This week we finally finished the last book of the Kaya series of American Girl doll books. The Silent Stranger is a Kaya mystery book. In the book, scouts bring a strange woman from another tribe back to the camp. The woman is obviously distressed, and she is completely uncommunicative. Kaya and her friends wonder if this woman is a danger to them and what exactly is wrong with her. Making Kaya’s interest in the woman deeper is the fact that her dog, Tatlo, instantly bonds with the woman and begins treating the stranger as if she is his owner.
We really enjoyed reading this book because it had just a little bit of a mystery for us to put together. Although most adults will pick up on the clues, I found it delightful when Rose would burst into speech while I was reading as the solution to the various little mysteries occurred to her.
We started reading the Kaya books Thanksgiving week, so we’ve really been immersed in Kaya’s world in our read alouds for the better part of six weeks. As always, it’s really strange saying goodbye to a character after spending so much time with her.
We also read First Flight: The Story of Tom Tate and the Wright Brothers. The children loved that this was based on the real story of the little boy Tom Tate whose family worked for the Wright brothers during their stays in Kitty Hawk. I also found it very interesting to think that the Wright brothers actually lived in Ohio and came down to Kitty Hawk just because they felt the wind there was the best place to test their gliders and planes.
This was part of the literature component of our history curriculum, and it was a fun and easy read. I could have assigned it to Firecracker, but I apparently have the only homeschoolers ever who don’t actually like to read.
Of course, our ending the Kaya series meant that we needed to start a new series of books. We had read the first two How to Train Your Dragon books over the summer, and I had bought the rest of the series for the kids for Christmas. Needless to say, Firecracker was thrilled to be able to choose this series as our next series of books to read.
We started off with the third book this week. How to Speak Dragonese begins with the boys attempting to learn how to be better pirates and Fishlegs happens to choose the wrong boat to terrorize seeing as how it’s a Roman legion boat instead of a simple fishing boat.
They learn that the Romans plot to kidnap Hiccup and the heir to the Bog-Burglars in order to get the two Viking tribes to begin fighting each other. Then, the Romans can steal all the dragons they want. Of course, Hiccup’s archenemy, Alvin the Treacherous, is posing as a Roman and has his own plans.
The boys end up getting taken captive and because another dragon owes Hiccup a favor, Hiccup is able to devise an escape plan that takes them back home. The plan doesn’t seem very good, but it manages to work. As you might remember from my post on Tuesday, reading this book together inspired the children and I to create some dragon art.
We also read How to Cheat a Dragon’s Curse. In this book, Hiccup discovers that his best friend Fishlegs has been stung by a Venomous Vorpent. A Venomous Vorpent is a small dragon that’s sting is always fatal.
However, listening to his grandfather, who is the village soothsayer/fortuneteller and healer, Hiccup discovers that the cure to a Vorpent’s sting is a potato. While there were no potatoes in Berk, the rumor was that the island of Hysteria might a potato that the chief’s father had brought back from an exploration trip to America. (That is, unless the earth really is flat, and the rumored trip to America didn’t happen.)
Hiccup doubts that it’s even possible to get Fishlegs a cure on such a slim possibility of rumors and fables. Upon telling his grandfather that what Fishlegs needs is impossible for him to get, Old Wrinkly tells him:
There’s no such thing as im-POSSIBLE….only im-PROBABLE. The only thing that limits us are the limits to our imaginations…and I used to think of you as an imaginative boy. Give up, if you want to..but I used to think of you as the sort of boy who would NEVER give up, however bad things looked.
I think this really picks up on an important theme of the book. There are many times in this book when the situation that the children are in seems impossible. However, as Hiccup writes as his older self reflecting on this adventure, what he learns from this adventure was
You can Cheat a Dragon’s Curse. You do not have to accept the hand that fate has dealt.
I love the message of this book. I love the empowerment of not passively accepting what your fate should be, but instead creating your own luck. I like that even in the darkest hour of this book there is still hope left.
I go back-and-forth on the How to Train Your Dragon book series. On the one hand, they’re pretty full of toilet humor. There’s a part of me that originally wanted to put these books down as “twaddle.” However, in the fourth book, some of the more crass humor has started dying down, the plot has thickened and the message is an enduring message that I think is meaningful and worthy of learning and spending time with.
I’m linking up with Read-Aloud Wednesday at As We Walk Along the Road.