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Have you ever built a fort in your living room out of toys and blankets, what about in your backyard with wood and nails? In celebration of the release of The Fort on Fourth Street: A Story of the Six Simple Machines, we are encouraging students to get creative and enter to win a prize pack of books and gift certificates.
Each group should carefully read the contest packet and begin to dream up your very own fort! Check out the book homepage http://www.sylvandellpublishing.com/bookpage.php?id=FortFourth and the For Creative Minds pages to gather your plan.
Dream Fort Packet
Submissions are open! Please either email your submission to HeatherWilliams (at) Sylvandellpublishing.com or mail to
Sylvan Dell Publishing
612 Johnnie Dodds Blvd. Suite A2
Mt. Pleasant, SC 29464
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Have you ever wondered what it would be like to work in a zoo? In the newly released Animal Helpers: Zoos, author Jennifer Keats Curtis worked with four zoos to learn more about the duties of a zookeeper and what it takes to care for so many different types of animals. This week we meet Patti Clark of the Austin Zoo and learn what it is like to be the director of the zoo, and why everyday brings a new adventure.
Patti Clark never fails to play the Texas Lottery.
As Director of the private, nonprofit Austin Zoo & Animal Sanctuary—a volunteer position that occupies her 364 days a year—she hopes to someday use those winnings to construct a new keeper building that would include keeper office space, food prep space, an infirmary, and onsite vet clinic for the animals.
Despite the tremendous number of hours she puts in, Patti never takes a vacation. “There is something magical about this place,” says Clark, who somehow manages to also serve on four other nonprofit boards in her “spare” time, “I’m afraid I’ll miss something exciting and fun!”
What began as a goat ranch nearly three decades ago has become a permanent home to more than 350 animals including big cats; primates; birds; reptiles; amphibians; mammals, such as llama and deer; and one marsupial—a big red kangaroo initially misrepresented as a much smaller wallaby.
With a meager staff of 26 employees, Clark and her crew ably manage to help these hundreds of exotic and animals, 95% of whom were rescued from neglect and abuse, unwanted by owners, or surrendered to Animal Control officers.
The Austin Zoo & Animal Sanctuary, one of four zoos featured in the new Animal Helpers: ZOOS, differs from traditional zoos because the rescued animals are on exhibit to unescorted visitors. Guests have a chance to see these animals, to learn about different species, and to get first-hand education and information about the harm that exotic pet ownership and roadside circuses can cause for these creatures. Patti jumped at the chance to be part of this new book because education is a crucial part of the Zoo’s mission.
Even though there are days when she feels chained to her desk, Patti’s day is never dull.
In January, she says, calls from the 4-H Clubs roll in, as children realize that the animals they have raised are going to be slaughtered.
Last month, they took in a two-foot-long alligator, who arrived in a tiny ferret cage.
This week, she was heavy on tortoise calls. “People buy these tiny cute tortoises in pet stores,” she explains, “That animal grows, and it grows fast until it becomes two feet across or more and no longer fits into that small glass aquarium. Once he gets in the backyard and starts eating all of the vegetation, the owner does not want him anymore. We currently have 15 tortoises here.”
Patti also answers a lot of calls about unwanted birds and snakes, mostly big pythons and boas that apartment dwellers can no longer keep.
Most of the eight tigers and five lions who now reside at the zoo were purchased as babies and hand-raised by folks who thought it seemed like a good idea at the time. One trucker kept his tiger cub in the truck cab with him for company…until the feline became too big and aggressive.
Leroy the Lion (pictured) is one of Patti’s favorites, though he had a similarly troubled past. Leroy served as a “junkyard lion” until he was rescued and brought to his new home in Austin. At first, Leroy, who is maneless because he is neutered, was terribly thin and sick with mange, a skin disease. When he tried to stand, his anklebone shattered. Although scars from the mange still show under his coat, thanks to Austin Zoo vets and staff, Leroy is healed, happy and healthy. His favorite toys? Old tires, which he carries around the yard and guards as if they were prey. He then lunges at, bites and claws the durable rubber. “We get deer donated that have been culled from game management ranches and from a deer processor located close to the Zoo,” explains Patti, “Leroy is quiet while stalking his prey. It is amazing that such a large animal can move soundlessly across the enclosure yard. He does like to join in roaring with our two other male throughout the day.”
Since the Austin Zoo & Animal Sanctuary is currently at capacity for some species, Patti spends a portion of nearly every single day networking with other zoos and rehabilitation facilities to find permanent placement for these unwanted animals.
Despite some of the everyday frustrations that come with managing the staff and animals—and not having limitless funds—Patti clearly loves what she does. “In the Zoo, you won’t get rich with money, but your life will be rich,” she says.
To learn more about the Austin Zoo & Animal Sanctuary, please visit their Facebook page and website, http://www.austinzoo.org/.
If you want to learn more about the book Animal Helpers: Zoos go to the Sylvan Dell book page http://www.sylvandellpublishing.com/bookpage.php?id=AH_Zoos
Polly ‘Possum is desperately searching for a new place to call home before her babies come! As Polly explores different real estate options, author Marianne Berkes and illustrator Rebecca Dickinson creatively sneak in a little lesson on diurnal and nocturnal animals as well as various types of forest-living animal dwellings. Berkes keeps readers continually anxious as Polly repeatedly finds something wrong with each home she comes across. Will she ever find a place in time?
You too can take part in the search with this Anybody Home? inspired scavenger hunt! Simply print out this flyer, grab a pen, and head outside to check off each item on the list. Be ready for some obstacles just like Polly had during her search. Play by yourself or take on the challenge with a group of friends, but don’t wander too far from home! The list includes items such as a bird’s nest, a beaver’s dam and a squirrel. Also, try to think of additional items to find not on the list. Once everything that you found has been accounted for, show off your scavenging skills to your parents and teachers!
To read more about Polly Possum check out the book page here: http://www.sylvandellpublishing.com/bookpage.php?id=AnybodyHome
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Officially launched to yesterday, A Butterfly Called Hope by Mary Alice Monroe with butterfly expert Linda Love and photography by Barbara Bergwerf is sure to inspire young entomologists out there.
Kick off the school year with this fun book about a young girl and her experience with the amazing journey of a Monarch Butterfly! This book not only shows the entire metamorphosis of a caterpillar becoming a butterfly, but it also provides interesting facts for readers to learn more about these flying beauties. This is the fourteenth book by New York Times best-selling author Mary Alice Monroe, and features incredible photographs by Barbara Bergwerf that document Hope’s entire journey in raising a butterfly.
Curious for more? Here are some fun and interesting facts about Monarch Butterflies:
-Did you know that Monarchs go through four generations each year?
-Did you know that Monarchs are the only insects that can migrate up to 2,500 miles?
-Did you know that Monarchs are actually poisonous as a defense against predators, but are harmless to humans?
-Did you know that male Monarchs have black spots on their wings, and the females don’t?
-Did you know that Monarchs migrate during the winter to warmer climates like Mexico and Southern California?
-Did you know that the first 3 generations of Monarchs only live up to 8 weeks, but the fourth generation can live up to almost a year?
-Did you know that climate change is a threat to Monarchs? Wetter climates during the winter can cause Monarchs to freeze to death because they can only survive in dry winter climates.
Do you want to learn more fun facts about butterflies visit the webpage and download the free For Creative Minds section and Teaching Activities where you can even learn how to raise your own monarch butterfly! http://www.sylvandellpublishing.com/bookpage.php?id=ButterflyHope
Send us your favorite butterfly fact and you will be entered to win a copy of A Butterfly Called Hope!
Fall brings the change in weather, shorter days and the start of school. With this change in season upon us a new flock of books comes to Sylvan Dell. This fall is especially exciting not only because we debut seven new titles, but also we dove into new subjects that are sure to capture children’s interest in a whole new career. Follow us all week next week for the online launch. Learn more about each book the authors and illustrators as well as exclusive extras and giveaways. Pay attention to the details we will have prize winning quiz questions!
For now we have a synopsis of each book and to move to the head of the class you can even enter to win our launch giveaway on Goodreads!
Animal Helpers: Zoos by Jennifer Keats Curtis
Zoos are amazing places to see and learn about the many native and exotic of animals that inhabit this world. Some animals are plentiful while others are threatened or in danger of extinction. Zookeepers not only feed and care for these animals, they may also be helping to conserve and protect whole species through breeding and “head start” programs. Follow the extraordinary duties of these unusual animal helpers in this behind-the-scenes photographic journal.
Anybody Home? by Marianne Berkes illustrated by Rebecca Dickinson
Polly ‘Possum is looking for a new home to raise her expected babies. Along the way, she meets a wide variety of diurnal and nocturnal animals. She learns how they build and live in webs, nests, hives, shells, burrows, lodges, dens, caves, dreys, and even hollows. While those homes are perfect for those animals, they aren’t right for her. How does Polly find a home and will she find it in time?
A Butterfly Called Hope by Mary Alice Monroe with Linda Love photography by Barbara Bergwerf The colorful flowers in Mama’s garden reveal a strange-looking creature. “What is it? Does it sting, does it bite?” Join in this photographic journey as the young girl and her mother care for the caterpillar. Watch as it transforms into a chrysalis and then emerges as a beautiful monarch butterfly. How can the young girl “claim” the butterfly as her own but still let it go free?
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win
A Day in the Deep by Kevin Kurtz illustrated by Erin E. Hunter
Travel deep into the ocean way below the surface and you’ll encounter some creatures you never knew existed! This book takes you on a journey through the dark depths of the sea towards the ocean floor. Most ecosystems need sunlight, but deep in the ocean where the sun doesn’t shine animals have adapted some very interesting ways to see, protect themselves, and eat. Discover the unique habitats, adaptations, and food chains of these deep -sea creatures.
See the giveaway details
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Dino Tracks by Rhonda Lucas Donald illustrated by Cathy Morrison Step back in time and follow dinosaur tracks around the world. Whether made by a few dinosaurs or large groups, these tracks provide clues to the movement and behavior of these lovable ancient creatures. What dinosaurs made the tracks and what do scientists think they were doing when they made them? The author tells the story in rhythmic rhyme that may be sung to the tune of Over the River and Through the Woods.
Enter to win
The Fort on Fourth Street by Lois Spangler illustrated by Christina Wald
When a young child decides to build a fort in the backyard, Grandpa comes forward to help. But they can’t do it alone—they get help from the six simple machines: lever, pulley, inclined plane, wheel and axle, screw, and wedge. Told in cumulative rhyme, similar to The House That Jack Built, this story follows grandfather and grandchild as they build a fort together from start to finish.
The Perfect Pet by Samantha Bell After begging for a pet, a child’s mother finally says “yes.” But which animal will be the best pet? Using animal classification and habitat needs, the child narrows it down from Kingdom Animalia, through invertebrates to vertebrates. Reptiles and amphibians are out, and birds and fish are soon off the list. That leaves mammals, but which one? An elephant won’t fit through the door, and a tiger would be too hard to walk. What’s a child to do?
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Back-to-school is here! Summer is coming to a close and classrooms are prepping to welcome new students to take the long journey through the next grade. The first day of school can be scary for many children, especially as they enter a new school, or are beginning school for the first time. So, in honor of the first day of school we have compiled a list of Sylvan Dell books that are great reads to prepare for that first day.
The Giraffe Who Was Afraid of Heights – Imagine if the one thing that keeps you safe is what you fear the most. This enchanting story tells of a giraffe who suffers from the fear of heights. His parents worry about his safety and send him to the village doctor for treatment. Along the way he befriends a monkey who is afraid of climbing trees and a hippo that is afraid of water. A life-threatening event causes the three friends to face and overcome each of their fears.
Home in the Cave – Baby Bat loves his cave home and never wants to leave it. While practicing flapping his wings one night, he falls, and Pluribus Packrat rescues him. They then explore the deepest, darkest corners of the cave where they meet amazing animals—animals that don’t need eyes to see or colors to hide from enemies. Baby Bat learns how important bats are to the cave habitat and how other cave-living critters rely on them for their food. Will Baby Bat finally venture out of the cave to help the other animals?
Henry the Impatient Heron – Henry the Heron couldn’t stand still! He was always moving, and it drove everyone crazy! His brother and sister yelled at him for stepping on their heads, and Mom and Dad could barely get food into his little baby mouth. But herons have to stand still to catch their food, so how would Henry ever be able to eat on his own? In Henry, the Impatient Heron, Donna Love takes readers along with Henry as he learns a valuable lesson from the King of Camouflage! Hilarious and lighthearted illustrations by Christina Wald complement the important lesson in the text. It is a meaningful lesson for both herons and kids alike, which teaches the importance of just being still!
How the Moon Regained Her Shape – This fascinating story influenced by Native American folktales explains why the moon changes shape and helps children deal with bullies. After the sun insults and bullies her, the moon feels so badly hurt that she shrinks and leaves the sky. The moon turns to a comet and her many friends on earth to comfort her. Her friends include rabbits and Native Americans. Then she regains her full shape, happiness, and self-esteem. The moon also returns to her orbit.
And for the younger siblings just beginning counting and ABC’s
ABC Safari - Let’s search for adventure above in the sky. We’ll scout through the mountains and hills, and then try exploring the forests, the meadows and plains, across the dry desert and through jungle rains. We’ll trek through a swamp, a puddle, a pond, in lakes and the river, the ocean beyond. But, what are we looking for? Who will we see? Find animals on this Safari with me! Once you’ve discovered all the animals, turn to the “For Creative Minds” educational section for sorting cards and animal fun facts.
Count Down to Fall - The summer days get a little colder; the leaves turn from green to orange and red. Fall must be on the way, and while you unpack sweaters and scarves, the animals frolic outside in the crisp autumn air beneath a wide blue sky. In Fran Hawk’s Count Down to Fall, watch the falling leaves tumble all around. The vibrant and detailed illustrations of Sherry Neidigh capture the majesty of the maple, the oak, the linden, and more. Critters play in the time of changing seasons, and remind us that the changes of the earth affect us all-animals and humans alike!
We hope that you have a wonderful first day of school!
As you may have read last week Sylvan Dell set up a small store in the local mall and put on a back-to-school sale. We now have a new appreciation for those booksellers that we work with every day.
As we packed up titles, prepped our décor, and hung the signs the anticipation grew to meet our customers. Since it was South Carolina’s tax free weekend the mall was busy with families bustling about buying paper and pens for school. Parents were happy to bring kids in to play with the stuffed animals and pick out a book about their favorite animal.
Finding that favorite animal was sometimes difficult and many children gave us a challenge. One little boy marched right into the store and said he needed a frog book. We had one, but he wanted more – as we made our way through the store he rejected every book and with the suggestion of a book about turtles he was done shopping – no turtles were aloud in his library.
Parents were excited to find the educational aspect to the books and grandparents picked gifts for their grandchildren going back to school. With each family that came into the store however, it was clear who was in charge and the 4, 5 and 6-year-olds made the decisions. As we develop eBooks and the digital world expands, it was great to see excited little faces as they walked away with a new book.
This week we sit in our offices planning for a new season of books and we are wiser for meeting the little shoppers of Charleston. It was a rewarding experience for all in the Sylvan Dell office and thank you to all the families, teachers and parents that stopped by to say hello!
This week has had all of us at Sylvan Dell Publishing working on a special project for this weekend only, We have made tie-dyed shirts, packed up hundreds of books, and created some colorful posters and decorations for the occasion. What can we be preparing for? Well…
For tax free weekend, Sylvan Dell Publishing will be opening a “pop-up” shop in Citadel Mall in Charleston, SC. We will be selling all of our titles at great discount prices! Please stop by during regular mall hours on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday to check out our books, and did we mention we are giving away free posters! This is an event you won’t want to miss. We even have something special just for kids. So remember, Sylvan Dell Publishing store in Citadel Mall this weekend only, all books additionally discounted and tax free! Hope to see you there!
On Monday, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge announced the arrival of their bouncing baby boy, His Royal Highness Prince George Alexander Louis of Cambridge! The world has already fallen love with this little prince who is not even a week old.
At Sylvan Dell Publishing, we are always delighted by baby news. Except, the newborns we usually hear about live in a zoo, not the royal palace. Every morning and once again around lunch time, we take a break from our hard work to check our email for a special announcement. Right on schedule, we have an email waiting for us from ZooBorns letting us know about the newest additions to zoos and aquariums around the world. ZooBorns serve as conservation animal ambassadors hoping to educate their followers about the importance of taking care of animals in the wild and the ways in which zoos and aquariums are aiding the cause.
In the months of June and July, we have seen the arrivals of a baby Asian elephant, eight meerkat pups, a pair of red pandas, a litter of Malayan tiger cubs, cheetah triplets, and a baby tapir ( the most recent announcement). Our love for animals extends from the pages of our books to the small moments of our day. If you want to join the “baby watch”, of animals that is, visit ZooBorns.com and sign up for email updates.
Finally, we want to congratulate all the new moms this summer! And look for our own exciting announcement of Sylvan Dell newbies coming this September.
We wanted to pass along some wonderful news to all of you this afternoon. A care farm, Sanctuary One at Double Oak Farm, featured in Jennifer Keats Curtis’s Animal Helpers: Sanctuaries has been awarded the 2013 Martha Young Award! The award is presented by the Cow Creek Umpqua Indian Foundation (CCUIF) with the mission of assisting youth education and development, strengthening families, and adding to the quality of life for the people of Southwest Oregon. In addition, the sanctuary was chosen to receive a $2,000 grant towards improving access for visitors with disabilities. We would like to give our full-hearted congratulations to such a worthy recipient. If you would like to learn more about the Martha Young Award and CCUIF as well as other exciting news from Sanctuary One, you can check out the following article or visit the News and Events page on their website at http://www.sanctuaryone.org/news.html.
Sanctuary One July Newsletter
Animal Helpers: Sanctuaries also includes wonderful photographs and stories of animals whose lives have been saved thanks to Sanctuary One. Look for Jennifer’s third book in the Animal Helper Series, Animal Helpers: Zoos, to be released early September 2013.
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In July of 1969, human history changed forever when astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the moon’s surface. In honor of the upcoming anniversary of the moon landing, we’ve compiled a list of space-related museum exhibits. From space shuttles to simulated treks across Mars, these exhibits all immerse visitors in the story of the space race and educate them about what’s beyond this world.
Space Shuttle Enterprise
Located in New York City, the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum’s newest exhibit, which just opened on July 10, is the Space Shuttle Pavilion which now holds the Enterprise. The Enterprise was NASA’s original orbiter. It conducted tests within Earth’s atmosphere in the late 1970’s and was crucial in the success of America’s shuttle program. NASA retired the shuttle in 1985, and the Enterprise is now being showcased on the Intrepid in Manhattan. Visitors are greeted with 35-year-old audio recordings of astronauts exchanging radio calls with flight controllers. The exhibit includes stories about the orbiters and the people involved with them, the early designs of the shuttles, technological innovations, and much more.
At the Pacific Science Center in Seattle, WA, visitors can immerse themselves in the story of the International Space Station. From the international cooperation that makes the constant scientific research at the station possible, to the audio and visual technology that connects visitors to space, this exhibit will enthrall anyone who has ever wanted to go to space. The exhibit is open until Sept. 2.
For those of you in the Columbus, OH area, the COSI has a fantastic exhibit all about outer space. Visitors can explore the surface of Mars, ride in a space capsule, compare the effects of gravity from planet to planet, and watch live NASA TV. This exhibit gives visitors all kinds of information on rocket technology, the attempt to find life in the universe, and more.
Space Shuttle Endeavour
At the California Science Center in Los Angeles, CA, visitors can hear the space shuttle Endeavour’s story before actually viewing the Endeavour itself at the Samuel Oschin Pavilion. Endeavour: The California Story tells the story of how the Endeavour and other shuttles were produced in California and showcases the artifacts that helped make them functional. Then at the Samuel Oschin Pavilion, visitors will get up close and personal to the shuttle and learn about its missions and the people involved with them. Entrance requires a separate ticket with a $2 service fee, and the museum strongly suggests purchasing that ticket in advance.
The Air and Space Museum
The Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. is dedicated to flight both within and beyond the earth’s atmosphere and is a treat for anyone who is passionate about air and space. Exhibits include everything from the Mercury Capsule 15B, Freedom 7 II, to the Manned Maneuvering Unit, to the space shuttle Discovery and much more. Anyone in the D.C. area who likes flight cannot miss this museum.
If you are not near one of these museums celebrate with us and read Meet the Planets or Solar System Forecast!
It may be summer, but learning doesn’t have to go on hiatus. There are all sorts of fun and educational opportunities for kids on vacation or even in their own hometowns. Here is a list of museum exhibits, most of them only temporary, that could grab your child’s attention and teach them more about the world.
It seems like everywhere these days we’re hearing about melting ice caps and global warming. A new exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York aims to teach visitors about climate change by showing physical melting glaciers. The glacier chunks have been frozen for about 800 years and broke off from an actively melting glacier in Europe. This exhibit will be open at MoMA PS1 in Queens until Sept. 2.
Build Your Own ‘Bot
Have you ever watched R2D2 roll around and beep in the Star Wars movies and wished you could build your own droid? The Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose, CA has a new exhibit in which kids can create their very own robot. Visitors design, build, and program original robots using the technologies at the exhibit.
America is hooked on cop shows, and at some point, every kid has wanted to be a cop or detective. Now you can at Fort Worth Museum of Science and History in Texas. Their new exhibit CSI: The Experience allows visitors to solve crimes just like the characters on CSI, doing everything from collecting evidence to conducting autopsies. The exhibit is open through Sept. 2.
What About Whales?
The Children’s Museum and Theatre of Maine in Portland has an entire exhibit dedicated to a sea creature that will capture the hearts of any child who visits. What About Whales? is an interactive exhibit which educates children about whales by letting them climb in and out of an inflatable life-size humpback whale. Other activities include a whale-watching boat, a Feed a Whale ballgame, and much more.
The Discovery Center Museum in Rockford, IL has an exhibit for any kid who has ever wanted to hunt for treasure, whether as a pirate from the 1600s or a modern-day treasure hunter. The Treasure! exhibit allows visitors to try treasure hunting tools, view artifacts from treasure sites, and learn about the history of and people involved in treasure hunting.
For those of you in the New York area, be sure to check out the Museum of Modern Art’s “Rain Room.” Located in the lot directly adjacent to MoMA, the Rain Room uses digital technology to make it rain except wherever it detects human presence. Visitors can stand in one spot and remain dry while they watch the rain fall all around them. The Rain Room is on exhibit until Jul. 28.
Whether you check out these exhibits or a museum closer to home there is so much to be explored!
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At Sylvan Dell, we have found it hard to keep focused with all the exciting holiday festivities on the horizon. Whether you are 60 or just 6, July 4th is a holiday easily celebrated by the entire family. There are some timeless traditions that, in our opinion, just cannot be forgotten! These include: the annual summer cookout, flying the American flag, spending time with friends and family (preferably by the pool, lake, or ocean), going to a fireworks show or July 4th parade in the nearest town, and of course, Cooking/Crafting/Wearing the color array of red, white, and blue.
As most of you have probably been taught, Independence Day refers to the historical event on July 4, 1776 when representatives of the 13 original colonies signed the Declaration of Independence, drafted by Thomas Jefferson, asserting their freedom from Great Britain. This declaration would come at a high cost. Soon followed the American Revolutionary War, where victory seemed doubtful. Yet here we are 237 years later as the fifty United States of America!
Today, July 4th is typically known for the amazing fireworks displays. Ironically, the first documentation of fireworks took place in China over 2,000 years ago! China still remains the leading manufacturer and exporter of fireworks, responsible for over 90% of the world’s fireworks. Fireworks originally were only made in orange and white, than in the Middle Ages new colors were made by experimenting with different salts. Blue is the hardest color to create. The largest recorded fireworks display happened in Portugal in 2006 which consisted of 66,326 fireworks.
The United States still has some pretty amazing fireworks shows across the country. The Travel Channel has put together a list of the “Best US Fireworks Displays” which highlights 17 different cities. http://www.travelchannel.com/interests/holidays/photos/best-us-fireworks-displays
If you can’t make it to one the locations on the list, don’t fret! Try taking some really cool pictures with sparklers in your own backyard. All you need is a few sparklers, a dark setting, and a camera recording a long exposure. Just make sure to put the sparkler in a cool bucket of water once you are finished (safety first!).
Some cities want to extend the patriotic celebration all year long. 31 places nationwide have the word “liberty” in their name, 11 use “independence, 5 places adopted the name “freedom”, another 5 use “America”, but only 1 place in the US uses “patriot”. The July 4th celebrations in these areas have to be a blast! No matter where you are at tomorrow, you can always show your American allegiance through dress or fun crafts. One website we found offers a fun way to decorate your bike for a stroll around the neighborhood or small parade. http://www.bhg.com/holidays/july-4th/crafts/patriotic-crafts-for-kids/#page=3
All of us in the office will be out celebrating our Independence tomorrow, what does your July 4th celebration look like?
We are celebrating the upcoming July 4th holiday early at Sylvan Dell Publishing. To celebrate, we have decided to offer a book giveaway of Ocean Hide and Seek by Jennifer Evans Kramer, illustrated by Gary R. Phillips. There are only five copies available. In order to enter for a chance to win a free book, participants must complete the following matching game and send their answers back to us in a Facebook message. Also, we will be posting fun ocean facts on are Facebook from time to time, so check it out!
(For example, did you know that 94% of life on Earth is aquatic?)
Over the past few weeks, we have experienced a lot of showers and storms rolling through the Mount Pleasant area. Lucky for us, we have been busy inside the office, but it brings up the question what happens to the animals during or after a storm?
A recent news article from FOX 25 in Oklahoma City discusses one organization, Wild Care Oklahoma, that has taken in over 700 animals since the end of May. Wild Care has stepped in to provide care for many animals directly affected by the damaging tornadoes, many of which were babies. The recent storms hit during the peak of “baby” season. This left many young animals orphaned in the aftermath of the tornadoes. A litter of skunks, two racoons, and species of birds, turtles, coyotes, and foxes have been taken in by Wild Care after the destructive storms hit. The organization’s Facebook page frequently posts pictures and videos of their in treatment or newly released animals each day. I highly recommend checking out this page and all the adorable animal babies! You can also check-out ways to help Wild Care or their upcoming events.
Also, Author Patti R. Zelch in her book Ready, Set…Wait!, illustrated by Connie McLennan, gives insight into what happens to animals during storms. This picture book follows nine different wild animals as they sense, prepare, and react to an approaching hurricane. Definitely a good read for a rainy day inside!
Link to the Wild Care Oklahoma Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/WildCareOklahoma
Wishing everyone a good day and stay dry wherever you are!
When heading to the beach, the last thing I want to hear about is a shark close by, but it seems like sharks are taking over aquariums, the big screen, and bookshelves all across the country. Even in our office, we have all fallen in love with our newly released spring title Shark Baby by Ann Downer, illustrated by Shennen Bersani.
Shark Baby follows one little shark as he embarks on his ocean-wide journey to find out what kind of shark he is. This book includes other fun sea inhabitants such as various shark species, sea lions, an octopus, and a “mermaid?” Shark Baby will melt the heart of any reader regardless of their original feelings about sharks.
An article from the Wall Street Journal recently reported the new trend in aquarium attractions, diving with sharks! Aquariums all across the globe are beginning their own diving programs including Australia, Hong Kong, Malaysia, New Zealand, Thailand, Singapore, and South Korea. There are even a few aquariums in the United States where shark diving is offered such as Cleveland and Denver. The Georgia Aquarium offers divers a chance to swim with the biggest fish species in the world, the whale shark. This up close and personal encounter with sharks does have a few perks. The environment is more controlled, thus sharks are well-fed and used to the presence of divers. Also, it cuts down on the logistics of traveling to distant dive sites and guarantees a face to face meeting with these creatures. Although this seems like an exciting adventure, I don’t think I will be including it on my bucket list any time soon. You can read the full article by following this link:
If diving with sharks is too much for you, select cities are showing theIMAX 3D film Great White Shark, released May 24. The film supports conservation efforts for the Great White Shark and hopes to tell the “true” story about this often misunderstood creature. This film was three years in the making and takes viewers all over the world to different Great White hot spots including: Los Angeles, New Zealand, South Africa, and Guadalupe Island. Filmmakers hope to show their audiences that the Great White Shark is becoming an endangered species, and that they are not monsters, rather they are just trying to fulfill their position at the top of the Ocean’s food chain. You can check out the trailer for the film using the following link:
After looking at the shark craze that is taking over the summer, I still hope I don’t come face to face with a shark anytime soon. Shark Baby‘s illustrations are the closest I want to be to a shark. For the more courageous individuals, I definitely recommend checking out your nearest aquariums for shark exhibits, Great White Shark showings, or dives! Other suggested titles on this topic from Sylvan Dell Publishing: The Most Dangerous and Ocean Hide and Seek.
*Author: Ann Downer and Illustrator: Shennen Bersani just finished two book presentations and signings this past weekend in Cambridge, MA at Porter Square Books and in Mystic, CT at the Mystic Aquarium. Bersani will have another signing June 29 from 11-1pm in Center Harbor, NH at Bayswater Book Company.
In the summer, most of us pack up and hit the road for summer vacation. Animals are also “on the move” during the summer, though I don’t think they are heading to the nearest amusement park. Scott Cohn’s On the Move released this past spring talks about the different reasons why animals all across the world to migrate throughout the year. The spring and summer months are a great time to witness some of these migratory behaviors.
For example, on the northwest coast, whale enthusiasts flock to catch a glimpse of some of these nomadic species. Watchers may see any species from orcas to humpback, minke, and gray whales. Whales are strict seasonal travelers who migrate south to warm waters for breeding in the late fall and winter months, while traveling back up north in the spring and summer for feeding in cooler waters. For those of us who can’t make the trip west to see this migration, National Geographic has posted a short clip of a gray whale and her calf on their migratory journey.
On the east coast, especially in our backyard, beach goers have a chance to witness another migratory species, the loggerhead turtle. These turtles are coming ashore to nest during the summer months. Many conservation practices have been included in city ordinances in order to ensure the safety and survival of the baby loggerhead turtles. For example, visitors staying at the Wild Dunes resort in Isle of Palms, South Carolina are asked to turn off any outside lights at night so that the baby turtles aren’t confused about which way leads to the ocean. You can keep up with reported nest counters, observe video feed from a nest, and more on the “SC Marine Turtle Conservation Program” page on the website of the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources.
Also, pick up a copy of Scott Cohn’s On the Move, beautifully illustrated by Susan Detwiler, to find out more about animal migratory habits and check out the US Department of Interior’s National Park Service website for more on migration basics. Other suggested titles on this subject from Sylvan Dell include: Carolina’s Story, Turtle Summer, Ocean Seasons, and Turtles in My Sandbox.
Throughout Nature Recycles: How About You? we meet all types of animals that use discarded items from their environment and put them to good use. From the common to the unusual Nature Recycles explores a wide range of animal recycling activities. An elephant puts the banana leaves found on the ground to a useful task, a hermit crab moves into a discarded shell as a new home when the previous one gets too small, and the dung beetle uses rhino poop to feed hatchlings and adds nutrients to the earth in the process. Each of these animals plus many more adapt to their environment and reuse natural elements in interesting ways, do you?
If a tiny larva is able to recycle and build a protective house, do we humans do enough to reduce waste and adapt to our environment. Recycling is more than filling a bin with bottles, cans and paper for the trash collector. It’s about reducing waste and protecting our planet for the future. You can create a compost of organic material, buy new items made from recycled materials or make your own new items from things around the house.
Here are a few planet saving recycling habits to adopt:
- Carry a water bottle and fill it up with tap water. Only 13% of water bottles are recycled
- Bring Your Own Bag –reusable bags cut down on all the plastic that goes into a landfill
- Donate used clothing to local charities.
- Participate in electronic buy-back or take back programs
- Buy recycled products
- Use recycling bins and place them throughout your house post signs for proper sorting
- Start a recycling program in your community!
Here is a fun craft to get you started recycling.
http://www.zittaschnitt.com/2_projects/download/ZittaSchnitt_PET_BOTTLE_PURSE_English.pdf for detailed instructions.
If you would like to learn more about Nature Recycles: How About You? or read it for yourself, visit www.sylvandellpublishing.com.
More facts and recycling ideas can be found at http://www.nrdc.org/cities/recycling/gsteps.asp.
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“Eliminate all other factors, and the one which remains must be the truth,” Sherlock Holmes has said about his method of detective work. In Sylvan Dell’s new picture book, Deductive Detective, our hero Detective Duck shows that he’s learned from the best! He dons his best deerstalker hat, his much-too-big magnifying glass, and solves the case of the missing cake with the same methods the pros use!
That is, a style of logical thinking called “deductive reasoning.” In deductive reasoning, someone finds an answer they’re looking for by first finding out what the answer isn’t. When Detective Duck examines the clues and finds out which of his friends couldn’t have stolen the cake, it leads him closer to what really happened!
Of course, you don’t need a weird hat and a magnifying glass to use deductive reasoning. These methods come in handy every day! If you lose a toy, for example (or car keys), you may make your search easier by determining where the item isn’t.
“Oh yeah,” you may say, “I didn’t bring it to my friend’s house; I wasn’t holding it when I walked to the living room, or landed on the moon. I wouldn’t have brought it to my parents’ room or under the ocean or into Mordor.” By deciding where you shouldn’t look, you now have a better idea of where you should.
This kind of logic process happens throughout the day, sometimes without you even being aware of it; you might say your brain is always on the case as much as any detective!
Apply deductive reasoning the next time you’re in the bookstore: subtract the books that don’t meet the highest educational standards, offer pages of activities and facts, offer online supplements, are fun to look at and fun to read! You’ll be left with books by Sylvan Dell like The Deductive Detective!
Yesterday I was honored to represent Sylvan Dell as a judge at the James B. Edwards Elementary annual science fair in Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina. I must admit I was expecting a room full of volcanoes and maybe bugs pinned to a board, but these kids were way too smart for that. I would have never thought to set Jell-O using dry ice and if it affected the taste, or testing storage solutions for vegetables, and even experimenting with the right mix of laundry detergents to get out those tough stains.
Which Fishing line works best?
These science experiments were test of life’s real problems from what fishing line works best to does popcorn soaked in liquid pop better than dry kernels? The judging was tough, it is hard to choose a winner when you see so much work and excitement for a project, but an award must be given and here are a few of the favorites.
This fourth grader worked very hard on their egg incubators and recorded daily temperatures and progress in the journal. They even experienced heartbreak when one of the chicks died because it came out too early.
Will My Homemade Incubator Hatch Eggseven experienced heartbreak when one of the chicks died because it came out too early.
Which food coloring produces the most vivid carnations? No paint needed to get vivid blue and green carnations just a little food coloring will do! This student did a great job documenting the time it took to move the color from the water to the petals.
Which Food Coloring will bring the brightest flowers?
Fish can be trained! This participant put their beta fish through obedience training and it worked. The observations here were really fun to read and I had no idea that a fish would respond to a ringing bell.
Pavlov’s Fish? Who Knew!
This experiment taught me the best way to store lettuce, strawberries and other fruits and vegetables. With daily documentation, and a lot of research on wasted food this student put together a very useful and helpful experiment!
How to store fruit best?
I want to thank the teachers for inviting me to judge the contest and congratulations to the winners and all the participants!
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On May 5th, around the United States and Mexico, colorful decorations will hang, mariachi bands will play, and people will party in the street to celebrate Cinco de Mayo. This holiday celebrates Mexican culture – the music, the traditions, the food, but why, exactly, are we celebrating on this day? Some people think that Cinco de Mayo marks the day when Mexico became independent from Spain, or when the Mexican Civil War ended. Nope! Actually, Cinco de Mayo celebrates a battle in a war that Mexico lost!
Mexico had a tough start as a country, enduring war after war, first against America in 1846, then against themselves in the Mexican Civil War. When all this was over, the country had spent so much on war that there was very little money for regular people to spend in their lives; in other words, the economy was hurt. As countries sometimes do, Mexico borrowed money from other nations in order to help itself. And, as friends sometimes do when you borrow a toy or book from them, those countries got tired of waiting for Mexico to give their property back and came over to collect. No, their moms didn’t drive them over in the van or anything like that; fleets of warships representing England, Spain and France crossed the Atlantic Ocean, entered the Mexican coastline and demanded that Mexico pay them back.
Mexico didn’t have the money to pay them though! What’s a young country to do?! All they had were vouchers to give to the representatives from these countries, papers that double-super-promised to someday pay them back. This satisfied England and Spain and they went home, but to France, this meant war! Sacre bleu!
Under the command of Napoleon III, France invaded Mexico with the intention to totally control it. They marched from the coastline to Mexico City, and on the way passed the small Mexican state of Puebla. The Mexican soldiers at Puebla were vastly outnumbered, but in this fight on May 5, 1862, called La Batalla de Puebla, Mexico somehow overcame the odds and defeated the French forces! Now that’s reason to celebrate!
France eventually managed to occupy Mexico, but they were delayed a whole year by this surprising Mexican victory. The shocking, underdog victory at Puebla has come to symbolize the Mexican spirit of resilience and tenacity. Therefore, on its anniversary every year, Mexico and places with many people of Mexican descent play Cumbia music, wave the Mexican flag, eat tamales, hit pinatas, and generally celebrate all things Mexico!
Of course, at Sylvan Dell we celebrate Mexican people and culture every day! Each and every one of our dozens of titles are available in Spanish, such as Los árboles de globos and La naturaleza recicla—¿Lo haces tú? and El detective deductive!
In Animal Helpers: Sanctuaries you meet Lisa the pig, a 700 pound loveable animal that just got too big to stay with her owners. Sanctuary One’s newest resident pig Jigsaw is just as loveable and very smart. Just watch how well mannered this pig is:
Sanctuary One provides the community with a place to connect with nature and meet animals that children or adults may not have the opportunity to meet otherwise. They are very passionate and we hope you enjoy the video, and meeting them in the book Animal Helpers: Sanctuaries.
The Animal Helpers series by Jennifer Keats Cutis is a great way to introduce children to the challenges and rewards that a career helping animals entails. Each book in the series features work of special organizations and caretakers like Sanctuary One. These organizations are able to use the book as a fundraiser; it is expensive, and requires a lot of work to care for a farm of formerly homeless animals.
We at Sylvan Dell are happy to feature the great work of not only Sanctuary One, but also the other Animal Helpers. If you, or your children are interested in caring for animals there are organizations all across the country that need support and volunteers!
Information technology and new technological devices are revolutionizing the world of literature, and children’s literature is no different. The ever-increasing numbers of e-books and e-readers in recent years has sparked debate about whether or not e-books are bad for the book industry or reading in general. This argument has been especially critical in the arena of children’s literature. Though children’s e-books have both their improvements and downsides over print books, they achieve the same goal of reaching out to children and telling stories or conveying information in a way that children can understand and enjoy.
One improvement e-books have over print books is the superior picture quality of e-books. This is particularly important for a lot of children’s books. Lots of children’s books, both fiction and nonfiction, contain beautiful color illustrations or photographs. Backlighting on computers or iPads make these pictures brighter and more vivid, enhancing the child’s enjoyment and reading experience. Additionally, pictures which splay across two pages and are split down the middle by a page divide in a print book look better on a screen where there is no page divide.
There are other improvements. Audio books enable young children to hear stories without their parents having to read to them. This way if parents are doing something else the kids can have a book out and have a computer read it to them, and parents can interact from the kitchen or the driver’s seat (“What’s the picture of?” “What kind of sound does that animal make?” etc) without having to take their eyes off the stove or the road to read the book. Additionally the fact that iPads, e-readers, computers, and other electronic devices can hold hundreds of e-books in a tablet that takes up about as much space as one book makes them convenient for traveling and ensures that children always have something new to read.
Parents will like that the e-books are often cheaper and more durable than print books. Our favorite books all suffer from over-use – dog eared pages, worn covers, pages falling out. These happen even to adults’ favorite books, and most kids are far less careful with their things. E-books don’t have pages that can fall out or covers that can get bent in the bottom of a backpack. There are durable tablets available so that kids can drop the e-readers without breaking them.
The most important thing is to get children reading and to get them reading good books. Fiction has to have characters and an interesting plot. Children get this from the story itself, not the media. Harry Potter is still Harry Potter whether you’re reading about him in the familiar-smelling, dog-eared pages of the books you’ve had for years or whether you’re reading about him on a computer screen with the movie soundtrack emitting from the same computer. The same idea goes for nonfiction. Children’s nonfiction has to have information that keeps the child engaged and which the author explains on the child’s level. These qualities are things that both print books and e-books have in common. The goal is still the same – to get kids reading and interacting with language and information. Information is powerful no matter the media through which it is conveyed.
For more information on children’s e-books from Sylvan Dell, go to Amazon. Our e-books are $0.99 through the 18th of May.
There are approximately 18,000 children under the age of 5 in Howard County, Maryland. And another 50,000 older children in school here. Yet when my family takes advantage of a treasure in the heart of the county, we never see another soul! The Howard County Nature Conservancy is a peaceful and beautiful sanctuary full of rolling hills, safe hiking trails, clear running streams, gorgeous gardens, interesting animals and picnic areas begging to be filled with families looking for a fun, easy, cheap way to spend an evening. Locals say it’s the place to be for bird watching, geocaching or growing your own organic vegetables in the lush community garden.
Part of the reason many don’t know about this area is that from 1692-1992 one family, the Brown’s, was fortunate enough to call The Conservancy their private residence. But in 1992, Howard County schoolteachers Ruth and Frances Brown passed away without an heir. The 232 acre farm has since been held in its natural state and glory. With some additions and improvements, you can come visit and see many buildings that have been a part of the pastoral setting for three centuries.
When I say that we never see another soul on our weekend hikes, that is not to say the spectacular landscape is not put to good use. There are summer camps for the kids, regular nature walks and talks, “Wine in the Garden” for the adults, “School is Out” programs for local students, and too many more exciting events to name. (Check here for a full list: http://www.hcconservancy.org/upcoming-events.html)
These programs, and this place, have helped my boys, (Will age 6, Luke age 4 and Sam age 23 months) to be better little men. I take them there as a part of our unofficial family plan. I want my sons to grow up valuing a day in the dirt with their brothers more than a computer. I want them to seek out places to think and find serenity more than places to blend in with the crowd. I want them to know that it is sometimes better to walk quietly holding my hand than it is to scream in the chaos of an amusement park (although we’ll be heading off to Dutch Wonderland in 10 short days and I can’t wait). I want my boys to have a place to take a date in a decade or two and really get to know her. Somewhere safe where they can walk hand-in-hand (God help me) and find out if they are lucky enough to build what we are lucky enough to have.
I just read the last paragraph aloud my opinionated family. According to my husband and the boys, everything I said is true…but way too girly. They just like to be able to run and play ninjas with sticks. I guess that is a part of our official family plan.
So my real question is this, why aren’t more young families joining us on a beautiful day? No matter what the season? Right now the tadpoles are changing week-to-week and day-to-day! The goats are climbing onto the roof of their habitat and the chickens are laying eggs. Ranger, the owl, is eating his mice and the crayfish and salamanders are hiding from eager little fingers looking to snatch them up. Log bridges with rope sidebars are waiting to be crossed by young explorers and the trees and logs give our young Luke Skywalker lots of convenient hiding places when bounty hunter Boba Fett (aka daddy) comes searching. Maybe you’ll luck out and see a snake while you skip rocks along the creek. If you’re quiet, you’re sure to see some deer and a fox or two. The children’s log garden allows the kids to jump and climb and play in an unusual and safe environment. The indoor playground at the mall is teaming with kids (and germs) every night of the week. Yet we are the only ones at the Conservancy! After seeing the animals, playing or checking out the simple indoor nature room, go for a hike. There is no need to hold hands! Let the kids run on the safe, grassy paths and lead the way as they leave their energy behind to light a trail for you.
Just this weekend I spoke to a young mom who lives within a half mile of the Conservancy. She had never been! What!?!? Why?!?!? Come on! I’ll meet you there on Friday night! We’ll bring sandwiches, juice boxes and kids ready to squeal with delight and satisfy the natural, scientific curiosity that fills their ever-expanding brains….and play ninjas with sticks. Honestly, what could be better?
For more information about the Howard County Nature Conservancy, check out their website at http://www.hcconservancy.org.
Erin Schade is a wife, a mother to three fantastic boys, a teacher in Howard County, Maryland, a freelance writer and an aspiring children’s author. Questions or comments? Please contact her directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Today started out as a typical day in the office, but by mid-morning we were in rescue mode.
On Wednesday mamma mallard and ten baby ducklings were wandering around the grass outside the Sylvan Dell office building. With a small pond nearby and a downpour of rain the day before it is not uncommon to see waterfowl outside our windows on occasion. Baby ducklings however, were too cute in a line behind their mother that we couldn’t help but watch as they waddled around.
When our editor and Buddy the office dog went outside this morning, she found that mamma duck was no longer with her babies and there were only four still quacking, six were no longer living. Stuck in the landscaping, and unable to get out of the well around a tree, the staff decided to help.
Mamma duck was quacking away in the nearby pond and so we tried a ramp, but they were afraid and the ramp was steep. Next we worked together to herd the babies into a box so that we could deliver them to safety. After several tries and many strategies the three of us were able to get three of the babies into the box and one baby was actually able to make it out of the well and ran all the way to the pond to quickly jump in. Mom swam over to her ducklings as they all hopped into the water.
It was a successful reuniting, and we were very happy to bring the family back together. We must thank Jennifer Keats Curtis for writing the books Baby Owl’s Rescue, and Animal Helpers: Wildlife Rehabilitators, she gave us the inspiration and knowledge to save these babies from harm.