The Summer Queen: Reviewed by Bookymom

The Summer QueenThe Summer Queen by Elizabeth Chadwick
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

In The Summer Queen Elizabeth Chadwick takes on one of the most famous and to some infamous women of the middle ages, Eleanor of Aquitaine. This is one of Chadwick’s biggest character challenges yet. Little is known of the smaller details of Eleanor’s life. Broad historical information is available, but who was the woman? How did the death of her father and her marriage to King Louis effect her life? What was it like for her to go on crusade as a woman? Did she really have an affair with her uncle in the Levant? How did she view her freedom after divorcing Louis? How was her marriage to Henry II arranged? And on and on…

Chadwick as written about other historical figures of the this time period, the empress Matilda, William Marshal, the Bigods and others. However, NONE of these people rise to the level fame as Eleanor.

Taking on the great characters of history is difficult challenge because so many readers come to the book with their own impression of the person. In The Summer Queen my imagination didn’t exactly match Chadwick’s.

The Summer Queen covers Eleanor’s life from late childhood through her marriage to King Louis of France and ends with her second husband, King Henry II, taking the English throne. I understand that Chadwick has to balance the development of a young woman with the strong-willed, cleaver and plotting Queen that Eleanor is described as in later life. It is a hard transition. For me, Chadwick did not pull it off.

Eleanor is greatly misused by Louis and marginalized as a power…this is believable… but somehow Chadwick does not have Eleanor grow enough based on these events. During this period, Eleanor might have gained inner strength and seen a wider world on her way to the Holy Land. I think this is the time she earns her spurs and while she may not start welding power yet, she would understand and political scene. It is this period where I really see her laying in wait and honing her skills as a crafty political player.

I do agree that Eleanor and her uncle NEVER had an affair and Chadwick handles that well in her book. But, I think Eleanor might have been more of a flirt than Chadwick gives her credit for…Growing up in the sensual Aquitaine it would have been second nature and way of behavior that Eleanor likely didn’t even notice. Also, I feel as if Chadwick downplayed Eleanor’s great beauty.

The writing in the book is good and the story moves. There is nothing “wrong” with the book. It is simply that for me, the Eleanor on Chadwick’s pages doesn’t meet the Eleanor of my imagination.

View all my reviews

Leave a comment

Filed under Mom Camp 2013

Egyptian Day: Mom Camp Days 34-35

20140826-131844.jpg

As mom camp 2014 winds down, we are revisiting one of our theme days from the very first mom camp three years ago: Egyptian Day!

20140821-125535.jpgAs you have guessed by now I don’t post pictures of the kid’s faces on here. But, I have found the pics from our previous Egyptian mom camp day… A blast from the past!

Last time we made elaborate Egyptian collars and the tall crowns of lower Egypt. We borrowed a book from the library with instructions for a few ancient Egyptian meals-dinner that night was a little iffy with the exception of the dates.

20140826-131540.jpg

This year headgear made a comeback for Egyptian Day! We decided to make Nemes Headdress. It’s the blue and gold head covering most people associate with King Tut’s golden mask. The real Nemes’ were made of cloth and were not considered crowns at all. Although, they might have been warn with a crown. As you can see by the picture of Cinco, he also added a traditional Pharaoh’s beard. A nice touch if you ask me!

20140826-131624.jpg

20140826-131602.jpg

20140826-131615.jpg

Next up was a little archeology! Thanks to all the junk you can find at The Dollar Store the kids were able to excavate an golden idol…move over Indiana Jones! We have done a bunch of these kits before– unearth fool’s gold, find-a-fossil, etc. Still, they never stop entertaining and engaging the kids. I used to by the pricey ones from the Smithsonian but now I just grab the cheapo Dollar Store kits and the kids are equally entertained.

20140826-131640.jpgWe also designed our own sarcophagus… Cinco tried to make his look authentic.

Then it was time for another of my famous clothespin people projects. Over the years we have made a clothespin Ben Franklin and colonial soldiers, Mermaids, and British soldiers. Now we can add Pharaohs to the list of clothespin creations brought to you by mom camp!20140826-131652.jpg

How to Make Your Own Clothespin Pharaohs:

What you need:

Steps:

  1. 20140826-131726.jpgCut out a very small piece of construction paper in the shape of the Egyptian neck collar (sort of a wide crescent shape). Depending of the age and talent of the kids, you can do this yourself or let one of them do it. You should hold up to clothespin person for sizing and make sure it goes around the neck.
  2. Cover the collar in Elmer’s Glue. Let the kids decorate the collar with small beads. Set it aside and let it dry. (Waiting for it to dry was one of the hardest things for The Princess on this project!)
  3. 20140826-131750.jpgUsing blue construction paper, cut out the “U-shaped” Nemes. Then cut a few strips of yellow construction paper and let the kids glue them in rows on the Nemes.
  4. Now you cut out a small circle of brown construction paper. Then from one of the edges cut a straight line to the center of the circle. This will be Pharaohs’ skirt.
  5. When everything is dry and ready, go ahead and hot glue it on your clothespin. I would start with the neck collar, add the headpiece and finish up with the skirt.
  6. Finally, finish it off with some heavily made up Egyptian eyes and glue on a few black beads to make the beard!

20140826-131710.jpgI wouldn’t be Bookymom if I didn’t also include some books on our Egyptian Day. We read:

20140826-141942.jpg

20140826-142000.jpg

20140826-141951.jpg

20140826-142201.jpg

And we even went to the local Natural History Museum to see the King Tut exhibit.  That’s two full days of Egyptian excitement for Mom Camp!

 

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Mom Camp 2014

Mom Camp Day 33: Water Day Part Two!

20140812-083836.jpg

We took a trip back to the Las Vegas Natural History Museum to take a look at some more sea creatures. This time the focus was on the new Seahorses they have added.

I could have stood looking at them all day. Cinco and the Princess liked them as well, but not as much as I did!!!

Then is was back to the pool for more swimming practice, not exactly glamorous, but necessary!

Back at home we reading again. A bunch of aquatic books.

Leave a comment

Filed under Mom Camp 2014

Mom Camp Day 32: Water World!

In preparation for a long weekend of boating in Catalina, we decided to embark a few ocean inspired activities.

20140810-194823.jpg

We began by taking a trip to Las Vegas’ own Shark Reef! Cinco and The Princess end up going there all the time. But, if you want to learn about life in the water, it’s a good educational spot. Cinco got a hold of my camera phone and took a number of photos of our visit.

20140810-200750.jpg
As you can tell, we also got the chance to see the scuba divers cleaning the tanks. Always a little treat… But a fairly typically experience.

We also purchased some grow kits!

20140810-201229.jpg

20140810-201241.jpg
The Princess choose the dolphin and Cinco went for the ray. We places them in the master bath and waited … And waited … And waited…. As we waited Cinco periodically took size measurements and recorded them in a small journal.

We also hit the pool to practice a bit of swimming. If you are going to jump off a ship in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, you better be ready! As it turns out, we did jump off the boat in water that was more than 1000 feet deep. And yes, it was cold!!!

Leave a comment

Filed under Mom Camp 2014

Dino Day Part 2: Mom Camp Day 31

20140731-165730.jpg
There was simply too much to do in only one day of Dinos so we added a second day. After all, who can say no to Dinos.

We started off with several of PBS’ Dinosaur Train episodes that we watched on Netflix.

Then it was time for a little learning. We consulted a number of dinosaur books laying around the20140731-170105.jpg house. The family favorite turned out to be an old 3D T-Rex book. We enjoyed a pseudo dissection of a T-Rex. The book took us about an hour to get through as it had little activities and experiments to do in each section. We measured out 40 feet to understand the scale of the T-Rex. We also conducted balancing exercises to learn how the T-Rex made use of it’s tail. You get the idea.

20140731-214701.jpgWe took the left over wooden frames from the wooden Dinos we made and used them as stencils. The 20140731-214729.jpgkids used all the different body parts in both ‘stencils’ to create their own new dinosaurs and color them in.

 

 

 

Then we embarked on making our own wearable Dino feet, too. Here’s what you need:

  • Cardboard (I used a Costco sized cereal box and that was enough for both kids or two pairs of Dino feet)
  • Paints
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Paper Towel Tubes
  • Feathers (optional)
  • Hot Glue Gun

Step 1: 20140731-170702.jpgHave the kids draw an outline of Dino feet on the cardboard. You can use a show to draw around to make sure the foot dino is large enough to wear.

Step 2: Cut out the feet. Depending on the age and skill of your child, you may want to do this yourself.

Step 3: Cut the paper towel tube length wise. You will glue these onto the feet so the kids can slip on the feet.

20140810-194408.jpgStep 4: Let the kids paint the Dino feet. Both kids enjoyed this part and used their creativity.

Step 5: Glue the long strips of paper towel tube onto the feet, making a slip-on for the kids.

Optional Step 6: Glue a few feathers onto the Dino feet. Let the kids choose the placement. I like a few coming off the back, but adding them to the sides or drought is fine too.

This helps the kids understand that scientists are starting to believe some Dino’s beyond those that fly maybe have had feathers…

Have fun playing!

 

 

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Mom Camp 2014

Sense of An Ending: Booky Mom

The Sense of an EndingThe Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Memory, reality and personal history converge in Julian Barnes’ Sense of An Ending. The story is told to readers through the lens of a sixty something man looking back on his youth. As a result, we are treated to the memories of Tony told to us through his clouded mind and left with a highly unreliable narrator.

Barnes introduces the tale with descriptive fragments of memory and moves through the story fleshing them out to a greater or lesser degree. It is part of Barnes plan that these introductory fragments are equally illusive at both the beginning and ending of the story.

Youth and aging come to play in the story as do life’s attempt to grapple with death. None of the concepts are earth shattering or new, but Barnes humanizes them for the reader through Tony.

There were no characters in the book that I was drawn to in sympathy. Rather its a train wreck of competing impulses acted upon without much concern for the vibrations created they create. The selfish vibrations slowly play out into earthquakes that the narrator is emotionally incapable of addressing.

The writing is good and flows well and the story dispute so many layers is rather tight.

I read the book in the summer and I sometimes think our state of mind truly affects the understanding of the book. My point here being, this is a fall/winter time book.

View all my reviews

Leave a comment

Filed under Mom Camp 2013

Let the Dinosaurs Roar: Mom Camp Days 30

20140729-170743.jpg

After all the traveling and the days of real camp, Mom Camp is back in business.  The kids actually complained that they have been too busy this summer and that they haven’t gotten enough “TRUE MOM CAMP” days.  To be fair, we have been doing a LOT of other things and our traditional mom camp activities have taken a backseat.

We all agreed on getting back on track with a few days dedicated to our favorite prehistoric pals, Dinos!

20140731-153637.jpg We started the day off with some arts and crafts.  Even before school gets out I am on the look out for anything I can use during mom camp.  I got the wooden dino puzzles from the Target dollar section and the fold your own dino kit from Michael’s.  20140731-154403.jpgBoth sets were easy for Cinco and the Princess to put together and provided plenty of entertainment.  They not only assembled the kits, but then enjoyed some play acting with the toys that they created.

20140731-153656.jpgNext, we attempted to make our own dino fossils.  On pinterest I found a recipe using coffee grounds, salt and flour to make a sort of cement.  I was surprised to find I had no flour in the house, so in my typical mom camp way, I substituted pancake mix for flour.  I am not saying that definitely ruined the mix,20140731-155701.jpg but our mix simply did not “pan-out” the way it should have.  It was a shame because we gathered some really fun items to make into fossils.  We were going to use a glow in the dark dino skeleton head and bone-shaped dog treats to make the impressions.

20140731-153847.jpgThe kids were somewhat disappointed by the failed attempt so it was time to hit our local natural history museum. They have a pretty elaborate room dedicated to large-scale dinosaur models.

20140731-153739.jpgPlus, the museum hosts traveling exhibits every few months.  It just so happened we got lucky and the current exhibit was all about dinosaur eggs!  Lucky us.  I didn’t even plan it that way…although the kids thought I did.  Shhhhhh….. don’ tell them.

There were a number actual fossilized eggs on display.  Additionally, there were tons of hands on experiences for the children.  Lots of displays for them to touch so they could get the feel for the texture of the eggs.  They learned that different dinosaurs had eggs with different shapes: some oblong, others more oval, some large, some small.

20140731-153757.jpgThe Princess and Cinco also had the opportunity dress up in dino costumes.   There were two sets and one of them even had feather on costume, which was fun! They spent quite awhile in that section of the museum laughing and playing at being dinosaurs.  20140731-153824.jpgThey wiggled the dino tales and played in the dino nests.

We also played a few of the computer games set up at the exhibit.  Cinco and I played dino hangman and The Princess made a series of cute little dino pictures.20140731-153903.jpg

All and all a productive day!

 

 

 

 

 

Leave a comment

July 30, 2014 · 12:07 am