Since we just did Clown of God, which takes place in Italy, we decided to continue with Papa Piccolo, which is set in Venice.
Papa Piccolo is about a tomcat in Venice who enjoys his nights of freedom along the canals, but then finds a pair of kittens on their own and winds up taking them under his wing. Not having cats ourselves, the kids were very happy to learn more about them and absolutely loved the antics of Piccolo and his proteges, Marco and Polo.
They also got to learn more about Venice and its landmarks like the Grand Canal, The Piazzo San Marco and the city's famous gondoliers.
Ezra has been learning his letters and so was happy to be able to do a simple copywork page for the notebook. He declined to color the picture, tho. :)
To get up close and personal with some cats, we went to our friends' farm where they have several barn cats who are friendly to an extreme. Gabe walked out the back door and sat down and was immediately approached by one, then two, the five cats, all begging for his attention. He then stood out in the barn and watched them while the cow was being milked nearby and he reported to us on how they acted. He said they all watched and waited while Mr Ezra milked and then quickly gathered around their pan for him to pour a little of the fresh milk in for them. He noticed that they didn't fight and got along very well with each other.
We didn't end our tour of venice with Papa Piccolo. We found a recommendation for another book, Gabriella's Song, also set in Venice. Gabriella is a little girl who listens to the everyday noises of the city and hums a simple tune that is picked up by the baker, passed to a widow, a gondolier and then the whole city through a composer who gives credit to "whomever it was that was singing the tune in the streets." All eyes eventually turn toward Gabriella.
As we read the book, we talked about musical terms, what a composer does, played an orchestra memory game and learned about compound words. We also talked specifically about Vivaldi, who is one of Venice's famous composers.
Both of these books were a pure delight to us all and we really recommend you check them out. You won't be disappointed. Sadly, Papa Piccolo is out of print, so it's only available through used-book sellers. Our library had a copy, so we just checked it out there.