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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Animals, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 1,875
1. Karla Mialynne's Photos of Realistic Drawings

Karla Mialynne makes realistic renderings of animals using colored pencils and markers, and photographs them with the tools she uses to create them. The photos give us an intriguing hint of scale and process.

0 Comments on Karla Mialynne's Photos of Realistic Drawings as of 8/30/2014 10:45:00 AM
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2. over the moon...

and down to work. 
I'm getting serious here, but I wanted to give you a link to all the other terrariums, go check it out here, you'll find some amazing work.

0 Comments on over the moon... as of 8/27/2014 10:43:00 AM
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3. OMG

Hi Friends.
So I entered this contest, and I had a good time and I MADE IT INTO THE NEXT ROUND!!!!! (sorry, I was really not expecting to get anywhere with this, so I'm all caps this morning)
The theme was "tiny terrariums", here's my piece:

watercolor, gouache, collage
Head over to the gallery for a look at the other 998 amazing entries. I'm going to go walk the dog and think about my assignment for round 2. (eek)
Have a nice day!

0 Comments on OMG as of 8/26/2014 9:23:00 AM
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4. Back to School!

©Lesley Breen Withrow

Where has the summer gone? Happy back to school everyone!

0 Comments on Back to School! as of 8/25/2014 11:15:00 PM
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5. Animals All Around

Animals All Around
Publisher: Zonderkidz
Genre: Children / Animals
ISBN: 978-0-310-73125-2
Pages: 128
Price: $9.99

Buy it at Amazon

God created everything and made it all good. In Animals All Around, kids get four books in one: forest creatures; feathered friends; cats, dogs, hamsters, and horses; and barnyard critters. Each animal is presented in photos along with several interesting facts. Kids are reminded throughout the book that God made all these unique animals.

This simple book presents basic facts about the featured animals but does not go into any depth. Kids will find it a good introduction at reading level 2, but I would have liked to see some more unusual facts about these animals.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

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6. What’s all This Buzz-ness About Bees?

Jersey Farm Scribe here, and I’m so excited to do a post here on Darlene’s website.

It’s exciting for me to get a chance to talk about something farm-related, since I’m usually posting on writing on Kathy’s website Writing and Illustrating or Children.  http://www.kathytemean.wordpress.com

I thought about what I should write about. I could write about the animals that I have here on The Farm. I could write about the lifestyle, being more in touch with the world around us, agriculture and fresh food. I could write about one of the many projects that are always going on… and never quite finished.

In the end, I decided to write about something close to my heart that I HAVEN’T gotten fully involved in. What a great motivator for me to finally jump in!!! Plus, then perhaps I can do another post in a few months and update everyone on any progress that has been made.

So here we go… they’re cute… they’re amazing,

honey bee

honey bee

and they’re SUPER sweet. I had the amazing opportunity to visit an active BEE hive with my brother’s family, including their bee-guru boys. We went to Dan Price’s Farm, the founder of Sweet Virginia Foundation  http://sweetvirginia.com, a Honey Bee Conservation and Education Organization. Here we all are at their farm. The three little ones are three of my four amazing nephews. I’m the odd-ball in the green suit.

group shot (2)

There were some high school kids doing a project. The high schoolers were very leery of the bees, (understandably), and a bit skittish about going up to the hive.

My nephews, 12, 11 and 7, had absolutely no problems. They were informing the older kids of where to stand that was safe. (bees create a main highway where they travel in and out of the hive, and as long as you keep that area clear, you’re perfectly fine!) They operated the smoke puffer (definitely NOT it’s technical name) and answered all the questions the hive experts had like it was NOTHING.

Hive Manager: Does anyone know how many different types of honeybees there are?
7 yr-old-nephew (looks at her as if to say, um, who doesn’t??: Three. The queen. The worker bees, which are girls, and the drones, which are boys.

Hive Manager: That’s right. And the bees that we see flying around sometimes, which are they?

11-yr-old: Worker bees.

Hive Manager: And why’s that?

12-yr-old AND 7-yr old: Because they are the only ones that leave the hive. All the drones do is mate with the queen and all the queen does is lay eggs.

Eventually, the hive manager realized she was going to have to think of harder questions.
Then Marcus and Ethan, the 11 and 7-yr olds picked up a BEE COVERED slat from the hive, (without any gloves on!) and with absolutely no fear:

holding bees (3 part 1)     holding bees (3 part 2)




And here is Jared, (12) even letting a bee crawl on his hand!

bee in hand (4) I was unbelievably impressed, to say the least. (as were the high school kids who they completely showed up!)

I learned a lot. I won’t get into the dorky-science details here. (I’m a total science nerd at heart). But here’s a fun one:   Bees communicate with DANCE!

Seriously… how cool is that?

PBS has a great video on The Waggle Dance:  http://video.pbs.org/video/2300846183/

They use it to communicate where the good hive or flower is located. It’s pretty unbelievable.

I think most people know at this point that there are concerns for the honeybee’s health around the world, which would be devastating to our food sources. It’s more than just not having beautiful flowers. Fruits and vegetables pollinate and grow because of bees. And the animals that we raise for food eat these fruits and vegetables as well!

But luckily there is something really simple you can do that can make a BIG difference! You know those signs you see?       local honey sign (5)

Those are people who either run their own hive, or have someone come in and run a hive for them. This is GREAT for the honeybee population. You can help out your local farmer, and help the honeybees at the same time.

Honey is such a great natural sugar substitution. Try substituting it for sugar in recipes, to give an extra yummy flavor, and a much healthier sweetness. Sugar is sweeter than sugar, so you would about ½ to ¾ cup of honey for every cup of sugar.

I do a combination:

For every cup of sugar a recipe calls for I use:
¼ cup sugar
½ cup honey

This is amazing in almost ALL baking, cakes, muffins, cookies, breads, the works.

Honey has some pretty amazing healing powers as well. It’s been used as a natural antibacterial agent for years!

Feeling like you have a cold coming on, or just can’t kick one? Try this:

Hot water
Raw Honey – (natural antibacterial agent and throat coater)
REAL ginger – (natural anti-inflammatory)
REAL garlic – (natural antibiotic)
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar (with the mother) (balances the acidity level – excellent for chest cold)

Okay…. so I’m not gonna lie, this is not a delicious drink. But I can from personal experience it can really help to kick those sniffles!

Allergies? Try local honey. A full T every single day. The closer the hive is to your home, the better.

The idea is that you’re introducing a small amount of the pollen into your system via the honey, making your body more use to it (similar to how allergy shots work). This method of course depends on what you are actually allergic to, and there is actually not a lot of actual pollen in honey, but there is some.

I am lucky and don’t suffer from allergies myself, but I have a few friends I’ve suggested this to that swear it helped them. Plus, this one IS delicious!

(I am obviously NOT a doctor, these are just personal home-remedies I’ve always used)

Kids definitely like finding out where their food comes from. And there are also some GREAT Kid-Friendly Honey Recipes:   Bite-size Honey Popcorn Balls  http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/bite-size-hiney-popcorn-balls-10000001661174  honey popcorn (6)

 Honey Glazed Carrots http://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/honey-glazed-carrots 

glazed carrots (7) And of course, a great dipper for apples, carrots, fruit, bread, chicken, you name it!!!!

So next time you see a local sign for…

honey sign (9) … take a quick stop and find out where their hives are located. You may end up in a more interesting conversation that you’d expect!!

As for me? I plan on trying to get a hive on my property by 2015.

And a big thank you to Darlene and all of you, because you all are part of what has motivated me to pursue it!!

bio picErika Wassall, The Jersey Farm Scribe is a writer, a farmer and a liver of life. Check out her posts on Writing and Illustrating for Children every other week, and follow her on Twitter @NJFarmScribe.

3 Comments on What’s all This Buzz-ness About Bees?, last added: 8/24/2014
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7. Virals, by Kathy and Brendan Reichs | Series Review

In Virals, acclaimed mother and son writing duo Kathy and Brendan Reichs have created a captivating and enthralling series by incorporating science fiction and crime with a contemporary perspective, via 4 teens who are navigating an unusually adventurous adolescence.

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8. words

It seems like a good time to practice my handlettering.  It's an ongoing project, but here's a peek at one design I made in full color.
Maybe a bit of a goodbye to summer.

0 Comments on words as of 8/20/2014 9:39:00 AM
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9. Review: Keeping Secrets by Maggie Dana

May Contain Spoilers


I always have the urge to read a horsey book right before a horse show.  I kept seeing the Timber Ridge Riders series on Amazon, and wanted to check it out, so when I had the chance to do just that, I jumped at it.  I don’t ride hunt seat, so I always find depictions of hunter shows interesting.  The horse care details were spot on, and nothing made me cringe due to inaccuracies.  I’ll tell you what did make me cringe: the behavior of Kate’s rival, Angela.  What a spoiled, selfish girl!  If I was her coach, she would have been booted from my barn.  Her casual treatment of the animals and her teammates had me boiling mad!

Keeping Secrets is a middle grade book, but it will appeal to horse enthusiasts of all ages.  I felt so awful for protagonist Kate.  She has spent the last six months blaming herself for the death of  a horse at her old barn.  A convenient scape goat, she was kicked out, banished for allowing the horse to escape from his stall, get into the feed room, and colic.  What a crappy thing to do to a 14 year old girl.  The old trainer earned zero respect from me, and poor Kate, heartbroken over the loss of her favorite horse, decided that horses would no longer play a part in her life.  Kate’s disinterested father didn’t help her with her grief.  The guy, a professor, was never home, and he probably didn’t even know about the horrible experience Kate was struggling to deal with.  Instead, he traipsed around the planet research butterflies. 

With her father on a trip, she’s moved in with her aunt.  Kate wants a job, so when she hears about a babysitting job, she applies for it.  Her charge is actually her own age, and Holly has been confined to a wheelchair after an auto accident.  Kate’s job is to be her companion for the summer, so her mom can continue coaching riders at the barn behind their small house.  Barn?  Yes, barn!  So even though Kate wants nothing to do with horses, she is stuck having to deal with them every day.  Holly’s dream is to get back in the saddle again, and she drags Kate to the barn every day.  To hide her new discomfort around the animals, Kate lies and tells Holly that she’s terrified of them, and, oh, yeah, she’s allergic, too.  When her secret is outted, she has to earn back Holly’s trust, as well as help save Holly’s mom’s job.

This is a very fast paced read, and I couldn’t put it down.  Once Kate gets back in the saddle, things accelerate even more.  She has to help win a team competition, but guess what?  Angela is out to get her, because Kate rides better than she does, so Kate has to learn quickly to avoid Angela’s attempts to sabotage her.  I loved all of the conflict Angela started.  She’s the perfect girl you love to hate, but because her mother demands constant perfection from her, you feel a smidge, just a smidge!, of pity for her.  She’s afraid that Kate will show her up in front of her mother, and all her mother cares about is that Angela is the best.  Her mother also has a lot of control over whether or not Holly’s mother will keep her job, it turns out, so there’s even greater friction between the girls.  Add in the fact that Angela is a bully and likes to pick on what she considers weaker girls, and you really have the perfect villain.

I enjoyed Keeping Secrets, and I’m looking forward to more adventures with Kate and Holly.  I’m sure that Angela will continue to make trouble for the girls, making for more entertaining reading.

Grade:  B/B+  (I love the cover – that gets an A)

Review copy provided by publisher

From Amazon:

A valuable horse is dead, and it’s all her fault, which is why 14-year-old Kate McGregor has banished horses and riding from her life … forever!

But her new summer job as a companion to Holly Chapman, a former riding star who’s now confined to a wheelchair, takes her back to the barn—the last place Kate wants to be. 

Can Kate keep her terrible secret from Holly, who is fast becoming her best friend? And, more important, can she keep her secret from Angela Dean, a teenage bully who lives for only two things: winning ribbons and causing trouble? 

Kate manages to keep her secret hidden until an accident forces it into the open … and it’s just the moment Angela has been waiting for.

The post Review: Keeping Secrets by Maggie Dana appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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10. What goes up must come down

Biomechanics is the study of how animals move. It’s a very broad field, including concepts such as how muscles are used, and even how the timing of respiration is associated with moving. Biomechanics can date its beginnings back to the 1600s, when Giovanni Alfonso Borelli first began investigating animal movements. More detailed analyses by pioneers such as Etienne Jules Marey and Eadweard Muybridge, in around the late 1800s started examining the individual frames of videos of moving animals. These initial attempts led to a field known as kinematics – the study of animal movement, but this is only one side of the coin. Kinetics, the study of motion and its causes, and kinematics together provide a very strong tool for fully understanding the strategies animals use to move as well as why they move the way they do.

One factor that really changes the way an animal moves is its body size. Small animals tend to have a much more z-shaped leg posture (when looking at them from a lateral view), and so are considered to be more crouched as their joints are more flexed. Larger animals on the other hand have straighter legs, and if you look at the extreme (e.g. elephant), they have very columnar legs. Just this one change in morphology has a significant effect on the way an animal can move.

We know that the environment animals live in is not uniform, but is cluttered with many different obstacles that must be overcome to successfully move and survive. One type of terrain that animals will frequently encounter is slopes: inclines and declines. Each of the two different types of slopes impose different mechanical challenges on the locomotor system. Inclines require much greater work from the muscles to move uphill against gravity! On declines, an animal is moving with gravity and so the limbs need to brake to prevent a headlong rush down the slope. Theoretically, there are many ways an animal can achieve successful locomotion on slopes, but, to date, there has been no consensus across species or animals of differing body sizes as to whether they do use similar strategies on slopes.


From published literature we generated an overview of how animals, ranging in size from ants to horses, move across slopes. We also investigated and analysed how strategies of moving uphill and downhill change with body size, using a traditional method for scaling analyses. What really took us by surprise was the lack of information on how animals move down slopes. There was nearly double the number of studies on inclines as opposed to declines. This is remarkable given that, if an animal climbs up something inevitably it has to find a way to come back down, either on its own or by having their owner call the fire department out to help!

Most animals tend to move slower up inclines and keep limbs in contact with the ground longer; this allows more time for the muscles to generate work to fight against gravity. Although larger animals have to do more absolute work than smaller animals to move up inclines, the relative stride length did not change across body size or on inclines. Even though there is much less data in the literature on how animals move downhill, we did notice that smaller animals (<~10kg) seem to use different strategies compared to large animals. Small animals use much shorter strides going downhill than on level terrain whereas large animals use longer strides. This difference may be due to stability issues that become more problematic (more likely to result in injury) as an animal’s size increases.

Our study highlights the lack of information we have about how size affects non-level locomotion and emphasises what future work should focus on. We really do not have any idea of how animals deal with stability issues going downhill, nor whether both small and large animals are capable of moving downhill without injuring themselves. It is clear that body size is important in determining the strategies an animal will use as it moves on inclines and declines. Gaining a better understanding of this relationship will be crucial for demonstrating how these mechanical challenges have affected the evolution of the locomotor system and the diversification of animals into various ecological niches.

Image credit: Mountain goat, near Masada, by mogos gazhai. CC-BY-2.5 via Wikimedia Commons.

The post What goes up must come down appeared first on OUPblog.

0 Comments on What goes up must come down as of 8/15/2014 9:24:00 AM
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11. #635 – A Cool Summer Tail by Carrie A. Pearson & Christine Wald



A Cool Summer Tail

by Carrie A. Pearson
illustrated by Christine Wald
Arbordale Publishing      3/01/2014
Age 3 to 5      32 pages


“When summer heats up, animals find ways to stay cool. In A Cool Summer Tail animals wonder how humans stay cool too. Do they dig under the dirt, grow special summer hair, or only come out at night? This companion to the award-winning A Warm Winter Tail features many of [the] same animals but this time, with their summer adaptations, offering an important ‘compare and contrast’ opportunity.”


“How do humans stay cool in the summer, Mama?

Do they hang out their tongues,

like a spring that’s been sprung,

breathing fast in and out like this?”


The cute fox baby continues on panting, as example for its mama, but she tells it no, humans sweat through their skin. Each animal wonders if humans stay cool the same way they stay cool in the summer. I like this for a reason the author may not have intended. I like that these animals assume we might cool down as they do, because we humans have a tendency to think others behave as we do and this can help kids learn not to make those assumptions. For example, a new kid at school may have different holidays or customs and kids should not assume that child celebrates as they do, or knows the same playground games, or even have the same after school activities.

Back on track to the meaning of A Cool Summer Tail, the animals all want to know how humans stay cool in the summer. In the process, kids will learn about the ways various animals stay cool, from panting, as in the example above, or as in “sliding into a pond” as turtles do, to “hang from their hive,” as bees do to stay cool (flapping its wings to cool the Queen Bee) That one I did not know. In each scenario, the Mama animals tell their children no, and then explains why humans would not stay cool as they stay cool.

Cool Summer spreads2

Interestingly, with the bees as an example, instead of explaining that humans do not live in a hive, or that they do not have wings to flap, (or even that humans do not cater to a Queen Human), the mama tells her babies that humans would not “bee” willing to hang by their toes (from a hive). That example, in particular, will have children laughing and laughing children will remain interested in the story. Each four-line question on the left page and three-line answer on the right page rhymes two lines. The flow is easy to read and the change in line size in the first and fourth lines from the second and third keeps the question verses interesting to both read and hear.

The very last animal may surprise you. Young children enjoy learning about animals, especially how they compare to themselves. A Cool Summer Tail does this with creative and fun verses that will entertain as well as teach young children. The illustrations are accurate renditions of the animals in each verse, using lots of color in the natural habitat. Interestingly, and often humorous, is a small black and white child cooling off as the baby animal has described. This too will have children laughing and more than one or two trying to imitate this drawing. The entire book is aid out nicely from the fox babies to the very last animal, which might just surprise you. As might this: The author is from Michigan and the illustrator Ohio yet they cooperated on this second book without any Buckeye-Wol . . . wof . . . whatever the other is called, rivalry.

Cool Summer spreads

A Cool Summer Tail makes a good story time book, and though written for ages three to five, could be used in kindergarten and first grades, satisfying a science common core. The book is also available as a bilingual (English-Spanish) interactive eBook, with flip-pages and audio. After the text, is a section Arbordale Publishing (formerly Sylvan-Dell Publishing), calls For Creative Minds. This section includes fun facts, comparing the story’s animals from summer to winter, and a matching activity that will check retentive skills as kids match the animal to a method of cooling off in the summer, as learned in the text.

A COOL SUMMER TAIL. Text copyright © 2014 by Carrie A. Pearson. Illustrations copyright © 2014 by Christina Wald. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Arbordale Publishing, Mount Pleasant, SC.

Purchase A cool Summer Tail a AmazonB&NBook DepositoryiTunesArbordale Publishingat your favorite bookstore.

Learn more about A Cool Summer Tail and find additional activities HERE.

Meet the author, Carrie A. Pearson, at her website:  www.carriepearsonbooks.com

Meet the illustrator, Christina Wald, at her website:  www.christinawald.com

Find more non-fiction at Arbordale Publishing’s website:  http://www.arbordalepublishing.com/

Sylvan Dell Publishing is now  Arbordale Publishing.


Also by Carrie A. Pearson with Christina Wald

A Warm Winter Tail

A Warm Winter Tail

Un invierno muy abrigador (Spanish Edition)

Un invierno muy abrigador (Spanish Edition)






Also by Christina Wald

Animal Atlas

Animal Atlas

Macarooned on a Dessert Island

Macarooned on a Dessert Island

The Fort on Fourth Street: A Story About the Six Simple Machines

The Fort on Fourth Street: A Story About the Six Simple Machines





Read Review HERE.


When Crabs Cross the Sand: The Christmas Island Crab Migration   2015

cool summer tail



copyright © 2014 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews


Filed under: 4stars, Children's Books, Library Donated Books, NonFiction, Picture Book, Series Tagged: animals, Arbordale Publishing, Carrie A. Pearson, children's book reviews, Christina Wald, cooling mechanisms of wild animals versus humans, nonfiction picture book, SylvanDell Publishing

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12. The Dog Who Could Fly (2014)

The Dog Who Could Fly: The Incredible True Story of a WWII Airman and the Four-Legged Hero Who Flew At His Side. Damien Lewis. 2014. Simon & Schuster. 304 pages. [Source: Library]

Read this book!!! Read it now! I loved, loved, loved this nonfiction biography. Damien Lewis tells the story of a RAF pilot and his dog in this new book. It is quite a remarkable story! Robert Bozdech fled Czechoslovakia before the Nazis invaded. He first joined the French in fighting the Nazis. During one of his early missions, he and another pilot crash. They seek refuge in an abandoned house. There they find a puppy. Robert didn't exactly plan on adopting this puppy for the duration, in fact, he hoped that the puppy would stay there and allow them to try for safety once darkness came. After all they are in enemy territory or close to it. But the dog had different ideas. They were destined to be together for better or worse...

Robert and Antis (the dog) end up fleeing to England and joining the RAF. Robert was one of many Czech pilots who joined the RAF during the early years of the war. Not all Czech pilots flew with a dog, however.

The book is about his experiences as a pilot, and his experiences as a dog owner. The book is very much focused on Antis! The dog was truly something special.

The story itself is compelling and fascinating. I loved learning about the RAF pilots. I loved the behind the scenes look at some of the missions. There are places this book is very intense!!! I loved the sections that were narrated by Antis. It was a great read.

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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13. Road Trip by Gary Paulsen & Jim Paulsen

Road TripNothing says “Summer” like a good old fashioned family road trip! Now take that family road trip, throw in a reformed juvenile delinquent, a feisty waitress, an ornery auto mechanic, and an introspective border collie, put them on a big yellow school bus, and send them off to rescue a puppy. What do you get? You get Road Trip, a fun summer read by Gary Paulsen and Jim Paulsen!

Road Trip is the first collaborative effort by prolific author Gary Paulsen and his sculptor son Jim. Similar to a game of Exquisite Corpse, the father-son duo took turns writing chapters and sending them back and forth to one another. As they did, the story and characters grew in ways neither could have expected. Despite what might sound like a disjointed writing method, the Paulsens manage to maintain a cohesive feel to this short novel. Quirky characters abound throughout this madcap story of a father and son struggling to understand one another. Road Trip is a perfect quick read for vacationing 5th graders and up. Perhaps it will even inspire an impromptu road trip or two along the way.

Posted by: Staci

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14. "Reading" sketches

Here are a few rough sketches I recently blogged, which fall under this month's theme of READING.


Pictures by June Goulding

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15. August is for Readers

Animalogy by Marianne Berkes and illustrated by Cathy Morrison
August's theme is READING. Here's an image from Animalogy with a family reading by the campfire. This was my first book for Sylvan Dell Publishing, now Arbordale Publishing and I'm starting my eighth one now. And it's going to be another book by Marianne Berkes. Happy reading!

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16. When Lunch Fights Back

When Lunch Fights Back: Wickedly Clever Animal Defenses  by Rebecca L. Johnson Millbrook Press, 2014 ISBN: 9781467721097 Grades 3-6 The reviewer received an e-galley from the publisher. Rebecca L. Johnson has made a name for herself as an outstanding writer of science books for children. Journey to the Deep won an Orbis Pictus Honor Award in 2011, and Zombie Makers was an ALA Notable Children's

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17. The Way to the Zoo: John Burningham

Book: The Way to the Zoo
Author: John Burningham
Pages: 40
Age Range: 4-8

The Way to the Zoo by John Burningham is a picture book about a little girl named Sylvie who discovers a secret doorway in her bedroom that leads to a zoo. The animals are friendly, and sometimes Sylvie brings some of them back into her house. The small bear is cozy to sleep with, but the penguins make a splashy mess in the bathroom. And when Sylvie forgets to close the door to the zoo one day, chaos ensues. 

The Way to the Zoo reminded me a bit of Barbara Lehman's Rainstorm, and a bit of Philip and Erin Stead's A Sick Day for Amos McGee. All three books feature implausible events related in a completely matter-of-fact manner. My four year old daughter thought that The Way to the Zoo was hilarious, and asked immediately that I read it again. 

Burningham takes his time with the story. Instead of jumping in to where the girl finds and opens the door, she first glimpses the door from her bed, decides to wait to check it out in the morning, and then forgets, and doesn't look inside until after school the next day. He uses a relatively basic vocabulary, and explains what's happening in detail. I think that The Way to the Zoo could function as an early reader for some kids. Here's an example (all on one page spread):

"It was getting late. Sylvie had to get back 
to her room and go to sleep because she
had school again in the morning.

Sylvie asked a little bear to come back
with her. He did and slept in her bed

She made sure the bear was back in the
zoo and the door in the wall was closed
before she left for school."

This passage is, of course, also good for teaching young readers about foreshadowing. 

Burningham's illustrations are in pen, pencil pastel, and watercolor. The are minimalist, with only the faintest suggestion of backgrounds, lots of white space, and the details left to the reader's imagination. This isn't my personal favorite style of illustration - I couldn't always tell what kind of animal was being represented, for instance. But the pictures made my daughter laugh, particularly one involving birds in the living room, and another in which a rhino lies on the floor covered up in towels for the night. 

The Way to the Zoo has a timeless feel, support in particular by the apparent freedom that Sylvie has from parental oversight. It would make a nice school or library read-aloud for K-2nd graders. Recommended for home or library use! 

Publisher: Candlewick (@Candlewick) 
Publication Date: August 26, 2014
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher

FTC Required Disclosure:

This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through Amazon links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).

© 2014 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook

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18. Samples: Cutesy Animals

Something on the drawing board. It’s fun to take a pic and distort it!

h5-leaping-2geth1 fl1

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19. Answers to your questions about sketching animals

Last May, I did a blog post about sketching animals from life and invited you to submit questions for a Q and A in International Artist magazine

The new issue of International Artist is printed, and should be on the newsstands soon. It includes a six-page story with your questions and my answers and sketchbook pages. 

Although I couldn't get to every single question, I think I tackled most of them. Here they are:

Why bother? Why paint the animal directly?” (Karen Robinson)
Drawing and painting animals from life gives me a clearer sense of their characteristic poses and behaviors. As they move around, I’m forced to internalize a sense of their structure. Also, I like being able to feel their bones under the fur or feathers (assuming they’re domesticated). Touching, hearing, and even smelling animals adds so much to my understanding of them, and informs any work I do later when I’m working from references.

And there are unforgettable moments, such as sitting beside a calf that is just a few hours old, and having it get up on wobbly legs and sniff my sketchbook.

(Note above: where you see that YouTube play symbol, there's a live link to a video of the sketch being made)

“Quick gesture studies aside, what are the benefits to sketching moving animals from life as opposed to drawing from taxidermy for example?” (Gavin)
Each has its benefits. No taxidermist can perfectly capture a living animal, and they probably wouldn’t choose to portray an animal in one of its funny in-between expressions, like the way a donkey will lift up its front lip when it smells urine, for example. Life studies are great for gathering quick impressions of natural poses. Museum studies are great for really doing careful studies of structure, texture, and form.

“How about taking a video of an animal as it paces and leaps around in its cage so you can later sketch it in different positions and develop a 3D "model" of its shapes in your head by scrubbing the video back and forth?” (Leif)
All roads lead to Rome. Studying video is helpful, too. Of course animals in zoos or farms don’t behave the same as wild animals, nor are they as fit. If you can shoot video of the animals  that interest you, you’ll have a good reference. But there are so many great wildlife films available online now that you have to ask yourself if it’s worth shooting your own. When I bring both a camera and a sketchbook on a wildlife or zoo encounter I have to decide between one or the other because it’s just too much to juggle.

Do you ever snap a quick photo before starting a study so that after you have the main points blocked in, you can go back and look at some details in case the animal has changed position?  (A.L. Ryder)

I have done that a few times, but not usually. Normally, I forget to do that until after the animal has moved, and I lose interest in working on the sketch after I’ve left the scene.

What advice would you give for training one's memory? (Robert Simone)
I make the most progress when I alternate between observation, book study, and memory. Draw an animal from life, and then draw that pose or another pose later in your sketchbook just from memory. Even if that memory sketch doesn’t look very good, it helps me to come face to face with what I know and what I don’t know. The more I can internalize the animal’s structure, the better I can make headway on a sketch when the animal has changed pose.

“What if the animal decides to get up and walk away? Do you make up the rest or start a new sketch?” (Gabriel S.)
There’s no predicting it. Many times I’ve Iaid in a strong start only to have the animal wake up or saunter off. If I’m pretty far along, I stick with it. Sometimes I can hold elements of the pose in mind, and if I do my job at the beginning and leave a good map of the overall pose, I can fill in the blanks. But if I have a weak beginning, I’ll just start a new one right over the messed-up lay-in.

In the video of the painting of the Belgian draft horse, you can see me restarting two or three times at the beginning of each painting.

Belgian, 2013. Casein, 5x8” (follow the link to a video of the sketch being made)
“How would I catch the pose of an animal or group of animals who are running past, for example at a horse racing event?” (Pascoe)  “How do you capture a running dog, animals fighting / wrestling with one another?” (Susan T)
I’m not too good with either of these situations. I went to a dog walk park once and sat on a picnic table all ready to go with my sketchbook. The dogs were all hyped up and running around at top speed. I sat there for an hour trying to sketch those furry meteors, and what did I get in my sketchbook? Nothing whatsoever!

“Do you choose a pose and then wait for the animal to take that pose again?” (Karen Thumm)
Yes, I try to sit for at least ten or fifteen minutes before I start sketching. It usually takes the animal that long to get used to me while I get my materials ready, and in that time I have a pretty good idea of what pose they’re likely to stay in longest, or which poses they might return to. If they seem likely to move a lot, I’ll just try for small gestural sketches.

Thrush, pencil, 8 x 8 inches.
In the case of a thrush that was stunned after striking a window of our house, I sat quietly near it and sketched it as it gradually regained its consciousness.

Peanut, water-soluble colored pencil, 5 x 8 inches.

Do you catch the gesture first, then observe various individuals as they move into the pose you are drawing for the details or what? (Carole Pivarnki)
If there’s a group of related animals, I can use details from one to finish another that has moved off.

In the sketches of robin hatchlings, I climbed a ladder to the nesting shelf and tried to draw the babies as quickly as possible, capturing gesture first, and then layering details over that as long as I could before the angry parent chased me off!  
Robin Babies, watercolor, 5 x 8 inches

Older Robin Babies, pencil, 5 x 8 inches.

What is your minimum kit that allows for working in a full hue and value range, but is versatile enough for physically limited situations” (Jacob Stevens)
The simplest thing is a small set of water-soluble colored pencils, perhaps yellow ochre, red-brown, dark brown, and black, plus two water brushes, one with clear water, and one with black ink. I use a similar small palette in watercolor, casein, or oil. For mammals, you don’t need much more than that, though you could add a blue.

For a study of frogs, I’m glad I had green on my palette, which I used while sitting quietly beside a frog pond for over three hours. The frogs ignored me after a while and even hunted some insects while I sketched them.
Frogs, Watercolors and colored pencils, 5x8.”

What size sketchbooks do you recommend, and how long does a sketch take to complete? (Liz Gorman)
I like to work in a 5x8 inch watercolor sketchbook, and a sketch can take anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour, depending on how long the animal stays in the pose. Sometimes I’m lucky enough to work with an expert animal handler who will attempt to keep the animal in the same pose.

In the video of the turkey hen, you can see in time lapse exactly how much the bird was moving during the course of the 20 minute study.

How do you sketch birds or animals that perceive staring as a threat? Also, how do you keep your models from nibbling at your sketchbook or drawing tools?” (Laura Young)
With dogs that belong to other owners, they’re confused by the attention, and  refuse to settle down. That can be a gamestopper, so I try to wait until the dog is comfortable with me.

For gorillas and chimps, I arrive early at the zoo, before it’s crowded, and then slowly walk backwards to the glass without looking at them directly, except in furtive glances. That relaxes the apes, and they’ll often be willing to sit  closer to me. In the case of the silverback gorilla, it was a male who was not intimidated by staring from humans.
Silverback, 2013. Casein, 5x8” (link to YouTube video)

”How do you make a drawing of an animal that rather than being a generic drawing is a portrait, distilling the individual essence and personality of a particular animal?” (Tim B.)
To portray an individual animal well, I really have to get to know that animal, especially one that is around others of its kind. By comparing its distinctive qualities to those of others, I can accentuate them.

For example, I’ve painted a lot of hens on the farm near where I live, but Henrietta was a unique character, both in the way she looked and the way she moved.

Henrietta. watercolor, 5x8”

“How do you portray the defining characteristics of the animal or bird--such as fur or feathers--without getting too fussy and labored?” (Gayle Bell)
A good example would be a French bulldog that I drew on a train in France. He wasn’t holding very still, so getting too fussy wasn’t an option. His owner had a little blue padded bed for him and encouraged him to sleep, but he preferred to glance out the window. When I made bird-whistle noises, he looked over at me so I could do his portrait.

French Bulldog, 2010. Water-soluble colored pencils, 5x8” I sketched this dog on a train in France.

“Are there some types of animals you would recommend beginners start sketching first? Family pets, for instance?” (Tim Fehr)
Sleeping dogs are a good place to start—or any sleeping animals, really. One afternoon I took the opportunity to draw a portrait of a friend’s dog named Silver, who was deaf and blind but still very responsive to attention. He napped for about 15 minutes while I sketched him in watercolor pencils. Other than dogs, I would recommend sketching any domesticated animals that you can observe up close in a relaxed setting.

Old Dog Silver, 2012. (link to YouTube) Water-soluble colored pencils, 5x8”

Do you approach sketching animals differently if you are using the sketchbook as a fact-gathering tool for a future illustration as opposed to sketching for sketching's sake?” (Daroo)
Yes, I once went to the zoo to sketch mouflon sheep for an archaeological story on domestication. I ended up making very simple pencil sketches and written notes, trying to note how those sheep were different from other sheep I had drawn before. Narrowing my goals focused my observation.

“Is it more important to capture the spirit of the pose or focus on being faithful to reality?” (Tyler J)
It depends on what you want out to get out of the experience and what you mean by reality. In a way, the spirit of the pose is a key part of the truth of the animal, just as much as the detailed markings or the hair tracts.

“What do you do if you get half way along and find a major mistake? How do you keep proportions correct?” (Colleen Caubin)
If something is wrong, I rub out the goof and paint or draw it again. I check proportions as I go, using the same measuring methods I would use in a controlled studio figure drawing, but doing it rapidly in shorthand.  

“What do you need to know, if anything, about the skeletal structure of the animal you are sketching?” (Janet Oliver)
The skeleton is everything. It helps a bit to study diagrams in books, but I think you really have to find a museum with good animal skeletons and work from those, because that’s the only way you’ll get a three dimensional sense. I’m always thinking back to what I know about what’s going on deep beneath the surface.

Thanks, everybody for your great questions, and sorry I couldn't get to all of them.

Pick up a copy of International Artist at your local newsstand, or subscribe. GurneyJourney blog readers voted it the best art magazine, and I agree.

Subscribe to the GurneyJourney YouTube channel so that you don't miss future episodes.

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20. Doodle Day: A Proliferation of Peculiarly Painted Pets

It's been incredibly busy around here lately - getting ready for some huge personal changes, and enjoying the company of visiting family and friends - so busy in fact that I missed posting something here on Saturday. ooops. Have barely had time to breathe never mind draw, so I dug around for something I did a couple of months back, just for fun.

Here is my proliferation of peculiarly painted pets. Not sure whether to continue with these and turn them into a pattern or not ... what do you think?




Have a pleasant day packed with potty peculiarities! Cheers.


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21. Read Me A Book


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22. Some sketches

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23. Help Your Pet Keep Cool.

dogSummer heat can get to all of us.  July and August are often called the “dog days” of summer thanks to this heat and humidity.  Many of us have our own ways of keeping cool, but what about dogs?  They depend on us to take care of them no matter what the temperature is.  Here are some tried and true ideas for helping your dog keep cool.

1. Chill them down with a kiddie pool or sprinkler.  You can also use a cooling pad for indoors or in a car.  And DON”T ever leave your beloved pet in a hot car while you run errands.  How would you like being stuck in there?

2. Inside out Cool. Most canines love ice cream, but if the regular stuff upsets your dog’s stomach, try Purina Frosty Paws.  It’s available at most supermarkets.

3. Stay in the Shade. When walking your dog, try to keep to tree-lined streets or parks for long distances.

4.  Don’t Trim Their Fur. Contrary to appearances, thick fur actually keeps dogs cool during warm weather.

What tricks do you use to keep your favorite pet cool?

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24. A Boy and a Jaguar

A Boy and a Jaguar  by Alan Rabinowitz illustrated by Catia Chien Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014 ISBN: 9780547875071 Grades K-5 The reviewer borrowed a copy of the book from the public library. Wildlife conservationist, Alan Rabinowitz, stuttered as a child. However, he had a gift for talking to animals. Alan's parents took him to doctors and specialists looking for a cure for his stuttering,

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25. New Work

furry baby_RobertaBaird
How strange that Nature does not knock, and yet does not intrude!  ~ Emily Dickinson

I’ve been working on a Halloween book for Pelican Publishing so I’ve been a little absent from the blog.  I just popped in to say hello! Hello!

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