Reading on a Theme: Halloween

Here come the ghosts and goblins, Skulls and sarcophaguses, and our favorite – bats and cats! Amongst the falling leaves and decorative pumpkins, these two creatures enjoy the low light of twilight to make nightly appearances. So today we give you a booklist, and a little background, on how some of these spooky beings became symbols of Halloween.

While some believe bats fluttering around bonfires during ancient rituals warding off evil spirits is the first spooky association with the winged mammals, Braham Stoker is really credited with fortifying the association. His shapeshifting character Dracula flying into the night ready to drink blood just like the vampire bats of South America was enough to spark fear into many readers.

Today we know a bit more about science than the 17th-century explorers and here are a few books that show the softer side of bats.


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.


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?


Jojo is prepping for an exciting night; it’s time for the bat count! Bats have always been a welcome presence during the summers in the family barn. But over the years, the numbers have dwindled as many bats in the area caught white-nose syndrome. Jojo and her family count the bats and send the numbers to scientists who study bats, to see if the bat population can recover. On a summer evening, the family quietly makes their way to the lawn to watch the sky and count the visitors to their farm. – Read Bat Count during October as Arbordale’s Free ebook of the month!


Cats have long been human companions, and the Egyptians memorialized their cats as mummies – but we will get to them later. As the Christian religion spread throughout Europe, people began associating the dark cat’s nocturnal hunting with the devil. Starting in the 1500’s witchcraft and the black cat became forever connected in people’s minds.

While cats are aloof, skilled hunters, and happy to prowl at night, homes around the world welcome cuddly kitties without being accused of witchcraft these days. However, statistics show black cats are less likely to be adopted than light-colored counterparts. Learn about the similarities and differences of cats domestic and wild in these books:


Big cats are fierce predators that roam the world from the mountains to the deserts. How are these wild cats that hunt for their food the same as pet cats that might chase a mouse or ball of yarn? How are they different? Children learn the days of the week as they travel to seven different world habitats to meet the big cats, and then back home to compare and contrast the domestic cat’s behavior to that of its relative.


Colo the cougar and her friend Ruff, the bobcat, jump and play together, but Ruff can’t jump as far as Colo. Ruff doesn’t have a long, swishy tail like Colo does, to provide balance on long leaps. Ruff’s tail is much shorter. He is sure that something is wrong with him. Sympathetic, Colo suggests they find a tail that Ruff would like better, so off they go. As the two kittens explore the variety of tails worn by other animals, they make the best discovery of all.


Finally, our newest Halloween read is also the newest symbol of the holiday. Over the years, people have developed a very different relationship with death than perhaps some ancient cultures. The Egyptians believed that the spirit would return to the body, so they were very careful in preserving that body for this event. There are several mentions of mummies in literature, but today’s evil villains wrapped in bandages are largely a Hollywood invention.

Scientists are learning so much about past lives from mummies found in tombs and in nature. Don’t worry, they are not coming back to life; technology is key in discovering the past. Learn more in Rhonda Lucas Donald’s latest title!   


If a mummy could talk, what would it say? Of course, mummies can’t talk. But with modern scientific tools, we can still discover what a mummy has to tell us. Read the stories of mummified Egyptian pharaohs and priestesses, baby elephants, pampered pets, and even a prehistoric bison. Uncover clues to centuries-old murder mysteries and human sacrifices, and even find out what a person or animal had for their last meal! Information from real scientists explains how we know what we know about each mummy. So, what do these mummies have to say? Lots, it turns out!


That’s all for today’s Reading list, but you might find a few other ghostly tales on the Arbordale website!

Crafty Fun with Cheetah Dreams!

Today we celebrate Cheetah Dreams!!

IMG_3443

Linda Stanek is a cat lover (follow her on twitter @LindaStanek to see her adorable kittens). So, when she began working on an academic book about cheetahs, her next children’s book was forming in the back of her mind. That book just came out last week and is a poetic love story to the majestic cats, but also has valuable facts. Readers are sure to show empathy with the cats as their habitat and numbers continue to decline. With equal passion, illustrator Shennen Bersani traveled to zoos and learned from keepers and the animals themselves. Her realistic illustrations show the fast cats in motion and at rest with adorable furry cubs.

In the spirit of October, we have a fun craft to help you celebrate the release of Cheetah Dreams! You can illustrate this simple cheetah mask of your own. We used a paper plate, a combination of markers and paint, along with a folded pipe cleaner. You can be creative with the decoration and if you have a string or elastic to secure the mask that can simply be attached to the sides for a more secure fit.

 

Download the pattern and print it out.

CheetahMask

Cut around the lines and then trace it onto a paper plate.

Cut the mask out of the paper plate along with the two ears.

IMG_3438

Attach the ears either with staples or glue. And then color your cheetah face! Shennen’s beautiful illustrations are a great guide having been vetted for accuracy by some of the top Cheetah experts.

After painting your cheetah’s spots, attach the holding stick or elastic and be a cheetah for a day!

IMG_3442

**This crafter is not as skilled as Shennen, so this cheetah mask has not been vetted by experts

Get you copy of Cheetah Dreams in English or Spanish from Arbordale or just learn more about the book on the book page!

Summer on the Shore: What’s the difference between sharks and dolphins?

bottlenose-dolphinThousands of people flock to the beaches for summer vacation, and it is a thrill to spot a shark or a dolphin from the sand. It can be tricky to determine which is which but here are a few similarities, differences, and fun facts about these sea creatures.

When a fin rises above the waves, note the angle.

A dolphin has a curved dorsal fin and a horizontal tail. They propel themselves up and down through the water taking in oxygen as they crest waves before disappearing below the water’s surface.

Sharks have a more triangular dorsal fin. Their tails are vertical, and it moves from side to side smoothly propelling the shark through the water.

thresher-sharkSince a shark is a fish they breathe under the water, but beware if a shark launches itself into the air, dinner is likely in its sights. Great White sharks have been caught on video chasing seals and other fast movers high into the air, although this is not a common sight to see from the beach.

A small number of bottlenose dolphins chase their food above water in a coordinated event called strand feeding. At low tide, a group of dolphins circles a school of fish until they propel themselves onto the beach and feed on the delicious fish and shrimp. Visitors to the South Carolina or Georgia coast may be lucky enough to see this event, but dolphins are very smart creatures and don’t often strand feed while people are around.

Here are a few books where you can learn more about sharks and dolphins!

Sharks and Dolphins:  A Compare and Contrast Book
SharksDolphinsSharks 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.

If a Dolphin Were a Fish
Dolphin_187Join 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.

Shark Baby
SharkBaby_128“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?