Judith Jango-Cohen

Nonfiction Author and Photographer

Fissures and Feathers: Iceland Part II


From a fissure along the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, my husband hoists the Bridge Between Continents.

In Iceland, you can stand with one foot in North America and one foot in Europe. No  need to be a colossus. Just cross the Bridge Between Continents, spanning the North Atlantic and Eurasian continental plates.

As these plates jostle, slide and collide, they set off earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. In fact, magma spewing from a seam between these plates, the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, formed Iceland.

Reynisdrangar Sea Cliffs ignite foaming fireworks at Reynisfjara Beach.

Iceland’s igneous origin is on display at Reynisfjara Beach, where the cinder-colored sand formed from eroded lava. Off shore, breakers batter the Reynisdrangar Sea Cliffs, also created from cooled lava.

According to Icelandic legend, the cliffs formed one night as two trolls tried to drag a ship to shore. Dawn broke before they completed their task–a fatal mistake for trolls, who must not be exposed to daylight. Consequently, the trolls remain forever petrified.

Reynisfjall Mountain and Gardar Basalt Cliffs, Reynisfjara Beach
Reynisfjall Mountain looms over Reynisfjara Beach.

Another imposing feature along Reynisfjara Beach is Reynisfjall Mountain–a 340 meter (1115 foot) tower. At its base are balsaltic columns. Their honeycombed shape formed as  lava cooled and contracted.

Basaltic Columns and Reynisdrangar Sea Stacks, Reynisfjara Beach
Cliffs and Columns
People on Gardar Basalt Cliffs, Reynisfjara Beach, Vík í Mýrd
Pick a column–any column!

The coastal cliffs are fascinating geology exhibits that also showcase bustling bird colonies.

Atlantic Puffin, Fratercula arctica
Iceland’s most common sea bird–.Atlantic Puffin Fratercula arctica

Resembling Pixar characters, puffins prance and pinwheel around Latrabjarg Cliffs. Undersea, their whirring wings become feathered flippers–useful for catching tiny fishes.

Photographing Puffins on Latrabjarg Cliffs, Westfjords, Iceland
My husband photographing a puffin on Latrabjarg Cliffs, Westfjords, Iceland
People Observing puffins Latrabjarg Cliffs, Westfjords, Iceland
Puffin fans on Latrabjarg Cliffs, Westfjords, Iceland

Puffins take their human admirers in stride, nonchalant despite people’s curious proximity.

Arctic Tern Flying, Sterna paradisaea
Soaring in splendor–Arctic Tern Sterna paradisaea

Like puffins, arctic terns nest near coastal waters. They’re journeyed to these ancestral breeding grounds from Antarctica–25,000 miles away! Unlike puffins, they are intolerant of people’s approach. Get too close and they swoop and swerve above you, angling to peck at your head.

Greylag Goose Family Swimming, Anser anser
A family outing–Greylag goose Anser anser

Greylag geese prefer to nest in Iceland’s marshes. These birds are believed to be the wild ancestors of today’s domesticated geese.

European Golden Plover, Pluvialis apricaria
Harbingers of spring–European Golden Plover Pluvialis apricaria

Rivers and lakes are the preferred habitat of the golden plover. When this wading bird returns each spring, it is always nationwide news. Schoolchildren welcome it in song: “The plover is come to bid farewell to the snow.” According to Iceland Magazine, no bird is loved as dearly. This is understandable when Iceland’s winters bestow only five hours of daylight.


After two weeks in Iceland we were looking forward to a New England spring. As we headed home, our plane swept over frosty Greenland. Maybe next year?


I look forward to meeting you in the classroom.
Keep reading and writing!




Program/author visit video:

Photography website:


Leif and Me: Iceland Part I

Leif Erikson and me at his farmstead in Eiríksstaðir. “Leif the Lucky” was born in Iceland over 1000 years ago!

This summer, my husband and I visited Iceland,
a country with sprawling glaciers and sputtering geysers.

Icelandair Airlines Airplane Flying

One of the most spectacular sites was Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon–
formed from the meltwaters of  Breiðamerkurjökull Glacier.
As the glacier shrinks, the lagoon grows.

Zooming through the Glacier Lagoon in a zodiac.

 We  sped past icebergs that have split off from the melting glacier.
This ice is over 1000 years old!

Melting glacials mean waterfalls–and they are abundant!

People at Gullfoss Waterfall, Hvítá river, Golden Circle, Icel
Gullfoss or “Golden Waterfall”
Rainbow and Seljalandsfoss Waterfall, Seljalands River, Iceland
The Seljalandsfoss rainbow appears on sunny days.

You can walk behind Seljalandsfoss, but be ready to get wet.

Trail behind Seljalandsfoss

Gljufrabui Waterfall or “canyon dweller’ is a short walk from Seljalandsfoss. We found it hidden in a cave. But first we had to navigate a path of slippery rocks.

Person Under Gljufrabui Waterfall, Gljúfurá River, Hamragarða
Celebrating the splendor of Gljufrabui Waterfall

One drizzly day, we visited Faxi Waterfall.
The purple Lupine decorating its banks is a member of the pea family.

Author_visit_program_school_Mass_nonfiction_180    Author_visit_program_school_Mass_nonfiction_181

There are more than 700 geothermal areas in Iceland.
Beautifully colored bacteria live in hot springs,
where underground heat brings the water to its boiling point.
We bought some geothermal apple bread that had been baked in the warm ground.

Algal Runoff and Hot Spring, Haukadalur Geothermal Area, Golden
Steamy hot spring at Haukadalur Geothermal Area

Geothermal energy provides more than 80%
of Iceland’s heat and hot water.
In Reykjavík, sidewalks stay snow-free–
heated by underground hot springs.


In a few weeks I will post Part II of our Icelandic adventure.

Meanwhile, I look forward to the new school year
and to meeting you in the classroom.
Keep reading and writing!




Program/author visit video:

Photography website:



Persuasive Writing in Action

Version 2

In Mrs. Braham’s classroom, writing lessons are not packed away like their chromebooks at the end of class.  These students have lifted their writing out of the classroom and lofted it into the wider world. Using persuasive writing, the third graders convinced the principal and the PTO to create a plastic bottle recycling program! What a “persuasive” lesson on the power of words.

I was excited to be with Ms. Braham’s students to help kick off their informational writing unit. Now I am looking forward to returning to see what they are up to next! @mrsbraham3 

Recycle Beat Proof Trash Cans, Yosemite National Park, Californi


Program/author visit video:

Photography website:


Fourth Grade FaceTime

Dear Judith, TY for your amazing spirit & support! You are an amazing author, my Ss are blessed to have met you & learn from you! #cbrsd

Thank YOU, Jennifer Cimini. Your classroom has a dynamic atmosphere that I could feel even from afar. So glad to have connected. You are inspiring!



I’m glad you’re here!

I hope the photographs and activities
you peruse on these posts and pages
will inspire awe
in our Earth’s beauty and mysteries.

Boy Kissing Baby Painted Turtle, Chrysemys picta

This child-like delight is something to hold tight.

Helping children celebrate the world’s wonders
is my happy pursuit
as an author, photographer, and speaker.
Pages about my nonfiction books and school programs,
are indicated by the tabs at the top.

Thank you for visiting!

Red Fox, Vulpes vulpes




Featured post

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:


Science Snippet: Eeeek! Freaky Feet

These feet may not be your idea of beautiful,
but their avian owners think they fit the bill.

Read the clues
That tell how they are used.
Then figure out whose is whose.
Wood Stork Feet, Mycteria americana
1. As this tall bird slowly wades, it uses its feet to stir up the water, flushing out fish.
Red-footed Booby Feet, Sula sula
2. This diving bird’s webbed feet assist it in swimming, and their bright color attracts mates.
Purple Gallinule, Porphyrio martinicus
3. This fowl’s feet  distribute its weight like snowshoes, allowing it to walk on floating vegetation.
Wood Stork, Mycteria americana
Wood Stork, Mycteria americana
Red-footed Booby on Nest, Sula sula
Red-footed Booby on Nest, Sula sula
Purple Gallinule, Porphyrio martinicus

Here are the correct matches:

Wood Stork Flying, Mycteria americana
Wood Stork Flying
Wood Stork Feet, Mycteria americana
Wood Stork Feet
Purple Gallinule, Porphyrio martinicus
Purple Gallinule
Purple Gallinule, Porphyrio martinicus
Purple Gallinule Feet
Purple Gallinule, Porphyrio martinicus
Purple Gallinule walking on  lily pads
Red-footed Booby Feet, Sula sula
Red-footed Booby Feet
White Morph of the Red-footed Booby, Sula sula
Red-footed Booby (White Morph)

See more amazing wading birds at:

Author on Playa Las Bachas, Santa Cruz Island

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Science Snippet: Musical Migrants

Science Word in the News: MIGRATE

Canada Goose babies, Branta canadensis
Canada Goose babies

Migrating animals
Never guess.
They know where to go
With no GPS.

Bottlenose Dolphin, Tursiops truncates
Bottlenose Dolphin

Definition: MIGRATE means to move from one region or habitat to another.

Male Monarch Butterfly, Milkweed Butterfly, Danaus plexippus
Male Monarch Butterfly

Derivation: MIGRATE comes from the Latin word migrāre,
which means to move from place to place.

Other words with this root:
 a person who comes to live permanently in a new country
a person or animal who migrates
 a person who moves from place to place for work, especially a farm laborer

African Elephant Eating, Loxodonta africana
African Elephant

Gray Whales
Each fall they travel 5,000 miles from Arctic feeding grounds to warm Mexican breeding lagoons. In the spring they head back.
African Elephant
At the start of the dry season they migrate to find water holes.
Monarch Butterflies
In autumn, they fly 2,500 miles to warmer regions in Mexico or southern California.

Did You Know?
Many European song birds migrate to Africa in the winter. Some scientists believe they use this time to practice their singing–“like a bird band camp”–in preparation for the mating season when they return.

Red-winged Blackbird Singing, Agelaius phoeniceus
Male Red-Winged Blackbird

In the news:
Read about “bird band camp”:
New Scientist

Find out more!
View an entertaining migration video:
Kids Learning Animation Video

See more migrating animals at my husband’s and my photography website:


View my program/author visit video:


Read or download my school program/author visit brochure:


Science Snippet: Carnivore Counts

Science Word in the News: CARNIVORE

Harbor Seal Yawning, Phoca vitulina
Harbor Seal Yawning, Phoca vitulina

Not all carnivores
Have jaws or claws.
Can you believe
Some have leaves?

Red Fox, Vulpes vulpes
Red Fox, Vulpes vulpes

Definition: A CARNIVORE is an organism that feeds on animal flesh.

Cheetah, Acinonyx jubatus
Cheetah, Acinonyx jubatus

Derivation: CARNIVORE comes from two Latin words.
Carn means meat and vorare means to devour.

Other words with these roots:
Carnage, large-scale killing
Voracious, having a great appetite
Locavore, a person who eats locally grown foods

Alligator Eating Nutria, Alligator mississippiensis1
Alligator , Alligator mississippiensis


Did You Know?
Some plants are carnivorous because they trap and digest insects. One carnivorous plant, the venus fly trap, “counts” from one to five to trap and digest its prey. 

Purple Pitcher Plant with Insects Inside, Purple Pitcherplant, S
Purple Pitcher Plant with Insects Inside, Sarracenia purpurea

In the news:
Learn more about the “counting” carnivorous plant:
New Scientist

Find out more!
Read an amazing article about insects’ “fatal attraction” to carnivorous plants:
National Geographic

See more clever carnivores at my husband’s and my photography website:

View my program/author visit video at: SCHOOL PROGRAM / AUTHOR VISIT VIDEO


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

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

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Mindy’s Writing Wonderland

For authors, parents, teachers & everyone who loves children’s books.

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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