Maria’s Mysterious Mission…Hiking the Colorado Rockies with John Fielder

The east coast has been pounded by massive snowstorms recently. But here in Colorado Springs, the last few days have brought some unmistakeable signs that spring is coming soon.

spring dragonfly from MalouPhoto courtesy of Malou, a fantastic photographer in the Netherlands.

The breeze carries with it the fragrance of warmth and new green day lily shoots are poking their spikes up through the decaying leaves of a past autumn.

Yes, I know. We may still get major snowstorms and plenty of frosty mornings…we often have heavier snowfalls in March and April than we do during the winter. But spring is definitely on my mind, especially since I’ve been working on my entry for Susanna Leonard Hill’s In Just Spring Children’s Story Contest. Head over there to check it out…submissions are due next Friday!

What luck! A book arrived in the mail yesterday. When I opened the package, I knew it was just the one to review for today’s Perfect Picture Book Friday. It demonstrates the beauty of Colorado’s majestic mountains and contains an important lesson about finding one’s way in a new place.

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Maria’s Mysterious Mission

Written by Claudia Cangilla McAdam

Illustrated by Anna-Maria Crum

Photography by John Fielder

Publisher: Westcliffe Publishers/John Fielder Publishing (2007)

Ages: 4 and up

Themes:

Homesickness, moving, new experiences, friendship

Opening Lines:

“Maria was homesick. She spent her days wandering in and out of the barn and poking around the corral. She hadn’t cut a trail or carried a pack in months, not since she’d come to this new place in Colorado, far from her home in South America.

I don’t belong here, she thought. Her eyes stung, and her throat felt tight. “I miss the Andes.”

Synopsis:

From the Amazon page: “Far from her native South America, Maria is homesick. When she sets off on a mysterious mission with a heavy pack on her back and a heavier weight on her heart, she forges a new friendship and comes to see her life in Colorado with very different eyes.

Why  I like this book:

Many children experience anxiety when they move to a new place or face the challenge of doing something different. The story of Maria, the llama, is one of realizing that we can be happy no matter where we are and that no matter where we go, there will be some things that are the same and some that are different. Stepping outside of one’s comfort zone can also be a stepping stone to new and wonderful friendships. This book was especially relevant to me because it spoke to the fears I had to face concerning my upcoming trip to Singapore  in May for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content.

The book is an amazing collaboration between author, illustrator and America’s foremost outdoor photographer, John Fielder. Each spread contains the text and illustrations against a background of Mr. Fielder’s fantastic photography. Living in Colorado…and having hiked many of the back-country and high mountain trails, I was overjoyed to see familiar scenes with the turn of  each page.

How a parent can use this book:

  • As a lovely read-aloud (let’s make a pact…let’s celebrate World Read-Aloud Day EVERY DAY of the year by reading aloud to children at every opportunity).
  • To encourage children to accept new challenges and try new things
  • To help kids whose families have just moved or are planning to move
  • As an introduction to hiking and outdoor pursuits as well as to photography
  • To show children the amazing natural resources and wildlife habitats that exist and that need our careful protection

Related Activities:

Here’s a great trail mix recipe from my book. Why not invite your child to help make a batch…and then go out for a hike together. Do you have a local nature sanctuary or botanic gardens nearby? If not, how about a walk to a nearby park or playground. First Lady Michelle Obama is encouraging parents and schools to make physical activity a priority in every child’s day.

HOMEMADE TRAIL MIX

trail-mix

Photo courtesy www.livelearnloveeat.com

You will need: 1 cup unsalted nuts (peanuts, almonds, etc.),1 cup hulled sunflower seeds, 1 xup coconut flakes, 1 cup raisins, 1 cup dried fruit cut into small pieces, 1 large bowl and a package of zip-lock sandwich bags.

  1. Mix together all ingredients in a large bowl.
  2. Store in airtight container or large glass jar with lid.
  3. Scoop into sandwich bags, grab a bottle of water and take a walk.
  4. Makes about 5 cups of trail mix.
  5. If your child is allergic to nuts…or too young for them…you can substitute healthy dry cereals and mini-pretzels.

Join Perfect Picture Book Friday with Susanna Leonard Hill and dozens of other kid lit lovers who post a picture book review every week:

Would you like to take the muss and fuss out of planning fun activities with your child. No batteries required…powered by a child’s imagination!   Please click this link to purchase a copyshow me how build your child's self-esteem,positive parental participation, http://www.positiveparentalparticipation.com

About viviankirkfield

Writer for children - Reader forever Mom of 3, educator, author of SWEET DREAMS, SARAH (Creston Books, 2018), picture book junkie, lover of travel, hiking, cooking, playing Monopoly with my 8-year old grandson and fly-fishing with my husband.

Posted on March 8, 2013, in Colorado Natural Resources, Perfect Picture Book Friday, Photography, Reading Aloud, recipes, Signs of Springs and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 20 Comments.

  1. An interesting choice and a good review!

    Like

    • Thanks so much for stopping by…on the Amazon site I was amazed to see that there is not one review of this book…and it has been out since 2007. The combination of photography (by John Fielder) and illustrations is captivating. And I love the message of the story.
      I’m glad you liked the review…I’ll definitely be posting one on Amazon tonight!

      Like

  2. This looks a very precious story about Maria the Llama. There is so much transition these days, this story will be relevant very many children. Love your trail mix, Vivian!

    Like

  3. This looks like a really lovely story. Thanks for sharing! I’ll have to check this one out.

    Like

  4. Sounds like a great story ever adult could relate to as well. Yum, trail mix. 🙂

    Like

  5. I love the idea of using real photographs as the background for the pictures.

    Like

    • Hi Sandi, You know who else does that? Mo Willems in his Knuffle Bunny series! I had never seen that technique before and I think it can really work well in books for young kids.  As a picture book writer who can’t illustrate, the idea of using photographs as background is very appealing.:)  

      Like

  6. Interesting choice! I think I’d like this one! 😀

    Like

  7. I’d like to see this one too – could that be Independence Pass on the cover?

    Like

  8. Lovely review. Glad you’re seeing some signs of spring.

    Like

  9. Thanks for the review and the well-thought-out suggestions.

    Like

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