It’s National Zoo and Aquarium Month!

Children love going to zoos and aquariums (Z/As) as great places to see animals they would not see in their daily lives. As children (and their parents/caregivers) explore, they are learning about the animals and their habitats, especially when they read the signage and listen to educator talks.

Learning about animals, their habitats and conservation issues is a first step in caring about the environment. Z/As donate millions of dollars a year to support conservation issues around the world. When you purchase a ticket and buy products in their gift shops, you are contributing to those causes too.

Many Z/As even participate in breeding programs. The American Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) even has programs (Species Survival Plans) to help zoos find endangered-animal breeding partners and locations for the resulting babies. In some cases, these babies may even be released back into the wild! The National and Phoenix Zoos raised and released black-footed ferrets. San Diego and Oregon Zoos participate in raising and releasing California Condors. Hogle Zoo breads and releases Boreal Toads. Potter Park Zoo releases Puerto Rican Crested Toads back into the wild. The Phoenix Zoo participated in “Operation Oryx” to release Arabian Oryx into the wild. The North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores is one of several zoos and aquariums participating in raising Orinoco crocodile hatchings to be released into the wilds. Other animals that have been successfully raised and introduced into the wild include red wolves, pygmy rabbits, butterflies, Western pond turtles, fishers, and wolverines.

Support your local zoo and aquarium this month! And, make sure to read lots of books featuring animals you might find there.

#zoo #aquarium #helpinganimals

Mount St. Helen’s Volcano

At 8:32 (Pacific) on May 18, 1980, Mount St. Helens volcano erupted killing 57 people and destroying the area around it. The entire northside of the mountain slid down the mountain. After the eruption, scientist spent years studying how life returned to the area and, interestingly, they give the lowly gopher much of the credit. Read Gopher to the Rescue to your children to learn how Mother Earth in all her wisdom replenishes herself following this kind of natural disaster. https://www.arbordalepublishing.com/bookpage.php?id=GopherRescue

How to Train a Pooper Snooper

Finding it

Do you love training your dog new tricks? Co-author Julianne Ubigau has trained her shelter dogs amazing tricks that help scientists save important animals.

Pooper Snooper is the story of Julianne’s work tracking the Pacific Pocket Mouse with Sampson. The story details training, and tracking, and a little time for playing ball. As part of the wildlife detective team, the duo searches the terrain, and Sampson uses his powerful nose to pick up on the scent of tiny mouse poop. The scientists learn so much about the population of mice that would take much more effort with only humans searching for them.

Although the story centers around Julianne’s work, author Jennifer Keats Curtis and illustrator Phyllis Saroff also bring the story to life. Jennifer has told the story of many scientists working in various fields. She can take complicated jobs or subjects and use language that young readers relate to and understand. Phyllis is a certified dog trainer, and she drew inspiration from some of her favorite pups for Pooper Snooper. The digital illustrations are realistic and fun!

We had an amazing time chatting about creating Pooper Snooper with Jennifer, Julianne, and Phyllis. Watch it here!

Get your copy of Pooper Snooper or download the “For Creative Minds” section and other educational activities at arbordalepublishing.com.

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!

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.

What are you afraid of?

Original: RushenbDerived: Peter Coxhead / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0
Original: RushenbDerived: Peter Coxhead / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0

Are you afraid of spiders? Arachnophobia is one of the most common phobias around the world. For those that suffer from this fear, today’s blog will be frightening.

Halloween has us thinking about creepy creatures, and we just stumbled on new research on tarantulas. Did you know that these large spiders come in blue and green? A group of researchers at Yale and Carnegie Mellon are studying why the predominantly nocturnal spiders are so brightly hued and whether that matters to other spiders.

It turns out color does matter to tarantulas! The blue spiders are brightly colored to attract a mate. Which means the hairy spiders see in color. The researchers tested opsins in the spider’s eyes and found they had a wide range of colors.

A Jumping Spider from Mary Holland’s Animal Eyes

While the blue spiders are trying to be seen, the green tarantulas are looking to hide. The spiders are largely tree dwellers, and their color is helpful to conceal them among the leaves.

The research continues as they learn more about the evolution of tarantulas, their colors, and their eyesight.

There are not a lot of spiders lurking in Arbordale books, but here are a few titles with different eight-legged creepy creatures.

You can learn more about these books and more at arbordalepublishing.com!

Go Inside Animal Homes with Mary Holland

Mary Holland’s popular Animal Anatomy and Adaptations series grew by one today. We release Animal Homes – a look at the way animals adapt to their environment and make their homes. Mary takes us inside the homes of beavers, bees, birds, and squirrels.

Let’s take a look…

You may have made a fort, using blankets and furniture, or put up a tent to go camping, but today we have a different kind of challenge for you. Can you make a house of cards?

What we learned. This only requires a deck of cards, but you need a steady hand and a lot of patience. Start building with two cards angled in a triangle. Once one is steady, start with another and cap them together by placing a card on top. We tried to make multiple levels, but our house folded several times.

Send us a photo of your card house to @Arbordalekids on Instagram and you could win a copy of Animal Homes. For more information about Mary’s latest Animal Anatomy and Adaptations title visit the book’s homepage.

Mosquitoes, Bees, and Butterflies

Butterflies

We are nearing the end of summer’s long days, and you may notice buzzing bugs in your yard soaking in the summer sun. August is a buggy month with World Honeybee Day and World Mosquito Day falling in the middle of the month insects are on our mind.

Researchers have been documenting the size of insect eggs, thinking that perhaps the egg shape is significant in shaping the bug. After collecting and documenting 10,000 samples, they found that habitat and not egg shape give the bugs their characteristics.

Biologists are thrilled to have this extensive database and research at their fingertips. Which got us thinking about the bugs in our books, and all the research illustrators do to make Arbordale books accurate.

Multiply on the Fly by Suzanne Slade, illustrated by Erin E. Hunter

 While learning multiplication, readers also get some fascinating bug facts. Illustrator Erin E. Hunter did extensive research into the characteristics and habitat of the 11 different bugs featured in Suzanne Slade’s math series book. The clean landscapes showcase the diverse bodies of each insect.

 When two kids hunt butterflies, they find all different varieties in the garden. Here, illustrator Sherry Rogers incorporates her whimsical style with accurate depictions of butterflies and moths to bring to life the competitive butterfly hunt written by Barbara Mariconda. With each page adding up to ten, readers get an important math lesson in this book too!

They Just Know: Animal Instincts by Robin Yardi, illustrated by Laurie Allen Klein

 While this book has more animals than just insects who know how to survive on their own, Laurie Allen Klein’s ladybugs and swallowtails are some of our favorites. Her personal touches are sure to be found by family members that completed flight school or sending baby ladybugs off on their own. Robin Yardi expertly mixed humorous everyday situations with a realistic view of the amazing animal instincts.

The Most Dangerous by Terri Fields, illustrated by Laura Jacques

There is only one bug in this book, but it is found all over the world and is the most dangerous animal of all. The competition is fierce in Terri Fields’ contest for the most dangerous animal crown, and the illustrations by Laura Jacques show each animal at their most fierce.

We hope you are buzzing with excitement to explore the diverse insects in your backyard. Just avoid the mosquitoes – they bite! If you want to read more about the study of insect eggs, see the full article here, and you can find each of these titles at arbordalepublishing.com.