Let’s Talk About Nonfiction

AnimalAnatomySeries

Learning is great! Learning is fun! So today we feature one of our continuing nonfiction series that is growing season by season!

Did you know…

“Dragonflies have two compound eyes that can see in all directions at the same time.” – Animal Eyes 

“Most frogs don’t have any teeth on their lower jaw” – Animal Mouths 

This month we add another fact-filled book to Mary Holland’s series, Animal Tails!

Like the others in this series, Mary uses her vast knowledge to show young readers why a tail might be useful. From warding off predators to dangling from a tree, each page features a new use for this unique appendage!

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Learn more about each book in this series:

Animal Tails
Readers will be fascinated by the many ways animals use their tails: to move on land, swim, warn others, steer, hold on to things, keep warm, balance, fly, attract a mate, and even to defend themselves! Apparently, tails are not just for wagging when happy. Following Animal Eyes, Animal Mouths(NSTA/CBC Outstanding Trade Science Award-winning book), and Animal Legs, Mary Holland continues her photographic Animal Anatomy and Adaptations series by exploring the many ways animals use their tails.

AnimalEyesThe sense of sight helps an animal stay safe from predators, find food and shelter, defend its territory and care for its young. We can tell a lot about an animal from its eyes: whether it is predator or prey, whether it is more active during the day or night, and sometimes even its gender or age. Award-winning nature photographer and environmental educator Mary Holland shares fascinating animal eyes with readers of all ages.

AnimalLegsCan you smell with your feet? Do you dig your claws into a river’s muddy bank to climb up and bask in the sun? Animals’ legs are different from humans’ in so many ways! Find out why strong talons suit a raptor, or webbing is perfect for water dwellers as author Mary Holland continues her photographic Animal Anatomy and Adaptations series by exploring the ways insects, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals move and explore their world.

AnimalMouthsWhat are some things we can learn about animals from the shape of their mouths, beaks,
or bills? What can we infer about animals with sharp teeth compared to large, flat teeth? Are there any animals that don’t have mouths? Following in the footsteps of Animal Eyes, award-winning nature photographer and environmental educator Mary Holland shares fascinating animal mouths with readers of all ages.

We hear Animal Ears will arrive Spring 2018 learn more about it too! 

AnimalEarsHearing is an important sense for animals’ survival. Ears give animals vital information to help them find food or listen for predators ready to attack. This continuation of Mary Holland’s award-winning Animal Anatomy and Adaptations series features a wide variety of animal ears and how animals use them. Did you know that some animals have ears on their legs? Like the eyes, mouths, legs, and tails featured in previous books, animal ears come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes—a perfect match for each animal’s needs.

 

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More Eclipse Fun!

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Time to get out the Moon Pies and Sun Chips. The Great American Solar Eclipse is here! Just in case you haven’t heard the moon is going to cross in front of the sun on Monday at the perfect time for the United States to view this incredible phenomenon.

We couldn’t be more excited, really. So, if you are late in preparing for Monday’s big show, here is a simple way to make a pinhole viewer. When you don’t have special eclipse glasses, this only requires a few simple household items. Remember staring directly at the sun is damaging to your eyes.

Start with two sheets of heavy paper, scissors, tape, and aluminum foil.

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Then cut a small square in the center of one sheet of paper.

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Tape a small square of aluminum foil over the hole.

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Use a pin, needle, or an unfolded paper clip and poke a hole in the center.

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Then with the sun behind you, place the plain sheet on the ground and hold the paper with the foil above it. Now, you can safely see the reflection of the sun!

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And after all of that work, make a sweet treat for the party. Check out our phases to totality cookies, and read How the Moon Regained Her Shape for fun!

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An Eclipse is Coming

We are one month away from a big event that transverses the continental United States. Can you guess what it is?

A total solar eclipse!

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Totality as seen from Easter Island on July 11, 2010. This is a composite of short, medium, and long exposures, as no single exposure can capture the huge range of brightness exhibited by the solar corona. No filter was used during the exposures, as totality is about as bright as the full Moon and just as safe to look at. At all other times, though, a safe solar filter is required to observe or photograph the Sun. Credit: Dennis di Cicco / Sky & Telescope

What is it?

The moon’s path will cross in front of the sun and totally cover the sun except for its corona or the halo area. While the process will take about 3 hours, totality will only last a mere minute or two at the most.

Who sees it?

Everyone in the U.S. will see at least a partial eclipse, but the lucky ones are in the path of totality which crosses the country from Lincoln Beach, Oregon and ends right here in Charleston, South Carolina (we can’t wait!). Viewing events are happening all across the path. To find out if you are lucky, go to NASA for the path and viewing events in the area.

Why is it important?

Eclipses can happen two and sometimes up to five times a year. Some of these are partial eclipses; many are not visible for a long duration and may only last a few seconds. A total eclipse is a unique event for scientists to study the corona. This is where much of the sun’s action happens and has an effect on the entire solar system.

This is a great reason to learn about our solar system and how it works. Check out NASA’s information and the South Carolina State Library has wonderful resources for the classroom!

If you don’t make it to this one, you will just have to wait until 2023 for the next one!

Summer on the Shore: What’s the difference between sharks and dolphins?

bottlenose-dolphinThousands of people flock to the beaches for summer vacation, and it is a thrill to spot a shark or a dolphin from the sand. It can be tricky to determine which is which but here are a few similarities, differences, and fun facts about these sea creatures.

When a fin rises above the waves, note the angle.

A dolphin has a curved dorsal fin and a horizontal tail. They propel themselves up and down through the water taking in oxygen as they crest waves before disappearing below the water’s surface.

Sharks have a more triangular dorsal fin. Their tails are vertical, and it moves from side to side smoothly propelling the shark through the water.

thresher-sharkSince a shark is a fish they breathe under the water, but beware if a shark launches itself into the air, dinner is likely in its sights. Great White sharks have been caught on video chasing seals and other fast movers high into the air, although this is not a common sight to see from the beach.

A small number of bottlenose dolphins chase their food above water in a coordinated event called strand feeding. At low tide, a group of dolphins circles a school of fish until they propel themselves onto the beach and feed on the delicious fish and shrimp. Visitors to the South Carolina or Georgia coast may be lucky enough to see this event, but dolphins are very smart creatures and don’t often strand feed while people are around.

Here are a few books where you can learn more about sharks and dolphins!

Sharks and Dolphins:  A Compare and Contrast Book
SharksDolphinsSharks and dolphins both have torpedo-shaped bodies with fins on their backs. They slice through the water to grab their prey with sharp teeth. But despite their similarities, sharks and dolphins belong to different animal classes: one is a fish and gets oxygen from the water and the other is a mammal and gets oxygen from the air. Marine educator Kevin Kurtz guides early readers to compare and contrast these ocean predators through stunning photographs and simple, nonfiction text.

If a Dolphin Were a Fish
Dolphin_187Join Delfina the dolphin as she imagines that she becomes other sea animals: a fish, a sea turtle, a pelican, an octopus, a shark, even a manatee! The incredible morphing illustrations will have children laughing as they learn about the real differences between these ocean animals and their respective classes.

Shark Baby
SharkBaby_128“Who am I?” wonders Shark Baby. When his “mermaid’s purse” egg case is torn loose in a storm, he finds himself on a journey through different ocean habitats: kelp forests, coral reefs, and seagrass meadows. He learns what kind of shark he isn’t, but not what kind he is. He needs to find the “mermaid” to learn where he belongs, but the ocean is big and full of dangers. Will he find out who he is—and what he can do—in time?

Questions and Answers: Summer Science Journal

kittyA scientist is always at work posing questions and finding out why? Most recently an archaeozoologist, Wim Van Neer set out to find the origins of domesticating cats.

From artifacts, they knew that Egyptians valued cats and even shared their homes with the animals, but were they the first to domesticate the feline? A much older cat was found in a tomb in Cyprus. Is this the ancestor of our modern housecat?

The genetic tests show our housecats can be traced back to the Near Eastern Wildcat. The Egyptian cat mummies have a different subtype and so the research continues for this team. Even with some questions answered, there is always more to discover.

BigCat_187Author Scotti Cohn shares her home with a kitty or two. Before writing her book, Big Cat, Little Kitty, Scotti’s questions lead her down a different path. She researched the behavioral similarities of domestic and wild cats.

“Animal behavior is fascinating to me, whether we’re talking about pet cats and dogs or wild animals around the globe,” says Scotti. “I think my interest in animal behavior comes across in all of my Arbordale picture books. Why do wolves howl? How does a domestic cat’s behavior mimic that of a lion or tiger? What prompts animals to migrate? Why do animals form “partnerships”? I like being able to respond to those questions in a way that makes children eager to learn more.”

We know sometimes science seems overwhelming to kids and parents, but really asking questions and finding answers is fun! Summer is a great time to hone research skills, and test theories without the pressure that sometimes comes with school assignments.

cheetahHere are some tips:

Write it down: Start a science journal filled with questions just waiting to be answered

Research: Head to the library or a museum and find tools that help to fine tune your questions

Experiment: Set up simple experiments or observations to help come to a conclusion

Begin Again: What did you find out? Are there new questions waiting to be answered?

Read Big Cat, Little Kitty, as part of the Arbordale Summer Reading Program. Learn more about domestic and wild cats in the For Creative Minds section too!

Want to read about the origins of your kitty, learn more about the domestic cat study here.

 

Votes are in and Elephants Win!

elephantArbordale is honored to announce that Once Upon an Elephant by Linda Stanek and Shennen Bersani has won the Children’s Choice Book Award sponsored by the Children’s Book Council and Every Child a Reader.

Last night at the ABFE Children’s Art Auction, National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature Gene Luen Yang announced the winners of the Children’s Choice Book Awards in the four categories. Stanek’s book came out on top in the 3rd and 4th grade. This is the tenth year that kids across the country have voted for their favorite books in the only national awards selected entirely by readers.

OnceElephantThrough Once Upon an Elephant, readers learn why the large creatures are so important to other animals on the African Savanna, and what a keystone species means to the human residents as well. Author Linda Stanek worked with the Columbus Zoo to write a different elephant book and after learning so much about the animal; she knew that she had to write a nonfiction story about what would be if elephants were only “Once Upon a Time.” Bersani completes this picture book with highly realistic and bright illustrations. Following the story, a “For Creative Minds” section includes activities and fun facts where kids can learn more about elephants and keystone species.

Once Upon an Elephant is available in hardcover (9781628557312, $17.95), paperback (9781628557381, $9.95), ebook (9781628557664, $6.95), and interactive ebook (9781628557664, prices vary). A Spanish-language edition is available in (paperback, $9.95), ebook (9781628557732, $6.95), and interactive ebook (9781628557732, prices vary) through Arbordale and all major booksellers. Arbordale has extensive teaching activities, quizzes and related resources free for educators to download from the book’s homepage.

This fall the duo will release Night Creepers a nonfiction look at the animals that roam in the dark.

Science News: How Plates Shape the Earth

volcanoIf you have read the “For Creative Minds” section in A True Princess of Hawai‘i or Gopher to the Rescue, you have learned the basics of how volcanoes form. Scientists at The Australian National University have just concluded a study to find out when the Hawaiian hot spot was formed.

Although this group of researchers began with the knowledge of the twin tracks that sit underneath the young islands, they used computer simulation to date the occurrence of a change in the movement of the Pacific plate to 3 million years ago. A mantle plume, or columns of rock caused by heat from the Earth’s core, was out of alignment creating the volcanic activity and forming the beautiful islands we know today.

Learning about the past is important to predicting the future of the Earth’s landscape. Future scientists may be looking to this research just as this team used the knowledge from the scientists that discovered the twin tracks in 1849.

Dive into Earth science with these books:

TruePrincessA True Princess of Hawai‘i
Nani has always dreamed of being a princess. When a real Hawaiian princess comes to her hometown of Hilo, Nani dresses in her best clothes. But as she watches Princess Luka, who has come to save the town from a volcanic lava flow, Nani learns that there is more to being a princess than fine clothes. This incredible story of kindness and generosity is based on the historical events of the 1880-1881 eruption of Mauna Loa on the Island of Hawai‘i and the real-life Princess Luka.

GopherRescueGopher to the Rescue: A Volcano Recovery Story

The forest animals are surprised when a volcano suddenly explodes, covering the land in gritty, warm ash and rocks that make it unlivable for many plants and animals. Gopher survives in his underground burrow with food to eat. How does Gopher help bring life back to the mountain? Scientists spent years observing life returning to the mountain following the eruption of Mount St. Helens on May 18, 1980. This fictionalized story is based on their surprising observations of how life returns to an area that has been totally changed or destroyed.

ThisLandThis Land is Your Land
Take a trip around the world to discover a wide variety of Earth’s landforms and geological features through the rhythmic verse in This Land is Your Land. On the journey encounter plains, plateaus, and rolling hills. Find out how a stream can make a canyon or lava creates an archipelago. Read aloud and discover new terrain with the flip of each page.

Read more about the study here!