my newest book, ARCTIC DANGER

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I am pleased to let you know that my second picture book, ARCTIC DANGER, is published by Guardian Angel Publishing. And I want to thank Eugene Ruble for illustrating it.

Arctic Danger, cover

The story is about an Alaskan brother and sister who take a leisurely kayak trip down a stream to the store. They go under the Trans-Alaska Pipeline.  Along the way they see lots of wildlife but also encounter dangers. There is additional information at the end of the book about the important and interesting pipeline. I hope you and your children and students will find the story both exciting and informative.

ARCTIC DANGER is recommended for boys and girls ages 6-11.

The book is available at Guardian Angel Publishing:

and Amazon. All reviews on Amazon are welcome.

Visit my website, Words With Wings, to read about how this book came about.

logo for website, Elexis King

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Review of Jayne Moraski’s pb How Alligator Got His Smile Back

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First I want to welcome Jayne Moraski to the the Guardian Angel Publishing Family.

Congratulations, Jayne, on publishing your first picture book.


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What made alligator lose his smile in the first place? For the answer, we must take a look at this “just so” story made up by Jayne Moraski and illustrated by Carl Kocich.

HOW ALLIGATOR GOT HIS SMILE BACK begins in the murky past when Tadpole Frog and Alligator had no feet, only flippers. They lived in the water and Alligator smiled a lot. These two were friends and loved to play together until the Tadpole Frog became too boastful. He thought so highly of himself he didn’t realize Alligator let him win the race. Then eventually, Frog developed legs and hopped onto land, and his pride really took off. He sang, “Frogs are special. We are grand. We live in water and on land.”

This hurt Alligator’s feelings and Alligator cried and cried salty tears. He cried so much he turned the fresh-water swamp salty. The cypress trees had to pull away from the salty water.

Alligator’s friends, the little plover birds, asked the Great Spirit for help. The Great Spirit granted Alligator one wish. Alligator simply wanted to have legs. The wish was granted.

Now Alligator walks on land the same as Frog. And he SMILES! Frog wonders about that smile. And when he sees Alligator smiling that mysterious smile, he stops his loud croaking. There’s no boasting in Alligator’s presence.

The pictures by illustrator Carl Kocich are too pleasant to scare a little child. The early ones of the distant past give a dreamy cast to the atmosphere. And when Alligator cries, the reader feels sympathy for him. The bordering around each page is a bonus that adds to the beauty of the book.

Some of this story is made up, but the book also has interesting facts that make learning about swamps and amphibians (that’s what Frog is) and reptiles (Alligator is one) lots of fun. There are also suggestions for activities in which kids compare and contrast the two species in the book using textual clues. Some students in classrooms have already enjoyed doing the activities.

(A note about “just so” stories. That is the term Rudyard Kipling used when he made up pretend ways that animals changed from some original form to the one we know today. “The Elephant’s Child” or “How the Elephant Got its Trunk” is one of the best. I love this kind of story). Jayne calls her story a modern myth with a science twist.

HOW ALLIGATOR GOT HIS SMILE BACK is published by Guardian Angel Publishing and is available here:

go ANGELS           and       go GATORS!



The Next Big Thing Blog Hop, II

I want to thank Tina Cho for tagging me to participate in “The Next Big Thing Blog Hop.” These answers pertain to my book, which has yet to have a publication date. After the questions, I tag other authors, where you can read about their “Next Big Thing!” Please join us!

My answers to these questions will introduce you to my next big adventure.

What is the working title of your book? Arctic Danger

Who or What inspired you to write this book? I was inspired to write a story about some kids I saw swimming in a river in Alaska when my husband and I were traveling there in our motorhome. But I had no plot. Then I heard about an Alaska pipeline oil spill, and there was my plot.

What genre does your book fall under? Middle Grade Adventure

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition? I would choose a couple of unknown kids for the two main characters, Athabascan brother and sister.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book? A leisurely kayak trip by two kids is interrupted whey they must rush to report an oil pipeline spill.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency? It is under contract with Guardian Angel Publishing.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript? About a week or two

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre? Any middle grade book that has children being courageous.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest? The depiction of an unusual environment and the typical lives of youngsters living in a cold climate. Also, that the pipeline zig-zags across the countryside.

Thanks, Tina, for giving me the opportunity to talk about what I hope will be MY next big thing.

Now I would like to tag Jayne Moraski who has a beautiful book in production.

Sunshine Blogger Award

My fellow Guardian Angel Publishing author, Penelope Ann Cole, has passed on to me the Sunshine Blogger Award.

Thank you, Penny, for this honor.


I will tell you about some of my favorite things so you can get to know me better:
Favorite Color – Rainbow
Favorite Animal –at the moment, Elephants, because I’m working on a story about an elephant
Favorite Number – 10, that’s how many grandchildren and great-grandchildren I have, combined
Favorite Drink – Gatorade (purple) mixed with cran-grape juice
Facebook or Twitter – don’t care much for either
Your Passions –Writing/Wild Flowers/Ecology
Giving or getting presents – Giving and getting
Favorite Day –Saturday. This is a holdover from when I was teaching–sleep in!
Favorite Flowers – Milkweed/Passion vine/Roses/Princess flower

I am now extending this honor of the Sunshine Award to 3 more Bloggers.

This prize is given to “bloggers who positively and creatively inspire others in the blogosphere.” 


The 3 blogs I have awarded are listed below. A huge hug and thank you to each of  these bloggers for inspiring me with their knowledge, humor, and creativity:

Maggie Lyons:

Maggie’s blog is sunshine manifest; a smorgasbord of literary ideas.


Tina Cho:

Tina’s Tidbits is a glimpse into an active mind. If you need inspiration, go here.


Laura Sassi:

Laura’s blog is a place that celebrates writing, reading, and life. It’s a joy simply to look at her home page.

Thank you, Maggie, Tina, and Laura for bringing SUNSHINE into the lives of children with your books.


Guest author Kai Strand

Greetings to All,

You will remember the name Kai Strand because I reviewed her book, THE WEAVER, some time ago.


Kai has written another middle grade book, but this one is not of a fantasy nature. It’s about youngsters who could be students in any school in this country.  And actually, it’s all too true as to what can happen when a person becomes a nationally recongnized figure. The name of the book is SAVE THE LEMMINGS.

Kai, will you give us an overview of SAVE THE LEMMINGS? I think we’re all interested in how this typical American Girl’s life intersects with the legend we’re all familiar with. This brings up the question of legends and old wives tales that we would also like to hear more about.

Thanks, Barbara. I would love to tell you about my young inventor, Natalie, and how the lemmings help her get a grasp on the important things in life.

Eighth  grade inventor, Natalie Isabelle Cailean Edwards is the N.I.C.E. girl who finishes last with the kids in school. Sappy inspirational phrases and monochromatic outfits have all but her best friends wrinkling their nose at her. When Natalie’s invention, the Texty-Talky, goes nationwide, she becomes an overnight sensation. Suddenly her days consist of photo shoots and interviews with little time left for her friends. A local reporter shatters her good-girl image by reporting a graffiti incident and the media launches into a smear campaign. It is so bad, even her friends start to believe the stories. Will Natalie be able to overcome the lies being printed about her?

Well, Natalie uses the media to turn everyone’s attention away from herself to her pet project: saving the lemmings. As her arch enemy, Trudy, sarcastically said (even though it was true): “When life gives you lemmings, you make lemmingade….”

I think we’re now ready to hear what you have to tell us about LEMMING TRIVIA AND OTHER OLD WIVES TALES.  

First, about lemmings blindly committing mass suicide.

Lemmings are solitary creatures except during migration. They bunch up along cliffs and dive into the water to swim long distances. Unfortunately some lemmings die of exhaustion or hunger. But they are not committing mass suicide.

(Cute little critters, aren’t they?)

Some wives tales are ridiculously false:

Don’t cross your eyes, they’ll stay that way. How many of you tempted fate as a child and kept your eyes crossed until the optic nerves grew tender? Sure enough, you’re not staring at your nose today.

Others are thankfully false:

Knuckle cracking does not cause arthritis I’m happy (and relieved) to report. My hips crack loudly when I reach toward my toes. When I was a kid I got such a kick out of scaring people with the loud crack and then making a face as if it hurt. Their horrified expressions were so entertaining. Blessedly I’m not hobbling around on arthritic hips today.

Some wives tales are regrettably false:

Were you ever told that swallowing your gum was bad for you because it takes seven years to digest? If that were the case that would make for a great weight loss program! Just swallow enough gum to suppress your appetite.

It’s a shame that shaving your hair doesn’t really make it grow back thicker, darker and coarser. It would put Rogaine out of business!

But some are true:

Drinking a warm glass of milk really can help you sleep. Milk contains tryptophan and will indeed aid your trip to slumber land.

If you hold an aspirin between your legs, you won’t get pregnant. It’s true. Think about it.

A few wives tales have a kernel of truth to them:

Chicken soup is good for a cold. The veggies and chicken can mitigate the inflammation associated with a common cold. It won’t cure you, but it may offer some relief.

Thanks, Kai. Now lets hear a little about yourself.

I write fiction for middle grade and young adult readers. My debut novel, The Weaver, was a finalist in the 2012 EPIC eBook Awards. The Wishing Well: Another Weaver Tale is set in the same storytelling village as The Weaver. I am a (very lucky) wife and the mother of four amazing kids. The most common sound in our household is laughter. The second most common is, “Do your dishes!” My family and I  hike, geocache, and canoe in beautiful Central Oregon, where we call home.

 Kai, it sounds as if you lead an exciting life.

Thanks for inviting me to be on Stories a la Mode, Barbara. It’s been a pleasure.

To find out more about Kai’s books, download companion documents, find links to her published short stories and discover all the places to find Kai both virtually and in person, visit her website: She loves to hear from readers, so feel free to send her an email or visit her facebook page, Kai Strand, Author.

Pick up your copy of Save the Lemmings here:


A Tribute to Rachel Carson

Why did I name an important character “Carson,” in my novel, Wounds?


It’s because I have a great admiration for Rachel Carson, the premier environmentalist of the 20th Century. And I use the word “premier” in its meanings of foremost in rank (as well as very-nearly first in occurrence).

This year marks the 50th anniversary of Rachel Carson’s book, Silent Spring, the ecological wake-up call. This month’s issue of Audubon has an excellent article about Rachel Carson, “Carson and Camelot,” by Douglas Brinkley.


This cover shows what Spring should be like; musical with the songs of birds.

Brinkley quotes Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas in describing Silent Spring as “the most important chronicle of this century for the human race. This book is a call for immediate action and for effective control of all merchants of poison.”

This cover is more realistic.

Brinkley goes on to say, “The result [of the book] was a watershed event in Americans’ understanding of their impact on the environment. . . . her warnings about overconfidence in the efficacy and safety of agricultural chemicals kick-started the modern environmental movement . . .”

For children, Carson’s book, The Edge of the Sea, is both very imformative and beautifully written. Here is part of the first paragraph:

“The edge of the sea is a strange and beautiful place. All through the long history of Earth it has been an area of unrest where waves have broken heavily against the land, where the tides have pressed forward over the continents, receded, and then returned. . . . Always the edge of the sea remains an elusive and indefinable boundary.”

For me, as a novelist, I could think of no higher tribute for Rachel Carson than naming a character after her.

Wounds is available here:

Review of Kathy Stemke’s pb Trouble on Earth Day

I’m happy to welcome Kathy Stemke to my blog today. Besides sharing the same publisher, Guardian Angel Publishing (who published my picture book, Fantastic Flight and Kathy’s Sh Sh Sh Let the Baby Sleep), we have another interest in common. And that is Earth Day. If you’ve read my novel, Wounds (published by MuseItUp), you might recall the character Nelson Ark. He was named in honor of the founder of Earth Day, Gaylord Nelson. Kathy’s book, Trouble on Earth Day, is published by Wild Planes Press. The book was honored with the Children’s Literary Classics Seal of Approval.

The artist, Kurt Wilcken, illustrated the book. His amusing cartoons, er…Kurtoons, can be seen at:


Trouble on Earth Day opens in the cozy home of the anthropomorphic squirrel family. The little girl squirrel, Shelby, excitedly enters with the news that her poster won the Earth Day Poster contest.

The poster shows a vibrant green and blue earth on a red background. Highlighted around the earth are three examples of Rethink, Reuse, and Recycle.

Shelby and Mom and Dad do some rethinking. They go through the house finding things suitable for recycling and reusing.

When Shelby hears crying outside, she goes to investigate. She finds TROUBLE. A sad bluebird is homeless because someone cut down the tree his nest was in. Shelby gathers reusable items—such as cut up newspaper strips and bright pink yarn—and helps the bluebird build a new nest. They situate the beautiful new nest up high in another tree so it can be seen for miles around.

And it seems that the bluebird is quite musical. Together, Shelby and Charlie, the bluebird, “Danced and sang ‘Chur-lee, chur-lee,’ all day.”

Here is what Kathy says about her book:

With Earth Day Approaching on April 22nd it’s time to focus on educating our children about conservation. Trouble on Earth Day would be a great resource for this purpose and a super addition to any school or home library.

Learning how each of us can take steps to protect our environment is important for children and adults alike. It will take all our efforts to help improve the environment for a healthier tomorrow. Trouble on Earth Day is a great start for children.

 Here are examples of the games and songs found in the twenty-three pages of activities in the supplement.

Going Green Game

Have the children form a circle to represent the earth, then read each statement aloud.

If a statement is something good for the earth, the children jump up and down.

If the statement is something that will hurt the earth, the children squat down and touch the

floor, then shout out a better way. (ex: Sleep with your lights on will hurt the earth, children might yell out turn the lights off before you go to bed.)

Fix a leaky faucet.

Sleep with your lights on.

Join with your friends to collect trash in the neighborhood.

Throw the newspaper out every day.

Turn the lights off when you leave the room.

Catch rain in a bucket to water the garden.

Grow a garden.

Put a bird feeder in the yard.

Donate your toys to charity.

Let the water run when brushing your teeth.

Throw trash out of the car window.

Let your helium balloons fl oat into the sky.

Use both sides of the paper.

Throw your food away when you are full.

Plant a tree.

Throw your old clothes in the trash.

Fill your bath tub to the top.

Rethink, reuse, recycle.

The Fuzzy Squirrel

To the tune of I’m A Little Teapot

I’m a fuzzy squirrel, black and gray.

Watch me run around finding nuts today.

Won’t you help me look now, far and near?

We’ll find the big nuts, and hide them here

I’m a happy squirrel, big and strong.

Skip and jump with me, it won’t take long.

When the winter sneaks up, then you’ll see,

We’ll have some nuts for you and for me.

Another book by Kathy is Sh Sh Sh Let the Baby Sleep which is available through the publisher, and through Amazon, B & N, and other online stores.

Trouble on Earth Day is available at a discounted price on Kathy’s blog: and through Amazon, B & N, and other online stores.

Author bio:

As a freelance writer and ghostwriter, Kathy Stemke has published over one hundred articles in directories, magazines and on websites. She is a reviewer for Sylvan Dell Publishing and a former editor for The National Writing for Children Center. As a retired teacher, Kathy has several activities published with Gryphon House Publishing. She is also part of the team at DKV Writing 4 U, a writing services company that includes ghostwriting, copywriting, editing, proofreading, critiquing, and resumes.

Award winning author, Kathy Stemke’s first children’s picture book, Moving Through All Seven Days, was published on Lulu. Her next two picture books, Sh, Sh, Sh Let the Baby Sleep, and Trouble on Earth Day were released in 2011. Both of these books have been awarded the Literary Classics Seal of Approval.  Visit her book blog at

Kathy offers great teaching tips and children’s book reviews as well as a monthly newsletter titled, MOVEMENT AND RHYTHM, on her blog.

Kathy Stemke
Award Winning Author/Educator/Freelance Writer


Trouble on Earth Day earned the Children’s Literary Classics Seal of Approval

Sh Sh Sh Let the Baby Sleep won the Children’s Literary Classics Seal of Approval

Sign up for FREE monthly newsletter, Movement and Rhythm:


I was provided with a copy of Trouble on Earth Day; my comments are given freely and honestly.


Marine Park

Please visit this site to see an unbelievably beautiful marine ballet. This marine park in Mexico is on UNESCO’s Natural World Heritage List and the Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance. “It has recently been described by the scientific community as ‘the world’s healthiest marine reserve,’ because of the remarkable recovery of its marine biodiversity and the productive model which has allowed local communities to improve their quality of life and achieve a successful, low-impact livelihood based on sustainable tourism,” states the World Wildlife Fund.

Even if you can’t help, you will be enthralled by the video. (Just click on one of the  links to see the video).

another oil spill

This letter came to me from the National Wildlife Federation:

Last weekend, one of our nation’s wilderness treasures became the latest site of a devastating oil spill when an estimated 42,000 gallons of oil spewed from a ruptured Exxon Mobil pipeline into the Yellowstone River in Montana–which serves as a nesting area for migratory birds like the sandhill crane.

Despite this ongoing disaster, Congress is preparing to vote on legislation to speed up the permit for the massive Keystone XL tar sands oil pipeline, which would carry up to 20 times the amount of oil per day as the Yellowstone pipeline and cross this very same river.

Earth Day Fun in the Sun

This challenge comes from the Sierra Club:
Earth Day is just around the corner! This year, we want to celebrate by doing something good for the planet AND by giving away a FREE trip to the Caribbean island that is home to our newest Sierra Club Chapter — Puerto Rico!

All we ask is that you make an Earth Day pledge

this year to do something that helps the planet. From April 7 to May 2, you can pledge to do something that shows the world you want to be part of the solution.

The pledges are so easy, you’ll want to think up something more challenging on your own. BB

Contact Info:

If you have any questions, please feel free to email me.


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