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