April 22 – Earth Day

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About the Holiday

By 1970 awareness was growing worldwide about the damage that industrialization, pollution, and pesticides were causing people and the environment. On April 22, 1970, millions of people demonstrated for change. In response, in July President Nixon and the US Congress created the Environmental Protections Agency and enacted laws such as the Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Act among others. Earth Day is now celebrated around the globe as a day for political action and civic participation.

Today, it’s more important than ever for citizens to participate in the protection of the environment so that the advances we have made are not rolled back or lost. This year the theme of Earth Day is Protect Our Species. To learn more about endangered and threatened species—from plants to animals to insects, including the Hines emerald dragonfly, and how you can help, visit the Earth Day Network. To celebrate today’s holiday, join an action group in your community dedicated to protecting natural resources.

I received a copy of Soar High, Dragonfly! from Sleeping Bear Press for review consideration. All opinions are my own. I’m happy to be teaming with Sleeping Bear Press for a giveaway of the book. See details below.

Soar High, Dragonfly!

Written by Sheri Mabry Bestor | Illustrated by Jonny Lambert

 

As winter turns to spring, flowers bloom, baby birds hatch, and “high above, tiny wings hum like wind through the leaves.” The sound comes from dragonflies. In the warm air, the females are looking for places to lay their eggs. They find a pond, where they can lay eggs in the water or within the stem of a plant. While some eggs are eaten, many others hatch into nymphs. Underwater, the nymphs have a special way of swimming that propels them to find food to eat.

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Image copyright Jonny Lambert, 2019, text copyright Sheri Mabry Bestor, 2019. Courtesy of Sleeping Bear Press.

As a nymph “he eats, he grows. As he grows, he sheds his casing. Squirt. Gulp! Squirt. Gulp!” At last the nymph is ready to leave the water. During the night, he climbs the stem of a water reed and waits for daylight. The nymph has undergone many casing changes, but finally, his last casing grows too tight. “It cracks. He wiggles and squiggles. Out he crawls!” Although his wings are free, he is too tired to fly.

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Image copyright Jonny Lambert, 2019, text copyright Sheri Mabry Bestor, 2019. Courtesy of Sleeping Bear Press.

In the warmth of the sun, the dragonfly’s wings dry. “They hum in the morning light.” When he is ready, he takes off into the sky… “he’s flying! Soar high, dragonfly!” Without practice, the dragonfly can fly forward, backward, and even hover. Using his large eyes, he scans for predators, darting away at the last moment.

The dragonfly is a marvel, moving his wings and changing his body to keep warm day and night. Summer brings mating season, and with the autumn the dragonflies migrate to warmer climates to lay their eggs and begin their life cycle again.

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Image copyright Jonny Lambert, 2019, text copyright Sheri Mabry Bestor, 2019. Courtesy of Sleeping Bear Press.

Sheri Mabry Bestor’s lyrical text is accompanied by equally engaging factual information about dragonflies, and the green darner dragonfly in particular. Each page contains a sentence or two of fascinating description about egg laying, life stages, feeding customs, movement (“Nymphs squirt water out of their back ends to propel themselves forward.”), body regulation (“Dragonflies have special ways to keep warm. They can capture the heat of the sun by adjusting their four wings just right.”), and migratory habits of these favorite insects.

For young readers interested in insects and nature, Bestor’s captivating storytelling, which uses short sentences that echo the quick, darting movement of dragonflies, will keep them absorbed as they learn about this most intriguing creature.

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Image copyright Jonny Lambert, 2019, text copyright Sheri Mabry Bestor, 2019. Courtesy of Sleeping Bear Press.

Jonny Lambert brings his talent as a paper engineer to the vibrant, collage-style illustrations that will wow kids with their beauty. The iridescent brilliance of the green darner dragonfly is represented through a green and yellow-mottled head and thorax that gives way to a blue striped abdomen. Light-sage-colored wings mirror the dragonfly’s delicate appearance. A stunning palette of greens and blues usher children into the underwater world of the pond where the nymphs grow among fish, frogs, snails, and other creatures. Each stage and change the dragonfly experiences is clearly shown and enhances learning.

A superb book for general story times as well as STEM learning, Soar High, Dragonfly! would find eager readers at home as well as in classroom and public libraries. Check out the first gorgeous collaboration between Sheri Mabry Bestor and Jonny Lambert, Good Trick, Walking Stick!, too! You can read my review of that book here.

Ages 5 – 8

Sleeping Bear Press, 2019 | ISBN 978-1585364107

Discover more about Sheri Mabry Bestor and her books on her website.

Soar High, Dragonfly! Giveaway

I’m excited to partner with Sleeping Bear Press in an Instagram giveaway of:

  • One (1) copy of Soar High, Dragonfly! written by Sheri Mabry Bestor | illustrated by Jonny Lambert

This giveaway is open from April 22 through April 28 and ends at 8:00 p.m. EST.

Just do these things to enter:

Giveaway open to U.S. addresses only. | Prizing provided by Sleeping Bear Press.

Earth Day Activity

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Dragonfly Decoration

 

Your kids can bring the beauty of nature inside with this easy-to-make dragonfly craft.

Supplies

  • Wooden clothespin
  • Wax paper
  • Bright green craft paint
  • Bright blue craft paint
  • Green glitter
  • Blue glitter
  • Paint brush
  • Thread or fishing line (optional)
  • Adhesive magnet (optional)

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Directions

To Make the Body

  1. Paint the top part of the clothespin (to the point where the metal hinge crosses the wood) green
  2. Sprinkle green glitter on the wet paint, let dry
  3. Paint the bottom part of the clothespin blue
  4. Sprinkle blue glitter on the wet paint, let dry
  5. If the glitter doesn’t completely stick, apply a thin layer of glue with a toothpick and add more glitter

To Make the Wings

  1. Cut two 5-inch-by-3/4-inch strips from the wax paper
  2. Cut a curved edge at each end of the wax paper strips, cutting straight down from the top and curving around the bottom corner
  3. Cut curved notches in the center, top and bottom, of each wing to allow the wings to fit into the clothespin
  4. Open the clothespin and slip the wings in, curved edge down and allowing the top wing to overlap the bottom wing slightly

Attach the thread or fishing line to the dragonfly to hang, or to make a refrigerator magnet, attach an adhesive magnetic strip to the back

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You can find Soar High, Dragonfly! at these booksellers

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million | IndieBound

Picture Book Review

 

 

June 16 – Dump the Pump Day

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About the Holiday

There’s no better time than early summer to consider “dumping the pump” and traveling by foot, bicycle, scooter, skates, skateboard…there are so many options! Leaving the car at home saves on gas costs, is better for the environment, and leads to a great exercise workout. Today, grab your walking or tennis shoes and with a friend or alone, take an example from the subject of today’s book and enjoy the pleasure of traversing the outside world!

Good Trick, Walking Stick!

Written by Sheri Mabry Bestor | Illustrated by Jonny Lambert

 

The walking stick is one insect that knows a thing or two about tricks. Even before it’s born wile plays a part in its survival. A mother walking stick drops her eggs where they will be buried by autumn leaves—and found by ants that think they are delicious seeds to eat. Why would a mother purposefully do this?! She knows that the ants will take the eggs to their colony, where they will eat only the tops leaving the baby walking sticks undisturbed. The ants will then drag the remains of the “seeds” to their garbage dump area, where they will spend a warm winter safe from predators until spring.

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In the spring a baby hatches. It look like a tiny twig—a twig that can walk! The baby searches for food and munch, munch, munches the leaves it finds. As it becomes bigger it molts, shedding its old skin and growing a new one. The walking stick looks just like the branches that it lives on. It is perfectly camouflaged! “Good trick, walking stick!”

But a bird with keen eyesight swoops down and in an instant grabs the walking stick in its beak. Quickly, the walking stick squirts out a bad-smelling juice. The bird spits it out, but has gained a snack while the walking stick has lost a leg! It’s okay, though; the walking stick will just grow a new one! “Good trick, walking stick!”

The walking stick finds a tree with others of her kind hidden in its branches. The leaves make delicious meals. During the day the walking stick can change color to blend in with the sunlit bark of the tree and stay cooler. At night the walking stick becomes darker to hide in the shadows and stay warm. “Good trick, walking stick!”

When a squirrel brushes past, looking for a meal, the walking stick “pulls in her legs and drops to the forest floor, just like a stick falling off a larger branch. The stick insect is safe.” All day the insect lies on the ground, not moving, pretending to be just another cutting. At nightfall the walking stick climbs back into the tree. The squirrels and birds are resting now, so the stick insects “Munch munch. Crunch. Munch.”

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With the onset of fall stick insects begin looking for mates. The females “spritz their perfume into the cooling air.” Males find them. Even if a walking stick does not have a mate, she can still produce eggs which will all develop into females. The eggs settle into the fallen leaves, ready to begin their unique life. “Good trick, walking stick!”

Stick insects are some of the most unusual creatures in the world. Measuring from an inch or two to 21 inches (53 centimeters), they can be found in forests, parks, even your own backyard! Sheri Mabry Bestor’s story of a year in a walking stick’s life is filled with action, suspense, and the clever ploys stick insects use to survive. Bestor’s enthusiastic, conversational tone and evocative language will engage kids over a wide range of ages. Each page also contains fascinating scientific sidebars that expand on the events in the story.

Jonny Lambert’s collage-style illustrations are a perfect match for the text. The mottled hues and textures of nature are beautifully represented in the vibrantly colored two-page spreads. The scientific details of the stick insect’s life are clearly and organically depicted, making it easy for kids to understand and enjoy the concepts: on one page ants carry away eggs with missing tops while on the next baby walking sticks emerge from the same images. Illustrations of the stick insect’s camouflage are particularly effective, and the cyclical quality of the story and the insect’s life are well portrayed.

For teachers and for kids who love the natural world and are curious about its unique creatures, Good Trick, Walking Stick is a wonderful addition to their school or personal library.

Ages 5 – 9

Sleeping Bear Press, 2016 | ISBN 978-1585369430

Dump the Pump Day Activity

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Take a Stroll Puzzle

 

You can see so many amazing things when you take a walk! But can you spot the 15 differences between the two pictures in this printable Take a Stroll puzzle?