This week we jumped ahead to a selection in volume 1 of Five in a Row – Papa Piccolo. Since it is set in Venice, I just had to fit it in before we say arrividerci to Italy.
Papa Piccolo is an aloof tomcat who rules the streets of Venice by night. His life changes for the better when he becomes less selfish and lovingly decides to adopt two kittens — teaching them everything they need to know to survive on the streets.
Before we even began the story, Benjamin got to work building a lego Venice. So darling! He even made a display with the books for the backdrop.
We read many stories and facts about Venice and studied the journey of Marco Polo – Benjamin loved hearing of his adventures.
We studied the book’s beautiful watercolor illustrations and created some of our own. I guess I missed a picture of Clara’s. She decided to paint “all different kinds of pictures” instead. I wish I had snapped a photo nonetheless.
We discussed the qualities of fatherhood found in Papa Piccolo and how he had to sacrifice his own desires in order to care for the kittens responsibly.
Of course, we can’t examine fatherhood without including our perfect Father in heaven. We discussed both God’s heart for orphans and also how He adopts us when we choose to believe and receive His Son Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. The Living Breathing God – Creator of the Universe – chooses us! And He delights in us despite of our broken, messy, wandering sinful nature.
Father of the fatherless and protector of widows is God in his holy habitation.
He predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will.
Then…we got to take our studies to Venice! Though we live roughly an hour away, getting to Venice still feels like a lot of work and takes much longer than an hour. When we finally arrived, the first bridge we happened upon was the Ponte Dei Tolentini – the very home of Papa Piccolo! I believe I was way more enchanted with this than the kids were, but Venice is tricky and NOT very well signed. Kids would never understand.
We slowly meandered through the alleyways while we made our way towards the hotel.
We passed the Rialto Bridge and admired the view of the Grand Canal.
If you’ve been to Venice, you will appreciate how empty the Rialto was.
We stayed at the Hotel Bonvecchiati which was only about a 3 minute walk from Piazza San Marco and it was fantastic! The room was huge by Venetian standards and had very updated amenities. I got an amazing rate as I was able to book last minute.
This is the view from our room. The canal was directly beneath and every now and then we’d be blessed with the delightful sound of a gondolier serenading his way through the canals while accompanied by an accordion. The kind of atmosphere that makes my heart swoon.
After soaking in the view and resting our feet, we had a reading of Papa Piccolo and ventured out for more exploring.
Along the way, we kept our eyes open for some things we had learned about Venice, such as the fact that they use boats instead of cars. We imagined what it would be like to live there and had fun searching for different kinds of boats.
We found police boats…
Food delivery boats…
And we think this was a laundry boat…(?)
We searched for vocabulary words from the story around the city — gilded decor, trinkets, pots perched upon a ledge, sardines, and chiming bells to name a few. We never found sardines, but plenty of other fish we thought cats might like to eat.
One of our favorite things to play was eye spy with the Venetian flag and the winged lion. We learned that the winged lion, the symbol of Venice, is holding an open book with the latin inscription Pax Tibi Marce Evangelista Meus: Peace be unto thee Mark my evangelist. When the book is open, Venice is said to be at peace; when the book is closed, Venice is at war. I have never seen the book closed.
We logged a lot of time trying to catch pigeons in San Marco.
After chasing pigeons and more exploring, it was definitely time for a gelato break.
We loved the pizza faces!
We found another “tipping tower”.
And best of all… we found Papa Piccolo! He lived at the Acqua Alta bookstore and was the only cat we saw in Venice.
The kids loved the Acqua Alta – especially seeing books piled up in gondolas and old bathtubs. We discussed the flooding Venice is plagued with and how the gondolas and bathtubs help protect the books.
We braved the wobbly book stairs.
We were greeted with this view at the top.
They even had a book courtyard. The musty, tattered, weathered books were intriguing for us all.
This post is getting a bit too long. Join us next time while we finish exploring Venice in an effort to find Papa Piccolo.