Queen Vernita Meets Sir Heathybean The Astronomer by Dawn Menge and Heath Rhoades

Book Review
Title: Queen Vernita Meets Sir Heathybean The Astronomer
Authors: Dawn Menge and Heath Rhoades
Illustrator: Bobbi Switzer
Publisher: Outskirts Press, Inc.
Released: 2010
Pages: 34
ISBN-10: 1432731203
ISBN-13: 978-1432731205
Stars: 3.5

Queen Vernita Meets Sir Heathybean The Astronomer is the third installment in the engaging and intelligent Queen Vernita series written by Dawn Menge. With this book, she has a co-author: Heath Rhoades, an Astronomy Team Leader at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s Table Mountain Observatory. He is obviously the inspiration for the character of Sir Heathybean and as always, the book is delightfully illustrated by Bobbi Switzer, but this time the illustrations are somewhat juvenile for the text.

This volume is a little different from the first two, which include the award winning Queen Vernita’s Visitors and Queen Vernita Visits The Blue Ice Mountains, in that the size of the book has changed from 8.2 x 8.2 to 8.5 x 11 and the reading age level has switched from ages 4-8 to 9-12 in this latest book. I must confess that I didn’t read the book ahead of time when I read it to my niece and nephew who are 8-years-old because I expected it to be more like its predecessors and I did feel a bit awkward. My niece enjoyed the photos as well as the story, asked some questions about a couple of astronomy facts (that thankfully I was able to answer), and was especially interested in how fast the Earth rotates around the other planets and the reason why each year has 365 days. My nephew seemed more interested in playing with his re-discovered Tamagotchi.

However, this is still the quality children’s book that I’ve come to expect from Dawn Menge, and it was filled with so many interesting facts about the solar system, planets, asteroids and comets, that I learned things too. The average parent will as well I suspect, because not many can claim to be experts in astronomy!

Queen Vernita Meets Sir Heathybean The Astronomer is written in the same style as the previous books, with Queen Vernita of the Land of Oceaneers inviting 12 different friends to visit her for one month during each month of the year. Each day of the week they learn a new fact and this time, they were all treated to astronomy lessons from Sir Heathybean The Astronomer and Cora the Teacher. The authors have included some Greek and Roman mythology in their descriptions of the solar system as well as a lot of numerical facts including temperatures in Fahrenheit which can be a mouthful when reading aloud.

Queen Vernita’s visitors are people of all ages from many different ethnicities and include a child with cerebral palsy and one with Down’s syndrome to establish the concept of lack of prejudice and that anyone can enjoy learning new things. At the end of Queen Vernita Meets Sir Heathybean The Astronomer, Menge (who is currently working on her PhD in Curriculum and Instruction) reveals that the next book in the series will be about the sea and plant life of the Oceaneer islands. I’m probably looking forward to that as much as my niece and nephew are!

Queen Vernita Visits The Blue Ice Mountains by Dawn Menge

Queen Vernita Visits The Blue Ice Mountains by Dawn MengeBook Review
Title: Queen Vernita Visits The Blue Ice Mountains
Author:  Dawn Menge
Publisher: Outskirts Press
Released: 2009
Pages: 32
ISBN-13: 978-1432711696
ISBN-10: 1432711695
Stars:  4.0

SILVER WINNER IN THE MOM’S CHOICE AWARDS

Children’s author Dawn Menge is a smart woman. She has a Masters Degree and Clear Credential in Special Education and is currently working towards her Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction.

Through her character Queen Vernita (who now officially has a series of adventures in print!), she has created an absolutely wonderful storybook teacher for young children (ages 5-9) that is once again spectacularly illustrated by the very talented Bobbi Switzer. One of the reasons I love the Queen Vernita series so much is because of the bright, bold colours that are used in the pictures, and the other is that the stories are so fun and intelligent.

Every year Queen Vernita of Oceaneer (first introduced in Queen Vernita’s Visitors) writes to twelve of her closest friends and invites them to come to visit her. In this installment, the Queen has requested that her friends go with her to see the Blue Ice Mountains in the Land of Quails. Each month of the year she takes a different friend and together, on each day of the week, they experience the fun of adventure and education. Queen Vernita’s January visitor, Debbie, learns all about crabs! In March, Queen Vernita and her friend Christopher take a boat to see some tidewater glaciers and learn all about them. August weather encourages the Queen and her friend Marcella to visit the temperate rainforest of the Blue Ice Mountains where they meet park ranger Larry who tells them all about the flora and fauna of the region. In September, Vernita and Virginia discover the wonders of the Aurora Borealis and in November, Vernita and Dylan go snorkeling in the freezing glacier water and uncover the mysteries of underwater life.

Every day of the week Queen Vernita does something different with her friend who is visiting her that month and she shares so much joy with them that I find myself being envious and wishing I had a friend like Queen Vernita myself. Or better yet, perhaps I could become Queen Christine and create a similar environment for my own friends to enjoy! However, I must say that I would be very tired of having company for a whole year, no matter how much I enjoy the camaraderie of friendship!

Queen Vernita Visits the Blue Ice Mountains is another splendid children’s book by Dawn Menge and I hope that her audience continues to grow because the premise of this series is truly enjoyable and shouldn’t be overlooked. Parents and teachers everywhere will love teaching the monthly calendar, days of the week, and the changing seasons through the exciting activities of Queen Vernita and her visitors.

Queen Vernita’s Visitors by Dawn Menge, illustrated by Bobbi Switzer

Queen Vernita's VisitorsBook Review
Title: Queen Vernita’s Visitors
Author:  Dawn Menge
Publisher: Outskirts Press
Released: 2008
Pages: 36
ISBN-13: 978-1598007145
ISBN-10: 1598007149
Stars:  3.5

The ultimate test for a children’s book is the response given to it by children and when I read Queen Vernita’s Visitors by Dawn Menge, beautifully and brightly illustrated by Bobbi Switzer, to my six year old niece and nephew, they loved it and I loved it too!

Dawn Menge’s wonderful soft cover book is part of an educational series for children and the premise of Queen Vernita’s Visitors is unique and enchanting. Vernita is the Queen of a “majestic world called Oceaneer.” She has spent a whole year alone in her castle and decides that she really misses her friends. Queen Vernita decides to send out invitations to 12 friends to invite them to spend one month of the year with her.

Dawn Menge teaches children about the months of the year and how many days are in them as well as the days of the week and the changing seasons. She also inspires her readers to think of interesting activities and fun ways to spend time with friends. The story sparked the imaginations of my niece and nephew and they both agreed that August’s illustration and its’ list of activities was their very favorite. Ethan liked it because it has frogs in the picture and Erika loved that Queen Vernita and her friend Hannah went camping and slept under the stars and most importantly, that they made a campfire and cooked S’mores! They also both agreed that they could never eat as much turkey as the Queen and her friend Nicole ate in November or they would be sick!

Queen Vernita’s Visitors is a well written story that is delightful to read to children, chock full of rich colors, enjoyable illustrations that make you smile and ideas to spark not only the imagination of children, but of adults too. It’s a winner!

You can purchase Queen Vernita’s Visitors for US $12.95 at Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com. But first, be sure to check out Dawn Menge’s trailer for the book here: