Crossword: Uncle Wiggily

December 1, 2018

Enjoy the holiday season with a crossword puzzle based on Uncle Wiggily’s Squirt Gun, a humorous illustrated children’s book of the early 20th Century, provided to Project Gutenberg by the volunteers at Distributed Proofreaders.

wiggily_crossword_grid image

In order to solve the puzzle, first read the book — it’s easy and amusing — then decide how you want to proceed:

  • Use the interactive version. Just click on a blank square and the corresponding clue pops up. Type in the answer and click OK (or, if you’re stumped, click the Solve button). Clicking the Check Puzzle button at the bottom gives the number of errors and incomplete words, if you want to see how you’re getting on.
  • Download the printable PDF version and print out the puzzle to solve it the old-fashioned way, with your favorite writing implement. Check your solution with the PDF answer key. No peeking! (But who’s to know?)

Happy Puzzling!

This crossword was created by FallenArchangel, a Distributed Proofreaders volunteer, using the free EclipseCrossword app.

Previous Crosswords

Marjorie Dean: Marvelous Manager

The Last of the Bushrangers

 


The Cambridge Book of Poetry for Children

March 31, 2016

Cambridge Poetry coverShakespeare, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Dobell, Stevenson, Tennyson, Scott, Blake, Shelley … did you have a favourite poet when you were a child? A century ago, Kenneth Grahame put together a collection of poems from some of the most well-known and packaged them as The Cambridge Book of Poetry for Children. In his preface he explains how he chose the titles and concludes that the collection “is chiefly lyrical.” He says, “it is but a small sheaf that these gleanings amount to; but for those children who frankly do not care for poetry it will be more than enough; and for those who love it and delight in it, no ‘selection’ could ever be sufficiently satisfying.” I couldn’t agree more—there is something for everyone, even the not-so-young-anymore.

Take a look at the Contents of both Parts 1 and 2 and see if your favourites are there. Some of mine are—Blake’s “The Lamb” and “The Tiger”; Wordsworth’s “Daffodils”; Coleridge’s “Kubla Khan”; Tennyson’s “The Lady of Shallot” … let’s face it, there aren’t many that I don’t like. There are some I hadn’t recalled for a long time, and some I don’t remember, but it’s been fun reading them all. Here are some samples.

For the Very Smallest Ones, “I Saw a Ship a-sailing”:

I saw a ship a-sailing,
A-sailing on the sea;
And it was full of pretty things
For baby and for me.

And “Kitty: How to Treat Her”—I remember it word for word:

I like little Pussy, her coat is so warm,
And if I don’t hurt her she’ll do me no harm;
So I’ll not pull her tail, nor drive her away,
But Pussy and I very gently will play.

Do you remember “The Butterfly’s Ball,” by William Roscoe?

“Come, take up your hats, and away let us haste
To the Butterfly’s Ball and the Grasshopper’s Feast;
The Trumpeter, Gadfly, has summoned the crew,
And the revels are now only waiting for you.”

Or “Wynken, Blynken, and Nod,” by Eugene Field?

Wynken, Blynken, and Nod one night
Sailed off in a wooden shoe—
Sailed on a river of crystal light,
Into a sea of dew.

Shelley’s “Ode to the West Wind”—

O wild West Wind, thou breath of Autumn’s being,
Thou from whose unseen presence the leaves dead
Are driven, like ghosts from an enchanter fleeing,

and perhaps Charles Kingsley’s “The Old Buccaneer,” a great one for reading aloud:

Oh England is a pleasant place for them that’s rich and high,
But England is a cruel place for such poor folks as I;
And such a port for mariners I ne’er shall see again
As the pleasant Isle of Avès, beside the Spanish main.

This book summons up visions of family and friends, sitting around an open fire, each taking a turn at reading his or her favourite verse and perhaps talking about what makes it a favourite … is it the story, the words, the rhythm, the metre, the rhyme, the magic?… It’ll be something different for all of us. Hope some of you reading this will enjoy the book as much as I have.

This post was contributed by a DP volunteer.


How Does Your Garden Glow?

February 2, 2016

childrens_book_herbaceous

I love a garden. It touches and woos your senses. With sounds of rustling leaves, tools crunching into the soil, birds arguing over the spoils, bees buzzing the blossoms, rain spattering on broad leaves. Earthy scents, freshly turned earth, mint, broken leaves, flowers, spices. The textures of the leaves, soft, fuzzy, prickly, cool and smooth. Tastes … crackling radishes, firm tomatoes and squash, crisp lettuce and onions, freshly dug potatoes, strawberries right off the plant and won from the maurading and eager wildlife. You have to check to be sure the berries are ripe … often … wouldn’t do to serve others less than perfect berries. A well-kept garden is a beautiful thing.

Distributed Proofreaders has a discussion thread just for talking about our gardens. You’ll read what is growing in which parts of the world. What is failing and what is trying to take over.

gardening4_photo

Additionally, and more importantly, DP has books about gardening. Books for children, books for those wanting to start and for those who, for want of a better term, want to dig deeper. One of my favourites has to be one we are working on right now from the classic Mary Frances series, The Mary Frances Garden Book, by Jane Eayre Fryer. Not only does this children’s book have beautiful illustrations and a fun narrative, it also has an actual picture of a plain garden that you cut out. Then, for each season, there are additional cut-outs with tabs that you tape on the back of the garden. Then you can fold them over the plain garden to show how the garden could look in full bloom. The book tells you to not cut it up but to trace the pictures. Thanks to the modern wonders of the Internet, though, you can print those pages out in their full glory and color!

plaingarden springgarden
Plain garden Spring garden

This is just one of the books on gardening for children soon to be available on Project  Gutenberg. A few more ready for your reading pleasure are:

daddy_garden gardening4lgirls childrens_book_garden
DADDY TAKES US TO THE GARDEN GARDENING FOR LITTLE GIRLS THE CHILDREN’S BOOK OF GARDENING
By
Howard R. Garis
By
Olive Hyde Foster
By
Mrs. Alfred Sidgwick
and
Mrs. Paynter

Obviously there are also books on gardening without cartoon drawings. If you are  interested in how to make things grow, here are just a few:

Or if you are more interested in a scientific approach, try one of these:

The sun is rising, the birds are starting to sing … open a book and come walk with me in a garden.

garden

 This post was contributed by a DP volunteer.

A Soldier’s Daughter

September 5, 2015

A Soldier’s Daughter, by G.A. Henty, published in 1906, covercontains three stories. Each one is set in a different continent, but they are all very adventurous. What is more, they all show the bravery of girls — an unusual way to present them at the beginning of the twentieth century, when girls were expected to act like “ladies,” and adventures were considered to be the exclusive province of men.

The first story, “A Soldier’s Daughter,” tells us about Nita, the daughter of a major in a British military camp in Darlinger, India. The following quotes give an idea of what Nita’s father expected from her:

I have quite made up my mind at last, Nita, when I return from this expedition, to pack you off to your uncle in England; you are getting a great deal too old to be knocking about in a barrack-yard, and there are no ladies here who would keep you up to the mark. I know that you are a favourite with all the officers, but that only makes matters worse. You have been a regular tomboy for the last five years, and it is quite time that you were
taught to behave as a young lady.

I like a woman who can play an accompaniment to a good old English, Scotch, or Irish song.…

… there is no more necessary accomplishment on the frontier than for a woman to be able to make her own clothes.

But Nita is a very brave girl. One day, when her father is away with most of the troops, a local tribe attacks the camp, and Nita is captured. Nita not only manages to escape, but after a long, perilous, and adventurous trip, she and an officer — whom she rescued! — finally manage to reach a British camp, where Nita’s father, who thought his daughter was dead, can hold her in his arms again. And of course Nita is proclaimed a heroine!

The second story, which is situated in Germany, is called “How Count Conrad von Waldensturm Took Goldstein.” This is about a young count, who, after a war in which his father was killed, finds out that a rival Baron from a neighbouring castle has attacked Waldensturm and kidnapped the count’s sister Minna, with the purpose of marrying her to the baron’s evil son. With the help of the people of the villages, who are as eager as Count Conrad himself to overthrow the Baron of Goldstein, he is able to free his sister, and, with tricks and an ambush, to kill Baron Goldstein and his son, and make himself master of Castle Goldstein. And all this would not have been possible without the help of Bertha Grun, the daughter of a villager, who was appointed by the baron to be Minna von Waldensturm’s lady-in-waiting.

The last story takes us to Australia, and is called “A Raid by the Blacks.” The Roberts family are living on an outlying farming station in Australia. In those days, when life on a remote farm was extremely hard, people could use all the hands that were available, for every task. But look at the differences in education Effie and her brother received:

The boy, who was now fifteen, had been for the past two years at Sydney, living at his uncle’s and attending school. In another year he was to return to the station. He had gone most reluctantly, but his father had said: “I can quite understand your liking this life, Ned, but I don’t wish you to grow up simply a bush farmer. The colony is increasing fast, and there will be plenty of openings for a young fellow of intelligence and a fair education. I hope that by the time you grow up I shall be able to settle you on a farm like mine, and stock it well for you, if you decide upon following this sort of life, or to start you in any line that you may like to adopt in Sydney. You have had two years of running wild, and if you remain here you will speedily forget what little you have learned; but in any case, three years at school will be a great advantage to you.”

Effie, the daughter, was now fourteen, a strong healthy girl who could ride any horse on the station, had been taught to use both pistol and rifle, and was as bold and fearless as a boy.

Effie had her own tasks on the farm:

Effie went out twice a day with food for the horses, and each time carried a dozen large apples in her apron, which she gave them after they had eaten their corn.

Effie still was a girl of her time, however. When she had to escape the farm in boy’s clothes to ride off and get help from the neighbours, she was a bit embarrassed:

As Effie felt shy about appearing in boy’s clothes, Mrs. Talbot lent her a blouse and skirt.

The reader should note that the stories in A Soldier’s Daughter are not “politically correct” by today’s standards, in terms of how different races are presented. But the book is a creature of its time, and in my opinion, Nita, Bertha and Effie showed that they were real heroines!

This post was contributed by DP volunteer Eevee.


Sunday School Stories

April 4, 2015

Maybee’s Stepping Stones by Archie Fell is a book of Sunday school stories for each week of the year. As I read it, I experienced a wide range of emotions — love, kindness, patience, life, death, naughtiness, guilt, fear, consequences, tolerance, forgiveness, family, community, happiness, sorrow, adversity, hope, loneliness, sadness, joy….

frontispiece

I gasped with alarm when Dick shot himself; when Tryphosa was overcome with the fire. I wanted to cry when Dick lay in the woods unheard, when Phosy and Aunty McFane became ill, and I rejoiced when Mrs. Harte and Bill Finnegan went to the Sabbath School, and when Dan Harte resolved to overcome his addiction to alcohol. I shared the children’s frustrations as they struggled with doing the right thing, and smiled unashamedly when their good deeds worked near miracles.

The stories may be old-fashioned, and based on Christianity, but the lessons are for us all, whether we believe in a god or not, whether our deeds are in person or via social media, whether we are young or old. We can all put out a hand in comfort and together we can grow in strength no matter what our trials and tribulations.

She had just been reading a chapter in the Bible out loud, and Aunty McFane said there was a promise for every ache she had. Isn’t it funny,” he  continued, turning to Miss Marvin, “that folks just as different as can be find exactly what they want in the Bible? — Maybee’s Stepping Stones, page 224.

Reading these stories, I couldn’t help but reminisce about when I was a little girl going to Sunday school.

Denomination meant nothing to us so the church we attended was the one within walking distance — I think it was Presbyterian. Our parents didn’t seem particularly religious, but they did make us go to Sunday school. Our father had in mind that if we weren’t christened it would be easier for us if we wanted to marry someone of strong faith in a particular church.

I never did work out my father’s beliefs. I suspect my mother was quite devout, although I did not know her to go to church, and she didn’t speak about religion much. She did go to a Catholic primary school — she had me shocked and in fits of laughter when she told me of the time she had to stand in front of an open fire with a piece of soap in her mouth because she had sworn at the nuns.

…  then she tried scrubbing the inside of his mouth with soap-suds — Maybee’s Stepping Stones, page 19.

My sister only recently told me the story of her second son who, at age six, when admonished for swearing, was threatened with a similar fate of having his mouth washed out with soap. The little boy went to the bathroom, grabbed some soap, foamed it up in his mouth, and went out to his mother and said, “Now I can swear.” I think there’s quite a bit of my mother’s determined spirit in both my sister and my nephew. The same son said to my sister the other week: “Do what you want, mother, you will anyway.”

My mother also told the story of a family member who was a Major in the Salvation Army. I heard her say many times that only the good die young. And I learnt that she had a very difficult time accepting the death of a daughter before I was born.

Upon the pine coffin, the girls in Miss Cox’s class laid a wreath of beautiful hot-house flowers; but all over the lid, and inside, around the pale face and over the white robe, were fresh, fragrant pond-lilies, their subtile perfume filling the room. — Maybee’s Stepping Stones, page 149.

We had Sunday School stories, much like those told in Maybee’s Stepping Stones. We collected a stamp for each story lesson we attended. When our stamp sheet was full, we were presented with a little book.

We had our “Sunday best” clothes, and how we did love dressing up, putting on our delicate little dresses with ribbons and bows, and polishing our little shoes. Going to Sunday school was exciting and something to look forward to. It added a purpose to our lives, spiritual and social.

But she made her appearance, bright and early, Sabbath morning, comparatively quite docile, submitted to be washed, shampooed, braided, and ruffled, with a most martyr-like air, and came out from the process not so very unlike the five other girls, among whom Say seated her, with such a happy look in her own blue eyes. Just to see her sitting there more than repaid the trouble. — Maybee’s Stepping Stones, page 106.

Our Sunday school was at the back of the church in a prefabricated corrugated steel “Nissen hut” like those used for temporary accommodation during the war years. The building is still there but it is no longer a church, and the hut has been replaced by a brick addition attached to the main building.

I mentioned above it was within walking distance. Back then, there was a church nearby almost everywhere. I thought about this in recent years when a neighbour who had become almost housebound because of poor vision and declining mobility told me that one of the things she missed most was being able to walk to church. Her old church building was still there, too, at the end of the street where she had lived most of her adult life, along with the convent buildings that had been converted first to a school, and then to an art gallery, and now left to crumble. The nearest church for her was now on the other side of town. Buses don’t run on Sundays in this small community so, with few friends or family interested in taking her to church, she had only television services to comfort her.

So much inward soul searching from a little children’s book — literary merit?… Well, the stories stand up to the test of time, is all I can conclude.

This post was contributed by a DP volunteer.


Spinning-Wheel Stories

February 13, 2014

Some time ago I smooth-read Spinning-Wheel Stories, by Louisa May Alcott. What a fun book to read! I enjoy Alcott’s story-telling style, and her ability to inject small morals into stories without being too preachy most of the time. She has occasional lapses, as most authors do, but in general she is able to capture and hold my interest. This particular book is a collection of short stories, recited to amuse children who are visiting their grandmother over the Christmas holidays. The children are kept indoors by severe winter weather, and are slowly going stir-crazy. In an effort to amuse the children, Grandmother and Aunt Elinore tell them stories each evening.

One of my favorite little stories in this book is the incident where the children are romping in the attic, and they discover the old spinning wheel. Almost everything else in the attic is dusty and obviously has not been touched for a long time. But the spinning wheel is clean and there is still flax on the distaff. The children lug the spinning wheel down to where Grandmother is sitting next to the fire, and the girls ask her to teach them how to spin.

Grandma's Story

Grandma’s Story

A thrilling tale ensues, as the wheel goes round and round while Grandmother begins her story. There are wolves, a race, and much excitement in this story! And best of all, it’s a true tale of Grandmother’s life.

If I still had young children, I would love to read this book with them. The stories told here recount events from days long gone by: spinning wheels, big-wheel bicycles, young girls learning to cook, heroic Native Americans, and many others. I think youngsters today would probably enjoy the stories, given an opportunity to read them.


The Boy Craftsman by A. Neely Hall

May 14, 2013

I want to make a doll’s house. And a miniature theatre. And fireworks. And a desk and shelves. And … and….

I’ve been reading a book published over a hundred years ago that would never see the light of day in today’s risk-averse society. Back then, it seems, the best present you could get for your twelve year old boy was a small axe and a selection of sharp blades—together with dangerous chemicals and other toxic substances. It was a time when boys and girls had different pastimes and every boy carried a small folding knife with him.

The Boy Craftsman, subtitled Practical and Profitable Ideas for a Boy’s Leisure Hours, was one of a series of similar books, and it starts with things a boy can make to earn money. These range from household items such as a display rack for plates for the dining room, to snow ploughs and newspapers. It’s lavishly illustrated with diagrams, photographs and templates for some of the parts. The instructions for all the projects are very detailed and the whole thing is inspirational. The author was enthusiastic about his subject and he wrote in a clear style, because the book was aimed at children. Judging by the illustrations, the boys in question were in the 11-16 age range, so well able to undertake the projects in the book.

After money-making ideas, Mr Hall moves on to discuss outdoor activities, the list of chapters suggesting building up to leaving the poor boy stranded in the great outdoors. It seems he’s being taught to make a shelter, transport and then how to catch his own food.

How to build a log-cabin
How to build a canvas canoe
Home-made traps
Toy guns, targets, and bows and arrows

Log Cabin

Even though I know things were different then, it’s impossible to shake off my 21st century sensibilities. Every time the book mentions yet another sharp implement, or painting things with white lead (enamel paint is suggested as an alternative), I suffer a moment of shock that children were given these things. The basic tools for a workshop are listed as “A hatchet, hammer, saw, plane, chisel, jack-knife, bit and bit-stock, screw-driver, and square”.

And here’s a chapter you’d never find in a book for teenagers these days,

Work to do with a knife

There are instructions for maintaining and sharpening your tools, for developing photographs, for making a bow and arrow (including metal arrowheads), setting up your own printing press, for making animal traps of various kinds, for creating “safe” fireworks.

A toy pistol, that will fire a piece of cardboard has a piece of advice that I think would have been good to repeat later when making arrows. “It is advisable to keep this pistol out of range of your companions’ faces.

Really? You think?

Physical activity isn’t forgotten, an outdoor gymnasium is constructed with everything you could need in 1905—including a punching bag platform and a vaulting pole. Pole vaulting for children? Where are my smelling salts, I think the shock’s getting too much for me.

The final section is given over to indoor pastimes, the first of which is creating a miniature theatre complete with scenery, props and mechanical effects. If that doesn’t appeal, you could always make a toy railway or clockwork cars. I noted with amusement the advice to boys about to dismantle an old clockwork mechanism for cleaning.

Before taking a set of works apart, it is well to examine it carefully and note the positions of the various springs and wheels, so it will be possible to put them together again properly should you wish to do so. Without taking notice of this, you are likely to have a handful of wheels as a result, with which you can do nothing except perhaps convert them into tops.

Have you ever sat and watched as an impatient person takes a mechanism apart without looking and then sits scratching their head at the piece left over when they’ve reassembled it? Seems it’s not a new phenomenon.

I think one of the most amazing things about so many of the books I read, is that they still have relevance now. The basic techniques and tools here still hold good and I can think of worse things than undertaking some of these projects with older children. Just imagine the quality time spent together—because there’s no way we’d leave them unsupervised with these things nowadays. Some of the projects might need a little thought (the doll’s houses use a lot of cigar boxes, for which an alternative would need to be identified) and some are no longer possible (creating a dark room for developing photographs from glass plates).

On the whole though, here’s a wide range of creative and constructive projects of varying sizes that I think kids (and their parents) would still enjoy doing. Why not download this book and try one or two? Perhaps not the log cabin, though.

See you later—I’m off to see what my own workshop contains.


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