Category Archives: children

Curious about Libra, the Scales? The Story of Libra and how to Spot this Constellation in the Night Sky

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Libra represents those born from September 23—October 22.   Libra is the seventh Zodiac sign of the year, right after Virgo.

Myth and Legend:  Way back in ancient times, the Libra constellation was known as the claws… of the scorpion!  But that dramatic description fell out of favor and the constellation over time became known as simply, ‘The Scales,’ meaning justice, balance and harmony.  It’s related to the Virgo constellation.  Virgo is shown as a beautiful young woman —and often the Goddess Astraea— who carries the scales of justice in her hands:  Those scales are the Libra constellation.   Libra is also visible in the Autumn/Fall equinox, when the days and nights are of equal length and so in balance.

Constellation:

Libra Constellation

Do we think this collection of stars actually looks like a pair of scales? The top maybe? Although you have to imagine the weighing scales at the bottom.  Personally, I think it most resembles an unfinished tetrahedron, but where’s the myth in a geometric shape?

Libra is not a dramatic constellation.  If you can find the nearby bright stars of Spica and Antares, you can then see the fainter stars in Libra.  The most visible star in Libra is the crazily named Zubeneschamail, Beta Librae!  Then there is Apha Librae and Gamma Librae.  These three stars make up the upper part of the scale.

The best viewing time for the Libra constellation is in June at around 9pm; between latitudes + 65° and – 90° in the northern hemisphere.  If you live in the southern hemisphere, look for the Libra constellation in the autumn/fall and winter.  Use a star map as a guide and a knowledgeable star gazer to assist you.

Extra Fun Fact: Libra means “the weighing scales” in Latin.  The scales are held by the Roman Goddess, Astraea (Dike in Greek Mythology).

Next Post—Curious about Scorpio, (October 23 – November 21). The Story of Scorpio and How to spot this Constellation in the Night Sky.

Evonne Blanchard is the author of, ‘Amelia, the Moochins and the Sapphire Palace and ‘Amelia, the Venutons and the Golden Cage.  These are the first two books in, ‘Amelia’s Amazing Space Adventures,’ an exciting series of ten books set in outer space (for children ages 5-9).

Ever wondered if aliens exist? What if one needed your help? Would you travel to outer space?  For the adventures… of a lifetime!

Book One: Amelia, the Moochins and the Sapphire Palace

When is a present not a present?  When it’s a friendly purple alien called Uglesnoo, from the planet Pluto!  Uglesnoo needs to leave right away for the Moon.  Uglesnoo also desperately needs Amelia’s help.  Should Amelia venture into outer Space?

kindle cover for upload

Appealing Illustrations combine with lots of text to make this a great read for children transitioning from picture books to chapter books.” – Kirkus Reviews

The story is imaginative and fun…and a perfect book to stretch my oldest in his independent reading with something fun to keep his attention.” —Beautiful Books for Children

Click below for a preview:

Amazon.com

Or

Amazon.co.uk

Read this book and over 1 million other books with Kindle Unlimited.

 

Book Two: Amelia, the Venutons and the Golden Cage

Uglesnoo needs Amelia’s help.  His sister is very sick.  The only cure is a repelling crystal from Neptune.  With his Earthling friend, Amelia, they must continue their quest.  More items are needed to buy the crystal.  But Venus is full of danger and angry aliens.  Are Uglesnoo and Amelia in over their heads?

Amelia the Venutons cover with text

“A lively sequel offers a sure-handed blend of fantasy, humor, adventure, and an ingenious heroine.” Kirkus Reviews

5/5 star rating!  “Amelia, the Venutons and the Golden Cage is a wonderful children’s book that will allow your kids to get started in the Sci-Fi genre… The story is intriguing and well thought out. All in all, the author did a great job of creating an engaging story that kept my kids interested. We are definitely looking forward to the next book!”- Examiner.com

Click below for a preview:

Amazon.com

or

Amazon.co.uk

Read this book and over 1 million other books with Kindle Unlimited.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Curious about Virgo the Maiden? The Story of Virgo and how to Spot this Constellation in the Night Sky

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Virgo Characteristics:  Virgo represents those born from August 23—September 22.   Virgo is the sixth Zodiac sign of the year, right after Leo.

Good Things about Virgo: Observant, precise, reliable.  Very robot like.  Confession, I’m a Virgo…There, I’m finally admitted it!

Bad Things about Virgo: Shyness, critical, tendency to worry. Oh, dear I, err…I mean you Virgos out there are neurotic messes!

Myth and Legend:  The constellation Virgo is associated with many myths, which differ depending on the civilization.  Even in Greco-Roman mythology, this constellation has a couple of different stories.  We’re going to focus on the most popular story, that of Persephone, a beautiful young goddess and the daughter of Zeus and Demeter.

Hades, Lord of the Underworld fell in love with Persephone.  One bright spring day while she was gathering flowers, Hades appeared out of the earth, riding a chariot with four coal black horses.  He charged towards Persephone, grabbed her and placed her in the chariot.  A chasm then appeared in the earth ahead of them and the chariot then plunged back into the underworld.

Demeter, Persephone’s mother, was the goddess of agriculture.  Furious at her daughter’s abduction, she deliberately ruined all the harvests.  Soon the people were starving.  Zeus spoke with Hades about releasing Persephone.  Hades reluctantly agreed, but persuaded Persephone- who previously had not eaten since she arrived in the underworld – to consume a single pomegranate seed.  It was a sly trick on Hades part, as anyone who eats in the Underworld may never leave it! After further negotiation with Zeus, it was agreed that Persephone would spend six months of the year with her mother.  Her mother delighted, would begin the sowing that starts in spring and leads to the summer harvest.  The other six months of the year, Persephone would spend with Hades in the Underworld.  Demeter her mother would go into mourning during this time and so the seasons of fall/autumn and winter came to pass.

The constellation was placed in the sky to commemorate the beautiful young maiden Persephone and explain the story behind the earth’s seasons.

Element Sign: Along with Taurus and Capricorn, Virgo is an Earth sign.  Earth signs are all very dull err…I mean dutiful.  They have a strong sense of responsibility to those around them and are also very reliable.  But before you nod off — when reading about all their stoic qualities —they also have a tendency to be greedy and materialistic.  Us Virgos have a dark side after all!

Glyph:  When I first saw the sign for Virgo, I thought it looks like a fanciful M, maybe meaning maiden?  Well, I was completely wrong.  Apparently, the glyph represents…intestines! Yes, you read that correctly.  The glyph for Virgo— beautiful young maiden— is the organ where all the food is processed! I’ve really no idea how they came up with that one!

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Constellation: Does the Virgo constellation resemble a beautiful young maiden?  Well you need a lot of imagination to see that.  It mostly looks like a stick figure, stuck in the sky.  But if you draw in some hair and a dress…yeah I can sort of see a young woman now.

 The best viewing time for the Virgo constellation is in May at around 9pm; between latitudes + 80° and – 80° in the northern hemisphere.  If you live in the southern hemisphere, look for the Virgo constellation in the autumn/fall and winter.  Use a star map as a guide and a knowledgeable star gazer to assist you.

VirgoCC

 Extra Fun Fact: Virgo is Latin for virgin.  The Virgo constellation is the second biggest and contains Spica, one of the brightest stars in the night sky.

Next Post—Curious about Libra, (September 23 – October 22)?  The Story of Libra and How to spot this Constellation in the Night Sky.

Evonne Blanchard is the author of, ‘Amelia, the Moochins and the Sapphire Palace and ‘Amelia, the Venutons and the Golden Cage.  These are the first two books in, ‘Amelia’s Amazing Space Adventures,’ an exciting series of ten books set in outer space (for children ages 5-9).

Ever wondered if aliens exist? What if one needed your help? Would you travel to outer space?  For the adventures… of a lifetime!

New Book Two: Amelia, the Venutons and the Golden Cage

Uglesnoo needs Amelia’s help.  His sister is very sick.  The only cure is a repelling crystal from Neptune.  With his Earthling friend, Amelia, they must continue their quest.  More items are needed to buy the crystal.  But Venus is full of danger and angry aliens.  Are Uglesnoo and Amelia in over their heads?

Amelia the Venutons cover with text

“A lively sequel offers a sure-handed blend of fantasy, humor, adventure, and an ingenious heroine.” Kirkus Reviews

5/5 star rating!  “Amelia, the Venutons and the Golden Cage is a wonderful children’s book that will allow your kids to get started in the Sci-Fi genre… The story is intriguing and well thought out. All in all, the author did a great job of creating an engaging story that kept my kids interested. We are definitely looking forward to the next book!”- Examiner.com

Click below for a preview:

Amazon.com

or

Amazon.co.uk

Read this book and over 1 million other books with Kindle Unlimited.

Book One: Amelia, the Moochins and the Sapphire Palace

When is a present not a present?  When it’s a friendly purple alien called Uglesnoo, from the planet Pluto!  Uglesnoo needs to leave right away for the Moon.  Uglesnoo also desperately needs Amelia’s help.  Should Amelia venture into outer Space?

kindle cover for upload

Click below for a preview:

Amazon.com

Or

Amazon.co.uk

Read this book and over 1 million other books with Kindle Unlimited.

 “Appealing Illustrations combine with lots of text to make this a great read for children transitioning from picture books to chapter books.” – Kirkus Reviews

The story is imaginative and fun…and a perfect book to stretch my oldest in his independent reading with something fun to keep his attention.” —Beautiful Books for Children

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fun Space Facts for Children: What is a Comet? And have you heard of a Halley’s?

Halley's Comet

You’ve probably heard of a comet, but do you know exactly what it is?  A comet is a mixture of rock and ice.  It’s absolutely huge and flies through space at stupendous speeds.  The core of a comet can be anywhere from 2 to 150 miles (3.22-241.40 kilometers) wide!

Just like planets, comets revolve around the Sun.  But when they get closer to the Sun, part of the icy core turns into a gas, which in turn forms a glowing serpentine tail, stretching for millions of miles!  Some comets are so bright and beautiful; you can even see them during the day!

Have you ever seen a Halley’s, as in Halley’s Comet?  If you’re old, like me, you’ll remember the last sighting in 1986.   And if you’re young now, you’ll be getting on in years when Halley’s Comet makes its next scheduled appearance in 2061.

The English astronomer Edmond Halley, (1656-1742) first discovered this comet, and it remains the most famous comet of all.  As he researched records of a mysterious light in the sky, he found these sightings occurred in 1531, 1607 and 1682, all exactly 76 years apart.  He predicted it would next make a glowing showing in 1758.  And it did!  Ever since then it’s been known as Halley’s Comet.

Extra Fun Fact

The date is 1066.  The event is the battle of Hastings, an event that would change the course of English history.  English astrologers noted the bright light in the sky: Halley’s Comet is as fourth as bright as the moon and four times bigger than Venus.

An omen or a blessing, they pondered?  William the Conqueror thought it a, “Wonderful sign from heaven,” and for him it proved to be true.  He won the battle and the Normans took over England.   Later William commissioned the Bayeux Tapestry – to commemorate his conquest – he made sure to include his blessing from heaven.  Halley’s Comet appears in the top center of this piece of the Tapestry.  Can you spot it?

Halley Comet Bayeaux

 Evonne Blanchard is the author of, ‘Amelia, the Moochins and the Sapphire Palace and ‘Amelia, the Venutons and the Golden Cage.  These are the first two books in, ‘Amelia’s Amazing Space Adventures,’ an exciting series of ten books set in outer space (for children ages 5-9).

Ever wondered if aliens exist? What if one needed your help? Would you travel to outer space?  For the adventures… of a lifetime!

New Amelia, the Venutons and the Golden Cage:  Book Two

Uglesnoo needs Amelia’s help.  His sister is very sick.  The only cure is a repelling crystal from Neptune.  With his Earthling friend, Amelia, they must continue their quest.  More items are needed to buy the crystal.  But Venus is full of danger and angry aliens.  Are Uglesnoo and Amelia in over their heads?

Amelia the Venutons cover with text

“A lively sequel offers a sure-handed blend of fantasy, humor, adventure, and an ingenious heroine.” Kirkus Reviews

5/5 star rating!  “Amelia, the Venutons and the Golden Cage is a wonderful children’s book that will allow your kids to get started in the Sci-Fi genre… The story is intriguing and well thought out. All in all, the author did a great job of creating an engaging story that kept my kids interested. We are definitely looking forward to the next book!”- Examiner.com

Click below for a preview:

Amazon.com

or

Amazon.co.uk

Amelia, the Moochins and the Sapphire Palace:  Book One

When is a present not a present?  When it’s a friendly purple alien called Uglesnoo, from the planet Pluto!  Uglesnoo needs to leave right away for the Moon.  Uglesnoo also desperately needs Amelia’s help.  Should Amelia venture into outer Space?

kindle cover for upload

Click below for a preview:

Amazon.com

Or

Amazon.co.uk

 “Appealing Illustrations combine with lots of text to make this a great read for children transitioning from picture books to chapter books.” – Kirkus Reviews

The story is imaginative and fun…and a perfect book to stretch my oldest in his independent reading with something fun to keep his attention.” —Beautiful Books for Children

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Curious about Leo the Lion? The Story of Leo and how to Spot this Constellation in the Night Sky

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Leo Characteristics:  Leo represents those born from July 23—August 22.   Leo is the fifth Zodiac sign of the year, right after Cancer.

Good Things about Leo: Energetic, optimistic and loyal.  You sound way too good to be true!

Bad Things about Leo: Arrogant, possessive and headstrong.  So, you are too good to be true.  You’re as domineering as…well a lion!

Myth and Legend:   In ancient Greek mythology Leo represents the lion and one lion in particular: The Nemean lion.  This lion was much larger and tougher than a normal lion.  For it was also the child of two monsters; Typhon and Echidna.    After eating lots of people in Nemea, the famous Greek hero Hercules (Heracles) was ordered to kill it, as the first of his twelve labors.

Unfortunately, the Nemean lion had an incredibly tough hide, so normal arrows and spears simply bounced off its’ golden fur.  Hercules overcame this problem with his legendary strength.  He first wrestled, then strangled the lion.  He later wore the animal’s skin as a cloak.  Its special fur helped to protect him from other dangers.

It was later placed in the sky by the Gods, because the lion was considered king of all the beasts on Earth.

Mosaico Trabajos Hércules (M.A.N. Madrid) 01

Hercules slaying the Nemean lion.  Roman mosaic Lliria, Spain: Credit Wikipedia

Element Sign: Along with Aries and Sagittarius, Leo is a fire sign.  Fire signs tend to be extroverts, sociable and enthusiastic.  So far so good, but wait for it…you’re crazy drama queens as well!

Glyph:  The Leo glyph can at first sight look like a mad scribble.  But this scribble has deeper meaning—apparently.  The circle to the left of the glyph symbolizes completion and unity, traits important to a Leo—see loyalty above.  The swirl on the right represents both the flowing mane and then the curling tail of this great cat.

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Constellation: The Leo constellation is a big improvement on many other star clusters, in that the body of the constellation actually does look like a large cat resting. The head however is another story.   Where’s the lion’s majestic profile and magnificent mane? This head is more hook than handsome. In fact, the whole Leo constellation honestly looks more like a coat hanger, than the mightiest of the beasts.  But as constellations go—I have to admit —it’s more realistic than most.

When can you see the Leo constellation in the night sky? Well it’s easier to spot than most, due to the body of the constellation looking like—a big cat!  The best viewing time is in April at around 9pm; between latitudes + 90° and – 65° in the northern hemisphere.  If you live in the southern hemisphere, look for the Leo constellation in the summer and autumn/fall. As always use a star map as a guide and a knowledgeable star gazer is a big help.

LeoCC 

Extra Fun Fact: Leo is Latin for lion.  And did you know that lions used to live in Greece?  Yes, until about 100BC, when they became extinct!

Next Post—Curious about Virgo, (August 23 – September 22). The Story of Virgo and How to spot this Constellation in the Night Sky.

 Evonne Blanchard is the author of, ‘Amelia, the Moochins and the Sapphire Palace and ‘Amelia, the Venutons and the Golden Cage.  These are the first two books in, ‘Amelia’s Amazing Space Adventures,’ an exciting series of ten books set in outer space (for children ages 5-9).

Ever wondered if aliens exist? What if one needed your help? Would you travel to outer space?  For the adventures… of a lifetime!

New Amelia, the Venutons and the Golden Cage:  Book Two

Uglesnoo needs Amelia’s help.  His sister is very sick.  The only cure is a repelling crystal from Neptune.  With his Earthling friend, Amelia, they must continue their quest.  More items are needed to buy the crystal.  But Venus is full of danger and angry aliens.  Are Uglesnoo and Amelia in over their heads?

Amelia the Venutons cover with text

“A lively sequel offers a sure-handed blend of fantasy, humor, adventure, and an ingenious heroine.” Kirkus Reviews

5/5 star rating!  “Amelia, the Venutons and the Golden Cage is a wonderful children’s book that will allow your kids to get started in the Sci-Fi genre… The story is intriguing and well thought out. All in all, the author did a great job of creating an engaging story that kept my kids interested. We are definitely looking forward to the next book!”- Examiner.com

Click below for a preview:

Amazon.com

or

Amazon.co.uk

Read this book and over 1 million other books with Kindle Unlimited.

Amelia, the Moochins and the Sapphire Palace:  Book One

When is a present not a present?  When it’s a friendly purple alien called Uglesnoo, from the planet Pluto!  Uglesnoo needs to leave right away for the Moon.  Uglesnoo also desperately needs Amelia’s help.  Should Amelia venture into outer Space?

kindle cover for upload

Click below for a preview:

Amazon.com

Or

Amazon.co.uk

Read this book and over 1 million other books with Kindle Unlimited.

 “Appealing Illustrations combine with lots of text to make this a great read for children transitioning from picture books to chapter books.” – Kirkus Reviews

The story is imaginative and fun…and a perfect book to stretch my oldest in his independent reading with something fun to keep his attention.”Beautiful Books for Children

 

 

 

Kirkus Review of, ‘Amelia, the Venutons and the Golden Cage.’

Amelia the Venutons cover with text

AMELIA, THE VENUTONS AND THE GOLDEN CAGE

“A lively sequel offers a sure-handed blend of fantasy, humor, adventure, and an ingenious heroine.”
From the “Amelia’s Amazing Space Adventures” series, volume 2
by Evonne Blanchard, illustrated byMikeMotz.com

KIRKUS REVIEW

In this second installment of a space-travel fantasy series for young readers, a little girl and her purple alien pal visit Venus.

At the end of the first book in Amelia’s Amazing Space Adventures chapter-book series, the 8-year-old title character returns from a trip to the moon with her new friend Uglesnoo, a three-armed visitor from Pluto. The two are working their way through the solar system (one planet per volume, it seems) to locate items necessary to save Uglesnoo’s sister from an “endless sleep” and to find an antidote for the rafter-raising snores of Amelia’s sibling. Next stop: Venus, to collect “20 Bliss Bubbles” in exchange for 10 boxes of “Moo-Bon” candy, acquired from the Moochin moon dwellers as a reward for helping them reclaim their underwater Sapphire Palace. Venus is home to catlike “Venutons,” who breathe out silver “bliss bubbles” while sleeping. (These can be cut and knotted at the ends like balloons. The deeper the sleep, the larger the bubbles.) Awakened, the Venutons make it clear that bliss bubble collectors are not welcome. After betrayal by cave-dwelling rabbit creatures, imprisonment in a rolling golden cage shaped like a giant ball of yarn, and a tussle aboard Uglesnoo’s spaceship with one last vengeful Venuton, the pair escapes thanks to Amelia’s quick thinking. Dispensing with the realities of planetary science, Blanchard (Amelia, the Moochins and the Sapphire Palace, 2014) has fun with her imaginary solar system and its inhabitants. Readers should, too. But as wacky as things get (chocolate rain from an “Interspecies Feeder”), Blanchard also delivers thoughtful balance (“The stars scattered like spilled sugar in the inky darkness”). She grounds her plot, too, in Amelia’s relatable moments of uncertainty and her ability to use her head to solve dilemmas as well as in helpful reminders of the escapade’s central purpose: curing Uglesnoo’s sister. Motz’s full-bleed, cartoon-style illustrations, mixed with variously colored text-only pages, reflect the book’s offbeat appeal.

A lively sequel offers a sure-handed blend of fantasy, humor, adventure, and an ingenious heroine.

 

https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/evonne-blanchard/amelia-the-venutons-and-the-golden-cage/

Fun Space Facts for Children: Our Star Signs. The Story of Astrology versus Astronomy

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What’s your star sign? You probably already know it depends upon the month you were born.  The star signs rotate through once a year, for a month at a time.  We begin the year with the Water Bearer, Aquarius (January 20- February 18) and end it with Capricorn, the Goat, (Dec 22 – Jan 19).  Right now the zodiac sign is Gemini and will be until June 20.   In the next several posts, I’ll be explaining the fascinating story behind each star sign and how you can look for your star sign – which is also a constellation – in the night sky.  Each star sign has a very interesting history. Do you know that the study of our star signs is called astrology? And did you also know that in ancient times, astrology was considered as important as astronomy is today.  Ancient astrologers mapped the movements of celestial bodies, such as the planets and the constellations.  From this they predicted human events and people’s personality traits; believed to be based on the alignment of the planets and stars at the precise moment of birth.

The Zodiac – which is a name for all twelve star signs – comes from the Latin term Zōdiacus, which in turn comes from the Greek- Zōdiakos Kyklos- meaning  circle of animals: Half of the Zodiac constellations are animals!

Our star signs first came into being thousands of years ago. The ancient Babylonians started to notice how certain constellations rotated around every year.  They started giving names to these constellations. The ancient Hebrews added to this ancient knowledge, as did the Egyptians, then the Greeks and the Romans. The astrologer and astronomer Ptolemy of ancient Egypt was particularly important in laying the foundations of western astrology.  In the middle ages, (roughly 1100 – 1450) astrology and the zodiac signs became very popular.  The star signs even made their way into major works of art like Angers Cathedral in France ,(see the photograph below).

Astronomy is the scientific study of the universe and everything in it; stars, planets, and galaxies.  Nowadays it’s considered the only true science of space, whereas astrology is not taken seriously anymore.  But many people still enjoy reading about their star signs, (or horoscopes, as they are also known) and seeing if the predictions for the coming week will come true!

Angers Cathedral the South Rose Window of Christ (centre) with elders (bottom half) and Zodiac (top half). Mediaeval stained glass by Andre Robin after the fire of 1451. Credit: Wikipedia

Angers

Next Post.  Star Signs: Aquarius, the Water Bearer (Jan 20-February 18).  The Story behind Aquarius and how to spot this Constellation in the Night Sky

Evonne Blanchard is the author of, ‘Amelia, the Moochins and the Sapphire Palace and ‘Amelia, the Venutons and the Golden Cage.  These are the first two books in, ‘Amelia’s Amazing Space Adventures,’ an exciting series of ten books set in outer space (for children ages 5-9).

Ever wondered if aliens exist? What if one needed your help? Would you travel to outer space?  For the adventures of a lifetime…

New Book Two: Amelia, the Venutons and the Golden Cage

Uglesnoo needs Amelia’s help.  His sister is very sick.  The only cure is a repelling crystal from Neptune.  With his Earthling friend, Amelia, they must continue their quest.  More items are needed to buy the crystal.  But Venus is full of danger and angry aliens.  Are Uglesnoo and Amelia in over their heads?

Amelia the Venutons cover with text

“A lively sequel offers a sure-handed blend of fantasy, humor, adventure, and an ingenious heroine.” Kirkus Reviews

5/5 star rating!  “Amelia, the Venutons and the Golden Cage is a wonderful children’s book that will allow your kids to get started in the Sci-Fi genre… The story is intriguing and well thought out. All in all, the author did a great job of creating an engaging story that kept my kids interested. We are definitely looking forward to the next book!”- Examiner.com

Click below for a preview:

Amazon.com

or

Amazon.co.uk

Read this book and over 1 million other books with Kindle Unlimited.

Book One: Amelia, the Moochins and the Sapphire Palace

When is a present not a present?  When it’s a friendly purple alien called Uglesnoo, from the planet Pluto!  Uglesnoo needs to leave right away for the Moon.  Uglesnoo also desperately needs Amelia’s help.  Should Amelia venture into outer Space?

kindle cover for upload

Click below for a preview:

Amazon.com

Or

Amazon.co.uk

Read this book and over 1 million other books with Kindle Unlimited.

 “Appealing Illustrations combine with lots of text to make this a great read for children transitioning from picture books to chapter books.” – Kirkus Reviews

The story is imaginative and fun…and a perfect book to stretch my oldest in his independent reading with something fun to keep his attention.” —Beautiful Books for Children

 

 

What are Constellations? From Star Maps to the Zodiac!

 

ConstellationsNow, you’re probably heard the word constellation mentioned when people talk about the night sky.   But what does that word mean?  Well, constellation comes from the Latin word, ‘constellatio.’  Translated, it means set of stars!  Now if you go back in time, before iPods, iPads video games, face time and Netflix.  Okay, now go back even further, to a time of no TV, no phones…no electricity even!  What did people even do for entertainment back then? Well one popular activity was star gazing.  And without modern light pollution, you could see… a lot. Early civilizations looked at stars and told stories.  Then they began to observe that the same set of stars could be seen at different times of the year, every year.  Some of these constellations became the signs of the zodiac, our star signs.  Different civilizations have different star stories, but here in the west we are more familiar with the Greco-Roman Stories.

If you want to look for the constellations in the night sky, you’ll need a few things.  A star map for one thing.  If you don’t have one, you can find them on the internet.  Then you need to look at the correct month of the year on the star map.  After that, you’ll need a very dark night sky, (away from light pollution) and good eyesight, or good glasses!

Next try and match the constellations for the month on your star map, with what you see in the sky.  You’re going to have to use your imagination and try to picture lines between the sets of stars, just like on the map.  It’s helpful to have someone with you who already knows a bit about constellations, to help you pick them out.

Behind every constellation, there’s a story.  Below I’ve outlined the myths behind a couple of the constellations.

Perseus

He was a great hero of Greek mythology.  His father was Zeus (Jupiter in Roman mythology) and his mother was Danae.  His most famous feat was the killing of the Gorgon Medusa.  The Gorgon’s face was hideous, her nest a mass of writhing snakes.  And one look from her would turn you to stone.  So capturing her was not easy.  But with a helmet of invisibility, a shield and winged sandals; all gifts from the Gods, Perseus managed to cut off her head.  He then rescued the Princess Andromeda, who was chained to a rock, as an offering to a terrifying sea monster.  After killing the sea monster, he married the princess. When he died, he was honored with his own constellation.

Hercules

The biggest hero of them all was of course Hercules.  His father was lord of the Gods, Zeus himself (Jupiter in Roman mythology) and Alemena was his mother.  Driven mad by Zeus’s jealous wife Hera, Hercules killed many people.  He later made amends for these sins by completing the twelve labors of Hercules.  These included killing the Nemean lion, stealing Cerberus the three headed dog and slaying the Hydra, a many headed monster.  For all his mighty feats, he was rewarded with his own constellation.  This shows him wearing the skin of the Nemean Lion, whilst carrying his club and the stolen three headed dog of the underworld.

Lyra

A small constellation in the northern hemisphere.  It shows the lyre or lyra (a type of small harp).    Arion was Poseidon’s son and a singer and musician: Poseidon was the Greek God of the Oceans.  Neptune is the Roman equivalent.  Such was Arion’s talent, he decided to go to Sicily to compete in a musical competition.  He played the lyre and won many treasures.  On the way home, treacherous sailors plotted to steal all his valuable awards and throw him overboard.  Arion pleaded with them to let him sing and play one more time.  They granted his wish and then pushed him overboard.  Not knowing how to swim, he would have drowned.  But his singing had attracted the attention of one of Poseidon’s dolphins.  The dolphin carried him safely back to his home in Corinth.  In honor of his talent Apollo – the Greek God of the Sun and Music- put the above lyre constellation in the night sky.

Next Post:  Astronomy versus Astrology: How did the Zodiac Constellations become our Star Signs?

Evonne Blanchard is the author of, ‘Amelia, the Moochins and the Sapphire Palace,’ and ‘Amelia, the Venutons and the Golden Cage.’ These are the first two books in, ‘Amelia’s Amazing Space Adventures,’ an exciting series of ten books set in outer space, (for children ages 5-9).

Ever wondered if aliens exist?  What if one needed your help?  Would you travel into outer space?  For the adventures…of a lifetime!

New Book Two: Amelia, the Venutons and the Golden Cage

Uglesnoo needs Amelia’s help.  His sister is very sick.  The only cure is a repelling crystal from Neptune.  With his Earthling friend, Amelia, they must continue their quest.  More items are needed to buy the crystal.  But Venus is full of danger and angry aliens.  Are Uglesnoo and Amelia in over their heads?

Amelia the Venutons cover with text

“A lively sequel offers a sure-handed blend of fantasy, humor, adventure, and an ingenious heroine.” Kirkus Reviews

5/5 star rating!  “Amelia, the Venutons and the Golden Cage is a wonderful children’s book that will allow your kids to get started in the Sci-Fi genre… The story is intriguing and well thought out. All in all, the author did a great job of creating an engaging story that kept my kids interested. We are definitely looking forward to the next book!”- Examiner.com

Click below for a preview:

Amazon.com

or

Amazon.co.uk

Read this book and over 1 million other books with Kindle Unlimited.

Book One: Amelia, the Moochins and the Sapphire Palace

When is a present not a present?  When it’s a friendly purple alien called Uglesnoo, from the planet Pluto!  Uglesnoo needs to leave right away for the Moon.  Uglesnoo also desperately needs Amelia’s help.  Should Amelia venture into outer Space?

kindle cover for upload

Click below for a preview:

Amazon.com

Or

Amazon.co.uk

Read this book and over 1 million other books with Kindle Unlimited.

 “Appealing Illustrations combine with lots of text to make this a great read for children transitioning from picture books to chapter books.” – Kirkus Reviews

The story is imaginative and fun…and a perfect book to stretch my oldest in his independent reading with something fun to keep his attention.” —Beautiful Books for Children

 

 

 

Giveaway on Goodreads for, ‘Amelia, the Venutons and the Golden Cage’

Amelia the Venutons cover with text

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Amelia, the Venutons and the Golden Cage by Evonne Blanchard

Amelia, the Venutons and the Golden Cage

by Evonne Blanchard

Giveaway ends May 15, 2016.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

 

Ever wondered if aliens exist?  What if one needed your help?  Would you travel into outer space?

Book Two:  Amelia, the Venutons and the Golden Cage by Evonne Blanchard.  To preview the book, click here.

Curious as to how the story began?  Book One: Amelia, the Moochins and the Sapphire Palace by Evonne Blanchard.  To preview the book, click here.

 

Top Five Books for Teaching Children Colors

Is your child ready to learn their colors?  Here’s my pick of the most entertaining books, leading them into the wonderful world of color.

Princess-and-the-Wizard

  1. The Princess and the Wizard by Julia Donaldson. Illustrated by Lydia Monks.

This is a glittery colorful book that pulls children in with its vibrant pictures. The use of a wicked wizard, and an engaging princess heroine appeals to young readers.   The princess’s escape from the powerful warlock involves the use of many colors, each beautifully illustrated by Lydia Monks with collage style, color themed pages; filled with objects, insects and animals.  In addition to colors, the book also teaches the days of the week; to a lesser extent.   This is a fun educational book that children will reach for again and again.

 Frogs Cropped

  1. Rainbow Frogs by Melissa Tyrell. Illustrated by Becky Wallis.

It’s raining in the jungle and everything is gray.  So begins this book about colors.  One by one the rainbow frogs make their appearance.  “Red Frog looked up at the gray sky.  He jumped.  The berries and the ladybugs caught the shiny color of his skin and turned a rosy red.”  The beautiful prose appeals to the adults, whilst Becky Wallis’s colorful illustrations pulls young kids into her vibrant world.  Vivid plastic frogs adorn the edge of this book in a clever lily pond shape, designed to encourage tactile exploration.  Page by page kids learn the colors, until the books finishes…in a beautiful rainbow!

Dr Suess color cropped

 

3. My Many Colored Days by Dr. Seuss.  Paintings by Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher

This elegant book comes from an unpublished manuscript by Dr Seuss.  Paintings were later commissioned from Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher to illustrate it.  The book lacks the quirks and craziness of classic Seuss, but it’s still an original and fun way for children to learn their colors.  In this book the author matches colors to moods and animals.  “On a happy pink day, he’s a flamingo.”  “Red is a horse kicking up its heels.”  This is an added twist, as children learn to recognize and manage their emerging emotions, as they also name and recognize the world they are discovering.

 Crayons cropped

  1. The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt. Illustrated by Oliver Jeffers

This book takes on a zany creative approach to colors.  Duncan, upon arriving at school tries to open his crayon box.  Instead of crayons, he finds letters.  The crayons are on strike!  And their letters are full of complaints!  Beige does not want to compete with brown.  Blue is tired of coloring in water.  Peach is naked!  The whimsical illustrations and talking crayons will appeal to the very young readers, whilst older readers will enjoy the witty banter.  This is a highly entertaining book, guaranteed to have the whole family in fits.

Brown Bear Cropped

  1. Brown Bear, Brown Bear. What do you see? By Bill Martin Jr. and Eric Carle

Gentle rhymes and distinctive paper collage illustrations make this book an appealing introduction to colors.

“Blue horse, blue horse, what do you see.  I see a green frog looking at me.”

The title popped into Bill Martin Jr.’s head on a train ride in 1966.  He later called on his friend Eric Carle to illustrate the story.  The simple repetitive text encourages young children to join in the reading. Along the way kids learn colors, adjectives and animal names.  Another plus, this book has many bilingual versions.  So, if you want your child to start learning their first few words in Spanish and French, this is a good place to start!

Evonne Blanchard is the author of, ‘Amelia, the Moochins and the Sapphire Palace,’ and ‘Amelia, the Venutons and the Golden Cage.’ These are the first two books in, ‘Amelia’s Amazing Space Adventures,’ an exciting series of ten books set in outer space, (for children ages 5-9).

Ever wondered if aliens exist?  What if one needed your help?  Would you travel into outer space?  For the adventures…of a lifetime!

New – Book Two: Amelia. the Venutons and the Golden Cage

Amelia the Venutons cover with text

Uglesnoo needs Amelia’s help.  His sister is very sick.  The only cure is a repelling crystal from Neptune.  With his Earthling friend, Amelia, they must continue their quest.  More items are needed to buy the crystal.  But Venus is full of danger and angry aliens.  Are Uglesnoo and Amelia in over their heads?

Click below for a preview:

Amazon.com

or

Amazon.co.uk

Book One: Amelia, the Moochins and the Sapphire Palace

Amelia the Moochins 8-15

When is a present not a present?  When it’s a friendly purple alien called Uglesnoo, from the planet Pluto!  Uglesnoo needs to leave right away for the Moon.  Uglesnoo also desperately needs Amelia’s help.  Should Amelia venture into outer Space?

Click below for a preview:

Amazon.com

or

Amazon.co.uk

For a limited period read the book for FREE on KINDLE. Click here for more information

 http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00L2G13LQ

“Appealing Illustrations combine with lots of text to make this a great read for children transitioning from picture books to chapter books.” – Kirkus Reviews

“The story is imaginative and fun…and a perfect book to stretch my oldest in his independent reading with something fun to keep his attention.” —Beautiful Books for Children

You can read the first few chapters, FOR FREE, of, ‘Amelia, the Moochins and the Sapphire Palace.’  Simply click on the link below:

https://ameliasamazingspaceadventures.com/the-stories/

 

Read the First Few Chapters FOR FREE of, ‘Amelia the Moochins and the Sapphire Palace,’ by Evonne Blanchard.

Amelia The Moochins cover 1-16

1.  A Present That Wasn’t

“Eight.  I am eight.   Today.  Amazing!” Amelia sprinted downstairs.

“Can I have some of your presents?” asked little sister Charlotte.

“Nooo.  Mom, Charlotte’s trying to steal from me!”

“Now, no arguing you two!”said their mother.

Amelia rushed through breakfast. Soon after bits of wrapping paper lay between books, a dress and a new pair of swimming goggles.

The last gift.  A square box, covered in silver paper. Amelia tore open the paper and lifted up the top flap of the box.

PAGE-6

“Who’s that from?” asked Amelia’s mom.

“Err.  Let me see.  Oh it’s from Aunt Janet.”   She pulled out a book.

“Oh look, it’s all about butterflies.  I love butterflies!”

“Is there something else in there?”

Amelia put her hand inside the package and pulled out a second present.

“Oh wow.  This is strange!”

“It’s a stuffed animal!” chirped Charlotte.

“I’ve never seen a cuddly look anything like this… Is it supposed to be some sort of purple octopus?  But, it’s only got three tentacles, instead of eight.  And why did they put hands at the end of them?  And look, it’s got two skinny pink legs as well.”

“Flamingo legs!” beamed Charlotte.

“And squashy yellow feet and green toenails!  Weird!”

Her mom peered at the toy.  “Very strange!  I wonder who came up with that?”

“Did it just­­—? Mom I think it just winked at me!” Amelia looked again.  But this time both of the toy’s large purple eyes stayed wide open.

“Really?   Well does it comes with batteries?  Maybe that made its eyes move?”

Amelia turned the toy over.  But no battery compartment, or anything else to explain the wink.  Why did it feel so warm?  Really too warm to be a stuffed animal…

Later that night, Amelia lay awake in bed thinking about her birthday, especially her strange gift.

A wriggle.  Something had wriggled at the end of her bed.  Amelia sat up and saw that her purple octopus present was upright and glowing, large purple eyes lit from within.

“Oh I thought you might be asleep,” said the creature in perfect English, but with a funny little accent.

Amelia was speechless.  It talked.  It was alive?

“Err…wh-wh…Who are …Wh…what are you?” she stuttered.

“My name is Uglesnoo and I’m from Pluto,” the creature replied.  “You know Pluto?   The planet?  It’s in our solar system.”

“What….Do you mean that you’re an alien?  A real alien!”

“Well I certainly don’t think of myself that way.  But I suppose I am to you.”

Amelia bounced up and down.  “This is so exciting.  I got an alien for my birthday!  So, you’re from what planet again?”

“Pluto, the furthest planet away.  But of course the most important!”

“Oh yeah,” said Amelia.  “I remember the solar system, sort of!” Earth in blues and greens, Mars all red, then Pluto, a tiny little planet, the furthest from Earth.  “Well…err…what are you doing here?”

PAGE-8

“Ah good question,” replied Uglesnoo.  “Well you see I’m an interplanetary trader…”

“A what?”

“It means that I travel from planet to planet in the solar system, trading stuff with all the different aliens.  For example, the Magolytes’ jeweled eggs from Mars are in demand everywhere.  And as for the Venutons’ bliss bubbles, well—”

“Oh that sounds so exciting!” said Amelia, jumping about.

“Well, it’s not a bad life,” Uglesnoo agreed.  “Unfortunately, I lost my spaceship yesterday. Although I think I remember where I left it now.   And I was tired, so I wandered into an Earthling’s house for a snooze.  The next thing I know I’m in a box with a book thrown on top of my head…”

Just then the walls started to shake.  A growling rumble grew louder and louder.  Uglesnoo clapped his hands over his ears.

“That hideous noise—what is it?  It sounds like a hoard of stampeding dragons.  You don’t still have dragons on Earth do you?”

Amelia sighed.  “That’s my sister Charlotte.  She’s a huge snorer!  She wakes us all up with her racket!”

“ZZZZzzzzsnort, SNORT.   ZZZZzzzzsnort, SNORT.”  The rumbling thundered through the house.

“How awful for you.  Most unfortunate.  It must get in the way of a good night’s sleep?”

“It does.  We’ve tried everything, but nothing works!”

“Pity, pity, now where was I?  Oh yes a book on my head…So, I became a present.  Your present.  But I can’t stay your present.  In fact I have to go.  I have rather urgent business on the Moon.”

“The Moon?  Our Moon?  Do you mean you’re leaving…to go to the Moon?” said Amelia sadly.  “Well, will I ever see you again?  You were my most exciting present.”

2.   The Quest

Uglesnoo squirmed, then a smile grew on his face.  “It would be handy to have a companion.  This…this task.  Well…I have something very important I have to do.”

What could a space traveller from Pluto possibly need her help with, Amelia wondered.  “What task?”

“My big sister Noolong got very sick recently.  She came down with a sleeping sickness, but a terrible one.”

“Oh, I’m so sorry.  But she’ll get better eventually won’t she?” said Amelia.

Uglesnoo looked at her with pained eyes.  “Not necessarily, the only cure is a repelling crystal from the planet Neptune.”

“Well at least there’s a cure!  How do you get an, err…a repelling crystal?”

“That’s the thing.  They’re extremely expensive.  I tried to negotiate with Queen Neep—she and her husband are the rulers of Neptune you see.—but she insisted I get everything on this list.”  Uglesnoo pulled out a crumpled blue note.  “Only once I have absolutely everything will she give me a repelling crystal.”

He handed it over to Amelia.  On it were a series of strange symbols.  “Err Uglesnoo, I can’t read this.”

“I forgot.  It’s written in Plutonian.   I’ll translate.”

Barter Requirements for the Sum of One Repelling

Crystal from Neptune:

Earth  5 Boxes of Dandelions

Earth’s Moon 10 boxes of Moo-Bons

Venus ­ 20 Bliss Bubbles

Mercury – 5 Pairs of Flying Shoes

The Sun – 40 Jars of Snapperjack Honey

Mars – 20 assorted Jeweled Eggs.

Jupiter – 10 Blazebolts

Saturn – 1 Portable and Fully Stocked Satsut Apothecary

Uranus – 1 Vial of Future Air

 Pluto – 1 Creation Vacation

Upon list’s completion, return to the Planet Neptune to receive one repelling crystal.

Amelia’s eyes widened, as Uglesnoo read.  “That seems like a lot for one crystal,” she said.

Uglesnoo nodded and rubbed his eyes.  “That’s not the only bad news.  This sleeping sickness.  It gets worse, and quickly.  I have only two weeks to get everything on this list before…”

Uglesnoo stopped and choked.  He blinked his wet eyes at her before finishing.  “Before she slips into an endless sleep.”

“You-you mean if you get this crystal to her in two weeks, she’ll recover.  But if not, that’s it!”

A nod from Uglesnoo.  “So you see the situation is urgent.  Very urgent. But if I had an assistant, these tasks would be more bearable. I wonder, would you…Do you want to come along?”

“You mean go to the…err…actual moon with you.  But that’s so far away.  What about my mom and dad?  And my baby sister.  And isn’t it…dangerous out there in outer space?”

“Oh nonsense.  I travel throughout the universe and I’ve never had any trouble.  Well, apart from that foot singeing business on Mars,” Uglesnoo said offhandedly. “Oh and there was the time my ship took a direct hit from a blazebolt…But that’s nothing,” he trailed off, noticing the alarm on Amelia’s face.

“Well, I’m not sure…” began Amelia.

“Hmmm.  It’s possible we could find a cure for your sister’s terrible snoring while we’re out there.  We have lots of medicines in outer space.  The Satsuts of Saturn are brilliant at curing diseases.  I trade medicines with them.  We have a lot of the same illnesses out there as you do on Earth you know.”

“Really?”

“Yes, well colds, flu, stomach aches, measles, sun withers.”
“Sun withers?  What’s that?”

“It’s when your fur starts to fade…”

Amelia giggled.

PAGE-11

 

“Oh silly me, you don’t have any fur.  Well you don’t have to worry about that one.  But if you come to the Moon with me, we can ask the Moochins if they have a medicine that might help your sister.”

“The Moochins?”

“Yes, the creatures that live on the Moon.”

“How many other aliens are out there?”

“Oh heaps.  The universe is chock full of them.  So do you want to come with me to the Moon?”

“That would be really exciting…It would be amazing if we found a cure for Charlotte’s snoring.  It wakes Mom and Dad up a lot, and they get so tired.  But I don’t know… it still seems a bit scary.”

“Nonsense.  I’ll tell you what.  This trip to the Moon can be our experiment. I’ll have you back by morning.  And if you don’t want to visit any more planets after that, that’s fine.  It really would be nice to have someone with me.  I am under terrible pressure here.”

Illustrations from Book One

“Yes, I can see that.  Well alright, I’ll come with you.”

“Great!” said Uglesnoo.  “Get dressed and we’ll go and find my spaceship.”

What do you think?  Should Amelia venture into outer space with Uglesnoo on his quest?  What will the Moochins be like?  What are Moo-Bons and how do you get them?  Is Amelia in over her head?

 If you want to find out how the adventure ends, you can click on the link below  (where you can preview) and/or buy, ‘Amelia, the Moochins and the Sapphire Palace’:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/1500496588

or

http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1500496588

Evonne Blanchard is the author of, ‘Amelia, the Moochins and the Sapphire Palace,’ and ‘Amelia, the Venutons and the Golden Cage.’ These are the first two books in, ‘Amelia’s Amazing Space Adventures,’ an exciting series of ten books set in outer space, (for children ages 5-9).

Ever wondered if aliens exist?  What if one needed your help?  Would you travel into outer space?  For the adventures…of a lifetime!

New – Book Two: Amelia. the Venutons and the Golden Cage

Amelia the Venutons cover with text

Uglesnoo needs Amelia’s help.  His sister is very sick.  The only cure is a repelling crystal from Neptune.  With his Earthling friend, Amelia, they must continue their quest.  More items are needed to buy the crystal.  But Venus is full of danger and angry aliens.  Are Uglesnoo and Amelia in over their heads?

Click below for a preview:

Amazon.com

or

Amazon.co.uk

Book One: Amelia, the Moochins and the Sapphire Palace

Amelia the Moochins 8-15

When is a present not a present?  When it’s a friendly purple alien called Uglesnoo, from the planet Pluto!  Uglesnoo needs to leave right away for the Moon.  Uglesnoo also desperately needs Amelia’s help.  Should Amelia venture into outer Space?

Click below for a preview:

Amazon.com

or

Amazon.co.uk

For a limited period read the book for FREE on KINDLE. Click here for more information

 http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00L2G13LQ

“Appealing Illustrations combine with lots of text to make this a great read for children transitioning from picture books to chapter books.” – Kirkus Reviews

“The story is imaginative and fun…and a perfect book to stretch my oldest in his independent reading with something fun to keep his attention.” —Beautiful Books for Children

You can read the first few chapters, FOR FREE, of, ‘Amelia, the Moochins and the Sapphire Palace.’  Simply click on the link below:

https://ameliasamazingspaceadventures.com/the-stories/