Mr. Peabody and Sherman

mr. peabody and sherman

Mr. Peabody and Sherman. Beloved 60’s cartoon characters, reinvented for a new generation. Their 2014 animated film is a total riot. I don’t know if it stays true to the spirit of the original, but both my parents loved it. And they grew up watching the original, so I’d say that’s a pretty good endorsement.

Mr. Peabody is a dog. He is also a genius, business titan, inventor, scientist, gourmand, two-time Olympic medalist, and Sherman’s adoptive father. If a boy can adopt a dog, why can’t a dog adopt a boy? Mr. Peabody does everything he can to make sure that Sherman has a proper upbringing, even inventing a WABAC machine to travel through time. Together, they visit all sorts of interesting places in the past and meet all sorts of fascinating people. They also create a rift in the space-time continuum, with dire consequences if they can’t get it repaired.

Mr. Peabody and Sherman’s adventure begins on Sherman’s first day of school. His already advanced education and slightly know-it-all attitude don’t win any friends. In fact, he makes an enemy: Penny Peterson, a bratty girl who viciously picks on him. She even puts Sherman in a headlock and he retaliates by biting her on the arm. This results in child services being called in – in the form of Ms. Grunion. Imposing and arrogant, she believes a dog has no business adopting a boy and is determined to see that the court takes Sherman away from Mr. Peabody. This is the beginning of a series of misadventures including, but not limited to, Mr. Peabody throwing a dinner party for Mr. and Mrs. Peterson; Sherman and Penny traveling through time – without Mr. Peabody; Sherman crashing Leonardo da Vinci’s flying machine; Mr. Peabody fighting – and dying – in the Trojan War; and the creation of a tear in the space-time continuum. Mr. Peabody and Sherman tumble in and out of scrapes so fast, it made my head spin. It’s a wild, chaotic, hilarious ride – one well worth tagging along for.

mr. peabody and sherman

King Alfred’s English

A history book that reads like fiction. King Alfred’s English: A History of the Language We Speak and Why We Should Be Glad We Do, by Laurie J. White. Intended for students and “curious adults,” King Alfred’s English is a fascinating look at the history of the evolution of our language. This book chronicles the people and events that shaped the English language over the centuries and its amazing rise from a “coarse, vulgar” tongue to the most beautiful and dominant language of the world today.

Have you ever wondered why England is also called Britain? Or asked yourself where the Southern rebel yell came from? Or how Martin Luther, a German, influenced the English language? Do you know how many words Shakespeare used in his plays? Or how many of those words were his own invention? Any idea when the Great Vowel Shift occurred – or even what it was? What is the difference between an inflected language and an analytical language? What is the Language Law? King Alfred’s English answers all these questions and more.

Ms. White charts a course through the 4 major language “invasions” that influenced the vocabulary and grammar of that wild, barbaric island off the northern coast of France. Her history also includes the stories of the individual men who influenced our native tongue: King Arthur, Alfred, William the Conqueror, Wycliffe, Chaucer, Gutenberg, Tyndale, King James (and his Bible), and William Shakespeare. Jam-packed with interesting trivia and details about English history and language – and language in general – King Alfred’s English is an informative read for kids and adults alike. For those who love the power of words like I do, it’s a must-read. As a special bonus, Laurie White also offers free supplemental material online (worksheets, tests, research activities, and links) to go with each chapter.