Crystal growing

Got one of these and it pretty much worked as advertised.

Final version of the crystal

This is after about three weeks of leaving it unattended.

The beginnings of crystal formation

I was pleasantly surprised by how it turned out, because we didn’t stir it too well, and didn’t really “arrange” the stones at all, and we were expecting it to be just a bed of crystals at the bottom.

An intermediate version with “one tree” done growing

In the beginning nothing happened for the first week, but then it ended up “growing upwards”, a bit more every day, which was fun to watch!

I think we’re going to check out more adventurous versions of this now, maybe combining colors?

Harry Potter: revisited & renewed

We recently watched Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone — and I realized the movie is already twenty years old!

I thought I’d read the book with my daughter, now that we’ve seen the movie, and I thought the plain book might come across as boring to her, and … then I stumbled across this marvelous illustrated version1.

We just finished reading it today![^Not sure if it’s time to move on to the next one yet; I gotta do some “age-appropriateness” research … but the first one is definitely okay for a 5-6 year old, IMO.][^Not sure if it’s time to move on to the next one yet; I gotta do some “age-appropriateness” research … but the first one is definitely okay for a 5-6 year old, IMO.]

  1. Yes, pricey, but I’m hoping it lasts a long time too ↩︎

The Enchanted Wood

An old cover I found, possibly for the version that I read

A long time ago, when I was busy trying to read everything by Enid Blyton1, I came across The Magic Faraway Tree. And. I. Loved. It.

This being the age before Amazon and not having a large library around, I never got around to reading the other books in this trilogy, which was … frustrating at the time, for several years.

So it’s a bit … exciting? … to have bought this as something to read along with my daughter. We read the first chapter today, and I feel that … as “children’s books”2 go, this one has definitely aged3 well.

Amazon links:

  1. Speaking of which, I’m surprised I don’t see books by her around today (even a search at a place like Barnes and Noble comes up nearly empty). Possibly because they’re dated, but still … ↩︎
  2. genres are so fluid these days, where does children’s literature end and young adult begin? While we’re here, I’m also not certain where young adult ends, or whether (judging from what I see) if it ever ends! ↩︎
  3. the first book in the series was written in 1939 (!), and the third in 1946 ↩︎

On the appealing strangeness of My Little Pony

I’ll confess I had no impression about “My little pony” (I’ll abbreviate as “MLP” to save keystrokes) until about a year ago, when I first sat down with my daughter and watched the first episode1 of “MLP: Friendship is Magic”.

My first observation was: “whew, this isn’t as dumb as the other toddler shows she watches; sure, this is approved”.

My second observation was: “wow, this is chock full of a whole cast of female characters” (blowing past the Bechdel test2)

My third observation was: “wait a minute, this is way smarter for any other show that she watches”

The first two were the reason MLP is a big thing right now at our home (figurines, the shows, the movies, even the books3), but it’s this third fact that’s most intriguing.

There are (especially as you get into the later seasons) all kinds of pop-culture references, sometimes really oblique or deep ones, and I sit and wonder, “who is this for?”.

Is it for adults who occasionally watch along? I buy that for a Pixar movie, where we’re essentially in the same seat together for a whole two hours, but … here? It’s a mystery to me.

Anyway, In the end … yes, I’m a total Lauren Faust4 fanboy now, which means “DC Super Hero Girls”5 is approved 6 too 🙂

  1. Imdb link ↩︎
  2. i.e. whether conversations between female characters involve male characters or not; here, male characters are mostly irrelevant to the plot ↩︎
  3. E.g. the Omnibus series, more on which later ↩︎
  4. Who basically created the entire MLP franchise from whole cloth ↩︎
  5. Imdb link ↩︎
  6. … another Lauren Faust creation, with similar dynamics (and many of the voice cast too) ↩︎

My daughter’s first horror movie :-|

We recently finished all three seasons of the “new” 2002-2006 Scooby Doo series1, and while browsing Netflix, we came across a full-length Scooby Doo movie.

Great. In the spirit of watching a “family movie” this weekend (previously: Kung Fu Panda, Kung Fu Panda: 2, My Little Pony), we ended up watching it 2 and … damn, it was a bit unexpected.

Every regular episode follows the same plot line: some random ghost/monster is introduced, the gang investigates, a musical chase scene results, an unmasking results, the mystery is solved.

The premise of the monsters not being “real” is … ignored by this movie. And instead of a comedy, it’s actually … a comic horror movie.

In that (spoiler alert) the zombies and … er, ”cat creatures ?” … are real. Yes, a twist on the ol’ Scooby-Doo formula!

Must’ve been fun to write, and I thought it was a genuinely fun movie in that way … except that I should’ve cursorily skimmed the plot overview on Wikipedia 3, and … let my daughter know it was gonna be a bit on the scary side.

Chapter books

The new thing for reading with Tara is books with (relatively) lots of words and a few pictures, with each book being part of a series, and each book divided into chapters.

Some of what we’ve been through over the last year-and-a-half:

  • Louise Trapeze (read em all)
  • Isadora Moon (just 4 books, read em all)
  • Never Fairies (read the first 3, ongoing)
  • Digby O Day (read a few, stopped)
  • Ivy and Bean (recent discovery, still on the first!)