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Throughout history and across cultures elephants have amazed and perplexed us, acquiring a plethora of meanings and purposes as our interactions have developed. They have been feared and hunted as wild animals, attacked and killed as dangerous pests, while also laboring for humans as vehicles, engineering devices, and weapons of war. Elephants have also been exploited for the luxury commodity of ivory.
Cats are among some of the most popular pets in the world, and they’ve been so for thousands of years. In fact, there are more than two million cat videos on YouTube. In appreciation of our feline friends for World Cat Day on 8 August, we’ve put together a list of 12 little-known cat facts.
It is probable that Shakespeare observed, or at least heard about, many natural phenomena that occurred during his time, which may have influenced the many references to nature and science that he makes in his work. Although he was very young at the time, he may have witnessed the blazing Stella Nova in 1572.
Did you escape to the beach for a little summer vacation? We did and brought home a few souvenirs from our walks on the beach. Now that our prize shells are sitting on a shelf collecting dust, it’s time to put them to use with a fun craft idea.
Shell Animals! This is a perfect activity for a rainy day or before a trip to the zoo. You can get as creative and detailed as you want while learning about different traits of the animal that you want to create.
We kept the supplies simple – of course, shells are the number one ingredient, although we would suggest some larger ones for young children, ours are a little smaller than we would have liked. To decorate your shells you will need, some construction paper, scissors, markers, paint or both. You can also add googly eyes and pipe cleaners for more detail. We made a peacock, a tiger, and our bear came in the perfect color straight from the ocean!
Share your favorite shell creatures with us; tag @arbordalekids on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or Tumblr! We will send a matching book to our top favorites!
by Maria Gianferrari
illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline
Roaring Brook Press, 2016
Today I'm taking part in the Coyote Moon blog tour. The book officially hits shelves tomorrow. As part of the blog tour, I'm giving away one copy of Coyote Moon donated by the publisher. The details and entry form can be found at the bottom of this page.
The engaging narrative of Coyote
Gorillas Up Close
by Christena Nippert-Eng
Photographs by John Dominski
and Miguel Martinez
Henry Holt and Company, 2016
The majority of the animal books in the 500s section of my school library focus on animals in the wild. Occasionally there are books about animals that were rescued and rehabilitated such as Winter's Tail: How One Dolphin Learned to Swim Again or Owen & Mzee: The
Waiting for the Magic. Patricia MacLachlan. 2011. 143 pages. [Source: Library]
Can a book about a father abandoning his family actually be good and funny and heartwarming? Apparently it can if it's written by Patricia MacLachlan.
The novel opens with Will, the narrator, discovering that his Dad has left them. He finds a note from his dad for him, and one for his sister. The mom, who is struggling to hold it together, decides to do something that many might consider drastic in its suddenness. The family needs a dog; that very day they will go to a shelter and get one. Will and Elinor can come along to help pick one out. Do they come home with a dog? Yes. They come home with FOUR dogs and ONE cat. The dogs are Bryn, Grace, Neo, and Bitty. The cat is Lula.
The way it's talked about in the novel--the way its perceived--is that 4 dogs and 1 cat can successfully replace the absent Dad. And that's a little true, at least on the surface, the dogs definitely take their minds off the problem, and prove lovable and entertaining as well. They all help take care of the animals. Everyone loves to play with all the dogs. And at night, the dogs are often in their beds. Bryn, I believe, "owns" the Mom, and takes over the bed.
The dogs are very joyful and fun. The novel has some 'magic' in it. The dogs (and cat) TALK. At first, it's just the four year old, Elinor, that hears them. The animals are all, OF COURSE SHE CAN HEAR US, SHE'S FOUR. YOU ALWAYS HEAR WHEN YOU'RE FOUR. But eventually Will hears them too....and he's not the only one.
I don't want to spoil the book. I don't. But the Dad is not out of the picture for good....and the family drama isn't nearly over. But it's drama in the best way under the circumstances. I wasn't expecting the book to be so delightful and heartwarming. I really wasn't.
Prairie Dog Song: The Key to Saving North America's Grasslands
by Susan L. Roth and Cindy Trumbore
Lee and Low Books, 2016
Susan L. Roth and Cindy Trombore have earned many honors and praises for their picture books including the 2014 Robert F. Sibert Medal for Parrots Over Puerto Rico. Their new nonfiction picture book highlights the role prairie dogs play in maintaining the balance
Aleksandra Mizielinska and Daniel Mizieliński (@hipopotam) started a revolution here in the UK, with the publication by Big Picture Press back in 2013 of their now famous Maps. With that beautifully produced book we started to see something of new departure for children’s non-fiction, with publishers realising that there was an appetite for gorgeously illustrated and finely produced information books which didn’t look or feel like school textbooks.
Since then we’ve seen several new non-fiction imprints established, dedicated to bringing us eye-catching, unusual and sumptuous non-fiction for children and young people, such as Wide Eyed Editions and 360 Degrees. This is great news, especially for younger children who report choosing to read non-fiction (42% of 7-11 year olds) almost as much as they do fiction (48.2% of 7-11 year olds, source), though you’d never guess this from the imbalance in titles published and reviewed.
It’s wonderful to see the return of the founders of the non-fiction revolution with a new title, Under Earth, Under Water, a substantial and wide-ranging exploration of what lies beneath the surface of the globe.
Split into two halves, allowing you to start from either end of the book by turning it around to explore either what lies beneath the earth, or under the oceans, this compendium of startling facts and quirky, fresh illustrations makes the most of its large format (a double page spread almost extends to A2), with great visual and verbal detail to pour over and a real sense of going down, down, down across the expanse of the pages.
The Earth pages cover everything from burrowing creatures to plant life in the soil, via extracting natural resources to industrial underground infrastructure. Tunnels, caves, digging up fossils and plate tectonics are all included in this rich and varied buffet brought together though a simple concept – simply exploring what is underneath our feet.
The Water pages explore aquatic life right from the surface down to the bottom of the Mariana Trench, ocean geography, human exploration with the aid of diving equipment, the history of submarines and even shipwrecks.
Lavishly produced, with gorgeously thick paper it is a delight to hold this book in your hands. Wonderful design, featuring lots of natural reds and browns in the Earth section and soothing shades of blues and green in the Water section, ensures exploring the diverse content is a visual treat as much as it is a spark for thinking about the world around us in new ways.
My only question mark over Under Earth, Under Water is the lack of an index. Maybe this makes it more like a box of treasures to rummage in and linger over, the sort of space where you can’t be sure what gems you’ll dig up. Although perhaps not a resource from which to clinically extract information, Under Earth, Under Water offers a great deal to explore and a very enjoyable journey to the centre of the earth.
There’s so much we could have “played” in Under Earth, Under Water. We toyed with making submarines, visiting caves, planting seeds to watch roots grow, but in the end the animal burrows won out, and we decided it was time to make our own. This began with papier mache and balloons…
…which when dry were set into a cardboard box frame, and surrounded by layers of “soil” i.e. different coloured felt, to recreate the layering of different soil and rock types.
Then the burrows needed filling! Sylvanian families came to the rescue, along with nature treasures gathered from the garden.
And soon we had a dollshouse with a difference! (Can you spot the bones and other archaeological finds waiting to be dug up from the soil??)
Whilst making our underground burrow we listened to:
Reading Above and Below by Patricia Hegarty and Hanako Clulow. This books explores similar territory to Under Earth, Under Water – but for slightly younger children – and makes great use of split pages.
World Turtle Day is celebrated on 23 May every year since its inception in 2000. The American Tortoise Rescue sponsors this day of awareness to bring attention to one of the world’s oldest reptiles, and encourage humans to help in the conservation and protection of these grand animals. In honour of these grandiose creatures, we have compiled a reading list of biology titles and articles that have helped to further research into the conservation biology of all chelonians.
You can use you Facebook account, or create a Foreword Review account to leave your comment. It is very simple - and would mean the absolute World to Baby Bear and all his forest friends! Please also help spread the word and help me make this go viral. Voting ends May 20, 2016.
A HEARTFELT THANK YOU from: Baby Bear, Valerie Vole, Momma Bear, Sandy Spiderling, Zoe Zebra Butterfly, Honey Bee, Lili Ladybug, Sammy Snow Owl, and Shennen.
I just finished the artwork for an upcoming book, FOOTLOOSE by Kenny Loggins. The book is being published by Moondance Press/ Quarto Publishing Group. I'm really excited about this one and I think a lot of people are going to be putting on their dancin' shoes in October. The original song (FOOTLOOSE) has been re-written to become a fun story that takes place after hours, at the zoo. The art is full of animals, color, texture, fun and a whole lot of DANCIN'!
Plus, while painting these illustrations, I listened to Kenny's Return to Pooh Corner CD. Pure magic. I usually don't work directly with the author but I spoke to Kenny about his vision for the story. His input made the story telling more complete.
A big box of shiny new books landed on my doorstep. Memoirs of a Parrot is the fourth "memoir" book, written by the very talented Devin Scillian and published by Sleeping Bear Press.
"Yay, new books!"
When I read that a parrot would be the main character, I had to choose an African Grey parrot. I have fond childhood memories of my grandpa and his African Grey, named Chico. I chose a Hyacinth Macaw as the other parrot in the story. Mostly because of the color. I live in Ohio and Devin Scillian lives in Michigan, so it just made sense to use Ohio State (scarlet and grey) and Michigan colors (maze and blue). Plus, my wife's family is from the state up north (we're a "blended" family).
A drawing that I did in High School of my grandpa and his parrot, Chico.
Also, the main character (human) in the story plays a ukulele. I said, "hmmm, I need to get a ukulele (as reference) and begin my career as a ukulele rock star". Then I met Emily Arrow, a true ukulele rock star, so I bought one. Now I need to start practicing my ukulele licks.
"Hey, I think that I need a ukulele."
Anyway, you must take a look at Memoirs of a Parrot. It's got parrots, ukulele players and a very funny story.
End papers from Memoirs of a Parrot.
Thank you, Heather Hughes, Felicia Macheske and Sleeping Bear Press.
April is Poetry Month. Here is a story about finding yourself/your identity and your place in the world – all in nicely written verse. (Images to post very soon.) Bartholomew Quill: A Crow’s Quest to Know Who’s Who Written by Thor Hanson Illustrated by Dana Arnim Little Bigfoot 4/05/2016 978-1-63217-046-0 32 pages …
Nick Bruel’s Bad Kitty is everyone’s favorite mischievous feline. Recently, the series creator and Bad Kitty herself were interviewed by Rocco Staino on StoryMakers. The Bad Kitty series is a favorite of early readers and those who’ve been introduced to chapter books. Bruel discusses the evolution of the Bad Kitty series — from picture books to chapter books; his inspiration for going against the sometimes syrupy sweet kid lit grain; and how Bad Kitty went from page to stage. Nick Bruel has appeared in the Princeton Book Festival and Carle Honors episodes of StoryMakers.
When Kitty is happy and healthy, everything is perfect. She jumps around, eats everything in sight, and has the energy to keep slobbering puppies in their place. But when she’s sick, all she can do is lie in her bed. Looks like it’s time for this sick kitty to go…to the vet. When Kitty’s family finally manages to get their clawing, angry pet into the doctor’s office, it’s a wild adventure for Kitty, who has to get the most dreaded thing of all…a shot. Once the shot is administered, Kitty is cast into an ingenious dream within a dream sequence in which she has to make right by Puppy or risk being shut out of PussyCat heaven forever. This ninth installment of the popular Bad Kitty series from Nick Bruel is chock-full of brilliant supporting characters and, of course, the crankiest bad kitty you’ve ever seen.
ABOUT NICK BRUEL
Nick Bruel is the author and illustrator of New York Times bestseller Boing! and the Bad Kitty books, among others. He is a freelance illustrator and cartoonist, and during his down time, he collects PEZ dispensers and grows tomatoes in the backyard. He lives in Tarrytown, NY with his wife Carina and their lovely cat Esmerelda.
Funny how things happen without consciously deciding that this is what will happen... I decided to update my long overlooked blog and post some new work and realized that I seem to have spent much of the past two years painting animals! Here are some of my recent pieces, lots of animals...but there a few images to be painted of nothing but people and there is a gnome-y sort of fellow which is kind of a person!!!! Working on two companion pieces to Mammals right now, Farm Animals and Snowmen...which are, again, sort of like people!
You know how on television you sometimes see ads for an organization called Heifer International? If you have ever wondered how it all began, your curiosity will find the answer in this charming picture book about one of the first "seagoing cowboys" at the end of World War II. These are the cowboys who delivered livestock to countries in desperate need to being rebuilding after the war's devastation.
By 1945, Poland had been ravaged. Its cities and farmland had been bombed badly, the people who had survived were starving and help is desperately needed. In the United States, a young man who is looking for adventure decides to sign up to become a "seagoing cowboy" along with his friend John.
Their adventure begins with a train ride to the city, where they will board their ship, the Woodstock Victory. They arrive just as the horses and heifers are being loaded onto the ship. John is one of the young men assigned to caring for the horses on their week-long journey to Poland, while our un-named narrator cares for the heifers they were bringing over, heifers that will provide milk, cheese and butter to the hungry Polish people.
Sailing to Poland isn't an easy journey what with seasickness and a bad storm, but at last they arrive at their destination. The cowboys and their livestock are welcomed with smiles and open arms, especially by the children who want the gum and chocolate the Americans carry (and who can blame them for wanting to things after years of having nothing). And the cowboys are happy to give, but what really leaves a strong impression and saddens them most is the devastation they witness everywhere they go.
I have to be honest and say that although I have heard of Heifer International, I had never heard of seagoing cowboys, and of sending livestock to Poland and other European countries hard hit by war, so this picture book was a real eye-opener for me.
And I found The Seagoing Cowboy to be a fascinating, reader friendly account of such a little-known part of WWII history. Although it is a work of fiction, it is made compelling because it is based on some photos that were given to Peggy Reiff Miller by her father. The photos belonged to her grandfather who had been a seagoing cowboy and they sparked her curiosity about what it was like for the men who volunteered to do this work. After lots of research and talking to some former seagoing cowboys, Peggy took their stories and wrote about the trip of a composite un-named young man and his adventures in The Seagoing Cowboy.
Claire Ewart's full-color watercolor illustrations are bright, light and airy, reflecting the optimism of the seagoing mission while also capturing the full range of emotions felt by humans and animals alike on this voyage. I love the little smile on Queenie, the horse that John's father had donated to the program without telling his son and John and Queenie see each other on the ship for the first time.
The Seagoing Cowboy is a wonderful, uplifting story about the men who delivered more than just livestock to those in need, they delivered hope for the future, too. You can discover more about this program in Peggy's Author's Note, along with some photographs she has chosen to share.
Have you ever wanted to take a trip to the cloud forest? Explore the Andes of Ecuador? Discover a new species? Well, you’re in luck.
With¡Olinguito, de la A a la Z! / Olinguito from A to Z! travel to the unique world of the cloud forest and discover the bounty of plants, animals, and other organisms that live there as you help a zoologist look for the elusive olinguito, the first new mammal species identified in the Americas since 1978.
But the adventure doesn’t stop there. Anyone can learn to be an explorer in their own backyard with the FREEOlinguito Activity Kitand Teacher’s Guide. Learn more about the cloud forest and other ecosystems, including all of the important animals and the adaptations that help them survive in their environment with the many interdisciplinary ideas, projects, and engaging activities.
Content themes and subjects covered:
ecosystems and habitats
animal classification and adaptation
vertebrates and invertebrates
competition and predation
Here’s a preview of the types of engaging projects and activities you can find in the Olinguito Activity Kit and Teacher’s Guide:
Observe an Ecosystem!
You will need:
a pen or pencil
a thick, old paperback book
Make note of the time of day you are making your observations. Is it morning, afternoon, or night?
Record all the plants and organisms you see, including trees, shrubs, bushes, grasses, ferns, mosses, and lichens.
Record all the animals you see in the area, including insects, arachnids, mollusks, reptiles, birds and mammals.
Gather fresh leaves of different shapes from trees and shrubs and put each separately between two pages of the paperback book. You may also gather small, colorful flowers or flower petals and put them between pages of the book.
Take photos of any animals you see.
Once you are back inside, place the paperback book under a pile of heavy books for a week or two to let you pressed leaves and flowers dry.
Design a Cloud Forest Travel Brochure!
Have students research cloud forests in the Andes and create an informative and persuasive travel brochure. Include headings, subheadings, pictures, maps, and informative captions.
Where are the cloud forests located?
What plants and animals live there?
Why are cloud forests valued or important?
What is the climate like?
What will people see there?
What environmental and human threats do they face?
Why should someone make the cloud forest his or her next vacation destination?
Create a Cloud Forest Alphabet or Glossary Book:
string or twine
art decorating supplies (crayons, colored pencils, markers. etc.)
Alphabet Book: include the featured letter, a picture or drawing of the featured plant or animal, and the name of the plant or animal.
Plant/Animal Glossary Book: include the name of the plant or animal, a picture or drawing of the featured plant or animal, and an informative description of the plant or animal: where does it live? what does it eat? how is it classified (plant or animal, vertebrate or invertebrate, etc.)?
For more fun and exciting activity ideas, including I-Spy Fun and learning to create you own pressed leaf print, check out and download the FREE Olinguito Activity Kit and Teacher’s Guide.
You can purchase a copy of ¡Olinguito, de la A a la Z! / Olinguito, from A to Z! : Descubriendo el bosque nublado / Unveiling the Cloud Forest on our website here.
Veronicahas a degree from Mount Saint Mary College and joined LEE & LOW in the fall of 2014. She has a background in education and holds a New York State childhood education (1-6) and students with disabilities (1-6) certification. When she’s not wandering around New York City, you can find her hiking or hanging out with her dog Milo in her hometown in the Hudson Valley, NY.
Ocean Animals (Animal Bites series)
by Laaren Brown
Liberty Street, an imprint of Time Inc. Books, 2016
Polar Animals (Animal Bites series)
by Laaren Brown
Liberty Street, an imprint of Time Inc. Books, 2016
Today is Earth Day, and it's the perfect time to highlight the new Animal Bites series by Animal Planet. Published by Time Inc., the series was released earlier this