icon caret-left icon caret-right instagram pinterest linkedin facebook twitter goodreads question-circle facebook circle twitter circle linkedin circle instagram circle goodreads circle pinterest circle

New & Noteworthy News!


Novelist, Charlaine Harris once said, "Here's to books, the cheapest vacation you can buy!"

It's costly to fly from Costa Rica, where we were last week, to Alaska, but that's where we can go if you read "Over in the Arctic, Where the Cold Winds Blow" illustrated in cut-paper art by Jill Dubin

Children can read about land and sea animals that have learned to adapt to very cold weather and long nights.

This is the third of my "Over" books and in "Arctic," I ask the reader to go back and find ten more Arctic animals, each one hidden in the ten spreads Jill so cleverly illustrated. It seemed a natural thing to do in a land where animals are camoflaged on a barren tundra and it's not near as colorful as an ocean reef or the rainforest.

So now, in addition to finding a father on the number 10 page, (seahorse in Ocean, howler monkey in Rainforest, and a father wolf in Arctic) I research even more animal habitats. But it's so much fun to do, since I'm always learning something new.

I hope you will have learned something new also after reading "Arctic" and that you will download the extended activities that go with this book. You will even find an experiment using ice water that shows how blubber keeps an animal warm. Might be a fun way to cool off on a hot summer night!


Click on the cover to see "Over in the Arctic" on Amazon.com

Since we're now flying all over the world, our "vacation" next week will be to the land down under!

 Read More 
Be the first to comment


This summer we've hiked in a forest, swam in a river, combed the beach for shells
and dove into the ocean. But if we want to go to a tropical rainforest somewhere near the equator, we'll need an airplane. So let's fly to Costa Rica to hear howler monkeys screeching, macaws playing overhead and blue morpho butterflies flitting from tree to tree.

Lush green forests there cover only seven percent of the earth’s land, but more than half the world’s plants and animals live in four different layers: From top to bottom they are:
Emergents, where tops of trees rise above the canopy as high as 200 feet;
Canopy filled with an incredible amount of animals because of its thick leafy environment;
Understory, a darker environment, made up of smaller trees over the ground;
Forest floor, covered with leaf litter, where fungi and insects thrive.

If you want to learn more about this remarkable ecosystem and its creatures,
go to www.rainforest-alliance.org/programs/education

And, of course, I hope you will read my book, "Over in the Jungle, A Rainforest Rhyme", again enjoying Jeanette Canyon's vibrant clay creations, just like in "Over in the Ocean." and now this book is an awesome app too!

Click on the cover to get to Amazon.com.

P.S. Where should we travel to next week?

 Read More 
Be the first to comment


Last week we walked the beach, collecting shells that came from the ocean. This week let's dive on in to a coral reef to see what we can find. Did you know that a tiny creature--the coral polyp--is responsible for the existence of an entire coral reef community? Coral polyps may look like plants, but they are tiny animals that attach themselves to a hard surface and begin producing limestone to protect their bodies. (Kind of like shells). But the polyps grow and eventually become a coral colony.

It takes thousands of years for these colonies to form so we have to do everything we can to protect them. These underwater gardens provide a habitat for hundreds of different kinds of fish that live in the ocean.

In my best-selling picture book, "Over in the Ocean, in a Coral Reef" you can learn about sea creatures that "squirt, dart, grind, flutter and puff in and around a coral reef. Bet you know which one squirts, but can you figure out the rest?

Jeanette Canyon used polymer clay to create gorgeous visuals in her "eye-popping" artwork.. The book has won numerous awards and was made into an award-winning interactive app three years ago. Over 150,000 copies of the book have been sold since it debuted in 2004, and it's still going strong.

Go to Dawn Publications' web site for downloadable activities to use with "Over in the Ocean," and learn more about illustrator, Jeanette Canyon at:



And, click on the cover to link to Amazon.com where you can see the book as an e-book and in paperback, hardcover and board book versions. Also be sure to check out the interactive app that kids have so much fun with.

Where shall we travel next week? So far we've been to a forest, river, beach and ocean. Hint: This place is called "the lungs of the earth."

 Read More 
Be the first to comment


I recently heard from a reader who discovered Seashells by the Seashore> at a beach town in Long Island, NY. It's always fun to know where this little book shows up across the U.S.A. Although it's been around for 14 years, I still love seeing new reviews for it on Amazon.com from time to time. Dawn Publications has sold over 60,000 copies and last year printed an adorable board book for little ones as well.

Kids and parents can go beyond the pages of my interactive book on a wondrous seashell adventure. They can take the tear-out identification sheet that comes with the paperback version to the beach, leaving the book at home. When they bring back their treasures, they can follow the kids in the book, who are searching for special shells to give to their grandmother for her birthday.

The amazing shells are the abandoned homes of sea creatures called mollusks. Sometimes a shell comes to shore with a live creature inside. In the book, one of the children puts a live shell back in the water, unless he had planned to eat it, of course. (scallops, clams or oysters, e.g.).

What incredible works of art these mollusks create! And, speaking of incredible works of art, Robert Noreika's captivating watercolors take you to the beach on summer day where you can almost feel the sand between your toes. Hope though, you have a chance to experience the real thing too. Happy Summer Shelling!

Click on the book to order a copy on Amazon.com

 Read More 
Be the first to comment


I have fond memories as a kid crossing the Hudson River from the Big Apple to New Jersey on the George Washington Bridge.

The Hudson flows from north to south, originating in the Adirondack Mountains of upstate NY, flowing through the beautiful Hudson Valley and eventually draining into the Atlantic ocean in New York City. As an adult, I often crossed this magnificent river over the Tappan Zee Bridge, and then later, upstate, over the Bear Mountain Bridge. I never tired of the view of the cliffs and the way the river twisted and turned.

Little did I know back then, I'd have a published children's book with herons and the George Washington Bridge in the background as the cover for "Over in a River, Flowing out to Sea."

In my book, ten North American rivers teem with life, from herons on the Hudson, to salmon in the Columbia, dragonflies on the Rio Grande and mallards in the St. Lawrence. It's a fun way for kids to learn about animals that live in rivers and about geography at the same time. Jill Dubin's illustrations add a sense of motion and energy to my verse as salmon leap over the water and ducks waddle along the shore.

Did you know that the U.S. has over 250,000 rivers? Maybe you'll visit some this summer, appreciating their beauty and how important they are to our planet.

Science Books & Films wrote "Both adults and children will find this book highly appealing." I hope as you fish, swim, sail or kayak in a river, you will too.
Click on the cover here to see it at Amazon.com.

You can find lots of downloadable activities for Over in the River at:


See you next week, and please tell your friends about my weekly travels using some of my books. Can you guess where we'll go next week? So far it's been the forest and now the river.

 Read More 
Be the first to comment


Starting this week, I'm going to do something different from my monthly blog.
I'm writing one every week, and the reason is this. My books can be read by kids and parents wherever they are going this summer--to the shore, to the forest, to a mountain or to a river--and maybe even to Alaska or Australia.

So let's start out with campers--kids, parents and environmental educators--hiking in the woods. In my book "Over in the Forest, Come and Take a Peek," Jill Dubin's beautiful cut-paper illustrations are filled with soothing, woodsy colors and many textures that will inspire many an art project. in the book, readers follow the tracks of ten woodland animals as they count the babies and also search for ten additional hidden forest creatures.

At Fitzgerald Lake in Massachusetts environmentalists created a "story walk" using "Over in the Forest." They actually put each page of the book on different posts throughout a forest path where kids could read and explore. What better way for them to become "wildlife detectives," discovering the real thing as they read the pages in my book.

What a great idea! I hope you will check out other ideas for activities and curriculum extensions about forest animals on the Dawn Publications web site.

Have fun in the forest--but watch out for the skunk!!

P.S. Where do you think we'll be traveling to next week? Come back on July 6 to find out!
 Read More 
Be the first to comment


I love to check out Amazon.com from time to time to see how my books are doing, and the best part is to see what folks have written about them. Just had to share this wonderful review from an elementary school teacher about my latest book, "Over on a Mountain, Somewhere in the World." She shares some great ideas about how to use this book with students. Especially love the travel brochure suggestion. Read on:

"Kudos to Marianne Berkes for another fine book, “Over on a Mountain”, which true to form follows the traditional tune of “Over in the Meadow.” With rhythmic language, intriguing animals, and beautiful cut paper illustrations, the reader is soaring majestic heights of major mountain ranges on every continent. The reader is introduced to animals that are native to each range, while reinforcing terms such as habitat, nocturnal, and diurnal. On the simplest level, young readers can sing and act out what each animal does, locate the seven continents and look for hidden mountain animals. For older readers, “Over on a Mountain”, can be a springboard for research topics which can be as diverse as learning about chinchillas, studying the different mountain ranges and characteristics of each , investigating mountain climates, or creating travel brochures to each of the continents. The seventh book in the “Over Series” is truly majestic in appeal to teachers and elementary students. I will read it often in my school library."

So climb every mountain and happy travels!
 Read More 
Be the first to comment

What's in Your Garden --And On Your Table?

Recently I visited a school here in Florida where students were eating vegetables they had grown in their school garden. What better way for kids to eat fresh vegetables than from what they have grown themselves?

Kids need to eat more nutritious meals and less junk food at home and at school. Obesity now affects one in three American children. In my picture book, What's in the Garden? published by Dawn Publications, children learn that good food doesn't begin on a store shelf with a box. It comes from a garden bursting with life, color, sounds, smells, sunshine, moisture, birds and bees.

In What's in the Garden? Cris Arbo's glorious illustrations depict summer gardens buzzing with life and kids enjoying the "fruits of their labors." Kid friendly recipes can be downloaded for each fruit or veggie I've written about to help begin a lifetime of healthy eating.

Click onto the cover to check it out at Amazon.com.

With snow finally off the ground in most places now, this book is just in time for Spring Planting, so what will be in your garden this summer?

 Read More 
Be the first to comment

Put a Poem in Your Pocket

National Poetry Month is held every April as schools, publishers, libraries, booksellers and poets celebrate poetry's vital place in our culture. It was inaugurated by the Academy of American Poets in 1996.

At the library where I worked, we had a special "Poem in your Pocket" week. At story times, I wore an apron with four pockets in which I put my four favorite poems. After reading the poems, the kids made their own pockets---two felt squares that they sewed together with yarn. (You could also just use construction paper and plastic yarn.) They chose the poem they liked best to put in their pocket. There were lots of choices, of course; I especially liked poems by Shel Silverstein and Jack Prelutsky, which were such fun to read.

For the older kids, after reading a few poems, I encouraged them to have fun with words and write their own poems for their "pockets."

That was over ten years ago, and shortly after I retired, an official "Poem in Your Pocket Day" was initiated. It's on April 30 this year. So put your favorite poem in a pocket and share it with others throughout the day.

Here's one of my favorites:

I made myself a snowball as perfect as it could be.
I thought I'd keep it as a pet and let it sleep with me.
I made it some pajamas and a pillow for its head.
And then last night it ran away
But first--it wet the bed!

---Shel Silverstein.

P.S. Be sure to check out Carol Malnor's blog about Poetry Month at:
 Read More 
Be the first to comment

Sing, Sing a Song!

I always have such fun when I read my "Over" books to kids, because you can also "sing" the words to the "Over in the Meadow" tune by Olive A. Wadsworth .

When I was teaching and also at library story times, I used many different traditional children's tunes and even modern country and rock songs that are filled with rhythms and sound patterns, adding different words.

When you do, young children are expanding their vocablary and exercising memorization skills. I love putting rhyme and repetition in many of the books I have now published, and in my latest, "Over on a Mountain, Somewhere in the World" I hope you will try singing it after reading it. The music is included in the book.

If you don't read music, you can hear the melody for my first "Over" book, "Over in the Ocean, in a Coral Reef. Just go to:
Scroll all the way down to the end under "Media" in the right hand column and click onto the audio file. You will hear how "Over in the Ocean" is sung, and just use the same melody for "Over on a Mountain" or any of my other "Over" books.

As you "sing" the story, ask the children to act out what each animal is doing. Acting out a story teaches kids story sequence, which is an important foundation for reading comprehension.

After you have read the book to children, you may also want to try singing it to a different tune.
Remember "The Bear Went Over the Mountain?" Holding the book up, showing Jill Dubin's adorable illustration of the llama, start singing the words below, which I made up to go with this book:

The llama went over a mountain
The llama went over a mountain
The llama went over a mountain
With her little baby one. (hold up one finger)

Before you turn the page, let the children tell you who the next animal is, then sing:

The panda went over a mountain
The panda went over a mountain
The panda went over a mountain
With her little babies two. (hold up two fingers)

Turn page and let children tell you who the next animal is:

The ibex went over a mountain
The ibex went over a mountain
The ibex went over a mountain
With her little babies three (hold up three fingers)

Continue until you get to 10.

The penguin went over a mountain
The penguin went over a mountain
The penguin went over a mountain
With his little babies ten. (hold up ten fingers)

Last verse

They all went over a mountain
They all went over a mountain
They all went over a mountain
To see what they could see!

They saw another mountain
They saw another mountain
They saw another mountain
And that is what they saw!
 Read More 
Be the first to comment