Label: Animals

September 25, 2013

Today I want to share some of the great writing submitted by the kids at Cider Mill School after they looked and the photographs and read what I wrote about the red fox who visited my house. What I particularly like is that you looked closely, observed, and wrote about fresh details in the photographs. You found your own words for describing what was happening in the scene, using imaginative words that engaged all of our senses. And some of you created wonderful new scenes and even let us in on what the fox was thinking. Nice job!


We had many entries from students in Mrs. Bosch’s fifth grade class at Cannondale House, with good use of dialogue* (imagining what the fox is thinking or saying) to describe the scene. 

Ben wrote:

The sleek, sly, soft orange fox stared into the cold autumn breeze waiting, hoping for a midday snack to come. The leaves howled and the grass shivered. The rocky surface beneath him stung like ice with a layer of frost. The sun glimmered as if in need of a coat.

Chris: What I imagine is that that the fox was just sitting in this refreshing autumn breeze and thinking about how nice this sunny day is. It was just chilling on those rocks thinking, "my friends really have to try this, they sure are missing out." What I saw was a cool red fox laying down on the little pebbles, with its big fluffy tail flapping in the wind. Its giant ears were probably picking up every little sound around him/her. The face was so pointy, it could probably be used as a butcher’s knife.

Pearson: The orange and red fox sits lazily on the rocky ground as the wind blows gently on its silky fur. He looks up to see birds fluttering their wings looking for a worm. The fox gently lays back down. He is sunbathing. "Ahhhhhhh," he thinks, "this is nice." After some time he gets back up and trots to another nice spot with some food.

Mrs. Froehlich’s Kent House fifth graders used some great adjectives and compound descriptors to describe the fox. Look for compound descriptors like "Autumn-colored fur".... ""sun-colored".... "newly-formed dew." 

Mikey: As I gaze out my window, I see a lonely fox licking his autumn-colored fur. He stretches his hind legs and slowly lowers himself to the ground. He stifles a yawn, and shuts his eyes as he starts to bask in the warm autumn sun. He lies there, and I continue to watch him. After a while, he opens eyes and stretches again. Then, he trots off back into the shadowed depths of his kingdom.

Kayla: I can see the sun-colored fox laying on rocks that have been heated up by the bright sun. The fox is sun bathing, but also pretending to be asleep for a possible mid afternoon snack. It is a bright and beautiful autumn day in late October and the fox is startled by the rustling of some leaves, but it is nothing. So, the fox settles down in a nice warm and cozy comfy spot and drifts off to sleep like he’s sitting on a cloud. "Nothing could wake me up now," he thought, but not long after that, a quiet little bunny...

read more

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(0) Comments  •   Labels: Animals, School Visits, Kids Write   •  Permalink (link to this article)

September 24, 2013

These adorable male cheetah cubs, brothers named Winspear and Kamau, are our Cool Photo of the Week. When they reached 8-weeks-old, zookeepers at the Dallas Zoo gave them their own black Labrador retriever puppy!

Since Labs are relaxed when there are a lot of people around and the puppy will grow with the cubs, zoo experts hope he’ll help keep the cats calm when they join the zoo’s Animal Adventures program, where visitors learn about their highly endangered species.

These cute little cubs will grow fast, eventually weighing about 140 pounds and standing three feet tall (about the size of a four-year-old human).The cheetah is Earth’s fastest land mammal, and can go from 0 to 60 mph (96 kph) in just three seconds!

Even though eventually the adult cheetahs will be much bigger, faster and stronger than the grown Labrador retriever, raising them together from the time they were babies means that these animals will always consider themselves to be part of the same pack, and will remain friendly to each other.



Photos: AP/Dallas Zoological


Posted by: Seymour Simon

(8) Comments  •   Labels: Animals, Cats, Dogs, Cool Photo, Conservation   •  Permalink (link to this article)

September 19, 2013

I received this interesting question from two of the readers of this blog:

We have been reading about the Alaskan brown bear and polar bears.  Both claim to be the biggest bear. Could you answer this question? Which bear is bigger, the Alaskan brown bear or the polar bear? Thank you very much! You have a wonderful site and books! Thanks for doing what you do. We really do appreciate it very much!

Kaitlyn and Jacob, Minnesota

Dear Kaitlyn and Jacob,

  One of the things that I’ve learned over years of exploring and researching my books is that sometimes it is impossible to find the answer you are looking for until you figure out what is the right question! I’ve often started out researching a subject and as I learn along the way, I end up adjusting the question, sometimes more than once. 

This is one of those times, so let’s think about what you really want to know. What does "biggest" actually mean? Do you mean the heaviest? Or do you mean the longest?

As you found, the Alaskan, or Kodiak brown bear and the polar bear are the two largest members of the bear family. The Kodiak bear is the longest (or tallest), while the polar bear is the heaviest (on average). The Library of Congress website has this excellent chart which illustrates the differences between these two kinds of bear:


You can see why it is hard to say which is the "biggest" bear. But you can clearly distinguish between the heaviest and the longest/tallest.

Thanks for writing, and for giving me a chance to write about the importance of finding the right the question!

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(1) Comments  •   Labels: SeeMore Explorers, Animals, Kids Write   •  Permalink (link to this article)

September 18, 2013

A visit from a red fox allowed me to capture our Cool Photo of the Week. A few days ago I was at my desk writing, and something coppery colored caught my eye. "What is that outside the window?" I wondered.

To my surprise, I discovered this magnificent red fox sunning itself on the stones at the bottom of my driveway. It was one of the first chilly days of autumn here in the Northeast….I think it probably found those stones to be a good spot to soak up the warmth of the sun.

The fox hung out for more than two hours, so of course I stopped writing and spent the morning with my camera.

As I shot photo after photo, I found myself imagining that I were the red fox, and thinking about all the chores that would fill up my morning.




Posted by: Seymour Simon

(6) Comments  •   Labels: SeeMore Explorers, Animals, Cool Photo   •  Permalink (link to this article)

September 10, 2013

How about this shot of a frog nabbing its lunch as our Cool Photo of the Week? What a great action shot! 

I’m looking at lots of photographs of frogs this week because I am writing a new book about these fascinating amphibians. Do you see how the frog’s eyes bulge out of the side of its head? That enables them to see in nearly all directions, and they will snap at any small, moving object they see.

It’s not that easy to see a frog catching its prey. If a frog spots a large object (like a human) moving nearby, it will immediately leap away to a safe, hidden spot. You must be very still and very sneaky to observe a frog close up.


Photo: Cathy Keifer / 123RF

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(1) Comments  •   Labels: New Books, Animals, Animal Books, Cool Photo, Frogs, CollinsSmithsonian books   •  Permalink (link to this article)

September 4, 2013

Zebras are the topic of the first Writing Wednesday of the new school year. The writing below is an excerpt from ZEBRA, a lovely book by my friend and StarWalk Kids author Caroline Arnold.

Here is what we would like you to do today. Read the section below from Caroline Arnold’s book and as you read, jot down the main ideas on this page. Then think about which one of those points is the MAIN IDEA. Look at the other thoughts you have written down. Are these "supporting details" that help to explain the main idea?

Finish up by writing a short summary (one or two paragraphs) of what you think Caroline Arnold was trying to say on this page - you can use the main idea as your first sentence and your supporting details as evidence to back up your thinking.

We would love to read what you write! You can publish your writing for others to read by clicking on "Comments" at the bottom of this blog post.

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(1) Comments  •   Labels: Writing Wednesday, Animals, Animal Books, StarWalk Kids   •  Permalink (link to this article)

July 31, 2013

I hope everyone is having a good summer break. While I was working on my latest book, CORAL REEFS, I got the urge to start a reef aquarium again (that’s a salt water aquarium - I haven’t had one for quite a few years).


This is a picture of some of the fish, coral, crustaceans (shell fish like crabs) and snails that live there. Many of the coral and the clownfish are fluorescent at night. I could sit and watch for hours….and sometimes I do!

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(0) Comments  •   Labels: Animals, Oceans, Seymour Simon   •  Permalink (link to this article)

July 18, 2013



I spotted a beautiful animal when I was eating my lunch today. This butterfly (or is it a moth?) was fluttering against the window. I grabbed my phone and used the camera to take this picture. Then I sat down to fill out my SeeMore Explorers Observation Log to help me figure out what it is.








This is really quite unusual. Everything about it (no furry antennae, no knobs at the end of its antennae, awake during the day) says that it should be a butterfly, but it looks like a moth.

I take a good look at the photograph, and then type into Google: black moth white brown spots

I click on "Images" and a lot of different pictures come up, but none of them look like my photograph.

I decide to try again. I look hard at my photograph, and decide to be more specific in my search. Back to Google, and this time I type:  black moth white brown spots pointy butt

BINGO! Sure enough, there are many photographs that look just like my animal. It is an Anania funebris, or a White-spotted sable moth. I know for sure that I am right when I read that its caterpillars feed on goldenrod. We have fields full of goldenrod in the late summer around where I live.

So that’s what I found today. A very delicate, very beautiful, day-flying moth. Nice.

If you want to try to identify animals or plants that you see outside this summer, you can fill out your own SeeMore Explorer Observation Log. Click here to download. Print it out, grab a pencil or pen, and write the most specific notes you can about what you see. Then, go to the library or onto the Internet, and use your clues to find out what it is!


Posted by: Seymour Simon

(0) Comments  •   Labels: SeeMore Explorers, Animals, Butterflies, Summer Vacation Science   •  Permalink (link to this article)

June 4, 2013

Today’s Cool Photo of the Week is of the smallest monkey in the world - the Pygmy Marmoset. This tiny animals lives high in the canopy of South American rainforests. If you saw one, you might mistake it for a squirrel, with its brown fur, long tail, and its habit of dodging between tree branches - scrambling, and then freezing in place.

A pygmy marmoset is less than 6 inches (15 centimeters) long, and weighs about as much as a stick of butter. This tiny monkey is always on the move because it has many predators, including cats, eagles, hawks and snakes. It uses its long tail to keep its balance as it skitters through the treetops. It is most comfortable living there, where there are many hiding places among the leaves and branches.


Posted by: Seymour Simon

(2) Comments  •   Labels: Animals, Cool Photo, Rainforest   •  Permalink (link to this article)

May 23, 2013

It is time for a new contest! Seymour Simon is visiting Skano Elementary School in Clifton Park, NY at the end of this month, and this contest is for all the Skano Elementary kids to enter. Two lucky winners are going to receive personally autographed copies of Seymour Simon’s new book, CORAL REEFS.

Here is how you enter. First, read this excerpt from Seymour’s newest book. 


Coral reefs look like a bunch of rock formations. But a coral reef is actually a gigantic community of living things. For a long time, corals were a mystery to people. They were called rock-plants or plant-animals.

Now we know that each coral polyp, basically a mouth, is a soft sea animal that is something like a jellyfish. The polyp makes a hard, protective limestone skeleton.

Once you have read this, here is what you do to enter:

1.    Do some research and tell us about three animals that live on coral reefs. They might be fish, they might be crustaceans like crab and lobster, or they might be plant-like corals.

2.    You can find your information by clicking on the "Coral Reefs" label on this blog, in Seymour’s book CORAL REEFS, or by using other resources, like the library and the Internet.

3.    Click on the yellow "Comments" link at the bottom of this blog entry to enter the contest by telling us about the three animals you have studied. Make sure that you put the information you have found into your own words (don’t just copy and paste information you find).

4.    When you write your information, be sure to also tell us your name (first name only), your grade, your age and your teacher’s name, so that we can find you if you are chosen as the winner. Allow 24 hours for your comment to show up online, because all comments by people under 13 years old are reviewed by a moderator and approved before they appear on the website. Be patient if you don’t see it right away!

5.    Be sure to post your entry by midnight, Friday, May 31. The contest ends then.

6.    Two winners will be chosen randomly from all the correct entries. Older students may enter individually, and we will pick one winner. Students in grades K-2 may enter as a class and work with their teacher to enter the contest; there will be one classroom winner.

7.    Students who do not attend Skano Elementary may also enter this contest. The rules are the same as above, but for #4, please include your first name, your grade, your teacher’s name, the name of your school, and the city where your school is located. If we have at least 20 entries from other schools, we will randomly choose a third prize winner from the non-Skano Elementary entries. 


Winners will receive copies of CORAL REEFS, personally autographed by Seymour Simon.

So, get to work and send us your entries today!



Posted by: Liz Nealon

(47) Comments  •   Labels: New Books, Animals, School Visits, Coral Reefs, Contests, Kids Write   •  Permalink (link to this article)

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