Virginia Johnson

02/12/2018 - 9:53am

Kids can help out their grown-ups in the kitchen, but they can also make wonderful dishes all by themselves—or with just a little help. Take Mollie Katzen's Number Salad from her kid-friendly cookbook, Pretend Soup and Other Real Recipes. It's delicious, nutritious, and a fun way to practice numbers. Here's how to make it:

Put into a bowl:

1 handful of coconut
2 tablespoons of O.J. concentrate
3 pieces of orange
4 slices of apple
5 cubes of cheese
6 slices of banana
7 pieces of melon
8 grapes
...and stir 9 times.

This recipe, complete with friendly, hand-drawn pictures and useful hints, can be found online here.  Children may also enjoy Mollie Katzen's Honest Pretzels and 64 Other Amazing Recipes for Kids Who Love to Cook and Salad People and More Real Recipes: A New Cookbook for Preschoolers & Up.

02/08/2018 - 1:53pm

Boom!
One morning, the old wooden dam on the Rappahannock River went up in clouds of smoke. It was a huge thing—ancient and strong, built in layers to tame the river so that the power of the water pushing against it could provide electricity for the town. But it had been years since anyone tapped that power. Now, the dam was falling apart, and it was decided that it had become dangerous. So the Army Corps of Engineers blew it up one morning, and the river was flowing freely again—just as it had in previous centuries. By getting rid of the dam, the river had a chance to go back to being more like it once was. There would be more fish, which would mean more birds, and, really more of everything.

02/06/2018 - 10:02am

Wouldn't it be cool if even a few of the old stories were true? Legends say that giants walked the Earth; Atlantis vanished under the sea; and Greece and Troy fought a devastating war over a beautiful woman. Amazing, but true: all these stories are based on facts.

Archaeologists digging in China discovered the fossils of Gigantopithecus, a giant ape standing 9 or 10 feet tall. These huge but probably gentle apes died off 500,000 years ago. Traditionally, villagers collected their bones and made them into medicines. They called their finds dragon bones. Some have wondered whether pockets of the animals may have survived into later centuries, giving rise to the legend of Big Foot.

02/12/2018 - 10:00am

Cells make up you, your friend, your hamster, and your mom's broccoli surprise. If it's alive or ever was alive, it is made of cells. Space scientists looking for life on Mars are trying to find microbes made of simple cells—not little green men—and biologists who search for cures to diseases work with cells. Small as they are, cells determine how life unfolds from its beginning to its end.

01/29/2018 - 8:53am
Winter Reading Challenge Mission Badge

Whether you’ve been with us since January 1 or are just now thinking about joining the Winter Reading Challenge for adults, we want to remind you that there is so much to explore.

Fun Missions. Entirely Possible.

You can add the Arts v. Apocalypse and Romance on the Big Screen badges to your completed missions list by streaming romantic films, listening to a bestselling author, playing around in the Shakespeare Video Booth, and more.

01/29/2018 - 4:00pm
Farewell to Ursula K. Le Guin

Another wonderful author has “gone West.” Ursula K. Le Guin (10/21/1929-1/22/2018) may be best known for her Earthsea Trilogy. Its first book, A Wizard of Earthsea, tells of a stubborn, magically gifted boy who is plucked from obscurity as a goatherd and taken to Roke, the school for wizards, where his vast power proves as difficult to manage as his temper.

02/15/2018 - 2:59pm

Tart or sweet, cherries are a favorite flavor, and there's more to cherries than meets the eye. Cherries actually belong to the rose family. Cherry's rosy relatives include other stone fruits such as almonds, apricots, plums, peaches, and nectarines.

February is a terrific month to dig into cherries. For years, people have made cherry pies to celebrate George Washington's birthday on February 22. Why do we think of cherries when we think of our first president?

02/08/2018 - 3:10pm

Have you ever been in a place where there were lots of buildings but no trees? New housing developments or parts of a city that have been neglected for a long time may not have the shady spots and fresh air that trees give. As trees breathe, they let out oxygen that humans and animals need to survive. Their roots hold the ground together, making sure the soil doesn't blow away in the wind. When a tree dies naturally in the forest, its wood becomes a home for insects and a cafeteria for the hungry birds who eat those insects. Trees provide so many good things for the Earth.

01/01/2018 - 2:56am
A History of the World in 500 Walks by Sarah Baxter

When you travel, is walking always part of the itinerary? Besides being good exercise generally and a great way to unstiffen those limbs after the tight quarters on an airplane, train, or car, walking lets you see so much more of your destination. Take your time, and you can see –and- understand the sites much better than if you whirled past them on a tour bus.

Set your own pace, and you’ll have the opportunity to make interesting discoveries, about a place’s history, maybe even how it relates to the history of the world itself. A History of the World in 500 Walks is an intriguing blend of travel book and history book. With chapters ranging from Prehistory (the Gold Coast Hinterland Great Walk, a 34-mile rainforest traverse in Queensland, Australia) to the 20th Century (the Selma to Montgomery Trail in Alabama and the Long Trail in Vermont—completed in 1930), you’ll become more aware of history’s triumphs and tragedies and nature’s sometimes harsh beauty, as well as other cultures' histories, as can be found on the Nakasendo Trail in Japan.

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