Power Up! A Visual Exploration of Energy


Cover image – Courtesy of Annick Press

Power Up! A Visual Exploration of Energy

•    Targeted Audience: Upper Elementary, Middle School (Ages 9-12)
•    Genre: Non-Fiction, Science
•    Author: Shaker Paleja
•    Illustrator: Glenda Tse
•    Publisher: Annick Press
•    Publication Date: April 7, 2015
•    Binding: Paperback
•    Dimensions: 8″ x 10″
•    Printing: Full Color
•    Length:56 Pages
•    Retail: $12.95
•    ISBN: 978-1554517275

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“You can use up things like wind and water, because they’re naturally replenished or renewable. Different technologies can convert these natural types of energy into forms we can use.”

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© Copyright – Image courtesy of Annick Press

Energy – Past, Present & Future

We rely upon energy day in and out, but how often do we think about where that energy comes from or how it even works? Through colorful diagrams, charts and other illustrations, fascinating facts and figures, Power Up! teaches middle readers the basics of energy – its past, present and future. Learn about the history of energy, renewable (solar, wind, hydro, biomass, geothermal) and non-renewable (oil, coal, natural gas) sources of energy as well as new energy sources. Facts about the climate effects from energy sources are discussed as are ways we can all be more energy efficient ourselves.

“Greenhouse gases trap heat in the earth’s atmosphere, making the planet hotter. As emissions increase, this causes changes to our climate – the pattern of weather over time.”

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© Copyright – Image courtesy of Annick Press

Easy to Understand, Fascinating to Learn

Author Shaker Paleja has taken a complicated subject and has broken it down into manageable, understandable segments. By showing through illustrations, what the well-written text is explaining, middle readers can truly grasp these complex concepts. And some of these facts are astounding – like how much oil the US consumes and the fact that we as a nation produce the highest CO2 emissions per person in the world. By understanding the basic types of energy and how these sources affect our planet, children can become a part of the solution rather than ignore a problem they simply don’t understand.

“Coal produces 40% of the world’s electricity- and almost 40% of global CO2 emissions! That’s why many countries are trying to replace electricity from coal with cleaner alternatives.”

Why You Should Buy This Book

Screen Shot 2015-03-18 at 7.57.21 PMYou’ll be hard pressed to find another book as good as Power Up! on this subject for middle readers. It encourages readers to start thinking about how important the complex subject of energy truly is and starts them questioning what they thought they knew about it – or if they even knew anything at all on the subject. We’ve got to educate our children on global issues so they become aware and concerned and are driven to take action. Children today are our scientists of tomorrow. I learned a great deal from this book myself, and just the Light Bulb Comparison Study alone has me taking inventory of the bulbs we use in our house.

© Copyright – Image courtesy of Annick Press

About the Author

1426707792Shaker Paleja is an actor and writer who has performed in theaters across North America, and appeared on numerous film & TV shows. Some credits include: Gracepoint; Sanctuary; Arrow; Stargate SG-1; Battlestar Galactica; Smallville; The Day the Earth Stood Still; Elegy. The opening chapter of his novel, An Extraordinary Destiny, was published last year in the Dalhousie Review. The novel is mostly set in Bombay, India, where he was born, before moving to Canada at a young age. Shaker also authored an infographic non-fiction title, Native Americans: A Visual Exploration (2014) for Annick Press. The book was selected by The White Ravens catalog in Germany as one of four notable Canadian children’s books. He lives in Vancouver with his wife and five-year-old daughter with whom he enjoys reading books.

 About the Illustrator

d6ee355007357.54ed19a7c8f6eGlenda Tse holds a BA in Illustration from Sheridan College. Glenda says, ” My diverse portfolio of creative work combines my strong passion for illustration and design, with the use of both traditional and digital media. I seek inspiration from animals, nature, daily experiences, and the psychology of the human mind. Though I specialize in illustration, my focus has developed further to include hand-lettering and typography, as used in many of my recent works.” Glenda lives in Toronto with her husky, Myla.

Celebrating 10 Years of Stink Moody With a Three Book Giveaway!

Stink10We’re celebrating the 10-year Anniversary of Stink Moody with Candlewick Press!

Candlewick press has reprinted two previous Stink Moody titles in paperback form and has published a new hard cover title, and today we are giving away a copy of all three of these books to one lucky winner. There’s a brand new, interactive Stink Moody website too, that will entertain readers for hours. There’s a heck of a lot to celebrate here, so let’s get going!

Scroll to the bottom for giveaway rules.

STINK Logo used with by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA.

“I Stink, therefore I am.”

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In case you are unfamiliar with Stink Moody, first came the incredibly popular Judy Moody series. Stink is Judy’s younger brother, and he felt he deserved a series all of his own. . .

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Book #1


STINK & THE SHARK SLEEPOVER. Text copyright © 2015 by Megan McDonald and illustrations copyright by Peter H. Reynolds, Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA.

Stink and the Shark Sleepover

•    Targeted Audience: Lower & Upper Elementary (Ages 6-9)
•    Genre: Fiction, Early Chapter Book
•    Author: Megan McDonald
•    Illustrator: Peter H. Reynolds
•    Publisher: Candlewick Press
•    Publication Date: (Reprint) February 10, 2015
•    Binding: Paperback
•    Dimensions: 5.5″ x .7″
•    Printing: Black & White
•    Length: 176 Pages
•    Retail: $4.99
•    ISBN: 978-0763676780

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STINK & THE SHARK SLEEPOVER. Text copyright © 2015 by Megan McDonald and illustrations copyright by Peter H. Reynolds, Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA.

Candlewick Press Synopsis

In this title in the Stink Series, when Stink and his friends get to sleep over at the aquarium, it’s a science freak’s dream come true. Stink loves the sea-creature scavenger hunt, the jellyfish light show, and the sand tiger sharks with razor-sharp teeth. But after some spooky stories around the virtual campfire, can he manage to fall asleep thinking about Bloody Mary, the mutant Frankensquid that’s supposed to be on the prowl?

Book #2


JUDY MOODY & STINK: THE BIG BAD BLACKOUT. Text copyright © 2015 by Megan McDonald and illustrations copyright by Peter H. Reynolds, Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA.

Judy Moody & Stick: The Big Blackout

•    Targeted Audience: Lower & Upper Elementary (Ages 6-9)
•    Genre: Fiction, Early Chapter Book
•    Author: Megan McDonald
•    Illustrator: Peter H. Reynolds
•    Publisher: Candlewick Press
•    Publication Date: (Reprint) March 10, 2015
•    Binding: Paperback
•    Dimensions: 5.5″ x .7″
•    Printing: Full Color
•    Length: 144 Pages
•    Retail: $6.99
•    ISBN: 978-0763676650


JUDY MOODY & STINK: THE BIG BAD BLACKOUT. Text copyright © 2015 by Megan McDonald and illustrations copyright by Peter H. Reynolds, Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA.

Candlewick Press Synopsis

The whole Moody family hunkers down with beans and batteries, ready to wait out a storm. But along with massive rain and strong winds that knock the lights O-U-T out, Hurricane Elmer throws down ghosts, squirrels, and aliens. Spooky! But musical board games, s’mores, and some good old-fashioned storytelling turn bad weather into a happy memory in Judy and Stink’s third full-color adventure.

Book #3


STINK MOODY IN MASTER OF DISASTER. Text copyright © 2015 by Megan McDonald and illustrations copyright by Edwin Madrid, Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA.

Stink Moody in Maser of Disaster

•   Targeted Audience: Lower & Upper Elementary (Ages 6-9)
•    Genre: Fiction, Early Chapter Book
•    Author: Megan McDonald
•    Illustrator: Erwin Madrid
•    Publisher: Candlewick Press
•    Publication Date: March 10, 2015
•    Binding: Paperback
•    Dimensions: 6″ x  9″
•    Printing: Full Color
•    Length: 64 Pages
•    Retail: $12.99
•    ISBN: 978-0763674472


STINK MOODY IN MASTER OF DISASTER. Text copyright © 2015 by Megan McDonald and illustrations copyright by Edwin Madrid, Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA.

Candlewick Press Synopsis

Look up! Look out! A comet is coming, a comet is coming in this brand new Judy Moody and Friends title! Stink is camped out in the backyard with his sister, Judy, and he can’t wait to lay eyes on P/2015 OZ4, also known as the Sherman-Holm Comet. But then news of an asteroid hitting Russia reaches Stink, and suddenly he’s feeling squeamish (and squash-ish) about close encounters of the outer-space kind. Will donning an aluminum-foil cape and building a bunker in the basement help keep him safe? Can this fearless Asteroid Boy save Earth from disaster?

What Stink Moody Teaches

Stink is a pretty brainy third grade kid and Judy Moody’s younger brother. He is always seeking the truth on just about every subject imaginable – like science and history –  and it’s this knowledge that saves the day. This kid reads the encyclopedia just for fun. The facts in the books are all true too!

Stink books are not only entertaining to read, but kids ages 6-9 can hone their independent reading skills with these action-packed stories. There’s so much dialog that the basics of grammar are part of the learning experience, and before long readers get to know the proper punctuation for quotations! YAHOO!!

Children not only get hooked on the Stink Series, but these stories inspire them to want to read more books on a variety of different subjects. Teachers love using Stink in their classrooms too, and now with a new, interactive website, including teachers’ guides, there are so many ways to use these books as teaching tools. Kids can even design their own comics.

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© Copyright – Image courtesy of Candlewick Press

Why not collect every book in the series?

Why You Should Buy Stink Moody Books

Judy and Stink Moody are so popular, with millions of copies sold, because the books are hilarious and Megan McDonald has done an amazing job developing the characters. They’re super smart, but yet they’re kids through and through, and readers can associate with them on so many levels. The dialog in every book is engaging, and that – along with some cool made up words – keeps the reader’s attention. Peter Reynolds’ and Edwin Madrid’s eye-catching illustrations are super entertaining and help make the smooth transition from picture books to chapter books without a hitch. Megan McDonald writes with wit and humor in a manner young readers can understand – yet they are challenged and never patronized – and the stories aren’t predictable either. There’s nothing like a young reader who can’t wait for the next book in a favorite series to come out!

Happy Ten Year Anniversary Stink!

About the Author

4397.MMcDonald.bst.med.1 Megan McDonald has penned over 60 books for children and young readers, including the critically acclaimed Judy Moody series. These hilarious books have won numerous awards, ranging from a Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year and an International Reading Association Children’s Choice to the first-ever Beverly Cleary Children’s Choice Award. “Judy has taken on a life of her own,” the author notes, with millions of Judy Moody books in print worldwide. Recently, Megan McDonald has recalled some of her own childhood by writing about the warmth, humor — and squabbles — of three spunky sisters in The Sisters Club trilogy, wrapping up with Cloudy With a Chance of Boys. Megan McDonald lives and writes in northern California with her husband, a frequent collaborator.

About the Illustrators


Peter H. Reynolds and his twin brother, Paul (now his business partner) made their first foray into publishing at the age of seven, when they began producing their own newspapers and comic books on their father’s photocopier.  Peter recalls that when he was approached about illustrating Megan McDonald’s Judy Moody, he jumped at the chance. For one thing, the feisty, independent Judy reminded him of his own daughter, who was eleven years old at the time. But it was Judy’s younger “bother”, Stink, who would strike the greatest chord within Peter.  Founder of the award-winning educational media developer and publisher FableVision, where he produces award-winning children’s broadcast programming, educational videos, and multimedia applications, Peter H. Reynolds was recently honored by Verizon as Literacy Leader of the Year. The author-illustrator lives with his family in Dedham, Massachusetts.

team2Erwin Madrid was born in the Philippines and grew up in San Jose, California. He earned his BFA in Illustration from the Academy of Art College in San Francisco, CA. During college he worked for DreamWorks Animation on the movie, Shrek 2 and later, Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa. He has also created conceptual art for video games and is the illustrator of The Scary Places Map Book by B. G. Hennessy, and of the four other Judy Moody & Friends titles. Erwin Madrid lives in California.

Check out the NEW Interactive Stink Moody website!

 Enter for a Chance to Win Three Stink Moody Titles!

  1. Enter the giveaway by Liking our Facebook Page (if you haven’t already).
  2. Leave a valid comment on this post on this website.
  3. Optional: Receive 10 extra entries by sharing this giveaway from our Facebook Page. Go to the Facebook page and from there, click share on the link to this giveaway. If you share it from your own Facebook status and not from the Smart Book Facebook Page, I will not know about it, so it will not count.
  4. There will be one winner for this Stink Giveaway selected at random, residing in the USA. No books will be mailed outside the USA.
  5. This giveaway starts on Monday, March 16, 2015 and ends on Monday, March 30, 2015 at 4 pm.
  6. The winner will be notified via email on March 30, 2015.
  7. Book will be mailed by March 31, 2015.
  8. Follow us on our Facebook Page to learn about more giveaways and read reviews and interviews.

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Edward Hopper Paints His World and He Will Paint Yours Too


Cover – Courtesy of Henry Holt Publishing

 Edward Hopper Paints His World

•        Targeted Audience: Lower and Upper Elementary School (Ages 5-10)
•        Genre: Nonfiction
•        Author: Robert Burleigh
•        Illustrator: Wendell Minor
•        Publisher: Henry Holt
•        Publication Date: August 19, 2014
•        Binding: Hard Cover
•        Dimensions: 10″ x 10″
•        Printing: Full Color
•        Length: 40 Pages
•        Retail: $16.99
•        ISBN: 978-0805087529

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“America was changing, and Edward was eager to make art in a fresh, new American way. There was one big problem. No one wanted to buy his paintings. Still, he didn’t give up.”

Note: All images on this post are © copyrighted material and are not to be used without permission from the publisher, Henry Holt.

EH spread 28-29I’ve always admired the work of Edward Hopper, and then while visiting Boston in 2007, I happened upon an extraordinary Hopper Exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts. I was so enamored with his work, and how he used shadow and light, that I couldn’t tear myself away from the exhibit until I was literally asked to leave at closing time. I left that day with a beautiful box of Hopper note cards, which I use sparingly, and only people I truly respect and admire have ever received a note from me on one of those treasured cards.

The Story of One of America’s Greatest Artists for the Youngest Readers

Lately I find myself saying, more and more, how wonderful it is that there are new EH spread 4-5biographies popping up in picture book form. Traditionally, biographies have been available only for older children and adults, but that’s all changing. Edward Hopper Paints His World is a gloriously sophisticated picture book that takes illustration to a level of soaring heights. Veteran author Robert Burleigh knows how to write for a very young audience, and does so in such a way that children can  understand what he’s saying and at the same time be challenged intellectually. (Very young children will want to read and discuss the book and vocabulary words with their parents.) Pairing the clever text with the paintings by Wendell Minor results in the most beautiful picture book I’ve ever seen – and I’ve seen many.

A Man of Courage, Resilience and Determination

EH studio artEdward Hopper wrote, “Edward Hopper Would Be Artist” on his colored pencil box when he was a small boy. He was a quiet and gentle child who enjoyed spending time outdoors painting the natural beauty around him. As an adult, he set out for New York City to study art. He worked tirelessly at his craft to become the painter he longed to be. He even traveled to Paris to visit art museums and broaden his artistic horizons. Back in New York he worked  as an illustrator for magazines to pay his bills, but he just wanted to paint. The problem is that no one wanted to buy his paintings. Edward Hopper Paints His World is the story of how this quiet determined artist persevered and dedicated his life to painting what he saw and what was not commonly painted by other artists.

Illustrations Worthy of Hopper’s Original Art

EH Flatiron BuildingEH 3 Wash Sq North art

If you’ve had the chance to read my interview with Wendell Minor, then you know the caliber of his artistic abilities and his admirable integrity. Wendell has taken the artistic genius of Edward Hopper and put his own mark on it through the many paintings he completed to illustrate this book. His use of color is astounding. Wendell explains in the back of the book how Edward Hopper influenced him as a EH Sunday Morningpainter from the start of his own career in his use of light, color and composition. In addition to many magnificent full-color paintings in the book, there are  also gray scale sketches, giving the reader a varied view of the world of Hopper as a celebrated artist. Also in the back of the book are images of four of Hopper’s original paintings, so children can compare and contrast them to Wendell’s illustrations. There simply aren’t enough adjectives to describe the magnificence of Wendell’s work here.

What This Book TeachesIllustrator Hopper

Edward Hopper Paints His World teaches children about the long road Edward Hopper took to success, and how he achieved that on his own terms, painting exactly what he saw in the exact way he wanted to paint his subjects. Children will learn that passion, patience, determination and persistence are commendable and necessary qualities for achieving great things and that people who are talented often don’t always get noticed right away. They will discover the importance of Hopper’s extraordinary work and perhaps embrace their own uniqueness. Robert Burleigh explains more about Edward Hopper’s life in the back of the book and also includes some notable Hopper quotes. I love books like this that engage readers so much that they can’t wait to do more research on their own.

Why You Should Buy This Book

EH at Good Harbor Beach art Edward Hopper Paints His World is an incredibly inspiring true life story. All children can appreciate beauty, and Hopper’s work and the way this author and illustrator depict it, is quite simply beautiful. You never know what will ignite a child’s interest, and if you ask any artist – including Wendell Minor – he or she will tell you the passion was there at a very young age.  Edward Hopper is undoubtedly one of the most outstanding biographies for young readers. It is to be read, studied, admired and kept safe in your home or school library. I will not be parting with my copy and I am certain, once you and your child read this book, you too will want to treasure it for a lifetime.

Buy Edward Hopper Paints His World here.


About the Author

bobBurleighRobert Burleigh earned his undergraduate degree from DePauw University and his Master’s in Humanities from the University of Chicago. He has written more than 40 picture books on many different subjects, including several illustrated by Wendell Minor – Abraham Lincoln Comes Home, If You Spent a Day with Thoreau at Walden Pond and most recently, Trapped! A Whale’s Rescue. In addition to writing, Robert paints under the name of Burleigh Kronquist. He splits his time between Grand Haven, Michigan, and Chicago, Illinois.

About the Illustrator

Wendell Minor is the illustrator of over fifty children’s books including The Last Train, OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADaylight Starlight Wildlife, Sequoia, How Big Could Your Pumpkin Grow and most recently, Trapped! A Whale’s Rescue. He works in oil, acrylic, gouache and watercolors in his beautiful studio in rural Connecticut. His interest in nature and the environment has taken him and his wife, Florence from the east coast to the west coast and everywhere in between. Wendell’s outstanding artwork has been exhibited in universities and museums and has been acquired by private collectors. An exhibition of 25 years of his children’s book art, entitled, “Wendell Minor’s America,” was on display at the Norman Rockwell Museum from November 2013 through May, 2014.

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Read my in-depth interview with Wendell Minor
Read my
review of Sequoia

Further Learning

  1. Download the Teacher’s Guide for this title.
  2. Visit the Edward Hopper House.
  3. Find an art museum housing Hopper paintings or possibly a traveling exhibit.

Birdology: A Beautiful Way for Budding Ornithologists to Connect With Nature


Birdology: 30 Activities and Observations for Exploring the World of Birds

•        Targeted Audience: Upper Elementary & Middle School (Ages 7-12)
•        Genre: Nonfiction Science Middle Reader
•        Author: Monica Russo
•        Photographer: Kevin Byron
•        Publisher: Chicago Review Press
•        Publication Date: January 1, 2015
•        Binding: Paperback
•        Dimensions: 11″ x 8.5″
•        Printing: Full Color
•        Length: 128 Pages
•        Retail: $15.95
•        ISBN: 978-1613749494


© Copyright – Image from Birdology with permission from Chicago Review Press

Like all other Chicago Review Press titles, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on Birdology. My husband, daughter and I are all enthusiastic birdwatchers, since we live in Miami and are avid hikers and campers and often explore the Florida Everglades. We Floridians are treated to some of the most spectacular birds that are endemic to the tropics in the southern part of the state and others that migrate here to keep warm during the winter months. I’ve shared a few of my own photos of birds at he end of this post.

DSC_0008Get Outside and Explore

Birdology introduces middle readers to art of birdwatching, giving them a well-rounded lesson in the science of birds and encouraging them to go outdoors and explore. This is not a field guide per se, rather it is a book that fosters independent study of all things bird related. Essentially, author Monica Russo gives readers the tools they need to observe birds in their natural habitats and understand what it is they are seeing. Birdology enlightens and inspires middle readers to become amateur ornithologists and expand their love of birds and respect for the environment.

© Copyright – Image from Birdology with permission from Chicago Review Press

Everything You Need to Get Started Observing and Studying Birds


© Copyright – Image from Birdology with permission from Chicago Review Press

The book is divided into eight chapters covering everything from the anatomy of birds and their markings, to their locations, habitats, diets and migrations. Russo’s text is carefully written for the age of the audience, making it easy to comprehend. I’m impressed with the way she takes care to explain the science of birds without bogging the reader down and without boring them either. She gives explicit directions about what to look for when observing, and uses examples of different species to demonstrate the specifics of what she is talking about. She uncovers many fascinating facts that keep readers engaged and eager to learn more.

30 Activities and Observations and Many Outstanding Photographs

DSC_0006There are 30 activities and observations included, and honestly, every single one of them appeal to me. They each fall under one of three headings: 1) Try This 2) Look For or 3) Listen For. For example, Try This: Start a Bird Journal, Listen For: a Peakcock’s Scream and Look For: How Birds Drink and Bathe. Other activities include Starting a Bird Sketchbook, Observing the Way Birds Walk and Hop, Making an Orange Feeder for Orioles, Looking for V-Shaped Flocks and more.

Kevin Byron’s photographs offer some close ups with incredible detail, adding depth and interest to the learning experience. It must have taken a great deal of time, patience and photographic skills to get the job done. It’s almost as if the birds knew they were being photographed and posed for him!  Monica Russo adds even more to the mix with her drawings of birds and activity instructions.

What This Book Teaches


© Copyright – Image from Birdology with permission from Chicago Review Press

Where do I begin? Birdology is an incredible teaching tool for so may reasons. It encourages middle readers to think like scientists – to sit quietly and observe, to notice differences and similarities among species, to use their eyes and ears as tools and to take notes about what they observe. It teaches readers that they must get outside to explore the natural world around them, to experience wildlife in person, using just their natural senses as tools. It inspires them to do what they can to protect the natural habitats of birds and learn about what they need to survive and thrive. There’s a terrific Glossary in the back of the book, a List of Resources, including wildlife organizations and a Teacher’s Guide too.

Why You Should Buy This Book

Birdology reminds us all that nature is right outside our doors, just waiting to be explored. In order to get children interested in science, they must spend time discovering the earth’s natural wonders. There are so many fascinating lessons about birds to be learned, and Monica Russo guides readers through that learning process in such a way that they can lead themselves to a better understanding of the birds common to their own cities and states. The book is fascinating to read, the photographs are wonderful to look at and Birdology does a delightful job of turning middle readers into young ornithologists and protectors of planet earth.

About the Author and Photographer


Monica Russo is the author and illustrator of several children’s nature books, including Amazing Insects, Chilly Creatures, Tree Almanac, and Watching Nature. She wrote the “Nature Notes” column for southern Maine’s Sun Chronicle for many years. She is an experienced birdwatcher and a founding member of the Maine Entomological Society.

Kevin Byron is a photographer who specializes in nature, wildlife, and ship images and whose work has appeared in many books, magazines, and newspapers including Watching Nature, BirdScope Magazine, the New York Times, and the Kennebunk Post. Both Monica and  Kevin live in Kennebunk, Maine.

Further Learning

  1. Utilize the Teacher’s Guide in the back of the book.
  2. Learn more about birds with National Geographic.
  3. Get an Audubon Field Guide to North American Birds.
  4. Check out many more titles in the Chicago Review Press Young Naturalist Series.

Some Photographs of Birds I’ve taken:

DSC_0261© Copyright by Debbie Glade – Image of a Burrowing Owl taken in a field near a high school in my South Florida neighborhood


© Copyright by Debbie Glade – Image of an Egret in flight taken along Loop Road in the Florida Everglades


© Copyright by Debbie Glade – Close up image of a cormorant taken on the Anhinga Trail near the Flamingo Entrance to National Everglades Park


© Copyright by Debbie Glade – Image of a Purple Gallinule at Shark Valley in the Florida Everglades

If you love this book, you should also check out:


Stinky Cecil in Operation Pond Rescue: Comic Book Giveaway

I’m giving away this adorable comic book! Simply leave a comment on this post. I’ll email the winner and announce it on my Facebook Page on Monday, March 2, 2015 at 5 pm. The winner must email me his or her mailing address within 24 hours or a new winner will be selected.


Stinky Cecil in Operation Pond Rescue

•        Targeted Audience: Upper Elementary, Middle School (Ages 7-12)
•        Genre: Comic Book for Middle Readers
•        Author/Illustrator: Paige Braddock
•        Publisher: Andrews McMeel
•        Publication Date: February 3, 2015
•        Binding: Paperback
•        Dimensions: 6″ x 9″
•        Printing: Full Color
•        Length: 128 Pages
•        Retail: $9.99
•        ISBN: 978-1449457112

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A Toad, Some Unlikely Friends and a Pond in Trouble

5fc8617bce1283976b42dfcd6d9f470dMeet Cecil, a green toad with a yellow belly and orange spots. He lives in a pond behind Sonny’s Trailer Villa. Among his friends are Sprout the frog, Jeremy the worm, Rayray the lizard and Jeff the hamster. The buddies love to have fun together – like competing in the Pond Splash Championship. One day Cecil discovers a construction team heading straight for the pond. Oh no! What will these animals do without their habitat?  So the team puts their heads together to try to figure out how to put a stop to the construction, and hilarious antics ensue. What can these little critters do to stop a construction crew? Hint: It involves a hawk, a fly some rocks and a whole lot of luck!

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Fantastic Illustrations and a Most Entertaining (and Educational) Read

There’s something about the vibrant, saturated colors in Stinky Cecil that stand out among other comics. The characters are cute and lovable and each one is unique. There’s a lot of action and silliness and giggles. I laughed out loud a few times myself while reading it. What I love about this comic is that it has a really good message. The animals are desperately trying to preserve their habitat and prevent it from being destroyed by development. They use teamwork and are so determined, they don’t give up until they get what they want! This teaches readers about cooperation, motivation and environmental awareness.

“He doesn’t know anything about the inner workings of a combustion engine.”

“I don’t know anything about the inner workings of cheese puffs either but I chew those.”

Why Your Kids Will Love This Book9cd343a1f8405922b990ac49ff590027

It’s really simple. If it’s fun, kids will want to read more. (Hey, adults want to read fun things too!) Why not be thoroughly entertained while reading clever words and admiring beautiful  pictures? Before you start to criticize comic books, read one yourself. There’s a lot of wit involved. You’ll appreciate author Paige Braddock’s clever writing and how she introduces some terrific new vocab words to readers. With this story line, kids learn about animals, the environment, cooperation, problem solving and more. Plus in the back of the book are some facts about toads and earthworms accompanied by some pretty funny illustrations.  Stinky Cecil is an ideal segway to reading nonfiction books about animal habitats.

About the Author

Paige_Braddock_Wikipedia_profile_picPaige Braddock is the Creative Director at Charles M. Schulz Creative Associates.  Braddock had the opportunity to train under Schulz, her childhood hero, prior to his retirement. She has illustrated several “Peanuts” children’s books, the Snoopy U.S. postage stamp issued in 2001, and the Newsweek cover featuring Snoopy following Schulz’s death in 2000.

Further Learning

  1. Find a book about ponds to learn about new plants, animals and the pond ecosystem.
  2. Learn more about preserving our natural habitats.
  3. Encourage your children to create their own comics!

Leave a comment on this post to enter the giveaway.