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Author Dr. Dawn Menge and Kent Duryee: "Queen Vernita Visits the Land of Little Rain"

Queen Vernita Visits the Land of Little Rain is an early reader chapter book written by Dr. Dawn Menge and Kent Duryee.

The Queen Vernita's adventures teach children (and adults) about different cultures, geographical areas, friendships, and flora and fauna of an area of the Queen's Kingdom.

About the Authors

Dr. Dawn Menge has won over fifty international awards as the author of the Queen Vernita educational series. She holds a Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction, a Master's Degree and a Clear Credential in moderate/severe disabilities, and a Bachelor's Degree in human development. Dr. Menge has been teaching students with severe cognitive delays for twenty years. She has three children and six beautiful grandchildren and lives in Southern California.

Kent Duryèe is just starting his writing career. He has worked in technology for twenty years and is a website developer. He grew up on the desert in Southern California and the desert sank deeply into his soul. He has a beautiful daughter and one grandson, soon to be joined by a brand new granddaughter.

The Beginning of a Journey

Dr. Menge shared, "The Hacienda Linda in Tucson, Arizona and Kent's love for the desert inspired this story. I have known Kent since I was a teenager and we reconnected through his work at the University of Tucson. I attended the Book Festivals there and he introduced me to Linda and Dan at the Hacienda Linda. She was sweet enough to allow us to make her beautiful bed and breakfast the main stay of this Queen's adventures."

The Challenges They Faced

"This book was started ten years ago and changed directions many times," Dr. Menge said. "The final version includes an amazing bed and breakfast hosted by two unique individuals."

"I am happy that we waited to complete this Queen's adventure as it turned out to be the best one yet. Mr. Duryee is an excellent co-author and his love for the desert shows through his creative expression," Dr. Menge added.

"We are currently beginning to work on a new adventure that takes place in Death Valley and will mirror his grandmother's journey 100 years ago," she continued.

Excerpt from Queen Vernita Visits the Land of Little Rain

Fall continued to unfold in the desert. The leaves of the cottonwoods and other trees turned yellow and fell to the ground. The air grew less hot . Halloween was just around the corner, so Linda asked Chango if he was going to dress up as anything this year.
"Not this year Linda," said Chango, "I'm planning a Day of the Dead celebration."
Linda smiled and asked, "What happens at a Day of the Dead celebration?"
"Well, it's actually a lot of fun-Halloween has kind of a scar background to it, but the Day of the Dead is a happy time when we can celebrate remember our relatives."

Inspirations For The Story

Dr. Menge explained that learning about the history of the Tucson area, the desert and the Tohoona oham Indians was a major inspiration for this book.

"I loved including my friend who is a native of India and share her childhood memories and family to create our page on Diwali."

Dr. Menge added, "I loved being able to tell Kent I wanted to add riding in the desert on a camel for my birthday and he found a way to include this in the Queen's adventure."

Lending the Authors a Hand

I have had many people in my life who have been behind me throughout my author journey.

"My mom comes to my events and created the crown making craft twelve years ago and is still used to this day at my events," Dr. Menge shared. "She also travels with me to our book signings, to explore for research and is now a coauthor in my newest adventure in Wyoming."

Dr. Menge also stated that her friends are always willing to be characters in the Queen's adventures and her family constantly provide her with new adventures to write about.

Queen Vernita Visits the Land of Little Rain

In the latest installment of Queen Vernita's adventures, we find her searching out the warmth of the desert during a cold winter. Her friend Chango knows about the desert and together they set up camp at a beautiful bed and breakfast near Tucson called Hacienda Linda. From the Hacienda the Queen, Chango, Linda, and their friends have one adventure after the other under the desert sun for an entire year.

In her first days at the Hacienda, the Queen is awakened to see one of the rarest sights the desert has to offer, a blanket of snow covering all the cactus and other desert plants. The snow is only a short-lived source of excitement because the Queen's first trip through the desert is to visit a mission that has been functioning in the desert for over 250 years. Spring follows the desert's winter and as things heat up, birthdays are celebrated and even a camel comes to visit the Queen! The end of summer sees the celebration of the Day of the Dead, and then they even celebrate Diwali, an Indian celebration of light and love.

Over the course of the year, the Queen learns so much about the desert, its plants and animals, and the traditions of its native people. Come join Queen Vernita in the Land of Little Rain!


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