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seahorse facts for kids, seahorse books for kids

Seahorse Facts: Seahorse Fathers Do Get Pregnant!

Do you think seahorses are magical too? There is something about having a head like a horse, a tail like a monkey, and skin color that can change like a chameleon. It doesn’t surprise me that Poseidon is the father of horses in Greek Mythology!

Seahorse Facts

Did you know that father seahorses hatch the eggs?! Male seahorses have special pouches for the eggs and part of the courtship routine to win a female includes inflating their pouch by pumping water through it to display its emptiness in order to entice the female to deposit her eggs in it.

The eggs develop in the pouch for two to six weeks, depending on species and temperature, until they become fully formed juveniles called fry. When the male seahorse is ready to give birth, he has muscular contractions to expel the young from the pouch. I wonder if the contractions are as painful as human ones? Read more…

runaways in children's books

Top 10: Runaways in Children’s Books

The joy of children’s books is reading about things, and thereby living vicariously, without actually having to experience the discomforts or stress of it. Herein lies the beauty of runaways in children’s books. I remember two runaway chapter books that made me jealous for such a wonderful adventure. They bookend my list.

And these runaway kids were not even angry at their parents. It’s these independent adventures that fascinated me as a child reading these chapter books. My Side of the Mountain made me want to live in a burned out gigantic tree, subsiding by foraging off the land with a pet falcon, no less. From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler made art museums suddenly interesting.

Not all runaways are so lucky. Some run from domestic violence; others can’t control their violent tantrums. Either way, these runaway experiences are more traumatic.

Do you have a favorite children’s book with a runaway? Please share!


10. My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George

Sam Gribley just wanted adventure so he took off for his grandfather’s abandoned land in the Catskill Mountains, thus starting the greatest runaway adventure in children’s literature! He made it sound so enticing that other envious readers besides myself were moved to action. Robert F. Kennedy Jr. was also affected:

“…I thought the Craigheads might be the only family in America that was having more fun than the Kennedys. Obssessed with falcons as I was from birth, I read My Side of the Mountain in 1964. … I entered Millbrook upstate New York drawn by its informal falconry program….My experience as a young falconer accounts in large part for my lifelong devotion to raptors and my continued interest in natural history….My years as a falconer helped drive my own career choice as an environmental lawyer and advocate. The knowledge and experience I acquired from falconers have marked my life and made me a far more effective advocate on nature’s behalf.”

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.

[chapter book, ages 8 and up]

Read more…

Books for Kids Set in the Appalachia

Top 10: Books for Kids Set in Appalachia

I remember when I received my first letter from my soon-to-be college roommate. I looked at the envelope and tried to fathom where she was from. WV. What state was WV? I had no idea. I had to look it up.

WV: her postal code state, stood for West Virginia. It was my first encounter with Appalachia. (Yes, I led a pretty sheltered childhood and did not travel much!).

I learned snippets about her region from living with her.

  • She was the hardest working person I know. Hands down. Makes me look like a total slacker. I have a feeling that people from Appalachia are like that.
  • Her father was a optomistrist and he would sell kids eyeglasses that were big enough for them to grow into. I wore glasses too (but had switched to contacts by college) and the idea of only being able to afford a single pair of glasses in a lifetime was sobering.
  • My roommate was also the most socially talented person I ever met. She could sit  down at table of a dozen awkward teens and get everyone talking without feeling like she was hogging the conversation. And no one works a room better! This is before I had even heard of social emotional intelligence and I was able to see it in person.
  • In case you were wondering, who is this roommate? She’s the person managing the U.S. budget. I think she had a tough week during the government shutdown but there is no one better to do this job!

The stories of Appalachia are often sensationalized around moonshine, clan feuding, coal mining and poverty so. While endowed with abundant natural resources, Appalachia has long struggled with and has been associated with poverty and the region itself lacks specific defining boundaries. The region defined by the Appalachian Regional Commission currently includes 420 counties and eight independent cities in 13 states, including all of West Virginia, 14 counties in New York, 52 in Pennsylvania, 32 in Ohio, 3 in Maryland, 54 in Kentucky, 25 counties and 8 cities in Virginia,29 in North Carolina, 52 in Tennessee, 6 in South Carolina, 37 in Georgia, 37 in Alabama, and 24 inMississippi.

In creating this booklist, I dedicate this to Sylvia Mathew Burwell, the Director of the White House Office of Management and Budget (my freshman college roommate).  And, of course, to everyone living in District 11.

Can you please help me out by adding your favorite books for kids set in  Appalachia? Thanks so much!

p.s. I got an assist after I tapped out at around 7 books from Carol Hurst’s excellent blog.


Best Books for Kids Set in Appalachia

10. Catch Rider by Jennifer H. Lyne

You don’t have to be a horse-y person to appreciate this gritty but uplifting chapter book. It hits on all the stress points of Appalachia: factories destroying the pristine natural environment, haves vs have-nots, and the equestrian legacy where this story unfolds.

14-year-old Sid has more natural riding ability than the rich girls who have $1000 custom boots, Equitarian horses that cost more than houses and the best trainers available. After her father, a horse trader,  dies in a car accident, she’s hoping that training and selling horses with her uncle will help put her family back together. When she takes a job at fancy barn to earn money, she comes firsthand into the fancy world of the Equitation championships and if she can pull off a good showing at Madison Square Garden, she could achieve her  ultimate dream, a show rider that can ride anything. [chapter book, ages 9 and up]

Read more…

Sponsored Fun Toy Fantasy Video

Every Child’s Dream! Sponsored Fun Toy Fantasy Video

Marnie from Carrots Are Orange pointed out that the initial message in this video that forest = boring is not a good a message for parents or kids. I agree. I wish the lead in was different. There really is no need to send a message that a field trip to the woods isn’t fun. We did a really successful book club for 3rd grade girls doing just that! And going to the woods to make stick toys is the only thing practically that keeps my little son off screens. Please rethink that Toys “R” Us.

I have to say that I was mesmerized by the joy of the kids rushing into the toy store that I bliped over the forest field trip part. Mea culpa.

When you were a kid, did you ever fantasize about being able to go to a toy store and pick out anything you want?! I did but it never happened. Toys arrived, of course, for birthdays and Christmas, but never that wild shopping fling of racing through aisles to find that perfect, extravagent toy that your parents would never get you.

There are other toy store fantasies too. Toys coming alive. And that is so wonderfully depcited in the movie Toy Story and in chapter books like The Doll People trilogy.

Read more…

Retold Fable by Caldecott Illustrator as Nearly Wordless Picture Book

I think that Jerry Pinkney is one of the finest watercolor illustrators ever to grace a children’s book. I would include Alan Say in that category as well. There is just something magical about Pinkney’s storytelling abilities when he puts brush to paper. Even as he conveys an old and well known fable, he brings his own spin to the story. I don’t want to be a spoiler but there’s a subtle surprise ending that kids seem able to easily interpret. It’s a good message for kids, particularly those who compete in sports.

I also like his wise elder message to adults, and it rings particularly true for me. Slow and steady wins the race but also remember to enjoy the journey. There are so few  words are in this gloriously illustrated practically wordless picture book set in the American Southwest, and yet he manages to convey several story threads. I guess that is why he is a Caldecott honored illustrator!

What is your favorite Jerry Pinkney book? Or your favorite watercolor children’s book illustrator? Please share!


Picture Book of the Day

The Tortoise and the Hare by Caldecott Medalist Jerry Pinkney

Pinkney says in his artist’s note, “‘Slow and steady wins the race’ was particularly meaningful in my youth, since I often struggled in school beause of dyslexia, but the moral rings truer than ever today. As the pace of our lives continues to speed up, many yearn for a less hurried approach to life. The tortoise proves that it can be wise to have a goal, but one should relish the process of getting there.” [nearly wordless picture book for ages 2 and up]

Read more…

Puritan's Pride

Refecting On One Small Change

I am grateful to Puritan’s Pride for their challenge of having me make one small change towards a healthier lifestyle as part of a compensated bloggers’ program. I used to make exercise a low priority for myself. There were too many other things that I needed to do. Doesn’t it seem that exercise goals for women often take a back seat to parenting? But for once, I made exercise a priority as a result of staring down my upcoming 50th birthday.

Nonantum Boxing Club, a small change, boxing for women, boxing for kids,Read more…

pink slime and McDonalds

I’m Sponsoring Study On Pink Slime and Autism: $3000 Research Stipend

When I was nineteen-years-old, I went to my local hospital, the Long Beach Veterans Administration, and slid my resume with a cover letter under all the doors of the doctors in hopes of getting medical research experience as a volunteer. A doctor, Dr. Larry Parker, in the Endicronology department called me and put me on one of his projects that looked at the relationship between hydrocortisone shots and bone density. It was widely believed at the time that hydrocortisone weakened the bones. My  job was to go through all the medical records of veterans who had hydrocortisone administered to them, and find out if they had ever suffered from a broken bone.

The medical records were kept in the bowels of the Long Beach VA and I spent many hours that summer in the basement reading musty records. When I finished, the data — the veterans that the hospital treated being a large sample size — was given to a statistician and crunched. My doctor wrote up the results and many, many months later the paper was published. There was, in fact, no correlation. And I was the third author of my first (and only) medical research article.

In posting on McDonalds’ use of Pink Slime which includes Ammonium Hydroxide, I realized that there is very little, if any, research on the effects of Ammonium Hydroxide as a food additive. I speculated in my post that there might be a correlation between Pink Slime and cancer or autism and now I want to offer students the same opportunity that I had as an undergraduate to find out. Read more…

Double Vision: Code Name 711 by F. T. Bradley

Books for Boys 5th Grade: Spy Chapter Book GIVEAWAY!

I’m pleased to be on the blog tour for a fun spy chapter book called Double Vision: Code Name 711 by F. T. Bradley. She wrote it with reluctant boy readers in mind, but I had trouble putting it down! Her sense of pacing is perfect. It’s a real page turner with characters you can relate to (kind of like the Percy Jackson gang).

This is the second book of a trilogy. I’m giving the first two books away along with spy gadgets! Please enter below! What is your (or your child’s) favorite spy chapter book? Anyone’s kid into spy gadgets? Please share!


Double Vision: Code Name 711 by F. T. Bradley

I’ve been reading a small pile of spy chapter books geared for boys, I think, but this one nailed it for me. It’s fast paced, packed with U. S. history, and it’s funny too! F. T. Bradley says it’s a MG spy thriller for reluctant readers but I think it will draw in readers of all kinds, reluctant or otherwise. [chapter book, ages 8 and up]

Read more…

Jellyfish, jelly fish, Monterey Bay Aquarium, will jellyfish take over the world?

Will Jellyfish Take Over the Oceans?

Will we all be eating jellyfish in the future because jellies have taken over the oceans? It’s entirely possible according to marine biologists.

In waters from the Sea of Japan (aka East Sea) to the Black Sea, jellies today are thriving as many of their marine vertebrate and invertebrate competitors are eliminated by overfishing, dead zonesand other human impacts. How have these drifters of the sea reversed millions of years of fish dominance, seemingly overnight? Huffington Post


Will Jellyfish Take Over The World?

At the Monterey Bay Aquarium, their scientists note that this has already happened. Most jelly populations are stable, but overfishing has changed the balance in the ocean, causing jelly populations to skyrocket. This has already happened on isolated occasions in several parts of the world, notably off Namibia, Africa.

When fishing boats remove too many fish, their absence leaves more uneaten plankton to feed jellies. Those well-fed jellies produce even more jellies, which eat small fish and tiny fish larvae in addition to plankton. If jellies become too numerous, fish populations may not have a chance to bounce back, even if overfishing stops. Monterey Bay Aquarium site

What keeps jellies in check? Who are jellyfish predators? Blue rockfish, molas, dogfish, anchovies, chum salmon and mackerel all eat jellies. Sea turtles, an endangered animal,  also love to eat jellyfish. Read more…