Note About Contact

Just FYI:

Some of you may have noticed a contact form that was up on and off for the last month. I have been trying to get it to work. Although it looked like it was working from the front end, I never got the test messages at the back end. If you left a message, I’m afraid I didn’t get it.

For now, if you need to contact me, please leave a comment. I’ll try to get something better going in the next few weeks.

And if you have any suggestions on how to create a wordpress-friendly contact form, I would love to hear them.

Porcupines From Two “Points” of View

porcupine
(Borrowed this photo from Free Stock Photos for websites - FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

“The North American porcupine waddles through the forests of North America” begins Porcupines by Sandra Markle. As part of the Animal Prey series, this book explains what prey and predators are and how porcupines are prey. Porcupines can defend themselves with their quills, special hairs that are stiff and needlelike.

In contrast, Porcupines by Jen Green starts out with a Fact File summary of information and then asks, “What animal is pricklier than a pincushion?” This version is part of the Nature’s Children, Second Series, a revamped version of the popular earlier Nature’s Children series.

Both books have amazing photographs of porcupines, and in fact it is obvious that some of the photographs came from the same sources. With a larger size, the photographs in Markle’s book are stunning and definitely attract your eye. Green’s smaller format book, however, fits comfortably in smaller hands. While Green’s book starts out with a Fact File summary, Markle’s has a “Looking Back” section at the end, which is an interesting way to review the material.

As far as information, both books cover how porcupines are nocturnal, that they eat plants and that they crave salt. Both mention that porcupines have a waddling gait and that they are surprisingly good swimmers. Markle’s book states that porcupines have a fatty substance on the quills that acts as an antibiotic and protects the porcupines from infection should they stab themselves accidentally. I never thought that a porcupine might be a danger to itself!

Green’s book reveals on page 16 that porcupines smell like “sawdust or old wood.” I have to admit I picked these two books up because I was interested in how porcupines smell. I had seen a television show that listed porcupines in the top 10 smelliest animals. The porcupine at our zoo was named “Stinkerbell.” I had read that the fatty substances on the quills create odors that serve to warn animals away. Somehow, “old wood” doesn’t sound like a warning smell. I guess I have to keep researching that topic.

Overall, Markle’s book might be easier to find for the average parent because the Nature’s Children Series seems to be sold as part of a set for schools or libraries. Both would be helpful and informative to a child who wants to learn more about porcupines.

Porcupines (Nature’s Children, Second Series) by Jen Green
Grolier (Scholastic) Series
LP978-0-7172-8082-7
7 1/4″ x 8 5/8″
2008
More information available at Scholastic

Porcupines by Sandra Markle

Reading level: Ages 9-12
Paperback: 39 pages
Publisher: First Avenue Editions (February 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0822564424
ISBN-13: 978-0822564423

nonfictionmonday

Nonfiction Monday is a blogging celebration of nonfiction books for kids. For more information, stop by Picture Book of the Day. This week’s post is at Jean Little Library.

All About Alligators

Who Lives in an Alligator Hole? by Anne Rockwell and Lizzy Rockwell (Illustrator) is an excellent addition to the Let’s-Read-and-Find-Out Science Series. As the authors suggest on the first page, most of us probably think of alligators as scary animals with sharp teeth. Alligators have a vital role in their environment, however, one that scientists and conservationists didn’t realize until it was almost too late.

In this book the Rockwells explain how alligators are keystone species, meaning they make changes to their environment that allow many other plants and animals to survive and flourish. During times of drought, the alligators dig out holes that become small ponds. The ponds become home to a vast array of other creatures. When the alligators almost went extinct in the 1960’s, the fish, plants and birds that depended on these ponds almost disappeared too.

As well as explaining how alligators are so very important in their habitats, the authors also note that alligators were once thought to only occur in the southeastern United States, but then another kind of alligator was found in China. Wild!

The illustrator is the author’s daughter, and she has done a marvelous job. Obviously their family has an appreciation for alligators, one they have passed on to our family. We can’t wait to try the activity at the end to make our own gator hole. We also want to go to Florida and see alligators, something I never would have thought before reading this book.

nonfictionmonday

Nonfiction Monday is a blogging celebration of nonfiction books for kids. For more information, stop by Picture Book of the Day. This week’s post is at The Miss Rumphius Effect

Who Lives in an Alligator Hole? (Let’s-Read-and-Find-Out Science 2) by Anne Rockwell and Lizzy Rockwell (Illustrator)

Reading level: Ages 4-8
Paperback: 40 pages
Publisher: Collins (November 7, 2006)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 006445200X
ISBN-13: 978-0064452007

Linnea in Monet’s Garden: A Children’s Book Review

Are you ready for a trip to Paris, or at least a pretend one?

After completing the list in the previous post of children’s books set in each of the 50 United States, I tried to think of books with strong settings from other countries. I immediately thought of an older book, Linnea in Monet’s Garden by Cristina Bjork, Lena Anderson (Illustrator), and Joan Sandin (Translator). This unique book is a combination travel journal and biography, all wrapped into a beautiful piece of art in itself. The exquisite illustrations and superb photographs are enchanting.

In the book, our tour guide to Paris and Monet’s gardens is Linnea, a lively and charming young girl. Interested in nature and art, Linnea goes to Paris with her knowledgeable older friend, Mr. Bloom, to see Monet’s water lilies. On the way they encounter the sights like the River Seine, Notre Dame Cathedral and the second oldest tree in Paris. They take the train to Giverny, where Monet’s house and gardens have been turned into a museum.

Linnea’s descriptions make us feel like we are traveling right along with her, seeing the sights as she does. Particularly compelling is how the authors show a painting of a water lily close up and from far away, demonstrating how Impressionism works in a memorable way. On another page we see four paintings of the same bridge Monet did over his lifetime. We can see how the details change as his eyesight began to decline.

It is a marvel how the author and illustrator have packed so much information into 56 pages. In addition to descriptions and examples of Monet’s work, the book covers a detailed treatment of the restored gardens and a brief, but intense description of Monet’s life (warts and all), all woven into a compelling story. Also included are photos of Monet and his family, some previously unpublished.

If you are traveling to France with children, this book is a must. If your children are interested in France, art, photography, art history, Monet and nature, they will enjoy it as well. Finally, if you are simply ready to be carted off to a lovely garden/art museum for a few minutes, then you are ready for Linnea in Monet’s Garden.