Elizabeth, Queen of the Seas | Book Review

Elizabeth, Queen of the Seas

Written By: Lynne Cox

Illustrated By: Brian Floca

Published 2014 by Schwartz & Wade

Children’s Picture Book

Based on a True Story


Author and swimmer Lynne Cox was on a trip to Christchurch, New Zealand gazing down at the waters of the Avon river when a boy asked if she was looking for Elizabeth, their elephant seal. Once she heard the story, Lynne knew she had to share this with the world! After some research and seeking permission from the town of Christchurch, Lynne brought us this beautiful book.

Brian Floca, a Caldecott award winning illustrator, created a beautiful look of pencil and watercolor looking images that marry the story and illustrations wonderfully.

This book follows the true story of Elizabeth, the elephant seal. Normally, elephant seals live in the cold waters of the ocean and no one is quite certain how or why Elizabeth wound up in the Avon river, but wind up there she did! A beloved member of the community, Elizabeth was quite happy to sun herself in Christchurch until the day she discovered her new favorite spot, across a busy road. The people of her town were afraid for her life and had her towed out to sea…three times. Elizabeth continued to find her way home.

The end of the book has some information on elephant seals that is very interesting and a great addition. I always love when authors include facts in the back of their books because it can lead to some amazing conversations with your child or students.  If you are a teacher working with students on either book reviews or science presentations dealing with animals this book could be something wonderful to help them along. I highly recommend this book for all ages!


Cover/illustrations – 4.5/5

Story/Writing Style – 4.5/5

Relatability – 5

Characters – 5

Things to learn – 5

Star Rating – 4.8


Artsy Animals

Do you like random facts? Do you enjoy animal artwork? Do you love tiny little books that can conveniently be carried with you virtually anywhere???



*Slightly smaller than actual size*

Maja Safstrom is an architect and illustrator from Stockholm who has worked with Ten Speed Press to bring us a small book with a big impact. Coming at a mere 6.3×0.7×7.8 inches in dimension, The illustrated Compendium of Amazing Animal Facts combines pen and ink/black and white drawings with facts about several different animals, all seemingly hand lettered. This book gives us not only  peek aat nature, but  look at the author’s nature journal (of sorts).

The book is very well made, the cover binding feels nice and fits very well into a hand, the interior pages have the look and feel of thicker art paper, and the entire piece feels like a work of art lovingly created for the audience.

If you enjoy Maja’s style of artwork, as I do, I highly suggest also following her on Instagram!

I’ll leave you with a  fact to ponder while you’re waiting on that page to load.

“Penguins laugh when they are tickled.”

You’re welcome and have a marvelous day!

3 Ways to Tell that this is THE ONE (partner) for Writers

With the exception of a few close writing friends that I used to do ’round writing’ with, I have never worked with other people for the writing process. The story, and all of it’s parts, have remained my own. Even going so far as to make up cities in the approximate area of actual areas just so I don’t have any ties to them later on. However, that changed a bit today, and I am so incredibly excited about this new adventure!

Today My father (Dr. Wilson Jay Tyree) and Myself (Elizabeth S. Tyree) met with the director of Tanganyika Wildlife Park, a privately funded wildlife park/refuge that is beautifully cared for and well loved in Kansas (just 2 hours from our home in Oklahoma). Now one of my favorite characters will be housed in the facility for our books. I’m so excited to get this book together now! (If you want to donate something to their park, or just check out the kind of things these animals might want/need you can see their multiple wish lists HERE)

Thinking back over it, there were 3 real reasons that I abandoned the ‘all on my onesie’ approach for this book. If you are also a ‘loner’ but think that you might want to work with someone, or somewhere, for your next project, these might help you decide!

1 – I could SEE my story happening there. Its not just that my character is a lemur and they have a great little island for lemurs. Although that was a big draw! In reality, I could see my main character interacting happily with the entire park. (also, my Lemur’s name has always been Leonard, and they have an ambassador lemur by the same name! Talk about matches made in happy places!)

2 – It felt welcoming (for animals and humans). This park felt like a place I would happily visit often. When working with someone (or somewhere) else, you need to be relatively certain that you can work closely with them

3 – I felt pulled to contact the director/assistant director. This was the biggest indication for me that I should go ahead and ask if they might be willing to work with me. Whether or not you believe in ‘following your gut’, if you are thinking about a particular partnership often (or can’t get it out of your mind) then that is a good indication that you should pursue the possibility.

I hope that this helps you decide if grabbing a partner or plopping your story down in a certain place might be the right answer for you!

As always, I look forward to your questions and comments! I leave you with a few pictures from today’s productive trip:

Bintorung - from South Easter Asia.

Bintorung – from South Eastern Asia.

Indian Rhinoceros - this one is excited for feeding time!

Travis the Indian Rhinoceros – this one is excited for feeding time!

Red River Hog looking for bugs in the mud!

Red River Hog looking for bugs in the mud!

A Black Howler Monkey--he refused to howl for me, but finally decided  to come down and make faces!

A Black Howler Monkey–he refused to howl for me, but finally decided to come down and make faces!

Sky, the 9 year old female White Tiger. She loves her ground beef

Sky, the 9 year old female White Tiger. She loves her ground beef

Baby Javan Langurs having fun

Baby Javan Langurs having fun

Meet Emmet, the 30 year old tortoise who was so well loved in the feeding arena that he outgrew the area and was put in with the Kangaroos this week! Love hearing things like that!

Meet Emmet, the 30 year old tortoise who was so well loved in the feeding arena that he outgrew the area and was put in with the Kangaroos this week! Love hearing things like that!

Leonard the Lemur

A few years ago I wrote an early elementary book about a little lemur. The lemur’s name was Leonard and he LOVED lighthouses. Now Leonard was raised by a sweet lady who read to him and taught him about all sorts of things, and when he was old enough to move to the zoo she still came to visit him often. I have always loved this book and intended to edit, illustrate, and include lemur and lighthouse facts. However, by the time I finished Stone Dragon 1 and 2 and thought to take a break for Leonard, the old computer had lost most of his story again.

I felt dejected and upset at myself, so I went back to my dragons and tried to remember what I had lost with the lemur. Fast forward 2 years. I am sitting at my desk observing while a classroom full of 22 students takes state tests. Suddenly, a little lemur begins to dance across my mind again. Not to give me the story I had already written, but to show me how it began. So I wrote a new book. A picture book prequel. Leonard the Lemur Who Loves Lighthouses. 

A few days later came the realization that I would have had to re-write the 1st (now 2nd) book anyway, even if it hadn’t been lost, because it is actually TWO books! So Now my illustrator (Mom) is really going to have a load of work to so this summer because there are 3 early literacy (hopefully leveled) readers to get done. Leonard the Lemur Who Loves Lighthouses, Leonard the Lemur Takes a Trip, and Leonard the Lemur Finds His Home.

Each one will come complete with a small section of facts about lemurs, lighthouses, and other animals/areas he encounters during his adventures.

I am SO EXCITED to get this project back up and running again.

I always look forward to hearing what you think. Leave a note and let me know!

May your inspiration lift you up from the mundane and let you dance in the clouds today!


This morning my daughter looked very seriously at the wall in our restroom and told me that there were sheep eating RIGHT THERE MOM! I suppose it is true that inspiration can come from anywhere…Enjoy!

There were sheep on the wall in the bathroom,

grazing on grass we could not see.

Sheep on the wall in my bathroom,

not one, not two, but THREE!

Sheep on the wall in the bathroom,

Wandering by the corner happily.

Sheep on the wall in my bathroom,

Where are they from? You can search me!

Catawampus – A Short Story

In just a few short minutes my life went from neat and orderly to a catawampus mess…all because of an actual cat.

Not just any old regular cat though. NO! This ferocious feline was a tiny, terrifying tyrant. Oh sure, she looked sweet and adorable at the shelter with her big greenish gold eyes looking so innocent and her soft fur so well coiffed. As soon as I came into view of her kennel the little actress started up, mewling and purring and looking deep into my soul….of course I took her home immediately!

At first she snuggled her soft, warm body into the crook of my arm and accompanied through a Netflix bender. I guess she got bored with the movie after I fell asleep though because I woke up to see her nibbling on my leftover burrito. Within seconds something changed though and suddenly there was a MONSTER destroying my pillows.

My once soft and sweet siamese must have been a secret Gremlin! Sharp nails and teeth tore at everything in sight. Fluff and saw dust covered what used to be my seating area, cords were quickly clipped, torn, and frayed, and my shelf of ceramic Care Bears was teetering dangerously in no time.

I tried to stop the madness, I really did, but as soon as I moved, she turned glowing eyes in my direction and hissed. There’s not way I’m getting my security deposit back now!

I guess that’s what I get for naming her Gizmo. Next time I think I’ll get a nice big dog instead!

Favorite Animals and other Nonsense

When asked (about once a year or so) I have a ready list of my favorite animals. But when that list starts out with Dragons well…people look at me a little differently. Probably because anyone asking that question doesn’t know me well yet. And, let’s be honest here, it isn’t like I said unicorn! However, the list is as follows (DRAGONS!) All types of owls, manatees, dolphins, sea turtles, and jelly fish.

While we’re at it: my favorite number is 13, my favorite short story is Sleepy Hollow, my favorite colors are orange, coral, and teal, my favorite Disney Fairy is Vidia, I prefer Stark, Banner, and Loki to the other Avengers, and the only music I just can’t stand to listen to much of is hard core rap.

Oh! One more thing, my e-books will be free IN ORDER for the next 3 Mondays and Tuesdays. That means that Dragon On My Neck will be available for free download until midnight tomorrow (Tuesday 8/12/14).

Ben the Mole

Today I am asking for your help, my friends. I wrote this short story a few years ago and have decided to revisit, revise, and re-polish so that I can get it up and out on its own. I’m looking for opinions on the content and delivery and would love your input.



Ben the Mole

Written by:

Elizabeth S. Tyree


Dedicated to my beloved cousin Ben,

Who left us to sing with the Angel;

And to my family, who always believes in me
















A long time ago, when magic was still seen by all and animals lived as equals with man, there lived a mole family with a momma mole, daddy mole, and three brothers mole. Today we will learn of the great adventure the middle brother had. He was affectionately known in their community as Ben the Mole.


Ben lived a quiet life with his family and he loved them very much. But, like all families, they had their fights and after one particularly horrible fight Ben decided to leave home on a quest for adventure and honor (and to prove to his brothers that he wasn’t a chicken snot head…). So, with a little money he had saved, some fruit and crackers for food and a change of clothes, Ben the Mole left home to begin his great adventure.


After a few hours of walking, Ben stopped to rest by a babbling stream and took out some of his fruit and crackers to snack on as he leaned against a tree. Suddenly a little squirrel popped its head out of the branches over his head and greeted him. “Hello, what is a mole doing out here? Shouldn’t you be underground with your family?” the little squirrel squeaked at him.


“Oh, hello squirrel. I left my family to seek adventure and honor, and to prove to my brothers that I am not a chicken snot head. I am on my way to the great city of Qwanta, to seek out the King and Queen. If I can get a picture with them, it will prove my worth to my family.” Ben replied.


“I know how you feel,” said the little squirrel, “My name is Drat and my brothers and sisters think I’m a chicken snot head too, can I come with you on your quest? Maybe if I can get the King and Queen’s autograph they will see that I’m not a chicken snot head either.”


“Sure,” said Ben, “I would love some company.”


So, after Drat the little squirrel got some nuts and cheese for his snack and a change of clothes, the two friends set off on their adventure to Qwanta. They had a long walk ahead of them, because they were from the land of Circling Rocks which is many days from Qwanta on horseback, which was a walk of many weeks from the castle of the King and Queen.


As they journeyed they amused themselves by counting the people on the way and making up stories about them. A few days after Ben and Drat started their adventure, they came to a small town. The town sign proudly declared Bearville, Population 42 ½, while they were walking into town, and trying to figure out where that ½ came from, they ran into a boy walking his horse. The boy was surprised to see a little squirrel and a mole walking together and stopped to ask what they were doing.


“We are going to Qwanta, to see the King and Queen!” Drat proudly told him, “We are going to prove to our brothers and sisters that we are not chicken snot heads.”


“Well,” said the boy, “My name is Woodrow and my family lives down the road, would you like to come eat supper and stay the night with us? If you can, I will go on this great adventure with you too, so that I can see the King and Queen of Qwanta, maybe then my brothers will stop telling me that I am too small to play with them.”


Well, Ben the Mole and Drat the little squirrel thought this was a great idea, so they walked with Woodrow to his family’s house and had a nice dinner and slept in soft beds. The next day, Woodrow the boy, Drat the little squirrel, and Ben the Mole continued the walk to Qwanta.


Outside of the next town, the three friends were singing (for Ben loved to sing) when they were grabbed by an evil man, who wanted them to carry his belongings for him. As they were struggling to carry the heavy belongings down the long wooded road, a fairy hear their cries and POOF, she turned the man into a horse that could carry all of his own belongings.


Happy to be free from the evil man they stopped to rest next to a creek and talk to the fairy. When she heard of their plans for a great adventure to meet the King and Queen in Qwanta she was very excited. “I am Poppy and I would love to go on this GRAND adventure with you if you will let me. It sounds like fun.”

“Sure,” said Ben the Mole, “I am going to get a picture with them to prove to my brothers that I’m not a chicken snot head.”

“And I am going to get their autograph to prove to my brothers and sisters that I’m not a chicken snot head either,” squeaked Drat the little squirrel.


“And I am going to prove to my brothers that I’m not too little to play with them.” said Woodrow the boy.


“Then I will go with you to help and to prove to my family that I’m not too little for the fairy games and that I’m not a scaredy cat.” replied Poppy.


So off they went to seek adventure and the King and Queen of Qwanta. Ben the Mole, Drat the little squirrel, Woodrow the boy and Poppy the fairy had fun walking down the road and teaching each other new songs. Once, when they had stopped for a nap under a large tree, an alligator tried to eat them up, but Poppy, being a good fairy, turned him into a little frog before he could eat anyone at all and they taught him to play fetch with the reeds from a nearby pond.

After a few more days of walking, singing and playing, the friends came upon a beautiful city whose sign said Qwanta, Home of the King and Queen. Excited that they had finally reached the city, Ben the Mole, Drat the little squirrel, Woodrow the boy, and Poppy the fairy, hurried into town and down the main street to the wonderful castle they could see at the other end. Just as they reached the castle though, a large guard stopped them. “You can’t just go into the castle,” he growled, “This is for the King and Queen only. What do you want?”

“Sir,” said Ben, “we want to see the King and Queen.”


“That’s impossible,” the guard roared.


Another guard walked up to see what was going on and asked “What’s impossible Fred?”


“They want to see the King and Queen, Al” laughed Fred.


“Oh, that’s a good one, why would the King and Queen want to see them?” The friends were sadly turning to leave as the guards laughed harder and harder, when the doors to the castle suddenly opened and the King and Queen themselves walked out.


“What is all this noise?” asked King David.

“Sire, these children wanted to see you and Queen Mary” sputtered Fred.


“And why is that funny?” asked Queen Mary, “I think it’s sweet. And it is very mean of you to laugh at children.”


Queen Mary then turned to the friends and said, “Why do you want to see us?”


“Please ma’am, I came from the land of Circling Rocks and I just want to get a picture with you to prove to my brothers that I’m not a chicken snot head.” said Ben the Mole, turning red at finally meeting the Queen.


“And I also came from the land of Circling Rock to get your autographs to prove to my brothers and sisters that I’m not a chicken snot head.” squeaked Drat the little squirrel.


“And I came from Bearville (population 42 ½) to prove to my brothers that I’m not too little to play with them.” said Woodrow the boy.


“And I came from the woods in the area of Bearville to help them and to prove to my family that I’m not too little to play in the Fairy games and that I‘m not a scaredy cat.” said Poppy the fairy.


“Well,” said King David in is grandfatherly like voice, “Let’s go have some lunch and we’ll see about getting those pictures and autographs.”


So Ben the Mole, Drat the little squirrel, Woodrow the boy, Poppy the fairy, King David, and Queen Mary went to eat lunch have a picture taken together. King David and Queen Mary liked the friends very much and invited them to live in the castle.


The friends agreed and stayed there for a little while, but they began to miss their families and so they left to journey home. Each of them received an autographed copy of the picture they had taken that first day in Qwanta, and a nice letter from King David and Queen Mary telling their families that they were definitely big enough to play and that none of them were chicken snot heads or scaredy cats.


They had many adventures on the way home and eventually they all found their way to their families. Poppy was allowed to play in the fairy games that year, Woodrow’s brothers finally let him start playing ball with them, Drat’s brothers and sisters stopped calling him a chicken snot head and Ben’s family was so happy to have him home that they stopped calling him a chicken snot head and started letting him play with them (even though he sang all the time).


King David and Queen Mary made many trips to visit the friends, and each year Ben the Mole, Drat the little squirrel, Woodrow the boy, and Poppy the fairy, would all take their families to Qwanta and stay in the castle with the King and Queen.

The guards, Fred and Al, were each given an autographed picture of the friends with the King and Queen to remind them not to laugh at anyone because, even if they are small, everyone is special.




Weedy Sea Dragons

Weedy Sea Dragons

A good friend of mine shared this link with me earlier as an almost joking way to ‘find my muse’ for the Stone Dragon Saga stories. Well, the joke is on her because these little guys are AWESOME! I am not only inspired, I am excited AND there’s an Owl cam I can check out later on tonight!

This is a great site to look at many types of videos, live camera feeds, snapshots, etc. Take a look, show the kids, pass it on to a teacher who may need some science/social studies clips.

Have fun, crack a smile, saw ‘aww’, and share the joy! Have a Blessed Day!


Who are you Reading?

Who are you Reading?

This is Charlie. Charlie is an adolescent Camel. Normally, I would be taking the time to ask about your reading plans for this weekend but you know what, winter is coming soon and curling up on the couch with a good book and a blanket will seem like a little slice of heaven then. So for now, this weekend at least, go out and see something that you’ve been dying to see!
Charlie lives at Arbuckle Wilderness in Davis, Ok and he is supremely sweet! If you can’t make it down here, check around. I bet there are a few places that you never knew existed, just a short drive away from your front door. Go pet a camel and feed a giraffe for goodness sakes, you are NEVER too old to be excited about that!
Have a Blessed Weekend and GO OUTSIDE!