The Tortoise and the Chair by Elaine A. Powers

Note: This post was inspired by my friend, Don Fialkowski. I had complained about my tortoise, Myrtle, pushing on my chair.
My apologies to Aesop and his fable, The Tortoise and the Hare.

A tortoise was recently pushing on my chair to move it away from the table, over to where she wanted it, by the door.

“I’ll take you away from there,” she said with a mocking tortoise laugh.

“No,” I replied to the tortoise, “I’m going to sit here and write science books on my laptop. But I will lift my feet, so that you can push away.”

The tortoise was so amused by my idea that my weight would hold the chair in place that she agreed to the challenge. The iguana in the room, who had consented to act as judge, took her position as observer and told the tortoise, “Push!”

The tortoise braced herself between the spokes of the rolling wheels. I couldn’t see her beneath my seat, but I felt her shell hit the metal. She pushed and pushed, and I felt very deeply how ridiculous it was for her to try to push my chair away from the table. Confident, I returned to my typing.

The tortoise, meanwhile, kept steadily moving, and, after a time, pushed the chair slightly away from the table. I quite peacefully continued to type until I had to stretch so the tips of my fingers could reach the keyboard. It was too late then. I realized I couldn’t stop her progress. The next push and I couldn’t reach keyboard anymore.

The tortoise had won the battle of the chair, proving the old adage that perseverance pays off.

Below is the book Myrtle asked me to write: Don’t Call Me Turtle! It tells about the differences between tortoises and turtles and there are many! A favorite of preschoolers and their grandparents!

a green book cover with an illustration of a tortoise standing on hind legs, pointing at the viewer
Learn the differences between tortoises and turtles today!

Adventure I Must! says Curtis Curly-tail

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?

Illustration of a green curly-tail lizard on yellow beach
“Shoes on the beach! Now’s my chance!”

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.

You can find out what happened in Curtis Curly-tail and the Ship of Sneakers, which is Elaine’s first book (inspired by me), published by Lyric Power Publishing and available at Amazon.com.

60 Tried and True Iguana Foods

Ever since I operated a reptile rescue center, I’ve had a good number of iguanas. Over ninety percent of newly purchased iguanas die within the first year, so their good health is very important to me. Fresh vegetables and fruits are important to their survival.

I use a potato peeler to make long slices of zucchini and carrots and chop the other veggies into small pieces.

Here is a list of basic vegetable and fruits and the special treats that can be given on an occasional basis.

Their basic salad in the morning includes Collard Greens, Red Bell Peppers, Zucchini, Carrots, and Bananas or Grapes.

To learn more about these fascinating big lizards, see the 30-page downloadable Supplemental Workbook, My Unit Study on Iguanas
at Lyric Power Publishing, LLC.

Which Iguana is Which?

Iguanas are an important part of my life. They are featured in the children’s book I wrote called The Dragon of Nani Cave, which is an adventure tale starring curly-tail lizards ,Gene and Bony, who live on Cayman Brac. I weave the science of the island into the story, because science can be fun!

I am also the author of the book Silent Rocks, which is for all ages, and is about how to save the endangered Rock Iguana of Cayman Brac.

Most iguanas are found in the Americas and on Caribbean islands. They are grouped into three types: iguanas like the common green iguana, rock iguanas and spiny-tail iguanas. Each has evolved to thrive in their native environment. Unfortunately, through international commerce, the green iguana, Iguana iguana, has been introduced into ecosystems where they don’t belong.

Have you ever wondered how to tell iguanas apart? Being able to accurately identify iguana species is important to telling the difference between native iguanas and the invasive green iguanas. I have nothing against green iguanas. I’ve known many through the years as pets and when I operated an iguana rescue. Unfortunately, they are damaging the ecosystems and out-competing the native species.

Green iguanas live in an environment with many predators. So, greens lay many eggs and adapt to many foods. They have that in common with rock iguanas, who are also opportunistic eaters. (Sadly, they’ll even eat human food.)

But back to the telling iguanas apart. There are now booklets that show the physical differences. Rock iguanas don’t have the gorgeous subtympanic scale–that’s the big scale under the ear–that the green iguanas have. My mother called it the ‘jewel.’ It is lovely, in many pretty colors. No other iguanas have that scale. Greens also have little points on their dewlaps. A dewlap is the piece of skin under the chin. ( Oooh, that rhymes.) The greens have smooth, striped tails. Other iguanas have less striped tails.  Rock iguanas have that nice ribbing along the tail, while spiny-tails have keeled scales on their tail giving them a rough appearance.

I wanted to produce an item that would aid people in correctly identifying iguanas, something that was convenient to carry and interesting to look at. I was asked to make the text rhyme because this helps in memorizing the facts.  Anderson Atlas, John Binns and I have prepared these conveniently-sized booklets that people can carry around with them.

Check them out –they’re free. Please use the contact form on the Contact Page to request copies of these brochures for iguana identification.

Welcome to Tales and Tails!

“Welcome! I’m Elaine A. Powers, the biologist and author of the science books on this website. Welcome to Tales and Tails–a blog written by two adventurers, one human–me–and one small lizard.”

“Hold up! Why are you calling me small?” Curtis asked. “And let’s not forget where your first book came from!”

“Curtis, look at the picture of you on my shoe–you are pretty small, my friend. You’re not an iguana, after all.”

two feet in sneakers, on a beach, with a Bahamian curly-tail lizard on left shoe
The day Curtis and I met on a beach in The Bahamas.

“I may not be an iguana, but I am perfect!”

“I would have to agree! If they removed the word perfect from the dictionary, they would replace it with your picture.”

“Why, Elaine, thank you.”

“You do have a point about the first book, though. Should I tell the readers how it happened?”

“No—I should!” he said. “I tell it much better than you do.”

“Once again, Curtis, you’re right. Let me, instead, welcome and thank our readers for stopping by our new blog, Tales and Tails.”

Curtis and I both hope you enjoy your time here and that you will look around the website. These days, there are fun science books for just about everyone. And, please hop on over to Curtis’s post and he will tell you about how the first book, Curtis Curly-tail and the Ship of Sneakers, came to be.

A second career as a science book author was certainly not on my radar, but when you follow the muse, you never where she will lead you. May your journey be a fun-filled adventure, too!

From both Curtis and me:
Welcome to TALES AND TAILS!

A Visit from Elaine Powers at LEARN Lab/Superior Court Probation

By Dave Reynolds and Joanne Pope

We were visited by Elaine Powers, the author who donated a stack of her picture book Don’t Make Me Fly, which presents facts about one of Arizona’s most iconic birds – the roadrunner. Along with writing picture books about animals native to southern Arizona, she’s a conservationist and retired biologist. Elaine brought several rescued friends: turtles and tortoises of varying sizes, including a 100-pound tortoise named Duke who roamed the Lab. She also brought Blue, a five-foot blue iguana (who broke out of his box to say hi), and Krinkle, a three-foot spiny iguana who was saved and bears a deformed body. The students learned ecology, biology, the importance of conservation, proper animal care, and the steps needed to map out a story.

illustration of a desert roadrunner
Strong. Fast and Courageous, Roadrunner Doesn’t Need To Fly

Students who are normally silent and impassive came alive as they held reptiles and learned in a way that videos and lectures could never emulate. One student in particular, who rarely smiles, sat for nearly half an hour with a grin as Krinkle was content to nap in his arms.

The LEARN literacy program is growing and evolving, and the effects are tangible. Through it all, with the correct books, students feel validated, seen, and know that their lives and experiences matter. It increases their comfort and trust in our program and allows them to open up and learn in a way they haven’t before. These days, if you ask a South LEARN student about their favorite book, you just might get an answer. And, though they may not realize it, they’re a step further from that jail cell.

Krinkle was kept in a small container and his body couldn’t grow. Elaine adopted him away from the family that made his body like an accordion. He could never really be an iguana, but he did eventually learn to walk under Elaine’s care.