Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Mosaic Book Packages

Thanks to all those who purchased book packages for Advent/Christmas! We have three left with just a few days until Advent begins.

People who ordered the package got one of the these three books as the "surprise" in the Advent/Christmas package: The Night of Las Posadas by Tomie DePaola, Lucia Morning in Sweden by Ewa Rydaker, and Baboushka, A Christmas Folktale from Russia by Arthur Conley.

We had hoped to include a cookie press for the Feasts of St. Nicholas and St. Lucy in the book packages, but we didn't order them in time.
They will be posted for sale on the website in a few days. These are fun and easy to use with children and reasonably priced.

We will be putting together a package for January if you want to start planning for that now. It will include the 5 books for January featured in the Mosaic, plus a set of Marian coloring cards from Illuminated Ink. More details to come!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Hillside in the news!

Here are the parts of an article about the author of Sword of Contarf which appeared in the Buffalo News last week. In the print version these three parts were all on one page.

Main article

side bar 1

side bar 2

Congratulations to the Brady family!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Advent and Christmas Book Package is now available!

Check our website to see the complete package. It includes all the books featured in the Mosaic for December (7 titles) as well as a little surprise as our gift to you.
You can also purchase the books individually and request a substitution if you already own one of the books in the package.

We're trying this as an experiment to see if people are interested . . . if so we will offer other packages for other times of the year. We never really imagined ourselves a retail bookstore and were secretly hoping some well established bookstores would make this kind of package available. But we're willing to try it!

The new Liturgical Year begins the First Sunday of Advent, December 3,2006.
Many blessings to you and your family as you prepare for the new year with the Church!

Monday, October 02, 2006

Sword of Clontarf

It has arrived!!! You will love Charles Brady's story set at the time of the Irish victory over the Norse at Clontarf weir outside of Dublin in 1014 A.D. Sword of Clontarf is full of the romance and poetry of the "warrior bard" and laced with a beautiful look at Catholic Ireland in the Middle Ages. This book is my favorite of the Clarion book series published in the 50's and 60's.

Niall, a boy of fifteen who lives in Iceland, finds out in one moment that his father has been murdered and that his mother, who had never spoken in his entire life, can speak and is in fact the daughter of an Irish Chieftan. The reason she never spoke is that when she was first captured by Norse raiders, she had a treasured talisman of the Norse and hid it in her mouth. Niall is charged with delivering the talisman (Thor's ring) to Brian Boru, High King of Ireland and finding his Irish grandfather. Many adventures intervene, but eventually Niall is presented to Brian Boru and takes part in the Battle of Clontarf. The story draws out the virtues of courage, loyalty, compassion, honor and integrity, and forgiveness.

The cover art is a painting by Douglas Girard called Brian Boru and can be seen with his entire collection at www.battleart.com. The cover was designed by Ted Schluenderfritz who never fails to capture the tone and flavor of a story when creating his designs. The book was laid out by my dear friend Mary Jo who is really a saint; I wish to tell her story someday.

For a great listen while you read, check out Maurice Lennon's CD Brian Boru, available from Dara Records . It features some traditional music as well as Lennon's original compositions to highlight the life of Boru. At the end there is a reading of macLiag's poem Kincora, a lament for Brian Boru. You can read the entire text of macLiag's lament here. We only print a little part of it in the book. Visit this site to read more about the artist and the production.

I am bubbling over with excitement at realizing the dream of bringing this book back in print.

A study guide will be available soon!

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Book Packages for Catholic Mosaic

We are going to attempt to offer books packages of the books recommended in Catholic Mosaic for Advent and Lent. If this goes well, we may offer other packages, such as monthly packages or sets of twelve books, with one from each month.

We are wondering how interested people are in this. If you would be interested, please drop us a note at


or comment to this message.

Please check the website regularly, as we will post the Advent package there in the next few weeks. The Advent package will include:

St. Francis and the Christmas Donkey
Clown of God
Miracle of St. Nicholas
Lady of Guadalupe
Legend of the Poinsettia
Donkey's Dream
The Crippled Lamb

as well as one other "surprise" book.

God bless

Thursday, August 17, 2006

The Family Tree

Introducing a wonderful way to get your children writing this year!

Got a great story in your family history? Did your great, great, great, grandmother live by the Susquehanna River in Central Pennsylvania and have her toddler taken by the Indians in a raid on her farm? Mine did - and it's an exciting story. Many people I've talked to recently have great stories in their past: stories of heroism and faith, stories of fortitude and triumph.

Hillside Education would like to publish a book of narratives of family histories written by students ages 18 and under.

We hope that students will be inspired to research a family story and write a compelling narrative of it. It can be a story from the country of their ancestry; it can be a story from the recent past; a story from a war; a story that shows the dearness of life and the beauty of family.

If we decide to include the story in our book, we will give the family a free copy of the book!

Please email us at info@hillsideeducation.com for a handout with guidelines.

The deadline is December 6, 2006, the Feast of St. Nicholas.
Happy writing!

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Why all those difficult passages in Lingua Mater?

In Defense of Real Literature

Lingua Mater, Language Lessons from Literature is an English course intended for use in 7th or as a two year course for 6th and 7th grade following the Middle Grade Lesson Plans from CHC. Each week's lesson includes a piece of literature or a painting to be studied, a writing assignment, and the study of one grammar concept.

Some people have expressed concerns about the use of the real literature pieces in the book and the method of instruction that we chose. To explain, Lingua Mater is based on a book from the early 1900's called The Mother Tongue. Most English books, all that I have seen, from that time period use real literature to teach/practice the grammar concepts. This is more difficult, but it is a really good exercise and a really good way to assess whether or not the child really gets the concept. If you look at the contrived sentences in some modern grammar programs, it is easy for the child to identify the grammar concept, so much so, as Laura Berquist has pointed out, that it is possible to do a workbook page without really getting the concept, just by figuring out the pattern in the book. Looking at a sentence that a child might actually see/read in a book in order to identify a grammar concept is harder and requires more analysis, but not only is it doable, it encourages growth in critical thinking. For example, when looking a sentence, whether it be simple or complex, a student can answer "What is the one person, place, or thing that this sentence is really about, and what is the one thing that is being said of it/him." It is possible without having advanced study to break apart a sentence to find the one thing that is predicated, especially at 7th grade, or with help in the thinking process in 6th grade. (This particular lesson comes up in Week 9.)

The pattern for introducing a grammar concept is the same in Lingua Mater as in some other popular homeschool grammar choices, but without the excess drill, that is: definition, example, and then practice sentences. While Voyages in English might introduce the objective case all in one lesson and define 3 or 4 different kinds of nouns in the objective case, we break it up over several weeks' lessons, studying one kind of objective case noun per week. One grammar concept is examined over the whole week, with a new practice experience each day, perhaps small practice, but some.

If a student is using Lingua Mater over two years, you have plenty of time to stop and focus on what is confusing or needs more work. For my son, he hit a wall at predicate nominative (confusing them with prepositions of all things!) and we had to take a lot longer with that before moving on. I scoured other grammar programs and none of them defined it or taught it in any different way. He just had to work with it a lot more before it could sink in . . . just like we had to work on long division, stepping aside of the book, for more than one or two lessons before it could sink in.

I have been thinking a lot about the grammar in LM and how it fits, how it works, why it is there, etc. I have really been scrutinizing the principles with which we set out to do LM (the CHC philosophy of gentle but thorough), mostly because I am working on LM 8 now and trying to solidify my vision of it, but also because some people have been turned away from Lingua Mater because of the use of the literature instead of contrived drill work. But we named it "Language Lessons from Literature" because we use real sentences, explore real thoughts, and encourage authentic discussion. We want the students to see, hear, and imitate good, real writing.

I am torn between two views of the study of grammar. My liberal arts background says grammar is primary to all the other arts and should be most important, but my in-the-trenches teaching experience says grammar is a tool. Understanding it is important, but its end purpose is to serve writing. You can't have a student make a more complex sentence by using a clause unless he knows what one is. And . . . good writing is the end goal of Lingua Mater.

Please feel free to post your comments on your success or struggle with Lingua Mater.

BTW - I am open to suggestions for the nature of the grammar work in LM8. Right now I am focusing on grammar that is important for writing. For those of you who have used LM 7, what do you think?

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Catholic Mosaic Update

We have had a great response to Catholic Mosaic! Thanks to all of you who have purchased this great resource.

If you would like to participate in a forum discussion of the book, please visit the 4REAL Learning Forum where there is a forum topic devoted entirely to the Mosaic. You can share your ideas for implementing the study guides, suggest books for further study, see how others are using the book.

The book is now available both in color and in black and white.
A booklist that corresponds to the traditional calendar will be posted soon!

Blessing to all

Friday, June 02, 2006

Why ask for donations?

Isn’t it amazing how many people ask for your donations! There are so many worthy causes out there. We have hesitated, even agonized over, taking this step, but have hope that some people who are able to may help us.

When we started Hillside Education we were naïve about the ins and outs of the publishing world. We just had an idea that sounded good, and it seemed like other people liked it. And then, the more things we published, the more we wanted to publish. Hopefully our products have filled a gap for Catholic home educators. It has been an incredibly creative and adventurous time.

We are at a point where the reality of the publishing world is slamming us. It takes a lot of capital to have enough stock on hand to fill orders and create products. But we are a one-income homeschooling family. So, in hopes of keeping the projects alive, we are asking for donations. We are not a tax exempt operation and can only promise that the money will be used for the projects we have in the works and to keep our current titles in print. If we don’t have enough to pursue the projects in the hopper, we are still committed to keeping our current titles in print.

Here are the projects we have in the works that are in danger of never seeing the light of day:

  • Lingua Mater, Language Lessons from Literature Americana
    This is the sequel to Lingua Mater 7 for 8th or 9th grade. It features American poetry, artwork, and literature and includes original pieces by Suchi Myjak (Behold and See) and Elaine Woodfield (Stories of the Saints)

  • Intermediate Language Lessons by Emma Serl
    We finally have a lead on finding the text that we can use to update this classic in the same way we updated Primary Language Lessons. We are waiting today to hear from an archivist at the Teacher’s College where Emma Serl taught in the early 1900s.

  • Exercises in the Paragraph by R.L. Hale
    This is a short writing course by the author of the study questions in Word to Caesar. It is intended for 9th grade.

  • Lingua Mater, Language Lessons from Literature 6th grade
    This fills the gap between Intermediate Language Lessons and Lingua Mater 7 for those who intend to use LM7 in 7th or 8th grade.

Here are some projects that we are working on now that will be completed before the end of the summer:

  • Study guide by Nancy Carpentier Brown for St. Francis (a biography) by G. K. Chesterton.

  • Reprint of the novel Sword of Clontarf by Charles Brady (this is one of the Clarion books from the 1950-60s. It is the story of Brian Boru and the final battle at Clontarf which rid Ireland of the pagan Norse invaders. This battle took place just a few decades before the Battle of Hastings.)

  • Nancy Carpentier Brown’s adaptations of four of the Chesterton Father Brown stories for 8-10 year olds illustrated by Ted Schluenderfritz.

My greatest pipedream is to find a benefactor who will pay my salary so that I may continue to develop these works without having to go outside the home for work. (Might as well dream big if dreaming at all!) So if you know of anyone who might be interested in this work, please pass along this.

We have prayed a wonderful novena to the Infant of Prague through which we were able to get some relief for the current titles. (Please see the Thanksgiving prayer in the previous message.) This has emboldened us to ask for help when we might otherwise have been too proud to do so. We do have a great line of products of which we are proud, but not one of them was completed without Divine aid. There were so many human hurdles through which we persevered. We feel that we can persevere now . . . we continue to trust in God’s bounty.

Through this work and the trials we have come through to make it happen, the richness of our life here with the children has come sharply into focus. We enjoy the great bounty—and the bliss—He provides to those who make sacrifices in His name.

For the greater Glory of God!

P.S. The donation button is on the website! J Prayer donations gladly accepted!!

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Dearest Infant Jesus, with all my heart I cling to You.

Prayer of Thanksgiving for Graces Received from the Infant of Prague

Oh generous Infant Jesus, I prostrate myself before Your miraculous image and give my thanks to You for all the graces that I have received. I shall always prasie Your infinite mercy, and I confess that You are my God, my Helper, and my Protector. From here onward I shall place my trust in You and publically proclaim Your kingship and generosity; then everybody shall realize Your great love and the miracles that You have shown through this image. They shall honor and worship Your Infancy full of grace, in increasing numbers, and their hearts will remain in never-ending gratitude toward Your holy Infancy, which be hailed and praised in eternity. Amen

Monday, May 08, 2006

Catholic Mosaic Available May 19

Hillside is proud to announce the publication of

Catholic Mosaic

Living the Liturgical Year with Literature,
An illustrated book study for
Catholic children

by Cay Gibson

The book includes study guides for 52 children’s picture books and is organized by themes in the liturgical year.

But it’s much more than that . . . this book is a treasure that you can mine for years, a mosaic of great ideas and activities to make the year of the Church come alive for your children.

Here is a sample from February, the feast of Sts. Benedict and Scholastica represented by the book The Holy Twins. (There are 52 guides like this in the book!)

The Holy Twins

Written by Kathleen Norris/ illustrated by Tomie dePaola

Feast Days: February 10 and 11






















Discussion Questions

1. Find the town of Nursia in northern Italy and label it on your map.

2. What day of the year is the feast day of St. Benedict and St. Scholastica?

3. Why did others try to poison St. Benedict?

4. Where did St. Scholastica learn all the things her brother had learned from his travels? Why did she find this amusing?

5. Go back to the front of the book where the author and illustrator have their dedications. On the right hand side of the spread is a circular symbol with the initials “C. S. P.” and “B.” in it. Look at the bottom of the dedications on the lefthand side to find out what the letters stand for. What does the circular symbol stand for?


One must listen to others with the ‘ear of the heart.
—Scholastica’s advice to her brother in
The Holy Twins by Kathleen Norris

Parent’s Help Page
The Holy Twins


1. Look for pictures of Saint Benedict and Saint Scholastica on each page of the book. Illustrator Tomie dePaola took special care to draw these two saints on each page.

2. Make a list of religious images found in book.

Discussion Answers

  1. Help child locate Nursia, Italy, on globe or map and then label it on a world map.
  2. St. Scholastica’s feast day is on February 10.
    St. Benedict’s feast day is on February 11.
  3. They were jealous of St. Benedict and wanted to get rid of him.
  4. “. . . she had learned by trial and error in her own monastery.” She found this amusing because as she says, “Isn’t it funny, Brother, that you had to travel all over Italy to learn some of the things I discovered by staying in one place!”
  5. The letters “C. S. P.” and “B.” stand for Crux Sancti Patris Benedicti, or Cross of the Holy Father Benedict. The symbol is the Cross of St. Benedict.

Enrichment Activities

  1. Trace the Cross of St. Benedict on a blank sheet of paper. Then color it so that it looks like the one in the book. Place this is your Liturgical Year Notebook.

  2. Build a simple “ladder” using popsicle sticks. Make sure there are 12 rungs on your ladder. Glue your ladder on a sheet of construction paper, and write “St. Benedict’s Ladder of Humility” at the top of the page. Then, with a pen or marker, label each rung:

    1. Practice Fear and Remembrance of God
    2. Follow the Example of the Savior
    3. Obey to God and His Church
    4. Be Patient and Endure
    5. Confess One’s Sins
    6. Be Content
    7. Consider Yourself Lower Than Others
    8. Follow the Example of the Saints
    9. Restrain Your Tongue
    10. Be Serious-Minded
    11. Use Few and Gentle Words
    12. Practice Humility of the Heart
Copyright 2006 Hillside Education Catholic Mosaic
Thanks to all those who placed pre-orders for this title! The first half will ship May 18 and the rest on May 19. The pre-order period is now closed.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Catholic Mosaic, Living the Liturgical Year with Literature

We are near to printing this wonderful new resource. I will be posting little tidbits from it throughout the day today. The author, Cay Gibson, has written little study guides for 52 books for children that follow the liturgical year. Here is a little bit of the booklist. Those with cross emblems are included in the study.


First Confession
+ The Most Beautiful Thing in the World by Susan Brindle/ Ann Brindle/ Margaret Brindle

February 1
+ Brigid's Cloak: An Ancient Irish Story by Bryce Milligan/ Helen Cann

February 10
+ The Holy Twins: Benedict and Scholastica by Kathleen Norris/ Tomie dePaola

February 14
+ Saint Valentine by Robert Sabuda
Love Is... by Wendy Anderson Halperin


March 5
St. Ciaran, the Tale of a Saint of Ireland by Gary D. Schmidt/Todd Doney

March 17
+ Patrick: Patron Saint of Ireland by Tomie dePaola
St. Patrick by Ann Tompert/ Michael Garland

March 19 Feast of St. Joseph, Spouse of Mary
+ The Song of the Swallows by Leo Politi

Lenten Reading
The Story of the Cross: The Stations of the Cross for Children by Mary Joslin/ Gail Newey
+ Children's Stations of the Cross by Susan Brindle/ Joan Bell/ Miriam Lademan
+ The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein

This book will be available May 19th. It will be unveiled at the Family Centered Life Conference in Lancaster, PA that weekend.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

New Literature Guides

Hello Everyone,
Here are the titles we have done that will be posted to our website soon:

The Bronze Bow by Elizabeth George Speare
The Ides of April and Beyond the Desert Gate by Mary Ray
The White Isle by Caroline Dale Snedeker
Eagle of the Ninth, The Silver Branch and The Lantern Bearers by Rosemary Sutcliff

Here are some others that we are working on and should have finished by the end of May:

1. A series of books for grade K-2 set at the time of the early Church, including: Cleopatra by Diane Stanley, Mary the Mother of Jesus by Tomie de Paola, Pompeii . . . Buried Alive by Edith Kunhardt, St. Christopher by Tomie DePaola, and St. Valentine by Robert Sabuda. This series coordinates with RC History's Connecting with History, Volume 2. We will also be finishing up the Novel Inquiries volumes for 4-6 grade and 7-9 grade for this time period by the end of summer.

2. A series using suggested books in the MODG 7th grade and 8th grade programs. These are discussion guides only with a synopsis for the teacher, discussion questions, and a few writing prompts.

Please make suggestions for what book titles you would like to see. The MODG series came about because someone asked me!

And, of course, the biggest treat is Cay Gibson's book Catholic Mosaic, Living the Liturgical Year with Literature: An Illustrated Book Study for Children. This beautiful book will be out in May also. We will post tidbits from it as the time approaches.


Sunday, March 19, 2006

Chesterton Today!!

Check out this new study guide for Chesterton's The Blue Cross. This story was the first of Chesterton's Father Brown mysteries. Nancy Carpentier Brown has written a wonderful guide to the story and we are privileged to publish it. While the story can be read by students as young as 6th or 7th grade, some of the study questions are more appropriate for high schoolers.

The entire text of the story is reprinted in the guide and features the original artwork of Sean Fitzpatrick.

We will also be publishing Nancy's guide to Chesterton's St. Francis and her adaptations of the Father Brown stories for young readers. Look for those titles this summer.


Newest Release Available Now!

City of the Golden House by Madeleine Polland is now available at our website!

This is a moving story of two boys at the time of the burning of Rome and the subsequent martyrdom of Peter. Mrs. Polland's beautiful prose takes you to the heart of the Christian underground of Nero's Rome.

We are so honored to be able to bring this book back in print. Here is how it came about. I was working with Sonya Romens to find literature for this time period and I was not able to find anything for the middle grades in print. I saw this book, however, during a book search and was intrigued by it. When I read it, I knew it was exactly what we were looking for, but we did not want to use an out-of-print book for the sake of the families that would need to search to find it. So . . . I wrote to Mrs. Polland and asked her permission to reprint it, knowing that it was a long shot. She and her daughter were very gracious and, viola!, 8 months later we have a new book to offer. The book was originally published as part of the Clarion imprint at Doubleday in the 60's.

The beautiful cover designed and illustrated by Ted Schluenderfritz is the crowning touch. The painted birds on the wall of the boy's room are an underlying thread through the story, and I was so pleased that Ted picked up on it.

We recently received permission to reprint another of the Clarion books, my personal favorite. More news about that to come in the next few months!


Welcome to our new Blog!
Please visit often to see our new products and find out what's up on the Hill. We are working on several new books which should be done before the next school year.