Celebrate Summer Reading in the Great Outdoors

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It’s that time of year, kids are feeling antsy. Summer vacation is just around the corner, but that doesn’t mean reading isn’t just a good book away. Once again, we have a great summer reading program with ten free ebooks not only to encourage reading, but also get kids outside playing! Check out the buggy science journal, bird nest build, and habitat scavenger hunt for outdoor adventures.

No matter where you live, through books kids can visit the forests, beaches or the zoo. Read our dual-language, interactive ebooks and tell us your favorite book below to enter to win a paperback copy of our summer reading library.

Follow #ArbordaleLovesSummer for book giveaways and other summer reading features  on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!

Happy Reading

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Books that are Outta This World!

PlanetsWould you blast off to Saturn, if you could? Well, a group of researchers virtually visited the ringed planets to recreate the formation of Jupiter’s moons. They simulated Jupiter’s path as it cleared a track around the sun and found that Saturn may have been close enough to disrupt material at the edges of the path forming some of Jupiter’s moons.

Friday the 4this National Space Day, and a day to celebrate the remarkable advancements in space exploration. From, trips to the moon, to finding the DNA of stars, researchers are learning more about our solar system every day.

So, let’s celebrate with a reading list! Check out these fun space books from Arbordale.

Saturn for My Birthday

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Jeffrey wants Saturn for his birthday, and he wants the moons too—all 47 of them. After all, they’ll make great night-lights! But he’s not selfish; he’ll share the rings with some of his friends at school and with his teacher, Mrs. Cassini. Facts about Saturn are woven seamlessly throughout this funny story as Jeffrey explains just what he’ll do with his present and how he’ll take care of it. His dad better hurry with the order, though, because shipping might take a while. The “For Creative Minds” education section features “Solar System” and “Saturn Fun Facts.”

Solar System Forecast

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“Below-freezing temperatures, scorching heat, and storms bigger than planet Earth are just some of the wild weather you will encounter on your trip through the solar system! Get your fun facts along with your forecast for each major planet, as well as a moon (Titan) and a dwarf planet (Pluto). Get ready for some out of this world fun with Solar System Forecast!

Meet the Planets

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Soar into the Solar System to witness the first Favorite Planet Competition, emceed by none other than the former-ninth planet, now known as dwarf planet Pluto. The readers become the judges after the sun can’t pick a favorite and the meteors leave for a shower. Who will the lucky winning planet be? Could it be speedy-messenger Mercury, light-on-his-feet Saturn, or smoking-hot Venus? Readers learn all about each planet as Pluto announces them with short, tongue-in-cheek facts. Children will spend hours searching the art for all the references to famous scientists and people of history, space technology, constellations, art, and classic literature.

Pieces of Another World

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This touching story of a father and child’s nighttime excursion to watch a meteor shower is told through the eyes of a child in awe of the night world. Rockliff’s vivid descriptions make readers feel as though they too are watching the tiny bits of other, distant worlds blazing into our own.The “For Creative Minds” education section includes teaching trivia about meteors, meteor showers, comets, and asteroids as well as a “Meteor Math” game, a “Five Steps to a Fantastic Meteor Watching Party” checklist, and a recipe for comet cookies.

How the Moon Regained Her Shape

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This fascinating story influenced by Native American folktales explains why the moon changes shape and helps children deal with bullies. After the sun insults and bullies her, the moon feels so badly hurt that she shrinks and leaves the sky. The moon turns to a comet and her many friends on earth to comfort her. Her friends include rabbits and Native Americans. Then she regains her full shape, happiness, and self-esteem. The moon also returns to her orbit. An educational appendix called “For Creative Minds” gives advice about bullying, scientific information about the moon, and ideas for related crafts, recipes, and games for children.

Get these books from www.arbordalepublishing.com in hardcopy or dual-language ebook along with teaching activities, quizzes and other fun activities for Space Day!

Spring is in the Air

BabyBearDo you have itchy eyes and a stuffy nose? With blooming flowers and trees, pollen is flying and bothering our allergies. Some people may have miserable runny noses while others may not be bothered at all.

This is a problem that Baby Bear encountered as he leaves his den after hibernation in Shennen Bersani’s Achoo! Pollen Counts. And, although Baby Bear is a little unhappy with all his sneezing, he learns that there are many forest friends that use pollen. Especially the bees that make honey.

To celebrate spring, author and illustrator Shennen Bersani has created a fun pollen globe using the printable coloring sheet below check it out on her blog http://www.achoowhypollencounts.com/achoos-blog/achoo-pollen-snow-globe-craft.
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And…check out this great video review of Achoo! 

Achoo! Why Pollen Counts is available in hardcover, paperback, and dual-language, interactive ebook learn more about the book on arbordalepublishing.com!

 

 

Behind the Book: Dear Komodo Dragon

dragonsDid you know…A Komodo Dragon can be a playful lizard…they have poor hearing and ok eyesight, so they rely on their keen sense of smell to capture their meals…or that they can swallow a goat in one gulp!

These are fun little tidbits that author Nancy Kelly Allen didn’t quite fit into her newest DearKomodorelease Dear Komodo Dragon! Readers will find many more fun facts as they read the letters between Leslie, a wanna-be dragon hunter, and Komo, a wild Komodo dragon. But how did Nancy come up with this idea? It happened after a trip to the Louisville zoo where she marveled at their Komodo dragon “Big Man,” Then she talked with students, and one girl said how she loved receiving letters, but they hardly ever came in the mail. A book idea was born — letters from an unlikely friend.

With the story set, now it’s time for illustrations. Artist Laurie Allen Klein was selected to put images with the words, and here is her story:

Ordinarily, I have a couple months between receiving a manuscript and submitting rough sketches, but this was something of a rushed story. Because the original book I was scheduled to work on got pushed back to the Fall, I suddenly had some open time. And then Hurricane Matthew hit! That’s when I got the news about the new manuscript but had to go down to my local shipping store to access their computer to print out the story.

You also have to bear in mind this was early October, and because this was something of a rushed schedule, the rough sketches were due at the beginning of November, not the usual time frame I’m used to. Not to mention, I didn’t have access to all my usual technology. However, prior to the storm, I had become interested in an illustration style that was a bit different from my usual look. Still “realistic”-ish, this new look was more graphic and simple. Not as semi-realistic as my usual style AND it fit the nature of the story perfectly.  A girl being pen pals with a Komodo dragon allowed for a certain amount of illustrative whimsy. I wound up whipping out fully realized, book-sized pencil roughs in the fraction of the time it usually takes me. The look and images just fell right into place.

Komodo - Leslie - Outfit Ideas

It probably didn’t hurt that I also had an immediate source of inspiration literally across the street at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm who have 2 Komodo dragons. Not to mention a great source of reference book materials. The minute I printed out the manuscript (at the shipping store) I went right over to the St. Augustine Alligator Farm and checked out their exhibit, AND their books.

Then it was just a matter – as always – of letting the images come to me.  Aided in large part by a huge soft spot I have for dragons (not to mention a pretty extensive book collection of my own on the subject). I loved the opportunity to introduce images of dragons from mythology and other cultures with the real dragons across the street!

As for the character of Leslie, I made a determined decision NOT to base her on my own daughter (who is usually my Go-to Character Muse) but Jess still found her way into the illustrations by way of Leslie’s “Dragon Hunter” outfit, which I based on a long-ago Joan of Arc/Medieval Knight costume Jess wore for Halloween. I substituted the sword for a safer plunger-tipped “spear” but the medieval outfit is all Jesse.

Jesse - St Joan:Knight Inspiration

For the rest of the illustrations – I just had fun playing with textures and patterns.  And for the first time did not struggle with how to do the backgrounds – they just fell right into place. Not to mention, I have found a whole new style I can’t wait to explore some more.

Check out Dear Komodo Dragon and explore all of the educational extras that we have to offer!

Spring reading! A Booklist for your blooming backyard

The grass is greening, animals are popping out of their winter dens, it’s a great time to pick up a book and learn about what happens in the world when spring has sprung. Here are a few titles that feature animal babies, budding flowers, and pollen.

DaisylocksDaisylocks
by Marianne Berkes, illustrated by Cathy Morrison

Daisylocks needs a home that is just right. She asks Wind to help her find the perfect habitat to spread her roots, and he accepts the challenge. Wind blows Daisylocks to the plain, the mountain and the wetland. She objects to each place one by one—too cold, too hard, too wet. Daisylocks is not ready to give up! They try the humid rainforest and then the warm beach; those are not just right either. Will Wind find the perfect climate and soil for Daisylocks to place her roots and grow into a beautiful flower?

AchooAchoo!
by Shennen Bersani

Spring has arrived and pollen is in the air. Baby Bear does not like the pollen—it sticks to his fur and makes him itchy and sneezy. He’s allergic! Achoo! He just wishes the pollen were gone. When his friends gather to tell him why they need pollen, Baby Bear learns that pollen is good for the forest and provides food for many animals, including him! Pollen might be something we all love to hate, but can we really live without it? This story explains why we need it.

BackyardIn My Backyard
by Valarie Giogas, illustrated by Katherine Zecca

Baby dogs are puppies and they belong to a litter, but what is a baby skunk called and what is the name of its family group? This clever, rhythmic story tells us just that! Counting from one to 10, familiar backyard animals are introduced by baby and family group name. Each stanza also tells a bit more about each animal by providing clues as to what they eat, how they sound or where they live. The “For Creative Minds” section includes more animal fun facts, information on keeping a nature journal and how to watch for wildlife in your own backyard.

HeronHenry the Impatient Heron
by Donna Love, illustrated by Christina Wald

Henry the Heron couldn’t stand still! He was always moving, and it drove everyone crazy! His brother and sister yelled at him for stepping on their heads, and Mom and Dad could barely get food into his little baby mouth. But herons have to stand still to catch their food, so how would Henry ever be able to eat on his own? In Henry the Impatient Heron, Donna Love takes readers along with Henry as he learns a valuable lesson from the King of Camouflage! Hilarious and lighthearted illustrations by Christina Wald complement the important lesson in the text. It is a meaningful lesson for both herons and kids alike, which teaches the importance of just being still!

OtisOwlOtis the Owl
by Mary Holland

In beautifully detailed photographs, Mary Holland captures the first few months of a baby barred owl’s life. The huge eyes and fluffy feathers will steal the hearts of readers as they learn how barred owl parents ready their young owlets for the big world outside the nest. Follow along as Otis learns to eat, fights with his sister, and prepares for flight.

Get to know these books and more at arbordalepublishing.com. Happy spring reading!

Meet the Illustrator: Veronica V. Jones

Meet Veronica V. Jones, Moonlight Crab Count is her debut picture book and we think it is pretty great! We learned a lot about Veronica when we did this short interview get to know her too!

This is your debut children’s book, when did you decide to pursue a career in illustration?

I’ve been working as an illustrator for a long time. Soon after I graduated from university in 1995, I realized I wanted to work as an illustrator.   I started sending out mailers and emails to companies who might like my work. My first break was getting to work as a graphic designer, first for a company that made novelty photo sticker booths, then for a government contractor. This gave me a lot of valuable experience with new tools and software, as well as the business of commercial art. When my husband and I were about to welcome our first child in 2000, I decided to work as a freelance illustrator (and stay home mom) full time. I spent a long time creating artwork for the hobby tabletop game market, that is, collectible card games and roleplaying games, which use a lot of action, fantasy and science fiction art. In 2010, I decided I wanted to start doing artwork for children’s books and that’s where my heart has been ever since!

Can you discuss the difference between illustrating for children and adults? Is one more challenging the other? (If so, why?)

I think my work for children’s books is actually more challenging. My projects for adults these days are for the covers of novels. You have to tell a little bit of the story while also making a design that will be easy to figure out whether it’s on a bookshelf in a store or a tiny thumbnail on the Amazon website. However, for my children’s books, I have to do all of that and then the 13 or so interior spreads to accompany the story. I have to make sure the characters stay consistent so that Leena, for example, looks like Leena whether we’re at the start of her story, the middle, or the end. While I can usually wrap up an adult novel project in 2-3 months, a children’s picture book can take 6 months or more!

Have you always known you wanted to be an artist? What is your favorite media to work with (and why)?

Ever since I was little, I’ve always known I loved to create. I enjoyed making art for myself, and my friends but I didn’t really think about it as a job. Luckily, I met a medical illustrator who convinced me to start looking into illustration as an option.

I tried out a lot of different media to learn what would be the best fit for me. While I’ve enjoyed working with acrylics, pastels, pen and ink and colored pencil. For my work, I prefer my digital paintbrush. It gives me a lot of control, flexibility and speed, which is ideal when you’re working on a project. 

Did you draw when you were a kid? (Please provide details and/or a specific example.)

I drew ALL. THE. TIME!! So much so, I would get in trouble sometimes. The margins of my notebooks would be covered in doodles and I would practice poses from my favorite comic books like Spiderman. I remember in 7th grade drawing a ballerina I was particularly proud that it was shown off in the school art show. 

What books (or illustrators) have inspired you? 

There are so many books that have shaped me to be the person I am today. I was a voracious reader as far back as I remember, spending all the extra time I could both in my school library and the public library. Back in elementary school, I grew acquainted with Fudge and Ramona Quimby, went through the wardrobe to Narnia, and sleuthed with Encyclopedia Brown. As I grew older, I read all of the Anne of Green Gables books and all of the Nancy Drew mysteries. I read the Hardy Boys, but they weren’t as fun. I LOVED books by Robin McKinley (still do!) like “The Blue Sword” and “Hero and the Crown”. In high school I expanded to mystery and horror, reading Agatha Christie novels and Stephen King. I vividly remember reading “It” during final exams in the gym.

As for artists, I’ve been especially inspired by Norman Rockwell and Alphonse Mucha. I greatly admire the work of more recent illustrators Michael Whelan, Donato Giancola, Todd Lockwood and Tony DiTerlizzi. It was Tony’s work on the Spiderwick Chronicles that led me to think about jumping into art for the children’s book market.

Research is an important part of illustration. Can you explain how you learned about horseshoe crabs for “Moonlight Crab Count”? What is one fact that you didn’t know before you started?

Research is critically important to my process. I research not just the animals, but the objects, boats, houses and landscapes that a story is set in. For Moonlight Crab Count, I needed to do a lot of research on horseshoe crabs to make sure they came out right. I found out what kind of animal they are – not a crab at all but more closely related to spiders, as well as where they come up on land to reproduce (Mid-Atlantic seashore). One fact that completely blew my mind was that the horseshoe crab doesn’t have 2 eyes like we do but 10 eyes!

How do you begin Moonlight Crab Count, or tell us about your creative process? 

When I work on the artwork for a book like Moonlight Crab Count, my first step is to read the story over and over. I want to know whom the story is about and what happens. I try to start picturing the story in my head. Other artists use pencils, watercolor or acrylic paint for their art. While I may use some of those tools, my main tool is a computer. I use drawing and paint programs and a special pen and tablet to draw and paint on the computer.

Before I draw the pictures to go with the story, I need to come up with what the main characters will look like. For Leena, her mom, and Bobie the Boxer, I looked at a lot of pictures and sketched A LOT. Next, I start to do research to make sure that everything looks the way it’s supposed to. That means reading up on the places, things, and animals that show up in the story and keeping copies of pictures that I can return to later.

When I’m ready to start drawing, I make a version of the story on my computer. In this version, I split up the text into different pages with lots of blank space for drawing. Then I carefully go page-by-page and start to sketch out ideas for pictures that will accompany the text. These first sketches can be VERY simple. This is called a book dummy. I come up with simple sketches for each page then go back and make them into detailed drawings. As I’m drawing, I review the research I collected at the start to help me draw the people, animals, and places realistically. Once all these detailed drawings have been approved, I start painting! Like my drawings, I use my computer to paint.

As I paint, I make sure to look at all the pictures side by side to make sure the colors go together and look like they belong together. Once I finish, I submit these to the publisher. Generally, there is some back and forth as we change little things to make the text stand out better or to make sure the details are right. For Midnight Crab Count, we went back and forth on the lights on Leena’s boat. I don’t have a lot of experience with boats, so my editor was a big help on getting the details of the lights right! 

The colors in “Moonlight Crab Count” are beautiful and unusual. Can you talk about the coloration?

The colors of twilight and night are my favorite…the deep blues and indigos, the way the clouds catch the last bits of light to glow in the sky and how colors are muted by the dark. I wanted to really give the impression of the progression of night, so I used very little light just the moon and a few lights, until the final brilliant dawn. 

Do you have a favorite illustration in this book?

I have two favorites. I loved how the cover came out. I tried hard to instill a sense of wonder and magic in that moment when Leen sees the horseshoe crabs in the surf. My second favorite is Bobie running towards us with his tongue flapping. He just looks so goofy!

What challenges did you face in illustrating Moonlight Crab Count? 

While I’ve illustrated for middle-grade books, Moonlight Crab Count is my first picture book, which is quite different. It was a great learning opportunity. There’s a lot more art required, and illustrators have to keep the character consistent throughout the book, so it’s a bigger job. I loved doing it!

What’s next? 

The next book that I’m working on is The Lizard Lady. It’s about a scientist working with endangered land lizards in the US Virgin Islands. It’s a lot of fun because who doesn’t like tiny little lizards?

What advice can you offer to aspiring illustrators?

There are a lot of skills you need to learn to be a successful illustrator. Draw everything you see around you. Draw your favorite characters (like Spiderman!) but also the things you don’t like to draw, like feet, or cars or the trees. Try to learn different media like paints, pastels or markers so you know which are your favorites. Practice telling stories with your art.

Do you visit schools and/or teach illustration to children?

I’m very excited to start visiting schools to tell them about my work as an illustrator. Every summer I teach art classes to kids and teens at my local recreation centers. These classes aren’t long, but they’re FUN! I love to hang out with kids and see the world from their point of view, so I’m really looking forward to getting into classrooms and meeting more kids.

Learn more about Veronica on her website VVJones.com or contact her for a school visit at Veronica@VVJones.com!

Get Moonlight Crab Count at arbordalepublishing.com or request a copy from your local bookseller!

Book Launch Day!!!

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Congratulations to all of our spring authors and illustrators it is book launch day!

This season we have pairs of fun. For budding young scientists, we have Bat Count: A Citizen Science Story and Moonlight Crab Count. Animal lovers will enjoy reading about the rescue of Honey Girl: The Hawaiian Monk Seal and learning about the adorable ways of owlets in Otis the Owl. Finally, our topography forms in many different ways, giant rocks have a connection to culture in Vivian and the Legend of the Hoodoos. Then, lava flows shaped the Hawaiian Islands, but learn how a town was saved in the 1880’s in A True Princess of Hawai‘i.

Get to know the books and their creators:

batcount_187

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 our interview with Anna Forrester & Susan Detwiler

honeygirl_187

Hawaiian locals and visitors always enjoy spotting endangered Hawaiian monk seals, but Honey Girl is an extra special case. She has raised seven pups, and scientists call her “Super Mom.” After Honey Girl is injured by a fishhook, she gets very sick. Scientists and veterinarians work to save Honey Girl so she can be released back to the ocean. This true story will have readers captivated to learn more about this endangered species.

Read our interview with Jeanne Walker Harvey & Shennen Bersani

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Even kids can get involved in science! Ecologist Dr. Neeti Bathala and Jennifer Keats Curtis collaborate to bring us the story of these adventurous citizen scientists. Leena and her mom volunteer each summer to count the horseshoe crabs that visit their beach. With their dog Bobie at their sides, the duo spends a night on the shore surveying horseshoe crabs who have come to mate and lay eggs. Readers will learn valuable facts about these ancient animals and how they can get involved in the effort to conserve horseshoe crabs.

Read our interview with Jennifer Keats Curtis, & learn more about Dr. Neeti Bathala & Veronica V. Jones

otisowl_187

In beautifully detailed photographs, Mary Holland captures the first few months of a baby barred owl’s life. The huge eyes and fluffy feathers will steal the hearts of readers as they learn how barred owl parents ready their young owlets for the big world outside the nest. Follow along as Otis learns to eat, fights with his sister, and prepares for flight.

Read our interview with Mary Holland

trueprincess_187

Nani has always dreamed of being a princess. When a real Hawaiian princess comes to her hometown of Hilo, Nani dresses in her best clothes. But as she watches Princess Luka, who has come to save the town from a volcanic lava flow, Nani learns that there is more to being a princess than fine clothes. This incredible story of kindness and generosity is based on the historical events of the 1880-1881 eruption of Mauna Loa on the Island of Hawai‘i and the real-life Princess Luka.

Read our interview with Beth Greenway & learn more about Tammy Yee

vivianlegend_187

Long ago, the Old Ones were bad. They drank all the water, ate all the pine nuts, and left nothing for the other creatures. Sinawav the coyote punished them by turning them into rocky hoodoos. Now when children misbehave, their Paiute elders remind them that they too could be turned into stone columns! Vivian has heard the stories, but this year as she and her grandmother climb the mesa to pick pine nuts, Vivian has something more important on her mind: basketball tryouts. When Vivian is disrespectful to the trees and the land, her grandmother must remind Vivian of the legend of the hoodoos and how nature has made it possible for her people to live.

Read our interview with Terry Catasús Jennings & learn more about  Phyllis Saroff

Check out arbordalepublishing.com for more information and teaching activity guides for each book!