Judith Jango-Cohen

Nonfiction Author and Photographer



Knock, Knock! Who’s there? Crayfish!

Tap! Tap! Children knock on pots to call out their crayfish during a science experiment.
Hmmmmmm . . . Male or female?

When I visit classrooms I learn about my readers–and from my readers! Thank you to all the teachers and students who welcomed me this year.

Below are some highlights.

“Gators, Octopi, and Grizzlies, Oh, My!”

Version 2

Pre-program Reading
Version 2
How does an alligator brush her teeth?
Where’s the octopus’s stomach?
Looking like an antelope


“Exciting Writing!”

Version 2
Revising fairy tales is exciting writing!


Author_visit_program_school_Mass_nonfiction_214 2
“Making Music” with Alliteration!


“Painting Pictures” with similes.

“Images of Immigrants”

“Even those with no possessions carry three things with them: courage, hope, and a story.”
Children whose ancestors are Jewish, Italian, and Irish


I look forward to meeting some of you in the classroom.

Keep reading and writing!





Program/author visit video:


Photography website:

Greenwood’s Great Buncee Books



Dear Mrs. Braham, Mrs. Curran, and Students,

Thank you for sending me your nonfiction projects. I learned a lot of fascinating facts from reading them. I also learned how smart you all are and what good writers you are! Many of you did an excellent job including similes, vivid verbs, and alliteration.

Below are some of my thoughts about your work . . . with apologies to Jacob because your Star Wars project appears to have gone missing.  May the Force be with your teachers in finding it.

Stella: Welcome to My Room
You used your “paintbrush” to paint a vivid picture of your room, Stella.
Two awesome similes—
“My walls are white as marshmallow.”
“My little cousin and my little sister “make the room SO dirty it’s like the cafeteria floor after the first lunch.”
But my favorite sentence is—
“The thing I like most about my room is that I have someone to share it with.”

Anya: How To Be An Expert On The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
What an excellent job in sequencing the events of the story, Anya and in giving details about the characters’ looks and personalities.
I enjoyed the interesting chapters you wrote about the different houses and the equipment needed to be a wizard.

Michael: How to Hide from Your Annoying Brother
I am impressed by your ingenious ideas, Michael! (Sorry about your brother blowing up your Minecraft game.) Maybe one day you’ll use your considerable creative talents to design your own video game.

Thomas: Star Wars
You’ve demonstrated a wealth of knowledge about Star Wars weapons, Thomas. I learned a lot—including the fact that there is a Star Wars bounty hunter with my name—Jango Fett. Thanks for that information!

Derek: My Favorite New England Patriots
I love the way you started your Introduction, Derek – “Boom!! The ball goes right into your hand.” That opening made me want to read on. Your last sentence in the Introduction also enticed me to keep reading—Get ready to learn a lot about famous players. Your passion for football shines through!

Jaylee: Best Friends Whenever
You are lucky, Jaylee, to have a best friend like Kayla. It is good that you appreciate each other. I love your advice about being kind to others—even if they are not your best friends.


Tristan: Animal Jam
Animal Jam sounds like fun! Aren’t animals amazing? My husband used to play Space Invaders, which you showed in your Mini Games section. That was many moons ago!

Kevin: Elite Team
I like the way you started with a question, Kevin. That gets the reader involved.
“Do you want to have the ultimate Madden Mobile team?”
It was also clever how you ended by returning to that question.
“So now do you want to play Madden Mobile?”
You did an excellent job of telling readers at the beginning what they will learn. Then at the end, you summarized what they learned.
I enjoyed your many sensational similes!
“Bo Jackson is like a truck with an engine that never runs out!”
“He is like a palace guard in England except he protects Tom Brady not the Queen of England.”
“J.J. Watt is like a pro sumo wrestler because he’s super strong, super tuff and super big.”
“Larry Fitzgerald is like superman. Nobody can stop him.”
“Also when he sees someone ahead of him, like most tight ends he runs over the guy. Rob Gronkowski is like a Mack Truck!”
“Stephen Gostowski is like the most accurate weather man.”

Konstandina: Girl Scout Flavors
Very enticing information, Konstandina! I was intrigued by the statistics you gave regarding flavor preferences. I agree with you—I can’t choose! Your illustrations are great too. The opening photograph made my mouth water and the old drawing you found was cool. Are you in the photograph of the scouts on page 3?

Gracie: RaeAnn Williams
You’ve painted some vivid pictures, Gracie!
“Ireland has the personality of a mouse being chased by a big, hungry, cat.”
“I’m about as fast as a tennis ball trying to go up hill, when RaeAnn is almost as fast as a football player.”
“EVERY time RaeAnn saw me she would put on the biggest smile ever and wave her hand so much it’s like she’s waving 50 times per second.”
Speaking of pictures, I love the picture you put in at the end of the two girls holding hands.  I also love the insect paintings you picked.
P.S. Why did you name your dog Ireland, if her father was American and her mother was French?

Zachary: Madden Mobile
Wow! You have given extensive details, Zachary. I didn’t know anything about Madden Mobile, but after reading your Buncee Book I feel very well informed. Doing research is lots of fun when you like the topic, isn’t it?

Luke: Famous Tennis Players
Amazing photographs, Luke! The one of Gael Moflese on your title page, where he is stretched out horizontally as he hits the ball, is jaw-dropping. I also like that you emphasized how necessary practice is. My favorite part was when you said that sometimes Gael Moflese tries a very difficult shot and fails. But even though he might feel foolish and people might laugh, at least he tried.


Brendan: Independent Read
That’s great that you love reading. I can tell by your sentence—
“I was waiting for it for 5-10 minutes (which seemed like 1000 HOURS).”
I’ve never heard of A to Z Mysteries by Ron Roy. I’ll have to get it from the library. There used to be book called Minute Mysteries, because these mysteries could be read in a minute. You had to guess the solution to each mystery by analyzing the clues. Thanks for the mysteries book tip!

Ryan/Jacob: Madden Mobile Playing
I like the fascinating fact you put into your Introduction, Ryan—
“In 2009 Madden Mobile sold 2.3 million copies.”
Your enthusiasm shines through in your writing and you’ve added lots of action photos.

Adeline: Diving
Excellent beginning, Adeline! You start off by plunging the reader right into the diving scene—
“ON YOUR MARK! You take your stand on the diving block early in the morning. GET SET, GOOO!!!”
I see you also took out your “paintbrush” with this simile—
“A dive is like a spaceship soaring through the solar system in space!”
Good job adding questions to lure in the reader.

Giuliana: Figure Skating
Beautiful photos and graphics of skaters, Giuliana!
Excellent Introduction that speaks directly to the reader—
“Who is going to be the next figure skating champ? It might be someone from Wakefield, Boston, or Melrose. Or maybe it might be you!”
I can really picture this—
“When you glide, you shoot your body like a hockey puck that has just been touched by a hockey stick shooting itself across ice.”
“ . . . like you’re running away from a maniac brother with 2 darts in his hand aiming for you and misses.”
Your videos are wonderful. They make me want to do just what you advise at the end—

Sam: All About Dirt Bikes
I like the way you named your chapters with opposites. Very Clever, Sam!
Fast/Slow Winning/Losing Start/Finish
This is a great phrase—“flickering fast.”
Intriguing questions and fun to imagine—
“Who would win a dirt bike vs a lightning bolt?”
“Dirt bike vs a motorcycle chopper?”
You found some fantastic photos.

Cassidy Silva: Hamster Cages
Cute animation and voice-over for your hamster wheel!
You really had your paintbrush out here—
“A hamster running in its wheel is like a hamster scattering from a giant monster. “A hamster wheel is like a frisbee spinning in the air.
“You know what they say, ‘Happy hamsters love to drink like an elephant eating nuts.’ Your humor is terrific—“Well OK I admit I only say that.”
Adding sounds keeps your writing interesting—“and… POP!”
You’ve also done a great job of sprinkling in lots of questions.
I never knew hamsters were such clever escape artists!


Feel free to send me any of your other “Exciting Writing!”

Thanks again to all at Grennwood,



Read or download my school program/author visit brochure:


View my program/author visit video:

View my husband and my photograph website:


“Exciting Writing” with Mrs. Cimini’s Class


National Poetry Month is a perfect time to highlight some of the lyrical and lively writing that Mrs. Cimini’s fourth grade students have created. After attending my “Exciting Writing” program, children practiced techniques provided in my follow-up materials to “make music” and “paint pictures.” These techniques apply not only to poetry, but also to prose. ( For related activities, see Teacher Pages: Making Music with Alliteration and Invigorating Vocabulary. )

Below are some the the wonderful writing samples that Mrs. Cimini sent me.

Students “made music” by generating phrases using alliteration:Author_visit_program_school_Mass_nonfiction_104

Wreck it Ralph
Magnificent Minecraft
Noisy Nancy
big band
puny pig
loud lunchroom
chattering children
stubborn staples
naked noodles

Author_visit_program_school_Mass_nonfiction_106Then they combined phrases to make sentences:

The Noisy nerd threw pumpkin pie at the Big Bad Wolf.
My mom makes marvelous meals.
The Wicked Witch had a puny pig and some chocolate chips.
The Big Bad Wolf played Magnificent Minecraft and then went out for french fries.

Children “painted pictures” by using vivid verbs.


The loud, fat Chihuahua trudged over to me.
The wide horse trotted to his hay and gobbled it down.
The huge pet devoured dinner.
I crunched my food.
The plump Chihuahua nuzzled the other dog to get up.

Notice the descriptive adjectives they used too:
loud, fat, wide, huge, and plump

Another way students “painted pictures” was by creating clever similes:

The cat was as sneaky as a shadow.
The man’s belch was as loud as a BOMB!!!
The kitten is as cute as a toy.

Thank you to Mrs. Cimini and her students! To see more of the exciting things they are up to, visit their classroom blogAuthor_visit_program_school_Mass_nonfiction_107

You can view my school program/author visit video at:



View or download my school program/author visit brochure at:

Hiker in Borrego Palm Canyon, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, BoAUTHOR PROGRAMS/VISITS BROCHURE

See my husband’s and my photography at:

Strengthen your “CORE” Nonfiction Workout 2

Meteorte Slices

Meteorte Slices

Invigorating Vocabulary

Using  classroom science magazines is an effective and stimulating way to support the Common Core’s Reading Informational Text standards. It is also a way to help you meet the key anchor standards in Reading, Writing, Speaking & Listening, and Language. And of course,  your children will be learning about science and current events.

Here is a link to a story I wrote for Scholastic about the Picturing Science exhibition at the American Museum of Natural History.  The Art of Science

After your students have read the story, they can investigate the activities I have developed relating to Vocabulary Acquisition and Use, one of the Anchor Standards for Reading. I have also included an Art as Science activity.

Madagascan Cichlid
Madagascan Cichlid

Part One:

Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases by using context clues 

Vocabulary word: DISSECT

The story explains, that instead of dissecting the fish to examine the tiny bones in their ears, Sparks uses a different technique. This technique allows him to keep all the parts that make up a fish’s ears intact. (together)

Since keeping all the parts that make up a fish’s ears intact is different from dissecting, what do you think dissecting means?

Look up the definition of dissecting. Write the meaning that best fits the word as it is used in sentence above.

Write three synonyms for dissect.

Glowing Coral
Glowing Coral

Vocabulary word: EMIT

The section on the Radiant Reef explains that fluorescent reef animals absorb blue light and emit green or red light. Another sentence says that these neon green and red creatures glow like aliens.

Since the fluorescent animals are glowing red and green, what do you think emit means?

Look up the definition of emit. Write the meaning that best fits the word as it is used in sentence above.

Write three synonyms for emit.

Part Two:

Vocabulary and Alliteration

Ladybird Beetles or Ladybugs
Ladybird Beetles or Ladybugs

Alliteration is the use of similar sounds at the beginning of words. For example,  Cichlids are a family of fish.

To make your own phrases using alliteration, look up synonyms for the word group. Choose three synonyms and write a phrase about a group of animals for each one. Here’s an example: a bunch of bugs

You can also add an adjective: a bunch of bustling bugs

Try another one.

In the story, I described the fluorescent reef animals as a dazzling display.

Look up synonyms for the word dazzling. Choose three synonyms and write a phrase using alliteration for each one. Here’s an example: shining ship

Juan Sebastian de Elcano Sailing Vessel at Night, Spanish Naval
Juan Sebastian de Elcano Sailing Vessel at Night, Spanish Naval

Part Three:

Art as Science

Find something from nature that has a pattern, such as a seashell, a turtle shell, a rock, an insect wing. Using a magnifying glass or a microscope, observe the pattern up close. Now fold a piece of paper in half. On one side draw a close-up picture of the pattern. On the other side draw the whole object. (Instead of making drawings, you can also take photos.) Post your close-up picture on a bulletin board with a piece of paper below for other students to write their guesses about what they think the object is. When everyone has made their guesses, open up up the paper and re-post it so your classmates can see if they’ve guessed correctly.


Hiker on Mt. Washington Summit, Appalachian Trail, New Hampshire

See our photography web site: 

Strengthen your “CORE” Nonfiction Workout 1



As a science teacher for nine years, and a nonfiction author, I am delighted with the new emphasis on nonfiction in the Common Core State Standards. Incorporating nonfiction into your curriculum is a fun and effective way to teach literacy skills while integrating content subjects like science, social studies, math, and English language arts.
In light of this, I will begin creating posts that introduce literacy skills and are linked to Teachers Pages  featuring related classroom activities. The first installment is below. Have fun!

Making Music with Alliteration

Alliteration is a literary technique that adds a lyrical touch to writing with the repetition of initial consonant sounds. “Making music” is an example. In Why Does It Rain I used alliteration to add a poetic touch to a scientific topic: the water cycle. There are seven examples in this excerpt below. To check your findings and for related classroom activities see the Teachers Page: Making Music with Alliteration  .

Wrapped in Water
Can you tell when it is going to rain?
What are the clues?
Sometimes the wind
whisks through the grass
or sweeps up swirls of dirt.
Tree limbs creak and sway.
Their leaves flutter as if they might fly away.
Gray clouds shade the sun.
The dark of dusk comes during the day.

Then the rain falls.
It may plop down in plump drops
like pounding feet.
Or it may drizzle in drips like little tiptoes.
When the rain ends,
the air smells cool and clean.
It seems as though
a window has opened in the sky.

Sego Lily, Nuttall's Mariposa Lily, Calochortus nuttallii

Dew laden Spider Web

To check your findings and for related classroom activities see the Teachers Page: Making Music with Alliteration  .

View or download a new brochure: AUTHOR PROGRAMS / VISITS BROCHURE

See our photography web site:

See our photography web site: 

Winter Author School Visits

This winter I had a wonderful time on school visits in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Thank you to the parents, librarians, and teachers, who invited me to their schools to present the following programs:
“Gators, Octopi, and Grizzlies, Oh, My!”
 “Exciting Writing” 
“Images of Immigrants” .

The author and friends at the Fox Hill School for their nonfiction kick-off last spring.


“Images of Immigrants”
Some people came to America with only faith, hope, and a story.

GrSquirrel Head

“Gators, Octopi, and Grizzlies, Oh, My!”
Ground squirrels are always on the watch for grizzly bears.

When a grizzly bear pokes its nose into the air . . .  SNIFF! SNIFF!  . . . Beware!

When a grizzly bear pokes its nose into the air . . . SNIFF! SNIFF! . . . Beware!


An octopus slips out of her tank to say, “Hello!”

Alligator Babies

A baby gator’s yellow stripes help to camouflage it in the grass. Hungry hawks are on the watch!


“Exciting Writing”
Greenwood School students think that alliteration makes writing exciting.

View or download a new brochure: AUTHOR PROGRAMS/VISITS BROCHURE 

See our photography web site:

See our photography web site: 

Alliteration Buddies

News from the Greenwoood School in Wakefield, MA:
Ms. DiVasta’s third graders had some fun designing Alliteration Buddies after attending my “Exciting Writing” workshop. Below is a photo of some of their work. Thank you for a Delightful Day!

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The Blabbermouth Blog

Literary Agent Linda Epstein's Yakkety Yakking

Marie Lamba, author

Some thoughts from author and agent Marie Lamba

Mrs. Jennifer Cimini, M.Ed.

Positively passionate 4th grade teacher, mom, being myself and helping others!

Sam Kane's Corner

Educating for an interconnected world one story at a time

NESCBWI Kidlit Reblogger

A service of New England SCBWI. All opinions expressed belong to the individual bloggers and commenters who are solely responsible for their content.

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