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New & Noteworthy News!

Read Across America on March 2

"Read Across America," the largest celebration of reading, has been taking place yearly all over our nation since March 2, 1998. It is celebrated on the beloved Dr. Seuss's birthday. This year the Seuss classic, Oh The Places You'll Go! will be read by educators, parents and many other folks from all walks of life.

I've always loved reading Dr. Seuss books to kids. The sentences, in rhyme and repetition, just seem to roll off your tongue. And those wonderful books help kids develop important language skills that lay the foundation for learning to read.

Research has shown that children who spend more time reading do better in school and become lifelong learners. Reading can take you so many places! For example, in my new release, Over on a Mountain, Somewhere in the World, you can visit mountain animals on every continent.

I'm so looking forward to introducing my rhyming picture book on this special day, March 2 at Barnes & Noble in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida from 5-7:30 p.m. and also sharing it at a Barnes & Noble book launch in Jensen Beach on Saturday morning, March 21 from 11:00-1:00 pm.

So if you live nearby in Florida, come join me as we "soar to great heights!"
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Now in its fourth year, hundreds of libraries across the country will be celebrating, "Take your child to the library day" on Saturday, February 7.

Public libraries are stocked with so many books just waiting to be discovered. So make it a point in February to explore all the wonderful things your library has to offer. Reading can take you so many places!

If your children do not have library cards yet, be sure to get them so they can check out a whole stack of different materials.

Hopefully one of the books they check out will be one of mine. My new spring release"Over on a Mountain" is now available, but probably not yet in your library. But you can find the other "Over" books under "B" in the picture book section:
Over in the Ocean, Rainforest Jungle, Artic, Australia, Forest and River.

However, some of my books have been categorized non-fiction, like Seashells by the Seashore in the 594 section and What's in the Garden? in 635.

Of course, if you can't find what you're looking for, "Ask a Librarian!"

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About "Over in the Arctic, Where the Cold Winds Blow"

Wherever you are, in this brand new year, I hope you are keeping warm, maybe with a hot cup of cocoa, as my friend, Carol Malnor, suggests in her blog this week.

I was thrilled to see her article "Baby, It's Cold Outside" using my book to explain how Arctic animals stay warm in winter. In this book, illustrated in cut paper art by Jill Dubin, I write about ten different animals who live in the harsh Arctic environment.

In the back of this book, as with all my Dawn books in "Tips from the Author" I suggest kids create a "Blubber Mitten" to learn how some Arctic animals stay warm. Carol has expanded on all this in her wonderful blog, so be sure to check it out at www.carolscommoncore.com/?p=774.

Oh yes, I started this out to tell you about the hidden animals in this book. Over in the Arctic was my third "Over" book, and followed Over in the Ocean and Over in the Jungle both illustrated in vibrant clay art by Jeanette Canyon. If you have seen both of those books, you know they end with kids counting all 55 babies under the ocean and in the rainforest, all on one very colorful page.

How could this be done in the Arctic where most everything is white, and most animals are camouflaged? So I asked Jill to hide an extra animal on each page, which of course, meant a lot more research on my part (and Jill's) and wrote the following:

Over in the Arctic, where the cold winds blow
Arctic animals are living in the water and the snow.

"Name us," say the animals, from ten to one
Then go back and start over, 'cause this rhyme isn't done.

Over in the Arctic, you can "spy" with your eyes
To find more Arctic creatures--every page has a surprise.

So from then on, each 'Over" book has 20 animals,10 of them hidden. Remembering my library days when kids were always asking for "Where's Waldo?"I knew children would especially find this part of my books fun, and they tell me they do. In fact, now that's the first thing they look for. What did I get myself into?

Anyway, look for more hidden animals in the next "Over" book, to be released next month: Over on a Mountain, Somewhere in the World. But please enjoy the text and the main animals Jill has so beautifully illustrated too!

"Warm" Greetings from Florida. And if it makes you feel any better, it's even cold here today. 55 degrees!!!!

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Christmas came early this year! I received a package in the mail that was quite unexpected---the advance copy of my newest book, "Over on a Mountain, Somewhere in the World." It will not be released until February, so I wasn't expecting to see it this soon. I also didn't expect to see a review for it from Kirkus, which Dawn Publications sent me.. Here is how it starts out:

"Berkes continues her “Over in the Meadow”–based series of early science books with a look at animals that live in the mountains.
This diverse habitat can be found on every continent, and Berkes does a nice job of including at least one mountain range from each and identifying and mapping it on details that accompany the illustrations as well as on a large world map in the backmatter."

It continues on with some lovely comments about Jill Dubin's amazing cut-paper illustrations, and ends with this.

"And the backmatter adds significantly to the learning experience with paragraphs about mountain habitats, the featured animals and the bonus hidden animals. Author’s and illustrator’s notes give hints on how to extend the fun and learning and tell how the art was created.
What habitat is left for Berkes to explore? Readers and teachers will hope at least one."

The last sentence made me particularly happy, since there will be one more habitat book in 2016, rounding out the series to eight. Maybe you can guess which one, if you know all the others.

But I'm not going to tell you just yet. Let's climb all the mountains first!

To see the full review, click onto https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/marianne-berkes/over-on-a-mountain/

Hope you will look for the book in February. Here is a sneak peak of the cover on your right.

HAPPY HOLIDAYS! See you in 2015!
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Did you know that AASL (American Association of School Librarians) is celebrating its third annual PictureBook Month this November? What a perfect month to give thanks for the printed picture book!

While e-books and apps have their place in today's generation of readers, nothing can take the place of turning "real" pages of a picture book.

I have fond memories of reading to my daughter and more recently my grandkids, snuggling in bed after the busy activities of the day as we "climbed" into the magic of a picture book. They would slowly turn the pages, touching the pictures, reading the story that the illustrations brought to life. (The "feel" of the book and the size and shape can't be standardized into an electronic format.)

A large part of that magic is what happens off the page, talking and discovering. And if you think the child is the only one who benefits, think again. A picture book can be enjoyed at any age. The combination of art and text make it a unique reading experience as words and pictures come together in just that certain way.

For me, personally I'd like to give thanks this Picture Book Month to the ten talented picture book illustrators who have made my words come alive over these past 14 years, and to my publishers who have made it all possible.

As the holidays approach, one of the best presents you can give a child is a magical picture book that he/she can open again and again.


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Little did I know back in October 2004 that my award-winning book, Over in the Ocean, in a Coral Reef would be such a success.

It was my second book with Dawn Publications. They published Seashells by the Seashore (still going strong) in 2002, with misty watercolor illustrations of seashore life by talented artist, Robert Noreika. Bob also illustrated my first two published books, Marsh Music and Marsh Morning (Lerner Publications.)

When I signed the contract for "Ocean", I assumed Bob would do the illustrations, but art director and co-publisher, Muffy Weaver, had something else in mind. She told me about an art teacher who worked with polymer clay, whose husband, Christopher Canyon, had illustrated some wonderful books for Dawn. This would be Jeanette's first book.

Needless to say I was apprehensive about it all. But Muffy wanted dramatic illustrations that portray the amazing colors and shapes of a coral reef. So with painstaking detail, Jeanette Canyon illustrated all the colorful pages entirely in polymer clay, then photographed them, creating a 3-D impression of tremendous vitality.

Ten years later kids are still singing and counting their way among pufferfish that “puff,” clownfish that "dart" and seahorses that “flutter,” appreciating life in the ocean. And now they can enjoy the fun interactive app that was created in 2012 as well.

"Ocean" was the springboard for my other "Over" habitat books: Rainforest, Arctic, Australia, Forest, River and soon "Mountain." Thanks, Dawn Publications, for the opportunity to get kids "inside" these books, having fun while they learn.

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Knowing when to harvest fruits and vegetables is as important as knowing when to plant them. While I pick berries in Florida in March, they are not ripe until June or July in most states. Nor would northern folks be harvesting fresh broccoli and peas in Feburary as I do. They are reading seed catalogs that time of year. But right now, many of you are harvesting the "fruits" of your labors.

In my book "What's in the Garden?" Cris Arbo's glorious illustrations show plants before they are harvested, so the reader can turn the page and guess what fruit or veggie I wrote about in a rhyme. It was fun to do, which included cooking all the kid-friendly recipes I put in the book, which can be downloaded on recipe cards at Dawn Publications' website.

I remember when we lived in New York, having more tomatoes ripen in September than I knew what to do with (there is a fun recipe for Easy Tomato Sauce in the book) and having giant zucchinis that were too tough to eat. Many good ones though went into zucchini bread, muffins and even pancakes.

Cornell Cooperative Extension tells how some vegetables have a " long harvest window while others can go from tender and tasty to tough and bitter overnight."

See: http://www.gardening.cornell.edu/factsheets/vegetables/harvestguide.pdf

Not sure when to plant and when to harvest in your state? See:

Having kids eat what they've grown at home or in a school garden project is a great way for them to learn about growing a garden and healthy eating.
See: http://jmgkids.us/

I've gotten some wonderful emails from parents and teachers who are "growing good kids by eating healthy." And what terrific reviews and awards "What's in the Garden?" has received over the past year and a half. Kirkus reviews calls it a "celebration of growing and eating"
See: http://www.dawnpub.com/our-books/whats-in-the-garden/

If you haven't yet read my gardening book, I hope you will give it a look on Amazon.com or at the Dawn Publications website.


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Back to School Already?

I wasn't planning to write another blog this month, but I just learned that my latest book, The Swamp Where Gator Hides is listed in TeachingBooks.net's contests and giveaways this month. The deadline is August 31.


If you copy and paste the above link, and scroll down to the cover of my book, you will have a chance to win a free copy, along with quite a few other books too. And they even suggest a downloadable activity that goes along with each book.

The neat thing is that there are so many resources available via TeachingBooks.net. With school starting again, you can access lots of great stuff. I am thrilled that they have 44 book guides and lesson plans for many of my books, so check out the link below too.


Hope you will use this wonderful site all through the coming year.

Have a great school year as together we celebrate a love of reading!

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Happy Summer Shelling

I recently heard from a reader who discovered my seashell book at a gift store on the Jersey shore. Went on to Amazon.com, which I do from time to time, and saw some new reviews for this book, even though it's been around for over 12 years. Dawn Publications has sold 60,000 copies and this spring printed an adorable board book for little ones as well.

What I love about this interactive book is that kids go beyond the pages on a wondrous seashell adventure. They discover what amazing works of art mollusks create. As the kids in the book find shells to give to their grandmother, they find one still has the mollusk living inside. They put it back in the water--learning that shells are usually the abandoned homes of sea animals.

I never tire of looking at Robert Noreika's captivating watercolor illustrations. He really takes you to the beach on a hot summer day where you can almost feel the sand between your toes.

Click onto the book to get to Amazon.com
Summer Smiles,

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Nothing Like the Real Thing!

With many campers --kids, parents, and environmental educators-- hiking in the woods this summer, I just had to share an awesome idea sent by Joan Robb of Florence, Massachusetts.

Joan and other volunteers planned a "walk with stories" at Fitzgerald Lake Conservation, using my book, "Over in the Forest, Come and Take a Peek". She sent some photos of this wonderful afternoon, so I asked her to tell me more about it. Here is what she wrote:

"The impetus for this idea was my love of nature and my love of storytelling. I am an avid environmentalist, activist in my community and I was thinking about getting more families on the band wagon as far as understanding the importance of maintaining natural habitats. If children learn to love their natural surroundings and get involved with nature that stays with them through adulthood. So, your story and our woods became a great marriage between literature and nature.

The opening event took place in the afternoon when wildlife was most likely at rest. However, the story walk will remain up through September and anybody can walk through there at ANY TIME. Fitzgerald Lake Conservation area is home to many animals including bears, beavers, deer, possums, skunks, raccoons, turtles, and unfortunately, a plethora of mosquitoes."

Can't tell you how thrilled I was that my book could make this kind of impact. They actually put each page of the book on different posts throughout the forest path where kids could read and explore. What better way for them to become "wildlife detectives" and discover the "real thing!"

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