Compiled by Max Millard, fall 2006Adjust Background: Darker / Lighter

1. book: The Land I Lost by Huynh Quang Nhuong (Harper & Row, 1982). This award-winning children's novel about life in a river village in Vietnam before it was destroyed by war is geared for readers age 9 to 12. It describes a preindustrial way of life, without running water, electricity, radio, television or telephones, in which people have to live in harmony with nature in order to survive. It is a thrilling story with much detail about agriculture, wild animals, and extreme weather conditions. Through this book, children are able to see that the technological wonders that we take for granted are not shared by the rest of the world.

2. book: Earthquake! by Kathleen Kudlinski, a children's novel about the San Francisco earthquake and fire of 1906. It tells of the experience of one boy and his family during that time. It's good as the opener for a discussion about earthquakes and how we can prepare for the next Big One. For example: What would the children save if they could take only one or two things with them? What are the best safety measures to remember in case there is another major quake?

3. catalogue: Insect Lore. This company has a free 34-page catalogue of educational insect kits, eggs, books, toys and supplies, all related to live insects. It's the perfect place to order ant farms, butterfly houses, silkworm eggs, and dozens of other bug-minded delights. Address: PO Box 1535, Shafter, CA 93263. 800-LIVE-BUG.

4. field trip site: the Randall Museum, 199 Museum Way, San Francisco (near Castro Street station). This small, child-friendly museum has a large collection of live California animals (especially owls and insects), and many other science-related exhibits. It is the site of many special events too, such as Day of the Dead celebrations, children's entertainment in the large theater, and the San Francisco Golden Gate Model Railroad Club, which has met there for almost 50 years. Six times a year, on the third or sometimes the second Saturday of odd-numbered months, the Club holds a Junior Engineer Day, in which children get to operate the lever on the control box for an electric train pulling 8 to 10 cars. The child can make the train start, stop, slow down, or speed full-tilt at the equivalent of about 100 miles per hour. The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; admission is free. Tel.: 415-554-9600. Web site:

5. Web site: This is a San Jose-based organization for people who want to adopt pets rats that have been abandoned or surrendered by their owners. It's a nonprofit rescue, resource and referral center, which provides not only free rats, but cages, supply and information and very low cost. Director Diane Nesom started it as a labor of love, and that's what it remains. Here is the first paragraph of their Web site: "Rattie Ratz is heaving with happy, friendly little ratties who are looking for a permenant home! In addition to our monthly adoption fairs, held on the FIRST SUNDAY of each month at Pet Food Express in Benicia, the THIRD SATURDAY of each month at For Other Living Things in Sunnyvale, AND the FOURTH Sunday of each month at Western Feed and Pet Supply in Sacramento, we also schedule private adoption appointments at our hubs in San Jose, Benicia, and Sacramento and we have rats available in a few other foster homes around the greater Bay Area." Address: 1285 Mastic Street, San Jose, CA 95110. Tel.: 650-960-6994.