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.

515AIIxPWVL__SL500_AA300_

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

Building Self-Esteem Through Picture Books: Sofia and the Heartmender

perfect-pic-book-badge-e1325891994293

Today is Perfect Picture Book Friday where I link up with Susanna Leonard Hill’s fantastic group of picture book writers, illustrators, librarians and others who contribute a picture book review.

The holiday season is upon us…I know that many bloggers have been reviewing holiday-themed books.  Here’s one that looks like a Christmas-type book, but what it celebrates is a child who learns to speak up for herself and overcome her fears.  This ties in with Universal Children’s Day which was started by the United Nations almost 60 years ago this week.  Millions of children all over the world lack the basic rights they are entitled to…nourishing food, clean water, an education, a safe environment in which to grow up in and parents who believe in them and are able to provide these things.

Building Self-Esteem Through Picftue Books,Show Me How,Positive Parental Participation

Sofia and the Heartmender

Written and illustrated by Marie Olofsdotter

Publisher: Free Spirit Publishing (reprinted 2007…original edition 1995)

Ages: 5 and up

Themes:

Speaking up for oneself, self-esteem, overcoming fears, respecting onself, creative expression, night terrors, parental support.

Synopsis:

From Amazon and Book Review:

”Sofia’s heart is broken in two when adults refuse to take her fears seriously. Parents and teacher alike trivialize the shadow monsters that follow her, but a wise dog guides her through a magical world where she meets the Heartmender. During the journey, Sofia confronts her fears, which then disappear, and the Heartmender heals Sofia’s heart with moonlight. Back in the real world, stronger with renewed self-esteem and confidence, Sofia makes her feelings known to the adults and asks that they be respected. Olofsdotter has created a rich and inspiring story by carefully crafting a dynamic between text and illustrations. Richly colored and exquisitely detailed, the illustrations add information and evoke the mythical time and space where the wounded self is healed. A book to be enjoyed at various levels by young and older children alike.”

Why do I like this book:

I love the message in this story…a child learns to overcome her fears and speak up for herself, gaining a positive self-image.  This is a story about a strong capable young girl and would be a wonderful book to help parents understand how important it is to listen to their children and take what they say seriously.   It also points out that teachers often expect children to ‘color within the lines’…instead of encouraging creative expression in every child.  I also love the illustrations and ethnicity of the characters…from the look of the main characters and the surroundings, I get the feeling that the story is placed in Mexico or South America.

Related Activities:

HEARTMENDER ORNAMENT #1

If you are looking for a VERY easy heartmender ornament, try this one.

heart-ornament-tissue

Photo courtesy: http://www.apples4theteacher.com

You will need: 1 piece of red construction paper, 1 piece of red tissue paper, several cotton balls, glue, scissors, piece of ribbon, hole puncher.

  1. Cut the red construction paper into a heart shape.
  2. Pull the cotton balls apart and glue pieces around the heart edge.
  3. Tear the tissue paper into small pieces.  Crumbple each piece and glue inside the heart shape.
  4. Punch a hole in the top middle and thread the ribbon through so the heart can be hung up.  Make sure you put your child’s name and the date on the back of the ornament…in later years you will look back and remember when it was made.

HEARTMENDER ORNAMENT #2

If you want a heartmender ornament that is a little more complicated, please visit: http://www.craftideas.info/html/swedish_paper_heart.html

You will find materials needed and a video tutorial.

Christmas_Paper_Craft_-_Swedish_Heart_Paper_Christmas_Ornament

Photo and instructions courtesy: www.craftideas.info

show me how build your child's self-esteem, positive parental participation 

HOLIDAY GIFT IDEA

Young children don’t need fancy electronic gadgets…they only need a good picture book, a few simple inexpensive art supplies (like paper, crayons or markers, safety scissors and glue stick) and your positive participation.  If you are looking for a great resource that will give you 100 picture book summaries and easy matching craft (like the diorama above) and cooking activities, you can purchase a copy on Amazon of Show Me How! Build Your Child’s Self-Esteem Through Reading, Crafting and Cooking.  At $24.95, this book makes a PERFECT gift for any parent or teacher of children ages 2-8…as well as for daycare providers and grandparents.  No batteries required…powered by a child’s imagination!   Buy your copy today!  My website is still offering free shipping AND a beautiful hand-crafted fabric bookmark…limited time only!  Offer ends December 30th!create a peaceful home,www.positiveparentalparticipation.com,free bookmarks,show me how build your child's self-esteem