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New & Noteworthy News!

What a great response!

How wonderful to get so many responses to my offer for a free book during Literacy Week. As you can see there were 27 responses to my blog "Celebrating Literacy" in just one day-- today, and that's not all. For whatever reason,(computers, like people, are not perfect) there were 11 more that the Authors Guild, with whom I have my web site, placed in an earlier blog called "Fun Learning Apps" that I wrote way back in June. Go figure!
The web manager suggested I cut and paste those here, since some of the comments were made quite early today and should be listed among the first 20.
Wish I could send more books, but I can only keep it at the first twenty enrants, who will receive an autographed book by the end of the month, at the latest.

Thanks so much for this great response and for your many kind comments. How lucky we authors are to have terrific teachers like you reading our books to your students. It sure made my day!

More comments received today:

1. January 8, 2014 9:18 AM EST Edit
Happy New Year to you too Marianne!!!
I would love to add another one of your books to our library:-)
Helenanne Tress
Good Shepherd Episcopal School
402 Seabrook Road
Tequesta, FL 33469

2. January 8, 2014 9:28 AM EST Edit
Mrs. Berkes came for a visit to our school(Cypress Ridge Elementary) and shared her wonderful books! The students loved the infomational texts and the way she made the stories rhyming. Fun reads!
- Sherrie Smith

3. January 8, 2014 10:23 AM EST Edit
I love books by Marianne Berkes! Especially with the focus on getting kids to read non-fiction--her books are appealing, informative and beautiful!
- Judy Houser, Librarian, Holy Trinity Episcopal Academy, 50 W. Strawbridge Ave., Melbourne, FL 32901

4. January 8, 2014 10:24 AM EST Edit
Marianne Berkes is a wonderful local author whose books are loved by our students at Palm City Elementary School, 1951 SW 34th Street, Palm City, Florida 34990. Ms. Berkes has also been a wonderful visiting author and our students have enjoyed speaking with her. Thank you for these wonderful stories.
- Leigh Anne Pike

5. January 8, 2014 11:11 AM EST Edit
I was very excited about the apps...your books are always so loved by the children and they teach, too..never stop giving us and the children your great informative books and now apps! All I can say is you are like Jan Brett....a great author, indeed.
- Dorothy Smay

6 January 8, 2014 11:40 AM EST Edit
I'm looking forward to downloading your apps. Your books are so engaging and fun. My students always look forward to storytime with your books!
- Diana P. Rivas

7. January 8, 2014 12:10 PM EST Edit
I am looking forward to hopefully receiving one of your amazing books!
Brandi Heaton
Hobe Sound Elementary
11555 SE Gomez Ave
Hobe Sound, FL 33455

8. January 8, 2014 12:19 PM EST Edit
Our School loves Mrs. Berkes. She writes amazing books that the children can relate to and is very approachable with the students. What an incredible author.
- Julie Roberts

9. January 8, 2014 12:28 PM EST Edit
Ms. Berkes is an amazing author. She is able to capture the students' attention from the very beginning. Our students love for her to visit our school and they are entranced by her stories.
- Jean Wright

10. January 8, 2014 1:18 PM EST Edit
We love your books. The combination of song, repetition and rhyme is a wonderful resource to use in our spercial area classes- Art and music.

Lis Arnold
Art teacher
Ocoee Elementatary
- Lisa Arnold

11. January 8, 2014 3:51 PM EST Edit
Our students love having Mrs. Berkes at our Writers' Wall of Fame. The love to hear her read and tell the story from her books. We are growing readers and writers and Mrs. Berkes is supporting our efforts.
Gail Newman
Hobe Sound Elementary
11555 SE Gomez Avenue
Hobe Sound, FL 33455
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Celebrating Literacy

It is always exciting to read my books to students during literacy week. This year I'm also offering a copy of one of my books to the first 20 schools who contact me between now and January 17, 2014. (In Florida this annual event is January 13-17.) Just send the name and address of your elementary school in "comments" below.

I will autograph and send one of my paperback books to your school library to encourage students to keep reading, thinking, wondering and learning, as they "reach for the stars!" (BTW, one of my books is about the planets; do you know which one?)

Reading can take you so many places. This year's theme in Florida is "Reading Accelerates Success." How can anyone argue with that? Many other states celebrate literacy in January too, so if you are not in Florida, not to worry. I will send your school one of my informational picture books wherever you are in the U.S. If you are a parent, I will send it directly to your child's school. So be one of the first twenty people to send me your school's name and address in "comments," as together we celebrate the joy of reading!


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O Christmas Tree!

Last week I spent a magical evening at an event in West Palm Beach, Florida called the Festival of Trees. Every year the Ann Norton Sculpture Gardens decorates 30 gorgeous Christmas trees with a different theme and this year's theme was the "Wonder of Words."

I was honored to have my best-selling book, "Over in the Ocean, in a Coral Reef", illustrated by Jeanette Canyon, selected for one of the trees to be decorated. It was amazing to see what kids did with it using recycled materials for all the fish! Their beautiful tree was in the company of trees with words from Dr. Seuss, Clement Moore, Jimmy Buffet, Maya Angelou, E.E. Cummings, Edward Lear, Robert Louis Stevenson, and even Shakespeare, to name a few

"Over in the Ocean" was first published in 2004 in hardcover and paperback by Dawn Publications. In 2006 it was also released as a board book, and in 2012 it was made into an app. But who would have ever thought the simple words from this book would be included in a "Festival of Trees." Enjoy the photo of my "tree!"

Happy Holidays to you all. May the joys of Christmas last all through 2014!
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Science Books & Films Review

Back in the 1990's I would read reviews in SB&F, never dreaming I'd be a published author and that "Over in a River, Flowing Out to the Sea" would be my 14th book and get a review like this. THANK YOU, SB&F, you made my day! (correction, you made my month.) and thank you, Jill Dubin, for the gorgeous joyful illustrations!

This is a counting song about rivers and the denizens of their riparian habitats sung the old children’s tune “Over in the Meadow,” music and lyrics provided in the back of the book. As they sing along, readers meet in two-page spreads 10 river animals and their young one to ten from manatee, heron, salmon, mallard duck, water snake, beaver, dragonfly, muskrat, frogs, and otter in their habitats described in appropriate lyrics with name of the young highlighted in italics. To add interest each page has an animal hidden in the habitat for children to find. Reinforcing their counting are numerals one to 10 and one to 10 cattails located at the bottom of the pages.

But this is more than a counting book; it is also an introduction to geography. Each animal is associated with one of the major river systems shown on its own individual map of the United States: St. Johns, Hudson, Columbia, Ohio, Colorado, Rio Grande, Missouri, Sacramento, and Mississippi. All riversystems with their associated animals are then summarized on one large map on the last page. Back matter provides accounts of the river systems and animals along with suggested activities.

Not to go unmentioned is the unique and outstanding artwork for which the artist employed colored paper collages, pastels, and colored pencils to produce illustrations that for a children’s book are in a class by themselves. Both adults and children will find this book highly appealing.

— Science Books & Films (November 2013)


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My books and the Common Core Standards

I believe most children learn by doing. After reading one of my books, I hope kids (and adults) will go outside in the moist air after a rain and listen to the sounds of frogs, or go to a beach and discover what amazing works of art seashells are, as they touch and feel them. Or with model magic clay, they create a coral reef or make a diorama of a forest animal habitat.

My “informational picture books” combine fact with fiction, which I like to call “faction.” According to author April Pulley Sayre, “Administrators are starting to recognize that non-fiction writing is the key to student achievement.” Bravo to that! So many wonderfully written non-fiction picture books are launch pads for learning, and they are FUN!

In 2004, I used the age-old song, Over in the Meadow for Over in the Ocean, in a Coral Reef. Because it rhymes and has a meter,the book can help a child learn to read as well as learn about a coral reef habitat. There are now six “Over” books to draw kids “inside” the book as they read about animals living in coral reefs, forests ,the Arctic, Australia, rainforests, and now rivers, where they also learn geography in a fun way.

Enter Common Core Standards, now a classroom reality in 45 states. They emphasize that an increase in the amount of informational text students hear, read and write is needed. Teachers now look at non-fiction picture books from a STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) point of view. And lately I’ve seen the buzz word, STEAM, which adds “art” to the mix.

My fifteen books, published by Dawn Publications, Sylvan Dell Publications and Lerner provide skills to help kids be critical thinkers and increase success in reading, math and science. Every book is carefully vetted by experts in the field and they all have downloadable curriculum connections for educators (and parents) that fit the Common Core Standards.

Take, for example, my last three published in 2013:
Anybody Home? published by Sylvan Dell in Sept. 2013 has 30 pages of downloadable teaching materials including a Reader's Theater
Over in A River, Flowing Out to the Sea, published by Dawn Publications in August 2013, has a reproducible map of all the rivers in the book (great for learning geography of 12 different rivers in the U.S.A) along with other fun teaching activities.
What's in the Garden? published by Dawn Publications in March 2013, includes 12 recipes that are in the book that can be reproduced along with bookmarks of the fruits and veggies, and other learning activities.

I can't say enough about how these wonderful publishers make learning FUN!
This anonymous saying sums it all up:

Tell me and I forget
Show me and I remember
Involve me and I understand.

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What's in Your Garden?

I remember when I lived in New York in October, we’d go to the pumpkin patch, cook tomato sauce with the last batch of tomatoes, and enjoy warm apple crisp picked from the apple farm nearby. Yummy!!

Healthy food becomes much more interesting when children know where it comes from. So years later I published a book about growing a garden and healthy eating. I’m so proud that since Spring 2013, the book has won ten awards and is endorsed by the National Gardening Association. (Click onto Dawn Publications web site below to learn more.)

In What’s in the Garden? readers guess a surprise fruit or vegetable on the next page, and can download a tasty-kid friendly recipe to start a lifetime of good easting.

Lately I’ve visited school yards where more students are growing vegetable gardens, along with healthy eating habits! When it’s harvest time, the vegetables are used in school cafeterias for the students to enjoy. I am so excited to see this!

Actually the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) is trying to establish new guidelines toward healthier school lunches by requiring more servings of fruits and vegetables. What better way for kids to try some fresh vegetables than right from what they have grown themselves? Of course this is not always possible, but the knowledge of what is good for you certainly is! Kids need to eat more nutritious meals and less junk food at home and at school. (Obesity now affects one in three American children!) So parents and teachers, why not start a garden and cook more nutritious foods with your kids! In addition to being a great bonding and learning experience, it’s GOOD FOR YOU!


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The Perfect School Visit

A lot goes into planning a good school visit where teachers get excited about the event, and students actually become inspired to write their own books and stories. They realize that the author is a REAL person behind those "informational" picture books they had been having fun reading and learning from over the past few weeks.

Recently I did an author visit at a Florida school that is every children’s author's “dream.”

From the sign on the marquis in the parking lot welcoming me, and the special parking lot space right near the office where I checked in, to the many varied and amazing projects students created using my books, to the presentations where kids and teachers were actively involved, to autographing and talking about books and writing with many students in the cheerful media center, to walking out at the end of the day to my special "parking place" with the terrific media specialist, who was with me the entire day, I can’t say enough about this special visit. It was such a pleasure to "entertain, involve and inform” all of you at Clay Springs Elementary School in Apopka, Florida. You are the BEST!

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In celebration of my latest book with Dawn Publications, illustrated by Jill Dubin, the publisher offered a contest to educators, parents and kids where if they could name my new "Over" book along with the other three illustrated by Jill Dubin, they could be the lucky winner of those four hardcover books, personally autographed by both the author and illustrator. Contest ended today and I was advised that there were many entries and lots of correct answers, which are:
Over in the River, Flowing Out to the Sea. 2013
Over in the Forest: Come and Take a Peek! 2012
Over in Australia, Animals Down Under 2011
Over in the Artic, Where the Cold Winds Blow, 2008

The winner is a fourth grade teacher in St. Augustine. I visited her wonderful school a few years ago and am so glad that she entered the contest. Her school now has four hardcover "Over" books that I hope many students will enjoy, learn from and "wonder."

Congratulations, Carolyn!

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Coming in September


Polly ‘Possum is looking for a new home to raise her expected babies. Along the way, she meets a wide variety of diurnal and nocturnal animals. She learns how they build and live in webs, nests, hives, shells, burrows, lodges, dens, caves, dreys, and even hollows.

While those homes are perfect for those animals, they aren’t right for her. How does Polly find a home and will she find it in time?

See more at Sylvandellpublishing.com including downloadable teaching activities which connect to the common core standards. "Anybody Home?" is a fun book to read, discuss, and even do a Reader's Theater.


Sylvan Dell Publishing
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It's Here! Over in a River, Flowing Out to the Sea

Copies arrived at my home today and I couldn't be more pleased! Wait until you see Jill Dubin's gorgeous cut-paper illustrations and learn about animals that live in ten different rivers across North America. These great rivers are teeming with life from blue herons in the Hudson to salmon in the Columbia, and from dragonflies in the Rio Grande to mallards in the St. Lawrence. Young children can count the baby animals in watersheds all over North America, while older students learn about riparian habitats and geography at the same time!

This is the fourth "Over" book that illustrator, Jill Dubin and I have done together. Here's the Kirkus review just out:

"From one manatee calf paddling in Florida’s St. Johns River to 10 otter pups sliding in the Mississippi, Berkes adapts the familiar counting rhyme to introduce river animals, their “baby” names, their actions and some U.S. geography.

Sixth in a series of predictable, successful titles based on “Over in the Meadow,” this one adds to the learning mix. Each spread includes the animal and its one to 10 young, shown in its environment; a hidden, additional animal; a map with the river labeled; a numeral; and one to 10 cattails as well as the appropriate verse. The final spread presents a large map of the United States with each river and its respective animal(s) labeled. Extensive backmatter includes an illustrator’s note describing Dubin’s research and methods for making her cut-paper collages, which are enhanced with pastels. As in other books in the series, the author’s note points out that while the actions and baby names are correct, these animals may live elsewhere as well, and they don’t necessarily bear that exact number of young. There is further information about the animals and rivers described, suggested activities, and a page with the song and chords.
Fitting the words to music can be tricky; those who plan to sing this should practice first, but they will be rewarded by a storytime audience filled with standing herons, waddling ducks, whirling dragonflies and squealing kits. Fun! (Informational picture book. 3-8)"

Dawn Publications has already added teaching activities that go along with this book. Click onto Dawn Publications below, then onto the cover of Over in a River "Coming Soon from Dawn Publications." Keep clicking which will take you to activities where you scroll down book covers to activities for many of the Dawn books, including all of mine.

To order the book, click onto the River cover on your right, which connects you to Amazon.com, or check it out on the Dawn Publications website. Hope you like it!


Dawn Publications
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