Monday, June 23, 2008

High Interest, Low Reading Level Books Encourage Readers

You're probably familiar with the web site, It's a great place to go for all kinds of information. has just completed a page about my books for boys, that does an excellent job of explaining what it is that I'm attempting to do with my writing.

You can find it at:

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Saving Robin's Life - last part of the story

The same evening after the birds had left their nest, I sat on the couch in our den. The nest is in a tree in our front yard, and my den faces the back yard.

Have you ever had the strange feeling that someone was watching you? Remember the creepy feeling you had? You look up and, sure enough, you are being looked at by someone, or some…thing.

I looked up from what I was reading, as a new robin stared right back at me, through the den door. He sat perched on the back of one of our patio chairs, and didn’t make a sound. All he did was sit there and stare.

Since I’d been taking pictures, to document their progress, I stood up and went to get my camera, hoping I wouldn’t scare the bird away.

At first, I snapped a few pictures through the glass, and he never budged. So, with great care, I slowly slid open the door. Still the bird sat motionless, and kept looking at me. I snapped a couple more pictures and then decided to step outside. He let me get as close as 2 feet away while I continued taking pictures.

Finally, the baby robin turned, chirped, let go with a little dropping, and flew away. I can’t be sure if it was the same bird I had hoisted back into the nest or not, but it was almost as if he had stopped by to say, “Hey, thanks for saving my life.” That’s the way I choose to interpret what happened.

So now I say to you, as I said to him, “Have a happy summer.”

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Saving a Robin’s Life - part 3

Soon the time arrived that many parents have experienced, or that they dread in the future.
I had checked earlier in the day and the birds were there. Later that same day, they were gone.
We people, and the birds, call it by the same name, “Empty Nest.”
Suddenly my little band of companions - friends actually - were off to see the world.
(Don't miss the next, final installment. It's something special)

Monday, June 16, 2008

Saving a Robin’s Life – continued part 2

My small flock grew rapidly as their parents faithfully flew out and brought back breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. Our yard has a few less worms as a result. Since the nest had been built at near eye level - I’m 6’ 4” tall – it was easy to observe their daily development. The adults seemed to accept my frequent visits, and the babies didn’t know any better.
(2 more installments are coming. Tell your friends, family, and especially children to make sure to check back)

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Saving a Robin’s Life – continued

You may remember my previous account when I discovered a large crow attacking a robins’ nest I’d been watching for several days. Adult robins tried their best to fight off the intruder, but he was intent on having a hot meal.

That’s when I sprang into action to scare him away. After checking the nest, I thought to look on the ground and see if any babies had been booted out. There was one that had fallen into the grass. I went into the house, grabbed a rubber glove, so I wouldn’t get my scent on his body, and replaced the frightened, little guy to his home in my Scotch Pine tree.

Then I continued watching, in the days ahead, as they developed.

Come back again for more of this story. It has an AMAZING ending, with pictures for each installment. It’s priceless!
Make sure the kids in your life get to read this too. It's exactly the kind of adventure that boys will love. Part # 2 coming soon.

Saturday, June 14, 2008


This has been a season of massive flooding in some parts of the country. Here, in the Midwest, it is especially so.

The Rock River, where I dropped my message bottle, two weeks ago, is at flood stage in a few areas, with more forecast in the days ahead. Rains caused the failure of Lake Delton, in the Wisconsin Dells, completely emptying out the lake.

Cedar Rapids, Iowa, is experiencing epic flooding, of historic proportions. I saw a report yesterday about the potential for flooding of the Mississippi.

Our hearts go out to those who are battling the floodwaters, and losing those battles.

But I couldn’t help wondering about the message I sent in that bottle on May 31. No one could have known about the weather conditions that would follow. I’m wondering, now, if the bottle will ever be found. Or, if it is found, how far away from the river that might be.

Stay tuned.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Scholastic Report: Kids Still Read for Fun—Teens, Less So

Since I write for tweens, this information is extremely important to me. There IS a market for this material, and the study shows that tweens and younger are the largest potential children's market.

Max Elliot Anderson

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Another Bird Adventure

Once I discovered a nest of robins, in the pine tree just outside my front door, I began documenting their development, by taking pictures every few days.

On Saturday, when we came home from running errands, we heard a great commotion. Adult robins dive-bombed something as it raced away from the nest. Apparently a squirrel had come too close, and several birds attacked him as he fled.

Well, today provided more high drama. While working at my computer, I heard the cries of several birds. When I went to the door, I saw something big and dark, right next to the nest. Robins flew in and out, like Phantom jets, one right after the other. I pushed open the door and clapped my hands. When I did that, a giant crow fled the nest, followed on its heels by a posse of robins.

I went nearer to the nest, to see if the intruder had done any damage during his attack. There, on the ground, lay a defenseless, little robin, still several days too early to fly. Since wildlife doesn’t especially care for the scent of humans on their young, I darted into the house, found a rubber glove, and returned to the helpless creature on the ground.

His eyes were open, and his entire, little body heaved as he gasped for each panicked breath.

He is now snuggled back in the nest with his brothers and sisters, but I’m going to have to become a sentry until I know that crow is finally gone.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Flooding and Message in a Bottle Speed

We have been experiencing torrential rains over the past 48 hours, with more on the way. There are flood warnings up and down the Rock River, along with a no wake warning for boaters. The stretch of river in our area, Rockford, IL, is at or very near flood stage right now. If my message in the bottle is still on the river, it must be flying by now.

No word yet of someone finding it.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Message Bottle Still Out There Somewhere

One week ago, at about this same hour, I dropped the special message bottle into the Rock River. No one has returned the card inside yet for a free set of my books.

There have been heavy rains in the area over the past several days, sending more water into the Rock and Mississippi rivers. If the bottle is still traveling, it will likely have picked up speed. If the bottle is found, and the card returned, I’ll report it here, and show, on the map, how far it went.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Message in a bottle update

The bottle was dropped into the Rock River at about 7:15 AM, Central time, on Saturday, May 31. There have been no reports of finding it yet, but I'm watching my mailbox each day. I'll report here if and when it is found, and the prize card has been mailed back to me. If it is returned, I'll also report how far the bottle traveled.