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3 DIY Orienteering Exercises to Navigating Your Way in the Wilderness

“In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.”

John Muir


Just as you wouldn’t set up your tent for the first time in the woods, don’t wait to practice different methods of navigation until you’re in the wild. Here are a few orienteering exercises to help you hone your skills and build confidence before you set out.


Exercise 1: three-leg compass walk

For this exercise, you’ll need a compass and a stick or pencil to use as a location marker. Make sure you have enough space to roam around. Place the location marker on the ground, set your bearing due north, or zero degrees, and note a prominent landmark that falls in line with this bearing. Walk fifty paces in the direction of the landmark, and then, from this second location, set your compass bearing for 120 degrees. Find a second landmark that lines up with your new 120 degrees bearing, and walk fifty paces toward it. Next, set your third bearing for 240 degrees, line it up with a landmark, and walk another fifty paces toward this final landmark.


If you set your compass bearings accurately, you should return to the approximate location of your original marker.


Exercise 2: closed course

This exercise is best completed with a partner who want to practice their navigation skills. First, draft a list of bearings and paces for each participant. Participants can also take turns writing their own sets of instructions. Your list should look something like this:

  • Walk twenty paces east
  • Walk thirty paces south
  • Walk fifteen paces east
  • Walk forty paces north

And so on. You can make the list as long as you like, but the main objective is to have each participant end up at the same place when they are finished. Each participant should carry a compass and a stick or pencil to mark their starting locations. Add a little fun to the game by setting a timer to see who can complete a certain list the fastest. It’s a good idea to test your own list first, so that you’re sure the participants will return to their starting places when they get to the end of your instructions.


Exercise 3: geocaching

Geocaching involves using GPS latitude and longitude coordinates to locate a hidden cache. With GPS capability built into most smartphones, it’s an easily accessible way to practice your GPS coordinate  skills. A geocache is usually stored in a waterproof box and contains a variety of interesting finds. Fun for all ages, it’s like a modern-day treasure hunt!


Given the growing popularity of this activity, geocaches can now be found all over the world—in cities and in nature. Applications like Geocaching can be used to approximate the location of the geocache with GPS coordinates, but then it is up to you to figure out the hiding place from there. Sometimes it’s necessary to look at a map to determine the best—and safest—possible route, because natural obstacles, such as rivers, lakes, or cliffs, can stand in the way.


Some geocaches are located in hollowed-out logs, while others are buried under rocks. In cities, geocaches can be found at the base of street lamps, under park benches, and in nooks and crannies in the exteriors of buildings. Some are hidden in plain sight, such as a plastic rock with a geocache inside of it. Geocaching challenges you to elevate your observations (an important tool in navigation!), because the people who hide geocaches come up with clever ways to conceal their locations. Don’t forget to look up!


Inside the geocache, you’ll find a variety of items. Most geocaches include a log book, where you can write your name and the date you located the cache. Some geocaches also include trinkets like plastic toys, currency from around the world, inexpensive jewelry, and useful items like stress relief balls or insect repellent wipes.


One of the tricky parts of geocaching is that sometimes the people hiding the geocaches lack an accurate GPS device or precise navigation skills. This can mean that you could find the physical location of the geocache’s coordinates, but still be ten to twenty feet from the actual geocache site, due to human or technological error.

Miles Tanner is an avid outdoorsman who has written for numerous publications about survival and outdoor skills. He lives outside of Billings. Montana

Check out Navigating With or Without a Compass here.

Campfire Cooking – Your Go-To Prep List plus Quick-and-Easy Delicious Recipes


With a bit of planning, patience, and prep, meals can taste as good in the wilderness as they do at home. For convenience and easy cleanup, some campers like to bring no-cook meals or quick-cooking meals like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, cups of dried ramen, and freeze-dried dinners. Other campers prefer to put in a little more effort to create flavorful camping cuisine. Pick your style depending on what kind of camping you’ll be doing (backcountry or frontcountry), how much you like to cook, the type of heat source (campfire or stove), and how much time you’re willing to spend.


Consider bringing measuring cups and spoons if you are frontcountry camping and can spare the room. When backcountry camping, you can generally approximate measure­ments and the recipes will taste just as good. Experiment with recipes by substituting different vegetables, meats, or grains. It is important to note that the first step for each meal cooked over a campfire is to build the fire far enough in advance to have hot coals ready by the time you want to start cooking.



  1. Apples
  2. Bananas
  3. Cinnamon
  4. Sugar
  5. Butter
  6. Chocolate
  7. Yogurt
  8. Olive oil
  9. Tortillas
  10. Bacon or vegetarian sausage
  11. Potatoes
  12. Pasta
  13. Beef (tempeh or tofu for vegetarian/vegan options)
  14. Onions
  15. Eggs
  16. Mushrooms
  17. Marshmallows
  18. Salt
  19. Pepper
  20. Garlic
  21. Cheese (cheddar or Parmesan, depending on the recipe)
  22. Canned chicken (canned tuna for pescatarian option)
  23. Bell pepper
  24. Zucchini
  25. Pesto



Try this delicious simple recipe for an invigorating Breakfast treat! 


Campfire potatoes, bacon, and eggs*


Even the most basic breakfasts can be tricky to cook over a campfire, but with the right technique, the finished product will be improved by that classic smoky campfire flavor.

Serves 4–6


Sharp knife

Cutting board

Mixing bowl

Heavy-duty aluminum foil


Fireproof skillet

Fireproof tongs

Fireproof spatula

Pot holder




12 medium potatoes, scrubbed or peeled

1 onion, chopped

1 bell pepper, chopped

Olive oil





12 strips bacon



A dozen eggs

Bacon fat or olive oil





Cut the potatoes into half-inch cubes. Place all the vegetables in a large mixing bowl, and drizzle them lightly with olive oil. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper.

Tear off four pieces of heavy-duty aluminum foil that measure about two feet each. Place one piece of alumi­num foil over a second piece, lining up the edges, with the shiny side facing down on both pieces. Do the same thing to the other two pieces of foil. Divide the vegetables in half, and place each half in the middle of the prepared foil wraps. Fold two opposite sides of the foil over the vegetables, then fold the other two sides over, crimping the edges together to form a tight seal. Do the same to the other foil packet of vegetables. Place each foil packet on a bed of hot coals, and let them roast for about 30 minutes, flipping occasionally. When opening the foil to check the contents, carefully pry apart the crimped edges, being careful to avoid getting burned by escaping steam. The vegetables are done when the potatoes are soft.



Lay the bacon flat and side by side in a cast-iron skillet, and place the skillet over the fire. Turn the bacon with a pair of fireproof tongs after the facedown side becomes just cooked or crispy, depending on your preference.



Once the bacon has finished cooking, pour most of the bacon grease into a tin can or glass jar. Then cook the eggs in the remaining bacon fat (or use olive oil if you prefer). To make a large scramble, first whisk all the eggs in a mixing bowl, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and then pour the contents into the skillet. Stir with the spatula until done.


Devon Fredericksen has camped around the world and has backpacked and bagged peaks across much of the American West. She’s worked as a sea-kayak guide in the San Juan Islands, has cycled across Central America, and has rock climbed in many of world’s premier climbing areas. She coauthored 50 Classic Day Hikes of the Eastern Sierra and Greenfire, and her work has appeared in High Country News, Guernica, Yes!, Indian Country Today, Meatpaper, and Eastside magazine. She currently lives in Portland, Oregon.

Check out How to Camp In the Woods here.

Be Prepared: Camping First Aid Kit

Bring it with you, and take care:

Your basic First Aid kit for Camping Adventures


No matter how long you’ll be camping or what activity you’re planning in the outdoors, always carry a first-aid kit. You can buy kits prepackaged from outdoor gear supply stores or you can create your own, using the below checklist. Learn how to use each of the items before you leave home.





  • Waterproof container to hold supplies
  • Hand sanitizer
  • First-aid manual
  • Antiseptic wipes or ointment
  • Triple antibiotic ointment
  • Nonadhesive sterile pads
  • Gauze pads (pack different sizes)
  • Compound tincture of benzoin
  • Medical adhesive tape
  • Adhesive bandages (pack different sizes and shapes)
  • Butterfly bandages
  • Moleskin pads
  • Sharp tweezers
  • Safety pins
  • Hydrocortisone cream
  • Insect sting relief ointment
  • Duct tape



  • Prescription medications
  • Pain/anti-inflammatory medicine such as ibuprofen
  • Antihistamine
  • Throat lozenges
  • Anti-diarrhea medication
  • Aspirin (in case of a heart attack)
  • Antacid tablets
  • Poison oak/ivy treatment


Additional items

  • EpiPen
  • Aloe vera
  • Eye drops
  • Oral rehydration salts
      • ◊ SAM Splints of various sizes
      • ◊ Triangular cravat bandage
  • Blunt-tip scissors (for cutting off clothing)
  • Oral thermometer
  • Irrigation syringe (for cleaning dirt and debris from wounds)
  • Non-latex gloves
  • CPR mask
  • Notepad and pencil


Devon Fredericksen has camped around the world and has backpacked and bagged peaks across much of the American West. She’s worked as a sea-kayak guide in the San Juan Islands, has cycled across Central America, and has rock climbed in many of world’s premier climbing areas. She coauthored 50 Classic Day Hikes of the Eastern Sierra and Greenfire, and her work has appeared in High Country News, Guernica, Yes!, Indian Country Today, Meatpaper, and Eastside magazine. She currently lives in Portland, Oregon.

Check out How to Camp In the Woods here.

Camping with Your Pet? 7 Things to Do before You Go

7 Things to Know when Camping with Pets
Photo by Patrick Hendry on Unsplash

Exploring with your best friend is a wonderful way to relax and experience the natural world.  Camping with pets can be an extraordinary experience if you do a little research and planning before you go.  Here are 7 things to do before you go.



Not all camping destinations and hiking trails permit pets. Check before you go to know whether your dog is allowed to camp and hike with you. For example, pets are allowed in all US national forests, but are required to remain on a leash no longer than six feet. Most national parks do not allow camping with pets in the backcountry, although certain designated trails or campgrounds are pet-friendly. BLM land offers many millions of acres of off-leash roaming space for pet owners and their four-legged companions. Some campgrounds will charge an extra fee for pets.



Does your pet have any special needs or dietary requirements? Is your pet physically capable of tagging along during your planned activities? Does your pet occasionally become aggressive around children or other dogs, or bark nonstop if under stress? Each animal has its own temperament, and no one knows better than you how your pet behaves in unfamiliar surroundings or among strangers. Exercise caution and good etiquette when deciding whether to bring your pet so you don’t put your pet or others in harm’s way. If you’re not sure, err on the safe side and leave your pet at home.



Certain activities like kayaking or cycling are not a good fit for bringing your pet along. Assess the amount of time you’ll be spending doing activities that may require leaving your pet in the car or tent for too long and adjust your plans accordingly.



Protect your pet against disease that can be transmitted by fleas, ticks, and other wildlife. Make sure your pet is current on all their vaccinations and ask your vet whether your pet needs any vaccination specific to the area where you’ll be camping.



If venturing into the outdoors with your pet—especially if your pet will be off leash for any part of the trip—make sure you invest in a collar and ID tag. Make sure the collar or harness fits well and doesn’t slip off easily. Consider going one step further and take your pet to the vet to be microchipped and registered, a process that will list your pet’s ID number in a database. That way, if your pet loses its collar, someone will be able to look up your contact information and reunite you with your lost animal.



In case your pet gets off its leash or harness, make sure they respond to a specific command to come back to you. Train your pet not to jump up on strangers. Dogs should be taught not to bark at strangers and to “stay” when told to do so. Train your pet to stay calm in a tent. Do an overnight camping test run in the backyard with your pet. Sleep in your tent, and see how your pet handles the close quarters. You may also consider training your pet to wear a pack made to carry its food or water, and other care items. The packs are designed to fit an animal like a harness with saddlebags. The saddlebags are appropriately sized for the size of the harness and dog. The packs may be purchased at pet stores and outdoor outfitters.



You might be heading on an adventure where it will be easy to restock.  But maybe not, so be prepared.  Your pet needs potable water and hygiene support as much as you or any of your family members.  We’ve included a simple downloadable How to Camp in the Woods with pets gear checklist and given you lots of detail here. Enjoy!



Calculate how much food you should bring, plus an extra day’s worth, and store the food in a resealable plastic bag. If you’re plan­ning to have your pet join you in any high-exertion activities, bring more food than normal, in case your pet needs additional calo­ries. Pack a food bowl along with a portable drinking bowl that you can refill with  fresh water throughout your trip. Lightweight, collapsible bowls are a good option when backcountry camping. If water will be scarce at your camping destination, bring enough water for your pet to last the length of your stay, plus an extra day’s worth.


Remember to pack any special dietary food or daily medication that your pet might need, plus any special medication-administering tools. For example, if you normally need to con­vince your dog to eat a pill by hiding the pill in a piece of cheese, remember to pack cheese for this purpose as well.


Pets can suffer injuries too, so either augment your group first-aid kit to include pet-specific items or pack a separate first-aid kit for your pet that includes normal first-aid equipment like gauze, adhesive tape, tweezers, and antiseptic wipes, along with pet-specific items like a self-cling bandage (which sticks to itself but not fur), a muzzle (to prevent biting wounds), and a pet first-aid book.


Pack a leash and a collar (or a harness) to keep your pet from wandering into other people’s campsites or farther up a trail than you’d like. You can also pack a longer leash that can be tied to a tree or staked down to let your pet explore your campsite without going beyond its boundaries. Be sure to pack a stake in case the camping area prohibits tying a pet tether to a tree. If your pet is prone to getting tangled up, or you’re worried that a person might trip over the long leash or line, you can opt to bring a portable pet pen. Lightweight, foldable pens are available at some pet or outdoor gear stores, and are a handy way to keep your pet from straying too far at camp.


Consider investing in lights that your pet can wear when it’s dark. This will help you spot your pet if it runs off into the night.


You must pick up and pack out pet waste even in the wilderness. Pet waste can contaminate water sources and at the very least— when left on a trail or near a campsite—be an unpleasant surprise for other campers. Bring enough waste disposal bags to last the length of your camping trip. If you plan to camp with your cat, pack a small litter box that can be placed inside your tent. If you have a long car ride to your destination, make sure your cat can access the litter box while the car is in motion. Lightweight and collapsible reusable litter boxes can be purchased at some pet stores.


Place a towel on the seat of your car for the ride to and from your camping destination. This will make car cleanup easier after you return home, since you need only throw any used towels in the wash. A towel is also a handy item when your pet decides to splash around in puddles or water bodies. Lightweight backpack­ing towels are ideal for backcountry camping, as they pack down small and dry quickly.


Some pets are fine hanging out in the rear of a vehicle with a hatchback, or even in the back or front seats of a car. But if your pet is particularly mobile while you’re driving a vehicle, consider packing a carrier that gives them room to lie down comfortably for the whole ride. Some pets even prefer to sleep in their carriers at night, so consider using it at your campsite as well.


While some pets are perfectly content to curl up on the ground or in the back of a car, others are more likely to settle down and relax if you bring along a comfortable bed or blanket. Providing them with their own bed may also serve as a deterrent from them wanting to climb into your sleeping bag with you when nighttime falls. As a sometimes more comfortable alternative, portable cots can also be purchased for older pets with joint issues.


Although descended from their wild ancestors, domesticated dogs and cats still get cold. That’s why it’s important to pack a warm layer for your pet. An array of styles, materials, and sizes are available at most pet stores.


While camping in particularly hot conditions, it might be neces­sary to invest in a cooling vest for your pet so they don’t overheat.A cooling vest is made of mesh that cools off your pet as moisture evaporates from the material. However, when facing a weather forecast with extremely high temperatures, it might be best to leave your pet at home for their safety.

Want our Checklist? Download it here.

How To Camp In the Woods – Camping with Pets Gear Checklist


Devon Fredericksen has camped around the world and has backpacked and bagged peaks across much of the American West. She’s worked as a sea-kayak guide in the San Juan Islands, has cycled across Central America, and has rock climbed in many of world’s premier climbing areas. She coauthored 50 Classic Day Hikes of the Eastern Sierra and Greenfire, and her work has appeared in High Country News, Guernica, Yes!, Indian Country Today, Meatpaper, and Eastside magazine. She currently lives in Portland, Oregon.


3 Simple Tips for Camping With Kids

Photo by Daiga Ellaby on Unsplash


Camping with children is all about making memories to last a lifetime. But for many parents and caregivers, this kind of camping can feel formidable, so approach it like an opportunity to spend time with kids in the outdoors—a place where you can watch them grow and gain an appreciation for the natural world. Without the distraction of screens and other electronics, you may find more time to have conversations, tell stories and jokes, and listen to your children. Or think of it as a way to start new family traditions or pass along old ones.

Have your child adjust to the outdoors gradually, and take precautions to ensure that they stay safe. The trick is to create enough of a controlled environment that you can keep your child out of harm’s way, while still allowing enough freedom for them explore, learn, and master the art of camping.  Here are 3 simple tips that will make your camping adventure a fun, safe, and memorable one.



Before heading off into the wilderness, run a practice test by setting up the tent in your backyard and cooking over a camp stove. (For families with no backyard, setting up in a larger room inside can work). Is your tent big enough to fit everyone? Does your child sleep well? A camping test run will let children get used to the idea of sleeping in bags on pads rather than in their own beds, and will help you plan the gear and activity list for an actual camping trip.



Have a plan set in place in case of emergency (e.g. bad weather), or if children are having so little fun that they just want to go home.



The first few camping trips with children might require patience and constant surveillance, so be prepared to give yourself some slack when trips aren’t as carefree and rejuvenating as you hoped. When something goes awry, tell kids to think of it as an adventure–something adults need to embrace as well! Remember, your response to a disappointment will model how your youngest ranger responds.  On the next trip, you can try a different season and location, and pack different foods and activities.



Camping is its own great reward so here are a few more tips, organized by age, that will help get you all in gear.


Ages three and under
Small children shouldn’t sleep in their own sleeping bag, as they might squirm out in the middle of the night. Instead, dress them in fleece or long underwear and place a warm, soft blanket over them and a foam sleeping pad underneath them. For babies, consider packing a travel high chair or stroller, or even a travel playpen for a familiar place to sleep and to prevent them from crawling off while you’re tending to a camping task like cooking or building a campfire. Invest in mesh netting for bug protection, or string up a tarp for some extra shade.
When a child is 12 months or younger, before applying insect repellents and sunscreen read the product label first for application instructions and the recommended age. Don’t allow young children to apply their own bug repellent.


When hiking, you can carry a small child in a front or back child-carrier pack. But be sure to take breaks so they can get out and explore on their own. Apply sunscreen and help them dress appropriately for the weather, which might include sunglasses or sun hats. Stop frequently for snacks and sipping on water, in addition to rest breaks, especially if children are walking on their own. Throughout the trip, check that your child is warm enough by feeling their hands and feet, which should feel warm. If the skin on their hands or feet feels cold, check the temperature of their neck and chest, and add more layers if these places also feel cold.


Ages four and five
Give children within this age range small responsibilities, like filling up water bottles at the campground spigot, helping to set up the tent, or organizing their toys, books, and clothes. At the beginning of the trip, gift them with their first piece of gear, such as a headlamp or magnifying glass, as this will empower them to learn new skills and will boost their camping confidence.


Ages 6 to 10
This age range is prime time for teaching children camping and safety skills, such as tying knots, bandaging a minor wound, reading a map, lighting a stove, building a campfire, and learning how to dress appropriately for the weather. With each new year, gradually extend the length of hikes that you might take and the difficulty of the activities (such as how much weight they must carry in their own backpack). Pack more snack food than you think you’ll need, and remind children throughout each day of a camping trip to drink water. Appropriate gear gifts for this age might include a binoculars.


Ages 11 to 13
Younger teens might challenge you to go outside your comfort zone, because they are just as capable at doing the same activities as adults. They have more strength, endurance, and can master skills like setting up tents, tying knots, building campfires, and navigating. During the trip, allow teens the freedom to explore on their own and teach them new skills like how to find constellations or identify native plants. Give them bigger responsibilities like planning a meal, doing dishes, or monitoring smaller children. Before leaving home, give them a list of personal gear items that they are responsible for packing themselves. After they’ve packed, go through their packed gear with them to make sure they haven’t forgotten anything.


Devon Fredericksen has camped around the world and has backpacked and bagged peaks across much of the American West. She’s worked as a sea-kayak guide in the San Juan Islands, has cycled across Central America, and has rock climbed in many of world’s premier climbing areas. She coauthored 50 Classic Day Hikes of the Eastern Sierra and Greenfire, and her work has appeared in High Country News, Guernica, Yes!, Indian Country Today, Meatpaper, and Eastside magazine. She currently lives in Portland, Oregon.

Check out How to Camp In the Woods here.

Little & Lion

Little & Lion cover

Little & Lion

By Brandy Colbert

Genre: Young Adult Fiction

Curriculum Subject: Mental Illness; LGBT; Alternative Family; Siblings; Girls & Women; Prejudice & Racism

Grades: 10 & up


When Suzette returns to Los Angeles from the boarding school where she was forced to spend the past semester, she’s uncertain of whether she wants to return to Massachusetts or stay in California. CA is where her friends and family are (as well as her crush, Emil); and her step-brother Lionel, who has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, needs her emotional support. When Suzette and Lionel begin to fall in love with the same girl, however, Lionel’s disorder takes a turn for the worse and spirals out of control, forcing Suzette to confront her own demons. Having betrayed a secret girlfriend in her boarding school, allowing her to take the brunt of homophobic bullying, Suzette must face her own past mistakes, come to terms with her bisexuality, and find a way to help her brother, before he hurts himself–or worse.


Bang cover


By Barry Lyga

Genre: Young Adult Fiction

Curriculum Subject: Family Life: Parents/Siblings/Babies, Guidance/Health: Death, Personal Development: Loss, Personal Development: Character Development, Teen Life: Relationships/Sexuality, Teen Life: Family

Grades: 7 & up

Discussion Guide LB School Podcast


Sebastian Cody did something horrible, something no one–not even Sebastian himself–can forgive. At the age of four, he accidentally shot and killed his infant sister with his father’s gun.


Now, ten years later, Sebastian has lived with the guilt and horror for his entire life. With his best friend away for the summer, Sebastian has only a new friend–Aneesa–to distract him from his darkest thoughts. But even this relationship cannot blunt the pain of his past. Because Sebastian knows exactly how to rectify his childhood crime and sanctify his past. It took a gun to get him into this.


Now he needs a gun to get out.


Unflinching and honest, Bang is as true and as relevant as tomorrow’s headlines, the story of one boy and one moment in time that cannot be reclaimed.



★ “Heartbreaking and brutally compelling. ” —Kirkus


★ “It’s a raw exploration of persistent social stigmas, a beautiful study of forgiveness, and an unflinching portrait of a parent’s worst nightmare.” —Publishers Weekly


★ “Lyga tackles a number of relevant issues in this heartbreaking novel, including gun control, suicide, and religious and racial prejudice. The pain and anguish Sebastian feels every day are raw and chafing, and the chemistry between Sebastian and Aneesa is tender and realistic.” —School Library Journal

The Star Thief

Star Thief cover

The Star Thief

By Lindsey Becker

Genre: Juvenile Fiction

Curriculum Subject: Adventure: Magic/Fantasy, Mythology, Personal Development: Self-Discovery, Personal Development: Conflict Resolution

Grades: 3-7


LB School Podcast

Honorine’s life as as maid at the Vidalia mansion is rather dull, dusting treasures from faraway places and daydreaming in front of maps of the world. But everything changes when she catches two brutish sailors ransacking Lord Vidalia’s study, and then follows a mysterious girl with wings out into the night….


Suddenly, Honorine is whisked into the middle of a battle between the crew of a spectacular steamship and a band of mythical constellations. The stars in the sky have come to life to defend themselves against those who want to harness their powers. Much to her surprise, Honorine is the crux of it all, the center of an epic clash between magic and science, the old ways and the new. But can this spirited young girl bring both sides of a larger-than-life fight together before they unleash an evil power even older than the stars?

The End of the Wild

The End of the Wild coverThe End of the Wild

By Nicole Helget

Genre: Juvenile Fiction

Curriculum Subject: Family Life: Cooking/Food, Family Life: Parents/Siblings/Babies, Guidance/Health: Death, Personal Development: Loss, Personal Development: Self-Discovery, Science: Environment

Grades: 3-7


Download Educator Guide


Eleven-year-old Fern’s rundown home borders a pristine forest, where her impoverished family hunts and forages for food. It’s also her refuge from the crushing responsibility of caring for her wild younger brothers and PTSD-stricken stepfather. But when a fracking company rolls into town, Fern realizes that her special grove could be ripped away, and no one else seems to care.


Her stepfather thinks a job with the frackers could help pull the family out of poverty. Her wealthy grandfather–who wants to take custody of Fern and her brothers–likes the business it brings to his manufacturing company. Facing adversity from all sides, can one young girl make a difference in the fate of her family and their way of life?



A 2018 Charlotte S. Huck Award Honor Book
NSTA-CBC 2018 Outstanding Science Trade Books
for Students K-12
NSTA-CBC 2018 Best STEM Trade Books for Students K-12
★ “An uncommonly fine account of perseverance and understanding in the face of adversity.” —Booklist


★ “Fern’s first-person voice is completely convincing. Her vocabulary and phrasing is rural Midwestern, and her imagery comes from the natural world she loves. The sense of place is palpable. The author demonstrates the poverty of Fern’s family and friends (including a Muslim family from Somalia) with telling detail, and the tension and action arise naturally…  This nuanced take on a pressing issue is an important one. Middle-grade readers will find much to think about in this beautifully written story.” —Kirkus


★ “Helget confronts substantial subjects like poverty, environmentalism, and mental illness, injecting humor and hope to provide balance. Without lecturing, she encourages readers to be thoughtful and curious.” —Publishers Weekly

The Fitzgerald-Trouts

Look Out For The Fitzgerald-Trouts coverLook Out For The Fitzgerald-Trouts

By Esta Spalding

Genre: Juvenile Fiction

Curriculum Subject: Family Life: Parents/Siblings/Babies, Personal Development: Conflict Resolution, Personal Development: Responsibility

Grades: 3-7


Meet the Fitzgerald-Trouts, a band of four loosely related children living together in a lush tropical island. They take care of themselves. They sleep in their car, bathe in the ocean, eat fish they catch and fruit they pick, and can drive anywhere they need to go–to the school, the laundromat, or the drive-in. If they put their minds to it, the Fitzgerald-Trouts can do anything. Even, they hope, find a real home.



Knock About With The Fitzgerald-Trouts coverKnock About With The Fitzgerald-Trouts

By Esta Spalding

Genre: Juvenile Fiction

Curriculum Subject: Family Life: Parents/Siblings/Babies, Personal Development: Conflict Resolution, Personal Development: Responsibility

Grades: 3-7


Welcome to the further adventures of the plucky Fitzgerald-Trout siblings, who live on a tropical island where the grown-ups are useless, but the kids can drive. In this second installment, the delightfully self-reliant siblings continue their search for a home. This time, their pursuit will bring them face-to-face with a flood, illegal carnivorous plants, and the chance to win an extraordinary prize at a carnival. Will they finally find a place to call home?



“Have you ever wanted to live on an island filled with selfish grownups and blood-sucking iguanas hiding in a dark and mysterious forest? Me neither. But the brave and inventive Fitzgerald-Trouts have such fascinating lives that I just might reconsider–as soon as I read this glorious book again, at least twice. I salute thee, Fitzgerald-Trouts!”—Lemony Snicket, author of the bestselling series All the Wrong Questions


“Spalding’s playful tone takes the edge off the neglectful parents and dire circumstances, largely thanks to the plucky, self-reliant kids who know (rightly) they are better off on their own.” —Booklist


“The Boxcar Children meet Dahl in a Hawaii-like setting here and it’s all sorts of fun, with just enough snarkiness to add edge to the charm and wonder. A clever but subtle twist at the end adds even more amusement, and the overall effect is as pleasing as a tropical breeze.” —The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books


“A touch of Everything on a Waffle weirdness; a touch of The Willoughbys sendup; and a warm, genial, wholly original voice.” —Horn Book


“Readers will root for the spunky youngsters [and] relate to the kids’ simple desires for a normal life, complete with goldfish in bowls and room to sleep.”—School Library Journal