Give Your Backyard Critters, and the Earth’s Creatures Some TLC.

We are ALL interconnected and part of the chain that feeds and sustains life on earth. Wondering how you can help protect the most vulnerable critters on our planet? There are FIVE simple things all of us can do to help make a difference for the creatures who share the earth with us. 

1. Bee populations are disappearing, which effects food crops around the world. Help LOCAL HIVES by adding a “bee bath” to your backyard. Fill a shallow dish or birdbath with water and pebbles or marbles to welcome these pollinators into your garden.


2. You can help protect CORAL REEFS by replacing your regular sunscreen for one that does not contain OXYBENZONE. This ingredient damages the delicate reefs.

3. I’ve mentioned this one on numerous posts: FEED MONARCH BUTTERFLIES by planting MILKWEED in your garden. This is the only plant these endangered creatures lay their eggs on and the caterpillars eat. You can get get milkweed seeds in your local National Wildlife Federation office.


Milkweed from my garden. Bonus: it also attracts bees.

4. Eat seafood that is sustainably caught and protect whales and dolphins from getting trapped in fishing nets. Download the Seafood Watch app to identify businesses that serve and sell sustainably sourced seafood.

5. Help the endangered Sumatran tiger from losing its habitat to coffee growers. Make sure your brew is Rainforest Alliance certified. This means the beans are grown  and harvested in a sustainable, animal-friendly way.

52 Ways to Celebrate the 52nd Earth Day.

Today is the 52nd Anniversary of the first Earth Day held in 1970. While the idea of and complex issues of Global Warming seem daunting, there are many ways to care for, celebrate, and honor our collective home, planet earth. Here are 50.

1. The single most important thing you can do is PLANT A TREE. If the world’s people planted 3 billion trees in all the available open spaces (not taking away any farmland), we would eliminate global warming. Learn more about tree planting in your community at

2. Make your garden POLLINATOR FRIENDLY by planting native bushes and flowering plants to attract bees, butterflies and insects. Find the right blooms for your yard at:

3. Find out how you can help endangered species in your community:

4. If you see litter, pick it up.

5-9. Collect rainwater for landscaping, compost vegetable scraps, plant a vegetable garden, buy organic, stop using pesticides on your lawn.   lids

10-14. Buy in bulk to use less packaging, stop using single-use plastic bags (reusable and machine-washable ones are available online. (see photo below)  I use them every time I go to the store. You can store the vegetables in them as well. Pack lunches in reusable containers, recycle as often and as much as you can, stop using plastic wrap for food storage. Check out the reusable silicon lids in 6 sizes to fit over every bowl you own. The number one recycler of plastic bags?  lists drop-off stations in your area.


15. Find uses for old things.

16. Turn off lights when you leave a room.

17. Eat more veggies, especially those grown locally.

18. Get a library card.

19. Leave only footprints when you travel.

20-25. Wash clothes in cold water, don’t let the sink run when you brush teeth or wash dishes, turn off the dishwasher’s drying cycle and let them air dry, use concentrated soaps/cleaners that use less packaging,use unscented products, Use greener cleaners like baking soda and white vinegar.

26-30. Ride your bike, skip the elevator and take stairs, buy things that will last, try to fix things that break instead of tossing them, eat what’s in season.

31. Buy products made from recycled materials, and gently-used second hand clothing.

32. Use a push lawn mower.

33. Buy Fair Trade:

34. Carpool

35-39. Unplug electronics when you aren’t using them, shut your computer down when you leave work, print on both sides of paper, reuse blank paper as scrap paper for notes, use shredded paper for packing instead of styrafoam peanuts.

40. When you finish baking, turn off the oven and leave oven door open to heat the home.

41. Eat sustainably harvested fish to protect the ocean :

42-45. Give your car a tune-up so it drives more efficiently, drive a hybrid, keep tires inflated to proper pressure for better fuel efficiency, driving under 60MPH saves gas. Consider an electric vehicle.

46-47. Buy shade grown coffee, switch to reusable coffee filters.

48. Use rechargeable batteries.

49. Join a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program to eat local: visit

50. Use cloth napkins and towels.

51. Switch to a search engine that plants trees. Ecosia plants a tree every time you search the web using it’s search engine:

52. HUG A TREE… these amazing plants are the reason we are alive on planet earth.

The earth is home for us all. Every little thing we do to honor our home counts.

Stay Safe and have a HAPPY EARTH DAY!

Book Giveaway: THERE WAS A HOLE By Adam Lehrhaupt

An important book for young people in dealing with loss…please share.

Writing and Illustrating

Adam Lehrhaupt has a new picture book, THERE WAS A HOLE, illustrated by Carrie O’Neill and published by Sleeping Bear Press. They have agreed to send a copy to the 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 Adam and Carrie.

If you have signed up to follow my blog and it is delivered to you everyday, please let me know when you leave a comment and I will give you an extra…

View original post 1,124 more words

Don’t Throw Away Orphan Toys. Do This Instead.

With summer winding down, we often want to welcome fall with a bit of cleaning and getting rid of some of the “stuff” that accumulated all summer long.  If your children are tired of their old toys and books or you just need to make some room, try donating the items to some of the following:

toys  delivers gently used toys to children in need. Go on the website to check for your local community chapter.  takes kids and baby gear along with maternity and children’s clothing that is in good condition.  They distribute it to needy families.

For books contact:    to schedule a pick up along with others in your area.  Just enter your zip code and choose from local charities you’d like to sponsor.

Another way to re-purpose books is at:   You pay for shipping to the Atlanta warehouse, but it is tax-deductible.

book mess

You can also donate unwanted items to your local GOODWILL, SALVATION ARMY, VIETNAM VETERANS OF AMERICA    And, Habitat For Humanity will accept household items and furniture at their ReStore outlets to use in their building projects. Check out their needs at:

Check to see if local nursery schools, childcare centers and homeless shelters would welcome toys. There are plenty of kids out there looking for toys and books to love.

Almost Spring Easy and Tasty Banana Muffins.

After the dog days of winter, I am anxious to get outside and participate in the rebirth that is SPRING. Despite the calendar saying it is officially spring on 3-21, we all know it usually comes of its own accord.

And, we know March is a month where anything can happen. So, while you and your kids await the days when we can go outside with just a jacket on, why not gather them together for an easy baking session? Instead of throwing out those over-ripe bananas, make up a batch of BANANA MUFFINS or BANANA BREAD.Just mash three bananas with a fork as shown below:

muff 1

Then follow my well-worn and foolproof recipe. I used chopped walnuts, but you can try almonds also. You can even throw in some mini chocolate morsels.


The recipe makes 2 loaves or 18 muffins. Serve them up with your favorite beverage and the wait for spring will be a delicious one.


Author Jeanne Zulick Ferruolo Presents a New MG: EACH OF US A UNIVERSE + A Chance to Win a Signed Copy.

Today it is my absolute pleasure to share a book I recently read by middle-grade author Jeanne Zulick Ferruolo titled EACH OF US A UNIVERSE. I asked Jeanne what inspired her to write this lovely story. Her answers follow as well as my review and a chance to win a signed copy. Here’s Jeanne:

Universe_FINAL (4)

  1. I love the title of your book: EACH OF US A UNIVERSE. How did you arrive at that title?

I did a great deal of research for this book especially in the field of astrophysics, cosmology, and meteoritics (study of meteorites). Neil deGrasse Tyson’s books and documentaries were incredibly helpful. Watching COSMOS, I came across Tyson’s quote: “There are as many atoms in a single molecule of your DNA as there are stars in the typical galaxy. We are, each of us, a little universe.” I found this so inspirational. It seemed to encompass Cal’s and Rosine’s journeys. It was also a concept that Rosine had begun to understand, and one Cal was just learning. It felt like the perfect title for the book.

  1. There is a lot of detail about the sport of mountain climbing. What kind of research did you have to do for the story? Where did your inspiration come from?

Tons of research! And it was so fun! Rock climbing is an inherently dangerous sport, but can be done safely with the right tools and instruction. I began by joining my local climbing gym and took several lessons. Universally, the climbing community is incredibly welcoming! My entire family also travelled to Mount Mansfield in Vermont where we had a lesson on outdoor mountain climbing at Smugglers’ Notch. It was really hard, but so rewarding!

  1. The mountain looms large in the story as a physical presence and as a metaphor for the struggles and fears of the main character. How did this come about?

I hike almost every day on our local (very small) mountain, Soapstone Mountain. Although mountain hikes can be challenging physically as well as mentally, there is something incredibly spiritual—even magical—about the experience. With all the struggles and challenges Cal and Rosine were facing, I wanted them to experience that magic. I knew the mountain was where they would find it.

  1. What are 3 things readers should know about the main character Calliope Scott and 3 things about Rosine Kanambe?

Cal has lived in the small, rural town of Bleakerville, CT her entire life.

She and her father are struggling with her mother’s cancer diagnosis and treatment.

She is so much stronger than she knows.

Rosine is from Democratic Republic of the Congo but lived as a refugee in Burundi for — years before being resettled in the United States.

She is struggling with her sister’s sadness and desire to keep moving.

Rosine already knows how strong she is.

  1. What scene was the easiest to write? The hardest?

I loved writing the climbing scenes, especially the one where Cal thinks back to the time she scaled Ragged Mountain with her father. Ragged Mountain is a real place in Southington, CT that I have hiked with family and friends. It is a truly special mountain, and you can’t help but feel a combined sense of peace and joy when climbing it.

The scene in which Cal visits her father in prison was challenging in that it was so emotional for me. As a former public defender, I made hundreds of professional visits to clients in prisons. I’d wait in the waiting room, and then enter the facility alongside family members who were visiting loved ones. From the moment I’d enter the prison, I would feel the weight of those friends and family. Their nervousness was palpable. But I also witnessed happiness in those visits—the simple joy that comes from human connection. I wanted to bring that emotion to the scene, while letting kids who’ve had experience with prison visits know they aren’t alone. I also want them to understand that, like Cal, they are a great deal stronger than they realize.

Here is Darlene’s review for this amazing story of courage.

“Calliope Scott runs. She is always on the move, trying to escape from all the things troubling her in the small town of Bleakerville. Mountain climbing is her passion, something she did with her dad…before he went to prison. Before her mom got cancer. When a new girl moves into town, a girl whose love of the mountain is as strong as Cal’s, they set out to conquer Mt. Meterorite and the magic they both hope will save their families.

Will Cal and Rosine climb all the way to the summit? Will they find the magic said to reside there from local legends? Young readers will keep turning pages to find out in this heartfelt and honest story of a girl’s love of the mountain that looms large literally and figuratively in her life.

Themes of believing in yourself, the power of friendship, and how love can help you through life’s difficult and scary moments resonate throughout. Magic happens when you believe.”

Zulick Ferruolo Headshot

Jeanne has agreed to give-away a signed copy of EACH OF US A UNIVERSE. Leave a comment if you would like to be considered. One name will be drawn at random from all who enter. If you share this post on social media, I will give you a second chance to enter.

Jeanne Zulick Ferruolo is the author of Each of Us a Universe, A Galaxy of Sea Stars and Ruby in the Sky, which earned two starred reviews and which Booklist called “quietly magical.” She is also a volunteer with IRIS-Integrated Refugee & Immigrant Services in New Haven, Connecticut. She lives in Ellington, Connecticut, with her family.

Contact information



Twitter:  @jzulferr







Indie Bound:








Historical fiction lovers will appreciate the research Antoinette went through for her books. Fascinating.

Writing and Illustrating

Today you have the opportunity to win a copy of Antoinette Truglio Marting middle Grdae book THE DREAMS OF SINGERS AND SLUGGERS, cover illustrated by Penny Weber and published by Red Penguin Books. Antoinette has agreed to share a copy with one lucky winner living in the United States.

Just 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 how you shared the good news. If you follow my blog and have it delivered daily, let me know in the comments 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 AT and Penny.


The Dreams of Singers and Sluggers is the second book in the Becoming…

View original post 1,680 more words

Author Amanda Rowe Presents: IF THERE NEVER WAS A YOU + a Give-away.

Today it is my pleasure to feature a charming board book by author Amanda Rowe. Amanda and I met last month at the New Jersey Association of School Librarians Conference (NJASL) in Atlantic City. As we sat next to each other and shared our books, I knew I wanted to feature her on a blog post. Her book: IF THERE NEVER WAS A YOU (illustrated by Olga Skomorokhova) is a delightful celebration of a Mother’s love for her child.

Amanda graciously gave me a signed copy that I will give to one of you who leave a comment at the end of this post. If you share the post on social media, let me know so I can give you a second chance to win.

My review: “Told in a gentle, soothing rhyme, with delightful and whimsical illustrations, IF THERE NEVER WAS A YOU shows the loving and special moments between a parent and child. A perfect bedtime read for the littlest children to treasure and request over and over again”

Here’s my interview with Amanda:

Book cover

  1. What was your inspiration for writing IF THERE NEVER WAS A YOU?

My children are the inspiration for everything good that I do. They were growing up so fast, and I was thinking about how much I missed their younger years, and I wanted to find a way to tell them what they meant to me, and how much they had enriched my life.

  1. The gentle rhyme is soothing and perfect for this tale for the youngest children. Was this intentional, and how did it come about?

If There Never Was a You began as a poem that I wrote for my children. I didn’t write it with the intention of it becoming a children’s book; I never expected anyone but my children to read it. But the more I reread it the more I thought that other parents might relate to it, and might like to share it with their own children. So I submitted it to a few children’s book publishers. I didn’t expect anything to come of it, but I heard back from Familius almost immediately. I am so grateful to God and to Familius for this book. Becoming a children’s book author has been a wonderful adventure. I love books, and I love children, so this is the perfect job for me, and I never knew that until after it happened.

  1. Did you have any input into the playful and endearing illustrations?

I didn’t. I did not see the illustrations until the book was finished and I got a case of copies in the mail. The illustrator, Olga Skomorokhova, is immensely talented and I am so thankful that Familius chose her to illustrate this book. Reading my words on the page with Olga’s illustrations was one of the best moments of my life. Her pictures are more beautiful than I ever imagined they could be. Olga and I are in contact now and she is just as lovely as her pictures. I am so grateful to have been partnered with her on this book and I hope that we will collaborate again in the future.

  1. What’s next for you?

I have a new children’s book called There Goes My Heart forthcoming with Familius in 2024. In the meantime, I am working on some other manuscripts that I hope to get published. I took a break from in person events during the pandemic but I’m starting to reemerge from my house and it has been wonderful to travel and meet authors and readers again. I hope to do much more of that in the future.

If you’d like to know more about Amanda, check out her website here:

and her Instagram here:

7 croppedAmanda Rowe is a children’s book author, an academic administrator, an amateur chef, a travel enthusiast, a blogger, and a book hoarder. If There Never Was a You is her first children’s book. Her next children’s book, There Goes My Heart, is forthcoming with Familius in 2024. Visit her:


Amber Brown Award

Calling all classrooms…would you like an author visit to your school? Nominate your school and you may win a free one.

Writing and Illustrating

Amber Brown Grant

Do you know a school who could benefit from receiving a all-expense paid visit from a well-respected children’s author or illustrator, along with $250 stipend to make it memorable and $250 worth of books by author/illustrator?

Well, now if the time to be a hero and talk to that school principle to see if they would be interested in this grant. You do not have to be an SCBWI member, but the principle will need to write a statement of support to apply. The deadline is April 15th

The Amber Brown Grant commemorates author and beloved school speaker, Paula Danziger.  One school is awarded each year with an author or illustrator visit and new books to continue Paula’s love of connecting children with creative influences.

  • Any school can apply. You do not need to be a member to nominate a school.
  • Applications must be filled out…

View original post 104 more words