Virginia Johnson

01/14/2013 - 11:47am

Sometimes, it seems like everybody goes hiking and camping in the great outdoors in the sticky, sweltering summertime. Those are the days when the bugs are at their worst, and the heat alone can leave you panting on the side of the trail before an hour is done. For an easier time of it, grab your gear in the spring or fall. Cooler days and mostly bug-free trails make for great hiking adventures, whether by the ocean or in the mountains. November 17 is Take a Hike Day, but any day is a good day to hike.

01/22/2013 - 12:48pm

It takes three sets of people -- the president, the judges, and the Congress -- to make our government work. If the president does something wrong, it's up to the judges and Congress to hold him accountable. If laws are made by Congress that people think are not really fair, the judges can strike them down, or the president can choose to veto them before they become laws. Supreme Court judges are appointed by the president, but they usually stay on long after the president has left office, so as time passes we have a mix of different political views.

01/15/2013 - 11:22am

The best craft store may be right outside your door. This summer, take time in the cool mornings to gather together pieces of nature to work into craft projects in the afternoons. That way you’ll have a remembrance of summer to keep all year long. Rocks can become patterned pictures. Leaves can make delicate prints. Everything in nature can inspire your arts and crafts.

01/14/2013 - 10:56am

Rocks come in all shapes and sizes, but what kind are they? You can’t ask them, but sometimes, if you know how to listen, they’ll tell you anyway.

The shape and size of a rock doesn’t tell you much about what it’s made of.
Big rocks break into smaller rocks all the time. But there are other things to look for that can give you their I.D.

01/10/2013 - 11:34am

Our rivers, lakes, and beaches are beautiful, but are they safe? Every day, the toxic runoff from parking lots, busy roads and quiet subdivisions makes its way into our streams and oceans. Even the oil burning off from cars on the roads gets washed into the groundwater and streams by way of the storm drain every time it rains.

The more houses we build, the more pollution we will add to our environment. Every time we lay down a new parking lot or piece of roadway, there is an impact on our environment.

01/10/2013 - 11:35am

Slow, sleepy winter days find many animals curled up in their dens. They sleep warmly through winter, awakening in spring ready to enjoy the renewed Earth. This unusual, deep sleep is called hibernation.

What Is Hibernation?

True hibernation is a very deep sleep. The animal's body temperature drops, its breathing slows, and it is very difficult to awaken. But some animals, such as most bears, do not really hibernate.

01/10/2013 - 1:14pm

One fine morning, the old wooden dam went up in clouds of smoke and broken timber. It was a huge thing—ancient and strong, built to tame the Rappahannock River. Once the power of the water pushing against it had provided electricity for the town. But that was years ago. The dam was falling apart, but so slowly that it was becoming dangerous. So the Army Corps of Engineers blew it up one morning.

01/08/2013 - 2:02pm
The Rumpelstiltskin Problem by Vivian Vande Velde

What's wrong with this story:

A father tells the authorities his daughter can do impossible things AND the authorities believe him. 
A soon-to-be bride promises to give her future baby away to a TROLL. 
Said bride agrees to marry the man who's threatened to kill her if she can't keep doing the impossible. 
What would a troll do with a baby anyhow, and why would he give her all that spun gold for a tiny ring? 
Why doesn't the heroine do ANYTHING to get herself out of this predicament?!

This old fairy tale is such a ridiculous story that the author wanted to fix it. So Vivian Vande Velde set out to do so six different ways in The Rumpelstiltskin Problem. The characters never come out the same in these retellings. The troll in "A Fairy Tale in Bad Taste" has gruesome appetites. "Straw Into Gold" has our beauty and her father resorting to an elaborate con game to keep from starving to death in the days before Social Security or insurance.

01/03/2013 - 10:55am

Rosemary Wells is one of our best-loved writers and illustrators for very young people.  Her “Max and Ruby” books capture the relationship between a bossy big sister and her inquisitive (and stubborn!) little brother.  That they happen to look rather a lot like rabbits makes no difference to the stories. Rosemary Wells’ wry humor turns these brief books into rather perfect treasures for the preschool set.

01/03/2013 - 10:54am

Oranges bring a warm sweetness to the dreariest winter day. They are full of good things: vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Some oranges are used to make juice while others are eaten just as they are.

Where Do Oranges Come From?

When we think of oranges, we think of sunny places, such as Florida, California, Spain, and Brazil. But oranges were not originally (oranginally?) grown in those places. A long time ago, the first oranges grew wild in China and India. The word orange comes from a Sanskrit word--naranga. The first oranges to travel to Western countries about 1,000 years ago tasted sour. Five hundred years later, sweet oranges made their way to Europe.


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