I am pleased to announce the “birth” day of my book above.
Curtis Curly-tail is Lizardnapped (an adventure tale featuring endangered flora and fauna of The Bahamas) is four years old this month.The book has a conservation/ecological theme–woven into a story about Curtis Curly-tail Lizard and his friends, who all work together to save themselves and stolen endangered plants from poachers.
I say, “Let’s learn about science in fun ways! That way, it sticks.”
In the third book of the series, the very curious Curtis Curly-tail mistakes a poacher for a tourist wanting to snap a picture of his perfectly-curled tail. Instead, he is captured, along with critically endangered native plants, Conch and Iguanas. Together the animals plot their escape from the dangerous poachers, but they can’t do it alone. Who will help them? How will they get free of the cages on a speeding boat and return home safely to Warderick Wells?
An Adventure Tale For Readers Age 10+ Lovely Colored Pencil Illustrations by Jessica Minns/30 Pages
We live in a very visual world. Our entertainment is mostly visual: TV, movies, videos and, of course, our cell phones.
Above Photo courtesy of Hans Benn of Pixabay.
When you write a story, however, you must create the setting for the reader through words alone. This can be challenging. For instance, the setting for a story includes a full moon. Is that enough information? Unfortunately not. Look at the photos below.
This photo was taken by my friend, Gerry Sprie. This could be a dense forest, or the woods on a foggy night. I envision this setting being used for a scary story, perhaps for a Halloween tale, but for others, it might be a romantic moon in a lush forest. The trees in this photo are very different than the trees in the next image. The setting below seems more confining, as opposed to openness of the taller trees and the clearer view above. I feel a bit claustrophobic with the photo below.
Full moons don’t appear only at night. Sometimes, the moon rises when the sun is still out. That setting is much different from the previous one. Daytime moons can be varied as well.
The moon here is rising above a majestic mountain range, while the one below is entangled in a ground level tree. Of course, the tree and mountains are part of the setting as well, and can help set the scene you’re writing. One gives a feeling of a wide Western vista, and the other is grounded. I might even write that the rising moon is snagged in the branches of a Palo Verde tree.
A full moon provides many elements for a story: illumination for the nighttime activity, the effect of the full moon on the tides and possibly behavior, tying in the local cultural beliefs associated with full moons, or it could even mark a time of year. So many possibilities.
For practice, try writing descriptions of these photos or some photos of your own. Will the reader see the scene in her mind’s eye? Will you transport the reader to your story’s location to experience what the character is experiencing? What does the sky look like? Is there a breeze? What odors does he smell? What sounds surround him?
The goal of the writer is to utilize all the senses, pulling the reader into the story as if she was there. Have fun with this and remember to keep at it. Practice does make perfect with writing!
Book Note: I have very much enjoyed writing to bring alive the flora and fauna of The Bahamas and the Cayman Islands in my adventure tales written for 8-12 year-olds. The characters are critters who seem to be experts at making mischief. I hope you will consider these educational adventure tales that have the science of the islands woven into the stories. In other words, readers learn about the wildlife in these locales in a fun way. In my book,Curtis Curly-tail Hears a Hutia,an endangered species threatens a protected environment–and the reader gets to choose the ending he or she believes will best solve the problem. I believe science should be fun, and I hope you will agree.
November 6 is National Nachos Day, a day set aside to celebrate a delicious culinary delight. Nachos are crunchy with melted cheese, a perfect combination of taste and texture. Nachos were created by “Nacho” Anaya from Piedras Negras, Mexico in 1943.
Over the years, other ingredients have been added to the tortilla chips and cheese. Even though I regularly enjoy beef on my mine, my favorite is seafood nachos topped with shrimp and crab meat. I’ve found just about anything goes well with the basic chips and cheese.
Try being creative with your nachos. Today, go ahead and nosh on some nachos!
(Above image courtesy of José Vanegas López from Pixabay.)
Hello, my friends! It’s been a while! I’m just getting back home after the hurricane on Beach Cay. Phew! THAT was an adventure! If you’d like to see what I’ve been up to, Curtis Curly-tail is Blown Away is now available at Amazon.com. But I’m back, and my friend, Elaine Powers, author, asked me to tell you how to find a lizard. I’d be happy to!
Some of my lizard cousins live “in captivity” with humans. This living situation has advantages and disadvantages. A caring person will provide hiding spots for young lizards, so they feel comfortable. We lizards retain all our survival instincts in captivity and like to hide from possible predators. And, young lizards are so very tasty. (I hear the seagulls talking about this on my beach. Shudder.)
There is one problem with good hiding places, however. On occasion, it becomes hard for the human to locate their reptilian family member.
The photo above is what Twizzler, a Spiny-tail iguana’s, human saw when looking for the young iguana. Is that a lizard body part? she thought. Or just another piece of the plastic rock formation?
Okay, yes, it was a body part. When she looked behind the rock, she saw identifiable parts of Twizzler, his snout and tail.
And what is the part of Twizzler’s body seen in front of this rock? His human claims Twizzler’s knee is in the picture. I’m a lizard and I can’t see it! Can you? Please make a note for me in the comments, if so. I’d love to know where it is. Thank you for your help.
I do have a clue if you ever need to find a lizard: Remember to look for the tail. We lizards often forget to pull in our tails. Of course, Twizzler could have felt comfortable enough to leave his tail out. After all, there are no predators in his enclosure, and he knows that now.
Now, back to me! Here is my latest adventure story. I just love being the star of Warderick Wells and having my friends see me on You Tube!
Until next time, you all take care out there. Be good to each other–life is short.
Here, my youngest iguana, Twizzler Spiny-tail Iguana, is demonstrating that he is literally climbing the wall.
by Elaine A. Powers
If you’re like me, you’re spending more time at home than usual. Of course, this should help my writing output, but I often get distracted by the news of the world. Fortunately, I live with an assortment of animals who help me maintain my mental wellbeing.
At first my reptiles, many of whom free-roam my house, enjoyed having me around. They’d join in at my work area and sit at my feet, or wander by, walking over my feet or pushing my wheeled-chair. I liked the attention.
But over time, I noticed they weren’t around me as much. They had been accustomed to me traveling and having other caregivers while I was gone. Absence made their hearts grow fonder. Now, they have found favorite spots to hang out in in other rooms, especially the spare bedroom.
Was it something I said? Maybe I’m watching too much news or it’s been too long without me taking a trip. Well, we’ve all got our own space, so we should be content, right?
Nope! Today I realized that my reptiles may be experiencing enough stress to drive them “up the wall.” The phrase means being irritated or angry enough that one feels the need to escape, even if it means climbing up and over walls.
Twizzler was eventually able to relax and made his way back down and settled into the day’s activities.
As you can see above, iguanas can become quite large. So, when I wrote The Dragon of Nani Cave–well, the dragon isn’t really a dragon. It’s an iguana and only seems like a dragon to small Curly-tail lizards, the Lime Lizard Lads, who work up enough courage to go find the dragon (with a little help from their friends). While the lizards are having an adventure, young readers are learning all about ecosystems (and they don’t even know it). That’s what we do around here–make learning about science fun!
The Lime Lizard Lads, Gene and Bony, LOVE exploring their island home, where the bravest thing possible is to go seethe Dragon of Nani Cave.
An Adventure Tale For Readers Age 8+ 48 pages
Fun and Colorful Illustrations of the many animals they encounter, including the Dragon! By Anderson Atlas
Gene and Bony are bored. They go see Old Soldier Crab who tells them wondrous, dangerous creatures live up on the bluff. And, if they go, they must prove themselves worthy and return with a piece of Caymanite.
They must journey through Skull Cave and meet bats, and a cat with sharp teeth. Then they meet Kat, a fellow Curly-tail Lizard and she knows the way to Nani Cave. But she warns there might be more than one dragon.
Meeting one danger after another, they finally arrive at Nani Cave. There he is: the dragon! He’s HUGE! And look at all those teeth!
Did you know that people sometimes call lizards toads? Toads—which are amphibians, by the way, not reptiles like us lizards. Even this lizard’s scientific name refers to toads! Phrynosoma means “toad-bodied”–all because they have flat, round bodies and blunt snouts. The correct common name for these interesting lizards is Horned Lizard—not horny toad!
The Horned Lizard doesn’t move around much, allowing its camouflage to help protect it from predators. The spines on the Horned Lizard’s back are modified scales, but they still make the lizard hard to swallow, especially when it puffs up. Roadrunners have learned to swallow the lizard with the spines facing away from them, so they don’t puncture their innards. That is an interesting fact from the rhyming and fun science book, Don’t Make Me Fly!, by Elaine A. Powers.
The horns on the lizard, however, are true horns, since they have a bony core. The lizard in the above photo is a Regal Horned Lizard, Phrynosoma solare. It gets its common name from the row of horns on its head. Regal Horned Lizards eat harvester ants, lots of harvester ants, over two thousand per meal. And they eat during the incredibly hot days in the desert!
Along with camouflage, spines, and running, Horned Lizards can also squirt blood from their eyes. (Ewwww, right?)The bad-tasting blood hits the predator’s mouth, discouraging it from eating the lizard. Now, that’s one trait I wouldn’t mind having. “Come on down, seagull! Open wide!”
So, dear readers, when you see any of these wonderful, interesting lizards, please don’t call them horny toads! Remember they are the amazing Horned LIZARDS–reptiles. Just like me, of course!
Many homeowners have security systems to protect the premises. There are many choices: Ring, ADT, Vivint, etc., all of which involve people.
My security system involves reptiles. I have free roaming tortoises that are adept at tripping. They utilize the carpets that camouflage them well. Yes, even I have face-planted! I also have large roaming lizards with razor sharp teeth and an intense dislike of people they don’t know.
Recently, I discovered that the household reptiles have recruited some of the locals to participate in guarding the house.
This Desert Spiny Lizard,Sceloporus magister, is doing surveillance from the front door. From her spot, she can watch the front of the house and the road. She seems to be doing a good job.
I like helping my human friends prepare the meals for my reptilian companions. This morning I was collecting pads from the prickly pear cactus for the desert tortoises. I only harvest the young pads due to my size. Locally the pad is called a nopal. People also eat them.
The problem is, prickly pear cactus have spines, really big spines. That’s why they’re called prickly. But my human friends are smart like me and many planted the “spineless” prickly pear, Opuntia stricta. Cactus spines are very sharp and difficult to remove because they have hooks to keep them in the skin. They also come in different sizes. You may avoid the obvious, big spines but then be impaled by smaller ones.
Since I was asked to collect young pads from the spineless prickly pear cactus, I wasn’t worried about injuries. Using my perfect hands, I snapped off a pad – and they do snap off easily. But, when I snapped off the second one, I realized I had pain in my perfect little fingers. I looked down to see tiny spines stuck between my scales.
Why did I have spines from a spineless prickly pear cactus in my fingers? Well, they have fewer spines than the regular prickly pears, but they aren’t really totally, perfectly spineless. I kept going, though, adding more spines to my collection until I had enough pads for their tortoise meals.
The tortoises enjoyed their meal, while I spent the rest of the day picking out spineless prickly pear cactus spines and contemplating these not-totally-spineless cactus plants. So, here it is—Be careful out there among the cacti!
Stop by and say hi at my YouTube Page. And check out the fun books my good friend, Elaine, a human, has written about tortoises and turtles!
Reptile skin is really interesting. Instead of flaking off like human skin does, reptiles shed their skin in strips. Snakes shed one complete body skin at a time. Lizards might shed their skin in sections of the body.
The scales that make up the skin are made by the epidermis of the protein keratin. The skin provides an external covering provides protection and helps retain moisture.
My friend Rascal, a Red Tegu, offered to help me show shedding lizard skin. He has thick beaded scales, that appear to be a lovely dark red. However, when it’s time to get rid of his old epidermis, the skin looks white. That’s because the tegu’s color is not in the outer epidermal layer, but underneath.
By the way, keratin is what you humans use to make your skin, hair and nails with. Don’t you wish you could shed your skin like us reptiles?
I learned a new term today. It’s not a word to be used in daily conversation but interesting, nonetheless. The new term is saurophagy. Its means “the eating of lizards.”
I was a little sad to learn this word in a report about one iguana species, C. similis, eating its cousin,C. bakeri. Normally herbivores, iguanas can be opportunistic consumers. C. similisseem to take the opportunity to eat the hatchling C. bakeri heading to the mangroves.
Like most people with access to the Internet, the first thing I did was search saurophagy. It’s apparently a well-kept secret. Google offered me autophagy which is very different. Autophagy is the destruction of cells during normal physiological cycles.
It took a while to find anything on saurophagy. Most of what I found was lizards-eating-lizards research, which makes sense in places with high numbers of lizards. But of course, lizards have many predators. Those predators are usually just called carnivores, nothing fancy like saurophagy.
Saurophagy is a fun word to know. You just might need it someday for a trivia contest or Scrabble game. And don’t forget, there’s autophagy, too.
To learn more about iguanas, check out this wonderful downloadable resource at Lyric Power Publishing, LLC. Nothing about saurophagy in it, but lots of other information about iguanas and wonderful activity sheets. Full description below.
Today, I wanted to ask you if you knew that Green Iguanas, Iguana iguana, come in different colors? And, if they come in different colors, how do you tell if a lizard is a green iguana?
You look for the subtympanic scale. “What is that?” you ask. Well, I don’t have one, so I had to look it up myself. The subtympanic scale is that large scale on the side of the green iguana’s head. Sub means below and tympanic means ear. So, it’s the big scale below the ear. I have a friend who calls that scale the “jewel.” She always admires the beautiful coloring in the iguana jewels.
Here are some of my green iguana friends, in very different colors. As you can see, they are not just green–but they are all still called “green.” Even the green green iguanas come in different shades of green. It can be confusing, if you ask me.
The native range of the green iguana is southern Mexico to central Brazil and several Caribbean islands. If you don’t live in those areas, why should you know how to identify a green iguana? Because they’re very popular as pets in people’s homes and they have been introduced to many other places in the world, where they don’t belong and can be causing harm. That means they’re “invasive.”
If you enjoy learning while coloring and doing activities, I encourage you to be creative. To learn more in fun ways about iguanas, please see our 30-page workbook full of activity sheets about iguanas, My Unit Study on Iguanas. Remember that the green iguanas you color, don’t have to be green!
One day, my friend Rango, a Rhino Iguana, and I, a perfect curly-tail lizard, were discussing over Zoom our favorite basking spots. I prefer a nice piece of karst, myself. I like a spot where I can put my front feet up a bit, angle my back to the sun and soak in the rays.
But Rango the Dragon, as I call all iguanas—can you blame me?— lives in a house, not on an island like I do. Oh, she has a lovely place to bask under a suspended heat lamp or in a sunbeam through the window or door. She even has a servant who brings her meals while she basks. I guess there are advantages to living in a house. I have to find my own food and make sure I don’t become a snack for a seagull where I live!
I learned Rango likes to bask at an upward angle, too. Her substrate is flat tile, though, not bumpy karst. So, what does she do? She finds something else to perch on–a comfortable height and something hard that can hold her weight.
The other family members include tortoises of various sizes. Rango has selected the smaller tortoises as her desired perches. I don’t know how the tortoises feel about being used for this purpose, but they don’t wander off.
I admire Rango for her creativity, but I do hope she thanks the tortoises, especially Myrtle, who is a very famous tortoise. She has her own book, for Pete’s sake! That’s it below, a rhyming book favorite of the wee ones! (Human wee ones, that is.)
Thanks for stopping by at Elaine’s author website. Hope you’ll look around. See ya next time!
Geology is the science that explores the earth’s physical structure and substance, its history, and the processes that act on it. Geology is often included under the topic of Earth Sciences. You might be surprised to learn that I often include geology in my fun science books that feature lizards. You can’t really study biology without knowing the geology of the ecosystem.Everything is interconnected.
One of my favorite inclusions in The Dragon of Nani Cave in the mineral, caymanite.
Hidden in the limestone karst of Grand Cayman’s East End and the Bluff of Cayman Brac is an uncommon variety of dolomite, CaMg(CO3)2. Caymanite is prized for its layers of earth tone colors, which are the result of different metal contents. Its harness allows for it to be shaped into jewelry and carvings.
InThe Dragon of Nani Cave, the Lime Lizard Ladsare sent on a quest to find a piece of caymanite for Old Soldier crab. It’s the most dangerous thing a lizard can do on Cayman Brac, because that’s where the dragon lives! One of the fun things about being an author is having a say in the design of the book cover. I had mine when I asked that the book title be colored just like caymanite.
Living on a Caribbean island beach is wonderful (except for dive-bombing seagulls looking for a snack) but some days I do get bored. I love watching people come ashore from their boats, but when they leave, I wonder where the boat is going. Where do those tourists come from? Do they have an island, too?
One day my curiosity got the better of me and I decided to find out for myself. I crept into a sneaker on the beach and traveled with its owner to the big city, delighting in the many sights and sounds a small cay doesn’t have.
Eventually, though, I wanted to go home. It didn’t take me long to realize that getting onto a tourist boat from my beach was much easier than catching a ride home would be. How would I find a boat going to Warderick Wells Cay and get on it? And I had no idea how I would cross the water between the boat and my beach again. I had acted without thinking–but I also knew I had to try to find my way home.
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