Bend your knees or jump up and down, how do you use your legs?
Compare how your legs work with the action of a frog’s legs or the webbing of an otter’s feet in Mary Holland’s new release Animal Legs. This is the third book in the Animal Anatomy & Adaptations series, and a perfect place for young readers to find amazing facts about the lives of animals found in their backyard.
We asked Mary Holland about her inspiration for Animal Legs and here is part of that interview.
A: Whose Animal Legs do you find most interesting?
MH: I’m afraid this is too hard a question to answer, as I find the many different ways that animals use their legs equally interesting. One of my favorites is a mole’s front paws. They look just like paddles to me, and the perfect tools to dig with. I also find the flap of skin that goes from a flying squirrel’s front legs to its back legs and allows it to glide through the air a remarkable adaptation. The fact that katydid ears are on their legs is pretty amazing, too!
A: Is there an animal/fact that you wish you could have included in the book or series but it just didn’t fit?
MH: There are so many animals that have such interesting feet and legs that I can’t even begin to count them, but one group that may have the most is insects. I could only fit a few of them in the book. Grasshoppers “sing” by rubbing their legs against their wings! Have you ever looked closely at a cicada’s front legs? They are pretty scary looking! Butterflies taste with their feet!
A: What is the most unusual predicament you have faced photographing an animal?
MH: I got very close to a young skunk in order to photograph it, and before I knew it, I was covered with skunk spray.
I once was trying to find a porcupine at night that was up in a tree, screaming its head off, and suddenly it fell to the ground about three feet from me. I almost had a head full of quills!
I was tracking a bobcat in late spring that had crossed a beaver pond, and the ice, which had started to melt, gave way (I weighed a lot more than the bobcat) and I fell through the ice into the cold water with snowshoes on. Fortunately, I could touch bottom with the tips of my snowshoes and managed to get out of the pond!
A: What would you like to share with young children about your love for nature?
MH: I feel so very lucky, as each day I get to discover something new. I never know what I’m going to find. I head outdoors, and go on what is to me very much like an Easter egg hunt – I look for animals and their signs and rarely do I come home without having found something new to observe and admire.
A: What do you have coming up next?
MH: I am working on two books. One is called Naturally Curious Day by Day. It describes two or three different animals or plants that you might see each day of the year. I am also writing a book called Otis the Owl, about a young barred owl.
Otis the Owl will fly onto bookshelves in the spring of 2017.