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<<August 2014>>
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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: nature, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 431
1. Why are sex differences frequently overlooked in biomedical research?

By Katie L. Flanagan

Despite the huge body of evidence that males and females have very different immune systems and responses, few biomedical studies consider sex in their analyses. Sex refers to the intrinsic characteristics that distinguish males from females, whereas gender refers to the socially determined behaviour, roles, or activities that males and females adopt. Male and female immune systems are not the same leading to clear sexual dimorphism in response to infections and vaccination.

In 2010, Nature featured a series of articles aimed at raising awareness of the inherent sex bias in modern day biomedical research and, yet, little has changed since that time. They suggested journals and funders should insist on studies being conducted in both sexes, or that authors should state the sex of animals used in their studies, but, unfortunately, this was not widely adopted.

Even before birth, intrauterine differences begin to differentially shape male and female immune systems. The male intrauterine environment is more inflammatory than that of females, male fetuses produce more androgens and have higher IgE levels, all of which lead to sexual dimorphism before birth. Furthermore, male fetuses have been shown to undergo more epigenetic changes than females with decreased methylation of many immune response genes, probably due to physiological differences.

The X chromosome contains numerous immune response genes, while the Y chromosome encodes for a number of inflammatory pathway genes that can only be expressed in males. Females have two X chromosomes, one of which is inactivated, usually leading to expression of the wild type gene. X inactivation is incomplete or variable, which is thought to contribute to greater inflammatory responses among females. The immunological X and Y chromosome effects will begin to manifest in the womb leading to the sex differences in immunity from birth, which continue throughout life.

MicroRNAs (miRNAs) regulate physiological processes, including cell growth, differentiation, metabolism and apoptosis. Males and females differ in their miRNA expression, even in embryonic stem cells, which is likely to contribute to sex differences in the prevalence, pathogenesis and outcome of infections and vaccination.

man woman

Females are born with higher oestriol concentrations than males, while males have more testosterone. Shortly after birth, male infants undergo a ‘mini-puberty’, characterised by a testosterone surge, which peaks at about 3 months of age, while the female effect is variable. Once puberty begins, the ovarian hormones such as oestrogen dominate in females, while testicular-derived androgens dominate in males. Many immune cells express sex hormone receptors, allowing the sex hormones to influence immunity. Very broadly, oestrogens are Th2 biasing and pro-inflammatory, whereas testosterone is Th1 skewing and immunosuppressive. Thus, sex steroids undoubtedly play a major role in sexual dimorphism in immunity throughout life.

Sex differences have been described for almost every commercially available vaccine in use. Females have higher antibody responses to certain vaccines, such as measles, hepatitis B, influenza and tetanus vaccines, while males have better antibody responses to yellow fever, pneumococcal polysaccharide, and meningococcal A and C vaccines. However, the data are conflicting with some studies showing sex effects, whereas other studies show none. Post-vaccination clinical attack rates also vary by sex with females suffering less influenza and males experiencing less pneumococcal disease after vaccination. Females suffer more adverse events to certain vaccines, such as oral polio vaccine and influenza vaccine, while males have more adverse events to other vaccines, such as yellow fever vaccine, suggesting the sex effect varies according to the vaccine given. The existing data hint at higher vaccine-related adverse events in infant males progressing to a female preponderance from adolescence, suggesting a hormonal effect, but this has not been confirmed.

If male and female immune systems behave in opposing directions then clearly analysing them together may well cause effects and responses to be cancelled out. Separate analysis by sex would detect effects that were not seen in the combined analysis. Furthermore, a dominant effect in one of the sexes might be wrongly attributed to both sexes. For drug and vaccine trials this could have serious implications.

Given the huge body of evidence that males and females are so different, why do most scientific studies fail to analyse by sex? Traditionally in science the sexes have been regarded as being equal and the main concern has been to recruit the same number of males and females into studies. Adult females are often not enrolled into drug and vaccine trials because of the potential interference of hormones of the menstrual cycle or risk of pregnancy; thus, most data come from trials conducted in males only. Similarly, the majority of animal studies are conducted in males, although many animal studies fail to disclose the sex of the animals used. Analysing data by sex adds the major disadvantage that sample sizes would need to double in order to have sufficient power to detect significant sex effects. This potentially means double the cost and double the time to conduct the study, in a time when research funding is limited and hard to obtain. Furthermore, since the funders don’t request analysis by sex, and the journals do not ask for it, it is not a major priority in today’s highly competitive research environment.

It is likely that we are missing important scientific information by not investigating more comprehensively how males and females differ in immunological and clinical trials. We are entering an era in which there is increasing discussion regarding personalised medicine. Therefore, it is quite reasonable to imagine that females and males might benefit differently from certain interventions such as vaccines, immunotherapies and drugs. The mindset of the scientific community needs to shift. I appeal to readers to take heed and start to turn the tide in the direction whereby analysis by sex becomes the norm for all immunological and clinical studies. The knowledge gained would be of huge scientific and clinical importance.

Dr Katie Flanagan leads the Infectious Diseases Service at Launceston General Hospital in Tasmania, and is an Adjunct Senior Lecturer in the Department of Immunology at Monash University in Melbourne. She obtained a degree in Physiological Sciences from Oxford University in 1988, and her MBBS from the University of London in 1992. She is a UK and Australia accredited Infectious Diseases Physician. She did a PhD in malaria immunology based at Oxford University (1997 – 2000). She was previously Head of Infant Immunology Research at the MRC Laboratories in The Gambia from 2005-11 where she conducted multiple vaccine trials in neonates and infants.

Dr Katie Flanagan’s editorial, ‘Sexual dimorphism in biomedical research: a call to analyse by sex’, is published in the July issue of Transactions of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. Transactions of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene publishes authoritative and impactful original, peer-reviewed articles and reviews on all aspects of tropical medicine.

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Image credit: Man and woman arm wrestling, © g_studio, via iStock Photo.

The post Why are sex differences frequently overlooked in biomedical research? appeared first on OUPblog.

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2. August is for Readers

Animalogy by Marianne Berkes and illustrated by Cathy Morrison
August's theme is READING. Here's an image from Animalogy with a family reading by the campfire. This was my first book for Sylvan Dell Publishing, now Arbordale Publishing and I'm starting my eighth one now. And it's going to be another book by Marianne Berkes. Happy reading!

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3. Way Back Wednesday Essential Classic Video: When I was Young in the Mountains by Cynthia Rylant, illustrated by Diane Goode

[There is a video that cannot be displayed in this feed. Visit the blog entry to see the video.]

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4. What to Do on a Rainy July 4th: Watch a Hummingbird!

This female ruby-throated hummingbird has been perched on the feeder outside my window for some two hours. Unlike larger birds, such as finches, she doesn't care how close I get to the window in my bright red shirt, and is unfazed when I move the camera. Every few minutes she takes a drink or two from the feeder. I even saw her tongue!

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5. Boat is waaaaay over there, keep looking....

Pitter and Patter
Every month I look forward to June's inspirational word-of-the-month. July's word is BOAT. I don't really have an illustration of a boat that I care to post so you'll have to use your imagination a little. Imagine that there's a boat on the river but it's out of the frame, so you can't see it from here. And while you're imagining what sort of boat it is, why it's there, who's on the boat, please take a look at the dragonfly, otter and trout.

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6. What's New? The Zoo! - a review

Krull, Kathleen. 2014. What's New? The Zoo!: A Zippy History of Zoos. New York: Scholastic.  Illustrated by Marcellus Hall.

What's New? The Zoo? is an illustrated overview of zoos that combines history with hard science and social science.  Kathleen Krull outlines the history of zoos, and offers insight into what compels us to keep animals, what we've learned from them, and what has changed in zoos since the founding of the first known zoo,

4,400 Years Ago, The Sumerian City of Ur, in Present-Day Iraq
The king of beasts lunges and roars.  The King of Ur roars right back, feeling like the ruler of all nature.  How delicious to wield his power over dangerous animals!  It's the world's first known zoo, and all we're sure about (from clay tablets in libraries) is that is has lions.
From this beginning, Krull highlights transitional moments in zoos throughout the ages and across the globe.  Just a few examples include:

  • Ancient Egypt and Rome where zoos were created to impress
  • Ancient China where the zoo was a contemplative and sacred place
  • Sweden where the science of zoology was established in 1735
  • The U.S. National Zoo where the concept of zoos protecting threatened species was introduced
  • South Africa's Kruger National Park where the protection of rhinos was so successful that rhinos were delivered to other zoos
  • Germany, 1907, where the "cageless zoo" concept is introduced
(Did you know that Aristotle wrote the first encyclopedia of animals?)

On most pages, humorous, watercolor illustrations nestle around paragraphs of simple font against white space.  Several pages, however (including one depiction of fifteen buffalo waiting for a train at Grand Central Station, 1907), are double-spreads with many amusing details.

The very talented Kathleen Krull never disappoints!  If you like your science accessible and entertaining, this is the book for you.

A SLJ interview with Kathleen Krull on the history of zoos.

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7. Illustrator: Meg Hunt.

Meg Hunt is a fabulous illustrator and hand-letterer, although her aesthetic is informed by the printmaking process as well. In her own words, she’s inspired by “a sense of delight and the ability to tell stories.” She’s a self-described bookworm, nature buff, and former aspiring Muppeteer.

It’s obvious that Meg has a sincere love of nature and animals, a fondness acquired during childhood and one that flourished once she moved out west. A native of New London, CT, Meg attended the University of Connecticut and received a dual degree in printmaking and illustration. She’s mentioned that attending an interdisciplinary college aided in her own abilities to explore and play within her art–while there are obviously some pros and cons of attending state schools, I definitely agree with her sentiment on this. After finishing up college, Meg moved out to Phoenix, AZ for 4 years, then to settle in Portland, OR.

Meg turns to a variety of literature and comedic podcasts to help her draw out ideas. Her process shifts between analog and digital–she employs different physical tools such as watercolor paint, powdered graphite, mechanical pencils, wax pastels, and many more to add texture to her final compositions.

In addition to her work as a freelance illustrator, Meg has also taught at Portland State University and currently teaches Visual Techniques at Pacific Northwest College of Art. She is represented by Scott Hull Associates and her client list includes Nickelodeon Magazine, Junior Scholastic Magazine, Radiolab, Chronicle Books, and Threadless.

Follow along with Meg on her websiteblog, and Twitter.

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8. Caring For Baby Birds.

It’s summer!
If you’ve maintained a wild bird backyard habitat throughout winter, you can continue through summer with added benefits. Providing food, water and shelter encourages birds to build a home and raise young when resources are plentiful. Fill a suet feeder with nesting supplies such as yarn threads, strands of hair, and broom bristles. Keep a part of your yard “natural” with a pile of leaves and pine needles, to offer a variety of supplies for birds to choose from. Keep your eyes out the window and take note to which birds make use of your materials.

Many birds will make their nest in close proximity to humans. Robins and mourning doves are known for making nests in shrubs, trees or on wooden ledges under decks. Swallows will build a nest from mud and attach it to the side of the house. Wrens love small bird houses and especially those that can safely swing in the breeze. Be on the lookout for neighborhood cats who like to lunch on unsuspecting baby birds. Snakes can also end the enjoyment of raising baby birds in your yard. I don’t recommend killing snakes as they also provide an important service in the ecosystem, but it’s never a good day, when a snake is found inside a nest box full of black-capped chickadees.     bird 1

In addition to prey, another hazard for baby birds is falling from the nest. If a baby bird found is very small and most likely dead, it has been pushed out by more aggressive siblings or from nest over load. If you find a baby bird that has feathers and can hop but cannot fly, it is most likely a fledgling, just learning to fly. Contrary to popular belief it is OK to pick up and replace the baby to its nest. Or, if it looks like the parents are attentive, leave it alone. If you cannot find the nest, place the bird in a tissue lined box in the same location in which it was found. Watch to see if the parents return to feed. Many do. If after a few hours you can’t be sure the parents are around, your best option is to take the baby to a local wildlife center. The people there will nurture the baby until it can survive on its own and usually return the bird to its original locale.           bird 2

Woodford Cedar Run Wildlife Refuge is in southern New Jersey and takes in wildlife of all varieties.
6 Sawmill Rd, Medford, NJ 08055
(856) 983-3329

Another note of caution, be careful of tree cutting in the spring and summer. Many nests have been dislocated when unsuspecting tree cutters take down a bird’s summer home.

Taking care of our feathered friends can be a rewarding and enjoyable experience for young and old alike. Why not invite some birds into your backyard this summer?

Shiela Fuller has been a Cornell University Project Feeder Watch participant for many years and an avid birder since 1988. Currently, she enjoys writing picture books, yoga, chicken raising, wildlife photography, and is the legacy keeper for her family.


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9. Picture Book Surprises, part 3: Poetry Friday

Dear Wandering Wildebeest: And Other Poems from the Water Hole
by Irene Latham
illustrated by Anna Wadham
Millbrook Press, August 1. 2014
review copy provided by the publisher

What a surprise to visit an African Water Hole with Irene Latham!

The fifteen poems in this picture book introduce us to the importance of the water hole to the African grassland ecosystem. Each poem is accompanied by a short bit of nonfiction text that tells more about the water hole or the animal featured in the poem.

Working alone or in small groups, I can imagine students using this book (and others like it that combine poetry and nonfiction) as a mentor text for their own writing about an ecosystem, their neighborhood, or the cultures they are studying in social studies.

Jone has the Poetry Friday roundup this week at Check it Out.

Roundup host/hostesses are still needed in July, August, November and December. Sign up here.

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10. Faith and science in the natural world

By Tom McLeish

There is a pressing need to re-establish a cultural narrative for science. At present we lack a public understanding of the purpose of this deeply human endeavour to understand the natural world. In debate around scientific issues, and even in the education and presentation of science itself, we tend to overemphasise the most recent findings, and project a culture of expertise.

The cost is the alienation of many people from experiencing what the older word for science, “natural philosophy” describes: the love of wisdom of natural things. Science has forgotten its story, and we need to start retelling it.

To draw out the long narrative of science, there is no substitute for getting inside practice – science as the recreation of a model of the natural world in our minds. But I have also been impressed by the way scientists resonate with very old accounts nature-writing – such as some of the Biblical ancient wisdom tradition. To take a specific example of a theme that takes very old and very new forms, the approaches to randomness and chaos are being followed today in studies of granular media (such as the deceptively complex sandpiles) and chaotic systems.

These might be thought of as simplified approaches to ‘the earthquake’ and ‘the storm’, which appear in the achingly beautiful nature poetry of the Book of Job, an ancient text also much concerned with the unpredictable side of nature. I have often suggested to scientist-colleagues that they read the catalogue of nature-questions in Job 38-40, to be met with their delight and surprise. Job’s questioning of the chaotic and destructive world becomes, after a strenuous and questioning search in which he is shown the glories of the vast cosmos, a source of hope, and a type of wisdom that builds a mutually respectful relationship with nature.

Reading this old nature-wisdom through the experience of science today indicates a fresh way into other conflicted territory. For, rather than oppose theology and science, a path that follows a continuity of narrative history is driven instead to derive what a theology of science might bring to the cultural problems of science with which we began. In partnership with a science of theology, it recognises that both, to be self-consistent, must talk about the other. Neither in conflict, nor naively complementary, their stories are intimately entangled.


Cloud to ground lightning over Sofia, by Boby Dimitrov. CC-BY-SA-2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

The strong motif that is the idea of science as the reconciliation of a broken human relationship with nature. Science has the potential to replace ignorance and fear of a world that can harm us and that we also can harm, by a relationship of understanding and care. The foolishness of thoughtless exploitation can be replaced by the wisdom of engagement. This is neither a ‘technical fix’, nor a ‘withdrawal from the wild’, two equally unworkable alternatives criticised recently by Bruno Latour in a discussion of environmentalism in the 21st century.

Latour’s hunch that rediscovered religious material might point the way to a practical alternative begins to look well-founded. Nor is such ‘narrative for science’ confined to the political level; it has personal, cultural and educational consequences too that might just meet Barzun’s missing sphere of contemplation.

Can science be performative? Could it even be therapeutic?

George Steiner once wrote, “Only art can go some way towards making accessible, towards waking into some measure of communicability, the sheer inhuman otherness of matter…”

Perhaps science can do that too.

Tom McLeish is Professor of Physics and Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research at University of Durham, and a Fellow of the Institute of Physics, the Royal Society of Chemistry, the American Physical Society and the Royal Society. He is the author of Faith and Wisdom in Science.

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11. Find the Forest For Summer Fun.

Now that summer vacation is here, why not try taking the kids for a real adventure by exploring nature’s wonders at a nearby forest or state park.  These beautiful, natural areas are in every state and many have free activities for the whole family.  Camping, hiking, bird watching, water sports, fishing and learning about plants and animals are some of the things you can discover at your local park, forest or nature preserve.

Visit: http://www.discovertheforest.org   for tips on how to enjoy nature, how to be safe in wild areas, and DID YOU KNOW facts.  All you have to do is enter your state and a list of all the forests and wildlife areas will appear.   Discover your inner explorer by visiting a forest or natural area this summer.  You won’t be sorry.

Boston Arboretum

Boston Arboretum

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12. Ladybird books; Series 536 Nature

I've been busy cataloguing a collection of vintage Ladybird books. It takes me ages to list each one because I find myself caught up in the illustrations and fascinated by the text. It’s not unusual for an hour to pass with nothing achieved!   I’m not complaining as they are delightful little books and the ones from series 536 (nature) are some of my favourites. Introduced in the 1950s by Douglas Keen they are a range of thoroughly researched educational titles, commissioned from specialist authors and illustrators, including C.F.Tunniclffe and Frank Hampson.

The painting above is by Johnina Hamilton or Ena as she prefers to be called. Ena is a very talented artist and really what could be nicer than a bunch of flowers painted by a friend. I've always loved the picture and was delighted when Ena offered it to me. 

There are 25 books in the nature series. For those of you wishing to collect the full set, the titles to look out for are;

British birds and their nests
A second book of birds and their nests
A Third Book of British Birds and their Nests 
British Wild Flowers
The Ladybird Book of Pets 
British Wild Animals 
What to look for in winter 
Garden Flowers 
What to look for in summer 
What to look for in autumn 
What to look for in spring 
The Seashore and Seashore Life 
The Night Sky 
Butterflies, Moths and other insects 
The Story of our Rocks and Minerals 
Pond Life 
Your Body 
Garden Birds 
Sea and Estuary Birds 
Heath and Woodland Birds 
Pond and River Birds 
Birds of Prey 
Birds of Northern Britain and Northern Europe 

This one is not part of series 536, but it's such a sweet book I wanted to share it with you...

I still have lots of Ladybird books to list so if you are looking for a particular title don't forget to call in at  March House Books


Did you know we each have a flower sign according to our date of birth?

I was born on August 26th so that makes me a Morning Glory! Want to check out your flower sign?  Head over to Whats-your-sign.com

Morning Glory August 22 - September 22
Morning glory zodiac flower signs are thoughtful and reflective. You tend to think and plan first before you take any action. You are organized and very observant. You have a natural eye for detail, and can be very analytical. You love to help people, and often use your organization skills to help others who struggle in "getting their act together." You bloom beautifully right where you are planted, and you have a neat way of making things right and tidy. People come to you for guidance and healing. 


The hand-painted ribbon for Lilly’s doll arrived (see previous post here) so I must get the parcel ready to send to Australia. I also found a couple of 'Lilly' books, so they will be going in the box

along with a few things for Zoe;

That's all for now. Happy Wednesday!

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13. Weeds into Toys

Arrowhead Weed toy

Hi again folks. What have you been up to? I hope it’s getting warm and green wherever you are.

Here in Charlotte it’s very warm now, too warm, but it’s been exciting to see all the flowers make an appearance, and inevitably, there are lots of weeds popping up, too. Lately I’ve been thinking about the things my friends and I used to do with various weeds when we were kids.

  • There was the weeds-into-pop-guns trick, pictured above (arrowhead weeds, I just learned they’re called).
  • Clover chains
  • Trying to make a grass blade whistle (okay, not weeds, but still counts)
  • Of course making a wish on dandelion heads

Know any others?

I’ve been so focused on my writing goals that I haven’t been doing a lot of crafts and (interesting) cooking, though I do have a few things l’d like to share in the coming weeks. Our last day of school is today, which means my schedule will be quite a bit different from here until the end of August.

I’ll try to be here as much as I can, but you may find me more frequently on Twitter and Instagram, since those are easy for quick snippets. My Twitter handle is @emilysmithpearc and I’m on Instagram as Emily Smith Pearce.

Good news! I reached the goals I set for myself with both my nonfiction and YA novel manuscripts. This is big. So much writing done this year, though it’s easy to wish I had gotten even more done.

Currently reading: The Divorce Papers by Susan Rieger and The Great Green Heist by Varian Johnson (both purchased at Park Road Books). Currently watching: Game of Thrones and Orange is the New Black.


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14. May Flowers!

The Prairie That Nature Built
Here's more images for May's flower theme. I love purple flowers and they are popping up everywhere in northern Colorado. Last week almost three feet of snow, this week lots and lots of beautiful spring flowers.

Below are a couple of cropped images from The Prairie That Nature Built. I want to highlight the flowers in nature!

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15. Secrets of the Apple Tree: Carron Brown & Alyssa Nassner

Book: Secrets of the Apple Tree: A Shine-A-Light Book
Authors: Carron Brown & Alyssa Nassner
Pages: 36
Age Range: 4-8

Secrets of the Apple Tree is an informational text that uses the "Shine-A-Light" technology to make learning fun for kids. It starts out by showing an apple tree in the summer. When you shine a light behind the page (or hold it up to the light), you can see the image of the apple tree in winter, with bare branches. On the other side of the page, this inside view is shown in black and white, with some explanatory text. This pattern continues throughout the book, as the reader see mushrooms growing on a branch, a squirrel nesting inside the tree, a bug caught in a spider web, etc. 

I think that the gimmick of shining a light to see through the page will please preschoolers. My daughter was charmed by this, certainly, though she got a bit bored as the facts continued to mount from page to page. The text is designed for interactive reading with kids. Like this:

"Many animals live
around the tree.

Can you see who
the bird is about
to grab?"

(on the next page)

"Slithering, wriggling worms push
through the soil around the roots.

A tree's roots grow long and deep.
The roots soak up water from rain,
which helps to keep the tree alive." 

Every page has a question for kids to answer by shining a light on the page. At the end there's a little glossary of sorts, with more information about the creatures found in and around the tree. The authors encourage further exploration with:

"There's more...

When you find a tree, look all around it and see who you can find.
Remember to look up as well as down." 

The see-through illustrations (on the right-hand side of each page spread) are in color, using a palette of woodsy greens, browns, and grays. The left-facing pages are silhouettes, white images against black backgrounds. While neither style is incredibly detailed, the overall impression is pleasing, and the whimsy of the see-through illustrations works well. 

Secrets of the Apple Tree does a nice job of encouraging kids to pay attention to nature, to look closely, and see what hidden life they can find. And it's fun, too. I think it would make a nice addition to a classroom library for first or second graders, particularly in apple tree country. Recommended!

Publisher: Kane Miller Book Publishers 
Publication Date: January 1, 2014 (first American edition)
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher

FTC Required Disclosure:

This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through Amazon links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).

© 2014 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook

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16. Nanise’: A Navajo Herbal

Authors: Vernon O. Mayes & Barbara Bayless Lacy
Illustrators: Jack Ahasteen & Jason Chee
Publisher: Five Star Publications
Genre: Nature
ISBN: 978-1-58985-217-4
Pages: 163
Price: $14.99

Author’s website
Buy it at Amazon

A Navajo Reservation set in an approximately 25,000 square mile area covering the northeastern corner of Arizona, the northwestern corner of New Mexico, and a portion of southeastern Utah is home to many plants used by the native population in medicine and ceremony. Many of these grow in elevations above 7,000 feet. Nanise’: A Navajo Herbal catalogs 100 of these plants.

Each plant description includes the common name, the Latin name, and the Navajo name. A description of the plant and its distribution follows. A brief summary of Navajo uses is given, but since these are considered private, they are not detailed. References conclude the entry, and a pen and ink drawing of the plant accompanies the text.

It’s obvious that the authors and illustrators approached this volume with careful research and devotion. Those with a strong interest in botany, with an emphasis on this region and Navajo use and practice, will find this book a valuable resource.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

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17. Book Review: 'Beth's Birds,' by Deanna K. Klingel

This book review is part of a 5-day virtual tour sponsored by the National Writing for Children Center, a showcase for children's book authors and illustrators.

Title: Beth’s Birds
Genre: Education, Preschool & Kindergarten, picture
Author: Deanna K. Klingel
Publisher: Peak City Publishing, LLC

Book description
Little Beth romps through her personal playground showing how she learns the proper names and characteristics of her bird friends. Her antics come alive in the delightful illustrations.

My thoughts...

Join our young narrator, little Beth, in a journey of discovery and she describes the birds around her house, from the moment she wakes up to later in the day. First is Jenny Wren, the little brown bird that wakes her up with its bright, cheery song. Then it's the woodpecker who loves to join her when she's having her oatmeal breakfast, and so on throughout the day as she feeds them and even gives them a party. 

Beth's Birds is a charming educational story with gorgeous bird illustrations. The language is simple and very appropriate for young minds. Children will not only learn about the different birds, but also ways to care for them and even how to make them a peanut butter cone. The story brings attention to the beauty of nature and how soothing it can be to interact with it. Recommended!

About the Author
Deanna lives in the mountains of western North Carolina with her husband Dave and their golden retriever Buddy. Their seven children, spouses and eleven grandchildren are scattered around the southeast. Deanna enjoys traveling with her books and visiting friends and family along the way.

Connect with Deanna on the Web:


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18. Beeing There


Done in the car while waiting for the library to open. Bees were pollinating purple flowers next to me.

I’d like to share something I think is fun. The reaction I get from people when I’m out drawing or painting. When not in my car more often than not reactions are positive, like the Starbucks barista, saying he thought it cool. Occasionally my experiences are, let’s just say a bit awkward. Even so they’re often something I look back on with a smile, as they reflect the understanding of the person it’s coming from. On one occasion where I was drawing at coffee shop, a woman sat at the table next to me accompanied by her two children. As they were getting ready to leave she mentioned she was an artist too. She shook my hand and introduced herself. I noticed while one of her children had gone, the other had walked behind me (between myself and the wall). Mom noticed and noticed I noticed. As she and I continued our conversation, her daughter then got on one side of her and put both hands on her mother’s hip and began pushing. “Let’s go… I thought we were going to go.” I had said, “I guess she’s a bit protective. I remember my daughter was that way sometimes.” When her mother tried to continue talking her daughter came next to me, crossed her arms in front of her and said, nodding to my sketchbook I’d now closed, “Did you draw that?” I said “What,” opening it, “You mean this?” She then nodded over to a magazine on the nearby table and said “You copied that”. I said, “No, these are people who were here. I drew them.” Mind you, she was maybe nine or ten years old. By then mom was ready go. I could only smile. Happy Mothers Day.


Tagged: Allen Capoferri, Art, cafe drawing, Childhood, Illustration, mothers day, Nature, sketchbook, sketchbook drawing

7 Comments on Beeing There, last added: 5/9/2014
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19. Book Review:

  • Age Range: 5 - 7 years
  • Grade Level: Kindergarten - 2
  • Series: Quincy the Horse Books
  • Hardcover: 40 pages
  • Publisher: Pathfinder Equine Publications (March 15, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0981924042
  • ISBN-13: 978-0981924045


In Quincy’s third adventure, Quincy and Buck, Quincy tries to overcome his fears about “surprises waiting for horses out on the trail” by going on his first trail ride. Quincy’s main concern is the wild animals he might meet but the real challenge turns out to be another horse. Buck, the horse he hopes will be his trail buddy and guide him, turns out to be a bully who is dangerous! Quincy learns some important things about dealing with a bully.

My Thoughts...

Quincy and Buck is a children's picture book that will be enjoyed by horse lovers, young and old alike. In this book in the series, Quincy has been sheltered inside his corral and is afraid to venture into the desert trail rides. He's anxious and fearful of the unknown, and of what could happen 'out there' with wild animals. Then one day his owner, Cam, takes him out to ride in the company of Cathy and her horse, Buck. Quincy is hopeful, thinking that Buck might guide him and become his mentor. Instead, Buck is a bully. Quincy not only ends up learning how to deal with bullies, but he also realizes that everybody is afraid at one point or another, and that he can be just as brave as anybody else.

This is a book with a lovely and important message. The prose is 'quiet' in tone, and beautiful, and the earthly, western-like illustrations complement the story well. Besides issues of bullying, it deals with themes of overcoming fear. I enjoyed reading this book and can whole-heartedly recommend it, especially for children who love horses. 

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20. Want Eggs? How About Raising Some Chickens.

My fellow writer and occasional visitor to this blog, Shiela Fuller is back with her wonderful post on how to raise your own free range chickens. Here’s Shiela:

Long before there were confined feeding animal operations (CAFO), people raised egg laying chickens in their backyards. As the inhumane treatment of mass produced farm animals for food becomes widely recognized, more individuals are turning to traditions of the past and again raising egg layers for their own use.

The instructions that follow for raising chickens are easy, but these are live animals that require care and supervision just as domestic animals do.


The prospective chicken owner must first research and determine if their municipality has regulations against the keeping of farm animals. If not, begin the search for a hatchery.

LOCATE YOUR NEAREST HATCHERY:  Your two day old chicks will most likely be shipped by U.S. mail. A decreased distance from home to hatchery means your chicks will arrive quicker, less stressed and in better condition. Don’t be tempted to purchase the cute chicks you see for sale at your local farm and garden store. All chicks look alike at two days old, but at four months your cute chicks could grow up to look like this:   spotted chicken


Plan to have your chicks arrive late spring/early summer. Order an egg laying breed such as the Rhode
Island Red or a mixed breed. Order your chicks with their beaks intact. You will have to ask for this as
hatcheries raise chicks by the tens of thousands and debeaking is done routinely as a matter of safety
and well-being for the large numbers that are kept in confinement.

HOW MANY TO ORDER:   Order the number of chicks dependent on your available space. If your adult hens will free range on an acre, 15 chicks will be suitable. If you are limited to keeping your adult hens in a backyard enclosure, six chicks will be sufficient. Unless you plan to go into the business of selling eggs, 15 egg layers will create a sufficient supply. Once egg laying begins, hens routinely lay one egg per day for up to two years. They lay more productively in summer than winter, too. This is because egg laying is dependent on the number of daylight hours.

YOU’VE PLACED THE ORDER.  You now have a delivery date. Call your post office and give them the information and your phone number. They will call you as soon as your chicks arrive.

WHILE YOU’RE WAITING: Assemble the things you will need to house your new arrivals. If you don’t have any of these items on hand or cannot borrow, purchase:

a large plastic tub with sides high enough that chicks cannot jump out,  (for extra security a sheet of screen over the top will also help keep the chicks secure), a bag of cedar shavings, a heat lamp with a secure fastener, waterer, organic chicken crumbles.

Set up your chick’s housing in the location you have chosen. A warm kitchen, an out of the way mud room, or even the garage will be suitable. Place about three inches of cedar shavings in the bottom of the tub, securely fasten the heat lamp about 20 inches above the floor of the chick’s enclosure, put fresh cool water in the waterer, and offer plenty of crumbles.

THE CHICKS HAVE ARRIVED: The chicks will arrive in a ventilated cardboard box. Pick them up promptly from the post office and settle them into their new home.     incubator

Pick each chick up individually and place them in their warm , draft free environment. Dip each chick’s
beak quickly in the water to induce drinking. This will also help “freshen” any chick that may have
arrived in an overstressed condition. Keep the food bowl filled as chicks eat constantly, and clean, as
chicks do not discriminate between the toilet area and feeding area. Pay attention to the comfort of the newly acquired chicks. Use the huddle indicator: If they huddle together, your lamp is too far from the chicks; if the chicks huddle in the corners, away from the heat source, the lamp is too close.


baby chicksMaintain a bed of clean, dry shavings daily as it will become soiled from spilled water, food and excrement. The chicks will grow quickly and may need to be moved to a larger indoor container, such as a large dog crate. Use your judgement. By this time, you will feel accustomed to taking care of your chicks and will know when they are over crowed and need larger housing.

MOVING DAY: By about six weeks of age the chicks will have most of their feathers and if the outside temperature is warm, they can be moved to their outdoor location.

chickensMuch care needs to be taken as to the safety of your flock. Opportunistic predators such as snakes, hawks, owls, and foxes love captive prey. Even chicks that will eventually free range will need a place for safe keeping at night time.

OUTDOOR HABITAT:  For a small flock of confined hens or a free range flock that need a safe keeping place,a suitable arrangement can be made from the following items:

an 10 x 10 outdoor dog kennel, or larger; an outdoor dog house, plastic netting for a cover, fresh hay for filling house and box, egg laying box, perching area, organic egg layer pellets and water bowl.

Dig an area 10 x 10 in diameter and drop your kennel into the earth. This aids in keeping the digging predators, like foxes from gaining entrance and eating your hens. Cover the enclosure with netting to keep out the flying predators. After four months of age, the hens will have grown too large for snakes to consume, so they become less of a problem.

The egg laying boxes, feed bowls, and waterer, the perching area below. chicken house

The housing is made from a dog box and plastic cover.

Congratulations! You have successfully raised chicks to egg laying hens. You will make mistakes and learn more as you move along in your chicken adventure. Some additional facts:

—Chickens will eat much more than crumbles and pellets. Offer them seeds, produce and vegetable leftovers, both cooked and uncooked. Free range hens will also consume baby birds, mice and toads. Chickens have individual food preferences.

—Once your free range chickens are accustomed to their new outdoor accommodations, free them in the morning and near dusk they will (they should) return to the enclosure to be locked in for safe keeping at night.

—A rooster is not necessary for egg layer success.

—The chickens will eventually see you as their food source and will run to you upon calling them.

—As was said earlier, snakes are not a problem once your chicks are too large to be consumed, but at some point you may be startled to find one in your hen enclosure:

snake eats eggKeep in mind snakes are an important part of the ecosystem. You can spare an egg or two!

0 Comments on Want Eggs? How About Raising Some Chickens. as of 4/25/2014 3:59:00 AM
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21. April showers bring May FLOWERS!

The Prairie That Nature Built by Marybeth Lorbiecki, illustrated by Cathy Morrison
Here's my contribution to May's theme of FLOWERS. Thanks to June for this month's inspiration. This illustration is from The Prairie That Nature Built, coming out this fall. You can see more illustrations from this book and others on my Studio With A View blog.

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22. Today

today copy

Tagged: Allen Capoferri, America, Beach, California, International, Nature, Ocean, Photography, USA

6 Comments on Today, last added: 5/4/2014
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23. To be Indigenous or not to be that isn’t a good question even!

A quite lively discussion has blown in from space on a friends Face-postcard about something I forgot because it went a completely different way in short order and is now a history lesson on indigenous peoples.

It was said the “Native “”American”” people” were here first and that they claim to be “Indigenous” and that they have their traditional stories to back up their claim to properties etc.

That got me to thinking (usually leads to minor disasters) that just because someone in your past lived some place and told creation stories doesn’t always mean you have any more rights than the guy who was born there after you lost the battle, in my case way after.

I know, growing up, my mother used to tell me, when I asked how I got here that I came from heaven and perhaps, if I’m a good boy, God will give me land there again though I think he may balk at the casino I want to build even if it is to take all the sinner’s money or credits or what ever the currency of his realm is.

And further more if in the past there was only one super continent, Pangaea or what ever they really called it, then we all have a claim to everywhere cause we are all descendants of the original inhabitants and I’ll bet a dollar to a doughnut there aint anywho who can tell me where they thought they came from even after the break up.

I thought perhaps we are all from Mars via the Pleiades star system but had to leave cause the Marshonians wanted the place back so we moved on as they had come from the Hercules system to Mars first.

To send every one back to where they came from is stupid, you can’t fit that many people on Ellis Island let alone grow enough hemp there to have a trade economy with New York.

I don’t know the answer other than if we don’t start being natives from “EARTH” the little grey men will boot us out and wipe out the myths of our origins from then to eternity.

HareBrained_II_smJPGIt’s a race none us may win …

0 Comments on To be Indigenous or not to be that isn’t a good question even! as of 5/2/2014 10:21:00 PM
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24. A Whale of a Parenting Tale

Following Papa’s Song

By Gianna Marino


Recently, we observed “Take a Child to Work Day” and I’m sure loads of moms and dads took their young readers to see what they “do” all day. Young children have images in their minds, I’m sure, of where their parents are while they are at home, school or daycare. So, it’s a treat for kids to tag along and actually see where you are when you’re not with them, and what activities occupy you!

Gianna Marino, author of Too Tall Houses and Meet Me at the Moon has used animals in her picture books to great advantage in telling stories with deeper themes of friendship, togetherness and the parent/child bond.

In Following Papa’s Song, it’s not exactly following the Papa Whale to work, but then again maybe it is. It’s certainly reproducing those great Q and A’s reminiscent of many asked by the very young. And they are: “Are we going very FAR?”, asks Little Blue of his dad.

Papa Whale informs Little Whale they are going to greater depths than they ever have before in the briny deep. It’s a sort of metaphor for the untried and new experiences in a child’s life. I like that. New experiences are exciting for a child and, at the same time may be a bit frightening in that they are a subliminal prelude to the question all children secretly feel, “Will you always be there for me?” Little Blue’s persistent questions are those of every child – “How will we know which way to go?” and as Papa relates the age old call of the whales’ song, Little Blue queries, “When I am big, Papa, will I still hear your song?”

Ms. Marino’s Little Blue keeps Papa in sight as they plumb these new and greater depths of the ocean of life where it is VERY QUIET and sound is harder to decipher – sounds like the cry of Little Blue calling for Papa!!

Can Papa hear the call of his young one? Will Little Blue gain the confidence needed for a lifetime of greater depths of new experiences? The answer is an emphatic YES to both. Ms. Marino has managed to perfectly capture the essence of the parent/child relationship and the great paradox at the heart of that relationship. And that is, in order to be a really effective parent, the job is to prepare the young one for a day when you are superfluous. Little Blue will always need Papa Whale’s love and guidance, but at a young age, the small mammal is slowly being given the tools needed to navigate LIFE in the deep on his own! She has a beautiful reassuring message for both parent and child as they navigate life together, “If you listen closely, you will always hear my song.”

Ms. Marino’s use of color is magic. Her greens mimic the clarity of life in the upper reaches of the ocean and as the depth increases for Little Blue and Papa, the blue green morphs to an inky blue that is barely transparent – except for SOUND! And her picture of the whales’ rise to the surface and “sounding” into a pinkish yellow light is beautifully done. It is a great match of art and narrative!

Ah, life lessons! Ms. Marino has written a book with a beautiful message for man AND mammal! Take the plunge and dive in with your young reader along with Papa Whale and Little Blue. It’s a great ride that this picture book starts, and you will continue with your child for a lifetime of deep depth diving – together! And Mom, I still can hear your song!














































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25. "Flower Power!" by Terri Murphy

Power is harnessed when you're in tune with nature!

0 Comments on "Flower Power!" by Terri Murphy as of 5/5/2014 10:13:00 AM
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