Thursday, December 28, 2017

Naturally Speaking About Butterflies

I visited the Daintree Rainforest in Northern Queensland, Australia in 2016, the oldest rainforest on the planet. What a treat for this author of RAINFORESTS An Activity Guide for Ages 6-9 !  

The Daintree is a tropical rainforest -- the perfect home to many butterflies. Visitors might spot the large, beautiful, green and black  Cairns Birdwing, the Cruiser Butterfly which has orange-yellow wings with a distinct pattern detailing on the edges, two varieties of Swallowtail, and one of my very favorites, the large, electric-blue Ulysses. All are amazing to see in the lush, green wilds of the rainforest. 

There are a few reasons why there are so many different species of butterflies in tropical rainforests. Once reason is that there are so many different micro-habitats, with their own micro-climates to support a variety of plants. There are butterfly species that live in the rainforest canopy, others that live in the sub-canopy, and still others that find their home among the plants in the understory. 

You might not live in the rainforest, but I bet you also have species of butterflies flitting around the plants on your rooftop garden, nearby park, or outside your front door.  

Years ago many people collected butterflies, but we know it is better to watch them fly in the wild and  serve out their role as important pollinators than capturing them for a collection. 

There are some things we can learn from observing butterflies in the wild.  I found a few of these on a sign in the rainforest: 
  1. Trust the future. 
  2. Embrace change.
  3. Put on your brightest color.
  4. Let your beauty show. 

Why not help the butterflies along in 2018 by planting your own butterfly garden. The winter is a perfect time for planning. 

Explore what native species of plants are appropriate for your local butterflies. You'll have to plant some that serve as food for hungry caterpillars and others that provide nectar for adults. You can plant your garden in a community garden, in your backyard, or in flower pots on a deck or balcony.  

Keep a journal where you can record the species that visit your garden. Draw pictures of the different varieties or take photos. It will be fun to look at each year as your garden matures and butterflies find it a perfect place to visit. 

Here are a few butterfly books you'll want to read: 

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Chocolate! Three Sweet Books!

What could be sweeter than books about our favorite sweet -- CHOCOLATE? Here are three that delve into the history, natural history, and future of our cherished flavor. 

Did you know that we need monkeys and a host of other rainforest critters in order for trees to produce cocoa pods? 

Did you know that chocolate was once only the food of royalty and was used in religious ceremonies? 

Did you know the first men to climb Mt. Everest buried a candy bar at the summit as an offering to the gods? 

These three titles will help you become a chocolate expert!

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Our National Monuments, Our Public Land

President Trump has announced his plans to reduce Bears Ears and Grand Staircase National Monuments this week.

National Monuments are lands that are protected from development by presidents through the Antiquities Act. This Act is the foundation of American conservation legacy.

Mr. Trump is not the first president to shrink our national lands. President Wilson reduced Mt. Olympus and FDR reduced the Grand Canyon monument at the request of ranchers. However, this act will put Mr. Trump in the record books for giving away the most public land.

As upsetting as this must be for many Americans, myself included, I know that there are many groups who will fight this in court, claiming that only Congress can legally shrink a monument.  And there is still time for the public to voice concerns. If Mr. Trump's action is not prevented this will change the landscape of our country forever.

With all of this in the news this week I thought I'd try to turn a positive look at our public lands and the scientists who work in them by highlighting Mary Kay Carson's book, PARK SCIENTISTS: Gila Monsters, Geysers, and Grizzly Bears in America's Own Backyard. This title is part of the well-known Scientists in the Field series published by Houghton Mifflin (my publisher). This well-researched title introduces readers to Yellowstone's grizzly bears, cacti and Gila monsters in Arizona, and fireflies in Tennessee.

Spend some time exploring our public lands -- their beauty, their value, and their protection. 

 Here are a few groups working on protecting our public lands who could use your support:



Monday, December 4, 2017

November - Jam Packed with Work and Fun

WOW, it's December and I realized that I totally missed all my blogging dates for November. So, here is my explanation.
As Regional Advisor for the SCBWI Eastern NY Region, I plan an amazing retreat every year in NOVEMBER. This year was the 10th anniversary! Whaaaat? Those ten years have flown by, so we celebrated with a big birthday bash retreat. It was inspiring. The faculty was amazing -- Hilary Van Dusen, Grace Kendall, Rotem Moscovich, Katherine Jacobs, Kendra Levin, and Jennifer Laughran.  You're jealous, aren't you? Well, if you are a writer, you should be! LOL Don't worry, we'll host another wonderful retreat next year.

Those are all book covers from our retreat attendees! 

Loved hosting this group! Fabulous Faculty!

So, after that wonderful weekend, I drove down to Washington, DC for the Green Earth Book Award celebration. I was so honored to have THE STORY OF SEEDS receive the award for YA Nonfiction! This was truly a highlight of my career. And what made it even more special was the school visit that accompanied the celebration and the talented authors I met, who also received the award for their middle grade titles.

Check out books by Maris Wicks and Mary Knight! 

Lastly, I presented at NCTE -- more writer friends, lots of wonderful teachers, and days filled with inspiration and hope.

Great fun presenting with Sarah Albee and Jennifer Swanson. Thanks to Teresa Bunner for moderating! 

Along the way there were national park visits, rib dinners, blues music, cupcakes, champagne and lots of friends! (Followed by Thanksgiving!)

And now it is DECEMBER! 

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