Book Giveaway: Mimic Makers: Biomimicry Inventors Inspired by Nature by Kristen Nordstrom

I was fascinated by the evolution of this new picture book and thought you would be too. Anything that champions the health and wellbeing of planet earth is a winner in my book!

Writing and Illustrating

Kristen Nordstrom​, M.Ed. has a new non-fiction picture book titled, Mimic Makers, illustrated by Paul Boston and published by Charlesbridge Children’s Books. It is coming out on July 13th, but is available for pre-order, now. They have agreed to send a book with one lucky winner living in the US. All you have to do to get in the running is to leave a comment. Reblog, tweet, or talk about it on Facebook with a link and you will get additional chances to win. Just let me know the other things you do to share the good news, so I can put in the right amount of tickets in my basket for you.

Sharing on Facebook, Twitter, reblogging really helps spread the word for a new book. Thanks for helping Kristen, and Paul!


MIMIC MAKERS profiles ten inventors from around the world whose investigations about nature lead…

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Whistling Grass

Here is a simple and fun activity everyone can enjoy when you’re outdoors and anywhere near grass.  Just take a wide blade of grass and place it tightly between your thumbs.  Blow onto the small opening and the grass will whistle!

It actually sounds like a turkey call.  Try different blade thicknesses and widths to see if you can change the sound.

 Can you make up a song using this whistle from nature?

Summer Solstice + National Smoothie Day.

June 21, 2021 (June 20 in the US) is the first official day of the summer solstice. The longest day of light is a welcome event worldwide and there are many festivals to celebrate the beginning of summer in the Northern Hemisphere, and the beginning of winter in the Southern Hemisphere.

Night view of arches of huge rough-hewn vertical rocks with rocks lying across them. Crowd in foreground.

One of the most famous festivals occurs at Stonehenge, England. Ancient cultures worshiped the sun and this monument is a testament to their recognition of the cycles of the earth.

To learn more about Summer Solstice and the celebrations surrounding it visit:

sunJune 21, 2021 is also National Smoothie Day!

While you are enjoying the summer sun why not treat your family to a homemade smoothie? There are so many delicious ways to blend fruits and veggies into a refreshing concoction.  You can use your favorite milk, yogurt, fruit juice, berries, bananas, nut butters, greens…the ingredients and combinations are endless.

Here is one of my favorites:

In a blender mix: a splash of orange juice, two scoops of plain yogurt. frozen berries, one half of a banana. Blend until smooth. 

Drink and enjoy!Let the kids come up with their own recipes. It’s hard to make a mistake if you use ingredients you already like.

What’s your favorite recipe?



National “Go Fishing Day”…Take a Kid Fishing.

Tomorrow, June 18, is NATIONAL GO FISHING DAY.  Fishing has been around as long as man and women have.  It is a major industry that yields billions of dollars worldwide annually. It is also a great recreational activity for everyone, young and old. It’s a way to add food to the table and an opportunity to bond with family and friends.

The benefits of fishing are numerous. Did you know fishing actually boosts your immune system? When you do something you enjoy, your body responds by healing and strengthening itself. Being out in nature helps promote relaxation and is a way to practice calm and patience. It can lower blood pressure and can be done individually or with others. You can fish from the shore, from a boat or by standing in a stream.  However you decide to do it, why not teach a kid, your kid or a friend’s kid, to fish.

Check your local recreational areas for competitions and rules regarding proper fishing etiquette. Even during this Covid-19 pandemic, it’s okay to go fishing. 

kid fishing

When you go fishing, or teach a child to fish, you never know what you might catch.

Here’s a case in point, where eleven-year-old JACK takes his five-year-old sister KATY to fish for the first time from my newest MG novel in verse WISHES, DARES, AND HOW TO STAND UP TO A BULLY (Creston)   WoCCover01

Katy feels sorry for worms
and won’t fish with them.
I make balls of dough
from the crusts of our sandwiches to
bait her hook.

She breaks every rule about fishing.
Making loud noises, scaring the fish.
She can’t stand in one spot
more than a minute without
tangling the fishing line,
asking so many questions
my ears are ready to

When are we going to catch a
FISH!!! she shouts for the
tenth time, dropping her pole to
chase a butterfly.
Fish don’t come around when it’s noisy,
so zzzzip your lips, I say.

She pretends to zip her lip,
humming the tune to
Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.
Good grief.


After lunch I’m ready to leave.
No fish today, let’s go, I say.
Maybe the fish don’t like worms.
Maybe they’re veterinarians, Katy says.
She means vegetarians because
she hands me a grape and says
put it on the hook, Jack, please?

Can you sit without making a sound,
quiet as a stone?
She puts a finger to her lips, Shhhhh.
I hook the grape, toss the line,
hand the rod to Katy.

Before I settle onto the grass,
the line gives a tug.
Too heavy for me, I can’t do it, Jack.
I grab the rod and pull a fish out,
a fish with one eye.

It’s Fred, I tell her.
Katy strokes Fred’s tail with a pinkie.
A special fish, I say.
Like magic special?
Katy’s two eyes as wide as Fred’s one.
Don’t know, I say.
Katy frowns, so I say,
make a wish, quick before Fred goes back.

Pancakes for supper! she wishes,
kissing Fred on the tail.
Pancakes, I agree. As I slip
Fred into the water, he seems to
wink his eye before he swims away.

While you may not catch a fish that grants wishes, taking a child fishing will be something you’ll both remember for a long time. 

Book Review: Orange For The Sunsets: MG novel by Tina Athaide

I have been reading quite a few middle grade books recently and here is one that drew me in because of the historical fiction genre. What kept me reading was the  quality of the writing and characters that were very relatable and fully drawn.

sunset photo

ORANGE FOR THE SUNSETS by Tina Athaide takes place in the 1970’s in Uganda during the reign of Idi Amin. Here is the blurb from the book:

Asha and her best friend, Yesofu, never cared about the differences between them: Indian. African. Girl. Boy. Short. Tall. But when Idi Amin announces that Indians have ninety days to leave the country, suddenly those differences are the only things that people in Entebbe can see—not the shared after-school samosas or Asha cheering for Yesofu at every cricket game.

Determined for her life to stay the same, Asha clings to her world tighter than ever before. But Yesofu is torn, pulled between his friends, his family, and a promise of a better future. Now as neighbors leave and soldiers line the streets, the two friends find that nothing seems sure—not even their friendship.Tensions between Indians and Africans intensify and the deadline to leave is fast approaching. Could the bravest thing of all be to let each other go?

My review of this amazing book:

An honest, heart-rending, and sometimes brutal account of what divides us, what unites us, and what really matters. Through alternating POV’s of an Indian girl ASHA, and her best friend an African boy YESUFU, the author relays a realistic historical and personal accounting of a turbulent time in Uganda’s history. A moving and thought-provoking story that will lead to many class discussions.  

Tina Athaide was born in Entebbe. After leaving Uganda she immigrated with her family to Canada from England. She has been a teacher for thirty years. Believing that books can present different experiences to children in an organic, natural way, she started publishing early literacy readers for the educational market before her debut book, Orange For The Sunsets. The MG book is a Junior Library Guild Selection and is nominated for a Silver Birch award by the Forest of Reading program in Canada.

Photo on 10-2-20 at 3#3

Book Giveaway: BEACH TOYS VS. SCHOOL SUPPLIES by Mike Ciccotello

Writing and Illustrating

Mike Ciccotello has written and illustrated a new picture book BEACH TOYS VS. SCHOOL SUPPLIES, published by FSG/Macmillan Books. It will hit bookstores on June 15th, but is available now for pre-ordered. Mike has agreed to give away one signed copy of the book as well as one pen-and-ink original illustration of some of the characters to one lucky winner in the US.

All you have to do to get in the running is leave a comment. Reblog, tweet, or talk about it on Facebook with a link and you will get additional chances to win. Just let me know other things you do to share the good news, so I can put the right amount of tickets in my basket for you.

Sharing on Facebook, Twitter or reblogging really helps spread the word for a new book. So, thanks for helping Mike.

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Creating Friendships…One Bench at a Time.

One person can really make a difference. This post originally appeared in 2017 but it is so wonderful and special, speaking to the idea that one kind dead spreads and becomes something much bigger. I am reblogging it today on NATIONAL BEST FRIENDS DAY.

Christian Bucks, an 11 year old fifth grader from York, PA came up with a great idea for encouraging friendships on the playground.  After seeing kids on his playground sitting alone or having no one to play with during recess, he asked his principal if they could get a Buddy Bench. A place where a child could sit down and be joined by others looking for friendship.   The principal agreed and a bench was installed on the playground.

It was an instant hit.  A lot of new friendships were being made.  The bench also helped prevent bullying. Since the installation of that first Buddy Bench, the concept has taken off and there are now more than  2,000 Buddy Benches at schools in all 50  states and in 13 countries including Russia, Australia, South Africa, and Saudi Arabia.

When asked how he felt about his idea Christian said, “I like how the idea has spread.  It’s a little thing, but little things can be big.”

To find out more about the Buddy Bench visit:

Follow Christian on Twitter @Buddy_Bench

STOMP, WIGGLE, CLAP, AND TAP: A new PB by Rachelle Burk + A Give-away!

Today it is my pleasure to feature a new picture book for toddlers. STOMP, WIGGLE, CLAP, AND TAP  (Rockridge Press) by Rachelle Burk Illustrated by Alyssa De Asis, will have young children doing just as the title says.


Written in perfect read-aloud rhyme, with gentle prompts and lively illustrations that will encourage kids to move and make some noise. I asked Rachelle about this book and why she was drawn to writing it. For a chance to win a copy of this delightful book leave a comment at the end of this post and I will enter your name in the random drawing. If you share the post on social media, let me know and I will give you a second chance to win.

What inspired you to write a book for toddlers?

Stop, Wiggle, Clap, and Tap: My First Book of Dance was a work-for-hire project, meaning the educational publisher (Rockridge Press, imprint of Callisto Media) reached out and offered me the project. I had already completed two books for this publisher during 2020.  This latest one targets the youngest target audience I’ve ever written for, and I looked forward to the challenge. As a children’s entertainer (Tickles the Clown and Mother Goof Storyteller…yeah, really), I LOVE working with little kids. So I jumped at the opportunity. It sounded fun and I enjoy writing in rhyme. 

What was the most challenging part of the WFH project

Well, for one thing, I’m not a dancer, which probably makes me a total fraud. But my daughters, now adults, watched an insane amount of baby dance videos back during the VHS era, which tends to imprint itself on a mother’s brain. The outline for the manuscript had me isolating different body parts in a progressive format… a stanza focusing on hands and fingers, the next on arms, followed by feet and toes, then legs, and finally putting them all together. Because the audience is between the ages of one and two,  I had to reach way back in my memory to remember what children of that age can do developmentally. I tried to think of what intrigues toddlers and work those things into little movement poems–animals, for example. I thought that would add a fun aspect to the illustrations as well.
I found myself crawling, wiggling, twirling, and doing all kinds of weird movements around my family room as I worked to develop the movements and figure out how to describe them. I couldn’t help wondering what my neighbors would think if they happened to look in my window. 

The rhyme has such a lovely, musical quality that is perfect for getting kids to move. How did you arrive at this

The first thing I had to do was to forget everything I know about writing children’s stories in rhyme. Instead of unpredictable,  complex, and multi-syllable rhymes, I stuck with simple, predictable, and repetitious ones, with a rhythm that caregivers can easily chant and clap to. After all, my audience is children barely out of infancy. For inspiration, I read a lot of classic nursery rhymes and watched YouTube videos with simple movement songs for toddlers.  

Anything else you want to share?

The amazing illustrator, Alyssa De Asis did a brilliant job bringing the book to life and giving it a party atmosphere. I love how, once an animal character is introduced, it sticks around in the future illustrations, dancing along with the human characters. 

Thanks Rachelle. The book is delightful and I can’t wait to share it with the toddlers in my life!

For anyone interested in learning more about writing for work-for-hire publishers, you can find links on my comprehensive website, (scroll to category #14). You can find pretty much everything else you want to learn about writing, publishing, and marketing on that same site.
To purchase the book (hard copy or Kindle version) please visit can also be ordered wherever books are sold.
I love to hear from both readers and writers, and can be reached via my website, and email: