserables, and they love the music, which they sing at the top of their lungs. At one point Luke said, “This is my idea of fun.” See, I’m doing something right.

Short Fiction Chapter Books

:: The Family Under the Bridge by Natalie Savage Carlson. This darling book, published in 1958, is set in Paris, France.

:: All Alone by Claire Huchet Bishop. A ten-year-old boy on the French Alps faces a challenge.

:: The Last Little Cat by Meindert DeJong. This is a short chapter book written by the author of The House of Sixty Fathers and The Wheel on the School.

:: A Tree for Peter by Kate Seredy. We have read Kate Seredy’s The Good Master, The Singing Tree, and The White Stag, so I was excited to see that A Tree for Peter had been republished. Philomena and The Chestry Oak are next on the to-read list.

Challenging Fiction [Fantasy]

:: Here, There Be Dragons (The Chronicles of the Imaginarium Geographica). Luke re-read all seven books in this series.


[I’ll share Levi’s and my reading in separate posts.]

Friday, February 27, 2015

The Menagerie [part 2]

Levi's Life Quotes

I thought you all might enjoy the next installment of Levi’s story while I’m working on the next book list project (and waiting for these antibiotics to kick in after almost seven weeks of illness).

He got braces last week and a haircut yesterday. It’s like I have a full-fledged teenager on my hands! He is almost as tall as me, and his feet passed up mine some time ago. I’m not sure I’m coping. The quotes above express his personality so well.

[Read part 1 here.]

Into the Menagerie

Canth strode into the receiving hall he had been directed to by a hassled-looking servant, who had told him that he might wait there till the lord of the keep came to that place as was required and commanded the servants to notify the resident Asura Krewe that the gate must be opened for a young man who was to be trained as a Ranger.

Canth was told that he might rest his feet on a stool which another tired-out servant procured from a nearby room. After a while of wait Canth was directed to meet the Lord of the Hold.

"Young man, you are the first new Trainee in five years!" boomed the Lord. "And we were not prepared for such a speedy arrival at this time of year!" Canth decided that he liked this man, for he had been hospitable even though his servants were exhausted.

"Thank you for receiving me so pleasantly," Canth replied. "But my new teacher must be waiting for me inside......."

"Oh, your teacher can wait, young man. I would like to make your acquaintance first."

"I am sorry, and I do not mean to be rude, but if your resident Asura Krewe have finished their task then I should be going," he notified the affronted Lord of the Hold.

"I understand young man. I will allow you to be on your way, but please do not mention that I detained your arrival to the Master Trainer. He would make me wish I had a different hold to care for than this castle on the border. It would weaken me to have to fight him off and still have the minotaurs to bother me in my harried state. I would'st prefer if thou think'est of me not as a pompous lord but as a friend." With those words the lord of the hold beckoned to Canth and strode through the halls to the room with the gate.

When they arrived in the room a surprise awaited Canth. He thought that he would be going through a normal-seeming castle gate that had a teleport spell cast upon it, but instead it was a circular frame of metal with a purple swirling energy inside.

The portal, since that was the proper name for the Asura Gate, glowed softly in the twilight, a thing of another world. The Asura in charge told him to step through. He did and felt a pull, like a strong tug, then he walked out of the other gate. This time he was inside the Menagerie.

Inside at last

Inside the Menagerie, birds twittered, deer and stags stalked through the forest, and Canth was in the midst of it all, on a journey into the heart of the forest. A journey to find the person who would teach him how to survive in the wild, find food. He had an apprenticeship to fulfill. An apprenticeship that was his and not another's.

He arrived in the heart of the forest and found a little house built into a hill, in a sixty foot wide clearing, with a round door, and beautifully kept plants in front. The house had a stump outside that had been perfectly shaped into a sort of chair, and there sat a man of about twenty-eight. Canth advanced and presented himself in front of the man, saluting and coming to attention.

"First lesson: don't salute or come to attention for me. If you were in sword school then you would have to do that, but here the rules are a little bit less formal. No officials allowed in here; they would want to disturb the peace by bringing heralds with trumpets, and many horses. That would frighten many of the animals on the Island. We use our proper names, not titles and surnames. And, unless we need to show rank in the corps, no saying ‘sir.’ My name is Peter Wolfwynd. Yours is Canth, correct?"

"Yes, it is.”

“Well, today we should start lessons with archery and a preview of Earth Magik." 

Peter and Canth began lessons. Canth was a natural at Earth Magik, but archery would have to be worked on. When Peter saw that Canth was such a good student and that he could perform some of the more complex Magik and had some expertise in simple wilderness survival, he switched Canth's schedule to include more of this because these were what he himself was proficient in, and were what would be more time-consuming to learn.

[To be continued…]

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Book Love [A Favorites List]

Top 10 Fiction Favorites @ Mt Hope Chronicles

Choosing a top 10 list of fiction favorites is an exercise in crazy-making. But I adore lists. I adore book lists. And I adore top favorites lists. So you see, it is inevitable. I’ll just have to weather the crazy.

It is also inevitable that my choices shift over the years. Isn’t it interesting how one can read a book at various stages of life and feel differently about it each time?

And, oh, how personal is the experience of reading a book! Everyone comes to a story with his or her own set of ideas and experiences as well as personality, emotions, and associations. This means that not everyone will love my top ten as well as I do.

I’ve grouped this list by similarities rather than rating them from one to ten.


The Art of Grace

Gilead: A Novel by Marilynne Robinson

Marilynne Robinson writes art. Her command of words and phrases is exquisite, but it is the human-ness and grace in her books that bring me to tears. I’ve read Housekeeping (my least favorite) and Home (so painfully beautiful), but Gilead is my favorite. I love the narrator, John Ames. I love the moments of humor (oh, I laughed out loud) mixed with the quiet memories, the intellectual and theological musings, the community life, and the unexpected plot revealed toward the end of the book. I have dipped my toes into Lila and look forward to finishing it soon.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

What can I say about Mockingbird that has not been said before? Beautifully written. Strong characters (who doesn’t love Atticus Finch and Scout?!). Compelling plot. Relevant social issues. I am eagerly anticipating Harper Lee's newly discovered manuscript, Go Set a Watchman, on my to-read list this year.

Peace Like a River by Leif Enger

I just re-read this one this past week. It occurred to me that it is the best of Gilead and To Kill a Mockingbird all rolled into one. Exquisite and entertaining writing, grace-filled theology, a strong father-figure (Jeremiah Land rounds out my top three literary fathers), an interesting plot, moral dilemmas, and a compelling child narrator (with a precocious sister).


Epics (Redemption and Revenge)

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

The history, the powerful metaphors and imagery, the first and last lines, and the tale of redemption propel A Tale of Two Cities to favorite status above David Copperfield.

The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas

The intricate plot of The Count astounded me the first time I read it. Revenge has never been so complete. I first read this one in high school and have re-read all 1,200 pages a few times since.

Les Miserables by Victor Hugo

I will confess that I read this first (and only) at the age of thirteen. It was a formative experience, however, and one that sparked my love of literature. My love of the story has since been kept alive by the Broadway musical. It stirs my soul. I’ve attended two live performances and often watch the 10th Anniversary Concert on DVD (on YouTube below). Most recently, the movie version with Hugh Jackman has moved me yet again. What a masterpiece. Victor Hugo has given us a timeless and gripping picture of grace and redemption.



New Worlds

Watership Down by Richard Adams 

Adams convincingly constructs a world in which rabbits have their own language, history, culture, and mythology, and it is shockingly captivating. This is not a sweet children’s story. It is a story about exceptional leadership in the face of danger and upheaval.

Perelandra by C.S. Lewis

Everyone is familiar with The Chronicles of Narnia, which every child should read, and Lewis’s non-fiction book of Christian apologetics, Mere Christianity, which every adult should read, but Perelandra is a brilliant mix of both fantasy and theology. Lewis imagines a garden of Eden story set on the planet Venus. It is the second book in Lewis’s Space Trilogy, and another must-read from Lewis.


About a Girl (Obscure Favorites)

The Little French Girl by Anne Douglas Sedgwick

This is my most obscure favorite, but at least two people with exceptional taste in books love it almost as much as I do (my mom and my friend Susan Keller) so I know I’m not completely crazy. It is not a children’s book due to slightly mature themes. The story explores the differences between the French and English cultures in the early 1900s (it was published in 1924) through the experiences of a young woman who leaves France to live with an English family, the move due in part to her mother’s lifestyle. The writing and mood of the story are simply iridescent.

Maggie Rose, Her Birthday Christmas by Ruth Sawyer

Maggie Rose is the only children’s book on my top ten list. It was a family favorite during my childhood and it still delights and moves me. The simple illustrations by Maurice Sendak have so much life and personality.


Your turn to play along! Share your top ten list of favorite fiction novels! I look forward to the conversation in the comments.

[Next up: more book lists!]

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

And the Winner Is…


Sarah Robertson! [Check your email!]

Thank you so much for the kind comments on my blogiversary post. I’ve read them all through several times and treasure each one. Y’all know how to make my day! And I’m amazed by the number of years so many of you have been visiting Mt. Hope Chronicles!

Special shout-out to Christina Love. I don’t think I’ve ever been someone’s “who in the world would you have dinner with” answer! And I can think of a gazillion people who should be ahead of me on that list. [ha!]

Another shout-out to Jeana. Congratulations on your baby girl! Yes, I remember the early days with three boys and a baby girl, and how in love we were! There’s just nothing like it. I’m so happy for you.

So many of you said that my book posts are your favorites. Well, you’re in luck, because we’ll be talking books for the next two weeks! Books, books, and more books! Favorites, to-read list, reviews, picture books, chapter books, ooh la la!

If you are one of the many who commented on my links, be sure to follow the Mt. Hope Chronicles Facebook page. That’s where I share my inspirational and entertaining links in “real time,” including the ones that don’t make it into blog posts.

Again, from the bottom of my heart, thank you for reading and participating.


[This it totally off-topic, but my husband and I are celebrating 19 years of marriage today! There is no way we can possibly be that old. Ha! I shared our love story on the blog seven years ago if anyone is interested in reading my rambling narrative.]

Friday, February 20, 2015

Friday Five ~ On YouTube

What We’re Watching on YouTube

[Parental discretion advised]

1. We own four other David Macaulay PBS Specials on DVD (Pyramid, Roman City, Castle, and Cathedral), but we are missing the Mill episode, so I was excited to find it on YouTube (above).

2. The historyteachers parodies are hilarious. My boys have been walking around singing “La la Liberte, e e-galite, fra fra-ternite, French Revolution.” (We watched several others as well, especially Catherine the Great.)

3. We then moved on to the French Revolution on Horrible Histories. Because I hadn’t damaged my children enough.

4. Only slightly more serious (and detailed) is the Crash Course History series with John Green.

(Disclaimer: I am balancing out the silliness by reading A Tale of Two Cities aloud to the boys. Pinky swear.)

5. The following video is not about the French Revolution or the Industrial Revolution. It is, however, one of my boys’ favorites—because I have odd children.


What have you been watching on YouTube?

Thursday, February 19, 2015

The Best of Mt. Hope Chronicles ~ Why We Homeschool

The Best of

This is the first installment in a new series. After eight years of writing and sharing here at Mt. Hope Chronicles, I have many posts that have been buried by time. I’m going through my archives and republishing those that are the heart of the blog. They will cover a range of subjects, just as my blog has reflected all aspects of my life!

My original intent in starting a blog was to share our homeschooling journey beginning just after my oldest turned five. While I’ve posted about this and that and everything in between, education has obviously been one of the main themes. So it seems fitting to share again the reasons we began homeschooling. These reasons have continued to be the backbone of our educational “why” as we’ve kept the course these past eight years.

Oceans of Truth 

Why We Homeschool

First posted April 3, 2007

[You can read the background story here.]

Now that I’ve thought about homeschooling for over [23] years, my list of reasons to homeschool is a long one.

#1. Learning as a Lifestyle.

Family Life. Real Life. 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. In the kitchen, car, dental office, library, museum, mountains. Reading. Asking questions. Being interested. Talking with people of different ages, professions, interests. More time for 'field trips' and travel. Not confined to a certain building, certain hours of the day, with an adult and a room full of same-aged peers. Children should see their parents learning, reading, and discovering along with them and on their own.

#2. Tailoring Education to Fit the Individual.

All children are unique individuals. They learn different subjects at different paces. They are interested in different things. Ideally, my sons will be learning at their own speed in each subject. If they are at a '4th' grade level in reading, '1st' grade level in spelling, and '3rd' grade level in math, I can meet them where they are. If they need extra time to acquire mastery in phonics, we'll take that time. If they grasp a mathematical concept immediately, we won't spend 2 weeks on drill and review. No worrying about pushing ahead too quickly, or boring other students, or leaving my sons frustrated and lost, or lingering too long on a subject--leaving them bored to tears, or worse--sucking the love of learning right out of them. When we find a subject fascinating, let us spend the time delving in! When we find a subject that we don't care for, let us learn what we must and move on! If one of my sons is interested in, say, photography we'll buy or borrow books, get him equipment for his birthday, find an adult who loves and is knowledgeable in photography and schedule some time for them to be together, or find a class in which he can enroll. Science? How about classes at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry? I want them to master the basics and have time for their passions. I want them to love learning. My children's educations can be better tailored to suit their goals and equip them for their future.

#3. Ownership of Education.

When learning happens 'on their own turf', when children have some control over what subjects they study, when there is time to really ask questions and discuss issues, when they are allowed input on where they study/how their daily schedule is arranged/how much time they need for specific subjects, when a love of learning has been developed, when education happens as a constant part of life...I believe children will have a greater feeling of ownership of their education. It is more personal and internalized. They are more likely to spend the rest of their life learning, instead of regarding education as something that happened to them for 12 (or more) years of their childhood.

#4. Flexibility.

Homeschooling provides an amazing amount of flexibility to education in so many ways. When children become interested in a particular subject, they don't have to shut their books and move on when the bell rings. When they finish a lesson earlier than expected, they don't have to fill the next half hour with 'busy work.' If a child is sick, instead of missing a day of school, they might listen to a book on CD or follow the Latin lesson along with their siblings. Maybe they will sleep all day and continue lessons that evening. There will be no falling behind or scrambling to get the day's work from the teacher. Learning can happen anywhere: in the waiting room at the dentist's office, in the car, between events at a swim meet, or on vacation. The 'school year' can be spread out over a whole year with more frequent breaks, helping to eliminate burn-out or losing skills and knowledge over a long summer break. Family vacations can be had during off-season. We can take a week day to deal with life and add in school on Saturday. If we have fallen behind or need more time to dig in to a subject, we may add in a day here or there. If we are ahead, then we may relax a bit. In short, we will make homeschooling work for us, rather than striving to fit a 'perfect' box. During their high school years particularly, education can be flexible for work schedules, apprenticeships, college classes, travel, community service, volunteer opportunities, and extracurricular activities.

#5. Using our Time Wisely.

One of my top reasons for homeschooling is the efficient use of our time. There are so many wonderful things with which to fill our days. More time can be spent on-task when there is no transportation time to and from school, no school assemblies, no roll call, no explanations/discipline/review for other students, no 'busy work,' no inappropriate socialization during study time, no 'filler' classes or subjects. When children are able to be on-task at their exact learning level with a 1:3 teacher/student ratio and with immediate personal feedback and discussion, much is accomplished in a short amount of time. This leaves hours of the day free for a full and well-rounded life, complete with down-time. As Greg Sherman writes in the essay, Ten Good Reasons to Homeschool (linked below):

Other people may rightfully disagree with our priorities, but my wife and I both feel that enjoying and performing music, playing in the outdoors, cooking, performing in the theater, learning ballet, and immersing ourselves in long and complicated games with siblings and friends is much more important than 99% of the math we were compelled to try and learn in school. I know that some people are capable of doing it all: school, music, theater, ballet, soccer, family. But not us.

I want my children to have the time for a fulfilling life, to pursue their passions. I don't think we would have the time without a homeschool environment.

#6. Integration of Knowledge and Subjects.

Rarely in real life does one use a skill or 'subject' in isolation. The ideal educational environment would allow writing skills to be developed during history class, grammar skills developed during Latin, or a current events discussion during science.

To the classical mind, all knowledge is interrelated. Astronomy (for example) isn't studied in isolation; it's learned along with the history of scientific discovery, which leads into the church's relationship to science and from there to the intricacies of medieval church history. The reading of the Odyssey leads the student into the consideration of Greek history, the nature of heroism, the development of the epic, and man's understanding of the divine. --Susan Wise Bauer, in her essay, What is Classical Education?

#7. Continuity.

Homeschooling will allow for a seamless progression of skills and knowledge. It will allow my children to master a skill and then progress to the next level without lingering, and without gaps. We won't jump from one teaching style to another, one curriculum to another, or one set of expectations to another. I will know what material they have covered, and what needs to be presented, without having to assume that certain information or skills have been acquired. We will cover world history starting at the beginning, finishing at the end. We will not spend all of our time learning about the pilgrims again, and again, and again. We will not do a unit study on ocean life each year of grade school. Instead, we will start with Biology, move on to Earth Science, then Astronomy, Chemistry, and Physics. We will not read Charlotte's Web as our yearly read-aloud. (We read the book, listened to it on CD, and watched the movie when Levi was 4.) We will discover new books daily and revisit favorites often.

#8. No One Knows My Kids Like Their Own Parents.

No other person wants more for them, is ready to sacrifice what we are willing to sacrifice for them. A teacher with 20-30 (or more) incoming students each year does not know what are my child's strengths, weaknesses, interests, learning style and personality. I hope to know when to challenge them, and when to hold back. As their parents, we have authority to discipline, authority to teach values and morals, and authority to guide our children in deciding their futures.

#9. Socialization.

In my experience, children in recent times lose their innocence early and mature later, creating a 10-15 year (or longer) adolescence. My hope is to help my children retain their childhood innocence longer and encourage maturation. I want my kids to think for themselves without a herd mentality. Lots of free play time (particularly outdoors), time for imagination to let loose, quality children's literature, selective television, very little video games, [yes, we spend much more time in front of screens than I had hoped!] more interaction with adults or families and less with large groups of same-aged peers, chores and responsibilities, serious participation in and ownership of family relationships, deep friendships, challenging academic studies (including Socratic dialogue and discussion), more time with their father, travel, personal development sports (swimming, tennis, martial arts...), music lessons, quality group experiences (books club, age-group swim team, debate team, band or orchestra...), apprenticeships, and specific training in life skills will all help serve my children as they enjoy childhood and develop into mature young adults.

#10. Rigorous Academics.

I hope to provide my children with a solid classical academic foundation. This will include an emphasis on the mastery of reading, writing, and math. We will study history chronologically and in great depth. We will read a thousand pieces of quality literature and end with a Great Books study in high school. The kids' dad (with a science degree and a masters in education) will oversee their science studies. We may use online tutorials, private tutors, or college classes for high school level science. The same applies to math. Our boys have started learning Spanish, will begin the study of Latin by the 3rd grade, and hopefully add in a 3rd foreign language by the 6th-9th grade. [Ahem. So we’ve only managed Latin so far…] We will study logic and rhetoric. Music and art will be added in as much as possible, including a few years of piano and music theory. I'll be posting more about classical education later.

#11. Furthering My Own Education.

I am incredibly full of anticipation, knowing that I will have the opportunity to learn along with my boys. There are so many gaps in my education, and I look forward with delight to the years ahead.



If you are interested, after surviving my lengthy explanations, in reading a wonderful article about a father's reasons for homeschooling, check out Ten Good Reasons to Homeschool by Greg Sherman, Ph.D.

Some of my favorite inspirational books that originally encouraged me (directly or indirectly) to homeschool:

My current must-read (particularly for an accessible introduction to Classical Education and instruction on how to teach younger students) is The Core: Teaching Your Child the Foundations of Classical Education.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Vulnerability and Part 1 of “The Menagerie” by Levi


I’m going to be vulnerable with you for a few minutes:

It’s been a rough year with my oldest.

Personality clashes, hormone flares, emotional meltdowns, character issues. Probably pretty equally on both our parts.

Have I mentioned that raising adolescents can be tough?

I asked him if I could share that, and he said I could.

And I say this to let you know that we’re human, with human struggles.

The decisions are endless, and seem to have no easy answers. I hinted about the quandary in this post. How much do we expect our “square peg” children to fit in a round hole? When is it a character or training issue and when should we change our expectations?

I don’t know.

I’m reminded of this article about the best-selling teenage author Christopher Paolini. In the article, his mother talks about his education saying, “Little did I know that when Christopher was daydreaming out the window—and not finishing his math problems—he was dreaming of battling evil sorcerers and flying on dragons, dreams that would form the basis of his first book, Eragon.”

Well, exactly.

I’m not saying I have the next Christopher Paolini on my hands, not at all, but what do you do when your child would rather be thinking or writing about dragons than finishing his math? What do you do when it is a great struggle for him to bend his brain to focus on math? Even if he has the reward of free time at the end of it?

She does say in the very next paragraph: “Sometimes our children balked at lessons and we had a clash of wills. At those crucial points, Kenneth and I gave our children a choice: we told them that by law they had to attend school, but it was their decision where they would do this. They could do the assigned homeschool lessons or Dad would drive them to the local school, where they would do the work those teachers assigned. Ultimately, they always chose to homeschool, but not without a grumble here and there.”

And so we press on, but not without a grumble here and there. [wry grin] And I try to remember that learning to read was a painful process to go through with Levi, but now he can read 1,000 pages a day. So there’s that.

Maybe it is that I fear the regrets of hindsight, and I don’t want to destroy our relationship.

But I can’t live in fear. At some point I have to walk in faith here.

Levi has asked that I share with you all the very rough draft of the beginning of the story he is writing, and I told him that I would be glad to. So this is in part a preface.

Keep in mind that writing assignments are painfully completed (or not, as the case may be) by this son. Painful execution. Painful style. IEW was a battle. Even the creative assignments.

But when he is supposed to be completing a math assignment?


Following is the first installment. I’ve edited his random capitalization and punctuation and reformatted the paragraphs. All other content is his spontaneous creativity.

Copyright 2015 by Levi Scovel


The Menagerie

A Chronicle of the Apprenticeship and Adulthood of a Young Ranger

Chapter One


It was a dark and stormy night, a night to stay indoors, a night of fear and woe, yet there was a young man out in the blackness, struggling against the wind and snow. His name was Canth; he was the new apprentice in the Menagerie, the place where Her Majesty's royal trackers and scouts were trained.

He had been told it was a honor for him, a castle ward, to be selected for such a prestigious apprenticeship. The selection had taken place on a fair morning. He had been roused from sleep and instructed to change into a brown and green tunic and elegant but sturdy brown pants, and to venture to the Apprenticeship Hall. He had stood in line, shortest to tallest; being the tallest ward he was the last. Then he listened to all the wards receive their apprenticeships.

The first was a young girl who was very lively and fast. "Rhuinnion Green?" questioned the Chancellor.

"Yes, my lord?"

"Have you a wish to be apprenticed to a certain master or mistress?" the Chancellor asked Rhuinnion.

"My lord, I wish to be apprenticed in the courtier class," she announced with a curtsey.

"That is a fine choice," the Chancellor cried! "What say you Ariana?"

"I have seen all I would wish in a Courtier! She is polite and could outpace a centaur!" Ariana replied courteously.

"Ah, Young Tucker is next, do I speak rightly young sir?" The Chancellor requested that Tucker step forward.

"My lord, I am Tucker Nightengale."

"Ah, so I spoke rightly. Well young man, have you a request as to your apprenticeship?"

"Why, yes I do, my lord," Tucker proclaimed somewhat quietly. "My request is to be in the Mage Archen!" he happily announced.

"Well, my boy, may you be delighted to learn that Cobalion of the Mages Archen accepts you!" announced the Mage. "Tis such a rare thing when a boy shows so much talent for Ice that we will accept them if they but ask!" Cobalion pronounced. Tucker blushed. "I have seen him summon an eagle of flawless pure turquoise Ice that can mentally communicate and fly better than a natural bird! This boy will learn many secrets and may succeed me as the Master of the Mages Archen!

“I now will announce a grand thing! I am decided to adopt Tucker as my son and heir! Chancellor, do I have your acceptance of this?"

The Chancellor replied wisely, "You have my Acceptance for this is a thing of wonder, but I must warn you that Tucker must accept your offer as well, or his magical power may be lessened by shock!"

"Tucker?" queried Cobalion.

"Yes, I will accept your offers. I accept both of them!" Tucker cried, and he walked from the room with Cobalion following.

Cobalion returned presently with Tucker beside him in his new Apprentice of the Archen robes. More apprenticeships were confirmed. Some were what the teens had hoped for, others were not, but equally accepted by the teen who had been given a different apprenticeship.

After the last of the ten young wards had received their apprenticeships, it was Canth's turn. He asked if he could become a swordsman. He was turned down; Baron Egan was not accepting apprenticeships now, for he had already received three this morn. Horse school was close to sword school, but they had filled their ranks with new apprentices previously and would not take another. Everywhere he turned there was only despair. Finally he asked if he might join the Rangers. This was the place. He was received! He could not believe his fortune. The only discomfort was that he knew that he would not be training nearby. Sadly he must venture north to the Hold of Gorain, where there was a magical gate that would send him to his training place. He had spent the last thirteen years in the royal castle of the newly crowned Queen Simylene, and rued that he had had to leave the beauteous palace.

Canth’s recent memory faded and he returned to the present. Smurph, smurph in the snow went his boots as he stumbled into the hold from which he would depart to his place of training.

[To be continued…]