Label: Animals Nobody Loves

May 2, 2011

       

Are you a fan of Seymour Simon’s 3D books? If so, you’ll want to know that CREATURES OF THE DARK :: 3D is in Scholastic’s Lucky Book Club starting today. The book comes with 3D glasses, and it is 24 pages chock full of right-in-your-face views of fascinating animals that live their lives in the dark.

This book is only available to order for the month of May, so ask your teacher for a flyer and get it while you can!

Posted by: Liz Nealon

(0) Comments  •   Labels: Animals Nobody Loves, Animals, Animal Books, Teachers and Librarians   •  Permalink (link to this article)

April 15, 2011

I had a great "double Skype" session today with third and fourth graders in two schools in Durham and Middlefield, Connecticut. They have been studying my books and skyping with each other, and today all three of us did a Skype session together.

  The students were very well-prepared with questions about my books. They particularly love the very close up photographs in books like ANIMALS NOBODY LOVES, and wondered: how does the cameraperson get so close to a dangerous animal without getting hurt?

This is a very good question, and one that I am asked quite often. For a shot like this one, of a rattlesnake’s mouth and fangs, the photographer uses a bit of trickery called a "telephoto lens." That lens takes a picture that seems as though you are very, very close, when in fact, you are safely far away. Nobody is going to get THAT close to a poisonous snake!

 

The round area with a dark slit (at the bottom of the rattlesnake’s mouth) is a duct for releasing the venom. You can learn more about that and see a diagram at this link

Thanks to Mrs. Kohs and everyone who helped to organize today’s Skype session. I really enjoyed talking with you all!

 

Photograph by Anup Shah/Dembinsky Photo Associates

 

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(4) Comments  •   Labels: Animals Nobody Loves, Animals, Animal Books, School Visits, Teachers and Librarians, snakes, Photography   •  Permalink (link to this article)

March 28, 2011

This week I received letters from Chonlatorn S. and Alejandro D., both students at Rue Elementary School in Council Bluffs, Iowa. They had just read my book, ANIMALS NOBODY LOVES, and they were writing to defend the octopus, coyote, and other animals they think should not be in this book because they are not dangerous to humans. Chanlatorn wrote: "When skunks are in danger they will spray on you. They don’t bite you." I agree with both of these readers that no one needs to be afraid of these animals. In fact, that is one of the reasons I wrote the book!

Let me tell you about two Texas students I met last month who really go to extraordinary lengths to teach other students about "animals that nobody loves." Courtney (14) and Erik (12) are homeschooled, and I met them when they came to one of my presentations at a local school. This sister and brother work with an entomologist (pronounced en-toh-MAH-loh-gist, a scientist who specializes in the study of insects) and have started their own business, called NOT SO CREEPY CRITTERS. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Courtney and Erik, pictured above, told me that this all started because they wanted to help other kids get over feelings of arachnophobia (ah-RACK-no-FO-bia, meaning "fear of spiders"). Spiders do much more good than harm, eating insects that damage crops and other plants. And as Courtney and Erik have learned, some of them even make interesting pets!

This brother and sister team do presentations in classrooms and at kid events, and they introduce their audience to a wide variety of "not so creepy creatures." Their traveling menagerie of live creatures includes 4 colorful tarantulas, 2 different scorpion species, Bearded Dragon, centipede, a snake, Leopard Gecko, Blue-Tongued Skink, Peppered Roaches and Madagascar Hissing Roaches! Last summer they wrote a book, and they are working hard to continue growing their business. They tell me that fainting goats and chickens are next on their list!

Courtney and Eric are well-mannered, dedicated defenders of creepy critters, and they have also built a very informative and interesting website. Check out the section called Arachnids for lots of fascinating spider photographs, and Critter Facts, where you are challenged to decide whether a statement is a fact, or simply an opinion.

 

 

 

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(4) Comments  •   Labels: Animals Nobody Loves, Animals, School Visits, Spiders, Insects, Kids comments, Facts and Fables   •  Permalink (link to this article)

March 13, 2011

Noah from Hamilton, Ohio, wrote recently with a good question. He asked: "What is the biggest shark?"

 

I told Noah that the Whale Shark (Rhincodon typus) is the largest shark in the world. In fact, it is the largest living fish species.

Then, I suggested to Noah that he do some research and come up with some more interesting information about the whale shark. Here is part of what he wrote:

"I found a lot of good facts about Whale Sharks. One is they have no known predators. Another fact is they use their stripes and dots as camouflage through disruptive coloration." 

Noah is correct. "Disruptive coloration" is a common type of camouflage that we see in nature. The mix of different patterns (in the case of the whale shark, both stripes and dots) is thought to hide the overall shape of the animal’s body, making it more difficult to spot in the water.

When I say that a whale shark is big, I mean really BIG! The whale shark can grow as long as 41 feet and weigh as much as 15 tons.

 To understand just how large that is, look at this drawing from Wikipedia, which shows the size of a Whale Shark compared to the size of an adult human. These huge fish are found in tropical and warm water oceans, and have been known to live as long as 70 years.

There is no reason to be afraid of whale sharks. They are not predators; rather, they are slow-moving filter feeders.  Animals who are filter feeders simply open up their mouths and take in whatever food happens to be in the water, while filtering out the undesirable debris. Whale sharks feed mainly on tiny bits of food like plankton, as well as microscopic plants and animals.

If you want to read more about sharks, you can probably find one or more of my books in your school library. There is a Smithsonian book called SHARKS and a SeeMore Reader called INCREDIBLE SHARKS, which is also available en Español: TIBURONES FABULOSOS. Some of you may have ordered my book SHARKS: 3D from the Scholastic Book Club.

If you are wondering why I have written so many books about sharks, it’s because they are fascinating to me, just as they are to you!

Note to Parents, Teachers and Librarians: There is a free, downloadable Sharks Teacher Guide on my website, which I invite you to use to enhance the reading experience of students who are reading these books.

Whale Shark Photo: Zac Wolf

 

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(0) Comments  •   Labels: Animals Nobody Loves, Animals, Sharks, Kids Write   •  Permalink (link to this article)

March 8, 2011

       

Today’s "Cool Photo of the Week" was taken at the opening of the Grand Aquarium in Hong Kong’s Ocean Park. Although it looks as though these tiny fish are about to become lunch for the humongous Grey Nurse Shark swimming behind them, these fish actually work as a team.

The small fish are pilot fish, and they eat fish lice, little crabs, and blood sucking worms that live on the skin of the shark. The pilot fish suck on the shark’s skin and keep it clean, and in exchange, the shark doesn’t eat them. This is also a smart way for the pilot fish to avoid other predators, because most of their enemies are careful to stay away from sharks.

 There have even been reports of smaller pilot fish swimming into a shark’s mouth a cleaning away bits of food caught between its teeth…..like living dental floss!

 

           

Photo courtesy of MSNBC.com’s “Animal Tracks

 

 

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(2) Comments  •   Labels: Animals Nobody Loves, Animals, Sharks, Oceans, Cool Photo   •  Permalink (link to this article)

February 20, 2011

       

This iguana wandered over to see what Seymour was having for lunch on our last afternoon on the island of Aruba. Iguanas are herbivores (which means they eat plants); this one was probably hoping for a bite of salad!

Like all lizards, iguanas are cold-blooded, which means that their body temperature changes according to their surroundings. That is different from mammals - our bodies regulate our temperatures from the inside, and keep it pretty much the same all the time.

 

 Cold-blooded creatures seek the warmth of the sun, so you see iguanas sunbathing on rocks and rooftops all over the island.

There are lizards everywhere in Aruba. According to the official website, half of all the species of lizard on Earth are found only on this small island.

When the sun was out these beautiful, small turquoise lizards (left), called "kododo blauw," were constantly skittering around our feet and on the rocks.

Iguanas, which are bigger, move more slowly. Sometimes on Aruba you have to stop your car and wait for an iguana that is crossing the road in a leisurely way. Drivers are required by law to yield the right of way to iguanas on Aruba!

 

 

Iguanas/rooftop photo by Jacob Grygowski

Posted by: Liz Nealon

(0) Comments  •   Labels: Animals Nobody Loves, Animals, lizards   •  Permalink (link to this article)

January 21, 2011

Ever wonder how the hammerhead shark can see where it’s going when its eyes are on the sides of its head? Marine biologist Dr. Michelle McComb of Florida Atlantic University has been studying hammerheads and she found that these strange-looking creatures have incredibly good binocular vision. “Binocular vision” simply means that you use both of your eyes at the same time and see one image. We humans have good binocular vision, too, at least straight in front of us. But hammerheads, with their widely spaced eyes, have clear binocular vision above, below and even behind themselves! That is very useful when your diet depends on catching fast-moving prey, and it is probably why the species evolved in this way.

Ironically, the only place that hammerheads don’t have great vision is straight in front of them. However, they have nostrils near each of their eyes, and Dr. McComb says they use “enhanced stereo smell” to make up for that blind spot.

Image: SharkDiving.us

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(6) Comments  •   Labels: science news, Animals Nobody Loves, Animals, Sharks, Cool Photo   •  Permalink (link to this article)

December 16, 2010

       

What do you think the snake in this picture is doing?

If you said she’s trying to bite someone or something, I’m afraid you’re mistaken. If you said she is smelling the air around her, you got it it right! Snakes use their tongues to smell. She is flicking her tongue in the air because she’s looking for prey, or perhaps checking to see if there are predators nearby.

This is a European Grass Snake (Natrix natrix), sometimes called the Ringed Snake or Water Snake. This female is almost three-feet long (as tall as a first grader), but she is a non-venomous snake. It is often found near water and feeds almost exclusively on amphibians.

 

Photo: Wilder Kaiser 

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(0) Comments  •   Labels: Animals Nobody Loves, Animals, Cool Photo, Photography   •  Permalink (link to this article)

November 11, 2010

        Leaf Beetle

How do insects know when it’s time to take a bath? When their feet get dirty and lose their stickiness! Insects depend on their adhesive footpads to help them travel safely on leaves, along braches, even over craggy rocks. A new study of the behavior of beetles found that when they start to slip, they know it is time to stop and groom themselves!

 

Leaf Beetle photo: S.N. Gorb, University of Kiel, Germany 

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(2) Comments  •   Labels: science news, Animals Nobody Loves, Animals, Cool Photo   •  Permalink (link to this article)

May 26, 2010

We’ve been writing a lot this month about the work we are doing to develop free, downloadable TEACHER GUIDES to go with all 26 of Seymour’s Collins/Smithsonian books (plus some other perennial favorites like ANIMALS NOBODY LOVES, EARTH, THE MOON, THE PAPER AIRPLANE BOOK, etc).

 

One of the nice features at the start of each Guide is a brief piece of first person writing from Seymour entitled "Why I Wrote This Book." It’s designed for teachers or parents to read aloud with kids before starting to talk about the book together. Today we are working on the Guide to accompany DOGS. Here is a preview of what Seymour wrote about the genesis of this book.

 

My first dog was a Springer Spaniel named Nova. Nova means "a new star" and that’s what NOVA was: a new star in our family. Then my son Mike got a dog and he named it Riley (who was then the coach of the New York Knicks). He eventually got another dog named Dizzy (you can guess why) and I dedicated this book to all three (but I misspelled the name of one of my son’s dogs-check the dedication to see which one).

 

We have completed a prototype Teacher Guide - for EARTHQUAKES - and are currently testing it in classrooms.  If you would like to give us your feedback you can download a copy by clicking on this link. We would love to hear from you!

   

Posted by: Liz Nealon

(1) Comments  •   Labels: Animals Nobody Loves, Animal Books, Teacher Guides, Dogs, Teachers and Librarians   •  Permalink (link to this article)

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