Night Creepers–Book Introduction

51WAYbwCmRL._SX423_BO1,204,203,200_Introducing Night Creepers, my latest book. Night Creepers is available now in e-book form, and will release in both hard and softcover in the fall of 2017. See the book trailer, here.

Sometime ago, I became fascinated with nocturnal animals. These seemingly invisible creatures, some of which live right outside our back doors, only appear at night. it’s like magic! After I began managing some feral cats, I began seeing skunks and possums regularly and I began referring to them as the night creepers. And, I began thinking about a book about them to introduce kids to both nocturnal animals (a term I find that many elementary kids are familiar with) and crepuscular animals (a term that I find no elementary kids, and very few of their teachers are familiar with).

I decided to create a sleepy, quiet, rhyming text: “Waking up // Noisy pup // Flutter High // Gliding by….” Each stanza has its own page, depicting an animal, and a sidebar of information about that species. The result is a two-leveled book–one that works well for younger children as well as older ones.

Arbordale Publishing paired my work with Shennen Bersani, the illustrator for Once Upon an Elephant, and this might just be her most beautiful work ever.

Our first advance review is in from Kirkus. You can read here. There is also a lovely review on Amazon here.

Shennen and I hope you enjoy Night Creepers! I’ll post again when the paper copies release.

The Secret Life of the Red Fox

I have to admit that the reason I grabbed for 7175WDFhxCLLaurence Pringle’s latest book was because of the illustration on the cover (Kate Garchinsky). Boyd’s Mills Press’s The Secret Life of the Red Fox is, in a word, gorgeous. It follows a female fox, Vixen, through several months, through the spring, until the fall–prior to the birth of her kits, until they leave her. It contains some very basic information about foxes in the main text, and an authors note at the end fleshes that out further. There is also a glossary and recommended reads at the end.

While kids will be taken in by Vixen’s stories, adults will find themselves wowed by the illustrations. This book could be useful to zoo educators who talk about foxes or crepuscular animals, and is a must-have for educators in nature centers.

Ages: 6-9

Grade: K-4

32 pages

 

 

Book Review: All Ears, All Eyes

all-ears-all-eyes-9781481415712_hrAll Ears, All Eyes, (Atheneum) by Richard Jackson and illustrated by Katherine Tillotson is a special book. Every page of it is a gorgeous, with vivid, blurred color and hidden images–an analogy for the wild world. The rhyming text contains interesting and unexpected rhythms. It focuses, briefly, on many nocturnal animals–owls, bats, raccoons, flying squirrels and more. The text is lovely:

Comes a breeze–they bend and bow–and behind these, beyond those deep in the dark, near to brimming now, Nature’s ark glows…

I wonder, though, if this is more a book for adults than children. Yes, it is gorgeous. Yes, it conjures images in our minds, (though that’s hardly necessary, given the visuals here) but what does it teach children about the natural world?

This is a book that begs to be poured over again and again, so that children can find the abstracted animals on the pages, and listen to the beauty of language. It would be wonderful in the home–a terrific bedtime read. In a teaching setting, it could be paired with another book about nocturnal animals–perhaps this one to follow another, so that children know what is being referred to in this book, given what they have learned in a previous one.  Regardless of how it’s used, it’s an undeniable treat for the eyes and the ears that nature lovers will embrace!

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Ages 4-8

Grades Pre-K – 3

40 pages

Book Review: Kali’s Story

In 2015, Kali’s Story, by Jennifer Keats Curtis s-l1000with photos from John Gomes, took the Children’s Choice Book Award, and it’s no surprise why! Baby polar bear…say no more.

Actually, there are quite a few wonderful polar bear books out there, but this one stands out as a true story of a cub who would have died without the intervention of a zoo. Named after the village near where the orphaned cub was found, this book chronicles the three-month-old’s journey to the Alaska Zoo where his is hand reared over the next three months until he is moved to the Buffalo Zoo where he would have a companion. The photos of Kali are simply adorable!

The back matter consists of information about the arctic, including the tilt of the sun and its effect on light and warmth. It also deals with adaptations of polar bears, and polar bear life cycles. There’s even a section of polar bear math.

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Book Review: Buffalo Music

Buffalo Music (Clarion Books, 2008) by Tracey E. Fern and illustrated by Lauren Castillo, is a beautiful book based on the life of conservationist61Pp180ElVL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_ Mary Ann Goodnight, who is credited with creating the first captive buffalo herd in the 1800s when numbers of buffalo had plummeted. Goodnight eventually used her herd to re-populate Yellowstone National Park. Tracey’s story is told in folksy voice, and Lauren’s loose, child-friendly illustrations draw the reader in. An author’s note at the end gives further information about Molly Ann Goodnight, as well as a suggested reading list for more information on the American Bison.

This book is a great pick for those teaching about North American animals, endangered species, over-hunting, and bringing species back from the brink. The length of the text makes if more appropriate for mid to upper elementary kids. Preschoolers would likely have a difficult time sitting still for this one. Still, a great pick!

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Book Review: Been There Done That: Reading Animal Signs

In keeping with the current theme of my month, (which is school author visits with friend and college, Jen Funk Weber, most days this month) I am reviewing Jen’s book, Been There, Done That: Reading Animal Signs (Arbordale, 2016). 61-+hU9EitL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_

Jen is a world traveler, having visited a Japan, Africa, Greece, Italy, the Galapagos Islands, and more. However this book focuses on the animals that live right outside her back door, in Alaska. In this book, two children hike in Alaska, looking for wildlife. But wildlife is stealthy, and is often there watching us, even when we don’t see them. Instead, the kids see signs that the animals have been there, have done that. A twist ending, leaves this a very memorable book!

Andrea Gabriel’s beautiful water colors  illustrate the walk, as Helena, the Alaska-living character in the book explains the signs she sees to her friend and visitor, Cole. Through the book, readers get a glimpse into the lives of snowshoe rabbits, salmon, eagles, beavers, moose and bear.  As with all Arbordale books, there are interesting activities in the back matter to further  the learning experience, and a free online teacher’s guide found here.snowshoe-hares-580w

This book would be a wonderful addition to programs dealing with North American animals, or a program that promotes hiking, getting outdoors, or forest therapy (a concept that intrigues me!)