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

Book Launch: The Sparrow and the Trees

SparrowTreesSome writers always knew that they were destined to tell stories, others came to the craft a little later. That was the case with new author Sharon Chriscoe. Her first picture book The Sparrow and the Trees is a retelling of a native folktale that explains why some trees lose their leaves in winter while others do not.

Find out why Sharon chose to retell this story:

SharonChriscoeWhat was your incentive to write this particular book?

I love the Native American folklore, Why The Trees Lose Their Leaves, and it was exciting to base my own story on that wonderful folklore. It was the story I was meant to write. I was thrilled when Arbordale agreed and offered publication.

What is most rewarding and/or challenging about writing children’s books?

The most rewarding aspect of writing The Sparrow and The Trees for Arbordale is knowing that children all around the world are going to read and learn from my book. Arbordale is so fantastic with the amount of educational elements they include with each of their books, from online resources to worksheets to Creative Minds Information — there is something for everyone to learn. I learned a lot while researching this book!

Do you have any advice for parents of young readers and writers?

Read to your children every day. Make it a fun, memorable experience and they will become lifelong readers. One of my favorite quotes is “Children are made readers on the laps of their parents.” — Emilie Buchwald.

Get the full interview on the book’s home page, click here!

Don’t forget comment on this post to win a copy of The Sparrow and the Trees. And color to your hearts content with these fun pages.

Book Launch: The Lucky Litter

LuckyLitterIt’s no secret; at Arbordale we are big fans of Jennifer Keats Curtis and her ability to write wonderful books about animals. This season she pairs up with John Gomes again to bring us The Lucky Litter: Wolf Pups Rescued from Wildfire. John’s beautiful photographs really bring out the personality in these cute pups and paired with Jennifer’s insightful words, this book is already getting praise…

“This is a charming tale full of child appeal for young readers who love true animal stories. The large font, bold type, and short but informative sentences make for easy, comfortable reading.” -Kirkus Reviews

Have you ever wondered how Jennifer begins a book, She was kind enough to share her process of creating The Lucky Litter:

JenniferCurtisLast year, a huge wildfire in Alaska consumed vast amounts of wilderness, forcing people and animals to leave their homes. I learned about this devastating fire from my buddy John Gomes, the Alaskan photographer with whom I’ve worked on Animal Helpers: Zoos and Kali’s Story: An Orphaned Polar Bear Rescue. With John’s update came a tip –  the Alaska Zoo was expecting five wolf pups just rescued along the Funny River Horse Trail. John was looking forward to photographing the babies. Was there a story here?

I began gathering information about the pups and the rescue, tracking down the firefighters, wildlife biologists, vet, and keepers involved in helping these animals. I also connected with Alaska residents who had been affected by the fire. As it turned out, the adult wolves caring for those pups had been driven away by the heat of that massive fire. They were unable to return for the babies. Fortunately, a firefighter found one of the pups and rushed to get help. It is clear that Gannett, X-Ray, Huslia, Hooper, and Stebbins would not have survived without human intervention. There was indeed a story here. The Lucky Litter is the true story of the little pack’s survival.

This story almost wasn’t written. There was a question about whether wolves are a good topic for a children’s book. It turns out that people feel strongly about wolves and tend to fall into one of two camps: they love them or they hate them. Those who love wolves are awed by their power, beauty, and strength. Those who hate wolves believe these animals are frightening and view them as vicious, eating machines.

It is true that wolves are predators. But, they play a crucial role in the ecosystem. The gray wolf is a keystone species. A keystone is the big, important stone at the top of an arch that holds all of the other stones in place. The keystone anchors the structure so that it does not collapse. Keystone species are animals that help all of the other animals in an ecosystem stay in place. Gray wolves may be small in number but they play a big role from the top of the food chain all the way to the bottom. They help maintain the balance between predator and prey. When a keystone species is harmed, the entire ecosystem suffers. This important premise is beautifully shown in the video How Wolves Change Rivers (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ysa5OBhXz-Q) about the demise and reintroduction of wolves to Yellowstone Park.

I am thrilled that this story has come to fruition. My goal in writing for children is to help young readers see what I’ve seen and learn what I’ve learned. For this book, I discovered a lot about wolves and wildfires. I had the opportunity to work with people who are making a difference in the lives of animals. The photos capture the personality of each of the wolves. What’s not to love?

Learn more about Jennifer and John’s work on the book’s page, but don’t forget to enter to win a copy of your own by commenting on this post!

Book Launch: Amphibians and Reptiles

AmphbnReptileWith three books under her belt in the past two years, author Katharine Hall is ready to compare and contrast again with Amphibians and Reptiles. This is the fourth book in our popular series and like the other books in the Compare and Contrast Book series young children will learn a ton of facts and get an up-close look at these slimy or scaly creatures.

Katharine-Hall2014Some of the most common questions we get from readers are about coming up with book ideas. Get to know Katharine and her writing…

How have you decided what topics to write about in the series?

I started with Polar Bears and Penguins because so many kids – and even adults! – think that these animals inhabit the same area. So I really wanted to pull them apart and say, no, this is where polar bears are and this is where penguins are, and they are completely different regions. So comparing/ contrasting two groups that are frequently confused is a fun topic and probably my favorite approach. But there are also things that are around us all the time that we don’t necessarily think about or examine. Those make great topics because they involve exploring something familiar and learning new things.

As an avid reader, what were some of your favorite books as a child?

How long of a list do you want? I could go on forever, but I’ll try to limit myself here. When I was little-little, I loved the “Baby Blue Cat” books and anything/everything by Jan Brett. Then by elementary school, I basically read everything and anything I could get my hands on. In terms of non-fiction, I have always enjoyed biographies. My mom stocked our bookshelves with biographies of famous women in history, famous inventors, scientists, and mathematicians – books that introduced me to important people and moments in history and helped expand my understanding of the world. For fiction, the “Harry Potter” series by JK Rowling and the “Song of the Lioness” series by Tamora Pierce were – and still are – near and dear to my heart.

Find out what author Katharine Hall has coming up next in her full author interview!

Amphib-Rept Ready to compare and contrast Amphibians and Reptiles? Leave a comment and enter to win a copy of the new book, then get started with our Venn diagram!

Summer Reading Giveaway

Its Memorial Day weekend and the unofficial kickoff to summer! We are taking a break this weekend to kick back and relax, but before we lounge on the beach with a great book we are hosting giveaways on Goodreads. We are revisiting some of our 2013 releases that are perfect for learning about nature, or even planning a trip. Click the links below to enter the contest.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Anybody Home? by Marianne Collins Berkes

Anybody Home?

by Marianne Collins Berkes

Giveaway ends May 25, 2014.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

 

Enter to win

 

Goodreads Book Giveaway

 

A Day in the Deep by Kevin Kurtz

 

A Day in the Deep

 

by Kevin Kurtz

 

Giveaway ends May 25, 2014.

See the giveaway details at Goodreads.

 

 

Enter to win

 

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Dino Tracks by Rhonda Lucas Donald

Dino Tracks

by Rhonda Lucas Donald

Giveaway ends May 25, 2014.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

 

Goodreads Book Giveaway

 

The Perfect Pet by Samantha Bell

 

The Perfect Pet

 

by Samantha Bell

 

Giveaway ends May 25, 2014.

See the giveaway details at Goodreads.

 

 

Enter to win

 

Book Giveaway!

We are celebrating the upcoming July 4th holiday early at Sylvan Dell Publishing. To celebrate, we have decided to offer a book giveaway of Ocean Hide and Seek by Jennifer Evans Kramer, illustrated by Gary R. Phillips. There are only five copies available. In order to enter for a chance to win a free book, participants must complete the following matching game and send their answers back to us in a Facebook message. Also, we will be posting fun ocean facts on are Facebook from time to time, so check it out!

(For example, did you know that 94% of life on Earth is aquatic?)

https://www.facebook.com/SylvanDell

Ocean HideSeek Matching copy

Lucky Seven

They’re here! Seven new titles from Sylvan Dell have finally hit shelves around the country. Over the next few weeks on the blog each book will be featured in depth with activities, author interviews and even giveaways.

AH-Sanctuaries_128  BalloonTrees_128  DeductiveDetective_128  FerdinandFox_128  NatureRecycles_128  OnTheMove_128  SharkBaby_128

We want to hear from you! Send us questions about the spring 2013 titles pictured above and we will answer them on our blog.