Eben longs to see the world, but his father challenges him to find seven Wonders in tiny Sassafras Springs, Missouri in one week in exchange for a train ticket to Silver Peak, Colorado.
Why I like this for a read aloud book:
*All the Wonders have a story
*Eben becomes more aware of all the Wonders around him
*Eben’s willingness to get his chores completed first
*Jeb’s patience with his younger siblings
Aunt Pretty “went through clothespins in a hurry” but not because she chewed them like lollipops as Eben conjectured. Make Clothespin Dolls.
There are all sorts of ways to create your clothespin dolls:
*Paint fish scales design and face, and add fins and hair for this mermaid.
(I used construction paper and this pattern for the fin, but foam or a cereal box would also work. I used embroidery floss for the hair.)
*Paint part of the doll and add embellishments like this ballerina tutu.
(To make the tutu, wrap yarn around 3-4 fingers. Cut the loops. Cut a piece of yarn and tie loosely around the middle. Fit the clothespin in the middle of the bundle and tighten and tie. Fold the yarn down.)
*Use other supplies to add clothes like pipe cleaners on this skier.
(The skis and pole ends are cut from a soup mix box, and the poles are toothpicks.)
*Use fabric and a clear plastic cup to make this fairy.
*Using fabric or paint, make a doll of someone you know, like Aunt Pretty did. Can you guess who this is?
Your imagination is your only limitation!!
Eben was drawn into the church when he heard the unusual music created by Cal with a saw and bow. Make Unusual Instruments.
*Make a straw oboe.
Flatten one end of the straw and cut it into a “V”.
Cut small holes (make sure your fingers can cover the holes) on the same side as the “V”.
Cover the holes with your fingers and blow gently through the “V”, lifting different fingers to get different “notes.”
If you want an entire scale, collect eight 20 oz. bottles.
Fill the bottles with water:
7 oz. (Do)
9 1/2 oz. (Re)
12 1/2 oz. (Mi)
14 oz. (Fa)
16 1/2 oz. (So)
17 1/2 oz. (La)
18 1/2 oz. (Ti)
19 oz. (Do)
Label the bottles 1-8, 1 being the bottle with 7 oz. of water. Blow across the top of the bottles from Do to Do to play a scale.
Try playing the song, “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” by blowing over the bottles in this order:
-1 1 1 2 3
-3 2 3 4 5
-8 8 8 5 5 5 3 3 3 1 1 1
-5 4 3 2 1
If you don’t care about exactness, just fill some bottles with different amounts of water and have fun. Add and delete water to check out the different sounds.
Another option is to fill the bottles with different amounts of water, and instead of blowing over the top to make the sounds, loosely hold a metal spoon or knife and gently hit the bottles to create the sound.
(With this option you could use glasses instead of bottles.)
*Make a Comb Kazoo
You will need:
A plastic comb
Scissors and tape
Cut a piece of wax paper that is a little shorter than the comb and a little more than twice as wide.
Wrap the wax paper with the fold over the teeth, covering both sides. Don’t pull the wax paper too tightly because you want it to vibrate.
*Here is another way to make a kazoo. Draw a circle a little larger than a toilet paper roll on wax paper.
Cut out the circle. Place it snugly over the end of the roll and hold in place with a rubber band. Poke a hole just below the rubber band.
Hum a song into the open end.
Eben’s aunt enlists his help to stir and taste the homemade ketchup she is making. Make Ketchup.
You will need:
1 small can tomato paste
1/4 c. white vinegar
1 c. water
1 T. lemon juice
1 T. brown sugar
1 1/2 t. onion powder
2 t. garlic powder
1/4 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. salt
Put all ingredients in a small saucepan.
Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until it is the consistency of ketchup. Cool. Store in the refrigerator in a covered container. This makes a very sweet ketchup.
Be sure to have your listener stir and taste, just like Eben. (Wear an oven mitt to stir as it will spit.)
*Eben’s aunt canned peaches in lots of different ways. You can make different kinds of ketchup too. Make Curry Ketchup.
You will need:
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1 T. oil
1 T. + 2 t. curry powder
1/2 T. paprika
1/8 – 1/4 t. cayenne pepper
1 c. whole tomatoes with juice
1/2 t. sugar
1 1/2 t. red wine or cider vinegar
Salt to taste – 1/4 t.
Saute the onion in the oil till soft. Add the curry, paprika, and cayenne and cook one more minute.
If you want smooth ketchup, blend with an immersion blender, food processor, or blender. I like mine chunky so I skipped that step.
This ketchup is part of a very popular fast food in Germany. Pork sausage is steamed, fried, chopped into chunks, and covered with curry ketchup. It is called currywurst.
Try your curry ketchup on bratwurst or even your next hotdog. Yum!
*Eben’s book says a Wonder is “a marvel; that which arouses awe, astonishment, surprise, or admiration.” What Wonders can you find where you live?
*Of what story does Henry Upton and his rainmaking remind you? How is Uppity’s story different from the Pied Piper?
*When Eben asked Cully if he had asked the rainmaker’s secret, Cully said, “I believe in leaving well enough alone.” Why didn’t he want to have that skill? Do you believe in leaving things well enough alone? Why or why not?
*Calvin Smiley grew more on his small piece of land than anyone else in the area. What was his secret?
*Eben is worried that he’ll never live down Coogie’s prank. Eben’s father tells him that people forget with time, that he “knows some upstanding people who’ve lived down worse than that.” Who is at least one of those upstanding people?
*Uncle Dutch thought he wanted to be a seaman, but found it wasn’t what he thought it would be and now is so averse to the water that he won’t even get in the bathtub. Do you think Eben will regret his desire to travel once he has tried it? Why or why not?
*After Old Emma confronted Buddy he promised,” I’m only going to help folks from now on.” Did he follow through with his promise? Do you think he found more joy in pulling pranks or helping folks? Why? Think of an event in your life that convinced you to change your behavior.
Find this book at your local library or buy it here. This links to a paperback book.