Wednesday, June 4, 2014

What Two Little Picture Books Inspired an Entire Learning Project? {A Review + Discount Code}

Our family loves books.  Picture books.  Chapter books.  Audio books.  And, of course, classic books.  So, when we were offered a chance to review two Peter Rabbit stories from Kinder Cottage Publishing in exchange for an honest review we were delighted.  The only hard part was deciding which two of the ten lovely, little 5 x 7 hardback books we would choose.

After some discussion, we settled on the classic inaugural story The Tale of Peter Rabbit (because it is always good to start a series at the beginning) and the hitherto unknown to us Peter Rabbit and the Little Boy (because the children are all into soldiers right now and, thus, the book's cover illustration excited them.)

Soon after the books arrived, we read through each of the 64-page books together in one sitting as read alouds, pausing to enjoy the many full-page illustrations as well as to predict what might happen next in each story.

The children enjoyed the The Tale of Peter Rabbit, which, although classic, is a story they were only slightly familiar with before.  They delighted, then, in pouring over the illustrations and hearing the tale of how mischievous Peter Rabbit snuck off to Mr. McGregor's garden to eat his fill of stolen veggies, only to almost get caught by the angry farmer before escaping home.

They also liked Peter Rabbit and the Little Boy, a tale in which naughty Peter Rabbit disobeys Mother Rabbit and goes over a hill while playing.  There, he meets up with Jack-the-Jumper, whereupon the two get into all sorts of mischief, including meeting up with a frightening Scissor Man and munching on Farmer McGregor's garden vegetables.  Before long, Peter and Jack meet a little boy, who, lo and behold, ends up being Farmer McGregor's grandson.  Because Peter and Jack have played with the boy so nicely, though, Mr. McGregor is kind to them also, overlooking their garden vegetable thievery.  Peter, of course, still gets punished by his mom for his disobedience and the story ends with a message about obedience to parents keeping children out of trouble. 

Now, reading all 128 pages of the two books in one sitting with three children ages three to eight might might sound like it would take a long time.  In truth, it did for us the first time we did so.  But, that was only because we paused often to delight in the charming illustrations and to chat about the classic storylines.  The fact is that each of the books is a fairly quick (and always enjoyable!) read, formatted with large-font print on the left side of every two-page spread and vintage illustrations on the right side.

Most certainly, our family has spent many relaxed and delightful hours pouring over our copies of The Tale of Peter Rabbit and Peter Rabbit and the Little Boy, sometimes just for fun and at other times as a part of gentle lesson times.  In fact, these sweet  books have remained popular in our household as:
  • read aloud bedtime stories
  • independent reading practice for our 8-year-old
  • a catalyst for dramatic play
  • literary examples of virtues, vices and natural consequences

... and, perhaps, most exciting to us of all, as inspiration for our recent local homeschool Explore Nature fair project.

Two Charming Books Inspire One Fun Project!

My children were so delighted by these newly published versions of public domain stories written by Duff Graham for the Henry Altemus company over 90 years ago that they asked me to find them more Peter Rabbit tales.  I did, and with Peter Rabbit largely on their minds, they decided that they wanted to focus on wild rabbits for our local homeschool Explore Nature fair.

So, first we did another focused reading of both The Tale of Peter Rabbit and Peter Rabbit and the Little Boy to come up with questions we wanted to answer about real rabbits.  

Then, after reading many non-fiction books about rabbits, we re-visited the Kinder Cottage Publishing stories.  In them, we noted "fact within fiction" and, thus, created a mini-book of sorts for our project board.

The kids also started a Venn Diagram that they asked others to complete at the fair as one of their hands-on display elements.

This was the start of a fun, educational and rewarding project experience for us that we would not have come upon without the inspiration of The Tale of Peter Rabbit and Peter Rabbit and the Little Boy,

Would I Recommend These Books?

Yes.  As you can tell, we have certainly been delighting them!

They are sized just right for little hands.  They work well as read alouds or independent reading.  They ignite imaginations and offer openings to discuss character -- both literary and personal.  Plus, the hard covers and sturdy pages make them durable.

The only two things I might wish for with future editions of the books are clearer illustrations (for although the vintage illustrations are delightful a few seem grainy or muddy in their reproduction) and leaving the original vocabulary in tact or publishing an original vocabulary version and a modern version. (For while the choice to modernize some of the language while still keeping the vintage flavor of the books makes the books more accessible to today's readers, I feel that it precludes the beauty of natural vocabulary expansion through rich classic text.)

Get a Discount!

Kinder Cottage Review

Kinder Cottage Publishing offers the ten different books, targeted for readers from 3-9 years old, in their Peter Rabbit series.  Each is $4, however, they are currently offering a 20% discount on their website for our readers.  Enter coupon code TOS to receive the discount.

Discover More!

As I just mentioned, there are 10 books in the Kinder Cottage Peter Rabbit series.  We have been blessed to read and review only two of these.  If you'd like to see what other families thought of the other books in the series, please browse the links at Schoolhouse Review Crew.

Click to read Crew Reviews

You might also enjoy popping over to read more about Howard and his family, who are the folks that decided to publish these wonderful, classic stories, as well as other products that help parents educate their young children, especially with a love for the literature, history, culture and the Christian faith. 

What are your favorite Peter Rabbit tales?  Are there other vintage stories you just love?

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