New Name, Same Company!

ArbordaleLogo_forCBC

Busy, busy, busy! It turns out that when a company changes its name there are a ton of little details that must all fall into place. Well that is what this week is all about at Arbordale Publishing now that we have converted from Sylvan Dell.

If you haven’t noticed the blog has a new title. In the upcoming weeks we will be making a few changes to the look, but the content will be the same plus a few added features including more activities and an education page.

While that is in the works, here is the press release that gives you more insight into “why Arbordale” and what is coming in the future:

Sylvan Dell Publishing changes its name to Arbordale Publishing

Effective March 1st, Sylvan Dell Publishing changes its name to Arbordale Publishing (www.ArbordalePublishing.com). In business since the fall of 2004, the publisher will continue to produce the same quality fun-to-read picture books with a science or math theme. The name change takes place in order to avoid a time-consuming and costly legal battle over the use of the word “Sylvan” in the name.

The original name was closely associated with co-owner Donna German’s family. Her grandfather purchased a farmhouse in a wooded valley outside Wilmington, Delaware shortly after his return from serving in WWI. He hailed from Williamsport, Pennsylvania where there had been a Sylvan Dell Park (closed in the late 1930s). Named after the park, the property was identified by a hand-carved, wooden sign saying “Sylvan Dell” hung at the driveway entrance for decades. Family still lives on the property.

In Latin, Sylvan Dell means wooded valley. The logo was designed to capture that idea of learning leaves falling into an open book, representing the valley. Arbordale also means wooded valley, allowing the use of the same logo for brand recognition.

Co-owner and publisher, Lee German, shares “Last year was a good year for us and we are excited at the prospects for continued growth and making a difference in children’s lives. Arbordale Publishing will continue to pursue our mission of contributing to literacy with our unique formula of blending science and math into picture books. And, we will continue to lead the way with dual language (English/Spanish), interactive eBooks for young readers. We hope that all of our customers and industry friends will continue to join us in our mission.”

Please contact us with any questions and stay connected with our new social media via Facebook, Arbordale Publishing; Twitter, @arbordalekids; Tumblr, Arbordale Publishing; and Goodreads.

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Native American, Lloyd Arneach, talks about his fire for storytelling

With the release of our new book, “First Fire,” which is a retelling of a Cherokee folktale, we decided to sit down with storyteller, Lloyd Arneach, to find out more about the culture and the art of storytelling. Arneach is a longtime Native American storyteller that got his start in a rather interesting and unexpected way. He’s keen on Cherokee culture, having lloyd_arneach_frontgrown up in Cherokee, North Carolina, and learning from his family. Arneach spent about twenty years sharing the culture and history of his people at universities, museums and even Girl Scout meetings. Now he’s been a storyteller now for over twenty years and still has a lot of stories to be told.

 

Me: Can you tell me a little bit about how you first got involved with storytelling? What inspired you?

Lloyd: Well, I really backed into it! My late wife and I were living in Atlanta, and we had a babysitter who was in a Girl Scout troop. And she couldn’t find a book on Indians in the entire county library system. And she said, “wait a minute! I babysit for an Indian, maybe he can help me.” So she called me up and asked if I could help her and I said sure. She told me the requirements, and they were fairly simple and I said, “sure! But I’m going to have to come straight from work, I won’t have time to go home and change. Is that going to be a problem?” She said no, so the next Girl Scout meeting I came straight from work. I went in and sat down and the young girls looked at me and I could hear one of them say, “I don’t know where the Indian is but he’s going to be here pretty soon.” I was working as a computer programmer at that time and I was wearing a three-piece suit, so you don’t see many Indians in three-piece suits. I got up to talk and you could hear their jaws hitting the ground. She started calling other scout leaders who had the same problem in that county, they couldn’t find books on the Indians. I became a resource material as a result. Boy scouts started calling, and then schools started calling, and museums started calling. I was sharing primarily Cherokee culture and history at that time.

In 1985, I got a call from student at Georgia State University and she said she was in a Folklore class. Her assignment was to record stories from original tellers, and I said she would need to go to the reservation in Cherokee to find a storyteller. She said “no, you’d be fine!” So she came and recorded some stories, and I didn’t think anything about it. Then in ‘88 I got a call from Dr. John Burleson at Georgia State and he said “I teach the Folklore class here at Georgia State and our students have been collecting stories. And the stories we have recorded from you I’m going to be putting in a book with these others I have collected, and I’m calling all storytellers to be invited to a book signing. Would you be willing to come?” I said, well let me know. Well, in November of ‘88, we discovered my wife had a terminal brain tumor. It destroyed her motor capabilities and she couldn’t walk, she had very little control of her hands. But her mental capabilities were still there and her ability to communicate had not diminished. My father-in-law, my son, and I brought her home and someone was with her twenty-four hours a day. I was still working at that time, so I would go to work and my father-in-law and son would be taking care of FirstFire-Spread-10her during the day and I would come home and I would relieve my father-in-law and he’d go fix supper and come back and relieve me while I ate supper. This is how it went until the spring of ’89. Dr. Burleson called me back and said “we’re going to have a book signing in September would you be willing to come?” And I talked to my wife, Charlotte, and she said “go ahead!” you know, I needed to get out of the house. Well, she passed away in the end of August in ’89 and I was doing everything I could to fill my time. So I went to the book signing and as I was taking a break, a lady came up to me and said “I’m Betty Ann Wylie and I’m a member of the Southern Order of Storytellers. We have a storytime festival in January, would you be willing to come and share your stories?” and I said “YES!” so in January of 1990, I started sharing stories. It was never something I intended to do.

So from 1970 to1990, I was just sharing Cherokee culture and history, but in 1990 I started sharing stories and I’ve been doing it ever since. So it was never something I intended to do, I literally backed into it.

It’s something I thoroughly enjoy, I had never really thought about it. I was a very introverted individual. My late wife brought me out of my shell. She taught me that people are interesting, but you have to talk with them to find out these interesting things about them. If you don’t talk, you don’t know. She was a very good people person; she had unbelievable people skills. She taught me to come out and enjoy people, and if she hadn’t done that I would have never agreed to do the first session in front of the girl scouts.

 

Me: How did you learn the stories? Who taught you?

Lloyd: I had two great uncles who were wonderful storytellers and at our family gatherings, Uncle George would tell a story and Uncle Dave would tell a story. It was like a tennis match! And without realizing it, I was learning the old stories of our people. And then my mother had Tuberculosis for two years and I went to live with my great uncle. My great aunt taught French at the University of Oklahoma, so we went out during the winter to Oklahoma where she teached University. My other aunt, my mom’s sister, was studying languages and lived on the cottage at Aunt Dell and Uncle George’s property. She and Aunt Dell would speak French. Well without realizing it, I was in second grade, I started picking up conversational French. So after the school year ended, we came back to Cherokee for the summer. I was walking through downtown Cherokee, after graduating from the second grade, and this tourist stopped me and said “Hau! You speak-a the English?” and I said “Bonjour! Comment ça va?” He called his wife over, “hey Gertrude! Get over here and listen to this kid speak Indian!” So that’s when I realized how much people really didn’t know about Indians, in second grade. So when I was going out sharing culture, I tried not to dress in the feathers and buck skin, because I realized the young people would think this is what an Indian looks like today. So I wanted to try to avoid that stereotype. Also not many people knew of an Indian who was a computer programmer – they don’t associate those two.

 

Me: Do you find that stories change over time since they are all learned through word-of-mouth?

Lloyd: The nucleus of the story stays the same, but each person uses different words. Some people might use very flowery descriptions of the “long winding trail to the sharp rock,” somebody else might say “he took the long trail up to the top of the mountain.” But still, the important essence was that he went to the top of the mountain.lloyd_arneach_1_600w

 

Me: Which do you prefer? Do you prefer more flowery descriptions?

Lloyd: Not flowery, but I try and visualize the story as I’m telling it and describe what I see. I’m aware the audience may not be aware if I say “there were snake dens,” but if I say “there were Rattlesnake dens,” suddenly they’re realizing “oh my gosh! This wasn’t just a walk past snakes, but they were dangerous snakes!” and it pulls their attention into the story. I’m trying to keep the audience involved in the story. If I say, “Well, there were some Indian medicine right along the trail, that means nothing. If I say “there was kudzu” which we have learned to use for medicine, they say “oh!” and it’s a totally different approach to the story.

 

Me: Do you have a personal favorite story to tell?

Lloyd: Yes, Chief Joseph and the Flight of the Nez Perce. A very moving story and for me, I have to have about an hour with the audience. And what I do when I first go into a program, I do a couple of stories and do a very quick read on the audience. And by “read,” I mean that when I tell a story, there may be a point in the story where the audience should react and they may laugh, but instead their response should be an “ohhh yes” and when I get that reaction I realize they don’t understand the story. And so I’ll switch to a different group of stories and they’ll never realize the program has changed in mid-stride. It’s just been garnered over years of sharing with different groups and seeing how they respond. One of the best pieces of advice came from an internationally known storyteller named Carmen Deedy, and she was really my first good mentor when I was coming up. She was very quick, she picked things up very very fast, a very intelligent woman. And we were talking, I was grousing about the programs I had and how I couldn’t get this one guy to pay attention. And she said “Lloyd, if there are a hundred people in the room and one person isn’t paying attention to you, why are you focusing on them? There are ninety-nine people who are hanging on every word, share with them. If the one person comes around, fine, but reward the ninety-nine people for their attention.”

That would save me so much heartache over the years, because it was obvious some people didn’t want to be there. “Storytelling? That’s for kids!” But I’d tell them, if you give me twenty minutes and an open mind, I will change the mind of any adult.

I’m seventy and I only have a few summers left where I can get out and travel on my own without someone attending me or worrying about me. So I’m cutting down a lot of my programs now, because there’s still things I want to do – I’ve still got my bucket list! And that involves traveling.

 

Me: Is there one thing you’d want younger generations to know about the Cherokee or storytelling?

Lloyd: Stories are meant to be shared. Share them. Everybody has stories. They might not realize it but everybody has stories.

 

If you’re interested in learning more about Lloyd Arneach, visit his webstie at www.arneach.com

Learn more about our book “First Fire” here: http://www.sylvandellpublishing.com/bookpage.php?id=FirstFire

Book Launch Week

In case you haven’t heard Sylvan Dell is launching nine new books this week! Each of these books is a labor of love for the authors, illustrators and editors as well as the staff in the office as we prep for the day that the books finally arrive and join the others! We are excited as each season brings new lessons in habitats and exciting creatures for children to learn about. Over the course of the coming weeks we will dive into each book, and feature activities, coloring pages, author interviews and a few fun science facts! But first, just in case you have missed each of our titles here is a collage of covers!

Want more information about each book visit www.sylvandellpublishing.com. Connect with us via Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr for giveaways and more exciting news!

A Trip to the Zoo with Animal Helpers: Meet keepers from the Austin Zoo

Working in a zoo is a unique job, and four keepers from the Austin Zoo share their experience from getting the job, to the daily life of caring for animals.

First we talk with Keeper Kris Ledoux, who has been a zookeeper for 4 years and works with the birds, farm animals, reptiles, coatis, goats and prairie dogs.

Longhorn enrichment on train ride.kris ledoux on right

Please talk a little about your training (how you became a keeper) to help our young readers understand the process.

I was a science teacher when I started volunteering here. I liked working at the zoo better!

Do any of the animals’ behaviors make you laugh aloud? If so, what are they?

All of the time. Goats and donkeys have great personalities. They are funny when the play.

For our young readers who would love to work at the zoo, how would you suggest they get started?

 A science degree is important. And, volunteer for rescue groups! It will teach you about caring for animals and what is involved. 

Keeper Marcy Griffith has been with the zoo two years and works with lions, tigers, bears, foxes, wolves, snakes, lizards, kinkajous, and tortoises.

marcy griffith with tortoise

What is your favorite part of your job?

Spending time with the animals is my favorite. I also like watching them eat and play. 

Please provide details on working with the animals under your care, including socializing, feeding, and enrichment. Do you create toys and enrichment items for the animals? If so, what are they?

We use boxes with food and scents.

What behaviors and cues do you observe to help gauge the animals’ physical and mental health?

If they aren’t eating well or are tired all of the time, or they are pacing a lot, it may mean something is wrong.

Working with the big cats, bears, monkeys, lemurs and parrots is Keeper Chelsey Norman, who has been with the zoo for one year.

Please talk a little about your training (how you became a keeper) to help our young readers understand the process.

Volunteering in animal care at a vet clinic and at the zoo.

Do any of the animals’ behaviors make you laugh aloud? If so, what are they?

One monkey really loves her mirror toy and she makes an angry face at you if you get too close to the mirror.

Do you have pets at home?

Yes, a Siamese cat.

Finally, Keeper Kelly Todd has been with the zoo for seven years and takes care of the primates, big cats and reptiles.

What is your favorite part of your job?

The monkeys

Please talk a little about your training (how you became a keeper) to help our young readers understand the process.

I have a Masters of Arts degree in Anthropology, specializing in primate behavior.

For our young readers who would love to work at the zoo, how would you suggest they get started?

Take science classes.

AH_Zoos_128Thank you to all of the keepers that have participated in this series! If you would like to read more about what it is like to work in a zoo check out Animal Helpers: Zoos.

A Trip to the Zoo with Animal Helpers: Meet Austin Zoo Director Patti Clark

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to work in a zoo? In the newly released Animal Helpers: Zoos, author Jennifer Keats Curtis worked with four zoos to learn more about the duties of a zookeeper and what it takes to care for so many different types of animals. This week we meet Patti Clark of the Austin Zoo and learn what it is like to be the director of the zoo, and why everyday brings a new adventure.

Patti Clark never fails to play the Texas Lottery.

As Director of the private, nonprofit Austin Zoo & Animal Sanctuary—a volunteer position that occupies her 364 days a year—she hopes to someday use those winnings to construct a new keeper building that would include keeper office space, food prep space, an infirmary, and onsite vet clinic for the animals.

austinzoo1Despite the tremendous number of hours she puts in, Patti never takes a vacation. “There is something magical about this place,” says Clark, who somehow manages to also serve on four other nonprofit boards in her “spare” time, “I’m afraid I’ll miss something exciting and fun!”

What began as a goat ranch nearly three decades ago has become a permanent home to more than 350 animals including big cats; primates; birds; reptiles; amphibians; mammals, such as llama and deer; and one marsupial—a big red kangaroo initially misrepresented as a much smaller wallaby.

With a meager staff of 26 employees, Clark and her crew ably manage to help these hundreds of exotic and animals, 95% of whom were rescued from neglect and abuse, unwanted by owners, or surrendered to Animal Control officers.

The Austin Zoo & Animal Sanctuary, one of four zoos featured in the new Animal Helpers: ZOOS, differs from traditional zoos because the rescued animals are on exhibit to unescorted visitors. Guests have a chance to see these animals, to learn about different species, and to get first-hand education and information about the harm that exotic pet ownership and roadside circuses can cause for these creatures. Patti jumped at the chance to be part of this new book because education is a crucial part of the Zoo’s mission.

Even though there are days when she feels chained to her desk, Patti’s day is never dull.

In January, she says, calls from the 4-H Clubs roll in, as children realize that the animals they have raised are going to be slaughtered.

Last month, they took in a two-foot-long alligator, who arrived in a tiny ferret cage.

This week, she was heavy on tortoise calls. “People buy these tiny cute tortoises in pet stores,” she explains, “That animal grows, and it grows fast until it becomes two feet across or more and no longer fits into that small glass aquarium. Once he gets in the backyard and starts eating all of the vegetation, the owner does not want him anymore. We currently have 15 tortoises here.”

Patti also answers a lot of calls about unwanted birds and snakes, mostly big pythons and boas that apartment dwellers can no longer keep.

Most of the eight tigers and five lions who now reside at the zoo were purchased as babies and hand-raised by folks who thought it seemed like a good idea at the time. One trucker kept his tiger cub in the truck cab with him for company…until the feline became too big and aggressive.

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Leroy the Lion (pictured) is one of Patti’s favorites, though he had a similarly troubled past. Leroy served as a “junkyard lion” until he was rescued and brought to his new home in Austin. At first, Leroy, who is maneless because he is neutered, was terribly thin and sick with mange, a skin disease. When he tried to stand, his anklebone shattered. Although scars from the mange still show under his coat, thanks to Austin Zoo vets and staff, Leroy is healed, happy and healthy. His favorite toys? Old tires, which he carries around the yard and guards as if they were prey. He then lunges at, bites and claws the durable rubber. “We get deer donated that have been culled from game management ranches and from a deer processor located close to the Zoo,” explains Patti, “Leroy is quiet while stalking his prey. It is amazing that such a large animal can move soundlessly across the enclosure yard. He does like to join in roaring with our two other male throughout the day.”

Since the Austin Zoo & Animal Sanctuary is currently at capacity for some species, Patti spends a portion of nearly every single day networking with other zoos and rehabilitation facilities to find permanent placement for these unwanted animals.

Despite some of the everyday frustrations that come with managing the staff and animals—and not having limitless funds—Patti clearly loves what she does. “In the Zoo, you won’t get rich with money, but your life will be rich,” she says.

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To learn more about the Austin Zoo & Animal Sanctuary, please visit their Facebook page and website, http://www.austinzoo.org/.

If you want to learn more about the book Animal Helpers: Zoos go to the Sylvan Dell book page http://www.sylvandellpublishing.com/bookpage.php?id=AH_Zoos

Celebrate Moon Day

In July of 1969, human history changed forever when astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the moon’s surface.  In honor of the upcoming anniversary of the moon landing, we’ve compiled a list of space-related museum exhibits. From space shuttles to simulated treks across Mars, these exhibits all immerse visitors in the story of the space race and educate them about what’s beyond this world.

Space Shuttle Enterprise
Located in New York City, the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum’s newest exhibit, which just opened on July 10, is the Space Shuttle Pavilion which now holds the Enterprise. The Enterprise was NASA’s original orbiter. It conducted tests within Earth’s atmosphere in the late 1970’s and was crucial in the success of America’s shuttle program. NASA retired the shuttle in 1985, and the Enterprise is now being showcased on the Intrepid in Manhattan. Visitors are greeted with 35-year-old audio recordings of astronauts exchanging radio calls with flight controllers.  The exhibit includes stories about the orbiters and the people involved with them, the early designs of the shuttles, technological innovations, and much more. 

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Destination Station
At the Pacific Science Center in Seattle, WA, visitors can immerse themselves in the story of the International Space Station. From the international cooperation that makes the constant scientific research at the station possible, to the audio and visual technology that connects visitors to space, this exhibit will enthrall anyone who has ever wanted to go to space. The exhibit is open until Sept. 2.

Space
For those of you in the Columbus, OH area, the COSI has a fantastic exhibit all about outer space. Visitors can explore the surface of Mars, ride in a space capsule, compare the effects of gravity from planet to planet, and watch live NASA TV. This exhibit gives visitors all kinds of information on rocket technology, the attempt to find life in the universe, and more.

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Space Shuttle Endeavour
At the California Science Center in Los Angeles, CA, visitors can hear the space shuttle Endeavour’s story before actually viewing the Endeavour itself at the Samuel Oschin Pavilion. Endeavour: The California Story tells the story of how the Endeavour and other shuttles were produced in California and showcases the artifacts that helped make them functional. Then at the Samuel Oschin Pavilion, visitors will get up close and personal to the shuttle and learn about its missions and the people involved with them. Entrance requires a separate ticket with a $2 service fee, and the museum strongly suggests purchasing that ticket in advance.

The Air and Space Museum
The Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. is dedicated to flight both within and beyond the earth’s atmosphere and is a treat for anyone who is passionate about air and space. Exhibits include everything from the Mercury Capsule 15B, Freedom 7 II, to the Manned Maneuvering Unit, to the space shuttle Discovery and much more. Anyone in the D.C. area who likes flight cannot miss this museum. 

If you are not near one of these museums celebrate with us and read Meet the Planets or Solar System Forecast!

Why E-books are Good for Children

Information technology and new technological devices are revolutionizing the world of literature, and children’s literature is no different. The ever-increasing numbers of e-books and e-readers in recent years has sparked debate about whether or not e-books are bad for the book industry or reading in general. This argument has been especially critical in the arena of children’s literature. Though children’s e-books have both their improvements and downsides over print books, they achieve the same goal of reaching out to children and telling stories or conveying information in a way that children can understand and enjoy.

One improvement e-books have over print books is the superior picture quality of e-books. This is particularly important for a lot of children’s books. Lots of children’s books, both fiction and nonfiction, contain beautiful color illustrations or photographs. Backlighting on computers or iPads make these pictures brighter and more vivid, enhancing the child’s enjoyment and reading experience. Additionally, pictures which splay across two pages and are split down the middle by a page divide in a print book look better on a screen where there is no page divide.

There are other improvements. Audio books enable young children to hear stories without their parents having to read to them. This way if parents are doing something else the kids can have a book out and have a computer read it to them, and parents can interact from the kitchen or the driver’s seat (“What’s the picture of?” “What kind of sound does that animal make?” etc) without having to take their eyes off the stove or the road to read the book. Additionally the fact that iPads, e-readers, computers, and other electronic devices can hold hundreds of e-books in a tablet that takes up about as much space as one book makes them convenient for traveling and ensures that children always have something new to read.

Parents will like that the e-books are often cheaper and more durable than print books. Our favorite books all suffer from over-use – dog eared pages, worn covers, pages falling out. These happen even to adults’ favorite books, and most kids are far less careful with their things. E-books don’t have pages that can fall out or covers that can get bent in the bottom of a backpack. There are durable tablets available so that kids can drop the e-readers without breaking them.

The most important thing is to get children reading and to get them reading good books. Fiction has to have characters and an interesting plot. Children get this from the story itself, not the media. Harry Potter is still Harry Potter whether you’re reading about him in the familiar-smelling, dog-eared pages of the books you’ve had for years or whether you’re reading about him on a computer screen with the movie soundtrack emitting from the same computer. The same idea goes for nonfiction. Children’s nonfiction has to have information that keeps the child engaged and which the author explains on the child’s level. These qualities are things that both print books and e-books have in common. The goal is still the same – to get kids reading and interacting with language and information. Information is powerful no matter the media through which it is conveyed. 

For more information on children’s e-books from Sylvan Dell, go to Amazon. Our e-books are $0.99 through the 18th of May.