Between the Lines: Author invites kids to explore natural world

Published: Sunday, Jun. 30, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 10AANDE
Last Modified: Sunday, Jun. 30, 2013 - 7:27 am

Ever since she was a little girl, Brandee Mae Hughes of Blue Canyon has been fascinated by insects, amphibians and birds.

Which is evident at her website,, an educational stop on the information highway designed to "get children outdoors instead of being inside in front of video games," she said. "It's all about nature, fun and education, and having respect for all living things."

Among the site's attractions is her "World of … " book series, filled with fascinating facts and excellent color photos of backyard insects, lizards, birds and frogs. The e-book editions are $5 to $8 (including a read-along version); the print books are $10 to $18.

Also at the site are a photo-sharing gallery (and photo contest), blogs and the Nature Fun Store, selling toys, kits, bug-catchers, live bugs and frogs and their habitats. Also, young ones can see and read about the "10 most beautiful seahorse pictures" and "23 bizarre animal-shaped rocks sculpted by nature."

Hughes, 29, has a degree in natural sciences and does presentations at schools. For instance, she visits high school biology classes and hosts "creature hunts" (looking for bugs) at elementary schools. Teachers wishing to schedule a session can reach her at (916) 760-7699 or through the website.

"My mission is to teach (children) about the natural world around us," she said.

In a free presentation, Hughes will read from her "World of … " books and lead a creature hunt at 2 p.m. Tuesday at the Sacramento Children's Museum, 2701 Prospect Park, Rancho Cordova; (916) 638-7225, The program is designed for preschool to kindergarten ages. Autographed books will be available for purchase.

Summer reading to share

Another reader shares her summer reading list. California Automobile Museum events coordinator Hallie Morris of Sacramento reads two books a week, she said, and is getting her 13-year-old son involved this summer.

"We usually read and discuss his assigned schoolbooks, such as 'To Kill a Mockingbird,' but I picked out some (non-assigned titles) I thought would be beneficial and interesting to both of us," she said.

Titles to read with her son include:

• "Code Name Verity" by Elizabeth Wein

• "The Boys in the Boat" by Daniel James Brown

• "The Ultimate Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" by Douglas Adams and Neil Gaiman

• "The Odyssey of Homer" by Homer, translated by Richmond Lattimore

Titles for herself:

• "The Ocean at the End of the Lane" by Neil Gaiman

• "Thereby Hangs a Tail" by Spencer Quinn

• "The Ghosts of Belfast" by Stuart Neville

• "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" by J.K Rowling ("For the second time")

• "Dad Is Fat" by Jim Gaffigan

• "Murder in Marais" by Cara Black

• "Let's Explore Diabetes With Owls" by David Sedaris

• "The Double Comfort Safari Club" by Alexander McCall Smith

• "The Twelfth Card" by Jeffery Deaver

• "Guilt" by John Lescroart

• "Fragile Things" by Neil Gaiman

• "Bad Monkey" by Carl Hiaasen.

More book suggestions

Need more reading suggestions? You might try these:

• "The Curiosity" by Stephen P. Kiernan (William Morrow, $25.99, 448 pages; on sale July 9): The concept of time travel that leads to romance is not startlingly new, but this take is engagingly fresh. A scientific research team reanimates the body of a man found frozen in an Arctic iceberg. The former judge, who fell off a ship in 1906, now faces a nightmarish new existence, but manages to find love – and discovers his time is running out.

• "Cow County Chip" by T.R. "Ticket Ted" Shannon (AuthorHouse, $23.95, 358 pages): In 128 vignettes, the former California Highway Patrol officer recounts his years on duty in Calaveras County, dealing with errant drivers, collisions and "humorous character studies."

• "The Shadow King" by Jo Marchant (Da Capo, $26.99, 320 pages): It's been a wild ride for King Tutankhamun's mummy since archaeologist Howard Carter discovered it in 1922. Here, science writer Marchant separates the facts from the fiction that has surrounded the controversial relic and explains "what science can and can't tell us" about King Tut.

• "The Barbed Crown" by William Dietrich (Harper, $26.99, 368 pages): American expatriate-turned-rogue Ethan Gage continues his global adventures of ingenuity and near misses in book six of the swashbuckling series. This time out, Gage and his crew must foil Napoleon's planned invasion of England.

And for pet lovers:

• "Leader of the Pack" by David Rosenfelt (Minotaur, $15.99, 368 pages): Dogs play pivotal roles in the author's 11-title Andy Carpenter series. The lawyer's newest adventure involves his efforts to get an innocent man out of jail. Rosenfelt and his wife own 25 canines.

• "Bloodhound in Blue" by Adam David Russ (Lyons, $24.95, 288 pages; July 16): In his nine-year career, Utah's first police bloodhound helped bust 300 bad guys in the Salt Lake City area. This is JJ's eye-opening biography.

Upcoming author appearances

• Jodi Angel, who teaches at UC Davis and Sacramento City College, will appear for her new story collection, "You Only Get Letters From Jail" (Tin House, $14.95, 288 pages; July 16) at 7 p.m. July 8 at Time Tested Books, 1114 21st Street, Sacramento; (916) 447-5696. Her first collection, "The History of Vegas," appeared in 2005.

• Richard Turner for "I Can't Always See My Path … But I Keep on Walking" (Raconteur, $35, 80 pages), 6 p.m. July 13 at PeraDice, 918 24th St., Sacramento; (916) 930-0600. "The point of the book is we are all connected – plants, animals and even stones," said the photographer-poet. "If that is so, we need to take care of our environment and each other."

Call The Bee's Allen Pierleoni, (916) 321-1128. Follow him on Twitter @apierleonisacbe.

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