Fishscale Girl and the Upside-Down Rain

Our new book is here! We launched yesterday at the beautiful Conservatory at Vander Veer Botanical Park in Davenport, Iowa. Many of the photographs in this book were taken in the Conservatory, featuring its collection of tropical and semi-tropical plants.

Thank you to the horticulture staff for inviting us to stage the scenes with the lookout tree, garden, waterfall, and workroom. Thank you to The Friends of Vander Veer for sponsoring the launch. Thank you to readers who joined us there!

Ann-Hailey-book-launch-2014-04-17In order to visit the publisher’s website, click on “Look at my books” on the right side of this page.

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Taking a break

Fishscale Girl, Cate, and I are taking a break from My Adventures in the Awesome World. Cate has a ton of things going; Fishscale Girl and I are working together on a book featuring the beauty and wonder of water.
Thank you for following these adventures, and we’ll be back in touch!


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Hi! Fishscale Girl here, how has everyone been lately? I hope the answer is great!

Have you started school yet? I know many people have, but maybe not you yet. If you have, are you excited to be back? Seeing your old friends and making new ones, learning new things (and maybe some you don’t want to learn!), new teachers, school supplies, books. It’s the season!

Anyway, I have started school and I am learning French and Latin! I am also studying ancient Egypt and astronomy! Oh, and math, which is getting easier every day. A couple of weeks ago I went camping, and it was amazing! Do you go camping? It’s really fun, and kind of dirty and rough. I loved it.

We went with Ann and her husband, John, up to Palisades State Park, by the Cedar River, a half hour away from Iowa City, Iowa. It’s very beautiful there, and peaceful, because we camped there during the week, and there were not very many people. The Cedar River goes through the state park, but I was very sad to discover that it is almost completely dried up because of the recent drought. Have you heard about it?

The river was so low, there were big patches of sand we could go for walks on, and I could climb up on the wall of the dam! It was fun, but also sad to see the river so low. When the sun stared to go down, we would walk along the beach and big vultures would come and fly around all over the beach above us. There were hundreds!

Camping is a lot of fun, you get to sleep outside, and hike in the woods, and not take showers. (Ha ha, some people don’t like that part.) We roasted marshmallows and hot dogs and told ghost stories. We had a few neighbors next to us, but not too close, and we got to know them. It was very nice, and peaceful. Camping is a lot of fun and it takes you away from your busy life for a while, so you can relax and be outside. I came back feeling happy and at peace. Camping is also great in the fall! Will you be camping this year?

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The Market

This is Fishscale Girl, and I would like to welcome you to the market! Do you know what the market is?

The market is a place where there is food you can buy. Traditionally, a market has stalls of food, with vendors. In the past and in many places today, the market is outside. I went to the market twice a week when I was in France, and I loved it. At the market, you can buy all sorts of things — cheese made by the person selling it, fresh fruit and vegetables, dried fruit, a TON of different olives, nuts and spices, and lots of meat.

French market - Some of the food we bought

French market – Some of the food we bought

And in France, you can tell what kind of meat you are buying, not by the label on the package, but because of the fact that the meat still has its head, tail, eyes — you name it!

French market - meat selection

French market – Meat selection

French market - More meat!

French market – More meat!

French shopping - Even more meat!

French shopping – Even more meat!

I know this sounds kind of gross, but it’s not really, and it tastes so much better than the chunks of meat wrapped in plastic. I have heard that it is very, very hard to be a vegetarian in France. Everyone expects you to eat meat, and it is served at least once every meal. If you don’t eat, they take it as an insult.

French market - Sausages

French market – Sausages

French market - Not just meat for sale!

French market – Not just meat for sale!

French market stall

French market stall

Anyway, the market is  lot of fun. It is in the center of town, and around it there are coffee shops and the occasional merry-go-round. Most of the time, there are also small bands, playing the drums and other instruments. People watch them, throw money at them, and dance everywhere. Sometimes there are two bands playing at the same time, and they like to compete for attention. It’s a lot of fun.

French market - Feeding the birds

French market – Feeding the birds

I really enjoyed the market in France, but you do not have to travel there to see one. There are markets all over. You probably have one right in your town! Why don’t you check it out sometime?

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Hello! How are you all? This is Fishscale Girl, and today I want to tell you about Cate’s cousins in France! They are my cousins, too, after this visit.

Rosita and FIshscale Girl enjoy art by The Cousins

Rosita and Fishscale Girl enjoy art by The Cousins

Rosita and I were traveling with Cate and her brother, and I got to meet their cousins! They have lots of them, but the ones I saw the most were four small children, ages nine months to five years. When I met them, I could not speak French at all. But soon I was playing with them, and I learned French really fast. You have to, when you are talking with three, four and five year-olds. They corrected me on my grammar, and they corrected Cate’s too!

I love the cousins. They are named Alice, Thomas, Victoria, and Remy. Alice and Remy are brother and sister, and Thomas and Victoria are brother and sister. They were so cute, and were always really careful with me, I am very small. We played in a huge backyard, and I learned much more French than I ever could studying it at school.

Rosita and Fishscale Girl in the yard of The Cousins

Rosita and Fishscale Girl in the yard of The Cousins

The most important thing that I learned from these children is that family really is the most amazing and cherished thing in France. They had all been loved and cared for, not just by their parents, but by their grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousin, and by each other. It struck me as how natural it was, for a grandma to pop into her daughter’s house, grab her laundry that needed ironing, and take the kids to her house for the day.

This culture is quite different from America. Yes, we love and care for our families, but in different ways. Some are worse, some better. In France, I just felt really at home, and I never, ever went hungry!

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Capital of the world

Hi, this is Fishscale Girl! How are you all? Enjoying your summer? I know I am and I certainly enjoyed my spring too, because I got to travel overseas to France!

I have been to Paris (as my last post said), and I’ve seen the Eiffel Tower, as well as many other wonderful things that make Paris so wonderful and singular. Did you know that many people say that Paris is the capital of the world? I think that they are right. There is, of course, no official capital in the whole world, but Paris comes pretty close.

The thing about Paris — it just has so many different ways of looking at things. There are hundreds of reasons why people visit this city. Some come because they are tourists, and they wanted to visit Paris because it is so famous. Others come for shopping, or to see art, or take a boat ride on the Seine. People also visit to see the amazing cathedrals, or eat the awesome food, or go to school, or work. There is Paris for the artist, the musician, the architect, the romantic, and the tourist.

I think of myself somewhere between a romantic and a tourist. My favorite parts were the food (of course), Notre Dame Cathedral, the Eiffel Tower and walking around in the Tuileries Gardens. It rained while I was there, but so what? I was in Paris! I even got to see that Egyptian obelisk!

Now that I am home, I can appreciate the experiences I had in Paris even more than I did when I was there. It’s weird, but I guess traveling does that you. Or maybe it’s because when I was in Paris, I had just spent nine hours on a plane and not slept all night and I was reaaaaly tired. Climbing up the Eiffel Tower is no joke!

Fishscale Girl visits Notre Dame Cathedral

Fishscale Girl visits Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France

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New places, new perspectives

Hi! This is Fishscale Girl! Guess where I have been? In another country! Rosita and I have been on vacation in France!

Rosita and Fishscale Girl at Notre Dame Cathedral

Rosita and Fishscale Girl at Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris, France

I want to say, I have never flown across an ocean before, and it was quite amazing. It took a really long time, about nine hours on the airplane, but it was worth it! I arrived in Paris, and let me say, it is one of the most amazing cities in the world. Did you know that Paris is laid out as ten main streets spreading out from a center point, and the Arc Of Triumph?

I got to see it! And I walked down the Champs-Elyse, and saw the Eiffel Tower, and Notre Dame cathedral and everything! I ate lots of French food, it’s amazing, and since people from all over the world come to visit Paris, I heard so many different languages, including English! I climbed up 669 steps of the Eiffel Tower. Wow, what a workout!

After Paris, we traveled all the way to the very south of France, and saw the ocean, the mountains, and lots of pine forest. I also went to Spain for a day, where Rosita and I could understand what people were saying!

I loved the trip to France, even though I am glad to be home. I think I gained a lot of insight on other ways of living and thinking. I like the way that French people hold family as the single most important thing in their lives. This really made an impression on me. They will literally do anything for family.

I think this is a very important lesson for Americans. Learn to cherish your family above all else, because they are the ones who will stand by you, always and no matter what. So remember to love them and tell them so often. I love my family here in America and my family back in Peru. I think about them every day. Happy summer!


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Monarch butterfly time again

Hello, this is Ann. It is spring here in Iowa, and we are thinking about monarch butterflies. Monarchs need two kinds of plants — plants that the growing caterpillars can eat and flowering plants with nectar for the adult butterflies.

Out in our back yard, the milkweed plant is sprouting. Its leaves will be the host for the caterpillars. But what about the adults? Our friend Henry suggested that we plant zinnias, so I ordered seeds for his favorite, the California Giant zinnia.


Zinnia seeds for monarch butterflies

I punched holes in the bottom of a supermarket plastic clamshell, filled it with potting mix, and planted some seeds. Two or three times a day I spray the soil with water. This is how they look after about two weeks of rather cool weather.


Zinnia seedlings for monarch butterflies



Zinnia seedlings in their potting mix

The seedling on the left still has the hull of the seed attached!

What are you doing outdoors this spring?

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Be a volunteer!!!!!!!!

Hi! It’s Fishscale Girl!

How are you all? I’m good, learning lots every day and doing so much, too!

One thing I want to talk about today is volunteering. Have you ever been a volunteer? To volunteer means to help with a project, or a person, or do a job — for free. There are hundreds of ways in which to volunteer, and they can be really fun! There are many different types of volunteer work too, long-term, as in a few weeks, months, or sometimes even years! And also shorter like a day or two, or a few hours.

Fishscale Girl and the Food Pantry Basket, Scott County Library, Iowa

Fishscale Girl and the Food Pantry Basket, Scott County Library, Iowa

(This is a photograph taken last November at the Scott County Library. Volunteers donate food and work at the food pantry.)

For older kids and adults, there is international volunteering, where you spend time in another country and help work on something. As a teen, you can stay with a host family and be a part of a volunteer job that they may be working on. But there are many other ways to volunteer that do not involve having to travel overseas.

You could help out in a soup kitchen to feed the poor. Or play with kids in a day-care — that’s really fun. There are projects in which kids get to help build houses now, and you can participate in aiding disaster areas. These are countries, states or cities that have had natural or man-made destruction occur, and the people there may need food, clothing and shelter. There are many organizations that collect things to send to these people, or package food to be brought to them.

So you see, there are many, many fun and helpful ways to volunteer that can change people’s lives! So ask your parents or friends if they know of places or ways to volunteer. It’s amazing how much of a difference you can make.

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Lesson 5, Learn to read Spanish

Welcome to Lesson 5.
Read about these lessons at Learn to read Spanish with Fishscale Girl.

Some letters sound almost the same in Spanish and English. In this lesson, we read words with:

p, t, v, and c (as in cent)
and the vowel: e

la-letra-eLook at each picture. Say what is in the picture in Spanish and then read the words.



la pelota





el color verde


Every letter in a Spanish word is pronounced. The e at the end of a word is not silent, as you can hear in verde and the following words.

el número once


Did you notice that the c in once (11) sounds like an s?


el número doce

el número doce



In Spanish, the letter e always has the sound you hear in these words.

This is the last lesson in Part one. You now can read many, many words in Spanish. Look for picture books at your public library or school library and practice what you have learned! Check back for part two.

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