Thursday, December 11, 2008

Watership Down Characters: Hazel

Hazel is a leader among rabbits. He is described as being “still below full weight” and with a “shrewd, buoyant air”. He is not one of the “Owsla”, the top rank of clever and strong rabbits in a warren, but he is not a bullied, harassed rabbit because of this. He can take care of himself and is a very good leader.

Hazel is protective of those under his care. His brother Fiver is small, underweight and often bullied, and Hazel keeps older, stronger and meaner rabbits away from him. He is capable too, and noble in that he is willing to stay by the smaller rabbits. When they are journeying, they come to a river. It is swelled and rushing, but on the side they’re on is a dog who is hunting. The older rabbits can swim the flood, but Fiver and Pipkin are too small and tired out to. Bigwig, an impatient, tough rabbit, says that those who can should cross the stream and whoever can’t can just come later or not at all. Hazel says that he isn’t leaving Fiver and Pipkin, and if one of the other rabbits hadn’t found a large piece of wood for a raft, Hazel would have stayed and been killed by the dog along with Pipkin and Fiver before abandoning them.

Hazel is essential to the plot. One might call him the “star”. He is the one who takes care of everyone and keeps them going until they reach Watership Down. Without him, the plot would feel empty, as though something important were missing. But like everyone else, he has his weak points. Because he is secretly a little upset at not being chosen to “ambassador” to Efrafa, a nearby warren, he leads a disastrous raid on a nearby farm to rescue four rabbits who have lived there all their lives and are well taken care of, but lack the important instincts necessary to live in the wild. This raid results in three rabbits joining their warren, one being captured again and put back in the hutch, and Hazel being shot with a gun in his leg (causing in him being slightly lame there for the rest of his life).

I admire Hazel for his bravery, fortitude and nobility. When everyone else is tired and wants to stop traveling and stay where they are, he is the one who keeps them going. When Bigwig is caught in a snare and believed dead, he is the one who tries to get them away before a man comes. When the other rabbits begin to doubt Fiver’s visions and start turning against him, he is the one who restores them to sense. “A Chief Rabbit must be El-ahrairah [the rabbit hero; literally Elil-Hrair-Rah, enemies-thousand-prince: Prince with a Thousand Enemies] to his people and teach them cunning.” He is a true leader and one of the best personalities I have ever met.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


'My deadlines have come upon me!' cried
The Lady of Shalott.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Literary Diet

On her receiving the Caldecott Medal in 1959, Barbara Cooney said, "I believe that children in this country need a more robust literary diet than they are getting.... It does not hurt them to read about good and evil, love and hate, life and death. Nor do I think they should read only about things that they understand.... a man’s reach should exceed his grasp. So should a child’s. For myself, I will never talk down to—or draw down to—children."

Barbara Cooney is the writer/illustrator of Chanticleer and the Fox, Miss Rumphius, and other children's books.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


Have you read "A Hole is to Dig" or "Open House for Butterflies" by Ruth Krauss?

Cornflower: "Ants are to bite you."

Veterans Day

Here are some facts about Veterans Day, including the reason for the poppy symbol.

A Wrinkle in Time

“In your language you have a form of poetry called the sonnet…It is a very strict form of poetry, is it not? …There are fourteen lines, I believe, all in iambic pentameter. That’s a very strict rhythm, or meter…And each line has to end with a rigid rhyme pattern. And if the poet does not do it exactly this way, it is not a sonnet, is it? …But within this strict form the poet has complete freedom to say whatever he wants, doesn’t he?”

“You mean you’re comparing our lives to a sonnet? A strict form, but freedom within it?”

“Yes,” Mrs. Whatsit said. “You’re given the form, but you have to write the sonnet yourself. What you say is completely up to you.”

--A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Die-Hard Naturalists

A beautiful field of sunflowers... a dismal grey sky... a Starbucks... and three girls sitting on a red-and-white "Caution" fence with nature notebooks.

Sunflowers 002

Today, as the sky was horribly colorless, we went out for a little color and found a field of sunflowers. We sketched them in the rain, Mariel, Cornflower and I having quite a time. (I am not so sure about Mother Auma. She patiently sat on a rock and sketched, not without enthusiasm.)

Then we had to go, as drizzles turned to drops and drops turned to large disfiguring splatters on our notebook pages. We couldn't leave without taking a little beauty with us, and Mother Auma lent her car keys to cut the tough stems of the flowers. We rushed for the car and finished the coloring inside.

And, with it so wet and the Starbucks so near, we went and got some hot chocolate.

Flowers sure are beautiful, especially with all this rain. By Sunday, Hurricane Ike will have worked his way far enough inland to where we are. That will make the flowers even bigger and more lovely, like this one from our yard.

Sunflowers 001

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Bird List Update #1: Mourning Dove

My mom thought it would also be a good idea if I kept a record of the birds I saw this year. This morning during Bible, I glanced out the window, and there was a mourning dove hopping up on the neighbor's roof. I thought it was a pigeon at first. Pigeons are a kind of dove, Mom says. We all watched it for awhile, and it hopped around and dug for seeds and walked up the roof and then went down the roof again, and then flew away. This is the first mourning dove we have ever seen in our yard at this house. I liked its little pink feet.

The scientific name for Mourning Dove is zenaida macroura.

(Thanks to Wikimedia Commons for the photo.)

Flower List Update #1: Partridge Pea

My mom thought it would be a good idea for me to keep track of the flowers I see this year. We found a caterpillar feeding on a yellow plant, identified as partridge pea. The scientific name of this plant is cassia fasciculata.

Mariel took charge of the caterpillar and named it Spunky. We found out it is a yellow sulphur butterfly, and have been watching it eagerly to see if it will turn into a butterfly. He briefly escaped last night and caused a lot of panic, until he was found on the table next to his jar, possibly asleep.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Hospital Fun

Hey everyone! We just got back from Harmony Hill, our friends left, and we were feeling a little dismal. Then Mariel raced in with a pair of children's crutches and said, "This is so fun!" She performed a manuever that was something between a pole vault, a trip and flying and landed on the floor. Sitting up, she added, "There's an adult pair out there too, Triss."

It looked like fun, so I went out and got the adult crutches. I shifted the handles all the way up and the crutches all the way down, but they were still a little big. Cornflower can use them just on the middle handles.

Cornflower sat Mariel and I down in the Big Blue Chairs and got a clipboard. "What's your name? How old are you? How did you get hurt?" she asked. I chose my foot that had been scratched by tripping over a stick, blistered when running, and hit by something the weedwhacker threw up. She was delighted. "You have a broken foot too, okay?" she added, after "testing" me by poking my foot with a marker.

Mariel had a broken leg, and at this point Mr. Honey came in with a leg brace. It was given to Mariel and my foot was covered with about twenty different socks. Cornflower handed us our crutches and we paraded out to show Mr. Honey.

Cornflower reminds me of one of the verses of this funny movie at Higher Up and Further In:

We drive a white conversion
And learn about the Persians
Our 6yo's a surgeon
A homeschool family!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Mother Auma has Tagged me!

Ooh, this one's cool!

If you came to our house--

You would see:
A house that (if we knew you were coming) might be cleaner than it usually is. There would probably be some project on the schoolroom table, a half-finished chess game on the in-table, and a rabbit in the backyard.

We'd probably feed you:
Ummm...veggies. Probably carrots and Ranch dressing. If we had baked, we might have cookies or something like that, and we might have some apple slices or blackberries.

And offer you this to drink:
Tea, coffee (some kind called Cookiedoodle), or water. We might have Gatorade, and then again we might not.

We'd undoubtedly ask if you'd read:
The Redwall Books
The Betsy-Tacy Books
The Penderwicks
The Jane Austen Books
Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera...

We'd want to play this music for you:
As Mother Auma pointed out, we would probably all show off our piano, and try to coax Mother Auma into playing Moonlight Sonata or one of her Baroque pieces. (When you arrived you might walk in to the tune of the Madagascar song "I like to move-it move-it" - we like to work to it.)

We'd want to tell you the latest about:
Thumper, the rabbit...piano...books we've read or movies we've seen...anything interesting that's happened since you were last over...

We'd probably suggest a game of:
Chess, checkers, Kazink, Cranium Cadoo, a pretending game outside or a skill game called "be very quiet and still and see if the bunny will come to you".

We might show off:
Thumper, undoubtedly. And the piano playing. Mother Auma's New Laptop. Cornflower's latest picture or other exciting accomplishment. Mariel's violin playing. If you were a very close friend of mine who likes books, I might possibly show you one of my stories. (Very large "might" - my stories are practically secrets until they are finished.)We might get on the computer and show you:

If it was a long enough visit, we might watch:
Probably one of the old BBC Narnia movies, or if Mother Auma could stand it, Alvin and the Chipmunks. Okay, probably not the Chipmunks. They're just too quotable.

Maybe a play, put on by the producers of The Forbidden Forest, The Moby-Dick-Type Pirates, The Return of Plunder the Pirate, The Animals of China, etc.

We might show you this on the computer:
The funniest homeschool-stereotype video done to the tune of "The Adams Family"!!!

What would a visit to your house be like?

I tag Queen Shenaynay and Raora. Mother Auma tagged everyone else I know.

You're it!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Movie Review: Prince Caspian

In and of itself, the new Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian was a very good movie. However, if you have read the book, you may not find this movie to be all you expected.

Reepicheep, my favorite character, was very good. So were Aslan, Lucy, Pattertwig (that's the red squirrel), Miraz, and Queen Pruneprismia. The other characters I was slightly disappointed in. Trumpkin, for example. The dwarf in the movie is more like Nikabrik than the Trumpkin I remember from the book.

Other things I was not satisfied with: Caspian and Peter keep having arguments, the Hag and Werewolf actually get far enough as to call up the White Witch, the story sequence was quite out of order (what they used of it), and Susan and Prince Caspian fall in love.

I don't see why the movies think they have to improve on C. S. Lewis. He did a perfectly fine job writing the books, so why can't they stick to those? They seem to try and make everything funny, or make the characters argumentative, and the movies don't seem as special and wonderful as the books. Perhaps because the media feel that they cannot offend the majority of people and so choose to make it what they think "people" like - i.e. they remove, twist or modify anything that remotely resembles a Christian allegory.

(Note: C. S. Lewis did not intend for these books to be allegories, but they still are so useful in understanding the Christian faith.)

The media can't get everything, though. Aslan is still the same wonderful character he is in the books. Lucy is still her brave, faithful self. Reepicheep is still the same dashing, gallant, chivalrous and unusual mouse. Miraz is still a horrid usurping tyrant. Some people just can't be changed.

Monday, May 5, 2008


My meme is name three of your favorite anythings.

For me:

My favorite color: Any shade of green

My favorite place: Outside on the patio, preferably with my Thumper on my lap

My favorite pastime: Writing books

And I tag...Mother Auma, Queen Shenaynay

and that's all because I don't know anyone else in the blogosphere.

Jane Austen meets Stuffed Animals

Last night, I went to say goodnight to Mariel and Cornflower, my little sisters. They were having a blast dressing up their stuffed animals and dolls.

I picked up a teddy bear with a sweater, a long denim coat over it and a monocle made of a toy gold ring. "Who's he today?" I asked.

Mariel was unsure, but Cornflower piped up immediately. "Mr. Darcy!"

This morning, we went for a nature walk. Mr. Darcy reposed solemnly in a white strawberry-speckled stroller, with Elizabeth, a brown-haired baby doll, by his side. But before we left, Mr. Darcy must have proposed, for Elizabeth was left at home.

Or maybe it was just Cornflower's tendency to get tired of pushing her stroller. Before the walk was over, I was carrying the carriage and Cornflower was carrying Mr. Darcy.

Sunday, May 4, 2008


I am back! I have not been on my blog for quite a while, and Internet has not been a high priority. But I am going to start back on it again.

Just thought I'd let whoever reads my blog know...