A Time For Friendship

December is a time for friendship, and what better way to demonstrate friendship to children, than through a picture book?  Here are a few of Sylvan Dell’s favorite books about friendship with fun and easy activities that you can do this holiday season.

 

Newton and MeNewton and Me – While at play with his dog, Newton, a young boy discovers the laws of force and motion in his everyday activities. Told in rhyme, Lynne Mayer’s Newton and Me follows these best friends on an adventure as they apply physics to throwing a ball, pulling a wagon, riding a bike, and much more. With the help of Sherry Rogers’ playful illustrations, children will learn that physics is a part of their world. They will realize that Newton’s Laws of Motion describe experiences they have every day, and they will recognize how forces affect the objects around them.

 

Activity: Help you child get to know their friends. Start a conversation and learn about their family pet or favorite toy. Encourage your child to ask questions.

 

Moose and Magpie_COVER2Moose and Magpie – It isn’t easy being a moose. You’re a full-grown adult at the age of one, and it itches like crazy when your antlers come in! In Bettina Restrepo’s Moose and Magpie, young Moose is lucky to find a friend and guide in the wisecracking Magpie. “What do the liberty bell and moose have in common?” the Magpie asks as the seasons begin to change. Then, when fall comes: “Why did the moose cross the road?” Vivid illustrations by Sherry Rogers bring these characters to life. Laugh along with Moose and Magpie, and maybe-just maybe-Moose will make a joke of his own!

 

Activity: Comedy hour – give your child and friends a “microphone” and encourage them to tell jokes. Make sure they know not to tell jokes at their friend’s expense.

 

Home in the CaveHome in the Cave – Baby Bat loves his cave home and never wants to leave it. 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 them for their food. Will Baby Bat finally venture out of the cave to help the other animals?

 

Activity: Prepare a winter scavenger hunt for your child and friends. They can go on an adventure together and the reward can be a cup of hot coco and talking about their fun adventures of the day.

 

HabitatSpy_187Habitat Spy – Let’s spy on plants, insects, birds, and mammals in 13 different habitats. Told in rhyming narrative, Habitat Spy invites children to search for and find plants, invertebrates, birds, and mammals and more that live in 13 different habitats: backyard, beach, bog, cave, desert, forest, meadow, mountain, ocean, plains, pond, river, and cypress swamp. Children will spend hours looking for and counting all the different plants and animals while learning about what living things need to survive.

 

Activity: While running those busy errands this season turn off the radio and play “I Spy” in the car while driving around town.

 

Giraffe_187The Giraffe Who was Afraid of Heights – Imagine if the one thing that keeps you safe is what you fear the most. This enchanting story tells of a giraffe who suffers from the fear of heights. His parents worry about his safety and send him to the village doctor for treatment. Along the way, he befriends a monkey who is afraid of climbing trees and a hippo that is afraid of water. A life-threatening event causes the three friends to face and overcome each of their fears. The “For Creative Minds” section includes fun facts and animal adaptation information, a match-the-feet game and a mix-n-match activity.

 

Activity: Sending out holiday cards? Help your child make a holiday card thanking their friends for their help and friendship throughout the year.

 

ChampCancerCompanion-2Champ’s Story: Dogs Get Cancer Too! – Children facing cancer—whether their own, a family member’s, a friend’s, or even a pet’s—will find help in understanding the disease through this book. A young boy discovers his dog’s lump, which is then diagnosed with those dreaded words: “It’s cancer.” The boy becomes a loving caretaker to his dog, who undergoes the same types of treatments and many of the same reactions as a human under similar circumstances (transference). Medical writer and award-winning children’s author, Sherry North artfully weaves the serious subject into an empathetic story that even young children can understand.

 

Activity: If a good friend is sick and children do not understand Champ’s Story is a great conversation starter. Give your child crayons and a piece of paper help them express their feelings through art.

 

These and many other fun books and lessons are available for the holidays at www.sylvandellpublishing.com.

Little Skink celebrates in 2012

As you know, at Sylvan Dell we love the topic of conservation and celebration of the animals in our world. Partners in Amphibian and Reptile Conservation (PARC) dedicate this year to the lizard.

Our most famous Sylvan Dell lizard is Little Skink. In Little Skinks Tail, she tries on the tails of all the animals she meets, after hers is lost to a feisty crow. Later Little Skink looks back, and her bright blue tail has grown back where it belongs.

Little Skink is a Five Lined Skink found in wooded climates where they like to soak up the sunshine during the day, and eat small insects. They are found in the United States and in some states they are on the endangered list, such as Connecticut.

For Creative Minds  fun activities, or more information about Little Skinks Tail can be found at Sylvan Dell Publishing click here.

Amazing Mimic Octopus

It is well known that octopuses are amazing animals–they are intelligent, can squeeze through tiny spaces, and can change color at will. And apparently, they can also make fun of humans! Check it out:

It seems like the octopus was poking fun at the divers watching it!

To read more about amazing octopus abilities, read Octavia and learn how she defends herself from predators!

New Bat Species Discovered!

In Vietnam, scientists have discovered a new species of leaf-nosed bat. At first, the researches mistook it for a known species–the great leaf-nosed bat, which is often aggressive when captured. These little bats, however, had an unusually gentle demeanor around the scientists. So, they decided to examine them a little more closely.  As it turns out, these bats are genetically distinct from the great leaf-nosed bat, and are now known as Griffin’s leaf-nosed bat. Find this bat’s full story here: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2012/02/120223-new-bat-species-vietnam-animals-science/

If you want to learn even more about bats, Sylvan Dell has two great books for you! Check them out:

Little Red Bat follows the story of one young bat’s decision to migrate for the winter. He talks to  other animals about their winter plans and must decide what option will work best for him. In our spring 2012 book Home in the Cave, Baby Bat learns about the delicate balance of a cave ecosystem and comes to understand his important role in it.

            

Sylvan Dell Publishing Will Offer 70 eBooks Free in Honor of Read Across America Day!

In honor of Read Across America Day 2012, Sylvan Dell Publishing will be offering our complete site license of 70 eBooks FREE! Participants can visit http://www.sylvandellpublishing.com on Friday, March 2nd to use this great feature, with great eBooks including auto-flip, auto-read, and selectable English and Spanish text and audio.  This is in addition to the free activities available every day including a “For Creative Minds” educational section, 40-70 pages of free teaching activities, three quizzes, and a related websites page for each title.

 

Sylvan Dell’s co-owner and editor Donna German states, “We are proud to offer children a simple way to participate in Read Across America Day.  By offering our full eBook Site License we also make it easy not only for children to read and explore our great books, but we make it easy for parents and teachers to use each book as stepping stone to learning with our “For Creative Minds” section and our free teaching activities.”

To participate in Sylvan Dell Publishing’s Read Across America event, simply visit www.sylvandellpublishing.com on March 2nd and click on the Read Across America icon in the upper right-hand corner of the website. For questions or concerns, call Sylvan Dell Publishing directly at (877) 243-3457 or email info@sylvandellpublishing.com.

 

A Conversation with Jean Heilprin Diehl, author of Three Little Beavers!

We are so excited to announce our final new release for the spring 2012 season Three Little Beavers! Written by Jean Heilprin Diehl and illustrated by Cathy Morrison, this book is a perfect fit for any classroom!

 Beatrix the beaver longs to be good at something. Her brother Bevan is an expert at repairing the lodge with mud and twigs. Her sister Beverly is a superb swimmer and underwater gymnast. What makes Beatrix stand out? One day, she runs away by swimming up the creek and finds some fresh garden plants to eat, and tasty trees to gnaw. When her siblings set off to find her, all Three Little Beavers wind up trapped! It takes some simple engineering on the part of the humans who set the traps, and Beatrix’s discovery of her special talents, for the people and beavers to finally find a way to live in harmony.
 

Q and A With Author Jean Heilprin Diehl

What kind of research do you do for your books?

I love research! I research online, in physical libraries and in the field. I also conduct  interviews. The research stage offers up so much  fascinating information, that it can be hard to pull away from.  Too much research can be a distraction from writing, so the trick is to do the right amount…whatever that is. For the novel I’m writing now, I studied fireflies and a rare pediatric neurological disorder. To characterize the protagonist’s best friend, I learned what virga is and who invented the paper clip and where the digit ‘one’ repeats three times in a row in the infinite number pi. For Three Little Beavers, I observed beavers swimming in a lake, kayaked up a stream where beavers live and visited a series of ponds dotted with old beaver lodges and dams. I interviewed a park service officer who had resolved an urban wildlife conflict involving beavers and also a professional trapper who had humanely trapped beavers with the square, box-like Hancock traps described in the story. I checked out books from libraries, read online articles and websites and watched video clips.

How did you know you wanted to be a writer?

When I was growing up, I loved to read, and I especially loved adventure books with maps of imaginary lands printed inside the front and back covers. Some kids put up posters of athletes or musicians or actors on their bedroom walls; I had the map of Middle Earth. I guess it was natural to want to do what I admired so much. In sixth grade I wrote a series of poems that a teacher suggested I pull together into a book.  After that, I knew I wanted to be a writer.

How do your own experiences shape your writing?

Experience is to writing like air is to lungs. Experience inevitably and perhaps inadvertently shapes what I’m drawn to write about and the process by which I go about writing.  I think the human imagination is piqued by non sequiturs. A random image, headline, anecdote or event I  read or hear about but haven’t personally witnessed can also get me thinking. Experience includes all five senses.  It also includes reading.

What inspired you to write Three Little Beavers?

Raising kids can mean a lot of time spent driving them around! I’d been thinking about how often young children, when riding in cars or on school buses, see dead animals along the road, which can be pretty upsetting. Then my local children’s librarian happened to mention that her collection lacked a book about urban wildlife conflicts, and she didn’t know if there were any books for kids on the subject.  I decided to write one. I went looking for stories with happy endings and found one about beavers. I learned that there is a lot humans can do to co-exist with North America’s largest rodent. Beaver families typically consist of multiple kits, so that got me thinking about siblings and a line I’d read once that had stuck in stuck in my head: ‘the goal of middle childhood is to differentiate the self.’ That’s how I got the idea to write about Bevan, Beverly and Beatrix.

What is your favorite aspect of writing?

I enjoy the research, as I mentioned, and I enjoy finding a word or set of words to fit an image or an insight or a moment in nature or an emotion or an interaction. I like voicing what it is I have to say to other people through written words, and I like being finished with writing, because writing is hard.

What is the most challenging part of writing a book? 

For me, the most challenging part of writing a picture book is to tell a complete story, with fully developed characters, with an economy of language.  The old adage is true:  it’s much easier to write long than short. I’m still learning how to leave enough space – and the right space – for an illustrator to tell the story visually. Images create the story’s visual complexity, which is delightfully true of Cathy Morrison’s wonderful illustrations for Three Little Beavers.

 

Visit Jean’s website at www.jeanheilprindiehl.com, or the Three Little Beavers homepage at http://www.sylvandellpublishing.com/bookpage.php?id=ThreeBeavers.

A Conversation with Janet Halfmann, Author of “Home in the Cave”

Sylvan Dell is proud to introduce one of our great new spring releases, Home in the Cave!  Written by Janet Halfmann and illustrated by Shennen Bersani, Home in the Cave is the educational tale of Baby Bat and his adventures in the cave he calls home.  Through his exploration, Baby Bat not only learns about other cave critters, but he learns a lot about himself as well!

Janet Halfman is the award winning author of over thirty children’s books, both fiction and nonfiction, including Home in the Cave, A Little Skink’s Tail, and Fur and Feathers.  In this interview, Janet Halfman shares her literary and creative experiences as she discusses her life as a children’s author with her fans and readers.

 

What is your favorite part of the writing process?

I like the surprises that occur as I’m writing my first draft of a story. Sometimes the characters just seem to come up with ideas on their own, such as Sophia does in Fur and Feathers when she adds her own special touches to the animals’ coats. But I think my favorite part of writing is the revising. I love finding just the right word to bring a character or action to life. I love making each sentence sound and flow just right.

What topics do you most enjoy writing about?

I enjoy writing about animals and nature. I never cease to be amazed at the intricacies of each animal’s life and how all of life is intertwined. For example, when researching and writing Home in the Cave, I was amazed to find out how important bat droppings or guano are to the other animals in the cave.

When did you become interested in writing?

I have loved to write all my life, but it wasn’t until after I graduated from college and took a writing course by mail that I decided I wanted a career as a writer. To accomplish that, I went back to school and got a second degree in Journalism (I had originally studied to be a Spanish and English teacher). The second degree led to jobs as a daily newspaper reporter, managing editor of a national magazine for kids who live in the country, and many years as a creator of coloring and activity books for Golden Books. When my position at Golden books was eliminated about 15 years ago, I set out to become a children’s author, my original dream!

What is a typical writing day like for you?

First, I check my e-mail and social media sites to see if there is anything I need to take care of right away. Then, If I’m working on a story, most of my day is spent on that story. To create the best story, I have to completely immerse myself in it and let it become part of me. Then ideas come to me while I’m taking a walk, or making supper, or doing any number of things. When I’m not working on a story, I promote my books through social media and other ways, look for new markets, fine-tune my old manuscripts, read picture books, etc. I work in an upstairs home office next to a window overlooking a huge, old maple tree. I spend 50 to 60 hours a week working on writing or business related to writing. And I consider myself one of the luckiest people in the world—to have reached my dream of being a children’s author!

What is the most frequently asked question you encounter as an author?

People often ask me how long it takes to write a book. I tell them that each story is different. Many require lots of research. Even for a fiction picture book, I often have a pile of research books sev-eral feet high, in addition to research I do on the Internet. And often story ideas bounce around in my heard for a long time before I start to write them d
own. People also ask how I found my illustrator. I tell them that the publisher usually chooses the illustrator. The publishers know which of the many illustrators they work with will be best for the story. Usually, the artist and illustrator do not even meet. That way, the writer can do her creative thing and the illustrator is free to do his or her creative thing. And I’ve never been disappointed. Often an illustrator adds some touch that never even entered my mind. For example, in Little Skink’s Tale, illustator Laurie Allen Klein showed a caterpillar changing into a butterfly throughout the book. Children love finding this additional surprise!

Most of your books are about animals and nature. Why is that?

I grew up on a farm in Michigan. My dad loved farming, and I think his love for animals and nature rubbed off on me. After supper, the whole family would often pile into the pickup to go to the back forty to see how much the corn or soybeans had grown. Today, whenever I go on a walk, I have to pause several times to watch a dragonfly or butterfly, check out a new blossom or try to find the bird that’s singing. I’m constantly amazed by the stories that nature has to tell.


What tips do you have for parents regarding instilling a love of read-ing in their children?

Parents and other caregivers can give children so much by starting to read to them at a very young age. Reading opens up so many avenues for chil-dren and is a wonderful bonding experience between caregiver and child. A child who is read to is much more likely to become a reader. And a child who can read well is likely to have an easier time in school. Also, a story is a great way for everyone to wind down after a busy, hectic day.