New Book News! Bat Count & Moonlight Crab Count

Do you have a young scientist in the making? This season we have two citizen science books that just may inspire your family to find their own project. You can spot bats, frogs, butterflies, crabs or even stars to help scientists with important research.

First, we meet Jojo and her family as they await the yearly bat counts on the family farm.

batcount

Bat Count: A Citizen Science Story 
by Anna Forrester, illustrated by Susan Detwiler

Bat Count is inspired by author Anna Forrester’s family farm, and the citizen science project that her family participates in every summer. Anna would like to show young readers that participation in citizen science is a great way to do real science, and that is very meaningful to the scientists finding solutions to ecological problems.

Visit Anna Forrester’s website for more batty fun! 

Next, we meet Leena, her mom, and dog Bobie as they travel to a small beach for a night of collecting data on horseshoe crabs.

moonlight

Moonlight Crab Count
by Neeti Bathala, Jennifer Keats Curtis & Veronica V. Jones

Horseshoe crabs are one of the oldest and strangest looking species around! Each spring they swim to shore and spawn along the Eastern US, but the Delaware Bay is the best spot to see a whole crowd of crabs, sea birds and people too. The living fossil has blue blood that is very important to medical reserch, and thier eggs are an important food source for a few different migrating birds. This is why citizen scientists are busy counting crabs as they are spawning.

Learn more about horseshoe crabs and the citizen science project.

Get involved in your local area: Check out these sites for ongoing projects around the world!

https://www.scientificamerican.com/citizen-science/

https://scistarter.com/citizenscience.html

https://www.nwf.org/Wildlife/Wildlife-Conservation/Citizen-Science.aspx

New in Nonfiction: Animal Legs

animallegs_cover

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 12-hairy-tailed-moleskin 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!10-striped-skunk

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.

 Learn more about Mary’s new book Animal Legs on Arbordale Publishing’s website. For daily updates with amazing animal facts and photos, follow Mary’s blog Naturally Curious with Mary Holland.

Get Crafty – Summer Fun

Shells

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.

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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!

 

Helping the Helpless Animals

Spring is here, and it’s a time of year when many baby animals are emerging from their winter hiding place. Some of those babies may be a little different.

Recently, Antler Ridge Sanctuary in New Jersey rescued a litter of eastern gray squirrels, but one of those squirrels had a pure white coat. The rare white fur means that the squirrel has a form of albinism.

A white coat with red eyes mIMG_0833 (1)eans that the animal is an albino. Some animals are leucistic;
these white-coated animals have their natural colored eyes but their lack of color makes them stand out from the other animals of the same species. Other animals are piebald; they have patches of albino white mixed with patches of their natural color.

The lack of color puts these special babies at risk. In a world of browns, greens, and greys the pure white is very hard to disguise from predators. Often albino animals, especially small prey animals such as squirrels are targeted by larger animals and don’t make it in the wild for very long.

Of course not all white animals have albinism, for example arctic animals such as polar bears and arctic foxes are white to blend with their surroundings.

However, without the help of rescuers many albino animals would have been lost in the wild, some of these animals are rehabilitated and then live out their days in zoos or aquariums.

To learn more read about the albino squirrel read the article here!

And…find out more about animal rehabilitators and the work zookeepers and aquarist in these books by author Jennifer Keats Curtis with the help of organizations around the country.

AnimalHelpersRehab_187Animal Helpers: Wildlife Rehabilitators

Like humans, animals can get sick or hurt. People see doctors. Pets have veterinarians. What happens to wild animals when they are injured, become ill, or are orphaned? Often, wildlife rehabilitators are called to their rescue. This photographic journal takes readers “behind the scenes” at four different wildlife rehabilitation centers. Fall in love with these animals as they are nursed back to health and released back to the wild when possible. This is the first of a photographic series introducing the different ways and the many people who care for a wide variety of animals.

AH_Zoos_187Animal Helpers: Zoos

Zoos are amazing places to see and learn about the many native and exotic of animals that inhabit this world. Some animals are plentiful while others are threatened or in danger of extinction. Zookeepers not only feed and care for these animals, they may also be helping to conserve and protect whole species through breeding and “head start” programs. Follow the extraordinary duties of these unusual animal helpers in this behind-the-scenes photographic journal.

AH_Aquariums_187Animal Helpers: Aquariums

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.

 

Book Launch: They Just Know

TheyJustKnowRobin Yardi is releasing her first picture book this week, They Just Know: Animal Instincts. The combination of the whimsical and real life come together perfectly with Laurie Allen Klein’s art as readers learn how some animals don’t need mom and dad to show them the way, they just know!

Before we get to the inside scoop on hidden gems in the art meet Robin and find out how this story came to be…

RobinYardiWhat was your incentive to write this particular book?

When my daughter was young we loved to talk about animals that didn’t need their mothers. I remember playing mommy and baby butterfly with her (a game of her invention) and trying to explain, “Well actually, butterflies never meet their mothers.” You should have seen her face! “Who teaches them to fly?” she asked. “Who makes them breakfast?” After years and years of watching butterflies in our garden this still amazes her, so I thought a book about the wonderful things animals can do all on their own would appeal to other kids too.

What animals in They Just Know have you seen before?

We get monarchs coming through our garden twice a year on their migration north and south. They lay their eggs and travel on, leaving behind little larvae that devour our milkweed. Then the milkweed grows back just in time to host a new crop of caterpillars. And every winter thousands of monarchs take shelter in a coastal grove of eucalyptus nearby.

I’ve had the pleasure of petting horn sharks at our local Sea Center. They are quite docile and have soft, pebbly skin.

I’ve loved finding ladybugs since I was a little girl. Once I had hundreds of ladybugs take up residence in the cracks of my windows and spend the entire winter living with me. I made quite a lot of wishes that winter and really don’t have many left. Now when I find ladybugs I give them to my children to wish on.

I’ve never seen a spring peeper, or pinkletink as some people call them, but I do love and worry about the world’s amphibians. I’ve had pet frogs and toads and once ended up with about two hundred tadpoles!

I’ve swum among Green Sea Turtles in the waters of Hawai’i. These turtles are protected and you cannot touch them, but you can look deep, deep into their eyes. I’ve rarely seen anything so beautiful, curious and gentle.

As a kid in California I caught two species of kingsnake, both strikingly and stripingly beautiful!

To read the full interview with Robin, click here, but first play find and seek throughout the book with Laurie Allen Klein’s art!

Hide and Seek in They Just Know

LaurieAllenKlein(hint, Laurie answers these questions on Nonfiction Nook, but see if you can find them yourself)

  • Find the t-shirt with all the animals from the book pictured on it.
  • Which way is the current headed for the baby swimming turtles?
  • What kind of “helmet” might a ladybug wear for flying?
  • If a shark needed a nightlight what kind of fish serves that purpose?
  • First flights are celebrated with a ritual, why is a cut t-shirt so special?
  • What is the equation on the frog’s blackboard showing?TJK-spread-13
  • What game are the king snakes playing?
  • What other Arbordale book is pictured within the pages here?

Comment here and enter to win your own copy of They Just Know!

Book Launch: Sounds of the Savanna

SoundsSavannaTerry Catasús Jennings has a talent for taking a simple concept and telling a great story. In her newest book Sounds of the Savanna, Terry takes readers to the African plains and shows them how important sound is to the animals that live in this habitat.

Get to know a little more about Terry’s writing:

TerryJennings72How did you first become interested in writing, and writing for children’s picture books?

When I read Little Women by Louisa May Alcott as a very young girl, I knew I wanted to be a writer, just like Jo March. I believe though, that I would have ended up being a writer even if I hadn’t read the book. Stories are always rolling around in my head. Whenever something happens I like to report on it, like writing a newspaper story, in my head. I also like to figure out why people may have acted in a particular way, so I take what happens and I figure out a plot line that may have led them to their actions. Sounds crazy, doesn’t it? What I like best of all is figuring out the very best way to convey each message—the best words to use, how to form each sentence and that is especially important in a picture book. I love to use the rhythm of language when I write a picture book. It’s almost like writing a poem.

Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?

Read, read, read. Write, write, write. Look at the world with curiosity and try to figure out why things happen they way they do and why people act the way they do. Listen to people talk. Pay special attention to how they move. Capture a scene as if you were a movie camera and store it in your mind. You’ll use all those things that you have stored in your mind when you write your books.

You can read the full interview here!

But first here is a great roaring lion craft to go along with the book’s For Creative Minds section, check it out.

IMG_1112What you will need:

  • You can use felt or paper (for our mask we used paper).
  • You will need light brown, dark brown or black, A shade of red/pink, and white.
  • Scissors and a pencil
  • A large circle and small circular container for tracing
  • A stick, for ours we used a pipe cleaner
  1. On tan paper use the large circle and trace three circles in a heart shape pattern. Connect the two top circles to the bottom and cut out your back portion.
  2. On the same paper trace two circles connect them together at the top to form a straight line and cut those out. For the nose of your lion.
  3. On the dark brown or black paper use the smaller circle and repeat step one. This will form your open mouth.
  4. Again on the dark paper cut a triangle for the nose and then round the edges
  5. On the pink paper use the bottom of the open mouth form and trace the lower portion of the tongue. Use your small circle to overlap and form the heart shape of the top of the tongue.
  6. On white paper cut two narrow triangles.
  7. Glue the dark mouth to the background, glue the tongue in place and then the teeth. Glue the triangle nose onto the tan nose, then glue that on top of your lion mouth.
  8. Tape or glue a stick to the back and you have your finished roaring lion!

Leave a comment and enter to win a copy of Sounds of the Savanna!

The Amazing Octopus

octopus

One amazingly interesting creature is the octopus; this cephalopod can twist and turn its body into many shapes, suction to all types of surfaces, and use a cloud of ink to distract predators. This week, researchers uncovered the California two-spot octopus’s ability to sense light through its skin.

When the scientist shone a beam of light on the skin of an octopus the chromatophores (pigmented structures in the skin) expanded and the skin changed color. When the light was turned off, the chromatophores contracted again and the octopus was back to its original color. Why does this happen? Scientists determined that the octopus’ skin has proteins called opsins that work with the chromatophores for this reaction to occur.

(Read more about the experiments here)

Changing colors is nothing new in the octopus species; they can become red with anger, or transparent in sunlight. The more tools the creature has to camouflage itself the better chance for survival in the wild depths of the ocean where predators are abundant.

To learn more about the octopus or how other animals use light in the depths of the ocean here is a short underwater reading list!

Octavia and Her Purple Ink Cloud

Octavia and her Purple Ink Cloud
Octavia Octopus and her sea-animal friends love playing camouflage games to practice how they would hide from a “big, hungry creature.” Octavia, however, just cannot seem to get her colors right when she tries to shoot her purple ink cloud. What happens when the big, hungry shark shows up looking for his dinner? This creative book introduces basic colors along with the camouflage techniques of various sea animals; a great introduction to marine biology!

DayDeep_128A 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.

ocean hide and seek_PAPERBACKOcean Hide and Seek
The sea is a place of mystery, where animals big and small play hide and seek! Can you imagine a shark hiding in the light? What about a clownfish in plain sight? Don’t believe it? Then, sink into the deep blue sea with Jennifer Evans Kramer and Ocean Hide and Seek! Surround yourself with the vibrant ocean illustrations of Gary R. Phillips. The ocean is an old, old place, and the exotic animals in the depths have learned to adapt to their surroundings to survive. Can you find the creatures hidden on every page? Or will you, too, be fooled by an ancient, underwater disguise?