Hello and welcome to a summery Saturday here at the Wannaskan Almanac. Today is May 1st. Happy May Day!
I have two very exciting things to share with you all today.
First, I have got to tell you about one of the most amazing kid books. Seriously - it's so good, it's like, Stop the press! I've got to tell you about this brilliant book!
Recently, the Third Grader and I picked up The Girl with a Mind for Math: The Story of Raye Montague at our local library. The book delights and informs - that magical one-two combo every reader is looking for in a good book. This book tells the story of Raye Montague, a girl who fell in love with engineering the moment she laid her eyes on a submarine in 1942. She was told she couldn't be an engineer, but, long story short, she figured out a way to get as close as she could to working with submarines and was the first person "to complete the world's first ship design by computer in 18 hours and 26 minutes." Really, folks, the story is incredible.
But this book is more than good, it is brilliant. First, the story is written in a fun, rhyming style that is full of personality. Secondly, while sharing this wonderful tale of smarts paired with determination, the author also doesn't mince words about the societal limitations Raye faced as a Black female living in the United States. (She was born January 21, 1935, and died October 10, 2018.)
Here's a sampling of the fabulous storytelling:You see, schools in those days were what's called SEGREGATED. The black and white students were kept SEPARATED.
"That's WRONG!" you exclaim. It was dismal, no fooling. And worst of all, white kids received better schooling.
(Note: Capitalization is the author's.)
This honest language spurred a great discussion about equity, fairness, and access to opportunity with the Third Grader. Racism might be a concept with which she has little experience, but she has a clear sense of what's right and wrong. With an older sister pursuing engineering, she definitely has a sense of the challenges girls face pursuing this profession.
There are some surprises in the book (both good and bad) that I don't want to give away. Instead, I urge you to pick up this book and see for yourself. Really, this is a keeper that will stay long on your shelf!
(Once that rhyming thing gets going it's hard to shut off. LOL.)
And there's even more good news attached to my insistent book recommendation. We learned that this book is part of the Amazing Scientists series that celebrates women in science. I'm so excited folks, I just can't tell you. Or maybe I can - and I just did!
Writing and engineering are two key ingredients swirling around our household. This brings me to the second exciting piece of news: The Third Grader has written and illustrated her first chapter book. With no prompting from me! She didn't even show it to me until she was three chapters in. Yes, folks, this is a bonafide book. It's got a narrative arc! It's got dialogue! Conflict! A surprise ending! The author has given me permission to publish her book here on the Wannaskan Almanac. Her literary agent and editor-in-residence (i.e. mom) is happy to receive any correspondence on her behalf.
written and illustrated by The Third Grader
- Prologue -
Today I had the best January of my life. But my worst month is FEBRUARY. Every February we have to do kissy stuff. Yuk! And next week is Valentine's Day! I hate Valentine's Day so much! The girls give the boys good valentines, but the boys give bad valentines. And girls also give KISSES.
- Chapter 1, Sunday -
I was thinking to get out of Valentine's Day and Valentine's Day is 6 days away. Mom gave me some cookies and milk to cheer me up and I said, "Mom, can I stay home on Valentine's Day, please, pretty please?" She said, "No, honey. You have to go to school, okay?"
"Okay," I said, with a sad face.
She kissed me on the head and closed the door. I turned off my lamp and went to sleep.
- Chapter 2, Monday -
Today, I woke up and got dressed to go to school. Today I was late for the school bus. Usually, I am always late. At school, a group of girls bugged the boys because of Valentine's Day. Oh, yeah. The worst girl in the whole school is Landa! Landa is mean, bossy, so mean-loving, acts like a queen taking things and she loves bugging me the most!
At home, I was crying to mom. She gave me some cake.
- Chapter 3, Tuesday -
Today I woke up so early to work on my valentines for the girls. Even Landa. I only give garbage to the girls.
At school, I found a letter in my locker! The letter said: Dear Joe. Come to my house on Friday at 5:00 p.m. and you will find something.
I fainted for an hour.
An hour later, I read the last thing on the letter: From, Landa 💜
I fainted again for two hours.
I came home to mom and read the letter to her.
"Wow! You are part of a girl's thing!"
- Chapter 4, Wednesday -
Today at breakfast, mom gave me a heart pancake! "Why did you make me this, Mom?"
"Because you are invited to a VALENTINE'S THING!"
"No, I don't want to!" I said.
"You are going," Mom said.
"FINE!" I shouted and went to school.
At school, a letter was in my locker again! The letter said: Dear Joe, COME TO MY HOUSE TODAY after school. FROM, LANDA 💜
"What? Why am I invited?" I said.
At lunchtime, I saw Landa at a table. I went to talk to her. "Hey, Landa. I think you left something in my locker today."
"Oh, you found my letter," said Landa.
"Yeah. I found two letters in my locker," I said.
"Yeah, I know that you have two letters because I put them there," Landa said and punched me and walked away.
At home, I just watched TV all day long.
- Chapter 5 - Thursday -
AAAAH! Tomorrow is Valentine's Day. Oh no! I don't know what to do!
"It's okay," Mom said. "Just calm down. Now, go to school."
"No! I don't want to go!"
"Go now," Mom said.
"FINE!" And I went to school.
At school, there is another letter in my locker!
Dear Joe, Come to my house today after school. Right after school! From Landa.
"Oh, now what," I said.
After school, I asked mom if I could go to Landa's house. "You can go to Landa's house," my mom said and kissed me goodbye.
I was so nervous when I was walking to Landa's house. I was shaking so much. "I am so nervous." And then I rang the doorbell. DING! DONG! And I blurted out, "Hi, Landa. I found the letter in my locker today, that's why I am here," I said.
"What?" Landa said. "Come on in."
"Okay," I said.
When I came in she started to punch me one hundred times. 1...2...3...4...5...6...7...93...94...95...96...97...98...99...100! Then Landa punched me out the door.
"Happy Valentine's Day," she said.
I cried to Mom so hard that my house flooded!
- Chapter 6, Friday -
I woke up and walked downstairs for breakfast. Mom gave me my normal breakfast, a pancake of Landa's face. At school, I finished all my homework, so the whole day I got free time. Now it was time to hand out the VALENTINES. The girls went first then the boys went last, and Landa gave a KISS on the LIPS in front of everyone! I was so embarrassed. Everyone was talking about it at lunchtime.
At school, I gave a letter to Landa in her locker. Landa came to her locker and read the letter. It said: Dear Landa, Sorry that I can't go to your house. From, Joe.
"I see you," said Landa. "What is your secret?"
"Okay, you win. I am going to stay home today."
"Why not?" asked Landa.
"Because you kissed me on the lips," I said.
"Oh, okay," she said, with a sad face. She gave me a bag of my favorite Valentine's candy. Then she ran away crying.
At home, I felt so bad about Landa. I made a plan to cheer up Landa. I talked about it with Mom and made her favorite punch. Then I got her favorite food and got a dance floor.
Then I went to Landa's house to pick up Landa. Ding! Dong! And she opened the door.
"Why are you here, Joe?" asked Landa.
"Because I want you to come to my house, Landa," I said.
"Fine. I'll go," said Landa.
So I took Landa to my house at midnight and then she gasped. "Oh, wow! I can't believe it," said Landa. "I am amazed!"
"Yeah," I said.
"Let's party!" said Landa.
And we partied all night long.
On This Day