Friday, April 26, 2013

Change The World Before Bedtime

This was one of my favorite books that I've read this year and had to do a re-post on it.

 Good Day Dear Reader Friends,
The Queen here with a feel good book titled, "Change The World Before Bedtime." I loved the simple, child-like watercolor and collage illustrations.

Sometimes, little ones feel like they're ... well, too little to do great things. Not so, shows this book which is full of ways and ideas to help out and make the world a better place. I think young and old can find an idea or two of simple things one can do to help others, and show random acts of kindness.

I've also come across a couple of websites that offer extended ideas that I'm sharing here as well.

Do go pick up a copy of this book. The activities inside can be done as a classroom assignment, or at home. What I loved most was how the authors showed the children working together, as a multicultural community. We need to work together to make the world a better place. Teaching our children ways to help will only lead to them having a brighter and happier future.

Happy Reading,
The Queen


Book Title: Change The World Before Bedtime
Authors: Mark Kimball Moulton, Josh Chalmers, and Karen Good

Book Information:

Publisher and date: Schiffer Publishing, Ltd. (July 28, 2012)
Reading level: pre-k to 2nd.
Book Info: Hardcover: 32 pages
ISBN: 978-0764342387

Book Theme:
Helping the environment, doing good deeds, making good choices, being helpful and kind

Book Summary

“Change the World Before Bedtime”

We all have the power to change the world - and it’s easier than you think! Meet kids of all ages as they explore ways to be kind, generous, good neighbors in their hometowns, their schools and around the glo

Atglen P.A. — Written in simple, engaging rhyme, this story takes an inspirational look into how the little things in life – a smile, a kind word, a simple deed – can help change the world in a big way. Through 18 stunning illustrations, children will read about eating right, cleaning up the Earth by recycling and conserving, helping the sick and those less fortunate, and working in a group to make bigger miracles. Even an ordinary kid can be a superhero before bedtime! For pre-k to 2nd.

Activity Adventures:

Find more ideas for doing good at Kiwi magazine.

Little kids with big hearts can make a difference one small action at a time, starting in their own backyards.
Brainstorm a list of helpful things you can do as a family, or classroom in your community. Take that list and decide on five or ten projects you are willing to do. Now, write them down on a poster board. Illustrate, or decorate your poster to make it special. Every time your family or classroom accomplishes one of the projects, mark the date beside the project. When the list is completed, celebrate with some kind of party or fun activity where you'll be able to talk about what you did and how it made you feel. 

Then, do it again. And again.

Authors Arena

About the Authors
    Once upon a time, coincidence, fate, and magic conspired to introduce three big dreamers – Mark, Karen, and Josh. And new friends became forever friends who, separately and together, use their creative talents to change the world a little bit at a time.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Secrets of the Garden by Kathleen Zoehfeld

Good day friend readers,
The Queen here with an educational book for you this week. Secrets of the Garden explores food chains and ecology in a simple backyard garden. Zoehfeld, a science writer, layers information throughout the book in such a way, even young children should be able to grasps earth science concepts. Her intelligent chickens make the book, I say.

Along with the informative text, the reader is treated to Lamont's beautiful watercolor pictures.

All together, this is a book teachers and parents are sure to find resourceful and engaging for children.
Happy Reading,
The Queen


Book Title: Secrets of the Garden
Author: Kathleen Weidner Zoehfeld 
Illustrator: Priscilla Lamont

Book Information:
Publisher and date: Knopf Books for Young Readers (February 28, 2012)
Reading level: Ages 5 and up
Book Info: Hardcover: 40 pages 
Genre: Non-fiction picture book
ISBN: 978-0517709900  

Book Theme:
Earth science, ecosystems, food chains, gardening, ecology, biosystems

Book Summary
Alice's family plants a vegetable garden each spring, and this budding naturalist reports all she sees about how the plants grow, what insects come to eat the plants, and what birds and animals come to eat the insects.  It's the food chain, right in her own backyard!

While Alice's narrative is simple and engaging, science concepts are presented in more depth in sidebars by a pair of very knowledgeable (and highly amusing) chickens! Noted science writer Kathleen Weidner Zoehfeld knows how to layer information to make it accessible to a wide range of readers and useful for educators. And illustrator Priscilla Lamont's funny, friendly paintings make this a garden everyone will want to explore.

Kids will eat up this wonderful book of backyard science—and perhaps they'll even be inspired to eat their vegetables!

Activity Adventures:

Young Readers:
Go out in your backyard and explore the life found there. Photograph or draw pictures of what you find. Create your own book about the biodiversity found in your yard.

Older Readers:
Explore a patch of land in your area. Yard, school playground, garden, park or pond.
Document your observations. Draw or photograph the animals and plants you find. Cut out pictures and create your own food web. Be sure to include yourself in the food web.
Crafty Ideas:
Using paper strips, draw pictures from a water food chain, a garden food chain, a desert food chain, ect. Glue strips into circle, creating real "food" chains. Hand your chains around the room.

Discussion Questions:
Find more information on food chains at Enchanted Learning.
Find other gardening books suggested by teachers

Authors Arena



About the Author

KATHLEEN WEIDNER ZOEHFELD was a children's book editor for more than 10 years before becoming a full-time writer. She has published more than 60 books for children, most about animals and natural history.

From publisher's site:
Kathleen Weidner Zoehfeld is the award-winning author of more than sixty books, including Dinosaur Tracks, "a great choice for even the most discriminating dinophiles" (School Library Journal); Did Dinosaurs Have Feathers?, a Children's Book of the Month Club selection described as "fascinating" by Kirkus Reviews; and Dinosaurs Big and Small, a 2003 Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Best Book Award winner. When she's not reading, researching, writing, or editing, Kathleen loves to spend her free time exploring, doing fieldwork, and preparing fossils in the laboratory for her local natural history museums. She lives in Berkeley, California.

About the Illustrator

PRISCILLA LAMONT has illustrated dozens of books, including the Animal Rescue Team books by Sue Stauffacher, and Goose and Duck by Jean Craighead George. Whether drawing human or animal characters, Priscilla always likes to include some humor.

From Illustrator's website:

After graduating from Canterbury College of Art with a degree in Graphic design and a few years as a book designer, Priscilla began to work as a freelance artist, and has illustrated over 40 books for children for a variety of authors, including Harry Secombe, Adrian Mitchell, Julia Jarman, Michael Rosen and Hilary McKay, as well as occasionally illustrating her own words too!

After many years in London and even more in Suffolk, she is now settled in Kent with her husband the artist David Hayward and has a studio at the Creek Creative building in Faversham, where she works rather untidily, but with great enthusiasm!

Least likely to say: It’s wonderful working at home on my own

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Stars by Mary Lyn Ray

Happy Good Friday dear friends.
The Queen here hoping this beautiful day finds you doing something you enjoy. Speaking of something I enjoy, looking up at a night sky brings such pleasure, I can sit under a starry sky for hours and hours just enjoying the twinkling wonder.

We not only have a wonderful world to live in, but we are surrounded by a mesmerizing universe. The day offers blue skies and interesting clouds and the night dazzles us with starry brilliance. Stop for a moment to enjoy all that's around you. 

Stars by Mary Lyn Ray and illustrated by Marla Frazee is simple yet beautifully done. I loved the bright, adoring pictures and the easy to follow text that explored where one can find stars. I'1

Happy Reading,
The Queen

Book Title: Stars
Author:Mary Lyn Ray                                                                                                                
Illustrator: Marla Frazee

Book Information:
Publisher and date: Beach Lane Books (October 4, 2011)
Reading level: Ages 2 and up
Book Info: Hardcover: 40 pages
Genre: Fiction picture book
ISBN: 978-1442422490

Book Theme:
The wonder of stars and how you can find them all around if you'll only look.

Favorite Line: "If you hold a wand the right way, you might see a wish come true. Not always. Only sometimes. You never know about a wish."

Book Summary
A star is how you know it’s almost night.
As soon as you see one, there’s another, and another.
And the dark that comes doesn’t feel so dark.
What if you could have a star?
From acclaimed author Mary Lyn Ray and two-time Caldecott Honor winner Marla Frazee comes this tender, evocative—and profound—exploration of stars both near and far.

Activity Adventures:

Young Readers:
Of course, of course you must make some stars. Gather as many cool looking papers as you can possibly find and get to makin' stars. Add glitter. Add sparkle dots. Add anything shiny you can find to make your stars special. Keep one in your pocket to make you smile. Now pass the rest out to those who might also need a smile.

Older Readers:
When you make a star, write a special message to it for the one you'll give your star to. On your own star, write a word or two that describes what makes you shine. You might need a parent or friend's help to find the right words. 

Crafty Ideas:
Make star streamers. Fold paper accordion style and cut out a star shape, making sure to leave two or three corners touching so they will stay attached. Hang your star chain across a window or over your bed or some other fun place that needs a bit of star sparkle. 

Writing Prompts:
If you could catch a basket full of stars, what would you do with them?

Exploration Activity:
The book shows a few places you can find stars that are not in the sky. But there's more. Can you go outside and find more stars? Make it a star hunt. Draw, list or take pictures of all the stars you find. You might even consider making your own Stars booklet.

Discussion Questions:
Talk about stars in the sky. Use this book as a spring board to a unit on outer space. Find non-fiction books about stars and talk about what they are really made of.
Family Activity:
Spend an evening outdoors, on a blanket, with a pile of books, something yummy to snack on and the stars above to observe. 

Authors Arena

About this author from Goodreads
Mary Lyn Ray is a conservationist and author of several picture books for children. She was born in Louisiana in 1946 and grew up in Little Rock, Arkansas. Ray has lived in New England since 1964, when she first came east to attend college. She currently lives in a 150-year-old farmhouse in South Danbury, New Hampshire, which she restored herself.

Marla Frazee's bio from Reading Rocket
Ever since she was in elementary school, Marla Frazee knew that she wanted to illustrate children's books. Now Frazee is living her childhood dream, stepping into her backyard studio each morning to do what she loves. Frazee is the illustrator Sarah Pennypacker's Clementine books as well as picture books written by a variety of other authors. On her own, Frazee has both written and illustrated a number of original and playful titles, such as Santa Claus: The World's Number One Toy Expert, Roller Coaster, and A Couple of Boys Have the Best Week Ever.

Check out a video interview with Marla Frazee

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Lorax by Dr. Seuss

Good Day dear Readers,
What Earth Day week celebration can happen without the Lorax joining us? He saw what could happen, gave his warning, and nobody listened. Even today, Lorax's are out and about, giving us warning to not be greedy, to take care of our earth. Are we listening yet?

Why not go out and rent  Dr. Seuss's The Lorax?

Here's the original post from when I first went to see the movie:

That incessant little dragon, Dirkus, would not leave me alone about going to see the "tree guy movie." I also coaxed my young prince who's favorite words are "Whatever dude," to come along. This was no easy feat since he thinks he is much to royally minded to be seen at a Dr. Seuss movie.

Of course, we all read the book first before going. This is something I insist on before we see a movie.

I'm happy to say, that the movie creators were able to keep Seuss's story while tweaking it up for today's audience and the experience was enchanting. Even the young prince said, "Yeah, it was good."

Wow, that's a five star review coming from him! Of course Dirkus loved the bears, loved the fish, loved the story and is now running home so he can draw the fun, colorful trees. I made sure to give him plenty of paper to make his creations on.

So, if you are looking for some feel-good family entertainment, with a good message everyone can chew on afterward, then I highly recommend you all first read the Lorax, then go see the movie.

Happy Reading
The Queen

Book Details
Reading level: Ages 6 and up
Hardcover: 72 pages
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers (August 12, 1971)
ISBN-13: 978-0394823379

Book Summary from
"Unless someone like you...cares a whole awful lot...nothing is going to get better...It's not."

Long before saving the earth became a global concern, Dr. Seuss, speaking through his character the Lorax, warned against mindless progress and the danger it posed to the earth's natural beauty.

"The big, colorful pictures and the fun images, word plays and rhymes make this an amusing
exposition of the ecology crisis."—School Library Journal.

Reading Adventures:
There is so much take-away value in both the book and the movie. Yes, it speaks against consumer greed and wasting our natural resources. Just in that, there is much to discuss about ways we can replace what's taken from the earth. Recycling. Planting trees. Not littering. And the list goes on.

But there's more. Spring is a time when new things grow. Take time to plant a garden. Let your children explore dirt. Describe in words what dirt feels like, what it smells like. There is a whole world of wonder beneath the soil. Talk about the creatures that live there. How things grow. What plants do for our health and environment. 

Wouldn't it be horrible if we actually had to buy bottled air, just like we have to buy bottled water? 
There was a time I once thought that was a big joke, having to buy water. Now here we are. 

For years, the warnings have been out there. Isn't it time to listen, take heed and teach our children that they can make a difference? 

It might be. 
Here's the movie trailer. There's lots of activities to be found out there that will go along nicely with this story.. Don't let it be just another movie you go to see, but a real experience that opens your child's mind to making a difference. 

“Only you can control your future.” 
― Dr. Seuss

Monday, April 22, 2013

The Case of the Vanishing Golden Frogs by Sandra Markle

Happy Earth Day, Dear Readers!
This week, in celebration of my favorite place to live... That's right: EARTH! I will be re-posting earth friendly books all this week. Starting today, let's explore one of the problems we see in nature that's growing rapidly. Extinction. Being aware of what's going on, helps youngsters to consider how our actions effect the world in which we live. The sooner we teach children that actions have consequences, the better chance we have of helping them take better care of themselves and our world.

Put on your sleuth hats and get out the clue finders for today's read will take you on a real life search for the mystery behind the Vanishing Golden Frogs. Sandra Markle provides beautiful, vibrant photos of the Panama frogs, their lush habitat and the scientist working to figure out what is killing these cute little yellow frogs.

Learn the scientific process that is undertaken when nature is threatened and scientist work diligently to discover the cause and figure out ways to fix the problem. I know you'll find this real life story intriguing.

Happy Reading,
The Queen

Book Title: The Case of the Vanishing Golden Frogs: A Scientific Mystery
Author: Sandra Markle                                                                                                                

Book Information:
Publisher and date: Millbrook Pr (October 2011)
Reading level: Ages 9 and up
Book Info: Library Binding: 48 pages
Genre: Non-fiction natural science
ISBN: 978-0761351085

Book Theme:
Ecology, disease, extinction, frogs, science, saving an animal species

Panamanian golden frogs aren't just cute, little, and yellow. They're also the national symbol of Panama. But they started to disappear about fifteen years ago. What's killing them? Could it be a change in their habitat? What about pollution? Might it be a result of climate change? Follow a team of scientists working to save these frogs and protect frog populations worldwide in this real-life science mystery.

Activity Adventures:

Young Readers:
Do a study on the frog life cycle. Graphs and coloring sheets and neat facts can be found over at Enchanted Learning. 

Older Readers:
Over at Sandra Markle's blog, she leads a discussion about the scientific process of figuring out what happened to the Panamanian golden frog. Read the book, then zip over for some discussion questions and extra activity links and ideas that will go along great with her book. 

Crafty Ideas:
Get out some colorful play dough and make your own small frog figurines like those found on page 5. You can leave them out to dry and display them if you like.

Make your own froggy beaded key chain.

Writing Prompts:
If you were a scientist, what field would you like to go into? Did this story fascinate you? Do you love learning about animals? Write about what area of science is most interesting. Then take some time to research and make notes on what that scientist does and what kind of education is needed.

You never know, this might be a possible career path for you!

Authors Arena

Sandra Markle is the author of numerous award-winning books for children. A former elementary science teacher, she is a nationally known science education consultant.

Markle has received many honors for her series Animal Predators, Animal Scavengers, and Animal Prey. Several titles have been named as National Science Teachers Association (NSTA)/Children's Book Council (CBC) Outstanding Science Trade Books for Students K-12, and Animal Predators was honored as a Top 10 Youth Nonfiction Series by Booklist.

Markle is also the author of the Insect World series and several single titles. Her book Rescues! was named a Best Book by the Society of School Librarians International and a Recommended Title of Outstanding Nonfiction by the National Council of Teachers of English's (NCTE) Orbis Pictus Award committee; Animal Heroes was named a 2008 Lasting Connections title by Book Links.

Markle lives in New Zealand with her husband, photographer Skip Jeffry.

Check out some of Markle's other books and her blog where you can learn more about what projects she is working on now.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Grandpa Green by Lane Smith

Good day dear Readers,
The Queen here with a re-post of one of my favorite books.

I was browsing through the books featured over the last couple of years and there's so many wonderful titles. So you may see a few repeats over the next few weeks. Especially my most favorites, which Grandpa Green by Lane Smith is one of them.

Oh, and I added a couple of new ideas to the Activity Arena. Check it out.

Happy Reading!
The Queen

Did you know, children who read well become more successful?  
Years of research has proven that children who read at grade level are more successful in school and in life than students who read behind grade level. Reading is a key skill for performing well in school and enjoying more career choices. Source: Read and Rise, National Urban League.

With that said, I have another fabulous book for young children, a read-a-loud with beautiful illustrations that should be studied, discussed and enjoyed over and over. 

Today's Library choice is Grandpa Green by Lane Smith

Product Details

  • Reading level: Ages 5 and up
  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Roaring Brook Press (August 30, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1596436077 Review
Product Description
From the creator of the national bestseller It's a Book comes a timeless story of family history, legacy, and love.
Grandpa Green wasn't always a gardener. He was a farmboy and a kid with chickenpox and a soldier and, most of all, an artist. In this captivating new picture book, readers follow Grandpa Green's great-grandson into a garden he created, a fantastic world where memories are handed down in the fanciful shapes of topiary trees and imagination recreates things forgotten.
In his most enigmatic and beautiful work to date, Lane Smith explores aging, memory, and the bonds of family history and love; by turns touching and whimsical, it's a stunning picture book that parents and grandparents will be sharing with children for years to come.

Activity Adventures:

Remembering A Special Life:
Chronicle someone's life. It can be a family member such as a grandparent, a friend or even someone you admire.

Where did they start? Find one or two interesting facts about when they were a child. Did something happen in Middle or High school that was significant? When were they married? Or what did the do after graduation? Use the book to ask questions about this special person.

Grandpa Green loved gardening, so the writer used garden scenes to illustrate his life. What special trait or hobby can you use to illustrate your special person's story? Do they love knitting? Perhaps yarn can be used. Or a mechanic? Perhaps scraps of nuts and bolts can be used to put together a scene from their life story. Use your imagination and see what you can come up with. Simple drawings or colleges will work too.

Something New!
It's Spring and a perfect time to go out and try your hand at pruning bushes in your own yard. Do you have any ornamental bushes in your yard? Parents and children can work together trying to shape a bush into a figure. Don't fret if it doesn't work out! The bush will grow back, right? Give it a try, have some fun. You might also consider purchasing a small bush from the plant store and playing with it. When finished, put it in the ground.

Collect flowers and leaves and create natures pictures on a piece of paper. Use your imagination and see what you can come up with.

Author's Arena

Lane Smith has written and illustrated a bunch of stuff, including It’s a Book; John, Paul, George & Ben and Madam President. His titles with Jon Scieszka have included the Caldecott Honor-winner The Stinky Cheese Man; The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs; Math Curse; and Science Verse. Lane's other high profile titles include Hooray for Diffendoofer Day! by Dr. Seuss and Jack Prelutsky; The Very Persistent Gappers of Frip by George Saunders; Big Plans by Bob Shea; and James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl. In 1996 Lane served as Conceptual Designer on the Disney film version of James and the Giant Peach. Lane also wrote and illustrated the retro, cult favorites, The Happy Hocky Family and The Happy Hocky Family Moves to the Country. Like the Hocky family, he and book designer Molly Leach live in a little town in the country.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

How Shall We Love by Precarious Yates

Good day, dear Readers,
Today I have a YA book for you, something challenging and thought provoking. How Shall We Love by Precarious Yates. I have to admit, this book gripped me fairly early on and I had to keep reading till the end. So yes, prepare to hole yourself up somewhere away from distractions if you pick this book. You can find below what the book is about. As usual, I rarely offer activity ideas for Teen or YA books, unless the author has created discussion sheets or something to go along with their books.

There's a lot to talk about from this book. I'd encourage parents to read this with their teens. Some of the issues tapped into are Homosexuality, Molestation, Religions, Home Schooling, Parenting, Divorce... Yep, some heavy stuff. But Ms Yates brings us through beautifully, in a touching story that will stick with you for awhile.

I highly recommend this to everyone. There are no bad language issues. Sex is mentioned, but the reader isn't taken there. And I loved the surprise meeting of a well-loved world changer.

Happy Reading,
The Queen

Title: How Shall We Love
Author: Precarious Yates

Book Information:

Print Length: 317 pages
Page Numbers Source ISBN: 148265041X
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
Language: English

Book Summary: 
I’m what you’d call a hyper-intellectual. I love to learn more than most kids love to play. Then the divorce messes everything up.
In spite of my parents, I get my philosophy about love from a grungy and homeless businessman.
A famous nun gives me life-altering advice about how to practice this love.
And what about all these feelings I have for the skater punk down the street? Why won’t this amazing looking guy date?
An ever fracturing relationship with Shepherd, my father, may put an end to all my visits with Reuel.
And if Reuel learns the truth about my dad, he’ll stop hanging out with me for sure.
How will I ever live my philosophy if I have this many secrets?
In the midst of life’s mess, how shall we love?

Author's Arena
Precarious Yates lives in Texas with husband, daughter, dogs, chickens, rabbit, lizard and by the time you read this some other exotic creature her husband or daughter has brought home. She had studied the plight of and worked toward the abolition of modern slavery for over a decade before sitting down to write Revelation Special Ops. She was further inspired by the work of her sister-in-law, who helped to found Love146, an organization that works to raise awareness about human trafficking and builds safe homes in vulnerable regions. Yates spent several years overseas as a missionary in Ireland, and also did missions work in India and the Philippines. Her passion for literature has become her means of further educating young adults of the realities of modern slavery, while producing hope through the power of Christ Jesus in us.

You can learn more about Ms. Yates and about the issues discussed in this novel by visiting

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

International Children's Book Day

Dear Reader Friends,
The Queen here with an announcement. Today, April 2, 2013, has been designated as the International Children's Book Day. Here's a bit of information I picked up from a couple of sites.

According to National Awareness Days
April the 2nd was chosen to mark this day for young literature lovers as it's the same date as Hans Christian Andersen's birthday, the author of many famous children's stories like The Little Mermaid and The Ugly Duckling.

Organized by the International Board on Books For Young People, or IBBY, the aim is to promote books and reading to young people. IBBY was founded in Zurich, Switzerland in 1953 and today there are 70 National Sections from all parts of the world. 

Think of it, people all around the world are participating. How about you?

What can you do? Simple. First off, talk about what today is and why reading is important.

If your not sure why reading is beneficial for both children and adults, check out this list of !0 reasons. 

Are you dealing with reluctant readers? Here's some tips from Reading is Fundamental that will help you understand what's going on behind their reluctance, and steps you can take to help.

Next, go get some books! Invite friends over for a book party. Dress up as your favorite book character. Act out scenes from your favorite books. Let children create their own costumes or mask. Whatever you do, make it fun. Extend the story beyond the pages and show children how books enhance our lives. 

Lacking on ideas? Here's some places you can visit which offer programs, lesson plans and activities. 

Spreading the joy of books around the world is easy and doable.
Just check out USBBY’s blog for easy-to-replicate programs for readers, writers, teachers and parents.

Reading is Fundamental is a great source for encouraging children to read.

Dianne de Las Cases is a storyteller and author and promoter of helping children love stories. There's all kinds of information and fun stuff on her site.

This is also a great day for encouraging children to write their own stories. Check out Teaching Authors for tips on helping children write.

Happy International Children's Book Day! I do hope you'll find a wonderful story to fall into today. 

Happy Reading,
The Queen