A Week of Mindfulness: Day 5

One thing that has helped me the most in life to get through the stressful times is to have other people that I can turn to for help. When life becomes exceptionally overwhelming, it’s impossible to do it alone.

Today’s mindfulness activity: who can you talk to?

Although there’s many people that I could have put on my list, I chose these top 5. These are people that I talk to at least weekly, and often daily, and who constantly give me support, encouragement, advice, and a listening ear. Today as I spent a few minutes thinking of and writing down this list of people I can turn to, I realized just how lucky I am to have friends and family who love and support me like they do.

For anyone interested, you can download the Meh Activity Book yourself, and use this page to create your own list of people you can talk to.

A Week of Mindfulness: Day 4

It seems very fitting that today’s mindfulness activity has to do with focusing on tasks to do one at a time because with classes starting next week, my to-do list is feeling very long.

Today’s mindfulness activity: breaking down the mountain.

I love how this page of the Meh Activity Book illustrates how tasks on a to-do list can quickly pile up and overwhelm us. I know that the way I evaluate and measure my day’s productivity and my worth is directly tied into my completion (or not) of all the items on my to-do list. Yet, waking up to see that long list of things to do can sometimes freeze me with the anxiety of “the mountain.” How in the world can I complete everything that I am supposed to do? Sometimes the stress of it is so bad that I end up wasting time procrastinating or hiding from my list because I cannot bear the thought of tackling everything.

So today, I took a moment to re-evaluate my to-do list. I tried to prioritize the most important things (putting them at the top of the list) and then I went to the first item and spent a few hours tackling it.

I actually had a very productive day today, but I noticed that I didn’t feel nearly as overwhelmed as I usually do. Once I had made my prioritized list, I tried not to look at it as a whole, but just to move on straight to the next task once my previous one was done. I tried my best not to get too distracted by other things that come up during the day (like non-urgent emails), and by the end of the day, the mountain seemed a lot more manageable.

It was a simple mindfulness activity, but a very useful one!

A Week of Mindfulness: Day 3

So here I am on my third day of mindfulness with the Meh Activity Book.

Today’s mindfulness activity: Balloons.

In the activity book, there are a few pages that talk about how you can use a balloon to address your negative thoughts about yourself and replace them with other thoughts. This can be done by writing your thoughts in the drawn balloon on the worksheet, but I decided to use real balloons for two reasons: 1) we already had some on hand and 2) balloons are fun.

As a lot of women (and men) do, I often dislike the way I look and have negative thoughts about my body. So that was the first negative thought I decided to address. I thought of the negative thought as I blew up my yellow balloon. Then I held the balloon and thought of a more reasonable thought to replace that one. My new thought was: “I am trying to eat healthy and be more active, and I do not need to look like a supermodel to look good. I am healthy and strong.” Then I let the balloon and the negative thought go.

I tried these with other thoughts related to my ability to do my best in my new job or my fear that I will never be able to know everything about my research area. And even though they were only balloons, my heart was a little lighter afterwards.

This particular activity is one that Deborah Malcolm, author of Meh, has used in presentations about her book. I hope it’s something you’ll all try out for yourselves!

A Week of Mindfulness: Day 2

Why is it sometimes so difficult to articulate the things we are good at or the things we like about ourselves?

Today’s mindfulness activity: filling my head with positivity.

This page of the book suggests filling the head on the page with what you like about yourself or with other things that make you happy. I was having difficulty coming up with a good list for the former, so I chose to go with the latter.

I filled my head with hugs, cake, diet coke, Scotland, artichokes, writing, books, bubble baths, and rainy days. What makes you happy?

A Week of Mindfulness: Day 1

Hi, I’m Rachel Noorda (co-founder and editorial director of ThunderStone Books). I do not usually write personal posts for this blog, but Deborah Malcolm’s Meh Activity Book has inspired me to try a week of mindfulness.

To me, mindfulness is being aware of how I am feeling and thinking. Mindfulness is being present and doing activities to stay calm and keep from being overwhelmed. The Mental Health Foundation defines mindfulness as “an integrative, mind-body based approach that helps people to manage their thoughts and feelings.”

I’ve recently started a new job teaching at a university, and my husband and I have moved 1200 miles away for said new job. Needless to say, there is a lot of stress and anxiety that goes along with a big move and a new job. I was trying to think of ways in which I could be more aware of how I was feeling and take action to help minimize my anxiety. That’s when I decided to use the Meh Activity Book for a week of mindfulness.

Today’s mindfulness activity: coloring.

Things are busy, so I decided to set aside just 30 minutes (a manageable amount of time) to focus on mindfulness each day. For day 1, I spent the time coloring two pages with crayons. I am not an artist, as should be clear by the quality of my coloring, but I’ve found in the past that coloring is a nice way to keep my hands busy and relax myself while I think about the day.


I’m looking forward to Day 2!

You are welcome to download the free Meh Activity Book and work on your own week of mindfulness. We could all use some time to be more aware of our feelings, thoughts, and mental health.

Books I Grew up on: Braden Hancock

Books I Grew up on is a blog series featuring guest bloggers who discuss reading in their childhoods: the books they loved, the paths they found to developing a love for reading, and how reading helped them become who they are today! Today’s Books I Grew up on guest blogger is computer scientist and machine learning PhD student at Stanford, Braden Hancock. 


Where did you grow up? What was it like growing up there?
I grew up in the suburbs of southwest Ohio. It’s a magical place that nails perfectly (in my opinion) the balance between living too far apart from other people (total farm land) or on top of each other (sprawling apartment complexes of Manhattan). Evenings were spent at the ball field, the park, or playing outside in the yard.

What role did books have in your childhood? 
With 9 kids in the family who (almost) all loved to read, we kept the library busy. My mom had two separate library cards (since each card has a max item limit of 50 books), so we would get somewhere between 50 and 100 books each week. If you read through your allotted books too quickly before library day (usually Tuesday if I recall correctly), you’d end up reading the encyclopedia or your siblings’ books while you waited for a chance to refill.

How did you first develop a love for reading?
It’s hard to remember the beginning. It was just always there. I think it helped that my older brother really enjoyed reading. I saw how much he liked it, and that made me want to read the books he was so enjoying. And then my younger brother saw the books that I was enjoying, so he wanted to read them. And then our younger sister saw him…

What was your favorite book as a child? Why?
I really enjoyed the Bailey School Kids books when I was in young elementary school; I think I was very proud that I was reading “chapter books”, and mythical/folk creatures (vampires, leprechauns, werewolves, witches, frankenstein, etc.) are so much fun as a little kid. Good fodder for the imagination.

What is your favorite children’s book now? Why?
Now I enjoy the Olivia books when I read them to my 2-year-old daughter. They’re good books for kids—nice pictures, simple words, clear story—but they have all sorts of fun hidden gems for the parents, too, that make them fun to read.

What advice would you give to young readers?
Redwall. Such a good series. Look forward to the day that you can start reading the Redwall books.


Braden is a computer scientist working with artificial intelligence at Stanford. Right now he’s trying to write programs that will let us teach computers just by talking to them instead of typing into them. We can already control some computers with voice, but we don’t yet have very good ways of teaching them new things with voice. He’s excited to change that!

CheMystery Goodreads Giveaway

We are giving away 5 copies of CheMystery on Goodreads and we would love one of our followers to win a copy! To enter, just click on the link below. Happy contesting!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

CheMystery by C.A. Preece


by C.A. Preece

Giveaway ends September 15, 2017.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

Free Bookmarks for Summer Reading

Ah, summer. It’s a time of picnics, sunshine, swimming, and play. But for those who love books, it’s also a time of reading, where those extra hours of play can be spent in the company of a good book. Especially for those young readers out there, we at ThunderStone Books hope that you carve out a portion of your summer vacation to enjoy some interesting characters and engaging plots as you get lost in good books.

To help you in your quest to make this summer one that is adequately flavored with some delicious reads, here are some bookmarks from our favorite books (we’re biased; we know). Feel free to print these, share them, and use them to mark your place in your summer reading adventures.

Happy summer reading from ThunderStone Books!











Download the bookmarks



Microbes: A Microbiology Picture Book

All around us there are organisms that are invisible to the naked eye, organisms called microbes. You can learn all about microbes in the adorable new picture book Microbes by Amy Gallagher. ThunderStone Book is proud to announce that this creative look at microorganisms is coming to a store near you in November!

Today we welcome Amy Gallagher, author of Microbes, to tell us more about herself and her upcoming book.


About Microbes



Microbes is a fun and educational book on microbiology. It gives an overview of six different types of microbes, including bacteria, viruses, fungi, algae, protozoa and archaea. I combine easy-to-understand, digestible information with playful, zany characters that represent different microscopic organisms. My intentions for this book are to engage the reader’s attention, spark their interest in science, and make learning an overall positive, enjoyable, and enlightening experience.




The idea for Microbes

My attention into microbiology was first caught upon a visit to the Grant’s Museum of Zoology in London. This museum contained an amazing vast collection of 20,000 microscope slides, representing tiny creatures that make the majority of life.

I began reading further into the wonder of the microscopic world, especially microbiology. During my research, I noted many books and websites using very dull, black and white, accurate illustrations or plain photographs to offer a visual insight into this secret universe. As a practising children’s illustrator, I wanted to breathe life and excitement back into this subject, and came up with the idea to produce a fun and educational book around Microbiology.


What is your favorite type of microbe?

My favourite type of microbe is archaea. They are amazingly resilient organisms that can withstand and thrive in extreme environments. There is much still unknown about archaea, yet I look forward to scientists unearthing more fascinating facts and interesting information!


How did you become an illustrator/author?

I’ve been working as a freelance illustrator since university, yet I’ve been creative and handy with a pencil from a very young age. After graduating university with a degree in Illustration & Visual Media in 2015, it felt natural to continue with my creative path. I’ve been producing children’s illustration, design, greeting cards and comics since graduating in 2015. After creating Microbes in the same year, it’s been a goal of mine to share it with the world, and fulfil my desire to make learning a more fun experience for children. I am thrilled that Thunderstone Books share the same ethos and are excited by the book as much as I am. It’s spurring me on to continue as a illustrator, and I plan to write and illustrate more fun educational books for young audiences!


What are your favorite picture books?

I love children’s books that possess a strong message, contain distinctive beautiful illustrations, and aren’t afraid to tackle taboo subjects or cheeky humour. One of my favourite books growing up was a book called The Story of the Little Mole who knew it was none of his business.

It follows a grumpy mole on his quest to find out who did their business on his head. I’m also a huge fan on Tove Jansson’s Moomin books.



Tove Jansson is my favourite children’s author and illustrator. Her precious books cover themes of family, nature, adventure, philosophy and also subtly tackles difficult subjects such as loss, gender, and sexuality.




What advice would you give to young readers?

Don’t stop reading! Literature enriches and expands your mind! It can be enjoyed in different mediums such as paperbacks, e-readers, newspapers, magazines, blog posts, comics and graphic novels. I understand that young readers have a pressure to mature into reading material with less and less pictures, and heavier on words. Not that that is necessarily a bad thing, but the combination of word and art can support each other, and can make the material more engaging. Therefore having time for both types of material should still be encouraged, shared and enjoyed!

Under the Microscope: Hair

It’s a hairy situation we are examining today (see what I did there?) because the focus of this “Under the Microscope” post is hair. Hair is an interesting thing. Even the word is strange because if you have one, it is a “hair” and if you have several, they are “hairs.” But if you are talking about a whole head-full, then it becomes “hair” again.


Head hair

This is a close-up look at head hair. Did you know that on average, humans have 100,000 hair follicles on their heads? A follicle is the pocket in your skin out of which the individual hairs grow. Interestingly, the number of hairs on your head depends in part on the color of your hair. On average, blondes have the most hairs on their heads (an average of 146,000 hairs), while redheads have the fewest hairs on their heads (an average of 86,000 hairs).

The hair in this picture comes from the head of a person with brown hair. However, you may notice that not all of the hairs look the same shade of brown. In fact, there are many hairs that are even blonde or reddish in color!

Beard hair

This picture is of beard hair. The images of the head hair and beard hair come from the same person and this person has head hair and beard hair that are both brown. However, there are many men who have head hair that naturally grows in one color and beard hair that naturally grows in another color! Why? Well, there are two types of pigment that determine hair color: eumelanin (black or brown) and pheomelanin (blonde or red). In different parts of the body, there will be different colors and textures of hair, which is why beards sometimes have different textures and colors than hair on the head.
Notice as well that you can see a sharp, straight edge on the end of the hair in this picture. This is because this person shaves his beard with a razor regularly. So that is what gives the hair the straight edge.


Arm hair

This final picture is of arm hair. There is not a straight edge on these hairs because they have not been cut with a razor like the beard hair. In both the beard and arm hair images, you can see the textures of the skin cells behind them. Skin is a discussion for another week, but skin certainly does look interesting under a microscope!





If you want to view hair under your own portable microscope, you can purchase one here.