Tag Archives: outdoors

Beehive Secrets and the Rare Pollinators by Xanda Monteiro (Book Review)


Soar back into the enchanting world of BEEHIVE SECRETS with “Rare Pollinators,” the latest adventure featuring the brave bee Bella and her kind and helpful friend, Kaida the dragon. As their beloved meadow faces threats from disruptive human activities, our dynamic duo embarks on an exciting quest to uncover a mystical natural solution tucked away in the vast tapestry of nature. Will Kaida fulfil her promise to Bella? Join the fun in this whirlwind adventure, brimming with catchy rhymes, vibrant illustrations, and lovable characters. Along the way, learn about biodiversity, unity, and how every one of us can contribute to the preservation of our environment.

Are you ready to unlock the secret hidden within Bella and Kaida’s meadow? Then it’s time to spread your wings, pick up your copy of “Rare Pollinators” today, and dive headfirst into the world of bees and dragons. Get set for a buzz-worthy, fire-breathing escapade—it’s a magical journey you wouldn’t want to miss!

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(review request submitted by the author for an honest critique) 


Kaida and Bella (bee) face a new problem in Beehive Secrets and the Rare Pollinators. The meadow is quiet…too quiet. The bees should be out and about, collecting pollen and making things sprout, but they aren’t. Something is amiss! Kaida and Bella set off to find the missing bees. 

During their hunt, we discover which bees make a nest in the hedges and why Bella is freaking out when she spots a farmer trimming one (hedge). Travesty strikes again at the farm, but the real learning moment comes when Mrs. Kee lands on a flower. Children will learn new terminology: pesticide. Children will watch and discover how the “sticky goo” affects insects/bugs. 

Pesticide is not the only new word that children will learn. Mycelium is explained in simple terms that preschoolers can quickly grasp. The writer did include other words that might need further explanation, depending on a reader’s age. (No glossary was included.)

In Beehive Secrets and the Magical Meadows, Bella was feeling green. This time, Kaida and Bella are on a mission to save the meadow! Beehive Secrets and the Rare Pollinators has stunning illustrations and would make a great addition to a science unit. 

After reading the story, ask students what other things might have bees and buggy friends. Please make a list of ways to protect our insects too. Teach them to respect our nature—our planet as a whole. 

Amazon recommends this book for ages 3-6.


Heart Rating System:
1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 

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Meet the Author

Xanda was born in the small town of Beira on the East Coast of Mozambique, a place that holds a special place in my heart. It’s home to the magnificent Farol do Macuti, a lighthouse that has guided countless ships to safety over the years.

One of my fondest memories is the excitement my dad brought home with a new toy – the first Polaroid camera! I still remember the anticipation as we waited for the picture to develop on the square paper. To make the image last, we had to spread the fixer over the picture, which had a distinct smell that remains etched in my mind from childhood. It was an unnatural sharp, chemical and fruity sweet odour, but to us, it meant preserving memories that would last a lifetime.

But my childhood memories were not limited to photography. It was also with my dad that I experienced my first solar eclipse, an unforgettable sight that left me in awe of the natural world. Looking back, those memories of my childhood in Mozambique still fill me with a sense of wonder and appreciation for the beauty of life.

Growing up in Africa was an adventure in itself. I loved nothing more than exploring the vast landscape around me, always eager to discover new and exciting things. But with that excitement came a hint of danger. Some places and animals I encountered were quite hazardous, adding an extra layer of thrill to my explorations.

Today, I still hold a deep appreciation for the wonders of nature and the joy of exploration, and have added meditation and QiGong to my life as a way to continue that sense of wonder and connection to the world around me.

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Ruby’s Camping Adventure (Shiba of the North) by B.A. Tomka (Book Review)

Roasting marshmallows was the plan, until a rabbit hops by…

Ruby is a cute, cuddly Shiba Inu with a mind of her own and a knack for trouble. When Ruby gets lost in the forest on a camping trip with her best friend, Anna, she comes face-to-face with several forest animals who don’t welcome the fox-like dog. Through the darkness, Ruby searches for a kind friend who will see the little pup for who she really is.

Ruby’s Camping Adventure is a charming children’s book for young readers (ages 3 – 6) that will keep kids in suspense, while delivering a subtle message that stereotypes are hurtful.

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I received a complimentary copy of this book from Reedsy Discovery. I voluntarily chose to read and post an honest review.


Oh my goodness gracious, what an adorable book. The illustrations of Ruby and Shiba Inu were cute but not as cute as the real-life photos of the two. What an adorable duo! 

Natia Gogiashvili did a fantastic job illustrating all of Shiba Inu’s expressions. Without reading the text, you knew precisely what the dog was feeling. If you have a child who has difficulty reading emotional cues, these images would be a marvelous therapeutic tool. 

Shiba Inu is like most dogs; they love to chase things! Shiba Inu couldn’t resist chasing after a bunny in the forest, which led readers to meet some wildlife characters. For those teaching children the names of animals, several woodland creatures are featured in Ruby’s Camping Adventure. 

I do not have dogs, but I thought it was comical it preferred bacon and popcorn over freshly caught fish. I don’t blame the pooch; popcorn is delicious. Bacon, eh. It’s still better than unbreaded fish, though. 

If you have an early reader in your home, Ruby’s Camping Adventure would be an excellent book for your child to practice their reading skills with. There are a couple of tricky words, but it’s not a complex story to read. Most words are common except for boreal. That one might need explaining. I suggest showing them pictures of the northern lights. They are quite beautiful! 

I loved the B.A. Tomka included a pronunciation key for Shiba Inu because it would be a word that might trip up some early readers. I also liked how they defined Shiba Inu as well. According to the author, it’s a breed of hunting dog from Japan. 

Amazon’s recommended reading age is 3 – 6 years. Depending on your child’s reading level, even second graders could use Ruby’s Camping Adventure to sharpen their solo reading skills. 

I look forward to reading more works by B.A. Tomka.


Heart Rating System:
1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 
Score: ❤❤

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Meet the Authors

Mother-daughter writing team Bonnie and Anna Tomka — B.A. Tomka — live in northern Saskatchewan, Canada, with their Shiba Inu, Ruby, and two humans, Michael and Austin. The family shares a love of popcorn, bacon, and a good story. Their first book kicks off the Shiba of the North book series.

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Ellery’s Magic Bicycle by Maria Monte (Book Review)


A touching picture book about a remarkable childhood bond between a little girl and her magic bicycle, perfect for children ages 4 to 7 and for fans of The Giving Tree.

Inspired by the author’s own childhood adventures, this heartfelt story will take readers on a whimsical journey through Ellery’s childhood with her magical bicycle in tow. Ellery and her bicycle share many wonderful new experiences together; lonely yet curious Ellery finds adventure, love, and friendship, as well as weathering sorrow and loss.

When she grows up, Ellery starts to forget her special bond with the bicycle. Will Ellery remember what’s important before it’s too late and the magical bike is lost forever?

A story of redemption, Ellery’s struggles, hopes, and triumph serve as an uplifting reminder to parents of their childhood bonds. Young readers will grow to love Ellery’s strong, kind, and compassionate spirit, and will see their own cherished bicycle in a new light.

  • A heartfelt and emotionally powerful read-aloud book
  • Books for kids ages 4 and up
  • Picture books for preschool, kindergarten, and elementary students.


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I received a complimentary copy of this book from Reedsy Discovery.  I voluntarily chose to read and post an honest review.


The love of magic and magical books has been around for many years. Children love when inanimate objects come to life. They do this through their imagination all the time. They make teddy bears drink tea. They make toys move and speak. They create a wonderland in their backyard or right inside their home. Therefore, I believe children will love Ellery’s bike and wish their bike would also come to life. You might even catch your child speaking to their own bicycle, which would be adorable. 

Ellery’s Magic Bicycle by Maria Monte is not just all about magic. There was a life lesson weaved in the story. A boy picked on Ellery; she got revenge on him and felt terrible afterward. This section reinforces the old saying two wrongs don’t make a right. When you and your child or students read this section, ask them how Ellery should handle the situation differently? How would they have handled it? 

Ellery’s Magic Bicycle teaches children to forgive, apologize for inappropriate actions, and be open to making new friends in the unlikeliest places with the unlikeliest people. With all the turmoil in the world, I appreciate any story that shows people overcoming differences, becoming nice, and starting new friendships. 

My daughter loved Zoe Saunders’s illustrations. I agree; they were fantastic. She did a marvelous job on all the pages, but especially the page dedicated to Ellery growing up and the bike becoming bigger with her. As a parent, I was happy to see Zoe had Ellery and Charlie wearing a helmet when riding the bike. Even though it’s a special bike and could protect the rider, we must teach kids to be safe. 

I would absolutely recommend this Ellery’s Magic Bicycle by Maria Monte to others.


Amazon’s recommended reading age: 4 – 7 years

Grade level: kindergarten – 3


Heart Rating System:
1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 
Score: ❤❤

Amazon Purchase Link




About the Author

Maria Monte is an experienced communications specialist and has completed an honours degree in English literature. Her spare time is divided between family and caring for her young son. A native of Melbourne, Australia, Maria enjoys mochas and losing herself in wiki rabbit holes.

Reedsy Link


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