Book Launch: Tortoise and Hare’s Amazing Race

TortoiseHareMarianne Berkes and Cathy Morrison are not newcomers to children’s books, Tortoise and Hare’s Amazing Race is their third book together at Arbordale and individually each of these ladies has an impressive collection of stories and book awards. We are happy to release this adaptation of the classic fable and bring a bit of math into the race!

To learn more about the inspiration behind Marianne’s writing here is a sample of her interview:

CathyMorrisonWhat drew you to writing, children’s books ?

As a child our home was filled with books and music. I wrote plays that my friends and I performed in the summer, in our backyard. My dad even helped us build some of the scenery. Reading, writing, music and theater have been a constant in my life. In high school I did interviews for the school paper, and in college wrote my first picture book for a children’s lit class. But it was many years later, after I moved to Florida, that I said “I can do this!” Reading so many books to children at the library where I worked, I kept coming up with ideas of my own. Because I love kids and love “words” I started submitting my stories to publishers, and one day…

What do you hope children get out of your stories?

An appreciation of our earth and respect for nature. I spent a lot of time outdoors as a child and still do. Discovering nature is a life-long adventure that I hope kids today still appreciate. Nature has so many stories to tell and is available to anybody, any place, any time. I hope kids will be entertained by my books, but also that they will want to learn more about the topic. My first book, published in 2000, was about frogs making music in the night. Hopefully after reading this book, kids will go outside in the early evening, especially after a rain, and listen for the sounds I’ve written about. I’ve followed with stories about birds, shells, creatures living in an ocean reef, rainforest animals, Arctic animals, animals that migrate, Australian animals, forest animals (like Polly Possum) and river animals. In Arbordale’s The Tree that Bear Climbed kids also learn how a tree grows, and Daisylocks is about plant life. I’ve also written a book about the planets that I hope kids enjoy. How can we ask them to save the earth, if they don’t learn to appreciate it first? My books are lyrical in verse, making it easy and fun for kids to read with lots of fact blended in. I want kids to really get inside my books, to read them more than once, each time finding something new and exciting!

Do you want to know more read the full interview here!

Leave a comment and enter to win your own copy of Tortoise and Hare’s Amazing Race! Then click below for fun math activities in the For Creative Minds section.

Pages from TortoiseHare_FCM

Children’s Book Week – Charades!

For Children’s Book Week this year we are celebrating with the theme Discover Something New! All week this blog will host activities giveaways and fun book facts for kids, parents and teachers.

In addition to the activities we are offering a free paperback with any online store order! It’s a grab bag, so you may just find something new from Arbordale!

Everyone Loves a Charade

Today is the perfect day to discover how animals stay cool in the hot summer months. Because we celebrated CoolSummer_128mothers yesterday and we are headed toward the dog days of summer what could be better than learning how animals keep cool in the summer with a game of charades!

In A Cool Summer Tail, animals ask their mothers how humans stay cool in the summer. A fun way to learn more about animal adaptations is by acting them out.

Divide the group into two teams.

Print out the animal names and adaptations below. Cut them into strips and place those in a bowl. Make sure to mix them up.

For the first 30 seconds they must act out the animal adaptation. Understanding that growing hair, and sunning butterfly_toonyourself may be a little difficult to act out after those 30 seconds are up they may act out other traits of the animal or try to get the group to guess the name of the animal. After the animal is guessed announce the adaptation to the group as well as the animal name.

In case you have forgotten some of the symbols used in charades here is a helpful guide:

  • Number of words in the title: Hold up the number of fingers.
  • Which word you’re working on: Hold up the number of fingers again.
  • Number of syllables in the word: Lay the number of fingers on your arm.
  • Which syllable you’re working on: Lay the number of fingers on your arm again.
  • Length of word: Make a “little” or “big” sign as if you were measuring a fish.
  • “The entire concept:” sweep your arms through the air.
  • “On the nose” (i.e., someone has made a correct guess): point at your nose with one hand, while pointing at the person with your other hand.
  • “Sounds like”: Cup one hand behind an ear.
  • “Longer version of :” Pretend to stretch a piece of elastic.
  • “Shorter version of:” Do a “karate chop” with your hand
  • “Plural”: link your little fingers.
  • “Past tense”: wave your hand over your shoulder toward your back.
  • A letter of the alphabet: move your hand in a chopping motion toward your arm (near the top of your forearm if the letter is near the beginning of the alphabet, and near the bottom of your arm if the letter is near the end of the alphabet).

 

Squirrel – They lick their forearms where the hair is thinner and the saliva evaporates to keep them cool.


 

Black Bears – They lie on their backs exposing their bellies where the fur is thinner


 

Painted turtles – They go to the cool water of the ponds lakes and streams to stay cool


 

Black-capped chickadee – They hide under the shade of leaves, stand in puddles of water or open their beaks to breathe quickly


 

White tailed deer – They shed their winter hair, and grow a new coat of fine red hair that allows air to move better.


 

Honeybees – They fan their queen to cool her by hanging upside down on the hive and fan it inside the hive.


 

Garter snake – the coil up in a den during the day and come out at night to eat.


 

People – They live in air conditioning, wear light clothing, and swim in pools to stay cool


 

Black swallowtail – They use the warmth of the sun and shade their bodies with their wings when they get to hot.


 

Red Fox – They pant or breathe very fast across their damp tongues to evaporate the heat from their bodies.


 

Costa’s hummingbird – They fly long distances to find the cool weather that is just right


 

Wood frogs – They dig under leaves and sticks to keep their skin moist.


 

people-pool

A Time For Friendship

December is a time for friendship, and what better way to demonstrate friendship to children, than through a picture book?  Here are a few of Sylvan Dell’s favorite books about friendship with fun and easy activities that you can do this holiday season.

 

Newton and MeNewton and Me – While at play with his dog, Newton, a young boy discovers the laws of force and motion in his everyday activities. Told in rhyme, Lynne Mayer’s Newton and Me follows these best friends on an adventure as they apply physics to throwing a ball, pulling a wagon, riding a bike, and much more. With the help of Sherry Rogers’ playful illustrations, children will learn that physics is a part of their world. They will realize that Newton’s Laws of Motion describe experiences they have every day, and they will recognize how forces affect the objects around them.

 

Activity: Help you child get to know their friends. Start a conversation and learn about their family pet or favorite toy. Encourage your child to ask questions.

 

Moose and Magpie_COVER2Moose and Magpie – It isn’t easy being a moose. You’re a full-grown adult at the age of one, and it itches like crazy when your antlers come in! In Bettina Restrepo’s Moose and Magpie, young Moose is lucky to find a friend and guide in the wisecracking Magpie. “What do the liberty bell and moose have in common?” the Magpie asks as the seasons begin to change. Then, when fall comes: “Why did the moose cross the road?” Vivid illustrations by Sherry Rogers bring these characters to life. Laugh along with Moose and Magpie, and maybe-just maybe-Moose will make a joke of his own!

 

Activity: Comedy hour – give your child and friends a “microphone” and encourage them to tell jokes. Make sure they know not to tell jokes at their friend’s expense.

 

Home in the CaveHome in the Cave – Baby Bat loves his cave home and never wants to leave it. 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 them for their food. Will Baby Bat finally venture out of the cave to help the other animals?

 

Activity: Prepare a winter scavenger hunt for your child and friends. They can go on an adventure together and the reward can be a cup of hot coco and talking about their fun adventures of the day.

 

HabitatSpy_187Habitat Spy – Let’s spy on plants, insects, birds, and mammals in 13 different habitats. Told in rhyming narrative, Habitat Spy invites children to search for and find plants, invertebrates, birds, and mammals and more that live in 13 different habitats: backyard, beach, bog, cave, desert, forest, meadow, mountain, ocean, plains, pond, river, and cypress swamp. Children will spend hours looking for and counting all the different plants and animals while learning about what living things need to survive.

 

Activity: While running those busy errands this season turn off the radio and play “I Spy” in the car while driving around town.

 

Giraffe_187The Giraffe Who was Afraid of Heights – Imagine if the one thing that keeps you safe is what you fear the most. This enchanting story tells of a giraffe who suffers from the fear of heights. His parents worry about his safety and send him to the village doctor for treatment. Along the way, he befriends a monkey who is afraid of climbing trees and a hippo that is afraid of water. A life-threatening event causes the three friends to face and overcome each of their fears. The “For Creative Minds” section includes fun facts and animal adaptation information, a match-the-feet game and a mix-n-match activity.

 

Activity: Sending out holiday cards? Help your child make a holiday card thanking their friends for their help and friendship throughout the year.

 

ChampCancerCompanion-2Champ’s Story: Dogs Get Cancer Too! – Children facing cancer—whether their own, a family member’s, a friend’s, or even a pet’s—will find help in understanding the disease through this book. A young boy discovers his dog’s lump, which is then diagnosed with those dreaded words: “It’s cancer.” The boy becomes a loving caretaker to his dog, who undergoes the same types of treatments and many of the same reactions as a human under similar circumstances (transference). Medical writer and award-winning children’s author, Sherry North artfully weaves the serious subject into an empathetic story that even young children can understand.

 

Activity: If a good friend is sick and children do not understand Champ’s Story is a great conversation starter. Give your child crayons and a piece of paper help them express their feelings through art.

 

These and many other fun books and lessons are available for the holidays at www.sylvandellpublishing.com.

National Berry Month

July is the perfect time for berry fun!

Blackberry Banquet

 

Blackberries are a fruit that can be picked throughout most of the United States, and thrive in the hot summer months. It’s a fun family activity to pick your own blackberries at a local farm, or even plant bushes in your own personal garden.

Once you have picked your berries here is a smoothie recipe to celebrate the hard work!

 

Blackberry Smoothie

1 cup vanilla yogurt, ice cream or milk
½ cup blackberries
1 small to medium banana
2 to 3 Tbs. sugar (depending on sweetness of berries)

Place in your blender and puree on high speed to mix

Learn more about blackberries and the wild animals that like to eat them in Blackberry Banquet.