How Mountain Animals can chase off those Winter Blues

Thank you to author Kevin Kurtz for today’s blog post featuring a few mountain creatures and their ways to weather the winter! 

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This winter, as you walk across the parking lot in your boots and winter jacket, be glad you are not a marmot. Like the other animals featured in my book A Day on the Mountain, marmots have to deal with a winter that may last from September until May. If you were a marmot, right now you would be in a state of hypothermia in a hole underneath a freezing rock, not really moving until you woke up some time in April.

MarmotaFlaviventris_3268Mountain animals must spend summer getting ready for the long winter. For marmots and black bears, this means getting as fat as they possibly can. They need to be fat in order to hibernate. Marmots pig out on grasses and flowers and black bears devour berries to build-up fat cells full of energy. When the mountain gets buried in snow, their bodies live off the energy in their fat until springtime.

Hummingbirds use a different strategy.  They spend the warmer months sipping nectar from the flowers that decorate mountain meadows. Then whenMale_Rufous_Hummingbird_(7172188464) the weather turns frosty, they do what pretty much every person over 70 in the northeast United States does: they head south for the winter. Instead of driving a minivan full of half their belongings down I-95, hummingbirds will fly their 0.2 ounce bodies hundreds, or even thousands, of miles to reach warmer climates during the winter.

One of the most amazing mountain winter survivors is the Clark’s nutcracker. During the summer, these relatives of jays and crows use their long beaks to pull seeds from pinecones. They eat some of them, but then fly around with the rest to 10-11_Clark-nutcrackerbury tens of thousands of them all over the mountain. In the winter, they can remember the thousands of places they buried the seeds and dig them out from under the snow to get the food they need. I can’t even find the remote control in my living room half the time.

As extreme as our winters can seem, they do not match the winters animals on mountains must endure. Because the high elevation of mountains affects the temperature, these animals live in Arctic climates within temperate latitudes. So think of that the next time you are 4-5_bearsshoveling snow. At least you aren’t doing it to find pinecone seeds.

Do you want to learn more? Check out Kevin’s book A Day on the Mountain at Arbordalepublishing.com, then head to the coast with A Day on the Salt Marsh and into the sea with A Day in the Deep! 

What is a Synesthete?

So I came across a new word today: Synesthete. What in the world is that?  As I hope you know, reading can bring all sorts of new experiences and knowledge.  Here’s what I learned today through taking a few minutes to read something new and interesting:

A Synesthete is a person with a sensory image condition called Synesthesia.  For a long time, scientists didn’t bother to study these patients because they claim that they can hear colors and taste words!  How unusual is that? 

There was never any way to prove if these people were making it up, thus causing the condition to be widely misunderstood for many years. Also, Synesthetes tend to describe the things they see and feel in extreme detail, which has prompted scientists to link them to schizophrenics and other people with mental incapacities. 

Now, however, scientists are starting to learn that this condition is not an incapacity at all.  In fact, they are trying to prove that all humans are wired with the potential for Synesthesia…that it is just suppressed from us for some unknown reason. 

I hate calling this strange phenomenon a condition because it offers people certain benefits to creative thinking.  What if we can find a way in the future to unblock the neural path to Synesthesia?  If studies indicate that Synesthesia is about seven times more common in artists, poets, and novelists than in the rest of the population, does this mean that we can all have the maximum potential for creativitiy?

We can all be writers and artists! As Synesthetes are better at linking unrelated ideas, would we be able to find connections and hidden links to many of the mysteries we are investigating today?  You wait and see…I wouldn’t be surprised if a Synesthete discovered the cure to cancer!   

Also, some Synesthetes have been known to perform amazing feats of memorization, such as remembering the value of pi to 22,514 digits, while others are able to distinguish between very similar colors or have a heightened sense of touch.  Whatever the condition heightens, a math genius, or an artist could be born.

Now, just because we don’t all have Synesthesia, or access to it, this doesn’t mean we can’t be whatever we want to be.  Anyone can write a story, and anyone can be an author.  Sylvan Dell Publishing is proof of this, as we ourselves are a small, but quickly growing company.  Many of the books we publish are written by first time authors.  Habitat Spy, Hey Diddle DiddleThe Penguin Lady, and Gopher to the Rescue! are only a few.  

Take a look at these books, read them with your kids, and make sure to tell them that any time they choose, they could be a first time author too!

Let’s Celebrate Antarctic Day!

Tomorrow, November 22nd, is Antarctic Day! This is a day to celebrate our neighbors way way south where the penguins and icicles play. This may be a nice place to visit, if you can handle the extreme cold, but I think it’s safe to say that none of us would want to live there.  Since we won’t be unpacking for good any time soon in the Antarctic, how about we give it its own special day and celebrate!

Here are some interesting and fun facts to get you and your kids excited about the Antarctic:

  • To avoid confusion, the Antarctic is the region around our Earth’s South Pole, while the Arctic region opposite it is around Earth’s North Pole.  Now which one does Santa fly from again? 
  • Did you know that that there are no polar bears in this southern region?  They only live in the Northern Hemisphere.  Penguins, on the other hand, are abundant in the Antarctic. 
  • The very first human to be born in the Antarctic was named Solveig Gunbjørg Jacobsen (have fun pronouncing that one!).  He was born on October 8 of 1913.
  • This region had no indigenous people living in it when it was first discovered
  • There are more tourists that visit the Antarctic each year than people who actually live there!

Well there you go! To find out more about the Antarctic, keep an eye out for our new title coming in February of 2012, called “The Penguin Lady,”by Carol A. Cole. In this picture book, Penelope Parker lives with penguins!  Short ones, tall ones; young and old—the penguins are from all over the Southern Hemisphere including some that live near the equator! Do the penguin antics prove too much for her to handle? Children count and then compare and contrast the different penguin species as they learn geography.

In the meantime, however, you can learn all about the Antarctic’s rival region, the Arctic, by checking out our wonderful title, “In Arctic Waters,” by Laura Crawford.  While reading this book, you and your child can follow polar bears, walruses, seals, narwhals, and beluga whales while they chase each other around the ice in the Arctic waters!  It is a pure delight to read aloud, and the “For Creative Minds” section helps children learn how these animals live in the cold, icy arctic region. 

Let’s Toot the Horn of our Award-Winning Author, Donna Love!

Author Donna Love has become a USA Best Book Awards Finalist for her latest picture book, The Glaciers are Melting!

USABookNews.com is an online publicaion that provides coverage for books from mainstream and independent publishers to the online community of the world.  JPX Media Group, in Los Angeles, California, is the parent company of USABookNews.com.

Jeffrey Keen, President and CEO of USA Book News, said that this year’s contest yielded an unprecedented number of entries, which were then narrowed down to over 500 winners and finalists. 

This is now the ninth year that these awards have been distributed.  Keen says, “The 2011 results represent a phenomenal mix of books from a wide array of publishers throughout the United States.  With a full publicity and marketing campaign promoting the results of the USA ‘Best Books’ Awards, this year’s winners and finalists will gain additional media coverage for the upcoming holiday retail season.”

The Glaciers are Melting! deals with the story of Peter Pika, who is certain that the glaciers are melting after a drop of water falls on his head.  He decides to go speak to the Mountain Monarch about it.  Joined along the way by friends Tammy Ptarmigan, Sally Squirrel, Mandy Marmot, and Harry Hare, they all wonder what will happen to them if the glaciers melt.  Where will they live, how will they survive?  When Wiley Wolverine tries to trick them, can the Mountain Monarch save them?  More importantly, can the Mountain Monarch stop the glaciers from melting?

Donna Love is an award-winning author whose husband is a district ranger on the Lolo National Forest.  Two of their three children are now in college.  In addition to The Glaciers are Melting!, Donna’s other books include Henry the Impatient Heron, Loons, Diving Birds of the North, and Awesome Ospreys, Fishing Birds of the World. Awesome Ospreys became a Skipping Stones Press Honor Award Winner in 2006, for promoting ecological understanding and cooperation around the world. With a background in art education, Donna substitute teaches at the elementary and high school level. Throughout her years as a substitute and while raising her own children, she found she had a gift for explaining nature to children. She and her husband have three grown children and one grandchild.

If you are interested in learning more information about Love visit her website at www.donnalove.com. Check out more one her book, The Glaciers are Melting! through our homepage.

Orionid Meteor Shower: A Sight to See

This past weekend was the Orionid Meteor Shower. Did anyone get a chance to look at the night sky in the early early hours of the morning?  Although these Orionids, which appear from the Orion constellation, are rather modest, they do have a claim to fame that makes any star gazer ready to spot them: they are a product of Halley’s comet!  As Halley’s comet orbits the sun, it has left behind dust that was liberated from the comet when it was warmed by its close passage to the sun.  In turn, the Orionid meteor shower that we are able to see is the result of the Earth passing through this trail of depris deposited by the comet.  Did you know that these sand-grain size pebbles from Halley’s debris stream race through the sky at speeds of more than 90,000 miles an hour?  That’s 145,000 kilometers!  At speeds as high as this, when the debris reaches Earth’s atmosphere, streaks of light are created.  For us here on Earth, this is a beautiful sight. 

To peak your child’s interest, teach them more about the solar system and planets with our beautifully illustrated books, “Meet the Planets,” and “Saturn for My Birthday,” by John McGranaghan.  

Soar through the solar system with “Meet the Planets,” and witness the first Favorite Planet Competition.  Who will be the lucky winning planet?  Readers learn all about each planet as Pluto (the former ninth planet, now known as dwarf planet Pluto) introduces them with short, tongue-in-cheek facts.  Children (of all ages) will spend hours searching the art for all the references to famous scientists and people of history, space technology, constellations, art, and classic literature. 

In “Saturn for My Birthday,” young Jeffrey wants Saturn for his birthday, and he wants the moons too…all 47 of them!  But he’s not selfish, he’ll share some of the rings with his friends and teacher at school.  Facts about Saturn are woven seamlessly throughout this wonderful picture book.  Through a funny story, Jeffrey explains just what he will do with his present and how he will take care of it.   

 

 

 

Darcy Pattison Discusses Prairie Storms and Writing on PBS Special

Darcy Pattison will discuss her latest children’s book, Prairie Stormsas part of “AETN Presents: On the Same Page” on the Arkansas Educational Television Network (AETN) on Friday, Oct. 21, at 6:30 p.m., and again on Wednesday, October 26 at 6:30 p.m..  “AETN Presents: On the Same Page” is part of AETN Arts Fridays, featuring world class arts and culture programming and locally produced series.

Darcy Pattison is the 2007 recipient of the Arkansas Governor’s Arts Award for her work in children’s literature. She founded the Society of Children’s Books Writers and Illustrators Arkansas Chapter, and actively serves as a speaker and judge for chapters throughout the nation. She is currently co-chair of the Children’s Program for the Arkansas Literary Festival. Pattison’s other works include Nineteen Girls and Me and Searching for Oliver K. Woodman.

Prairie Storms gives children a front row seat into the harsh climate of the American prairie and how the animals that reside within it adapt to the ever-changing climate. Pattison focuses on a different prairie animal and habitat each month, showing how a prairie grouse surves the freezing snows of winer or how a lizard evades the brutal sun and heat of summer with realistic watercolor illustrations by Kathleen Rietz. Written in lyrical prose and complete with activities and quizzes, Pattison’s book is both an educational and celebratory look into the great American prairies.

Be sure to watch for Darcy’s next Sylvan Dell picture book, Desert Baths, out Fall 2012!

Sylvan Dell’s “Fur and Feathers” is a 2012 Teacher’s Choice Award for Children’s Books Winner!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Learning Magazine has selected Fur and Feathers by Janet Halfmann and illustrated by Laurie Allen Klein, as a 2012 9th annual Teacher’s Choice Award for Children’s Books winner! 

The Teacher’s Choice Award is determined by a team of teachers from across the United States.  They judge the entries and provide reviews.  Sylvan Dell’s book, Champ’s Story: Dogs Get Cancer Too!  had the privilege of winning the Teacher’s Choice for the Family Award in November of 2011.  This is the only award that requires its judges to be both a teacher and a parent.  Winning titles are chosen based on qualities such as originality, creativity, safety and durability, and high-interest level and motivation for children. 

In Fur and Feathers, a young girl named Sophia dreams that strong winds whisk the fur and feathers right off her animal friends.  She decides to share some clothes with them, but as it turns out, her clothes don’t work so well on animals.  She offers to sew each one the “right” coat, and the animals line up to explain what they need and why.  Polar Bear needs white fur to stay warm and hide in the snow.  Fish needs scales, but with slime.  How will Sophia make a prickly coat for Porcupine?  This book brings animal coverings to life in an imaginative way.

Janet Halfmann is the award-winning author of more than thirty children’s books, both fiction and non-fiction.  Her other recent titles include Narwhal: Unicorn of the Sea, Good Night, Little Sea Otter, Little Black Ant on Park Street, and Seven Miles to Freedom: The Robert Smalls Story.  Janet is a memeber of the Society of Chidlren’s Book Writers and Illustrators.  Before becoming a children’s author, she was a daily newspaper reporter, children’s magazine editor, and a creator of coloring and activity books for Golden Books.  For more information, visit her website: http://www.janethalfmann.com

Laurie Allen Klein has been a freelance aritst for nearly 20 years.  Over the last several years, she has worked as the on-staff artist for a marine park, where she does everything from painting life-size sea animal murals, to illustrating children’s activity books.  In addition to Fur and Feathers, Laurie also illustrated Where Should Turtle Be?, the award-winning Little Skink’s Tail, and If a Dolphin Were a Fish for Sylvan Dell.  Her website can be visited at http://www.lauriekleinart.com/.