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World War II Book Honors Fallen Minnesota Men

Why is World War II so compelling? Is it because there were so clearly “good guys” and “bad guys?” Is it because we came together as a country—as a world—and vanquished evil? Whatever the reasons, the Second World War is source material for countless books and movies. These stories are almost always dramatic and entertaining, but for the most part, they allow us to keep the tragedies of war at arm’s length. However, a new Minnesota history book changes that. Little Minnesota in World War II takes those tales of valor and heroism and makes them real. It is powerful and moving, without trying to be either. The concept behind this coffee-table book is brilliant. Authors Jill A. Johnson and Deane L. Johnson came up with it while working on their first book, Little Minnesota, in 2011. That project brought them to many of the smallest towns in the state, where...

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Bird-Watching Gets Kids Outdoors

Sometimes it’s hard to get kids outdoors, but bird-watching is a perfect solution. In this age of smartphones, social media, and video games, there’s plenty to do from home. But we want our children to breathe fresh air, to exercise, to connect with nature. Luckily, birding has the allure to divert attention away from electronic screens and toward our feathered friends. Making this hobby even better, it’s easy and can be totally free. All you have to do is introduce it. How to Start It seems as if birds are everywhere, so chances are good that you can begin in your own backyard. A simple suggestion of “Let’s go bird-watching” might get the kids outdoors. But even if it takes a bit of coaxing, the children will be entranced as soon as they observe their first bird. To hold their interest, make it interactive. Keep a running total of how many birds you encounter. Ask...

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What Eats That?

Easy to Prepare Grilled Buffalo Wings Recipe

Julia Rutland, author of The Campfire Foodie Cookbook: Simple Camping Recipes with Gourmet Appeal, shares with us her recipe for Grilled Buffalo Wings. Ingredients: 3 pounds chicken drumettes and/or wings 1 1⁄2 teaspoons garlic salt or 1 teaspoon garlic powder and 1⁄2 teaspoon salt 4 tablespoons butter 1⁄3 cup hot sauce 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar 1 tablespoon light brown sugar Blue Cheese Dressing (recipe below) Carrot and celery sticks Prep at Home: Separate chicken drumettes from wings, if necessary. Sprinkle evenly with garlic salt. Store in a large plastic storage bag or airtight container. Refrigerate at least 6 hours to overnight. At Campsite: Prepare a charcoal or gas grill for medium-high heat. Grease grill grates thoroughly. Grill wings, covered with grill lid or foil, turning occasionally, for 20 to 25 minutes until golden brown with crisp skin. Meanwhile, melt butter in a saucepan. Stir in hot sauce, vinegar, and brown sugar. Set aside. Prepare Blue Cheese Dressing. Remove from grill and toss in hot sauce mixture. Serve with dressing and carrot and...

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Food Chain Book Is Interactive Fun for Children

The food chain has always been a topic of interest for me. I remember, even as a child, being fascinated by the notion that animals—including humans!—eat other animals to survive. So when thinking about kids’ animal books to write, the predator-prey relationship remained at the forefront of my thoughts. But I could never quite find the right idea to run with—until What Eats That? The Story Behind the Story I found my inspiration in the interactive fiction that I write. I love books that go beyond reading—books that have the audience acting, talking, solving, and making decisions. After penning my first interactive picture book, Eagle in the Sky, I realized that such a food chain book could be one of those rare kids’ animal books that takes wildlife education to a new level. The question (and the title) immediately came to mind: What Eats That? I began to envision a book in which...

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Getting Ready for The Total Solar Eclipse

In a Q&A session about the August 21st total solar eclipse, George Moromisato, author of 101 Amazing Sights of the Night Sky, shares with us what is so special about this rare event. George also has some tips on where to see the eclipse. What’s so special about this solar eclipse? This is a total eclipse of the sun. Partial eclipses are not uncommon. There was one in the year 2000 that was visible throughout most of the continental U.S. But total eclipses are much rarer. The last total eclipse visible from the U.S. was in 1979, and that one was confined to a small patch of the Pacific Northwest. This total eclipse will be visible along a narrow path that stretches from Oregon to South Carolina. The last total eclipse to cross from coast to coast happened back in 1918—almost 100 years ago. OK, but what’s so special about a total solar eclipse? Picture this: You’ve got your solar observing glasses...

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The Great Minnesota Hot Dish

Hot dish is a tradition throughout the Midwest, but in Minnesota, it’s legendary. In print since the year 2000, Theresa Millang’s Great Minnesota Hot Dish has been the go-to source for this comfort food for years. Now it’s getting the update that it deserves. Wholly revised and updated with a fresh design, the second edition includes new recipes, thanks to new coauthor and noted cook, Karen Corbett. The revised book also includes “make it modern” options to help freshen up traditional hot dish recipes. And if you want to avoid using condensed soups, there’s a new section with recipes for making your own cream soups to use instead. So whether you want to make it like grandma made it, or make hot dish with a more modern flare, Great Minnesota Hot Dish has you covered. Here’s a sample recipe for you to try out! Cashew Chicken Hot Dish Ingredients 2 tablespoons butter 4 boneless,...

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Kids’ Football Book—A Game Within a Game

As a child, I was among the many reluctant readers—but, even then, I couldn’t resist a good kids’ football book. As much as I enjoyed those thrilling sports adventures, I never read one like Back to Pass, the newest addition to the Choose to Win series by Lisa M. Bolt Simons. Written for ages 9 to 13, this interactive story is like reading a book and playing a video game at the same time! Back to Pass follows the ever-popular “choose your path” format, in which the reader is cast as the main character, a concept that has always been appealing to traditional readers and reluctant readers alike. Every few pages, s/he is put in a tough predicament and must choose what to do next—and these choices absolutely matter. Sometimes, wrong choices lead to broken bones or getting kicked off the team, which brings an early end to the season and to this...

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Little Minnesota in World War II: Tiny Towns, Big Contributions!

In their forthcoming book, Little Minnesota in World War II, historians Jill Johnson and Deane Johnson share the heroism and history of Little Minnesota’s lost sons by recounting their service through their letters home, sharing family photos, and even by interviewing surviving relatives. This exhaustively researched book tells the story of 140 men who gave their lives for their country in some of the most famed battles of the war—including Pearl Harbor, Guadalcanal, D-Day, the Battle of the Bulge, and the Rhineland Campaign. During the course of World War II, 17,867,000 men and women served in the U.S. Armed Forces; according to the National World War II Museum, 407,316 didn’t survive the war. No state was left unscathed. Even the tiniest towns in Minnesota, with populations in the hundreds, suffered casualties. Get to know your hometown heroes through this firsthand history of World War II. Along the way, you’ll meet members of the Greatest Generation who...

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For the Love of the Twin Cities

We’re excited about the release of Minneapolis-St. Paul: A Photo Tour of the Twin Cities. A native of Minneapolis and graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Gregg Felsen has been a professional photographer and writer for more than 30 years. Blessed with an intuitive eye for composition, Gregg has combined his photographic talents with his affinity for his hometown to create a second edition of Minneapolis-St. Paul: A Photo Tour of the Twin Cities, a lovely guide to some of the area’s top attractions. Gregg’s love for the Twin Cities dates back to his childhood when Dayton’s and Donaldson’s were the major department stores; Southdale was the only shopping mall; the Rainbow Café, Lincoln Del, and Porky’s Drive-In were popular hangouts; and sports fans went to the old Met Stadium in Bloomington to watch the Twins and Vikings play outdoors. The Twin Cities area has always been known for its park systems, lakes, and picturesque riverfronts. Over the past few decades,...

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Children reading books

The Nesting Behaviors of Sandhill Cranes

In this week’s post, author, naturalist, and wildlife photographer Stan Tekiela pauses to tell us about his observations of Sandhill Cranes. I’ve been doing a lot of sitting this spring. Over many days, while filming a Sandhill Crane nest, I’ve had lots of time for contemplation. For three years, I have been photographing a pair of Sandhill Cranes nesting, and this year they built their nest in the best place possible, allowing me to study their behavior in detail. In early April, after spending several days constructing the nest, the female laid two eggs and began to incubate them. Incubation (from the Latin incubationem, translating to “a laying upon eggs” or “to lie on, rest upon eggs”) is the process of an adult bird, male or female, laying upon eggs in order to control the environment in which the eggs are nestled. So the temperature, the level of humidity, and also the oxygen surrounding the eggs are all controlled...

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