Nature Fun For Computer Kids (Oh, and me!)

I have a new way to find a morning bubble of joy. Take a look at National Geographic’s new and improved web cams. Right now I am watching a heron in Africa. Earlier I was watching, and identifying fish on a coral reef in Belize. When you can’t get out, here’s a way to feel a little nature joy and maybe even polish up your fish-watching and bird-watching skill. Oh, and there was a water buffalo? wildebeest? in that Africa one a minute ago. Thanks, Nat’l Geo!

Wild Cam Africa


Look to the side for the other wild cams you can check.

Boo–you do have to sit through a commercial first. Oh well, that is the price of free!

The Mysterious Cave Paintings of Logansport, IN

Okay, so I’ve been driving through Logansport on my way to do Purdue Univ literary conferences appearances and school visits in Lafayette, IN for the last few years. 

Every time I pass this bridge, I smile. I mean . . . who expects primitive cave-like drawings on a run down bridge in relatively rural Indiana? The whimsy of the paintings is terrific. 

Then, this week, thanks to a kind anonymous funding donor, I did a school visit at Fairview Elementary. On the way, I passed under the bridge. Aha!

Was there a connection? Yes! Chris Hess, the principal of Fairview told me the art teacher and students had made the murals 3 years ago. So, hooray for the creativity of Fairview Elementary. Your art brightened this traveling author’s trips. Public art need not be million dollar, government funded. Quirky art can brighten your day. I bet lots of other drivers have seen these paintings and wondered, too.

Mockingbird Award Nominee, Abilene, Texas

Trout Are Made of Trees and Vulture View have been nominated for the Mockingbird Award, a reading program of the Abilene Independent School District, Abilene, Texas. What a great program. Each spring they nominate books and readers district-wide vote on them.  

If you are interested in quality read aloud books, take a look a their current and past nominees. Really, it’s a choice list for anyone doing story hours or studying the read aloud form.

I. N. K. Interesting Nonfiction for Kids book blog


Montly, I participate in I.N.K., Interesting Nonfiction for Kids. This is a group blog of many leading nonfiction authors and illustrators. The posts are quite stimulating. Lots of big topics are discussed and it is a great way to get to know what is behind quality nonfiction.

I bookmark the blog and read it daily. If you want to keep up on nonfiction, you may want to do the same. Take a look:

Psst…what’s in this airstream trailer?

What do these cats know? They know someone special.

What’s in this airstream trailer? Stories that will amaze you and that will be showing up in your library someday.

One of my dear colleagues, author Carolyn Marsden, writes in this trailer. It’s in her driveway. It’s her office!

Some of her manuscripts are stored in the oven. (It does not heat up, thankfully.)

She has lots of published chapter books and novels such as Buddha’s Diamonds, Silk Umbrellas, and The Gold-Threaded Dress.

Check out her books at your library!

South Carolina Inspiration

My high school teacher, Lynn Kobelt, is still inspiring young writers in South Carolina. Here is the creative writing book she prepared with middle school students in Greenville.

She hasn’t aged and I haven’t been to high school in…uh…a while!

Harrison Elementary School Is a Highlight!


One of the highlights of my life as an author was my visit to Harrison School in South Bend, Indiana in March, 2008. Wow! It was a celebration.

The creative educators of this school had taken every opportunity to prepare the students with art activities, writing activities, geography exploration, critical thinking work, and math. 

This is a public school in which many students do not have the economic advantages of other student bodies. But they sure have excellent staff and teachers who form a school that challenges and lifts all the students to excellence. It was clear in the way the students interacted with me. They were creative thinkers and were ready to brainstorm and embrace new concepts. They had critically read my books and were ready with insightful questions.

Each classroom did activities. I took lots of photos; many are sprinkled throughout this site.  

I enjoyed a terrific luncheon with students who had won a “lunch with the author” essay contest. Each received a signed book, special placemat and a place of honor at the table. I so enjoyed visiting with all of them. It was a truly special time for me. I have their essays, bound in a book. 

My thanks to Judy Wilson and the crew at Harrison School! 

October Animal

Okay, I just happen to really like giraffes. Visit the Indianapolis Zoo to see this one. The Indy Zoo also has some of the best native landscaping of any I have seen. Oh, and visit the Indiana State Museum next door.

A giraffe’s tongue helps it reach leaves, even leaves among thorny branches. Giraffes are browsers. No, not computer browsers. Giraffes are browsers because they eat leaves of woody shrubs and trees. (Grazers, in contrast, tend to eat grasses and lower-growing, softer plants.) Notice the shapes and heights of trees in giraffe habitats. How do giraffes impact these trees?

South Adams Elementary, near Decatur, IN

I had such fun at this school near Berne. Just look at a few images of what they did with ONE IS A SNAIL, THE BUMBLEBEE QUEEN, and PUT ON SOME ANTLERS AND WALK LIKE A MOOSE.