Call me behind the times, but I was not familiar with the story of The Wise Woman written by George MacDonald. Maybe because it also goes by the names The Lost Princess, A Double Story and Princess Rosemond. Both of my girls said they read it at some point, but could not remember many details. So when the Home School Adventure Co. offered us a chance to review their The Wise Woman with Literary Analysis Journal Questions I jumped at the chance.
Written by George MacDonald, The Wise Woman is a 14 chapter tale about two very different little girls and their interaction with a wise woman. One child is a princess whom is spoiled by her parents and has turned into a modern day brat. The second child is raised by a poor family, but has come to think of herself as the center of the world. Once introduced to the wise woman, their lives take a drastic change and true transformation begins. Written for both girls and boys, The Wise Woman is a tale of the condition of one's heart and adreeses issues of pride, selfishness and conceit. Like many Christian fables of its time, it does often contain very flowery language that my children found hard to understand at times.
The Home School Adventure Co. has found a solution for that in their Literary Guide! At the end of each chapter of this reprinted book, they offer a 16- 24 questions to help guide you as a parent in the teaching of this classic. By using not only basic "give me the details" questions like "what happened when..".or "what did she do..." but also deep, open ended questions like "why do you think.." and "what does it mean...", the Homeschool Adventure Co. helps you delve past the obvious things in the story to the more intended meanings. By opening the door to the book with many open ended and though provoking questions, this guide is a very through literary investigation for high schoolers especially.
How did we use this?
Because we gather together as a family nightly for devotions we started reading The Wise Woman one chapter a night as a read aloud. After each chapter I would ask the questions given and we would discuss the answers. There is a wonderful section of vocabulary at the end of the guide that I wished we had known of before completing the book. (Yes, I was taught not to peek at the end of the book and yes, Vocabulary is listed in the table of contents which I obviously did not see) Each word is identified by chapter and page, and if doing it again, I would have my older children split up the words and write out their definitions and then teach them to our family prior to reading that particular chapter. There were more than several times that our youngest two stopped me in the middle of reading to asked what something meant, and I think going over the vocabulary prior would have helped us.
Thank goodness for The Home School Adventure Co. Quite frankly, I think this is a hard book to get through and without the guidance of the literary guide, I would have floundered with not only what questions I should ask, but how to understand half of what was said. I remember in high school wondering how my literature teacher got all those "things" out of reading the same book she had assigned to me and yet I could not even understand one paragraph. I felt the same way a few times while reading this book and was thankful for someone who had better insight than I do. I would love to see an answer key included for some of the harder questions, if not just for the obvious answers but some ideas to use as a spring board for discussion.
When we first started the book my immediate thought was there is no way we are going to get through this. I was confused after the first two long paragraphs so you can imagine how my 6 year old felt. I also noticed the 12 year olds eyes glazing over from confusion! Luckily, the story does pick up the pace and the language become more understandable as you move on, so we managed to finish up that first night without completely losing my audience and had a pretty good discussion while answering the questions.
Funny thing was- it was the 6 year olds that asked VERY SINGLE NIGHT- are we reading The Wise Woman tonight? We got into a habit of allowing him to answer the basic questions and allowed his older siblings, ages 12, 16 and 20 to discuss the more involved ones. It worked for us, but there were a few pretty lofty questions that I skipped completely on order to hold everyone together.
I cannot say that I would tackle such a hefty fable as a family again, especially one with younger kids, anytime soon, but I can tell you that if I did I would certainly not do so without a guide such as this one! The Homeschool Adventure Co. has done an outstanding job of covering all sides of the story- from the obvious to the not so obvious details and themes. I cannot imagine doing that any justice without them.
You can buy The Wise Woman with Literary Analysis Journal Questions from The Home School Adventure Co. for $28.95 for the spiral book or $14.95 for the ebook download. It is recommended as a read aloud for ages 9-11, as well as an independent study for 12 years olds through high school.
AS a special treat to our readers, Stacy is offering a 10% discount code for any downlaod purchases.
You can find The Homeschool Adventure Company here-
The TOS Crew had the opportunity to review three additional title from The Home School Adventure Co. You can click on the banner below to see them!