Articles

Swampwise by Okefenokee Joe

 

In this amazing book the author treats his readers to his incredible recollections and observations about the animals who lived with, and around him in the Okefenokee Swamp Park in the south east of Georgia.

When I finished reading this incredible book, I turned to my husband and said, “WOW, how can a review ever give this book the acclamation it deserves?”

The author had his first real taste of nature and the natural world when he was sent aged 9 to the YMCA Camp Carson, in the beautiful Appalachian Mountains. At first he missed his mum and dad, however, before long, it was the wildness and natural world of Camp Carson he craved when back home. He loved being amongst the natural world, discovered a fascination for it — especially snakes. With this came, a deeper understanding of God’s work in giving us the wonderful natural world, which is all around us.

After a successful career as a singer/songwriter/entertainer for over twenty years, burnt out and tired of the Nashville scene, his marriage in tatters, he cancelled his remaining shows. A broken man, at the age of 41, in desperation, while others would have started on the way to ruin, he remembered those years he had spent at camp in childhood, and the love he had of camping. Searching for answers and with only a tent and other essentials provided by a friend, he set off in his jeep into the swamps of South Central Florida. Alone with his thoughts, he began to ask God for guidance and became one with nature. He learned how to trap and sell snakes, surviving by his skills, he was beginning to find inner peace.

It was the offer of work by another friend who managed the famous Okefenokee Swamp Park near Waycross in Georgia which was to take him onto the next stage of his life.

The great Okefenokee Swamp is in the south east of Georgia. It is not really a swamp and contains many small islands. Covering about seven hundred and fifty square miles, it is a large designated wilderness area east of the Mississippi River, and is an area of outstanding natural beauty, with all its wildlife protected by law. Heaven indeed, and the place which the author would call home for the next nine years. And what an interesting nine years they were.

Through the vividly descriptive writing of this talented man, we the readers are treated to some amazing stories and observations about the animals who live with, and around him. We discover how he befriends the abandoned dog, who is to become his canine companion Swampy before he moved to the park in South Central Florida, and how the next day Swampy appeared in the jeep ready to go with him on the adventure to his new home. Indeed, it is Swampy who finds the little calico kitten Skeeter, who becomes part of their small family, in the picnic area of the park.

However, we also learn through these tales of the animals, which are truly wild and live alongside him, and through his example realize that their territory is not automatically ours to walk over and claim. As he says, true wild animals are born to be self-reliant and self-sufficient; it is the way God intended them to be.

I loved the way that throughout this amazing book the emphasis is on understanding nature, living with it, respecting it, and recognizing that the creatures around us have just as much right to be on this earth as we do. There is so much to learn at the turn of every page, and even more if you read between the lines and take away from it the understanding that the natural world is out there for all to enjoy.

However, in the natural world there is also cruelty, and the author doesn’t hide this side from his readers; after all, ‘nature is not cruel, it is just sublimely indifferent’ as anyone with a pet cat will tell you.

After over nine years at the Okefenokee Swamp Park, ‘Okefenokee Joe’ as he had become known decided to spread the word, and for over four decades he has done just that. He has delivered his “Earth Day Every Day” message to school children of all ages, bringing along with him a selection of native venomous and non-venomous snakes, to help as visual aids, and in teaching the children to be ‘swampwise.’ He has written, recorded and sang songs praising all God’s creations, and now he has written this truly amazing book, and I for one am in total awe of what this man has achieved.

The author has also released an audiobook “Swampwise Secrets Songs and Stories from the Land of the Trembling Earth!” and will soon be releasing “Snake Hunter Snake Talk.”

In Summary: Throughout this amazing period of his life the author learned how to be ‘swampwise’ – really looking at, studying and taking notice of his surroundings. In this modern world, where ‘Mindfullness’ is very much the ‘in’ word, how I wish more people could be like the author and learn to appreciate the amazing natural world around us the same way. Highly Recommended!

About the Book:

Experience the thrill and amazement as Okefenokee Joe uncovers and explains “The Golden Rule of Nature”! Share with Joe the love & faithfulness of his two best friends in the swamp; Swampy the Dog & Skeeter the Cat! Come along with Joe step by step, as he plays momma’ & nursemaid to ‘Streak’ the Bobcat Kitten! Learn with Joe as he discovers the Character Lessons all wild swamp plants & animals so clearly demonstrate! Enjoy Okefenokee Joe’s Enlightening “Earth Day Every Day” message taught by, believe it or not, The Snakes themselves!

Author’s website: https://www.okefenokeejoe.com/

Swampwise is available in Paperback from Amazon https://www.amazon.com/Swampwise-Okefenokee-Joe/dp/0997337109/ref=sr_1_1?qid=1567413824&refinements=p_27%3AOkefenokee+Joe&s=books&sr=1-1&text=Okefenokee+Joe

and the Author’s website https://www.okefenokeejoe.com/

 

NEIGHBORS: The Yard Critters, Book 1 by George Held

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A wonderful way for children to learn about the critters in their yard.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As soon as I received this book I knew it was going to be something special. I sat with my little granddaughter who loves animals, and together we enjoyed this wonderful selection of poems written by George Held, and beautifully illustrated by the talented Joung Un Kim.

Yard Critters: Book 1 is an enchanting way for children to learn about the animals who live in their own back yard or neighborhood. The author has cleverly incorporated into each lovely poem, in a fun way, a wealth of information about some of the creatures the reader could come across.

Without even trying, and with a smile on her face my granddaughter learnt about squirrels, rabbits, deer, raccoons, possums, robins, earthworms, bats, garter snakes, and groundhogs. She also discovered another animal in the book, one which wouldn’t fit in her yard, but, I’m not going to tell you what it is, you will have to read the story and find out for yourself…

As a parent and grandparent, what I really loved about this book is that it teaches children a very important lesson, one which tends to be forgotten these days, that this earth is for all creatures and every one of them has a place on it.

I would recommend this wonderful children’s book to parents, grandparents, and care givers, to read to their children, and for the children themselves to read when they are able to.

 

About the Author:

GEORGE HELD, poet and writer, is a seven-time Pushcart Prize nominee. He has published seventeen poetry collections, including a trilogy of chapbooks on nature themes, and has served on the board of the South Fork Natural History Museum in Bridgehampton, New York, since 1991. His work appears in such publications as The Philadelphia Inquirer, Notre Dame Review, Confrontation, and The Writer’s Almanac (Garrison Keillor). Educated at Brown (B.A.), University of Hawai’i (M.A.), and Rutgers (Ph.D), he was a Fulbright lecturer for three years and is a former professor at Queens College, City University of New York. He lives in New York and Sag Harbor

 

About the Illustrator:

JOUNG UN KIM, illustrator and designer, is a graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design. She has illustrated many picture books for children, including The Grasshopper Hopped [Golden Books/Random House] and Hen Hears Gossip [Greenwillow/Harper Collins]. She lives in Southern California.

 

About the Book:

Children’s picture book with collaged illustrations and short, accessible poems about the wild animals we often find in our suburban yards, city streets, and country house landscapes.Included are the Squirrel, Possum, Deer, Raccoon, Bear, No Elephant, Bat, Rabbit, Turtle, Garter Snake, Earthworm, Robin, Groundhog — with collaged illustrations and a special poetic form for the Raccoon: the Racku. Primary age group is 6-7 — but children as young as 3 can be read to and can appreciate the illustrations. This is the first book in the NEIGHBORS series. A companion, NEIGHBORS The Yard Critters TOO is also available. The underlying message of both books is that all creatures have a place in nature.

 

NEIGHBORS: The Yard Critters, Book 1 is available from Amazon in Hardcover https://www.amazon.com/Neighbors-Yard-Critters-Book-1/dp/0916754251/ref=sr_1_sc_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1513083834&sr=1-2-spell&keywords=The+Yard+Critters+by+geore+held 

and

Barnes & Noble https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/neighbors-george-held/1113012751?ean=9780916754259

 

Bibi & Babu in Africa (Volume 1) by Bonnie Toews & John Christiansen.

1940145465

When Bonnie Toews and John Christiansen decided to take their first holiday to Africa together in their 70’s, the experience was not only amazing, but life changing.

I read this book with my Grandsons and before they opened it, the first thing they wanted to know is “Who are Bibi and Babu? Of course I couldn’t tell them, however we soon discovered that they are the Swahili names for Grandma and Grandpa.

Sitting together, reading the story, it seemed as if we were sitting with Bibi and Babu, looking at their 2013 Africa holiday album, it was lovely to see so many natural photos.

The book starts with an introduction to Africa, and then Bibi and Babu set off for their adventure in Tanzania and Kenya. As we worked our way through the book, the children loved seeing and learning about other children who live a totally different life, on the other side of the world. They were especially fascinated finding out about the Kilimanjaro Orphanage Centre in Pasua, Tanzania and the work which goes on there.

Being children who are bought up with animals, seeing the amazing African animals in their natural setting was a part of the book they loved, and I was pleased that it gave me the opportunity to explain how important conservation is for their continued survival.

This is a lovely book for children. For me, the most important part of it was that there were no cartoon animals and imaginary places which don’t exist, this couple’s journey was real. By being presented as it is, it makes Africa, it’s peoples and wild life come to life in a believable way, and teaches children, whether they are read it, or read it themselves, the wonders of the real world.

Oh, and Babu won the respect of our two little boys, but you’ll have to read the book to find out why!

About the Author:      

A former editorial director of 30 trade magazines for the business division of Canada’s major newspaper chain, Bonnie Toews turned to writing fiction after she covered the greatest humanitarian relief effort in Rwanda 1994. Greater efforts have been achieved since, but then, up to one million Rwandans had just been slaughtered within 100 days with greater efficiency than the Nazis mastered during the World War II Holocaust. Her eyewitness view contributes to the plight of children in war as a recurring theme through her dramatic thrillers. She writes: “Children are the powerless victims of an adult world gone mad. There is no justification for the slaughter and maiming of children. They are not responsible for the deeds of their parents or governments. On my return flight to Canada, I decided fiction was the best way to show readers how to triumph over betrayal, to let them see the true power of forgiveness and our struggle to achieve it, for as long as victims and perpetrators seek retribution against each other, the world can never live in true peace.”

With hundreds of published articles and five business press awards in her portfolio, Bonnie continues to support better care and treatment of Canada’s veterans and is a member of the Canadian Veterans Advocacy, Military Writers Society of America, Christian Writers’ Association and American Authors Association.

ABOUT THE BIBI & BABU TRAVEL SERIES

“Bibi” and “Babu” are Swahili names for Grandma and Grandpa, and when grandparents Bonnie Toews and John Christiansen go to Central Africa, their tour guides fondly call them, Bibi and Babu. These nicknames stick, and as they share their journeys in a series of armchair adventures to faraway lands, they introduce you to countries and people who live in different worlds from the one you know. Their memoirs, however, are not meant to be travel guides. They are meant for adults and children to read and discuss together. Bonnie and John believe: “Reading with your child or grandchild not only entertains them, it can strengthen the bonds between you. We also want to encourage everyone to live your dream. Age doesn’t have to sideline you from living to your fullest capacity.” While in Africa in 2013, John climbed up Mount Kilimanjaro when he was 77-years-old. At the time he was the second oldest man to reach the top of the second tallest mountain in the world.

Available from:

Amazon sites in:

Paperback http://www.amazon.com/Bibi-Babu-Africa-Travel/dp/1940145465/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1440419242&sr=8-1&keywords=bibi+and+babu+in+africa&pebp=1440419248653&perid=0MSNVDDYTR2CBGBP5406

and Kindle format http://www.amazon.com/Bibi-Babu-Africa-Travel-Book-ebook/dp/B013JEZHWE/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1440419242&sr=8-1

Barnes & Noble in

Paperback http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/bibi-babu-in-africa-bonnie-toews/1120962664?ean=9780692274606

and as a Nook book http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/bibi-babu-in-africa-bonnie-toews/1120962664?ean=2940151000604

and Indigo https://www.chapters.indigo.ca/en-ca/books/bibi-babu-in-africa/9781940145464-item.html

 

 

Bon Voyage! by Susie Kelly

Product Details

About the Author: Susie Kelly was born in grey post-war London, and spent much of her childhood and young adulthood in the beautiful country of Kenya.
She now lives in south-west France with a menagerie of assorted animals, and is passionate about animal welfare.
Her first book “Best Foot Forward” was published by Transworld Publishers in 2003, followed by “Two Steps Backward” in 2004, and “A Perfect Circle” in 2006.
Since 2011 Susie’s books have been published by Blackbird Digital Books, whose theme is strong, adventurous women living life to the full. Blackbird Digital Book people love birds and animals, travel, history, romance, natural health and environment, resourcefulness, humour, the surreal and magic.
If her house caught fire and she could only save three things (apart from her animals, of course), they would be courage, compassion and a sense of humour.

 

As the cover says, this book is a sampler of some of Susie Kelly’s amazing books.

The chapters titled Travels with Tinkerbelle and Best Foot Forward will entertain you as you learn about her adventures in a campervan, and on foot as she discovers different areas in France. In true Susie style, you find yourself experiencing her trials and tribulations, on these epic journeys. France as you will never have read about it before.

Perhaps you are interested in history and would like read about the last few days of Marie Antoinette and Louix XVI as they desperately tried to escape the revolution, and visit, many years on, with Susie, places on their journey.

Do you fancy running a gite in France? Do you wonder why people do it, and what it is really like, you can read about Susie’s  experiences in the chapter titled Swallows & Robins.

And for those who love a little glimpse into  other peoples lives, learn a little about Susie’s childhood and life in the U.K. and Kenya, in I Wish I Could Say I Was Sorry…

Entertaining is an understatement! Susie’s honest, direct, and very funny style of writing will captivate you, as you read these samples. I hope you enjoy them, and become, like me, totally hooked on all her books.

Available from Amazon in Paperback http://www.amazon.com/Bon-Voyage-Susie-Kelly/dp/1495221733/ref=sr_1_1_title_1_pap?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1403264657&sr=1-1&keywords=on+voyage+by+susie+Kelly

and Kindle format http://www.amazon.com/Bon-Voyage-Susie-Kelly-ebook/dp/B00D0FWUGY/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&sr=1-1&qid=1403264657

 

 

 

Alpaca Relaxation Guide by Nina Faust

The Alpaca Relaxation Guide by Nina Faust

 

 

Stress is a big worry these days but not if you are an Alpaca!

 

A delightful book, the Alpaca Relaxation Guide is a playful look into how Alpaca’s relax and how, by studying them you can gain inner peace.

 

This is a light-hearted guide and a wonderful introduction into the characters of these beautiful animals. As we are treated, by Nina, to glimpse into what it takes to care for these beautiful animals on her wildlife preserve in Homer, Alaska, we learn snippets of information about them.  Whether you are an Alpaca fan or just plain curious about these beautiful animals, I’m sure you will be totally captivated by the end of this book.

 

Full of bright colorful photographs of the author’s own animals it is a joy to read and a lovely insight into the joy and harmony, which can be experienced by both alpacas and their owners.

 

Nina Faust is a retired high school math/English teacher, amateur videographer, and author.

 

The Alpaca Relaxation Guide can be purchased from: http://homerbookstore.com/orders.html