March 2nd is NATIONAL READ ACROSS AMERICA DAY

March 2nd, National Read Across America Day, is set aside to encourage kids to read. As an author of fun science-based children’s books, I love the idea of children reading books. I’m happy they’re reading, whether it’s one of my brightly illustrated picture books or adventure tales, or any other authors’ books, comic books, graphic novels. I want kids to just read!

Books can be sources of educational material or fantastical flights of imagination. In this world of visual stimulation through cell phones, computers, television and movies, children should be encouraged to use their imaginations, to come up with mental images all their own.

Children don’t have to read alone. Adults can read with them, children can read to other children, and children can read to pets.

photo of author elaine a powers reading to her tortoise, Myrtle
Myrtle, my red-foot tortoise grew so exasperated by being called a ‘turtle’ that she asked me to write her story. Here we are together, just after the book was published.

I enjoy reading to my reptilian family members. Here I am reading Don’t Call Me Turtle! to Myrtle the tortoise, the book she insisted I write after being called ‘Myrtle the Turtle’ one too many times! It’s a rhyming picture book for the young ones about the many differences between tortoises and turtles—so parents and grandparents learn, too. And the rhymes help the knowledge to stick with the kids. I’m inspired to write fun science books, and you’re welcome. 😊

Photo of interior book page of Don't Make Me Fly

Enjoy the vivid, colorful illustrations in the science-filled picture book about roadrunners, Don’t Make Me Fly!

image of book cover children's book Curtis Curly-tail Ship of Sneakers

Or a suspense-filled adventure tale like Curtis Curly-tail and the Ship of Sneakers. Curtis does not resist wanderlust very well—and then he has to find his way across the ocean and back home.

I encourage you to take up reading if you haven’t recently. There’s so much to learn and understand in our world. If you’re looking for something new, check out my books here at elaineapowers.com or all of the authors’ books at Lyric Power Publishing LLC.

At the very least, everybody, grab a book and READ! You will grow, and I like to think that’s why we’re here.

Horseback Riding and Cougars Just Do Not Mix!

I recently had an encounter with a mountain lion while riding my horse. Button tried to tell me a big cat was near, but I couldn’t see it. I suspected she had seen the cat by the way she bolted. It was a wild ride but we got home safely (with much stomping and agitation) and the lion went on his way. As the fates would have it, an interesting article came up on my social media shortly afterwards.

A Canadian woman came across a cougar, another name for mountain lion, while hiking.  As the cougar approached, she yelled and waved her arms, causing the cat to stop but not back away. Keeping her wits about her, she pulled out her cell phone and played loud music to scare the cat away. Her choice was the loudest band she could think of: Metallica! The band’s hit “Don’t Tread on Me” did the trick. The cougar ran off.  Perhaps he wasn’t a heavy metal fan.

I really do like the idea of using loud music to scare off a lion. However, while riding a very agitated horse, I don’t have a spare hand to get the phone out of my pocket. Both hands are firmly on the reins. I’ll just have to sing loudly, instead. I know many operatic arias I could use.

There aren’t any videos of mountain lions . . . yet.

Note: If you like YouTube channels, please check out Curtis Curly-tail Speaks, where there are lots of videos about my children’s science books and my reptile family and friends, like the one about Roadrunner below that goes with my rhyming (fun) science book, Don’t Make Me Fly!

I happen to believe that science education should be fun! What about you?

 

Horse Care, Sirens, and a Desert Singalong

One afternoon about 3:00 p.m., I heard sirens on a nearby main road.  The sirens went on for quite a while and included several pitches. The vehicles probably included those from the police and fire departments, and perhaps an ambulance. I listened as I brushed my horse, Button.

Photo of a Missouri Foxtrotter horse
Button, my 1000 pound friend!

She turned to listen to the noise, too–not that she hadn’t heard sirens before, but these did seem to be excessive.

Then, voices nearby were raised in a chorus that matched the pitches of the sirens! The large pack of coyotes in the area joined in the song. I usually hear the coyotes’ chorus at dawn or dusk, not mid-afternoon, but they added spontaneous flourishes and harmony to the sirens that midday. One ran up and down the scale in an amazing arpeggio. It was a magical choral moment.

They typically call to each other in greeting to help them stay in contact and reunite. On that afternoon, did they believe the sirens were pack members calling hello, or did they simply grab an opportunity to enjoy a musical interlude in the afternoon?

Book Note: I live in the Sonoran Desert and enjoy the wildlife immensely. I have written three books on Sonoran Desert wildlife, one for little ones about desert tortoises entitled Don’t Call Me Turtle; and two others for all ages, called Don’t Make Me Fly about roadrunners, and Don’t Make Me Rattle, about rattlesnakes. They are written in rhyme and vividly illustrated to make learning the science throughout fun.

These books make excellent gifts and can be used for school projects, too. Check out my ‘Don’t Series’ today.

Drawn to the Amazing Singing Wind Bookshop

Bookshop Photo by Erika Clary

Writing a book is often the easiest part of “the book business.” Unfortunately, due to the hours lost to writing, the author then has to market her work, even, in our times, if she is traditionally published.

As scary as it is to go to bookstores and ask the manager or the book buyer to consider selling my books, I have met some very interesting people along the way. When I was searching for selling opportunities, many people suggested I contact Winn Bundy at Singing Wind Bookshop.

I was not familiar with Singing Wind Bookshop. It was located in Benson, AZ for many years. I knew where Benson was, so I got directions and headed out. Singing Wind was not in the city limits of Benson, but in the surrounding territory. Driving through the open spaces, I wondered where the directions were taking me. Finally, there appeared a sign on a dirt road: Headquarters for Books about the Southwest.

Photo of dirt road outside of Benson, AZ
Photo Courtesy of Paul Vanderwiel

That dirt road took me to an amazing place. The Singing Wind Bookshop was located within Winn Bundy’s ranch house. And yes, it was a working ranch. As I entered the bookshop, I was greeted by a dog, and a gray-haired woman, who insisted on giving me a tour of the shop. That was a requirement – you had to have the tour.

I was used to book shops with organized sections: Fiction, Self-Help, Science, History, etc. Singing Wind was uniquely organized by Winn but it was organized. She could find any book that she stocked in the multitude of literary works contained in the rooms.

It was a magical place where you could spend hours among an unusual array of books, many I doubt I’d find anywhere else. She truly had the best collection of books about the Southwest.
After I had selected several must-have books, I approached the manager about stocking my books. I first offered her Don’t Call Me Turtle! She was non-committal, saying Winn would have to approve it.

I was thrilled when Winn told me that she thought my book was great and wanted it for her bookshop. I knew then I was a success as an author. I had Winn Bundy’s approval.

I was amazed that this cattlewoman in the middle of the wide open spaces of Southern Arizona knew so many authors around the world. We were working on school programs together when Winn’s health deteriorated. It would have been such an honor to work with her and the students. She did incredible work to promote literacy from her ranch house bookshop. If you like to read more about this remarkable woman, here is a great article in The Arizona Daily Star.

Don’t forget to purchase your copy of the Winn-Bundy-approved Don’t Series by me!

book covers Dont Series
These best sellers are written in rhyme, making learning science fun!

It’s Not a Horny Toad! By Curtis Curly-tail Lizard

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.

illustration of a desert roadrunner
A Review of Don’t Make Me Fly! By Helene Woodhams
Arizona Daily Star:
What a curious creature the Roadrunner is! This iconic desert bird prefers hoofing it to flying, and its footprints are the same backward as they are forward. With vibrant illustrations by Nicholas Thorpe, this picture book is jam-packed with scientific facts about roadrunners, delivered in verse form to keep the narrative lively. Roadrunners
“grab their victim
behind its head
And bash it on
the ground until it’s dead.”
Want to know how to swallow a horned lizard? Keep reading! Don’t Make Me Fly! is recommended for children in grades K-4.

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!

September 4 is National Wildlife Day

This guy, Roadrunner Geococcyx californianus, and his species inspired my book, Don’t Make Me Fly!

September 4 is National Wildlife Day.  As a biologist, I love wildlife, whether it is in my backyard or at some distant exotic location. Wildlife Day was established to remind us about endangered animals, locally and around the world.

This is also the day to recognize the work being done on behalf of these animals, both in preservation and education about them. I do my part for conservation through my volunteering as a citizen scientist, talks I give, the books I write about animals, and supplemental, educational workbooks that teach about animals in a fun way.

photo Regal Horned Lizard Phrynosoma solare
Regal Horned Lizard Phrynosoma solare

I love to talk about and share my reptiles with people and I hope my tales that weave science into animal escapades and picture books educate children and adults alike. Sometimes my message is subtle, such as in stories featuring curly-tail lizards and their environments and plights, and sometimes it’s more direct, such as in Silent Rocks about the disappearing rock iguanas on Cayman Brac.

photo Desert Cottontail Sylvilagus audubonii
Desert Cottontail Sylvilagus audubonii

While you are contemplating how you can help the endangered animals of the world, get outside and enjoy the wildlife in your neighborhood. With habitat loss and climate change, some may be more endangered than you realize.

photograph of tarantula
Tarantula, Aphonpelma chalcodes
photo Cooper's Hawk Accipiter cooperii
Cooper’s Hawk Accipiter cooperii

I hope you enjoy these pictures of some of my neighbors.

photo of two Great Horned Owl Bubo virginainus
A mating pair of Great Horned Owl, Bubo virginainus
photo Gopher Snake Pituophis melanoleucus
Gopher Snake Pituophis melanoleucus

If you want to read more about these Sonoran Desert critters, I suggest How Not to Photograph a Hummingbird, which is a fun story about the desert conspiring against a photographer—I just can’t help myself—I am, at heart, a murder-mystery writer. (It was a curly-tail lizard who started my career as a children’s science book writer.) I am still working on those murder-mysteries, however!

illustration of a hummingbird on a cactus
A Humorous Tale Introducing the Plants
and Animals of the Sonoran Desert
“I’ll have a long-term memory of this visit.
Maybe a permanent one.”
For All Ages
Reading Level Age 8+
26 pages
Glossary of Minerals, Flora and Fauna
Illustrated by Anderson Atlas
A bumbling visitor to Southern Arizona is repeatedly injured when trying to photograph a mischievous hummingbird, as the Sonoran Desert conspires against him.
Have a laugh while enjoying learning about the plants and animals of Southern Arizona.

There’s a glossary in the back of How Not to Photograph a Hummingbird with the scientific details about the mischievous conspirators. I love making science education fun!

I’m Curtis Curly-tail and Have I Got a Roadrunner Video for You! (Meep-Meep)

“Hello to all! I’m Curtis Curly-tail and I am here to tell you about my latest YouTube video,  which focuses on Roadrunners in Southern Arizona. Did you know when these large birds leave tracks behind, you can’t tell what direction they came from or where they went? I wish I could do that! And roadrunners are really, really fast. That makes me a little afraid of them, too. They do love their lizard snacks!

We lizards are pretty fast, ourselves. So far, so good.

Come on over to my YouTube channel, Curtis Curly-tail Speaks, and watch my latest video about the Southwest’s iconic bird: the Roadrunner. I give lots of interesting details about this unusual bird that stays mostly on the ground.

And then, take a look at Elaine A. Powers book called Don’t Make Me Fly! The book tells all about this bird sacred to Native American peoples because of its courage and speed. The book is written in fun rhymes and vividly illustrated. Don’t Make Me Fly! is available at Amazon.com.

Thanks for stopping by to ‘catch a tail–I mean, tale!’ here at Elaine A. Powers’ author website. We both appreciate you very much! See you over at You Tube!

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