Time to Toast Treasured Friends by Marilyn Ostermiller

National Best Friends Day, June 8, celebrates the bonds that connect us to the most important people in our lives. Established by Congress in 1935, it waned in popularity through the years. Now, social media has driven renewed interest.

The hashtag, #nationalbestfriendsday allows social media users to track how many Instagram, Facebook and Twitter users are celebrating along with them.

Children’s author Dr. Seuss, who knew a lot about friendship, described it this way: “To the world you may be just one person, but to one person you may be the world.”

Playwright Tennessee Williams offered this definition: “Life is partly what we make it, and partly what it is made by the friends we choose.”

Friendships start early in life. By the time many children are three or four, they know who their friends are and can name them. They might look for their friends when they arrive at preschool or playgroup and play only with them. This is also the age when they begin to have playdates with friends.

Most four-year-old children know the difference between ‘my friend’ and other children they know.

Some kids make friends easily. They are energized by playing together.

Others are slower to warm up and need time to watch what happens before joining in with a group.

Playing with others helps kids build friendship skills, such as sharing, taking turns, working together, listening to others, and managing differences of opinion.


friends photo

Among books that encourage friendships:

Teach Your Dragon to Make Friends, by Steve Herman. This picture book for ages four to seven incorporates examples of how to make friends in an imaginary setting. 

Who’s New at Lou’s Zoo? offers a whimsical take on kindness and acceptance. Author JoAnn M. Dickinson wrote it for ages five through eight.



Dog Man: Twenty Thousand Fleas Under the Sea. This is the newest release of this popular series for eight- to ten year-olds by Dav Pilkey, who also wrote the “Captain Underpants” series.    

Interestingly, as a kid, the author was diagnosed with attention-deficit disorder. He was so disruptive in class that the teacher made him sit outside the classroom. However, he loved to draw and make up stories. While he sat in isolation Pilkey began to conjure and create the stories that eventually became the popular Dog Man and Captain Underpants series.

So, go out and celebrate with your BFF today!



Written by Marilyn Ostermiller, a professional journalist who writes children’s stories.


It’s National Flip Flop Day!

The popular style of foot ware we know as “flip flops” have been worn by people of many cultures throughout the world, originating as early as the Ancient Egyptians in 4,000 BCE. The oldest known pair is on display at the British Museum from 1,500 BC. They were worn in Jerusalem during the time of Jesus.

In the US, the modern flip flop became popular after WWII as soldiers brought them back from Japan where the traditional Zori is worn.

While popular around the world, it is only in America where they get the name flip flops. This is an onomatopoeia word, thanks to the sound these rubber-soled sandals make when they flap against your feet as you walk.


We sure do love these shoes! In 2015, American’s spent $2.6 billion on Flip Flops.

Here’s another fun fact taken from the National Calendar site:

In 2007, Tropical Smoothie Cafe created National Flip Flop Day to celebrate its 10th anniversary. Every year on this date, customers who come into participating Cafes across the nation wearing flip-flops receive a free Jetty Punch Smoothie. Purchasing  a $1 paper flip flop from Tropical Smoothie, will help send ill children and their families to Camp Sunshine.  https://www.tropicalsmoothiecafe.com/

So why not celebrate this iconic piece of summer footwear. Today, the Wednesday after Memorial Day is NATIONAL FLIP FLOP DAY. For some nifty ideas on how to celebrate our favorite footwear visit:

NATIONAL FLIP FLOP DAY | Wednesday After Memorial Day

Got Frogs? How Far Can They Jump? Celebrate National Frog Jumping Day.

 Tomorrow is a day that celebrates the talent of one of the most common amphibians…the frog.  The annual Frog Jumping Contest is May 18-21-2023 in Calaveras County, California.



This annual event brings people…and their frogs…from all over the country to compete for the title of Best Frog Jumper. Here’s a video that explains the festival:

It all started with a short story from Mark Twain. Now the Calaveras County Jumping Frog Jubilee brings in thousands of people each year to Angel Camp, CA to see which frog can jump the furthest. Want to know the current record? Keep reading…

http://www.calaverasenterprise.com/fair_2019/article_bc10bf22-62db-11e9-bbcb-83a5a278bb1a.html   For an historical account of how it all began with Mark Twain’s short story titled: The Celebrated Jumping Frog Of Calaveras County. In a country weary from the horrific years of Civil War, Twain’s story published in the November 18, 1865 issue of the Saturday Press (CA), provided much appreciated relief. It was quickly reprinted in newspapers across the country, turning an unknown author into an overnight sensation.

Sponsored image


https://marktwainhouse.org/robotics  A robotic version of the frog jumping contest held at the Mark Twain House in Hartford, CT

Sponsored image

So, how far did the winning frog jump in 2019? 13 year-old Logan Busch won with his frog jumping 18′ 6″. His twin sister Madison got second place with her frog jumping 18′ 3 1/4″

Here’s the video:


In 2021, the winner was Rosie the Ribbiter who jumped a whopping 21 feet 5 3/4 inches.

How far can your frog jump?  Frogtown

Celebrate National Bird Day

Did you know there are more than 2,000 species of birds in North America? Our beautiful feathered friends bring delight and wonder to nature in so many ways. Their songs, the variety of color and behaviors make them fun to watch.


You can encourage birds to visit your yard by providing bird feeders, brush piles for nesting and by planting native bushes and flowers. Sometimes, you only need to hang a wreath on your door and look what happens.

bird edit

To learn more about how to celebrate birds visit The National Audubon Society https://www.audubon.org or your local library where there are numerous books on backyard birding. Here is just one example.

slow birdingCelebrate the winged wonder of birds!

Where is your favorite bird-watching spot?

What Rhymes with S’mores? By Cathy Ballou Mealey

Author Cathy Ballou Mealey is back with a new picture book.

MAKE MORE S’MORES, is a rhyming story that celebrates the sweet, gooey campfire treat while exploring themes of generosity, patience and sharing between forest friends in a fun and welcoming way. Illustrated by Ariel Landy, MAKE MORE S’MORES released March 15, 2023 from Sleeping Bear Books. Here’s Cathy to tell us a bit about this book with a delicious title.


Thank you for inviting me back for a guest post upon the release of MAKE MORE S’MORES, a new picture book illustrated by Ariel Landy and written by me.

S’mores are a definite pivot away from the puckery pickles featured in my previous post, but the process of writing and revising a rhyming story wasn’t all sugary sweet!

My first draft of this book was numbers-based: ONE marshmallow plus TWO graham crackers plus THREE chocolate rectangles equals one perfectly proportioned, traditional s’more.

I counted, calculated and composed a story filled with hungry forest friends sharing a campfire and sweet snacks. But the story arc became buried under mountains of exponentially-increasing marshmallows.

Cutting, revising, and tightening helped me feel the rhythm of some key words: Roasted, toasted. Sweet treat. Gooey, chewy. Share, bear. Suddenly I was writing a story in rhyme!  I researched simpler synonyms while still keeping the storyline light, charming and upbeat.

ROSCOE smores post

Talented illustrator Ariel Landy brought the hungry bears, busy raccoon and sly squirrels to life in our story. She’s created an enchanting, flower filled forest where furry friends cozy up and enjoy s’more after s’more on a beautiful dusky purple evening. Perfection!

So what rhymes with s’mores? Snores of course! The ending was the easiest part of the book to write!

I hope readers will come away with laughter and appreciation for being or knowing a generous, gracious host who welcomes others warmly. They will probably also come away with a craving for s’mores!

 Thanks Cathy! Your story certainly puts me in the mood for s’mores.

Here’s my review for this delightful book:

MAKE MORE S’MORES is a “sweet” story of generosity, kindness, and the pleasure we get from sharing what we love with others. Good feelings worth celebrating!

Cathy Mealey headshot

Cathy Ballou Mealey is a scone lover and author of WHEN A TREE GROWS, SLOTH AND SQUIRREL IN A PICKLE, and MAKE MORE S’MORES. She has planted acorns, pickled cucumbers, and toasted marshmallows but spends most of her time writing picture books north of Boston where she lives with her family.


To find out more, or get in touch with Cathy:

Website: https://cathyballoumealey.wixsite.com/author

Twitter: https://twitter.com/CatBallouMealey

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/catballoumealey/

Hug a Tree…And Celebrate Earth Day.

We take trees for granted, so having a day that reminds us of their wonder and life-giving presence should be celebrated. Tomorrow – April 22, 2023 is EARTH DAY.  Here are some fun facts about trees:

The tallest species of trees in the world include the Coast Redwood, Giant Sequoia, Coast Douglas Fir, Sitka Spruce and Australian Mountain Ash.

The Giant Sequoia is not only tall, it is also wide. Because of its amazing size, some believe that the Giant Sequoia is the largest living organism in the world!


Trees produce oxygen and reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. They purify the air we breathe. If it weren’t for trees, we wouldn’t be alive!

For more tree facts visit: http://www.sciencekids.co.nz/sciencefacts/plants/trees.html

For fun, printable worksheets about trees visit: http://www.kidzone.ws/plants/trees.htm

There are lots of picture books that honor trees.  Here’s one I especially enjoy.

THE LITTLE TREE by Muon Van (Creston Books 2015)

The Little Tree


Have you ever wondered why trees are important? Why do we need to protect them?

tree of wonder

Tree Full of Wonder by Anna Smithers, is a vibrant, rhyming, educational and unique picture book showing the unbreakable bond between people and trees. For children ages 3-8. Kids will fall in love with nature and will become Protectors of the Trees.
Mindful stories for kids create a brighter and calmer future, one child at a time.

Now, go outside and hug a tree!    tree hugHAPPY EARTH DAY!

Boost Your Brain

Want you and your family to have healthier, sharper, and better-functioning brains?  It is easier than you might think.  There is a lot you can do to improve brain health by following some science-based tips.

  1. Learning a foreign language helps your brain process information better and focus more sharply.  Try Apple’s  iPhone app Duolingo to learn Spanish, French, German, Italian, Swedish or several other languages.
  2. If you want to remember items from a list or details from notes, write them in RED.  Studies have shown that the color red “fixes” itself on our memory better than other colors.
  3. To improve attention and concentration, TRY PING PONG.
  4. To help recall details of an event, CLOSE YOUR EYES.  When visual distractions are removed, your brain focuses more efficiently.
  5. Eat fish and avocados. Both improve brain function by reducing inflammation.  A handful of nuts such as walnuts, almonds, peanuts also help improve cognition. fish dinner
  6. Try new things and see new sights.  New experiences give the brain exercise like a new muscle.
  7. Coloring eases stress and puts your brain in meditation mode.  Any activity that calms the body, restores the brain.  There are numerous coloring books for kids and adults of all ages. coloring
  8. GET UP AND MOVE! Aerobic exercise actually increases the size of your hippocampus – the part of the brain involved in learning and remembering.  Put on a record and dance, take a Zumba class, go jogging, or jump on a trampoline.  It’s all good for the brain.   kids in a tree
  9. Do something with your non-dominate hand. Brushing teeth, writing your name, unscrewing the lid of a jar.  By using your “other” hand, you challenge the brain to perform the activity and fire new synapses while doing it.
  10. Get a good night’s SLEEP: Good sleep is the best thing you can do for your brain long term says Henry Emmons, MD author of STAYING SHARP (Touchstone).  Be sure your children get enough rest as well.  The National Sleep Foundation recommends 7-9 hours for ages 18-64 and 7-8 hours for ages 65 and up.  Children need at least 7-9 hours of sleep as well.
  11. Surf…the Internet: Searching for information on the web improves neural circuitry.
  12. Hang out with Friends and Family.  Social connections improve brain health.
  13. Get lots of B Vitamins: B vitamins lower homocysteine – an amino acid linked to dementia.  You can find B vitamins in whole grain breads, pasta, cereals and rice.  It’s also found in poultry, leafy greens, papayas, beans, oranges and cantaloupe.  MAKE A SALAD WITH MIXED GREENS, SUNFLOWER SEEDS, CHICK PEAS OR OTHER BEANS, ORANGE SLICES AND DICED CHICKEN for a vitamin B packed meal.
  14. Be OPTIMISTIC: Positive thinking activates your brains ability to adapt and change.

The Joy of Sharing Books on WORLD READ ALOUD DAY

World Read Aloud Day (WRAD) is an annual event where schools invite authors to read from their books and share the love of reading with students and teachers. On Wednesday, February 1, 2023, I had the pleasure of visiting two different classrooms to share my books with students across the country.


Thank you staff and students from the fifth graders at Kenosha School in Wisconsin who wanted to know my favorite poems from WISHES, DARES, AND HOW TO STAND UP TO A BULLY. wrad

Three classes joined in and asked me some wonderful questions about writing, how I chose the names for my characters, the setting, and why the book is in verse. Thank you Ms. Andre, Ms. Steele, and Ms. Langerman, and all your students for their interest and enthusiasm.

My second visit of the day was with the George A. Jackson Elementary School in Jerico, NY. District Media Specialist Danielle Melia and her 3RD, 4th, and 5th grade classes were excited to hear some of the poems from WISHES, DARES, AND HOW TO STAND UP TO A BULLY. Some students asked questions about the book and how I got my idea for the story.


THANK YOU to the media specialists, teachers, and students for inviting me into your classrooms and for your enthusiasm about my book. HAPPY WRAD!

Three Cheers For Tuscaloosa Academy! My First Classroom Visit in 2023.

I always look forward to a new year because that usually means a chance to connect with students and teachers through author visits. Last week I had the pleasure of a virtual visit to GINGER STEWART’S 7th and 8th grade classes at TUSCALOOSA ACADEMY,  in Tuscaloosa AL.

alabama school visit

The classes were in the middle of reading  WISHES, DARES, AND HOW TO STAND UP TO A BULLY and had some wonderful questions to ask about the book.

They were eager to share their enthusiasm about the story, and their favorite characters. Mrs. Stewart had them read sections each day and then they talked about it and shared their thoughts.

They also did character studies regarding the traits and behaviors of each character.


It was so gratifying to see the students enthusiasm for the story. It was also music to my ears when Mrs. Stewart said the class liked the book better than their previous read aloud CHEAPER BY THE DOZEN.

Thank you students for an enjoyable visit and for the book love! I hope I can visit your wonderful classroom again some time. And a BIG thanks to Mrs. Stewart for choosing to share WISHES, DARES, AND HOW TO STAND UP TO A BULLY with her students.


I Resolve to…Cut Back on…

…PLASTICS! Stories about the plastics floating in our oceans and waterways and the dangers this poses to marine life seem to fill headlines. One statistic stated that by 2050 there will be more plastic in the ocean than marine life.  That’s a pretty sobering statistic.

Many communities banned plastic straws and some even eliminated plastic bags as an option when shopping for groceries. At the start of a new year, when our minds are focused on “resolutions” and starting fresh, I am resolving to work on cutting back on the use of plastics in my life.

I already use cloth bags for groceries. I have stopped asking for straws at restaurants. I try to recycle as much plastic as I can. I also try to store food in containers that can be reused. I have a stainless steel bottle that I take to the gym and refill. I also use a pitcher with a filter in it for drinking water, so I don’t buy those plastic bottles. (FYI: bottled water costs more per gallon than gasoline when you buy it in those portable bottles. Think of how much money you’d save each year if you went to a filter system.)

I know there is more…much more that I can do.  If healthy oceans and marine life are important to you and your families, maybe you’d like to know what YOU can do to cut back on plastic use.  

One company is making a difference. 4ocean cleans up ocean plastic from oceans around the world, collecting and recycling it into bracelets that support and help pay for the continued clean up effort. You can help by buying  a bracelet. Each bracelet purchased pays for the clean-up of one pound of ocean trash.  Visit: http://www.4ocean.com


Visit:  http://www.myplasticfreelife.com   for 100 IDEAS and WAYS to get rid of plastic in your life.

May 2023 be a healthy year for all of us!