A Spooky Reading List of Very Real Creatures

There is something about October; it feels like creepy, crawly, and spooky creatures are lurking. We are getting in the spirit with a reading list of very real frightening creatures. Today we are exploring some of the dark habitats of the world to meet a few animals that might be a bit terrifying if you find yourself in their path.

Daytime Critters

The Most Dangerous

“Dangerous animals from all over the world gather for the Most Dangerous Animal of All Contest. Snakes, spiders, sharks . . . who will be the winner? Deadly poison, huge teeth, razor-sharp horns, and fearsome feet are just a few of the ways that animals kill. Predators mean to kill. Prey simply defend themselves. And yet, the unexpected most deadly animal doesn’t mean to harm at all! Don’t let the suspense kill you. Animals in the book include: box jellies, inland taipan, great white shark, porcupinefish, Brazilian wandering spider, Cape buffalo, saltwater crocodile, hippopotamus, cassowary, and mosquito.

https://www.arbordalepublishing.com/bookpage.php?id=MostDangerous

One Wolf Howls

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be a wolf? What would you do in the cold winter months? Where would you sleep? What would you eat? Spend a year in the world of wolves in One Wolf Howls. This adventurous children’s book uses the months of the year and the numbers 1 through 12 to introduce children to the behavior of wolves in natural settings. The lively, realistic illustrations of Susan Detwiler complement the rhyming text and bring each month to life. From January to December, howl, frolic, and dance, while learning important lessons page-by-page! The “For Creative Minds” learning section includes a “Wolf Communications Matching” and “Wolf Calendar” activity.

https://www.arbordalepublishing.com/bookpage.php?id=Wolf

Nocturnal Creatures

The Ghost of Donley Farm

Rebecca, the red-tailed hawk, is not afraid of ghosts! One night, she bravely ventures into the barn to meet the famous ghost of Donley Farm. But when she finally meets him, Rebecca is surprised to discover that this “ghost” is much more familiar than she’d expected.  Join Rebecca as she stays up late to talk with her new friend and find out what they have in common and how they are different.

https://www.arbordalepublishing.com/bookpage.php?id=GhostFarm

Night Creepers

A perfect nap or bedtime story told with short, lyrical text, young readers learn about crepuscular and nocturnal animals and some of their behaviors. Older readers learn more about each animal with sidebar information.

https://www.arbordalepublishing.com/bookpage.php?id=NightCreepers

Home in the Cave

“Baby Bat loves his cave home and never wants to leave. 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 bats for food. Will Baby Bat finally venture out of the cave to help the other animals?

https://www.arbordalepublishing.com/bookpage.php?id=HomeCave

Little Red Bat

Red bats can hibernate or migrate to warmer regions during the winter. Should this solitary little bat stay or should she go? That’s the question the little red bat ponders as the leaves fall and the nights get colder! The squirrel tells her to stay. But what about the dangerous creatures that hunt red bats in winter? The sparrow urges her to go. But where? Carole Gerber takes young readers on an educational journey through one bat’s seasonal dilemma in Little Red Bat. The For Creative Minds educational section includes: Match the Bat Adaptation, Bat Fun Facts, How Animals Deal with Seasonal Changes, Red Bats and Seasonal Change, and Bat Life Cycle Sequencing Activity.

https://www.arbordalepublishing.com/bookpage.php?id=LittleBat

Scary Sea Life

A Day in the Deep

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.

https://www.arbordalepublishing.com/bookpage.php?id=DayDeep

The Hungriest Mouth in the Sea

The animals of the South Sea are hungry. But who is hungrier than all of the rest? The kicking krill may swarm and the blue cod are out hunting for dinner, but neither is fierce enough to be tops in this habitat. Could it be the lurking sharks, pointy-tailed rays or the toothy barracuda? Dive into this rhythmic text to discover who is at the top of this food chain.

https://www.arbordalepublishing.com/bookpage.php?id=HungriestMouth

Sea Slime

Snails and sea slugs use Sea Slime. But, did you know that coral and clownfish need slime too? Marine scientist Ellen Prager takes us deep into the sea to introduce us to fascinating and bizarre animals that use slime to capture their food, protect themselves from harm, or even move from place to place in their underwater environment.

https://www.arbordalepublishing.com/bookpage.php?id=SeaSlime

Happy October Reading!
You can find these books and many more spooky reads on arbordalepublishing.com.

Tracking Ghosts that lived long, long ago

It’s that time of year again when leaves begin to fall, and darkness overtakes the amount of daylight. There is a spookiness in the air. In the spirit of learning about terrifying creatures this month, we are seeking the ghosts of dinosaurs.

Dino Tracks illustrated by Cathy Morrison, written by by Rhonda Lucas Donald
Dino Tracks illustrated by Cathy Morrison, written by by Rhonda Lucas Donald

Can you imagine a 40-foot-long, 12-foot-high lizard with thousands of pointing teeth? What about a flying, swooping lizard the size of a plane with a MASSIVE beak? These animals all lived millions of years ago and have disappeared, but they did leave a trace of their existence.

We are headed on a hunt to find dinosaurs and other extinct creatures around the country, and here are some of the best places to see them.

I am Allosaurus written and illustrated by Timothy J. Bradley

Cleveland-Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry – Elmo, Utah

 More than 12,000 bones have been found at the site, mostly from carnivores and primarily the Allosaurus. Get a glimpse of bones and rock formations in a landscape that was once a very active spot for many meat-eaters especially flying giants.

Dinosaur Valley State Park – Glen Rose, Texas

 Walk, or paddle the riverbed to see the mark dinosaurs left on their former home. Here you will find tracks from sauropods and theropods intertwined in various locations. These tracks gave scientists valuable information in piecing together some mysteries of the past.

Dino Treasures illustrated by Cathy Morrison, written by Rhonda Lucas Donald

Dinosaur State Park – Rocky Hill Connecticut 

 Go below the dome to find one of the largest collections of dinosaur tracks in North America. The tracks are attributed to the Dilophosaurus and were made about 200 million years ago. After viewing the tracks, explore trails surrounded by some of the foliage related to the plants dinosaurs once walked through.

Dinosaur Ridge – Morrison, Colorado 

 Denver as a tropical oasis? Hundreds of tracks are set in stone just outside the city with evidence of Brontosauruses, Iguanodons, Triceratops, alligator ancestors, and fossilized palms. The trail has all sorts of surprises buried in the rocks.

La Brea Tar Pits – Los Angeles, California

 The Ice Age comes alive in the heart of Los Angeles. The tar pits have been there for thousands of years and captured various animals for thousands of years. Watch paleontologists actively uncovering mammoths, saber-toothed cats, and dire wolves and explore the museum filled with fossils of unlucky animals.

Wandering Woolly written and illustrated by Andrea Gabriel

If you can’t make it to the dinosaur’s former homes, learn more about them and the techniques for discovering dinosaurs in these Arbordale books Dino Tracks, Dino Treasures, I am Allosaurus, and Wandering Woolly. And on November 2nd, get your copy of I am Hatzegopteryx from Timothy J. Bradley! 

Activities for all these titles can be found on the Arbordale Publishing website.

Be a Rockhound Today

With all the seriousness in the world today, sometimes it’s fun to be silly and escape. So, imagine all the fun you can have with a pet rock. If you are in need of a geology lesson with some craftiness and a bit of creative writing, you have come to the right place.

Collecting and identifying rocks can be lots of fun for kids. In Julie the Rockhound, a young girl finds a shiny rock and her dad teaches her how to find crystals, how they are formed, and the different qualities of quartz. After the story, the “For Creative Minds” section gives readers a guide to becoming a rockhound.

If you want to create a rockhounding experience in your classroom, library or home, but can’t get outside to dig in the dirt, here is a guide to creating an indoor experience.

Create a dig site.

Fill a plastic container or a sandbox with a shallow layer of play sand or dirt. Bury a variety of rocks in the sand for kids to find. You can buy rocks from a craft store or dig some from your own yard. Place a few kid-friendly shovels and digging tools in the container to help kids unbury the rocks.

**Make sure to have at least one rock per child.

Learn about rocks.

Use the guide in the “For Creative Minds” pages to identify if the rock is sedimentary, igneous, or metamorphic. You can also discuss the hardness of the rock using Moh’s Hardness Scale.

Make it your pet.

In 1975, Gary Dahl, an advertising copywriter, came up with the idea of a Pet Rock. He designed a box and owner’s manual. The whimsical idea was just what people needed at the time, and he soon began selling pet rocks to stores, and the fad spread for a short time.

Get crafty with your pet rock and set out paints and markers to make colorful rocks with a little personality!

Once kids have found their perfect pet rock, ask them to get creative and write about it. Download the Me and My Pet Rock worksheet. Here kids can name their rock, write a description, and short snippets about life with their rock!

We hope you enjoy these fun projects for Pet Rock Day. Learn more and get your copy of Julie the Rockhound at arbordalepublishing.com!

Let’s Build a Sandcastle

Sandcastle

Who would have thought playing in sand perfects artistic, math, and science skills? Making a sandcastle is one of the quintessential beach activities. To build an impressive structure, you need a little planning and a few tools. Here is a short guide and reading list to help with the construction.

Gather your Supplies

Of course, a bucket and a shovel are the classic tools for sandcastle building, but experts also suggest putty knives, spoons, spatulas, pencils, and brushes. You can use a variety of items to create the perfect details.

Site Selection

Location is key when building a beachfront property. Hard-packed sand is ideal for construction, but the tide can wash away all your hard work in an instant. Take a look around, assess whether the tide is coming in or headed out before mapping out your location.

Beach

Mix the Perfect Construction Sand

The ratio is very important – one part sand to one part water. Dry sand will crumble, and a soupy mixture will never hold its shape. One expert suggests digging a well in the sand to be able to pull water out and mix the perfect sand.

Start the Build

It is helpful to plan your design and make sure that the base structure is sound enough to carry the weight of the castle. Mix up a big pile of sand to create a large mound and begin building your base. Fill your buckets with sand to turn over and create towers. Use your tools to shape the walls, cut out the windows and decorative details, or add a bit of texture.

Now that you are done enjoy your castle. You never know when it will be washed away!

If you can’t get to the beach or a sandbox, here is a reading list that will sharpen your building and critical thinking skills.

The Fort on Fourth Street

The Fort on Fourth Street
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, readers follow the building process to completion and discover the surprise reason it was built.

Newton and Me

Newton and Me
While at play with his dog, Newton, a young boy discovers the laws of force and motion in his everyday activities. Told in rhyme, Lynne Mayer’s Newton and Me follows these best friends on an adventure as they apply physics to throwing a ball, pulling a wagon, riding a bike, and much more. They will realize that Newton’s Laws of Motion describe experiences they have every day, and they will recognize how forces affect the objects around them. The “For Creative Minds” educational section includes: Force and Motion Fun Facts, Matching Forces, Who Was Newton?, and Newton’s Laws of Motion (2 of 3). Additional teaching activities and interactive quizzes are available on the Arbordale Publishing website.

Cao Chong Weighs an Elephant

Cao Chong Weighs an Elephant
How much does an elephant weigh? How do you know? How would you know if you didn’t have a modern scale? Six-year-old Cao Chong, the most famous child prodigy in Chinese history, faced just this problem! Chong watches as the prime minister’s most trusted and learned advisors debate different methods. The principle of buoyancy and a little bit of creative thinking help this boy come up with a solution.

How to Be a Clean Bird

Believe it or not, no one likes to be dirty, not even animals! So, while we are lathering on the soap, birds may be anting! Author Darcy Pattison captured Anting and other mysterious bathing rituals in her book Desert Baths, illustrated by Kathleen Reitz.

What is Anting?

Anting is a peculiar ritual where birds sit on an anthill, wings spread wide, and either let the bugs crawl through their feathers and skin, or they pick up insects with their beaks and rub them on their body. The excitement of the event causes certain species of ants to release formic acid.

Of the more than 200 types of birds observed anting, some finish the bath by eating the ants while others leave the ants without dining. And while scientists have several theories on why birds “ant”, they can only agree that it is a mysterious behavior.

The theories range from a hypothesis that the acid kills mites and parasites bothering the bird. Others surmised that it has soothing properties and can give relief to irritated skin. One theory suggests that the birds are draining the ants of their acid, making them a less dangerous snack. And one study observed birds hopping while anting suggesting that the ants may be like a “catnip for birds.”

Whatever the reason, if you come upon a crow or a blue jay anting stop to watch, it is a behavior not often witnessed by humans.

Celebrate international bath day with us and read Desert Baths. Check it out!

And for more information on anting here are a few resources we used to write this article: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/curious-crow-behavior-known-as-anting-looks-like-violent-dirt-bath-1.6053823?cmp=rss, https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/mystery-bird-anting.

What’s So Funny? Animals that Laugh out Loud

Artwork from Moose and Magpie by Sherry Rogers

Why do we laugh?

We laugh when someone tells a joke. We laugh when we are having fun. Or sometimes we laugh when we are uncomfortable. We have a sense of humor and a range of feelings. Humans express emotions to communicate to others how we are feeling through body language and most importantly sound!

Artwork from Sounds of the Savanna by Phyllis Saroff

We know why we laugh but do animals laugh?

Scientists set out to answer this question. Researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles, have identified 65 creatures that “laugh” while they play. While researchers can’t know what animals are thinking, they observed animals making unique sounds while playing that are not made at other times. They also noticed a difference in panting and facial expressions.

While most animals that displayed laughing sounds were mammals, a few bird species are also known to make laughing noises. It is not much of a surprise that our closest relatives, the primates, were mammals that showed a range of noises during playful activity. But dogs, rats, foxes, dolphins, killer whales, and Kea parrots also make laughing noises while playing.

Researchers concluded that laughing happens during play because many play activities can also be interpreted as fighting. The playful noises show participants that they are having fun and will not hurt each other.

Because studies have not observed play activity by reptiles or amphibians, they couldn’t conclude if these species make playful noises. This study is far from conclusive, and they will continue to find giggling creatures as more studies are finished.

For the long weekend, we have put together a silly animal reading list to make you laugh! Check out these titles featuring some of the mentioned laughing critters.

If you want to learn more about the study check out these links:
https://www.livescience.com/do-animals-laugh.html, 
https://www.sciencetimes.com/articles/31244/20210518/animals-laugh-scientists-tallied-65-different-creatures.htm

Is it a bird, is it a plane, is it a dinosaur?

Yep, that’s right, scientists have been studying the connection of today’s modern birds to their long-lost relatives, the dinosaurs. For many years, paleontologists believed that all dinosaurs were just giant lizard-like creatures.

I Am Hatzegopteryx
from I Am Hatzegopteryx by Timothy J. Bradley – releasing September 2021

Relatively recent discoveries in China have changed the minds of many scientists. This area of Northeastern China has attracted paleontologists to explore the lake and volcanic ash deposits abundant with ancient fossils. These fossils are bird-like in structure and lead to the newly held belief that many dinosaurs were feathered.

A local farmer dug in the rock and knew he had something special when he found the first fossil of Confuciusornis (sacred bird of Confucius). The fossil, about the size of a modern-day crow, had a beak and feathers with a long plumage tail. Since this discovery, more digging into the rocks in the region has unearthed other ancient flying dinosaurs, protopteryx, Sapeornis, and Yanornis. 

But these are not the only flying dinosaurs. Long before Confuciusornis, Archaeopteryx was dated to have lived 150 million-years-ago, and part of the Avialae clade. These are the closest relatives to modern birds. They had larger braincases, feathers, and pneumatic bones like today’s birds; but also had teeth, three-fingered hands and claws, and a long, stiffened tail like dinosaurs.

from Dino Treasures by Rhonda Lucas Donald, illustrated by Cathy Morrison

But when you ask a child about ancient creatures of the sky, most will answer with the pterodactyl. The pterodactyl is one type of Pterosaur that ranges in size from a fighter jet to a sparrow. With HUGE heads, long necks, heavy bones, and stiff skin-like wings, these flying lizards were terrifying carnivores to the dinosaurs living below.  

The Pterosaurs evolved significantly over time. They lived from 251 million years ago to 66 million years ago, and in that time, some species got larger, while others showed different ways they took off for flight. But the most baffling to many scientists is how they were able to hold up their giant heads. Paleontologists at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have recently had a breakthrough modeling how the vertebrae were arranged to create a strong structure.

We are excited to introduce a relatively new pterosaur to young readers this fall, the Hatzegopteryx. They were giants of the sky and believed to be a dominant predator in the area now known as Romania. The first fossil was found in 2002 in Transylvania. 

Timothy J. Bradley’s story, I am Hatzegopteryx follows a Hatzegopteryx from egg to extinction as he grows and learns to soar. Written in simple three-word sentences, even the smallest dinosaur enthusiast will be reading this book in no time. Learn more about the book and the author, even download the “For Creative Minds” section on the book’s homepage

You can also dive into paleontology techniques in Arbordale’s free ebook of the month Dino Treasures

An Update on Maggie: Alaska’s Last Elephant

Author Jennifer Keats Curtis caught up with Michelle Harvey, Maggie’s Keeper, for elephant day. We thank Jennifer for giving us a look at Maggie’s new life on the blog today. 

Toka-Maggie-Lulu What a trio photo by Michelle Harvey 2021

Special thanks to Maggie’s keeper, Michelle Harvey, for providing an update on this precious pachyderm, who turns 39 years young this year!

Michelle continues to be involved with her beloved elephant, now as a volunteer with the Performing Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) in California. During a recent visit, Maggie rumbled hello, and Michelle confessed, “Maggie will always be my favorite, although I love all of the elephants very much!”

Maggie(L) and Lulu (R) by a mudhole. They love mudding! photo by Michelle Harvey 2021

According to Michelle, every day, Maggie and the other elephants still lumber about PAWS’ natural, grassy, rolling hills. “Lulu and Toka are her best friends, and it makes me so happy to see them together. Mara and Thika are part of the group too, but these two go off and explore a different habitat.” At night, all five females return to the heated barn for meals, warm water, Boomer® balls, and togetherness. They “interact, touching each other with their trunks, trading hay and branches and trumpeting and rumbling. Each day, after time apart, they greet each other with excitement. This teaches me that there is always a time to celebrate!”

During her last visit, Michelle offered Maggie, Lulu, and Toka hay and alfalfa for a midday feeding along with something special—a little candy treat—and was treated to one of her favorite sounds, the elephants rumbling. Maggie carried her hay in her trunk and then stood right next to Lulu to eat. Even after working with elephants for many years, Michelle remains awed by the dexterity of their trunks. “They can pick up such tiny objects!”

As always, Michelle is grateful that Maggie resides at PAWS, “a peaceful place and the sun shines even in winter,” so Maggie will never be cold again. And, she reminds us all, “It’s never too late to do the right thing.”

Lulu (L) and Maggie (R) eating hay and alfalfa. Photo by Michelle Harvey 2021

Jennifer and illustrator Phyllis Saroff will host a virtual paint party for families at East Salisbury Elementary on March 30th. If you would like to book Jennifer or Phyllis for an event with your school or community group, email us for contact information at heather @ arbordalepublishing.com.  

To learn more about Maggie and the other elephants at PAWS, visit https://www.pawsweb.org/meet_elephants.html.

For more information about the nonfiction story of Maggie, visit https://www.arbordalepublishing.com/bookpage.php?id=Maggie.

WRITE: A Valentine’s Writing Activity for All Ages

Writing is not always as easy as it seems. Children’s book authors will attest to the difficulties in selecting just the right words to create a perfect rhyme or describe a type of habitat. Authors write, edit, re-write, and edit some more until they have just the right words to make a book.

For Valentine’s Day, we have a writing/editing activity perfect for the classroom. Create a Valentine using some of Arbordale’s coloring pages and a writing worksheet to edit your perfect sayings.

New Year, New Tails: How Alligators Regrow Their Tails

Alligator from Amphibians and Reptiles by Katharine Hall

It is a new year! As the calendar flips, many of us are thinking of a new beginning and achieving new goals. Scientists are always on the path to discovery, and recently a group researching American Alligators discovered they can makeover their bodies in a unique way. They can regrow their tails after injury.

Learn more about lizards losing and regrowing their tails in Little Skink’s Tail by Janet Halfmann and illustrated by Laurie Allen Klein.

Tail regrowth is not a new concept for scientists. Until now, they thought this adaptation was limited to small lizards that can detach their tails and escape further injury. It takes some time, but these lizards regenerate their tails almost as if they were never gone.

A team of scientists from Arizona State University took a look at alligator tails that had once sustained an injury and found new growth. Juvenile alligators can regrow up to 18% of their body length. The regrowth tissue is different than the existing tail and contains cartilage, nerves, and blood vessels.

Researchers will continue looking into the details of how alligators regrow its tail in comparison with other lizards and regeneration by other animals. While this conclusion answers some questions, it brings up many others. Researchers will take this information and may begin to look into historic tail regrowth and medical research.

Compare and contrast the differences between Amphibians and Reptiles with Katharine Hall.

The American Alligator can be found in lakes, rivers, and swamps from North Carolina to the Texas Rio Grande. They have long “armored” bodies with four short legs and a long tail with a rounded snout that they can stick out of the water and breathe while they are submerged. They travel in a small area but can go further distances during mating season. Baby alligators generally hatch toward the end of August and make high-pitched noises before hatching. It is a long road to adulthood and stay with their mother for two or three years. Alligators are unique reptiles in this way as well as their ability to lie dormant underwater during cold weather.

Learn more about this scientific discovery and read the full article here!

Find more fun books about reptiles at arbordalepublishing.com.