Tuesday, January 22, 2013


Bonjour!  Our fifth Book Club meeting was today and I hosted.  When we started this Book Club, as a group, we decided that we would pick books to share that were our families' favorites.  Anatole by Eve Titus is one of ours.  (It was a bonus that the other moms weren't very familiar with it!)  Anatole is about a hardworking French mouse named Anatole, who is just trying to honorably feed his family by working an honest job.  He is disgruntled knowing that traditionally, his species thieves food in order to eat, so he comes up with a plan to be useful to humankind -- by designating himself the official taste tester at a French cheese factory!  This classic story is sweet, with the important message that hard work and honesty pays off!  If you haven't yet read Anatole, you have been missing out!
Here's our crew, ready to read today's selection!
Of course, I had to expand on the French theme with this meeting!  My plan was to have a cheese tasting and testing, to simulate Anatole's actions in the book, so I set up the table for the same ... cutting boards, French cheeses, French bread, grapes, chocolate eclairs.  I wanted to keep the same colors as in the book, the colors of the French flag, so I used plastic blue and red tablecloths from the dollar store and some white cotton fabric to drape the table. 
Here is an aerial view of our flag table!  Vive la France!  :)
I got this cheap model Eiffel Tower at Hobby Lobby for about six bucks.  (You'll be seeing it again in a few weeks when we do our France Country Study in our homeschooling co-op!) 
Each one of our cheeses got labeled, too.
And, of course, what is a French party without chocolate eclairs?  I found these cute mini ones at our Publix bakery!  Perfect for smaller mouths!
I also found these cute stick-on moustaches (They spell it "mustache?"  I never knew it could be spelled either way!) for the kids at Target for $1.50!  "How cute is this going to be?" I thought.
Here I am, modeling one with my tres chic black beret!  (Yes, I am always this much of a cornball.  Unfortunately, because I took my own shot in a mirror, the title of the book is backwards, but you'll forgive me, non?  Merci!)
Here are a few photos of the kids in their moustaches and my beret!  Here's sweet Leah!  :)
My sweet Mags (after her éclair as you may can tell)!  :)
Liam  (His moustache was upside down, but he was cute nonetheless!)  :)
 Even Baby Maria!  :)
 Two of my favorite people!  :)
During the last Book Club meeting that I hosted, when we read Strega Nona, we talked about character traits.  I wanted to revisit that concept with Anatole (since he's such an exceptional mouse!) and came up with the idea to make a sentence strip that reads, "Anatole is _____."  I decided I would have the kids tell me some character traits for Anatole, which I would then write on these little hunks of cheese I made (simply made with holes punched into wedges of yellow paper).  Once all of our traits were written down, I would staple them one on top of the other onto our sentence strip to make a little flip book. 
Here is our end result.  The kids described Anatole as a mouse, a lover of cheese, honest, helpful, small, smart, and nice.  We also then talked about a new literary term, setting.  We decided that the setting of this book was both Paris, France, and the Duval Cheese Factory.
Then, it was on to the tasting!  For the tasting, I picked eight different cheeses, five French, and three not, so as to add a few that the children might like more than a few of the French selections.  I got:  Gouda, French Camembert, Port Salut, Brie, Bleu, Mild Hoop Cheddar, Baby Swiss, and Chevre.  For the rating of the cheeses, each child was given a box of little flags, like Anatole had, labeled, "EXTRA-'SPECIALLY GOOD," "'SPECIALLY GOOD," "GOOD," "NOT SO GOOD," and "NO GOOD."  Under the labels, I put each child's name so we could know who gave what rating.  (This is Liam's box.)  These little flags were probably every child's favorite part of today's meeting!
At each child's place, they had their label flags, their score sheet with their pencil, their moustache, and a glass of grape juice to cleanse their palates between each cheese!  (Setting up is half the fun!)
Here's Olivia, sampling some cheese
Here is our Gouda, pinned with everyone's rating.
Once all of the blocks of cheese were pinned with everyone's ratings, each label would then be assigned one of these numbers (0-4) so that we could score the cheeses.
 Here are the score sheets I made so the children could find the winning cheese and losing cheese in our taste test.  Winning with a score of 25 was Gouda!  Our loser was French Camembert, with a score of 9.  I was proud of all of them (and told them so!) for trying everything.  They were all great sports!
After our cheese tasting, I had the kids make a cute mouse bookmark to remember Anatole, which I found at http://www.allaboutyou.com/prima/craft-ideas-for-kids-mouse-bookmarks-49739?click=main_sr.  Unfortunately, I couldn't find on the site where they had the mentioned template so I had to just cut my own shapes to replicate the idea.  For the same I used, cardstock in black, red, and two different shades of gray (Anatole is gray in the book's illustrations), googly eyes, black DMC floss, black ribbon, scissors, and glue.

For the base of the bookmark, I used the lighter gray to cut out a rectangle, bookmark-sized, with one end cut into a point.  And with the darker gray paper, I cut out two small circles for ears. 
With the red piece of paper, I cut out a shape to simulate a scarf, like the one Anatole is wearing on the cover of the book.  And with the black piece, I cut out a shape to look like a beret.
For each mouse's whiskers, I cut about two inches of black DMC floss and knotted each piece (made  up of six individual strands) in the middle about four times to make a distinct knot for the nose.  (See the picture below.)
For each mouse's tail, I cut a piece of black satin ribbon to about four inches, then knotted the end so it wouldn't fray.  Here is everything needed to make one bookmark.
 Once all the pieces were cut, I put everything needed to make each bookmark (minus the glue) into its own plastic baggie, one for each child.  (This makes craft time so much easier, when all the pieces are precut!) 
Once assembled and glued, our bookmarks would look like this!  Anatole!  (I was quite pleased with my version!)
Here is Leah, showing us hers!
 It was another great Book Club meeting!  Until next time!
Au revoir!  :)