Lion Book

Lion Book
HAPPY BOOK BIRTHDAY with HOMESTEAD ELEMENTARY in Aurora, Illinois. Click on this photo to find out about my school visits on SANDRA MARKLE SPEAKS!

Monday, August 21, 2017

EYE SPY WHAT IF YOU HAD ANIMAL EYES?!

The newest member of the 
WHAT IF YOU HAD?! family is here!
THIS SERIES IS NOW AVAILABLE IN LIBRARY BINDING AS WELL AS PAPERBACK

I've been delighted to read Tweets and Face Book posts sharing how the books in this series are going beyond being fun informational texts. I'm hearing from teachers, librarians and media specialists that the WHAT IF YOU HAD?! books are favorite mentoring text for writing experiences. 


I LOVE knowing these books are inspiring children to write and be creative! 


Jen Rusin's class at Homestead Elementary in Aurora, Illinois

sharing WHAT IF YOU HAD ANIMAL EARS?! 

So I thought I'd jump in and share some ways to let WHAT IF YOU HAD ANIMAL EYES?! launch young writers. Here goes...

FAVORITE EYES

I have a favorite animal in each and every WHAT IF YOU HAD?! book. And my very favorite animal eyes are found on pages 14 through 15. Yes, I have my reasons why this animal's eyes especially appeal to me. It includes both the real facts about those eyes and the way Howard McWilliam, my super illustrator, brought my imagined use of those eyes to life with his art.




So now your challenge is to find your very favorite animal eyes in this book.  Write a convincing argument for why those animal eyes are truly the coolest in WHAT IF YOU HAD ANIMAL EYES?! And why you could enjoy claiming them as your own.





You might also want to write about which animal eyes you'd least like to have of all the examples in WHAT IF YOU HAD ANIMAL EYES?!

Teachers: Why not wrap this activity up by building a class bar graph for favorite animal eyes.  You could color in bars on paper. Or have everyone line up and physically be part of a favorite animal eye graph. 



I'd love to see your student-graph photos!


By the way... Here's a peek at an early stage of the book when the illustration is still a sketch. At this stage, I'm checking to be sure it's both fun and scientifically correct.




BLINK AND SWITCH



What if one kind of animal could claim another animal's 
eyes?! 


Imagine a dragonfly having colossal squid eyes? How might that help it hunt insects? How might having colossal squid eyes cause problems for a dragonfly?









Now imagine a tarsier having dragonfly eyes? How might that help it be an even better insect hunter? How might having dragonfly eyes cause problems for a tarsier?








Are there any animal eyes in WHAT IF YOU HAD ANIMAL EYES?! that might be even better for the llama than its very own eyes? Suggest an animal eye switch. Then come up with three reasons to make a strong case for that switch.




OUT TAKES

I start working on every book by brainstorming a long list of animal possibilities to include. Then, as I research, I weed out the maybes to come up with the very best candidates--ones that are both interesting, if possible haven't appeared in other books, and that readers will have fun imagining having themselves. 


In WHAT IF YOU HAD ANIMAL EYES?! there were three animals that stayed in the running right up to the final cut. 


Here are the three Eye Runner Ups:

Jumping Spider



Hippopotamus





Giant Panda





Read books and search on-line to find out more about each of these "Eye Runner Ups". Then pick one and create your own two-page spread for your choice. 

On the lefthand page, you'll need to briefly tell about that animal's eyes and what makes them special. Be sure to include a FACT. That's one extra bit of information about a way that animal's eyes are just right for it. 

On the righthand page, come up with a way it would be fun for you to have that animal's eyes. For extra fun, add a drawing of yourself doing whatever you imagined possible thanks to having that animal's eyes.


EYE HAD AN ADVENTURE!



It's story time! Children can either pick their own animal from WHAT IF YOU HAD ANIMAL EYES?! or pick the name of one of those animals from slips of paper in a hat.

The challenge is to imagine waking up one day and having that animal's eyes for one whole day. 





What adventure did you have? 
Did your animal eyes  help you solve a mystery? 
Did they help you be a hero? 
Did those animal eyes cause you any problems?

Write your story in three short paragraphs: 
1. One to launch what happens. 
2. One for the action in the middle.
3. One for the conclusion. 

Of course, illustrations are a nice touch. 

Teachers: Be sure to allow time for young writers to read their stories aloud. After all, WHAT IF YOU HAD ANIMAL EYES?! is meant to be read aloud so everyone can share the fun. These EYE HAD AN ADVENTURE stories are best shared read aloud too.


GOOD NEWS!! 
All of the books in the WHAT IF YOU HAD?! Series--even ANIMAL EYES--are now available in Library Binding. So they're ready to be read, and read, and read, and read, and READ....





Sunday, August 6, 2017

IT'S PENGUIN TIME!

I've written three books about penguins and each book has been about a different kind of penguin.

THE GREAT PENGUIN RESCUE
(Millbrook/Lerner, 2017) is about African penguins. 

A MOTHER'S JOURNEY (Charlesbridge, 2005) is about Emperor penguins.







PENGUINS: GROWING UP WILD (Currently Available on Amazon Kindle) is about Adelie penguins.




I love penguins because I had the wonderful opportunity twice to live with 160,000+ Adelies in Antarctica during the summer while they raised their chicks, watch Emperors from an icebreaker while they were riding on icebergs (off duty from wintertime egg hatching) and see even more kinds of penguins (Fairy Blue and Yellow-eyed) in New Zealand. 


So, as I celebrate my newest penguin book, I wanted to share some activities for children to enjoy learning about penguins.

HOW PENGUINS STAY DRY

First, use the link to download a printable picture of an African penguin--two for each child.  

The picture is labelled telling children how to correctly color an African penguin with one exception. 
Check out this real photo of an African penguin on the cover of THE GREAT PENGUIN RESCUE. African penguins always have that pinkish area by their eyes. Be sure children color the white areas too.

Next, supply children with paper cups of water and eyedroppers. Have them drip five drops of water on the uncolored African penguin. Then have them drip five drops on the colored African penguin. Ask, "What difference do you see?"

The children will observe the water soaks into the uncolored penguin and beads up on the colored on. African penguins, like all penguins, have a special gland that lets them spread an oily coat over their feathers. Like the wax, that lets their feather shed water. And penguin feathers are incredibly small (I know because I've held some in my hand). But the tiny feathers tuck tightly over each other, like roof shingles, to form a thick, watertight coat. In fact, penguins have more feathers than most birds--as many as 100 feather per square inch.




What looks pink above the
penguin’s eyes is a special
body part that keeps it
from overheating. As the
penguin’s body warms
up, blood flow increases
to that area. The lack of
feathers over that area
lets heat radiate away as
the blood flows through it.

That cools the penguin.

Emperor Dad On Duty

A MOTHER'S JOURNEY shares the less familiar story of what female emperors do while the dad's hunker down incubating their egg through Antarctica's freezing cold winter.  I know what winter in Antarctica is like. I experienced it firsthand at McMurdo Station.
Winds could be strong enough to lean into. Snow like tiny ice-glitter would fill the air. And temperatures averaged -50F to -70F (painfully cold to breathe) and dropped as low as -129F. It's an impressive cold. 



So the females get credit for traveling through this--in the dark--to reach open water and to feed, stay strong, and return just in time to feed their newly hatched chick. And the males get credit for staying the winter with the egg tucked into their brood patch (to share body warmth) and hold the egg on top of their feet to keep it off the cold ice and snow--even as they shift around with the huddle of other males. This activity will let kids get the idea.


Use any kind of baggie--even a self-sealing plastic bag full of pennies or anything to give it some weight. This is "the emperor's egg". Ideally, each child needs an egg. First, have the children the egg on top of their shoes and practice waddling to move slowly without losing their egg. 

After a little practice, children are ready to be in a large huddle with their eggs on their feet. Tell them to pack as close together as they can. Then challenge them that when you call "MOVE" everyone at the outside of the huddle shifts one person to the inside. Repeat several times. 


It's fine for anyone who drops their eggs to return it to their feet. But point out in real life that puts the chick developing inside at risk of not surviving to hatch. 

And check out these sites for lots more penguin discovery-fun activities.