For our Beloved Book Lovers

Today, November 7th, is National Bookstore Day.  It is also Book Lover’s Day.  What better time could there be to make a trip to your closest bookstore and buy that book you have been itching to get your hands on.  I know that I have my own growing list that alternates between my purse and back pocket.  Go buy a book today, or buy several…the holiday season is here after all.  You may not think it, but I can assure you, books do in fact fit in Christmas stockings!

Better yet, take a hunt around our website.  To those of you with younger children, we have many fun to read books that you can order today.  As you may know, Sylvan Dell has grown to include more than 75 authors and illustrators in the United States and Canada, and 65 titles – honored as finalists or winners of over 70 book awards. Our Science and Math Through Literature Program integrates reading, science, math, geography, character skills, and language learning through fun, cross-curricular activities. Sylvan Dell also provides more online educator resources than any other publisher in the United States.

And on a random note…here’s some interesting facts about Daylight Savings Time…that wonderful mock holiday of ours that bewilders us all:

  • According to computer scientist, David Prerau, Ben Franklin—of “early to bed and early to rise” fame—was the first person to suggest the concept of daylight savings.
  • Franklin noted that the sun would rise far earlier than he usually did.  He determined that resources would be saved if he and others rose before noon and burned less midnight oil.
  • Germany was the first place to adopt these time changes, thereby saving coal for the war effort during WWI.
  • In the USA, a federal law standardized the yearly start and end of daylight saving time in 1918…during WWII, it was made mandatory, in order to save wartime resources.  It was even enforced year-round during this time…essentially making it the new standard time for a few years.
  • During the 1973-74 Arab oil embargo, the USA again extended daylight saving time through the winter.  This caused a 1% decrease in the country’s electrical load. 

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.

The Many Facets of Halloween!

Our celebration of Halloween today is but a pale representation of its actual rich and multicultural history.  It was once a celebration marking the end of the growing season, and a heralding of the coming winter months.  It is told that this day, of all days in the year, is the one in which the veil between the living and the dead is the thinnest.  It is the day that ghouls and ghosts can walk among the living.  While costumes today are for entertainment and fun, they were once used to confuse the dead and keep the living safe on this supernatural night.  Blended from several origins, including the Celts, Romans, and Catholic tradition, Halloween came to be it’s own special celebration.  Today, however, it has become a nationally commercial holiday, supported by a consumer based economy. 

Back in the old days…with the history of the Celts, Druid priests were believed to have the ability to commune with the dead.  It was rumored that their powers were the most powerful on the last day of the year: Samhain (sow-en) according to the Celtic calendar.  On this day, the Celtic people would extinguish their hearth fires and gather in front of a bonfire for the evening instead.  A celebration of singing, dancing, and listening to stories would ensue.  At the end of the evening, each family would take some of the bonfire home and relight it in their hearths in hopes of good fortune for their home and family in the coming year.  If it did not light, misfortune or death would come to someone in the house that year. The celebration of Halloween does not come directly from this day, however, for credit can also be given to the practice of several other cultures.

For instance, in the New World, Halloween was largely disallowed.  In Maryland, however, it was encouraged, and people would attend parties with singing and dancing and ghost stories.  Children would dress in costumes and try to scare one another.  The actual tradition of trick-or-treating from door to door, did not begin until the Irish immigrants brought it with them when they came fleeing from the Potato Famine. 

In relation to Pagan tradtion, this night was determined to be the night that a young woman would find out her future husband.  This would be done by looking into a mirror in a dark room or by peeling an apple and casting the peel over her shoulder.  Many Christian churches, who believed such paganistic rituals would lead to witchcraft and Satanism, created “Hell Houses” (haunted houses to us today), which were meant to scare children and young adults away from ever tampering with such damning traditions.

As you can see, this now famous American holiday is due to the old practices of many cultures throughout the centuries.  There is so much more to learn about the history of Halloween as well all the other holidays we celebrate with our friends and loved ones.  The best part is that ALL of the learning can be done through the simply wonderful act of reading!

Tomorrow, Nov. 1, is the start of National Family Literacy Month.  Take advantage of this time to spark a budding love of reading in your child.  Read to them about interesting facts they don’t know, and let them read with you.  Sylvan Dell Publishing has a whole slew of options that can help aid you in educating your little one on a parent-child basis.  Check out our homepage, and from there you can read about every book we have to offer you and your child!

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.   

 

 

 

Get to Know Barbara Mariconda, Author of Ten for Me

Barbara Mariconda is the award winning author of two Sylvan Dell Publishing books, Sort it Out! and the Fall 2011 release Ten for Me, in addition to being a professor, mentor teacher, and partner in an educational seminar and consulting firm.

Where did the inspiration for the butterfly catching in Ten for Me come from?

I have a garden in front of my house that attracts butterflies of all kinds. They are delicate and strong at the same time. I love that dichotomy of delicate and strong. I suppose I tried to capture a little of those characteristics evident in my own personality.

What are the most frequently asked questions you encounter as an author?

Most people ask, ‘Where do you get your ideas?’ The answer to that is that I believe stories are expressions of our unconscious mind — reflections of the emotions, issues, concerns and questions we only look at in a superficial way on a conscious level. In fact, I believe all art forms — music, visual and theatre arts, as well as writing — are all vehicles for this kind of powerful self expression. It’s why people write — not to make a ton of money, not for any kind of fame, but because it is so satisfying to tap into the unconscious self.

What is something no one ever asks you about writing or being an author that you would like to share?

No one really asks about the amount of time, energy, resilience, and persistence it takes to get published. The effort is a testament to a driving force within the author that is all about the process and little about the end result. Writers write because there is something in them that needs to be expressed. And the process is life-giving. It allows the writer to deal with disappointment and rejection.

Why is teaching kids about math so important?

Math is not usually an end unto itself, rather it’s a way to think, analyze, quantify and ob-jectify reality. When kids learn to think mathematically, they learn a variety of ways to see and to think about other aspects of life.

What has writing taught you about yourself?

I’ve learned that what I write about is always a symbol, a powerful metaphor for some aspect of myself I seek to know or understand better. I don’t think authors intentionally create symbols in their writing — the symbols emerge from within and often inform and empower the writer as well as the reader. As I look over Sort it Out! I begin to wonder what aspects of my life need to be sorted through, and how many ways I might group and regroup everything important to me. This is why I have a passion for teaching chil-dren about writing — to empower them to use the written word as a means of opening the channels of self reflection and self expression.

Any advice for children who someday hope to become writers?

As you go through your days NOTICE everything. Look carefully at the people, places, and feelings in your life. Before you can write you need to learn how to really SEE. Question everything. Ask why, how come, why not, what if? Write every day. Never give up. Believe in your own view of the world. And write it true.

Barbara Mariconda is an author of children’s books, an educator (K-6), a mentor teacher, and an adjunct professor of Children’s Literature and Process Writing. Barbara has also written a wide variety of musicals, songs, novels, and numerous professional books for teachers. She frequently speaks on the topic of writing for and with children, and provides professional development for teachers at seminars across the country. She lives in Connecticut where she is a partner in the educational seminar and consulting firm, Empowering Writers, LLC., and is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.

Visit Barbara’s website at http://www.empoweringwriters.com, see Sort it Out! at http://www.sylvandellpublishing.com/bookpage.php?id=30, and don’t forget Ten for Me http://www.sylvandellpublishing.com/bookpage.php?id=101, which releases this Fall.

Get to Know Darcy Pattison, Author of Prairie Storms

Darcy Pattison is an award-winning author of numerous books, and the author of the Sylvan Dell Fall 2011 Release Prairie Storms.

 

What drew you to writing, children’s books especially?

I write because I read children’s books to my own children. With four kids, it meant years and years of reading books, during which time I developed a love of the picture book form and a passion for chapter books for kids. I started writing when they were young and have never grown up.

What do you hope children get out of your stories?

My goal is to help kids enjoy playing with language. Of course, that means a story and I hope they enjoy the story, too. And since Prairie Storms is a non-fiction book, it also means facts. I want kids to have fun learning about the ani-mals and the storms and how living creatures interacts with the weather and cli-mate of their area. But mostly, this is meant to be a great read aloud that an adult can share with a kid, and enjoy a moment of shared pleasure in the words, the art, the sound of literature, the joy of knowing something.

What tips do you have to encourage young readers?

Read, read, read. The more you practice, the better reader you will be. And why should you want to be a great reader? So you can travel to places you’ve never seen, can feel emotions you’ll never feel any other way. In Prairie Storms, for example, you’ll stand stare into the face of a blizzard and stand, “prairie strong and defiant.”

What is the most rewarding thing about having your books published?

Because I’m published, it means I get to visit many places and talk to many peo-ple. In that sense, writing and publishing has enlarged my world, made me friends with widely scattered folks. I love the book, as something you can hold and open together. But mostly, I love that crea-tive work can connect people in special ways.

Any advice for those interested in writing?

Read, read, read. Write, write, write. Prac-tice is the most important thing you can do. If you want to be in a rock band, you don’t just pick up a guitar and wind up rich. Instead, you learn how to play chords, how to write music, how to sing. In other words, you practice. Don’t expect to sell the first thing you write. You may need to write ten novels before you write well enough to sell well. Consider those books and those years as an apprenticeship and you’ll be fine.

Darcy Pattison, (www.darcypattison.com) author of both picture books and novels, has been published in eight languages. Her books include 19 Girls and Me (Philomel,), Searching for Oliver K. Woodman (Harcourt), The Journey of Oliver K. Woodman (Harcourt), The Scary Slope (graphic novel from Stone Arch). Her books have been recognized for excellence by **starred reviews in Kirkus and BCCB, Child magazine Best Books of the Year 2003, Nick Jr. Family Magazine Best Books of the Year 2003, and various state award reading lists.

As a writing teacher, Darcy is in demand nationwide to teach her Novel Revision Retreat. Her books about writing or teaching writing include Novel Metamorphosis: Uncommon Ways to Revise (Mims House) and Paper Lightning: Prewriting Activities to Spark Creativity (Cottonwood Press).  Darcy is the 2007 recipient of the Arkansas Governor’s Arts Awards, Individual Artist Award for her work in children’s literature. Forthcoming titles include Prairie Storm (Sylvan Dell, 2011) and Desert Baths (Sylvan Dell, 2012).

Discovery of New Dinosaur Species!

The bones of an all-new species of tyrannosaurid dinosaur have been discovered in China. The Zhuchengtyrannus magnus is one of the largest predatory dinosaurs found and is comparable to its cousin, the infamous Tyrannosaurus Rex. It is estimated that the specimen was around 10 meters long and weighed 6 tons. Like others in its family, the Zhuchengtyrannus is characterized by a large cranium and jaws, as well as tiny forearms. This massive beast lived in the late Cretaceous period and the bones have been dated at 70 million years old. The actual fossils that have been discovered are pieces of the jaw, teeth, and cranium.

 

According to David Hone, one of the paleontologists responsible for the discovery, the location of the fossils is equally important. Zhucheng, Shandong Province in China is one of the most fossil-rich sites in the world and more than 50 metric tons have been collected since 1960. The area was a flood plain in the Cretaceous period, leading to a wide variety of species being washed together. In fact, David Hone estimates that there may be another distinct species of Tyrannosaurus present, based on fragmentary fossils.

For more detailed information on the discovery, including ecology and taxonomy, check out his blog:

http://archosaurmusings.wordpress.com