Harry Hartwick and Emily Arnold McCully
Summary: In 1916, a young boy living in Iowa named Tom Elson meets a stranger who has an unusual animal called a farivox, maybe the last of its kind, and Tom becomes determined to buy it.
Level 3 Unit prepared by Wende
This story takes place in Iowa. Have your child find Iowa on a United States map. Iowa is almost in the middle of the country, bordered by Missouri to the south, Illinois and Wisconsin to the east, Iowa to the north, and South Dakota and Nebraska to the west. What two rivers border Iowa? The Mississippi River forms its entire eastern border, and the Missouri River makes up most of its western boundary. Iowa is nicknamed the Hawkeye State, after Black Hawk, a famous Indian Chief, and is also called the Corn State, because it grows over one bilLion bushels of corn each year. In fact, farms make up about 95% of Iowa’s land. The capital of Iowa is Des Moines. The state flower is the wild rose, and the state bird is the Eastern goldfinch.
Iowa Symbols Tab Book
Where is Iowa? Shutterfold
Iowa Flower and Bird Coloring Pages
Iowa Flower and Bird Minit Books
This story took place almost one hundred years ago. In 1916, World War I was in its second year. Woodrow Wilson was the President of the United States. $10 in 1916 is equivalent to approximately $195 today. A lot has changed since then. As you read through the story, discuss some of the characteristics of living in the early 1900’s.
Ask your child to find the ice delivery wagon. Long ago people did not have refrigerators. They had iceboxes in which they could store small amounts of food. In the wintertime, blocks of ice were cut out of the frozen Iowa lakes and stored in large icehouses. The blocks were stacked and layered with straw, which was a good enough insulator that the ice in the icehouse would stay frozen through much of summer. A deliveryman would take the blocks of ice to the individual houses, where they were kept in iceboxes, usually made of wood.
Scan through the pages and ask your child how people traveled in 1916. There are people walking, and people riding bicycles. There are quite a few horse drawn wagons, but did he notice there are very few cars? Just two years before this story takes place Henry Ford started assembly line production of the Model T, and they were becoming more and more common. A new Model T, available only in the color black, could be purchased for around $500.
Examine the clothing in the illustrations. Boys in the early 1900’s commonly wore knickers, which were short pants. Women wore long dresses, and both men and women wore hats when in public.
Ask your child to pick out any other characteristics of 1916 that catch his fancy.
Endangered/Extinct Species –
In the beginning of the story we read about the extinct passenger pigeons. An extinct animal is an animal that no longer exists. While the farivox is a fictitious animal, there are in fact many animals that are now extinct. Ask your child if he can think of any. Some extinct animals include the wooly mammoth, various dinosaurs, steller sea cow, great auk, and the dodo bird. Some animals, such as the buffalo, are extinct in the wild but protected in some refuges.
Ask your child to brainstorm ways he thinks these animals may have become extinct. List them. Some possible reasons these animals die off are disease, changes in nature, loss of their habitats by removal of forests as well as open lands, polluted air and/or water, and hunters.
There are some animals that are not yet extinct, but someday may be due to their decreasing numbers. These animals are called “endangered”. Some endangered animals include the Giant Panda, Humpback Whale, Black Rhinoceros, Mountain Gorilla, manatee, and some sea turtles, among others.
Sometimes local governments or private agencies will try to protect animals that are endangered. They will try to stop hunting in certain areas, and limit it to certain seasons. They will try to build up a local habitat by planting native trees and plants that may have been previously removed due to fire or deforestation. They will increase the prey or other food supply in a given area.
An older child may want to further research the balance needed between the rights of the people and the desires to protect the animals. If at all possible, visit a wildlife refuge in your area to observe first hand what some are doing to prevent endangered animals from becoming extinct animals.
Possible Go-Alongs –
Evan-Moor Giant Science Resource Book – pages 163-168
Considering God’s Creation – Lesson 26
Passenger Pigeons –
Pigeons are members of the family of birds called Columbidae. They have small heads with short necks, stout bodies, short legs, and sleek plumage. The passenger pigeon, at one time the most common bird in America, has been completely extinct since 1914. Previous to their extinction, man used the birds for food, to fertilize their farmlands, and to make feather pillows. The birds were about 16.5 inches long. The male passenger pigeon was slate gray, tinted with greenish brown above, red on the breast, and white on the abdomen. The female had a grayish brown breast. Passenger pigeons nested in large colonies in trees, sometimes building as many as fifty nests in one tree. The birds flew in large flocks, and historians have recorded times when the birds actually blocked out the sun. So how did such an abundant bird become extinct? Because the birds were so plentiful, people hunted them often, not thinking there would ever be a shortage. Well, the females only laid one egg in each clutch. So eventually, the deaths way outnumbered the births, and by 1900 there was just one passenger pigeon left. People all over tried to find a mate for the one lonely passenger pigeon, named Martha, and they even offered up a reward of $1,000. But no mate was ever found, and the very last passenger pigeon died in 1914.
Pigeon Notebook Page
Tom heard the farivox talk. Ask your child if he can think of any animals that talk. He may say a parrot. Parrots have the ability to mimic the sounds that people make, but nobody knows quite how they do it. It is believed that parrots need to feel a bond with another creature, and they do this by copying the sounds of that creature. In the wild, parrots will mimic other parrots. Parrots are the only animal known to actually produce words or sentences. Animals will talk to each other though. Cats have a special meow to communicate with each other, birds sing, crickets rub their wings together, bees talk through their special kind of dancing, and dogs bark, growl and howl to each other. What other ways can animals communicate?
Extinct – no longer existing
Indicate – to give a sign of
Pungent – a penetrating, strong odor or taste
Anvil – a heavy block of iron on which metal can be forged
Mare – a female horse
Gutturally – harsh or muffled sounds produced in the throat
Surly – exhibiting rudeness or gruffness
Triumphantly – victoriously; gloriously
Forge – a workshop in which metals are heated and worked into shape
A noun is a person, place, or thing. An adjective is a word that describes a noun. It can be used before or after the noun it describes. Read the description of the farivox. There are many adjectives used to describe how the farivox looks. Using this simplified paragraph, have your child locate all the adjectives as well as the nouns they describe. You may opt to use this passage for copywork or dictation, and have your child circle all the adjectives in red and all the nouns in blue.
Its face was wide and flat, but it had a long body, with a bushy tail. The animal’s small feet were clawed like a Lion’s. Its ears were tufted and sharp, and it had a hooked beak. Its yellow eyes stared out at Tom.
Farivox Manuscript Copywork
Farivox Cursive Copywork
On occasion, an author will use a figure of speech to give the reader a vivid mental picture. When two or more things are compared to each other, using the words “like” or “as”, it is called a simile. Re-read the fourth page of text to your child, about the blacksmith shop. What were the hundreds of horseshoes compared to? They were said to be “like layers of strange, sleeping bats”. Now re-read the page where Tom comes back to the blacksmith to find that the farivox is gone. What does Tom compare his sadness to? The light had died out of his life “as it was dying out of the late afternoon sun”. There are a few other similes found in the story. Ask your child to find them as you read.
Latin Root Words –
The strange creature called the farivox is said to be named for the Latin words Fari meaning “speak” and vox meaning “voice”. Latin is a classical language developed in ancient Rome. Many of our English words are derived from Latin roots, especially words used in the field of science. Your child is probably familiar with many Latin roots without even realizing it. Use Latin Root Cards to play matching games with your child, introducing and/or reviewing some Latin root words. If your child shows in interest in learning more, here are two free primary texts to download:
Beginner's Latin Book, Collar and Daniell
Latin For Beginners, Benjamin L. D'Ooge
A single flock of pigeons often contained milLions of birds. Introduce or review this place value with your child. Show him how the number looks, with six zeroes - 1,000,000. Can he identify each place value? Have him point to the ones, tens, hundreds, thousands, ten thousands, hundred thousands, and milLions. Explain that a milLion pigeons would be like having 1,000 M&M’s in 1,000 pockets. That’s a lot of M&M’s!
The main character of the story, Tom Elson, was said to be ten years old. Ask your child to compare Tom’s age to his own. How many years till he will be that old? How many years ago was mom or dad that age?
Counting by 2’s –
Tom ran up the stairs, two steps at a time. Practice skip counting by 2’s. How many steps did he take if there were 8 steps? How many steps did he take if there were 10 steps? Have your child make up his own word problems skip counting by 2’s.
Counting Money –
Tom needed $10 to buy the farivox. He counted up his money but came up short. Younger children can use a pile of change and see how many ways they can come to $10.00. Older children can use money as manipulatives, to figure out these word problems:
If Tom had $9.83, how much more would he need?
If Tom had $8.50, how much more would he need?
If Tom had $11.25, how much change would he have after purchasing the farivox?
If Tom had $12.16, how much change would he have after purchasing the farivox?
In this story, we don’t get to see the farivox, but we do read a very good description. As you read the description out loud, have your child draw a picture of a farivox. If multiple children are doing this activity, have them compare their pictures. How were they the same? How were they different?
The farivox is an imaginary creature. The original author made him up. Have your child make up his own imaginary animal and name it. He could draw it, or maybe make it out of play dough or pipe cleaners. To extend this activity, he could also describe its characteristics such as what it eats, where it lives, what kinds of sounds it makes, etc.
The Illustrations in this book were done with watercolors. The artist favored lots of blue-greens and red-oranges, which are complimentary colors. The sky scenes are especially lovely. If you have watercolor paints, encourage your child to paint a picture like one he sees in the book.
Designing a Poster –
Tom and Mr. Forbes tried to locate the farivox by sending out letters. Another way they could have searched him out would be to hang “Wanted!” or “Lost!” posters. Using the description of the farivox in the story, design a poster to try to find the long-vanished species.
Iowa is called the “Corn State”. Make this yummy dish as you share the book this week.
IOWA Corn Casserole
1 lb Bacon, diced
2 c Bread crumbs
1/4 c Minced onion
2 can Cream style corn (16.5 oz. ea.)
In a skillet, fry
the bacon until lightly browned. Remove and set aside. Pour
1/8 to 1/4 cup of the bacon drippings over bread crumbs; set aside. Discard
all but 2 tablespoons of remaining drippings; saute onion and green pepper
until tender. Stir in corn and bacon. Spoon into a 1 quart baking dish;
sprinkle with crumbs. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until bubbly
and heated through. Yield: 6-8 servings.
SOURCE: Dorothy Morgan, Cedar falls, IA, Country Magazine, Feb./Mar.93
This book opens the opportunity to rabbit trail into the study of earthquakes, and more specifically the San Francisco earthquake of 1906.
Another possibility would be to further explore the occupation of a blacksmith, maybe even reading Longfellow’s poem, “The Village Blacksmith”.
You may also want to explore recycling since the boy turns glass bottles for money.