Saturday, July 28, 2012

Free E-Book

Long, long ago in a land not very far away I wrote and self-published a small book for people who were on special diets. Since several members of our family, including myself, had limits to what they could eat for various medical reasons, I had learned lots of ways to cope with things like finding allowable foods, adapting recipes, handling other people who don't understand why someone can't eat like everyone else, etc.

I had about a hundred copies run off at a local Copy-Mat and, over the years, gave most of them away to people who could use that information.

Now I've made Dealing With Different Diets into a PDF version and will give it away for free to anyone who sends me a request through the Contact Me page of my website,

If you know anyone who might be interested, please tell them about the opportunity and direct them to the link.

Coping with special diets isn't always easy and I'm hoping Dealing With Different Diets will be helpful to lots of people.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

What I Read

Not counting e-mail messages, Facebook posts, e-zine articles and the like, I read a lot. Most years I finish about half a dozen novels and a dozen nonfiction books for adults. Then there are all the newspaper stories and magazine articles. But those are only a drop in the bucket.

I usually read a couple of YA novels every month as well as a few early readers and occasional picture books, but those aren't the main way I feed my bookaholic appetite either.

Every week I read about half a dozen middle grade novels.

Why, you may ask, do I read so many books intended for kids?

Well, I could say it's because I write for kids so reading those keeps me aware of the genre, and that's true, but it's only part of the reason.

Mostly I read middle grade novels because I can usually finish a whole book in an hour or two without having to put it down in the middle, and I know it won't be sordid or depressing. And I'm still a kid at heart and enjoy being carried away into the worlds of children's lives and adventures. Reading fiction for kids is just, plain fun!

What about you? What do you like to read, and why?

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Series Books

Kids have always enjoyed reading about the same characters in different stories. When I was young I loved the Heidi trilogy, Little Women, Nancy Drew, the Ramona books, the Narnia series and many more.

Some are justifiably classics while others weren't very well written, but kids still check them out of the library or get them as gifts and enjoy them.

Recently I read one from a series that I won't mention by name because it was so bad. The family of children told their parents they were about to take their boat to sea to follow the evil bad guys and the parents response was to suggest they try to be home in time for dinner. Even in the 1920s or 30s when the book was written that was unrealistic.

But some recently written series are annoying in a different way.

I find it very frustrating when I come to the last page and nothing has been resolved. That's just a dishonest way to get people to buy the next book, and then the one after that, and so on because they'll never find out what happens unless they read the entire series. It's okay if there are still a few unanswered questions at the end of a book, but the main ones should be resolved or the reader has been cheated.

Of course all newer series for kids aren't like that.

Some great ones I've been reading lately are the Enola Holmes Mysteries by Nancy Springer.

Each book has a mystery that is solved by Enola, the younger sister of Sherlock Holmes, at the end, but there's an underlying problem of the girl's family relationships that continues throughout the series.

Springer does a wonderful job of portraying the world of long-ago London, (some of which might be disturbing to sensitive young readers) and the historical setting is essential to the plots, not just an interesting background. The feisty protagonist is someone modern girls can relate to, the stories are exciting, and the mysteries difficult for the readers to solve.

I highly recommend this series for kids.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

ABCs of Health and Safety

This picture book by Melissa Abramovitz is an original and creative way to teach kids two things at the same time; the alphabet and how to care for themselves. For that reason it should be especially useful for preschool teachers and parents of young kids.

The author managed to find two relevant words for every letter of the alphabet that relate to healthy habits.

Young kids can learn the meaning of words like 'quiescence' and 'sufficient' from the context and will be reminded several times of the importance of exercise and a balanced diet. They'll also get some wise advice they might not find in other books for their age group, such as not skating on thin ice.

The illustrations by Alexander Morris are bright, cheerful, and as energetic as the kids who follow the advice in ABC's of Health and Safety will be.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

What to Do With That Hair

No, I'm not talking about hair styles. At least not exactly.

Yesterday I got a haircut and, as usual when seeing the pile on the floor for the hairdresser to sweep up, I thought, 'What a waste!'

Of course when someone with long hair gets it cut short they can donate it to be made into wigs for cancer patients and others with medical conditions that make them loose their own. Locks of Love makes wigs for children and Pantene makes them for adults. (A while back when I went from long to short hair I donated mine to Pantene.)

But what about all those short pieces of hair that beauty and barber shops must deal with every day?

I guess they couldn't be used to stuff pillows, although I don't know why not.

In rural areas some people spread the clippings in their yards to keep mountain lions away because the hair smells like humans, but that would only use a tiny percent of the cut hair.

Of course human hair is bio-degradable, so I guess sending it to landfills is practical, but it still seems like a waste to me.

Can anyone think of other ways those shreds could be used?

Wednesday, July 11, 2012


Years ago members of a Yahoo group I belonged to got into a discussion about which is the worst natural disaster.

To my surprise, everyone said they preferred the sort that happened where they lived. People in hurricane areas said you always have warning that they're coming and can shelter from them. People who lived where there are tornadoes said those only touch a narrow area  so most people are okay. People who lived in earthquake country said big quakes only happen once every few decades.

In my opinion, wildfires are the worst disasters because they happen often, can cover large areas, there may not be a warning that one has started, and you can't shelter from them. I'm sure the people in Colorado agree with me.

But many wildfires are caused by people so maybe those aren't natural disasters. However they're still something to be concerned about.

I wrote an article a while back that tells things even kids can do to help prevent them. Here's a link to that article:

Saturday, July 7, 2012

The First Americans

The First Americans is about the history of Native Americans, beginning with their travel over the land bridge to this continent and describing tribes in various parts of the continent. It has just enough facts to be interesting and informative without being overwhelming.

This educational book by Kelly Bakshi was released in time for the Fourth of July, probably because it's about American history. However I think it will be more appreciated in the Fall because school curriculums deal with Native Americans then. Both teachers and young students will appreciate the valuable information in this book.

The story of each tribe's culture is told in a charming way by a fictional child. Readers will learn about the Inuits in Alaska, Kwakuitl of the Northwest Coast, Hopi tribe of the Southwest, Dakotas, who lived on the great plains, Iroquis of the Eastern Woodlands, and the Natchez tribe of the Southeast.

Young readers will especially enjoy the chapter about games and sports.

The many photos show more about the world of each tribe and the numerous activities at the end will help kids learn more while having fun.

I highly recommend this book

Wednesday, July 4, 2012


This blog is supposed to be about words, books, and kids but I haven't blogged much about words for a while. Since this is Independence Day in the USA I decided to talk about the word, independence.

Depend is derived from a Latin word meaning to hang down from something, like a pendulum. It also means to rely on something. When America declared independence from England it meant this country would no longer rely on that government, but would have its own.

But "in" not only means inside of, sometimes it means 'not.' And the prefix, "un," also has that meaning. So why isn't the word undependence?

And now the individual states, counties, cities and people in America are all intertwined and interrelated so, even though we don't depend on another nation to govern us, the United States are interdependent. We could be called the Interdependent States of America. Of course we won't really change the name for lots of reasons.

I think language is fascinating and the English language is one of the most complex and interesting ones on the planet because it has been derived from and influenced by so many other languages.