A BIG Book Celebration in Tucson, AZ

The authors are coming! The authors are coming! Once again, we’ll be celebrating books and literacy in person in Tucson at the 2022 Tucson Festival of Books (TFOB)! Learn more about this Tucson book celebration staple and how you find me there. 

A Brief TFOB History

The first festival was held March 14-15, 2009 with 450 authors and 50,000 visitors. The number of visitors has grown to 135,000. Yes, little ole Tucson has the third-largest festival in the country! They have an amazing team of volunteers who keep everything moving smoothly.

One aspect that I particularly enjoy is the annual festival mascot. Each year’s mascot is a resident animal of the Sonoran Desert. Creatures included so far have been the Gila monster, hummingbird, tarantula, Sonoran green toad, butterfly, Gambel’s quail, bobcat, jackrabbit, roadrunner, javelina, and coyote. I’ve written books about many of them and others are my companions in our desert home. I’ve been trying to get a photograph of a jackrabbit for years. They’re HUGE! This year’s mascots are prairie dogs or rather (as I suspect), round-tailed ground squirrels. I’m partial to ground squirrels (Squirrels of the Sonoran Desert).

Elaine smiling from her booth at the 2019 TFOB

Here I am at a previous Festival with some of my books. I’ve published a bunch more since then. 

The 2022 Tucson Festival of Books!

This year’s festival will be on March 12-13, 2022, at the University of Arizona Mall. I’ll be in the children’s section at booth #322. Look for Grab an Adventure by the Tale! Author-illustrator Brad Peterson, aka Anderson Atlas, will be joining me. Don’t miss the opportunity to get your personally signed books by either or both of us! We’ll be there all day, both days.

My books are all published through Lyric Power Publishing, LLC. One of my fellow LPP authors, Gene Twaronite, will sell and sign his books at the festival. He will be moving around to different locations for his signings. He starts at the Indie Authors – Children’s Author Pavilion on Saturday, from 10 am to noon. Then at the AZ State Poetry Society booth (#410 from 1-3 pm). On Sunday, at the ASPS booth again from 10 am to noon. And finally, at Young Adult Author Rendezvous (booth 451) to display his two young adult fantasy novels. 

Something for Everyone

Even though the festival is an opportunity for authors to sell their books and readers to meet the authors in person, TFOB has much more to offer. There are talks, performances, the science pavilion, non-profit agencies, parks, and food vendors. Tucson has the best food trucks. However, the festival is a celebration of literature to increase literacy rates among children and adults. Any money left over after the expenses are contributed to local literacy programs. So far, they have donated over $2 million.

So, mark your calendar for March 12th and 13th. Here’s a chance to get out and restock your reading pile with autographed books after meeting them in person. And remember to stop by booth #322. You’ll be glad you did, and so will I!

For more information on this festival, check out their website: https://tucsonfestivalofbooks.org/

 

Tucson Festival of Books Event Image courtesy of Digital Bookmobile

Mushrooms in the Desert? I Have Pictures!

Living in the Sonoran Desert, I don’t often see mushrooms.  Sometimes, fungus appears on the trunks of dying trees, but that’s not often. This year, Tucson has had a very wet monsoon season, which is wonderful after years of severe drought.

Along with the greening of the vegetation, the abundance of rain has brought forth some interesting mushrooms.

These interesting mushrooms are Podaxis pistillaris, the Desert Shaggy Mane mushroom. Possibly the most common mushroom in the Sonoran Desert, this genus of fungus, possibly this species, is found in deserts worldwide. The above ground portion, the fruiting body, appears after a soaking rain. The fibrous texture and closed cap are believed to protect the gills and spores from desiccation.

The mushroom starts out whitish, turns brown, eventually ends up as black powder.

Being unfamiliar with this type of mushroom, I was curious to see what happened to these specimens. Would they be consumed by rodents, rabbits or coyotes? Would the horses be interested in eating them?  No, these mushrooms were undisturbed. This made me think this fungus is toxic.  However, P. pistillaris, is eaten in many areas of the world and has high nutritional value.

In addition, this mushroom is used extensively in traditional medicines and cosmeceuticals throughout the world. Now, I’m intrigued to try this mushroom, but I’ll await instruction by an experienced mushroom hunter.

I’m always delighted when I discover new and different aspects of the Sonoran Desert.

Book Note: If you’d like to know more about the flora and fauna of the Sonoran Desert, check out my Don’t series and the other Sonoran Desert-themed picture books.

#elaineapowers

#lyricpower

#desertmushrooms

#Podaxispistillaris

 

 

 

 

Sharing a Fond Memory of Mexican Jumping Beans. What’s Yours?

When I was a child, my parents bought me a package of Mexican beans, frijoles saltarine. I was fascinated to learn why the beans moved.

Over time I forgot about them, until recently when I was reading an article about midge larvae that can fling themselves 36 times their body length.* The article got me thinking again about those moths inside of galls inside of beans.

That’s right, it’s a baby moth, Cydia saltitans, or larva, inside the bean. The moth, lays its eggs in the flower of the Mexican shrub Sebastiania pavoniana, so the eggs end up inside the seeds. The larva eats itself a chamber in the seed, or “bean,” and lives there. (Of course, the seeds aren’t beans like the legumes we eat.)

The larva may live inside the bean for months. It attaches itself to the chamber with a silk-like thread. When the bean is warm, say by being held in a hand, the larva moves, pulling on the threads, causing it to “hop.” That’s why they are called jumping beans!

Too much heat, though, and the larva dies. If you want to prolong your larva, the beans need to be kept in a cool, dry place . . . until then, it’s time to mimic the monsoon season. They should be soaked, but not submerged, for a few hours a couple of times a month.

Eventually, the larva metamorphoses into an adult moth, drills a hole in the side of the seed and flies off. The moth only lives for a few days. How sad.

The jumping beans come from a restricted place in Mexico where the host shrub grows, Alamos, Sonora, which calls itself the “Jumping Bean Capital of the World.”

The jumping beans are one of my favorite childhood memories. Adding in positive thoughts is a good thing right now. I’d love to hear about one of your favorite memories. Please share in a comment below.

image of mex jumping bean stages
Image courtesy of https://www2.palomar.edu/users/warmstrong/index.htm

 

*Grace Farley in Journal of Experimental Biology

 

 

 

Book Note: I was a budding scientist as a child. If you have one of those, or suspect you might, please introduce them to my fun science books. I weave science in adventure tales and fun rhyming stanzas–to make learning science fun! Grab a copy of one of my fun science stories today at My Books.

A collage of book covers indicating the categories of books at elaineapowers.com
My Books By Category

Mesquite Trees and Horses: Incompatible

photo mesquite treeWhen I moved to the Sonoran Desert, I learned about mesquite pods.  I knew about the mesquite wood used for barbequing, but not the seed pods of the tree. They’re used as food by both people and animals.  The mature pods, not just the seeds, are ground into flour, which is quite delicious. A five-gallon bucket will produce about a pound of flour.

Many animals eat the pods: doves, quail, ravens, bighorn sheep, rabbits, ground squirrels, rats, mice and coyotes. In fact, if you find canine droppings on your property and you wonder if it was left by an irresponsible neighbor, look for the pods. If pods are present, it was left by a coyote, not a dog.

However, mesquite pods are not good for all animals. Horses find their sweet taste irresistible but eating too many of them can lead to colic. The beans impact the stomach or intestines, which can lead to surgery or the death of the horse.

When the pods ripen, the trees fling them about, carpeting the ground.

mesquite tree seed pods in horse corralUnfortunately, some pods land in the areas designated for horses, like this round pen. My horses eagerly head for the round pen in the hopes of finding pods. My task before they arrive is to remove the pods not only within the pen but also within reach of those long necks and agile lips.

Is it fair for me to enjoy something I deprive my horses of?  Yup. I enjoy their company and want them with me for as long as possible. Mesquite pods, be gone!

Book Note: The Sonoran Desert is a wild and beautiful place. I have written several books set in this extraordinary place. Please visit my Sonoran Desert Books tab for more information.

collage of sonoran desert book covers

#elaineapowers

#lyricpower

#mesquitepods

#mesquitepodsandhorses

 

 

Sharing the Morning Routine

As I watched the birds on the beach at sunrise on a recent trip, I noticed their actions reminded me of my own morning routine. Perhaps yours is similar.

Sandpiper in waterDo you start with a wash?  This sandpiper decided not to dip under the water for its wash. No, instead he or she was sucking up the saltwater and squirting it directly at the area of the wings that needed cleaning.

Then a friend joined in the morning washing.

Sometimes, the desired spot is a little hard to reach.

Two sandpipers in ocean

I’m not certain about the species of this sandpiper but believe it may be the Long-billed Dowitcher (Limnodromus scolopaceus).

blue heron with oyster

Then do you grab a bit of breakfast before you fly off? Do you fix something at home or grab something on the go?

Yum, that clam was good.

But I think I want a bit more. I wonder what might be in the refrigerator, pantry or beneath the surface?

I thank this Little Blue Heron, Egretta caerulea, for allowing me to watch as he or she ate breakfast. I do like watching animals enjoy their food.

blue heron in florida

People think we’re so different from animals in the wild, but we aren’t, really.  We all have our morning routines.

Book Note: My book publisher, Lyric Power Publishing LLC, publishes workbooks of activity sheets to supplement my children’s science books that are written in fun rhymes or adventure tales, such as The Dragon of Nani Cave. This one, Flannel Boards and Standup Animals, is full of Caribbean island animals to make for educational purposes or just for fun. Pick up a copy for the kids today and enjoy some hands-on family time!

cover of a workbook to make flannel board animals

#elaineapowers

#lyricpower

#shorebirds

#littleblueheron

#dowitcher

#shorebirdswashing

#shorebirdseating

 

Scientists Love Their Scat! And I Am One!

Scientists have long been using scat as a valuable tool in figuring out what animals have eaten. The indigestible parts pass through and are excreted. Some items can be easily identified, but others require a bit of investigation.

photo of tortoise scat 2When the temperatures were warm enough, I let my sulcata, or spur-thigh, tortoise loose in my walled-in backyard. With the drought, my vegetation is rather sparse. I provide food for her, but she likes to forage on her own, too.  She’d eaten all the aloe, munched on the prickly pear cactus pads, and gobbled up Texas olives (many of which came through intact.).

However, she recently left this deposit for me which had me perplexed.

I searched my yard and I think I finally found what she had been eating that wasn’t digested fully.

image pricklypear cactusI suspect the fibrous material is from the main stem of this large prickly pear cactus! She really should stick with eating the soft, juicy young pads.

Book Note: My publisher, Lyric Power Publishing LLC, publishes workbooks and activity sheets to go with my rhyming stories and adventure tales. If your children love hands-on coloring pages and solving problems, cutting and pasting, labeling the animal parts, learning the life cycles, and so on, they would love LPP’s fun, 40+ pages, comprehensive, yet economical workbooks. Click on the tortoise covers below to see what is in these workbooks all about tortoises, at the different grade levels.

Check them all out here.

imagebook cover tortoises preK-1Book about tortoises gr 2-4

#elaineapowers

#lyricpower

#sulcatatortoise

#spurthightortoise

#pricklypearcactus

Prize-Winning Size Found in My Kitchen!

Have you eaten your leafy green vegetables today? You should! Vegetables are important for a healthy lifestyle.

My family members would agree – they are herbivores, and they enjoy their leafy greens. People may eat their greens cooked or raw.  My reptiles prefer their greens raw. These collard leaves are important sources of calcium, iron, vitamins A, C, K and folate, to build strong reptile bodies.

Every day I prepare a salad for each family member of leafy greens topped with various vegetables. The preferred greens are collard greens, turnip tops, dandelion greens and mustard greens. Every now and then, I include others, like spinach and kale. Never lettuce or cabbage.

Twice a week, I pick up a case of collard greens, the basis for my salads. They’re available year-round, but the sizes of the leaves and bunches changes with availability. Usually, the leaves around 10 inches long with six leaves to a bunch.

Recently, the farmers have outdone themselves, producing amazingly large leaves.

Pictured above is the meal-sized leaf!

6 tortoises of three species gathered around a heat lamp
Breakfast was good!

I hope you enjoy your leafy greens as much as my family does.

May all your leaves be big ones!

Book Note: Do you know the many differences between tortoises and turtles? They all enjoy collard greens, but there are ten differences noted in the illustrated, rhyming, fun science book, Don’t Call Me Turtle! This favorite among preschoolers (for its rhymes) is popular with Mom and Dad, too! Pick up a copy for your turtle- or tortoise-lover today!

a green book cover with an illustration of a tortoise standing on hind legs
There are many differences between tortoises and turtles, and the wise tortoise who narrates this book tells us about ten of those differences–in rhyme. She also says, “Don’t Call Me Turtle!” (Even if my name should be Myrtle.)
Voted 5-Stars by the Preschool Crowd

#elaineapowers  #lyricpowers  #iguanas  #tortoises  #collardgreens

An Unusual Visitor Stopped By

The Sonoran Desert is home to many species of hummingbirds. The first things I installed in my yard when I moved in were hummingbird feeders.  Whenever a hummer would stop for a drink, I’d pull out my bird book to identify it. I’ve had quite a few species stop by over the years.  Some were local residents, and some were passing through on their annual migrations. I even had an albino individual who frequented my yard for a couple of years.

Usually, I have no trouble identifying my feathered visitors, since they were all present in my Birds of the Southwest book. I find they often cooperate by sitting on a branch so I can examine them.  I’ve been honored to host Black-chinned, Anna’s, Costas, Rufous, Calliope and Lucifer Hummingbirds.

photo of blue hummingbirdRecently, when a hummer visited my yard, as usual, I went out for a look. However, I didn’t recognize this individual. I looked in the book, but I couldn’t find her. That seems to be a problem with identifying birds – lots of photos of the males, but not enough of the females.

I contacted a friend whose son is an expert on hummingbirds. He thought it looked like a female Blue-throated hummingbird or Blue-throated Mountaingem. Blue-throateds are unusual in Tucson, but they are known to be in the area. Maybe the drought brought her to my yard. She stayed a few days.

Whatever her reasons for visiting, she is welcome anytime.

This hummer posed very nicely for me, but not all hummingbirds are that accommodating. I recommend my humorous tale, How NOT to Photograph a Hummingbird, about a bumbling visitor trying to photograph a hummer. Though the desert seems to conspire against him, it’s more that he doesn’t understand the environment he is in. So, the book also contains a lot of information about the animals, plants and minerals of the Sonoran Desert. Your kids will get a kick out of his ‘accidents.’ If they’d like to learn about the desert in a funny way, pick up a copy for them today. 

book cover about how NOT to photograph a hummingbird

#elaineapowers

#lyricpower

#bluethroatedhummingbird

#bluethroatedmountaingem

#hummingbird

#sonorandeserthummingbird

Who Was Observing Whom?

I was exercising my young horse when he suddenly turned away from me to look at something outside the ring. I discovered my horse enjoys birdwatching as much as I do.

photo of roadrunnerHowever, as horse and human watched this Greater Roadrunner, Geococcyx californianus, pass by, I noticed that it seemed to be studying us as much as we were studying it. I have to say “it” because male and female roadrunners look alike.

photo of roadrunner bird

I wondered what the roadie thought of the two mammals watching it. Obviously, it didn’t feel threatened, moving ever closer, stopping frequently to examine us. After a few minutes of mutual observation, Exuma and I got back to work, and the roadrunner said as it continued on its way: “Places to go and prey to catch. Sorry, I can’t stay.” Perhaps we will all meet again.

photo of roadrunner running away

I was delighted to find out that my boy liked watching wildlife as much as I do. This bodes well for our future trail rides.

Book Note: In the midst of writing fun science books about reptiles, I veered off to write one about the predator I often see in my yard, the Greater Roadrunner. The result was the colorful and fact-filled book written in rhyme, Don’t Make Me Fly! Young and old alike seem to love the rhyming stanzas all about this Southern Arizona iconic bird. Pick up your copy today!

Infographic about book Don't Make Me Fly

You might also be interested in summer-fun workbooks full of activities about Roadrunners that are available from Lyric Power Publishing LLC. The covers below show what is included in each workbook, My Book About the Greater Roadrunner, one for grades K-2 and one for grades 2-4. 

Book cover about the Greater Roadrunner GR K-2book cover about greater roadrunner GR 2-4

#elaineapowers  #lyricpowerpub  #roadrunners

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall, Who’s the Prettiest Head of All?

Red-footed tortoises, Geochelone carbonaria, are popular pets. These natives of Central and South America are easy to care for and don’t get too big, growing up to 30 pounds. They are also known for the bright colors on their skin and shell, including their namesake red scales on their legs.

Recently, I noticed how vivid Rose’s head is.  Her yellow markings (above) are very different from the others in my household.

photo of red-footed tortoiseShe is just as lovely from the side and you can see the red scles on her legs. Rose is the only one who has the yellow head.

Some red-footed tortoises have more red coloring on their heads – these are called cherry heads. Myrtle is an example of a cherry head.

photo of cherry head of red-footed tortoise

Not all heads are colorful. Some are rather humdrum like this one. No bright yellow or red scales on this tortoise.  But Gladiola is still a delightful tortoise.

photo of plain head of red-footed tortoise

The varied color patterns are normal for this species of tortoise. The same clutch of tortoises can have different colored individuals.

No matter their head color, I enjoy all my red-footed tortoises.  They are good natured, personable and a lot of fun to have around.

However, when I asked Rose if she had the prettiest head of all the tortoises, she came as close to a tortoise shout as one could get. “YES!”

photo of red-footed tortoise with open mouth

Book Note: Check out my fun tortoise book, Don’t Call Me Turtle!, in which I write about the many differences between tortoises and turtles—in rhyme. It’s a favorite book of little ones and their parents! Rhymes are not just fun—they help us to remember what we’ve learned.

 

a green book cover with an illustration of a tortoise standing on hind legs
Don’t call me Myrtle the Turtle! I’m a tortoise! Learn the differences in fun rhymes inside!

And for keeping the science juices going in a fun way this summer, check out the workbooks full of interesting and fun activity sheets on a variety of science subjects at LyricPower.net. The books are comprehensive, educational, economical and fun. They range from PreK to 4th grade. Check them out today.

Collage of Science Education Workbooks
Click on Workbooks to see all 23 workbooks, making science education fun!

#elaineapowers   #lyricpower  #redfootedtortoise

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.

The Box-Tortoise

Photo Above is Amarillo the Redfoot Tortoise (Chelonoidis carbonaria)

In some of my books and videos, I mention box turtles, genus Terrapene. These are amazing turtles that, because of a hinge on their bottom plate–the plastron–can fold up to protect their heads and limbs. No predator can grab an arm if it’s tucked inside a hard shell. You can read about this ability in Don’t Call Me Turtle! When you read this book, you’ll discover the many differences between turtles and tortoises.

a green book cover with an illustration of a tortoise
Voted 5-Stars by the
Preschool Crowd

Even though only box turtles have the hinge to fold up, that doesn’t mean there aren’t box-tortoises. I have several in my house! Look at the photos below to see what I mean.
a redfoot tortoise

Rose the Redfoot Tortoise fits in her box

Cantata the Sulcata Tortoise  (Geochelone sulcata)
But Cantata the Sulcata Tortoise (Geochelone sulcata) does not! She is a big girl!

Unfortunately, not all the tortoises fit neatly in their box. Some can only get their heads in! Sorry, Cantata – you need a bigger box!

Check out the fun and educational turtle and tortoise workbooks on LyricPower.net.

Interested in Becoming a Citizen-Scientist?

Recently, I posted on my social media about a citizen-scientist opportunity that you could do from the comfort of your home. This project was through Zooniverse.

For an iguana study, people were needed to look at photos and count the iguanas they could see. The scientists took the photos and cut them into little pieces. The resulting 25,000 images were shown 20 times. Four thousand volunteers participated. Two thousand to 10,000 images were classified each day.

photo of chopped up images of iguanas

In some images, the iguanas were challenging to find, while in others they were more obvious.

photo 2 of chopped up pics of iguanas

If you’d like to participate in scientific work, Zooniverse needs help with other projects. This work can be safely done from home, no traveling required, and you can contribute to important conservation efforts.

Book Note: And if you’d like to learn more about the remarkable large lizards called iguanas, grab a copy of My Unit Study on Iguanas from Lyric Power Publishing today! It’s on sale until 12/31/20.

Graphic image book cover about iguanas
Thirty pages of Iguana information and fun activity sheets for grades 2-4. Includes coloring pages, fact sheets, T/F about reptiles, parts of an iguana coloring page, compare animal traits, name matching, count and classify, reptile spelling page, life cycle of the iguana cut-and-paste activity, ecology word problems, iguana word problems, creative writing prompt, opinion writing exercise, mean, mode, median, and range worksheets, counting iguanas, histogram worksheet, grams-to-pounds worksheet, trace the words and color, short i sound, create an iguana puzzle.

Aug 26th is National Webmistress Day!

I have been very fortunate to have very talented webmistresses to create and maintain my websites. Yes, I could have worked on my websites myself, but I would rather be writing books. More importantly, they are much more visually creative and attentive to the many details. Like I said, I’d rather be writing my books.

graphic illustration of Lyric Power website

Nora Miller, editor extraordinaire, developed my original author website here at ElaineAPowers.com. I was so thankful to be able to send her material and see it on the website, as if by magic. Pamela Bickell came along to add some color to my book publishing website, Lyric Power Publishing LLC, and when I needed to add my books to my author website, Pam redesigned my author site. She also adds my blog posts to the sites and Facebook.

As an author, I love writing books but, like many others, I enjoy the marketing of them less. I need my webmistresses. Not only are they knowledgeable about the inner workings of websites, they are both talented writers and editors. This is important, since my work might need tweaking now and then.

Today I honor my webmistresses and can highly recommend both of them. Should you want to contact either Nora or Pam for help, please use the contact page at either website and I will put you in touch. I am forever grateful to them. Happy Webmistress Day!

August 7 is National Lighthouse Day

Image courtesy of the US Coast Guard

August 7th is National Lighthouse Day. Lighthouses have always intrigued, standing tall at the sea’s edge often high on a cliff. They have played an important part in history, making sea travel safer, indicating dangerous coastlines and reefs and rocks.

Two lighthouses have meaning in my life, both on islands. The first is the historic lighthouse on Sanibel Island, built in 1884. I grew to know it as a child visiting the island with my parents on annual vacations. The beach around the lighthouse offered excellent shelling and the mangroves had interesting wildlife.

An illustration of the Sanibel Island Lighthouse
An illustration of the Sanibel Island Lighthouse from my home

In 1949, the dwellings were turned over to the employees of the wildlife refuge. When I was in college, I worked for two summers with the US Fish & Wildlife Service at the J.N. “Ding Darling” Wildlife Refuge.  Their offices were in the lighthouse buildings.

The City of Sanibel assumed management of the lighthouse property in 1982, except the tower, which was later transferred to the city in 2010. In 2016, the lighthouse and dwellings were added to the City of Sanibel’s Register of Historic Sites and Structures.

a photo of the lighthouse on Cayman Brac
Photo of Cayman Brac Lighthouse courtesy of Cayman Islands Dept. of Tourism

The second lighthouse in my life is on Cayman Brac.  This small lighthouse is perched on top of the bluff at the highest point on the island, 140 feet.  The view from the spot is spectacular, even if the lighthouse is not architecturally interesting. The first lighthouse was built in 1930 with a more modern one added in recent years. In addition to the ocean view, the lighthouse is a great place to observe bird life, including the nesting brown boobie birds and frigate birds drifting in the updrafts.

To learn more about the fascinating brown boobies of Cayman Brac (and only Cayman Brac), check out Bonnie Scott’s Brown Boobie Birds of Cayman Brac, and my own Fly Back to the Brac, Brian Brown Booby, which is fictional but based on the true story of a brown boobie bird that finally manages to fly and find his own kind. I love writing science into story and I hope you enjoy them. Both books are published by Lyric Power Publishing LLC.

image of book cover of a brown booby bird in cayman brac
“You can fly, Brian Brown Booby! Don’t give up!” Colorful Illustrations by Cayman Native Simone Scott Reading Level Age 8+ 48 Pages A fictionalized telling of the true story of Brian Brown Booby and the caring Caymanians who helped him. Brian Brown Booby was too young to fly but somehow ended up 80 miles from home. This is the tale of the many people who helped him get back home, fed him, and believed in him so that he could learn to fly with his own kind.

Meet the Brown Booby, a large sea bird which is a year-round resident only of Cayman Brac. They are not found at all in Grand Cayman or Little Cayman. These birds are a spectacular sight, soaring and gliding along the Bluff edge and the shore, diving for fish to feed their young, perching on rocks in the sun, then returning to their nesting colonies. With only about forty nesting pairs on the Brac, they are protected by Cayman law.
 

Who’s Your Favorite Footrest?

Do you have a favorite footrest in your home? Putting one’s feet up is so relaxing and relieving. The cushioniest footrest in my house is the one that came with a comfy chair. Simple, functional, the perfect height, very practical.

My favorite non-living footrest

My favorite footrest is covered with a needlepoint I stitched many decades ago. I was living in Michigan, so the Canada Goose theme was appropriate . . . as is the snow. Lots of snow in the lake-effect region of Southern Michigan. I could cross-country ski right out of my garage. I don’t miss the snow now that I’m here in the Sonoran Desert. Snow here is just wrong to me.

My most recent footrest comes to me while I am writing at the table. I don’t even have to pick my feet up – she walks right under me.  She stops, not minding that my feet are resting on her shell. In fact, I think it’s her way of making contact.

Myrtle says hello and rests under my feet as
I type away on the next story

If you want to learn more about tortoises, Myrtle, my footrest tortoise, has inspired a book Don’t Call Me Turtle and a number of workbooks at Lyric Power Publishing, LLC, where science education is fun!

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!
Collage of Science Education Workbooks
Click on Workbooks to see all 23 workbooks, making science education fun!

What is that Tongue Doing?

I have lived with many iguanas over the years, but Stella, a green iguana, is the only one who constantly sticks her tongue out. I’m always afraid I’ll startle her and she’ll cut her tongue with her razor sharp teeth. Fortunately, that has never happened. Her tongue is intact. 

So, why is her tongue always sticking out? She’s tasting or “smelling” the world around her. Iguanas don’t smell with their noses like people do. They “taste” the world. Scent particles in the air are collected on the tongue, then brought into the mouth. The particles are analyzed by special sensory cells for identification. These cells make up the Jacobson’s or vomeronasal organ. If you watch an iguana walking, you’ll see her flicking her tongue out. If something is particularly interesting, say a tasty bit of food, the tongue flicks back and forth a lot.

Stella’s forked tongue, with which she “tastes” the world.

Another interesting thing about iguana tongues is that they are forked! Just like a snake’s tongue. You might also notice that the end of Stella’s tongue is darker. That’s because it is more enriched with blood. The better for tasting!

Iguanas are fascinating friends. To learn more about them, check out the Lyric Power Publishing workbook with activity sheets, called My Unit Study on Iguanas.

Graphic image book cover about iguanas
Thirty pages of Iguana information and fun activity sheets for grades 2-4. Includes coloring pages, fact sheets, T/F about reptiles, parts of an iguana coloring page, compare animal traits, name matching, count and classify, reptile spelling page, life cycle of the iguana cut-and-paste activity, ecology word problems, iguana word problems, creative writing prompt, opinion writing exercise, mean, mode, median, and range worksheets, counting iguanas, histogram worksheet, grams-to-pounds worksheet, trace the words and color, short i sound, create an iguana puzzle.

How Do You Know if a Lizard is a Green Iguana? by Curtis Curly-tail

Hello, out there, friends and fans! It’s me, Curtis Curly-tail!

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.

A blue Green Iguana

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.”

A Green Iguana
If you are interested in passing out these descriptive booklets, which are free, please use the contact form on Elaine’s website to obtain them.

If you want to know the differences between a green iguana and their cousins, the rock iguanas, Lyric Power Publishing, LLC has several identification booklets to help you tell them apart.

Graphic image book cover about iguanas

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!

‘Zoe the Star’ Tortoise! by Curtis Curly-tail

Hello to all my friends out there! I hope you are taking care of yourselves and each other in these difficult times. I’m looking forward to the day when my human friends don’t have to worry anymore about the virus called Covid-19! (If I could, I would banish it right now!) Until this passes, please take good care out there.

I love having made so many friends through my sidekick, Elaine A. Powers, and today I’d like to introduce you to Zoe, a Sonoran Desert tortoise. She’s a female who knows her territory and stands her ground. (I just love that in a tortoise!)

I don’t want to tell Zoe she’ll never be the star I am, of course, but take a look at my You Tube channel on your small screen at this beauty in her habitat and learn about what it takes to be a tortoise in the Sonoran Desert.

And for the kids and kids-at-heart in your home, have some fun with science education using the activity sheets and workbooks from Lyric Power Publishing, LLC.

Here’s an example or two:

Twenty-three fun, engaging, and interactive pages on the Freshwater Turtle.
Ideal for your young learners.
Four ecology coloring and information pages; three spelling and tracing pages; what freshwater turtles eat coloring page; label the parts of a freshwater turtle coloring page; complete the life-cycle of the turtle (same for both freshwater and green sea turtle); three color by addition and subtraction pages; two learn to spell coloring pages; and several teacher information pages suitable for creating bulletin boards about freshwater turtles.

47 pages of captivating activities that kids from kindergarten through 3rd grade are certain to enjoy! Includes spelling pages, two Venn-Diagram activities: bats vs. parrots, and bats vs. rats; math pages, reading comprehension pages for both bats and rats; a teacher-driven felt board activity; rhyming words, less than-greater than coloring sheet; two word searches, and MORE! Students will gain a deeper understanding of the Caribbean Fruit Bat and the rats that live on Cayman Brac and how they affect the ecology.

Homeschooling? Worried About Education? How About Supplementing with FUN Science Workbooks?

The mission of my book publisher, Lyric Power Publishing LLC, is to “Make Science Fun!” That’s because they know how fun science really is.

Their Activity Sheets and Workbooks are for Ages K-5 (see workbook covers for grade level and contents) and while they are highly educational, they are also lots of fun! Have you ever counted iguanas? Or made a lizard clock? Made your own Compass Rose or Passport?

Depending on the grade, they can include: Animal Facts, Name the Animal, Lifecycles, Compare Traits, Food Chains, Label the Parts, Color by Math, Mean/Median/Mode/Range, Color by Number, Printing, Underline the Answer, Counting, Convert Grams to Pounds, Fill in the Blanks, True or False, Cut Along the Dotted Lines, Cut and Paste, Cut and Classify, Fill in the Right Word, Word Search, Match the Facts, Using a Histogram, Venn Diagrams, Making Charts, Interpreting Charts, Crossword Puzzle, Other Puzzles, Conservation, Vocabulary, Complete the Sentence, Unscramble the Sentences, Prepositions of Place, Using Maps, Writing Prompts, Essay Writing Exercise, Reading Comprehension, and More!

Who can make all the above fun, economically? Lyric Power Publishing!
Purchase a Download Once and Print as Many Times as You’d Like!

For additional relaxing fun, check out their Coloring Books and Flannel Board Templates, enjoyed by children and adults alike. Coloring is handwork and creative, proven to reduce stress. Let your creativity run wild! Get out your colored pencils or crayons and have some fun today! Then print the pages again and color them in a whole new assortment!

You’re welcome!