Discover here interesting children's books and fun activities that S-T-R-E-T-C-H your mind. Explore great places for kids to visit. Write and share your own ideas, great books, or subjects you want to know more about with Jewel. Check out Jewel Sample's writing for kids adventures.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Jewel Sample's Review of Trout Are Made of Trees

When I posted about transforming the unexpected it got me to thinking about what is transformed in streams. Today I am going to share with you what April Pulley Sayre found out about Trout. She was so excited about her discoveries that she wrote Trout Are Made of Trees.

How does this transformation happen? The author explains the process of how the ecological cycle-of-life interactions help to form the perfect nesting and hiding place for trout and eventually how the process moves along the food chain to feed animals and people. So, are trout made of trees? You will have to read the book to find out.

What I liked best is how the author extends learning by incorporating other aquatic discoveries throughout the story to keep the reader interested, as well as offering riparian conservation challenges for readers to consider in the back of the book. The challenges encourage you to put your thinking cap on and further investigate other natural habitats.

Kate Endle’s realistic illustrations are an entertaining collage of nature discoveries. My most favorite illustration depicts the children investigating their collection of specimens with a scientific book, which is encouraging modeling of children’s ability to discover things on their own. Although my first and second graders did not understand all of the words, artistically, I discovered the children came up with ideas to make a collage with their nature collections and use leaves for fish bodies. Please post your ideas when you read Trout are Made of Trees.

Trout Are Made of Trees is recommended as an excellent ecological life-cycle resource for elementary grade level reader.

Trout Are Made of Trees reviewed by Jewel Sample--Award-winning author of Flying Hugs and Kisses. To learn more about Jewel Sample visit her at

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Transforming the Unexpected

It is fun to just take a day and write something unusual. Something most people would not have thought about. So for today’s writing challenge, collect one or two objects from around your house that you could use your imagination to transform into something. Write about the transformation process in a poem or a story.

Examples of objects, brick of cheese for a rat or scouring pad for a nail file or the refrigerator as a big mouth-eating monster.

Here is my attempt to write about object transformation of a bar of soap.


White soap



In murky bath water

Squeezing it between

Fingers and palm

The white frog leaps

Back into the white

Porcelain pond

Words ripple and


Over brain matter

The hand fishes

And feels the undercurrent

The eyes hunt

Piercing the white

Undiluted swells

Looking for the

Amphibious creature

To rear its head

Plug pulled

Gurgle, gurgle


Muddy white scum

Lays on the porcelain pond floor

Fully exposed

Melted smaller

Extraordinarily shaped


My white soap

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Finding Joy in This Very Moment is Good Enough

My challenge for today was to write about a moment of joy I had experienced today.

After spending much of my day doing genealogy research, I decided to watch Oprah’s Australian extravaganza in hopes of seeing something that I could say was a joyous moment. I loved seeing all the beautiful Australian sites. Truly God smiled when He formed Australia. But I wasn’t awe struck.

I loved the special guest moments with Oprah. For years I have dreamed of having my Oprah moment. My dream moment was meeting her while hiking in Telluride, Colorado and Oprah telling me she had read my book and loved it. I don’t know why this experience was so important to me. Maybe to get that affirmation from someone who seems to be socially valued and who values others as well. Maybe it’s the excitement of chatting with a celebrity about the challenges of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) families. Maybe it’s a little of both. But the Telluride dream is something I can live without and it doesn’t consume my everyday thoughts. I have learned that living a wholehearted life is to purposely find a joyous moment and to take that moment in with your whole heart, mind and body. Finding a joyous moment isn’t always easy to do.

Then today when I saw Oprah and a few of her loyal TV friends walk to the top of an Australian bridge, it totally blew my socks off. It was the most breath-taking risk I have ever seen her do. I thought to myself I have done some risky things, like go to the top of the St. Louis Arch and feel it sway. Or ride in a rubber raft down a Colorado River hanging on to the raft ropes with all of my strength, but Oprah’s bridge walking experience tops it all.

Indeed, Oprah’s bridge walk topped my most joyous moment of the day, until I looked out of my living room window and saw a juvenile Redtail Hawk swoop across my backyard close to the ground as if it was looking for prey. Momentarily I stopped breathing, as I watched the hawk perch itself high upon a limb in a neighbor’s cottonwood tree. Then I heard myself exhale with a huge “aaaah-h-h-haaa.”

I alerted my husband about this unusual occurrence. We both looked out several windows to see if we could get a better look at this gorgeous creature. Then within several seconds, the hawk flew up into the grey clouded sky and out of sight. I then realized that I had forgotten all about Oprah’s Australian bridge walk still playing in the background; waiting for the helicopter pilot to take their momentous picture.

I looked out my window for the next couple of hours to see if the hawk returned, but it didn’t. I knew then that my joyous moment would not be repeated today. The sheer joy of seeing a hawk in flight is good enough.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

In Your World of Make-Believe

We read stories everyday that takes us to a world of make-believe. Sometimes the story takes us to a far off land where boys never grow up, like in "Peter Pan" or tumbling down a rabbit's hole to have tea, like in "Alice in Wonderland."

Have you ever wondered how the author creates their stories? Many times they are from a dream they had or an event that really happened. The author takes that dream or event and places make-believe characters that remind them of someone they knew that was in the dream or at the event.

Today write your story from your own make-believe world. Not sure what to write about? Here are a couple of ideas. Pretend that a porcupine is doing the laundry at your house. Write about what happens while the porcupine does the laundry. Another idea, pretend a watermelon seed is growing from the drain in your bathtub. Write about what happens.

Don't forget to share your story with me or with a friend or two!

Happy writing!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Danny Diamondback: A Jewel of a Book Review

By Barry E. Jackson

ISBN-13: 9780061131844, 2008
Fiction: Picture Book, Humor, Snakes, Friendship, Diversity, Music

Publisher: Harper Collins: NY ; $16.99
Author site: Barry E. Jackson

Danny Diamondback is an orphaned snake who searches for a new family. From the first family of jackrabbits to the sparrows, Danny is not accepted. Danny’s parents forgot to tell him that he is a dangerous poisonous snake. Then one day he happens upon a community of prairie dogs and they too scatter like fluff on a seeded dandelion, except for visually impaired Pablo. Pablo talks his grandmother into letting Danny stay with them. Pablo and Danny get to know each other through their musical talents. Pablo talks his family into letting Danny play in their band with a disguise. Danny feels accepted until his true identity comes out during a band concert and the desert animals scatter in fear. Danny finds himself alone until he notices a pack of hungry coyotes headed toward the prairie dog community looking for some chow. Are the coyotes equally afraid of Danny? Will Danny find a new home?

Barry E. Jackson’s animated illustrations are realistically entertaining, which softens the fear factor associated with the story. The southern drawl may put some off, but shows diversity in cultures. Leaving the “g” off of words or using a colloquial speech, like “y’all” to promote inflections may make it difficult for young readers to read alone.

What I liked best about the story was Jackson’s encouragement to the reader to look beyond differences of individuals and look for something in common. Never give up in finding that place where you can fit in by being kind and open to discovering new things about new acquaintances. Equally important, Jackson tells the reader that the rattlesnake is nothing to play with by gently squeezing in important facts, so the young reader does not go away thinking that a rattlesnake is something to play with.

Some topics drawn from this story for discussion include: orphans, friendship, fear, poisonous snakes, desert wildlife, talents, tolerance, cultural diversity, visual impairment, and music.

Reviewer recommends Danny Diamondback for preschool through elementary grade libraries and homes.

Reviewed for Jewel of a book by Jewel Sample--Award-winning author of Flying Hugs and Kisses. To learn more about Jewel Sample visit her at

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

A Jewel of a Book Review: Dazzling Dragonflies

By Linda Glaser

ISBN-13: 9780822567530, 2008
Nonfiction: Picture Book, Lifecycle, Dragonflies, Science, Nature, Entomology

Publisher: Lerner Publishing Group, Inc.: MN; $22.50

How are dragonflies born? Where do they live? Will they hurt people? These are some of the fascinating questions Linda Glaser answers in her easy to understand and entertaining lifecycle story of the dragonfly. Pasoda’s realistic illustrations follow the life cycle, which helps the beginning reader learn what the dragonfly’s life cycle looks like from the egg stage through the adult stage.

What I liked best about this book is it teaches the early reader that there are more than one type of dragonfly, first in illustration and then at the end with typical question and answer pages. The thought-provoking questions introduce the reader to the critical thinking process.

Dazzling Dragonflies is recommended as a great nature resource for the elementary level reader.

Reviewed for Jewel of a book by Jewel Sample--Award-winning author of Flying Hugs and Kisses. To learn more about Jewel Sample visit her at

Sunday, September 12, 2010

A Kid’s Oral Book Review of OK GO

By Cheyenne, age 6 and Gramma

Gramma: What is the name of the book you read today?
Cheyenne: “OK GO”

Gramma: What’s the person’s name who wrote the book?
Cheyenne: First--C-A-R-I-N --then, B-E-R-G-E-R. I only know a few words because I am just learning to read. But I know my letters really well.

Gramma: Did you like the story?
Cheyenne: uh-huh

Gramma: What did you like about the book?
Cheyenne: I can read some of the words by myself. That was really fun.

Gramma: Learning new words is fun.
Cheyenne: I am learning to read. I am growing big. Now I know what “OK” looks like and I know “GO” too. I say those words a lot.

Gramma: Did you learn a favorite word?
Cheyenne: Yeah, Screeeech. Cars do that when they S-T-O-P, stop really fast.

Gramma: What did you learn that you did not know before?
Cheyenne: I saw Kate roller skating. I have never done that before. I want to learn to do that because when you skate you save gas.

Gramma: Is there anything else about the book that you want to tell kids?
Cheyenne: I saw the word Uh-oh! That’s a mom’s word. Mom says that a lot. Kids can see what that word looks like. Okay The End.

Kid's Oral Book Review by Jewel Sample--Award-winning author of Flying Hugs and Kisses. To learn more about Jewel Sample visit her at