We love to read. In fact, I consider it a good school day if we spend part of our day in the Bible and part of the day reading aloud. So, when I received the chance to review The Wise Woman with Literary Analysis Journal Questions from Home School Adventure Co., I was very excited to add it to our read-aloud rotation.
The Wise Woman with Literary Analysis Journal Questions is a fourteen chapter classic book by George MacDonald. Stacy Farrell has taken this classic work and added a dimension to it by creating 16-20 analysis questions to go with each chapter of the book. These analysis questions are literature-based and also examine the morality of the characters’ actions. There’s a section on vocabulary at the back of the book so that your child can write definitions for the often complex vocabulary words.
The Wise Woman is organized by chapter, and its use is flexible. Farrell developed it to be used as a read-aloud for children aged nine to eleven. Children ages 12 and up can use it for family discussion and analysis with parental guidance. High schoolers could even work through the book independently.
I received the PDF download of the book which is priced at $14.95. They also have print copies available for purchase for $28.95.
The Wise Woman tells the story of two young girls. Both are horribly spoiled by their parents. The first girl, Princess Rosamond, has developed behaviors that have brought her parents to such despair that they call for The Wise Woman. The Wise Woman, knowing the poor child’s mistreatment at the hands of her parents, takes the princess to a little cottage in the woods to teach her how to be a good, strong moral person. In other words, the Wise Woman sets out to give this child the moral training that her parents have neglected.
As Rosamond resists this training, her fate becomes in entangled with that of another spoiled young girl. Agnes is the daughter of a shepherd and shepherdess. All though they can’t spoil her with things the way that Rosamond’s parents have, they’ve inflated her pride and conceit to such a level that she feels as if she can do no wrong, and that is a pretty dangerous place to be.
Will Rosamond and Agnes ever learn moral character? Will they ever become wise? That is the story that George MacDonald sets out to answer, and along the way, if you’re paying attention, you as the reader will also learn some wisdom and confront some of your own personality flaws.
If you read this book as Farrell has formatted it with the analysis questions, you can’t help but confront your own flaws and wonder at ways that you can improve. That’s the beauty of what Farrell has done in taking The Wise Woman and using literary analysis to draw the deeper message that affects everyone out of the text.
I used this text with my older two children who are currently nine and seven. They are not reading independently well enough to actually read and understand this text on their own, and so we would sit and read a chapter a day as a read-aloud during our morning Bible time. After we read the chapter, we would orally discuss the questions, and we would define any terms that the children needed help with. Sometimes, I would also need to explain the older language of the text.
The children loved the book. They would ask for their daily chapter and enjoy hearing what happened to Rosamond and to Agnes. For the most part, they enjoyed answering the questions. Twenty questions can be a lot for children that age, especially the ones that are part of the literary analysis with details and phrases. If I had it to do over again, I would have probably just selected the questions that I felt were most appropriate for our discussion.
To give you a feel for the questions, here’s a random sampling of chapter one’s questions:
- What does MacDonald say about the status of human contentment in this peculiar country?
- At what point do Rosamond’s parents finally decide they need help?
- When and where does this story take place? Is it a real or imagined land?
- Were the king and queen honest with Rosamond? How do you know?
This was a good experience for us. The children learned a lot from the story and from the discussions that we had. I also had a lot to ponder as I read through the experience of the parents, the wise woman and the children. I actually decided to tuck it away to use again with the children as an older middle school/younger high school resource, only next time we use it, I’ll have the children do a chapter a week and answer the questions as a journal.
One of the most important things I have pondered as a parent is actually a paragraph from Farrell’s introduction to the text. She says:
Life is shorter. (Shorter than most of us realize.) The window of opportunity to learn and laugh with our children closes all too soon. with such limited time, we must carefully select which resources receive our attention.
This is true. Lately, I have spent a great deal of time examining the value of the things that we watch, read, listen to, experience and learn. The contrast of the virtues and vices in The Wise Woman makes it an object worthy of study and meditation. Whether you use it as a casual family read-aloud as we did, or a more formal literature study, this is a study worth completing.
The Home School Adventure Co. is also offering a promo code for purchases right now. If you decide to buy a PDF copy of any of their books/curricula, you can receive 10% off if you use the CREW-10 code that’s in the box below. This promo code is valid through May 15th.