Meet the Creators: Yay for Big Brothers!

Do you have a little brother or sister? Do you look up to an older sibling?

We just released a perfect read for any family awaiting a new sibling, Yay for Big Brothers! by Janet Halfmann, illustrated by Shennen Bersani.

On each page of Yay for Big Brothers! We meet a different animal family and get a glimpse of how siblings help the youngest members. Crows help to feed new babies, beavers give young siblings a ride after a tiring swim practice, and dolphins share their favorite toys during playtime. These are just a few examples of how siblings welcome little brothers and sisters. After we learn how big brothers help, the author asks us to consider the similarities to human relationships.

Janet was inspired by watching her own family as it expanded. We sat down with Janet and Shennen to learn more about their creative process. Watch to learn more!

Get Creative

Create your own animal family puppets with these templates from Shennen! Maybe you can even play with your big brother!

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.

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.

Smart Mammals of the Sea

Dolphins are beloved mammals of the sea. They are also some of the smartest animals that live in the ocean, and researchers have just released a study on dolphins using interesting techniques to capture their prey.

Recently, biologists observed dolphins in the Shark Bay area of Western Australia. These animals used a technique called shelling to catch prey. The dolphin chases a fish or other small animal into a large shell, then they put in their beak and shake it until the fish drops into their open mouth. They observed the behavior in several dolphins, and through social evaluation, determined shelling was learned from other dolphins in the same generation and not mothers.

Being in the South Carolina Low Country, we frequently see dolphins swimming near the beaches and in the marshes. They have a unique way to capture prey, strand feeding. This technique is where a group of dolphins coordinate to rush the bank of a creek, pushing fish onshore then feeding on the flopping fish.

You can learn more about the amazing abilities of dolphins in many of the titles in our Summer Reading collection. Here is a short reading list:

Join 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.

Sharks 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.

Enjoy a day in one of the most dynamic habitats on earth: the salt marsh. Fun-to-read, rhyming verse introduces readers to hourly changes in the marsh as the tide comes and goes. Watch the animals that have adapted to this ever-changing environment as they hunt for food or play in the sun, and learn how the marsh grass survives even when it is covered by saltwater twice a day. An activity on adaptations is included in the “For Creative Minds” section.

Where else could you stay dry while visiting aquatic animals from around the world? Only in an aquarium can you visit and learn about all these different local and exotic animals. Aquarium staff care for and teach about these animals, as well as work to conserve and protect threatened and endangered species. Follow this behind-the-scenes photographic journal as it leads you into the wondrous world of aquariums and the animal helpers who work there.

Start reading today! Check out Arbordale’s free ebooks for Summer Reading and learn more about dolphins!

Sea the World from a Different Perspective this Summer

The unofficial start to summer is here! While 2020 has not been smooth sailing, we are happy that we can continue to share quality reading and fun activities with little ones and today we are kicking off Summer Reading Under the Sea.

Splash around through 24 underwater and beachy ebooks through August 31st on arbordalepublishing.com. We choses a few of our classic favorites along with some of our newer titles and a mix of fiction and nonfiction for readers to enjoy!

Don’t miss out on the fun! Read our blog weekly for crafts, scavenger hunts, and coloring pages to go along with a theme! Join us next week as we explore the darkest depths of the ocean and the strange creatures that live there!

Start reading today!

If you have any questions about our summer reading program email heather@arbordalepublishing.com.

Recycling Our Food

Earth Day is a great day to think about recycling! Not only recycling plastics and glass but, what about the parts of fruits and vegetables that we throw away? In nature, animals seek out discarded objects all the time. Some use these for houses or protection others find tools that are helpful to open or retrieve food.

Right now, we are staying safe at home and may not get to the grocery store as often as before. But with a little water, a little soil, and a bright sunny spot, you can start your vegetable garden inside with leftover plant pieces.

This lesson was inspired by Michelle Lord’s “Nature Recycles: How About You?” illustrated by Cathy Morrison. Before you get started on your vegetable garden, learn more about plants in these titles: Saving Kate’s Flowers, Daisylocks, and The Tree That Bear Climbed. 

planting jars
**Our jars are recycled too! These are yogurt jars, but they make perfect seedling jars after a quick washing.

Once you are ready to plant the veggie tops and bottoms, download our handy observation sheet to record the changes in your fruits and veggies. 

We followed some advice from this article when choosing our fruits and vegetables but doing some research on your own is certainly fun too! http://www.eatingwell.com/article/290729/how-to-grow-fruits-vegetables-from-food-scraps/

After just two days our green onion was sprouting, and now four days later the carrot looks to be sprouting tiny green hairs out of the top. Tag us in your vegetable growing and you could win advance copies of Arbordale’s fall titles.

Shark Baby by Ann Downer, illustrated by Shennen Bersani

You may have heard a catchy song about a shark recently…

Well, we have a catchy book about a shark – and a few of his friends he meets along the way. Baby Shark, in our case, is looking for his identity and help lies in the knowledge of the “mermaid” or manatee. November is manatee awareness month and time to celebrate the gentle giants of the sea.

Although it may seem unlikely, past sailors have confused the manatee for a siren or a fish-tailed maiden. While the manatee in our story is wise and helpful, real manatees face many challenges in their habitat.

Also nicknamed “sea cow” after the extinct Steller’s sea cow, and possibly because of their slow-moving pace, manatees are very susceptible to boat strike injuries. They require warm water to survive, and a cold winter can be tough on the manatee population. Fertilizer runoff and poisonous algae have also become a major threat.

At 800+ pounds, it is hard to believe that this creature is so vulnerable, but this vegetarian is greatly affected by our environmental influence. Learn more about Manatees through these books with fun facts about the giant marine mammal!

Shark Baby

“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?


Water Best: Sleeping in the Oceans

This soothing bedtime story explains how ten different marine mammals—animals that live in water but breathe air—sleep in the ocean. Based on up-to-date scientific research, the brief portraits are explained in simple, poetic language. Water Beds invites children to drift into sleep on gentle waves of imagination. The “For Creative Minds” educational section includes fun facts about marine mammal adaptations, and a “Design Your Own Marine Mammal” craft.


Mammals: A Compare and Contrast Book

All mammals share certain characteristics that set them apart from animal classes. But some mammals live on land and other mammals spend their lives in water—each is adapted to its environment. Land mammals breathe oxygen through nostrils but some marine mammals breathe through blowholes. Compare and contrast mammals that live on land to those that live in the water.


If a Dolphin Were a Fish

Join 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.


Learn more about each book by clicking the title or visit arbordalepublishing.com to see our entire collection of science picture books!

Summer Fun in the South Sea

We’re spending this hot July in the water, deep in the South Pacific, where one sea creature reigns supreme. The Hungriest Mouth in the Sea is a rhyming tale of eating, and being eaten as fish, mammals and even birds survive in this wild habitat. It’s easy to put this book on your summer reading list because it is the Arbordale Free Ebook of the Month.

Speaking of summer reading, here are some wonderful ways to keep kids learning even when they are not in school. After Reading The Hungriest Mouth in the Sea, you can test your knowledge by printing the “For Creative Minds” section and playing the Hungriest Mouth Games or matching the predator and prey.

If you are looking for a craftier rainy-day activity, we made some sea creature clothespin clips below!

For this activity, we gathered some clothespins, paint, cardboard, pipe cleaners, and a few googly eyes. As with all crafts you can be as realistic or as whimsical as you would like.

Our Orca is black and white paint with some cardboard for the tail and fin. We made a yellow fish with with a googly eye and cardboard fins. Our squid is adorned with pipe cleaner tentacles and a big eye.

Have fun with your own interpretation of the creatures of the South Sea! If you want to get your own copy of The Hungriest Mouth in the Sea, visit the Arbordale store!