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1. Raindrops Roll: Miss Rumphius, Secrets & Science

Screen Shot 2014-08-26 at 7.35.56 AM5P0A5318Raindrops Roll comes out with Beach Lane/S&S on Jan 5, 2015.  Each photo I took has a special meaning to me and some have hidden creatures in them. So this blog covers the behind-the-scenes secrets and science. For instance, the droplet-covered leaves on the cover are lupine. That’s the same kind of plant made famous by the children’s book, Miss Rumphius, by Barbara Cooney. The plant produces a tall spike of bluish/purplish flowers. In Indiana, my husband planted several native lupine plants in small flower beds he created. Each year the plants flowered and formed pods. The pods dry and fling seed out of the flower beds. Those plants sprouted in our lawn. My husband mowed around them so the flower bed became bigger and bigger. So, now we, too, have plenty of lupine and the seed pods.  To see one of seed pods, look through the book. Hint…it’s not just seeds that “fly.”  (By the way, there’s a tiny fly in the front cover photo. Can you find it?)

Our lupine bed

Our lupine bed

A lupine leaf with rain on it

A lupine leaf with rain on it

A small redbud tree

A small redbud tree

Raindrops Roll Inside Cover

The big heart-shaped leaf is a young leaf of a Redbud tree I planted. Every year leaf cutter bees cut pieces of this tree. But you’ll have to wait for another book to see those cut leaves!

 

 

Pages 3-4 The frog

This is a a cup plant, which is a native prairie plant. My husband, Jeff Sayre, took the photo of the gray tree frog in that plant. That year our cup plants had lots of tiny red insects eating them so these leaves are very chewed up and brown. The exoskeletons of the insects are left on the undersides of the leaves.

The cup plants where the frog was sitting.

The cup plants where the frog was sitting.

Pages 5-6 The dark sky/bird

The bird is a mourning dove.

Pages 7-8

The insect inside the red lily is a juvenile katydid. Katydids look much different as adults.

The fly is inside a lupine pod. The first time I photographed this plant I was just trying to take a photo of the pod. But when I went indoors to look at the photo on the computer, as is often the case, I saw something else—this time, the fly hiding in the pod. So I ran back outside to photograph it more clearly.  FYI: The orange flower behind it is not a lupine. It is a butterfly weed, a kind of milkweed that monarch caterpillars eat.

Pages 9-10

Those leaves are oak leaves right outside our house. I actually took the photo from the back window of our house so I was sheltered as it poured rain.

Pages 11-12

This bird is a bluejay. Bluejays, wet with rain, look gray. That’s because their blue color is a structural color, caused by the microscopic structure of the feathers. When rain wets the feathers, they do not bounce light the same way, so they do not look blue. They look gray. (Things that have pigmented colors, instead of structural feathers, would still look brighter blue even when wet.)

5P0A6902Pages 13-14

This insect is camouflaged to look like a leaf. It is an adult katydid. (A juvenile katydid appears elsewhere in the book. Not sure they are the same katydid species but they are both katydids.) One of the famous “sounds of summer” is actually made by katydids rubbing their wings together to create their call at night. It sounds a bit like katy-did, katy-did!  See that pumpkin? It’s photographed at the South Bend Farmer’s Market where I photographed Rah, Rah, Radishes: A Vegetable Chant; Go, Go, Grapes: A Fruit Chant! and Let’s Go Nuts: Seeds We Eat. One day when I was at the market it rained. I ran outside to photograph a rainbow but then realized all the vegetables were washed by rain so I photographed this pumpkin, and others, too.

Pages 15-16

This is a tiger lily plant. Raindrops make little noises as they splash against the broad, hollow plant stem. Look for a tiger lily flower later in the book. Can you find it?

Pages 17-18

This is a salamander. Like most frogs, most salamanders need watery areas to lay their eggs. So rain is important in their lives! I photographed this one in southern Illinois.

Page 19-20

This plant has waxy leaves that repel water. So the water “beads up” on the plant.

Pages 21-22

This rainstorm water was gushing down a little trail in southwestern Michigan, near where I live.

Pages 23-24

This cabbage white butterfly inspired the book. I took a photo of it and when I looked at it on the computer, I was amazed to see the raindrops clinging to its head and legs. Soon, I became obsessed with photographing raindrops on things.

Cabbage white butterflies do, indeed, lay eggs on plants in the cabbage family.

Pages 25-26

Notice all the different sizes of raindrops on this daisy. When two water droplets are so close together that they touch, they usually join to form a single, larger droplet.

Pages 27-28

These droplets are on an herb called bronze fennel. It is a feathery green/brown/gray plant. When you crush its thin, spiky leaves, they smell like licorice. Black swallowtail butterflies lay eggs on this plant so it can be good for wildlife in northeastern gardens. But in other places, such as southern California, where the winter doesn’t kill it back, this plant can be a pest. It is invasive. It escapes into wild areas and grows thickly, outcompeting native plants and endangering habitats.

Pages 29-30

This is a leaf of a member of the cabbage family.

Pages 31-32

5P0A8572This is a black swallowtail caterpillar. The one in the book is munching dill flowers. This one is munching fennel.

The flower with “dots” of rain on it is lantana, a popular landscaping plant that attracts butterflies.

Look for a terrific reflection of the entire stem in the raindrop near “drip!”

 

Pages 33-34

Remember the tiger? On the left page is a closeup of a tiger lily plant.

What needs wet areas? Moss! Underneath the slug is moss. This slug was photographed in Ohio.

What comes after rain? Mushrooms!  A few days after heavy rains, mushrooms may begin to push up from the ground. The yellow ones in this photo are called “Yellow Earth Tongues.” They were photographed at a wild area near Fernwood Botanical Garden in Michigan.

Pages 35-36

This raindrop is on an evergreen conifer. Evergreen means it does not drop its leaves all at once. Conifers bear cones. The shape of the entire branch is reflected in the raindrop. The two rectangular flashes on my camera are also in the raindrop image.

Pages 37-38

Hundreds of tiny spheres of water formed on the spikes of this plant after it rained.

On the right page, sticking out of this beautiful plant, is a hidden creature. An earwig!Can you find it?

Pages 39-40

This web is decorated by raindrops. But on some mornings you may see spider webs covered with droplets not from rain, but from dew. Dew-covered webs sparkle in the morning sunlight.  They’re often nicknamed “fairies’ washing” because people imagine fairies would wear such sparkly garments and put them out to dry on the shrubs and grasses.

Pages 41-42  This bumblebee is feeding at a wild senna, a midwestern tallgrass prairie plant.

Pages 43-44 The flowers on the copyright/acknowledgments page are actually cup plant flowers. Do you remember where else you’ve seen the cup plant in the book?

(The frog was in it at the beginning!)

Back Cover  This is a grackle in the rain.  If you see a flock of blackish birds some of them may be grackles. Grackles and red-winged blackbirds often travel in flocks together.  Some grackles are brownish. Some adult male grackles look black in certain light yet in other light they are bronze, green, and purple, like this one in the rain.

Are all the raindrops in the book real? YES. Many times, as I waited for another rainstorm in order to take a certain photograph, someone would say, “Why don’t you just spritz it with some water from a bottle?” Nope. Not the same. I would know. And I don’t know how such droplets would differ from what is presented when raindrops fall and land on plants and animals. Besides, nonfiction should be real—and manmade raindrops would be fake to me.

Rainbow close to ground

Finally, here’s a photo that we considered for the book but did not go in. It’s a rainbow…eight feet off the ground in my backyard! It rained in my backyard while it was still sunny in the front yard and this tiny rainbow formed for just a few minutes.

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2. Board Book and News

photo 2Rah, Rah, Radishes! becomes a board book in the Little Simon Classic Board Book line on July 15th!   In 2015, look for Woodpecker Wham illus by Steve Jenkins (Holt )and my photo-illustrated Raindrops Roll (Beach Lane/S&S.)

I am taking a speaking sabbatical through May 2015. So I won’t be scheduling any conferences or school visits during that time. If you are interested in future visits, contact me in March 2015 when I will start booking my schedule once again. Here’s a recent article about my work in Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/vicki-cobb/arousing-a-childrens-nonfiction_b_4859905.html

Bank Street Books had both Eat Like a Bear and Here Come the Humpbacks! on their best-of-the year lists. Hurray!  Happy summer, everyone!

Portland Review has great coverage of Here Come the Humpbacks! http://portlandbookreview.com/tag/april-pulley-sayre/

Eat Like a Bear in Booklinks http://poetryforchildren.blogspot.com/2014/04/book-links-nonfiction-monday-meets.html

Kids & veggie books? See http://www.babybooknook.blogspot.com

 

 

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3. ALA Notable For Eat Like a Bear

SayreEatLikeaBearRaising my bowl of blueberries this morning to illustrator Steve Jenkins. Our book, Eat Like a Bear, which received three starred reviews, was  named an ALA (American Library Association) Notable Book for 2014! It is a huge honor to be chosen for recognition by the ALA Notables Committee—especially in a year with such a great crop of books. By tradition, the list also includes winners from ALA award categories, too.  Steve and I have three more projects in the works. Next up is Woodpecker Wham.

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4. Eat Like a Bear Writing Process

See my interview with Kirkus Reviews.com Julie Danielson of Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast.

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5. Tips for Helping Kids Try New Foods

Preschool teachers rock! This teacher’s joy lifts my spirits every time I watch the video. While signing Rah, Rah, Radishes and Go, Go, Grapes last year in Atlanta, I met this fabulous teacher who agreed to share how she gets the 4-year olds in her class to try foods. The video is on my youtube channel. Jeff and I have also posted some of our nature clips on our Sayre Nature Youtube Channel.

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6. Eat Like a Bear

Eat Like a Bear

“Sayre and Jenkins follow Vulture View (2007) with a similarly excellent study of brown bears that’s in equal parts poetic and enlightening.” -Kirkus, starred review.

ALA (American Library Association) Notable Book 2014

 

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7. November Media Roundup

Smiling. At its conference NSTA announced its Outstanding Science Trade Books and both Eat Like a Bear and Here Come the Humpbacks were on the list! Richie’s Picks reviewed Eat Like a Bear here.  I blogged about common core and photography on INK this month. I was asked to be a picture book champion so during the last week of November my short blog about picture books will be on the www.picturebookmonth.com website.  ”Here Comes the Humpbacks destined to be an early learner favorite” says Chicago Now. Hope they’re right. Are you folks enjoying this cool Fall weather?  You’ll find me photographing leaves, leaves, leaves!

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8. Picture Book Month is November!

2013-PBMBADGE-CHAMPION-FBI’m honored to be a Picture Book Champion this year. See the calendar, essays, and activities this robust group has planned for November, 2013:  www.picturebookmonth.com

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9. I Am Trying to Eat Like a Bear

SayreEatLikeaBearAll week long I will be trying to eat like a bear to celebrate, well of course, my new book with Steve Jenkins and Henry Holt Books for Young Readers: Eat Like a Bear! To follow my adventures, “Like” my facebook author page. Wait ’til I go for some moths, ants, and bison later this week. That should be interesting. Currently working on stems, berries, roots, and tubers.

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10.

HereComeTheHumpbacksSB&F (Science Books and Films) October issue gave Here Come the Humpbacks! a starred review and then a second star for being Editor’s Choice!

Event kits for this book are still available .

Explore and Download whale event kit here

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11. Common Core Math Standards One Is a Snail, Ten Is a Crab

Among my books, the most widely used one worldwide is ONE IS A SNAIL, TEN IS A CRAB. It’s been adapted for curricula from Australia to Canada. This book is classified as nonfiction although the text is nonfiction and the illustrations are actually fictional. (At least in my experience, crabs do not ride inner tubes.) It introduces a way of thinking that leads, apparently into algebra. It counts from 1-100. So, when I looked at the Common Core, I could see why this book has been embraced by the math community. Here are the standards that I could see immediately related to the book. A trained math teacher would likely find many more.

Yet there are ways math teachers can use lots of children’s books to complete Common Core.

KINDERGARTEN

  • CCSS.Math.Content.K.OA.A.1 Represent addition and subtraction with objects, fingers, mental images, drawings1, sounds (e.g., claps), acting out situations, verbal explanations, expressions, or equations.
  • CCSS.Math.Content.K.OA.A.2 Solve addition and subtraction word problems, and add and subtract within 10, e.g., by using objects or drawings to represent the problem.
  • CCSS.Math.Content.K.OA.A.3 Decompose numbers less than or equal to 10 into pairs in more than one way, e.g., by using objects or drawings, and record each decomposition by a drawing or equation (e.g., 5 = 2 + 3 and 5 = 4 + 1).

CCSS.Math.Content.K.CC.A.1 Count to 100 by ones and by tens.

 

GRADE 1

GRADE 2

CCSS.Math.Content.2.OA.A.1 Use addition and subtraction within 100 to solve one- and two-step word problems involving situations of adding to, taking from, putting together, taking apart, and comparing, with unknowns in all positions, e.g., by using drawings and equations with a symbol for the unknown number to represent the problem.1

Lesson Plan for One Is a Snail, Ten Is a Crab

Other activities related to One Is a Snail, Ten Is a Crab

One Is a Snail Worksheets

 

 

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12. Let’s Go Nuts! Seeds We Eat

Let's Go Nuts! Seeds We EatStudying seeds and plant life? Working on nutrition or ecology in preschool through second grade? I hope this will help. My newest book, Let’s Go Nuts! Seeds We Eat was released this week by my marvelous publisher, Beach Lane, an imprint of Simon & Schuster. It’s a chant but with lots of, should we say, chewy endmatter. Once I started working on this book even I was amazed by just how many foods we eat are made from seeds. Just check out the pantry. Corn. Wheat. Lentils. Almonds. Soy milk. Popcorn. Pumpkin seeds.  I’m still eating some of the dried beans that made up the photos in the book. It was photographed at the South Bend Farmer’s Market, Bamber’s Superette, Saigon Market, and other local food spots, including Notre Dame University’s South Dining Hall! 

Let's Go Nuts trioIt completes the trio of books that includes Rah, Rah, Radishes: a Vegetable Chant and Go, Go, Grapes: a Fruit Chant.  You’ll find lots of activities related to those first books here on my site. Do let me know about what you creative educators do with edible seeds! Here are a few seed resources to get you started.

Let'sgonutsfinalspreadHere’s a photo of me working on the final spread for the book. I used an old galley from Go, Go, Grapes to measure how big I needed my seed picture to be. By the way, no seeds were wasted. After the photo I slid the seeds into a bowl then while I watched TV I sorted all those seeds back into jars. No joke. Did that many, many times after photo shoots. Nothing wasted.  Some leftover seeds were used by the fabulous Unity Gardens folks.

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13. Let’s Go Nuts! Seeds We Eat

Let’s Go Nuts! Seeds We Eat

Let’s Go Nuts! Seeds We Eat is a chant which introduces children to beans, nuts, grains, and spice seeds. Endmatter explains why seeds don’t grow inside our stomachs, why seeds are such great food, and how seeds fit into biology, ecology, and culture. This book completes the trio of books that includes Rah, Rah, Radishes: A Vegetable Chant  and Go, Go, Grapes: a Fruit Chant.

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14. Eat Like a Bear…with Stars

EatLikeABearEat Like a Bear, my book  illustrated by Steve Jenkins and published by Henry Holt, just received a starred review in Publisher’s Weekly. Kirkus reviews also gave it a starred review.  I’m excited that folks “get” this book. I was so pleased with every word, illustration, design choice on this project. It was a great team effort.  Tilt the cover and check out the shiny ants. Notice the designer’s great backmatter fonts and layout. See a few pages on Henry Holt’s website. Okay, so I’m a little stoked about it. Guess what else thrills me: Steve Jenkins has signed on to illustrate my next three books with Henry Holt! Need I say more? Yes. Another Steve Jenkins book, one which he wrote, The Animal Book, received a starred review in PW this week. Go, Steve!

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15. Turtle, Turtle, Watch Out! in Family Magazine

Good review of Turtle, Turtle, Watch Out! and related books in and Ocean Alive Section of Family magazine and also on the website of reviewer Meribeth Shank. Hooray! Nice to be in good company. 

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16. Resources for Let’s Go Nuts: Seeds We Eat

Let's Go Nuts! Seeds We EatHere are some resources to help readers and teachers use my new book, Let’s Go Nuts! Seeds We Eat (Release date August 27, 2013, Beach Lane Books an imprint of Simon & Schuster). Hope you find edible seeds a a chewy, fun topic as I did!

Related Children’s Books and Reference Books

Alphabetical Seed Guide for Let’s Go Nuts

Memory Jogger Photos

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17. Here Come the Humpbacks! Event Kit

HereComeTheHumpbacksEveryone is invited to download a free Whale Migration Game for classrooms, libraries, bookstores, and other mammal loving locales.  The event kit encourages readers (ages 5-10) to imagine both the perils and delights of being a baby humpback on its first migration through the waters of the Atlantic Ocean.  Explore and Download whale event kit here

 

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18. Shark Tank and Turtle, Turtle, Watch Out! and Lionfish

sayre_turtleturtlenew.a19o4nuuen78kkwskggk8o0g0.5u96ah3skeoa0wo4sgogws00o.thWhen the new edition of my book, Turtle, Turtle, Watch Out! was created, there was a lionfish on the top left corner of the cover. My reaction: WHAAAA?  I’ve been snorkeling the reefs in the Caribbean for about 20 years and I knew that was not a native fish. After a little research, though, I found out more about the lionfish invasion of the reefs. And I found out this fish is indeed widespread now. I thought having this fish on the cover would be a great teaching point. Kudos to the illustrator, Annie Patterson, for putting it there in the first place.

It’s a great jumping off point for students researching this issue. I just watched the tv entrepreneur show, Shark Tank, where Dave Johnson and Gary Groomes of Traditional Fisheries talked about the lionfish invasion of Atlantic reefs. Teachers, I think you might be able to develop some terrific research/conservation projects related to this issue. Perfect for common core and research. There are many logistical aspects to accomplishing what these folks are trying to do. Eat the fish that is eating the reefs! They made a great case on the show for this solution.

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19. Here Come the Humpbacks! Paired With Poetry

Booklist Online’s newsletter has a lovely article by Anastasia Suen that has some terrific ocean poetry books and includes Here Come the Humpbacks! as a book connection. Hurray!

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20. Common Core and More

School Library Journal’s Myra Zarnowksi, Marc Aronson, and Mary Ann Cappiello serve up some common core nonfiction mentor texts in an article.  Here Come the Humpbacks is included, hooray! This year it’s been productive using the book with kids to get them writing.  Apparently a lot of what I do in presentations and books ties in with common core. Educators are cluing me in on how  how it all dovetails.  Feel free to contact me and share your wisdom. I could use links to anything you do with my books or see in my books that ties in well with common core. I would like to share  general common core/nonfiction resources with educators I meet at conferences, school visits, and  so on. This year I’m speaking a lot at STEM events. The more quality books/resources that reach our children’s minds, the better! As always, INK, .inkrethinkblogspot.com is a font of inspiration for nonfiction and the writing process. I’m not blogging on there this year but did so in previous years.

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21. Alphabetical Seed Guide for Let’s Go Nuts: Seeds We Eat

Let's Go Nuts! Seeds We EatHere are photos of seeds to help you identify the seeds in my book Let’s Go Nuts: Seeds We Eat, (August 27, 2013, Beach Lane Books).

Almonds Anasazi beans Barley Black beans Black-eyed peas Brazil nuts Bulgur Butternuts Cacao beans Cardamom pods Carob pod Cashews Chestnuts Chickpeas Coconut Coffee beans, roasted Coffee beans, unroasted Coriander Corn Cumin Dill Fava beans Hazelnuts Hickory nuts Kidney beans Legumes, various Lentils Lima beans Macadamia nuts Mung beans Mustard seeds Navy Beans Nutmeg Oats Peanuts Pecans Pine nuts pink beans Pinto beans Pistachios Pumpkin seeds Quinoa Red beans Rice Runner Beans Rye sesame seed soybeans (edamame) Soybeans, dry. Split peas Sunflower Seeds Vanilla pods Walnuts wheat White beans Wild rice

 

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22. Let’s Go Nuts: Seeds We Eat Memory Jogger

Let's Go Nuts! Seeds We EatHave you accidentally (or on purpose) memorized parts of Let’s Go Nuts! Seeds We Eat? (Beach Lane, August, 2013)

Below are two photos with seeds arranged in the format of parts of the seed chant.

Try out your memory. “Read” these photos by identifying the seeds and saying the seed chant out loud to help you figure out the seeds that you find hard to recognize! You can click on the photo for a much larger version to examine.

 

Say the chant, identify the seeds.

Say the chant, identify the seeds.

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23. Let’s Go Nuts! Seeds We Eat Related Books

Let's Go Nuts! Seeds We Eat

For my book, Let’s Go Nuts: Seeds We Eat, release date August 27, 2013, Beach Lane Books

 

Books for Younger Readers

Aston, Dianna Hutts., and Sylvia Long. A Seed Is Sleepy. San Francisco: Chronicle, 2007. Print.

DePaola, Tomie. The Popcorn Book. New York: Holiday House, 1978. Print.

Dodge, Abigail Johnson. Around the World Cookbook. New York: Dk, 2008. Print.

Heller, Ruth. The Reason for a Flower. New York: Grosset & Dunlap, 1983.

Jordan, Helene J., and Loretta Krupinski. How a Seed Grows. New York: HarperCollins, 1992. Print.

Krauss, Ruth, and Crockett Johnson. The Carrot Seed;. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1945. Print.

Macken, JoAnn Early, and Pamela Paparone. Flip, Float, Fly: Seeds on the Move. New York: Holiday House, 2008.

Schaefer, Lola M., and Lindsay Barrett George. Pick, Pull, Snap!: Where Once a Flower Bloomed. New York: Greenwillow, 2003. Print.

 

Books Used For Reference (Highly Recommended for Older Readers)

Ashworth, Suzanne, Kent Whealy, and Arllys Adelmann. Seed to Seed: Seed Saving and Growing Techniques for Vegetable Gardeners. White River Junction, VT: Chelsea Green, 2002.

Capon, Brian. Botany for Gardeners: An Introduction and Guide. Portland, Or.: Timber Press, 1990. E-book.

Dragonwagon, Crescent. BEAN BY BEAN: More Than 175 Recipes for Fresh Beans, Dried Beans, Cool Beans, Hot Beans, Savory Beans, Even Sweet Beans!: Workman Pub, 2012. Print.

McGee, Harold. On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen. New York: Scribner, 2004. Print.

 

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24. Sea Turtles and StoryWalk at Essex

It’s been such a busy year that I’m only now getting around to reporting on some of the terrific places I’ve visited. In February I was greeted by giant sea turtles at Essex Elementary in VT, where I met a kindred spirit, librarian Carol Scrimgeour. We could have talked together for days and days!  I also got to meet Anne Ferguson, originator of the trademarked StoryWalk concept. Somebody give this woman a grant! She’s already doing so much on a thrifty New England budget of birthday money and small donations but seriously, she’s getting families outdoors all over the state. They are walking, reading together, and enjoying the outdoors. She lends the trails to communities. Here she’s made one out of Rah, Rah, Radishes. She’s even written to Michelle Obama to put one such trail in the White House Vegetable Garden. Wouldn’t that be the coolest thing ever?

I loved how Carol helped the young kids understand how I was getting to their school!

I loved how Carol helped the young kids understand how I was getting to their school!

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Full sized three dimensional turtles, made of paper, stuffed for roundness, and signed by all the kids, led me to the library. I only wish I could have fit a turtle in my bag to take home!

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Carol had a special connection with sea turtles and helped kids think about them through her display and a special fossilized turtle bone!

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Here I am (on left) with Anne Ferguson of StoryWalk and extraordinary librarian Carol Scrimgeour. We are holding a story trail made from Rah, Rah, Radishes.

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This school, with it wonderful staff and joyful, inquisitive kids, thrilled me, dare I say, to my bones! No, this is not my bone. It’s a turtle bone, folks!

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25. New Books Featured

My new book Touch a Butterfly: Wildlife Gardening With Kids is featured on the National Wildlife Federation website. They are some of the best educators in the field of wildlife gardening and have been spreading the message for years. So it’s an honor to be on their blog.

Let’s Go Nuts! Seeds We Eat, which is being released in August by Beach Lane is reviewed in the renowned journal Kirkus. At the risk of overusing exclamation points, I say: Hooray!

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