Sunday, July 31, 2011

A Story of Hope

Last week, I met a miracle at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium in Clearwater, Florida.  She is appropriately named Hope, and she is seven months old.  Hope is happy, healthy and brimming with life.  (See the You Tube video of Hope playing below.)
Hope at six months
Clearwater Marine Aquarium
On December 11, 2010, Hope was found in the Indian River Lagoon on the east coast of Florida. Staff from Hubbs-Seaworld Research mobilized quickly and located the infant dolphin.  She was attempting to nurse her dead mother.

The dolphin was evaluated and in coordination with National Marine Fisheries Service, it was determined that she would be transported to CMA for rehabilitation.

Hope at Clearwater Marine Aquarium
Photo:  Nancy Stewart
July 28, 2011
Hope is non-releasable, as she cannot gain the proper survival skills necessary for a life in the wild.  In February, National Marine Fisheries made the determination that the dolphin would maintain a permanent resident status at CMA.

She will soon be introduced to and placed with her "big sister," Winter, who was rescued five years ago from approximately the same area on the east coast of Florida.  She will also live with Panama, who has become Winter's, and hopefully, Hope's adoptive mom.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Bumble-Ardy--New Maurice Sendak Picture Book

Maurice Sendak turned 83 this June, but he's still hard at work. The Caldecott-winning author of classic children’s books such as Where the Wild Things Are has reached an agreement with HarperCollins to publish the first book illustrated and written by Sendak since Outside Over There in 1981.

The new picture book, which began its life as an animated segment for Sesame Street, is Bumble-Ardy. It tells the tale of Bumble, a mischievous pig who has reached the age of nine without ever having had a birthday party.

He takes matters into his own hands and invites all of his friends to a masquerade party that quickly gets out of hand.

“As a child, I felt that books were holy objects to be caressed, rapturously sniffed, and devotedly provided for,” said Sendak in accepting the Hans Christian Andersen Award (for excellence in illustration of children’s books) in Bologna, Italy in 1970. “I gave my life to them. I still do. I continue to do what I did as a child: dream of books, make books, and collect books.” Bumble-Ardy will be published by HarperCollins in September.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Dolly Parton's Better Days Tour Benefits Imagination Library for Kids

Experts say children learn the most from ages 0 to 5, which is why the Dolly Parton Imagination Library works to put a book in the hands of all children.

Dolly PartonDolly Parton's Imagination Library program began in Tennessee in 1996 and eventually expanded to any community that would support it. The goal of the program is to promote literacy by providing a free book each month to children until their fifth birthday.

"Children who live in middle to upper-income families have 13 books to every child. For children in lower-income families, there are 300 children to every book," said United Way CEO Doug Eberhart.

Singer/Songwriter Dolly Parton performed during the "Better Day" World Tour opener at the Thompson-Boling Arena on July 17, 2011 in Knoxville, Tennessee.

It costs $35 per year per child. There are no income or household limits. And if you can't afford the cost of enrollment, don't worry. The United Way will cover it, thanks to donations. "For only 35 dollars, you're changing the life of a child," Eberhart said.

The Dolly Parton Imagination Library comes to South Central Kentucky as part of the United Way's Invest in Success program. One of the organization's biggest partners in the program, is the Family Enrichment Center.
"Books give a way for parents to connect to their children and you know it's the basis for lifelong learning," said Executive Director, Nickie Jones. Jones says this gives children opportunities they may not have had, and is also a good opportunity for Mom and Dad.

The inaugural concert benefited Parton's Dollywood Foundation. All proceeds from the concert will be donated to the Imagination Library, providing educational opportunities to children in various communities.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Southern Illinois Bookends SCBWI Summer Critique-Nik

Our annual Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators Critique-nik held on Saturday, July 23, was so powerful and productive, that last night I dreamed of my latest book and found myself in the world of my imagination solving problems with the manuscript!   How many groups can provide that kind of assistance?

Anastasia Burke-Ely and Sherry Randle
Our Learned and Totally Sober Co-Chairs
To a person this group (and they were not all there, alas) is smart, studied, intuitive and interested in honing the craft of writing children's books.  And, in fact, it's fun to sit back and listen to authors play off each other's thoughts and shared experiences.

So on a sultry St. Louis Saturday, we worked, critiqued, listened, laughed, empathized, learned, grew and validated our love of writing for children.  Oh, and of course, as St. Paul said, indulged in "a little wine for the stomach's sake..."


This is an inventive artifact for the critique-nik's theme!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Last Child in the Woods--Kids Leaving Nature Behind

Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods, coined the term, nature-deficit disorder in this book.  He describes how children today are in great danger of losing touch with nature.

The author directly links a lack of nature in the lives of today's "wired generation" to some of the most disturbing childhood trends, such as the rises in obesity, attention disorders, and depression.

Last Child in the Woods discusses a new and growing body of research indicating that direct exposure to nature is essential for healthy childhood development and for the physical and emotional health of children and adults.

Louv offers practical solutions and simple ways to heal the broken bond—and many are right in our own backyard.

And here is a great book from my friend, colleague and writers group member,  Jennifer Ward.  It is, It's a Jungle Out There, published by Shambhala Publications.  This new book is a wonderful example of what can be done to keep kids engaged in the wild side of nature, even in the confines of the city!

It's a Jungle Out There!: 52 Nature Adventures for City Kids

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Bedtime Story and Interactive Movie-The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore

Here they come--ebooks that are part book and part movie.  Moonbot Studios in Shreveport, Louisiana has produced an interactive children's book for the iPad. The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore by William Joyce, is an interactive digital story based on an award-winning animated short film of the same name.  (Take a look at the You Tube Video at the bottom of this post.)

The iPad version sells for $5 from the App Store, so it is marketed as an "app" rather than a book. Is it a book at all because it is based on an animated film?  A traditional print version was developed later.

Each of the 27 pages (screens) offers the reader a chance to interact with the character Morris. From the opening tornado scene where you can change the speed and direction of Morris tumbling through the storm, to a screen where you help Morris repair some books, the progress of the story is controlled by the reader.

An options bar on the side of the screen allows you to listen to the story with or without text, read it without narration, or turn on the accompanying musical soundtrack.

Each reading of the story is unique, since it's  influenced by the reader's interaction with the touch screen. The creators call it the reinvention of digital storytelling.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

One-Year Anniversary of Gulf Capping...and Spills Continue Around the Globe

Just one year ago, on July 15, 2010, the Deepwater Horizon oil spill brought to us by BP and Transocean, was successfully capped after pouring 4.9 million barrels of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico.

Gulf Coast fishermen try to save an oil-drenched pelican.
One year later-more of the same.
 (Photo:Ho New/Reuters)
One year later impacts of the spill continue to affect the health of Gulf Coast residents, the safety of the region’s seafood and the economies of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida.

 $20 billion was set aside by BP for those whose lives and livelihoods were most impacted.  So far less than $5 billion has been handed out, and BP, citing the area’s “robust recovery,” says that should be sufficient.

Four big leaks have been reported in just the past two weeks:

An Exxon Mobil pipeline burst beneath the Yellowstone River, flooding the pristine waterway with more than 42,000 gallons of crude oil. While the line was reportedly shut down within seven minutes, the leak continued for more than an hour.

A pair of undersea leaks in the ConocoPhillips oilfield—Penglai 19-3, China’s largest—spilled up to 7,000 barrels of oil into Bohai Bay, spreading over more than 325 square miles. Slicks seven miles long and 500 yards wide were reported.

An explosion and oil spill at the Pengrowth Energy Facility near Swan Hills, Alberta, dumped 1,000 barrels of oil into nearby Judy Creek, which flows into the Freeman River, a tributary of the Athabasca River.

A New Hampshire company—Sprague Energy—leaked up to 100 barrels of oil into the Piscataqua River via a “small hole” in a delivery pipe. Company officials admitted a pinhole resulted in a “spraying” of fuel for up to two hours.

This is a tragic reminder of how little has changed since the Deepwater Horizon spill of April 20, 2010.

One Pelican at a Time:  A Story of the Gulf Oil Spill
Needed now more than ever before!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Lost Stories of Dr. Seuss Coming Soon!

A “Zinniga-Zanniga," feisty felines and nervous goldfish are all included in seven rarely-seen Dr. Seuss stories and can be found in The Bippolo Seed and Other Lost Stories.  The book will be published this September by Random House.

The stories originally appeared in Redbook Magazine in 1950 and 1951 but never made it to book form.

 They were tracked down by Seuss expert, Charles D. Cohen, who has written an introduction to the book.

The title story involves a sneaky cat, a silly duck
and a bad decision.  “Gustav the Goldfish" is an early, rhymed version of A Fish Out of Water, a book by Helen Palmer, Geisel’s wife.

Readers will also meet “Tadd and Todd,” a band of hungry creatures who follow a boy home in hopes of “Steak for Supper,” and “The Strange Shirt Spot,” the source for the bathtub-ring scene in, The Cat in the Hat Comes Back.

For all you Seuss lovers, here's your chance for more!  The new book will be launched on September 27, 2011.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

View PBS Video on My Writing of One Pelican at a Time

A big thank-you goes to WEDU-Tampa Bay PBS!  I appreciate having had the opportunity to be featured on this terrific station for such a worthwhile cause as GulfWatch.   Special thanks to Tara Slusher, Producer. Please take a look at the video at the bottom of this post.

PBS began the shoot on June 4 at Book Nook by the Bay, St. Petersburg, Florida, where I read and signed copies of, One Pelican at a Time.  Very early the next morning, we continued the shoot both at the beach and at our condo on Clearwater Beach, as shown below in the video.

GulfWatch is a consortium of public media companies that create broadcast and digital content for various platforms.   This one was done to engage and educate audiences about the 2010 Gulf Oil Spill and environmental issues because of it.

The public media stations include: WEDU-TV, and WUSF-TV/FM in Tampa; Louisiana Public Broadcasting; Alabama Public Television; Mississippi Public Broadcasting; WWNO-FM, New Orleans; WBHM-FM, Birmingham, AL; WSRE-TV/FM, Pensacola, Fla.; WVAS-FM, Montgomery, Ala.; and KRVS-FM in Lafayette, La. The Gulf Watch project was funded by a grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB).

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Guardian Angel Publishing Children's Books Coming Soon!

Guardian Angel Publishing has a new and wonderful group of books being launched soon!  Yes, Bella Saves the Beach and Sea Turtle Summer are two of them.  But take a look at all the marvelous offerings being launched soon by this publishing house!

Guardian Angel Publishing has become a dynamo.  Begun in 2005 by Lynda Burch, it is a member of the the all-important Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators

Publishing only children's books, from ages 0 - 12, many are consistently on the Amazon Bestselling Books for Children and have won awards too many of which to list here.  

Friday, July 8, 2011

Bumper Crop of Pelican Chicks on Gaillard Island, Alabama

As this year’s crop of baby pelicans hatch out on Gaillard Island in Mobile Bay, biologists in Alabama are breathing a sigh of relief. At the midpoint of the first nesting season since the BP oil spill, the manmade rookery is housing a bumper crop.  At 1,300 acres, this island is one of the largest pelican nesting areas on the upper Gulf Coast.
Gaillard Island birds
Baby Brown Pelicans on Gaillard Island, Alabama (2011)
I think there is an uptick in the number of pelicans out there, and maybe even royal terns. Overall, it looks like a great year, said Roger Clay, with the state Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries.

Back in the early 1990s, shortly after the island was created out of the dirt dug up to make the Theodore Industrial Canal, around 1,000 pairs of pelicans showed up to nest. This year, there are 4,000 to 6,000 pairs, along with more than 10,000 pairs of gulls, herons, ibis and terns.
The 8,000 pelicans are now raising around 16,000 chicks, while the 20,000 gulls and other birds are raising around 40,000 chicks, meaning there are more than 80,000 birds on the island.

 We can always throw that caveat that we won’t know for years if the spill caused a problem, but a good hunch is that in the short term, it doesn’t appear to have had an effect, Clay said last week.

He said nearly every kind of shorebird common in the state nests on Gaillard. The island is prime bird habitat for two reasons: there are no predators and there are no people.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Story of Charlotte's Web

One early fall morning in 1949, E.B. White walked into the barn of his farm in Maine and saw a spider web.  Then on a cold October evening, he noticed that the spider was spinning an egg sac.

The Story of Charlotte's Web, by Michael SimsWhite never saw the spider again.  When he had to return later that fall to New York City to his job as a regular contributor to The New Yorker magazine, White took out a razor blade and cut the egg sac out of the web. He put the sac in an empty candy box, punched some air holes in it, put the box on his bedroom bureau in New York and promptly forgot about it.

Weeks later, tiny spiders were everywhere, escaping through the air holes. White thought this was wonderful until the cleaning lady complained about the hundreds of spider webs everywhere!

Now comes a book about the real E.B. White and every one's favorite spider, Charlotte.  Michael Sims, author of The Story of Charlotte's Web, weaves a yarn of interest about the author of the best children's book ever published in the US.  This is according to a poll of librarians, teachers, publishers and authors in the trade magazine, Publisher's Weekly.

As a very old man with Alzheimer's, White liked to have his books and essays read to him. When his son, Joe, obliged, White would ask who who wrote them.  "You did, Dad," Joe answered.  White would think about this for a moment and say, 'Not bad."


Monday, July 4, 2011

July 4th Beach Trash Float in California

As a prelude to Bella Saves the Beach, which will be launched very soon, here is an interesting treatise on beach trash. 

 The most popular float at this year's Huntington Beach's Fourth of July Parade is likely to be the one made out of trash. It may not smell very good, either.

Andre Faubert, a Huntington, CA resident and volunteer for the Surfrider Foundation, spent a month earlier this year gathering trash for one hour a day along the city's shoreline. By the time he finished, he had more than 580 pounds of refuse, including bottle caps, plastic bags and Styrofoam.

Now, with the help of a student and an alum from the Laguna College of Art & Design, Faubert is turning his discoveries into sculpture. The finished piece will look, from a distance, like a crashing wave, with a curving blue base and white foam at the end of the curl. It may take a closer look to realize that those colors come from pieces of trash sewn and stapled together.

It was dirty work, to say the least, and graduate student Hannah Cosner said the stench proved overwhelming at times. Still, she said, the artists intended to jolt onlookers with the piece, which Farmers & Merchants Bank sponsored for the parade. "It should be really gross," she told the Huntington Beach Independent. "But that's why we tried to make it beautiful. People will see it from a distance, and then they'll come up."

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Guardian Angel Publishing Family Blog--July Edition!

Hello, Everyone out there!  The new Guardian Angel Kids Family Blog is here.  It is crammed full of fun things for kids to do--with and without their parents. 

Please take a look at the site.  It's going to be a hot 4th of July weekend lots of places in the US.  Take advantage of this fun stuff to keep kids cool and occupied!

To you in the United States, have a wonderful and safe holiday.  And to others around this globe, I hope your weekend is a lovely one as well.