August 3 – International Owl Awareness Day

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About the Holiday

International Owl Awareness Day raises awareness of these feathered beauties that can be found all over the world in nearly every ecosystem. The day also encourages people to learn more about the owls in their area as well as to consider ways they can make their yards or the surrounding landscape more welcoming and beneficial to owls. To learn more about owls and how you can help these beautiful birds, visit American Eagle Foundation website.

Whooo Knew? The Truth about Owls

By Annette Whipple

 

You know owls, right? They hoot, they have glowing eyes, and a beak you wouldn’t want to be on the sharp end of. But is that all? Not by a long feather. For instance, do you know what owls eat (besides mice) or how they catch and eat their prey? What happens to all the bones and fur and teeth they swallow? And have you ever seen an owl’s tongue? You’ll discover all these facts through Annette Whipple’s detailed and engaging text (there are even some puns that might make you owl with laughter) and incredible up-close photographs of a variety of owls doing what owls do best.

Let’s see, what else do we know about owls? Ah! They sleep all day, right? Well, not exactly, and not all owls are nocturnal. Of course, those shining eyes that allow owls to see so well in the dark are one of their most well-known traits. Here, you’ll learn how they work, their range of vision, and how they “see” things that are close.

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Copyright Annette Whipple, 2021, courtesy of Reycraft Books.

Do you wonder why you never see an owl even though you hear them and know they live nearby? Maybe you already have and just didn’t realize it. Each type of owls’ feathers are colored and patterned to ensure they blend in with their surroundings. Look closely at Annette Whipple’s photos. Do you see the owls? You’ll also learn all about how owls use and communicate with their feathered ear tufts.

You’ll also discover where different kinds of owls live—some even call cacti home!—as well as how baby owlets grow up, learn to hunt, and strike out on their own. With their sharp talons, sharp beaks, and sharp eyes, owls can take care of themselves, right? Well, the truth is that owls have plenty of predators and fall victim to cars on busy highways as well as habitat destruction. Your barn owl host even has a suggestion about how homeowners and landowners can help and includes an added benefit: “Please do us a favor and leave some old trees behind. We’re some of the best all-natural ‘pest control’ around.”

Following the text, readers will find a photographic “anatomy of an owl,” a glossary of words found in the book, and an owl pellet dissection activity.

Annette Whipple’s gorgeous introduction to owls provides young readers with a comprehensive look at the anatomy and behavior of owls, beginning with what they know (or think they know) about these majestic birds and expanding their knowledge with fascinating facts and details, illustrated with astounding photographs caught in the act of eating, sleeping, observing, hiding, and even regurgitating a pellet. Sidebars “hosted” by an illustrated and affable barn owl that talks directly to readers reveal more facts about his species and others.

Sure to captivate readers, Whooo Knew? The Truth About Owls is a fantastic resource for classroom, homeschool, and casual learning. The book is sure to be a favorite go-to for children and educators and is highly recommended for public libraries as well.

Ages 6 – 10

Reycraft Books, 2021 | ISBN 978-1478869634

Discover more about Annette Whipple and her books on her website. You’ll also find STEM activities (indoor and outdoor), crafts, and resources for further reading and research on Annette’s site here.

International Owl Appreciation Day Activity

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Whooo’s There? Word Search Puzzle

 

Can you find the nineteen types of owls that call the United States home in this printable puzzle?

Whooo’s There? Word Search Puzzle | Whooo’s There? Word Search Solution

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You can find Whooo Knew? The Truth about Owls at these booksellers

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million

To support your local independent bookstore, order from

Bookshop | IndieBound

Picture Book Review

October 27 – Celebrating the Book Birthday of This Is a Flying Rat

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About the Holiday

Celebrating a new book on its birthday is always exciting. Just like the kids they’re written for, each book has its own personality and take on the world. Today’s book is funny, smart, clever, and educational. Take a look!

This Is a Flying Rat

Written by Andrew Cangelose | Illustrated by Josh Shipley

 

As a narrator begins a recitation on pigeons, a very vocal pigeon breaks in to extoll the awesomeness of his breed, especially their flying power. “Everyone calls me Ace,” he says, “because I’m one of the best fliers around.” He can’t wait to prove it. “Pigeons are a member of the same bird family as doves. In fact, they are sometimes called ‘rock doves,’” the narrator intones.

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Image copyright Josh Shipley, 2020, text copyright Andrew Cangelose, 2020. Courtesy of Oni Press.

Ace is wholeheartedly agreeing that he does, indeed, rock when a raccoon interrupts to point out a flying rat. Ace is offended, but it turns out that the raccoon doesn’t mean him, but the rat with a jet pack spewing pink and blue ink coming their way. Just as the narrator is getting to the good part: “Pigeons are considered some of the best fliers in the world,” the rat crosses out “Pigeons” and writes “Flying rats” in pink ink.

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Image copyright Josh Shipley, 2020, text copyright Andrew Cangelose, 2020. Courtesy of Oni Press.

Again, Ace protests, so the rat decides he’ll just be a pigeon too. But Ace isn’t going to let him get away with that that easily. To be a pigeon, the rat has to do other pigeon stuff too. The narrator goes on to describe a pigeon’s eating habits, which can include garbage. The rat is happy to oblige this dietary quirk. Pigeons also have feathers and wings, the narrator reveals. Out of the trash come…you guessed it…check! and check!

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Image copyright Josh Shipley, 2020, text copyright Andrew Cangelose, 2020. Courtesy of Oni Press.

Finally, the narrator gets to flying. But thanks to the jet pack, the rat is just as agile and persevering as Ace. The two are just in a race to the top of a skyscraper when the rat’s fuel burns out. Now he’s not so much a flying rat as a falling rat. Down he plummets just as the narrator reveals that pigeons are social flyers—never found alone. Ace gets it and rockets toward the ground, rescuing the rat just before….

The rat is grateful and apologetic for trying to take over the book, and he acknowledges that Ace is the real pigeon. On Ace’s side, he’s warmed up to having a friend while the narrator’s next chilling fact about pigeon predators has Ace considering joining the other side.

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Image copyright Josh Shipley, 2020, text copyright Andrew Cangelose, 2020. Courtesy of Oni Press.

Andrew Cangelose’s pitch-perfect mashup of sedate nature programming and laugh-out-loud interruptions is education at its ingenious best. As the rat challenges Ace’s claims to flying glory, kids are the winners, learning facts about pigeons they won’t soon forget. Cangelose has given Ace and the rat distinct personalities and plenty of attitude to keep the giggle’s going. The combination of straightforward narration and dialogue makes the story a joy to read and would even lend itself to turning the text into a classroom play. The resulting friendship between Ace and the rat is a natural outgrowth of pigeons’ flocking behavior and makes a case for pigeons being a bit like humans too.

Josh Shipley feathers the story with urban details as the rat attempts to prove he’s really a pigeon. Ace, with his squared-off head and familiar multihued sheen, is a portrait of pride, indignation, and knowing looks that will delight kids. The rat, clinging to his jet pack, is sure to win over converts with his ever-present smile and bold self-assurance. The appearance of a pompadour-wearing squirrel clutching an armful of garbage will draw lots of laughs. Shipley depicts Ace’s change of heart about the rat with a sweetness that will charm kids.

Humorous creative nonfiction that kids will really respond to, This Is a Flying Rat would be a fun addition to home bookshelves and a high-interest accompaniment to classroom nature and science lessons, making it a great choice for school and public libraries as well.

Ages 4 – 8

Oni Press, 2020 | ISBN 978-1620107751

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You can find This Is a Flying Rat at these booksellers

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million

To support your local independent bookstore, order from

Bookshop | IndieBound

February 21 – It’s National Bird-Feeding Month

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About the Holiday

Spring comes early for our feathered friends. You may have noticed more bird activity in the past few weeks as birds get ready to build nests and mate. February can be a tough month for these little creatures, though. In some places snow still covers the ground, and the spring blooms that offer nutrition haven’t sprouted yet. To remedy this situation, in 1994 John Porter read a resolution into the United States’ Congressional record recognizing February as National Bird-Feeding Month. One-third of the American population have backyard feeders that provide the sustenance birds need to survive. To celebrate, if you have feeders make sure they are well stocked. If you don’t have a feeder in your yard, consider hanging one. Enjoying the beauty and songs of birds is a day brightener!

Warbler Wave

By April Pulley Sayre with Jeff Sayre

 

“In spring, as you nightly nap, / warblers flap / over oceans, lakes, / and mountains.” These tiny birds ride on streams of wind, navigating their way around buildings and towers and sharing space with bats, insects, and other birds. Then, nearly out of energy, they alight to rest and look for food.

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Copyright April Pulley Sayre, 2018. Courtesy of simonandschuster.com

“They search. Stalk. / Wag. Walk. / So dainty, / these colorful diners.” They’re dots of color and intricate patterns among the leaves and “flit, like flying flowers.” They look and listen then dart to capture dinner. They are “crushers of caterpillars! / Slurpers of spiders!” Insects can hide from these clever hunters that know every nook and cranny to search.

And they’re not above nabbing a snack that a spider has so carefully wrapped. After a meal, “warblers sing. / Preen. / Scan the local scene.” But then as soon as nighttime falls, they’re off again, with miles to go until they reach their nesting grounds. Like good friends, they keep in touch with each other in the darkness as they fly “Surfing rivers of wind way up high…calling zeep, zeep, zeep in the sky.”

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Copyright April Pulley, 2018. Courtesy of simonandschuster.com

Following the lyrical text, an extensive discussion of the “Migration Marathon” warblers take each spring reveals fascinating facts about the birds, their instinct to migrate, and why and how they migrate as well as the role of science in recording warbler migration. For instance, warblers weigh no more than a couple of baby carrots, yet they fly hundreds, sometimes thousands of miles from their winter homes in the southern hemisphere to their summer homes in the northern United States and Canada.

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Copyright April Pulley Sayre, 2018. Courtesy of simonandschuster.com

Blackpoll warblers even undergo physical changes in preparation for their 4,000-mile journey taken three days at a time nonstop. And how do these tiny creatures find their way? They’re born with an innate knowledge of the direction they need to fly, and they navigate by the stars, the setting sun, and the earth’s magnetic field (which they may be able to see!). There’s much more to discover here, too, about the lovely warblers that may be flying through your area soon.

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Copyright April Pulley Sayre, 2018. Courtesy of simonandschuster.com

April Pulley Sayre’s poetic narrative of the astounding migration warblers undertake every year is as bright and spry as her little subjects. Staccato sentences echo the birds’ quick, sure movements and alertness to the sounds and motions around them while longer passages flow with the rhythm of the birds in flight, soaring to the next stopping place and taking off again for home.

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Copyright April Pulley Sayre, 2018. Courtesy of simonandschuster.com

Gorgeous photographs of a fiery horizon and rising moon that invite warblers to the air each night open the book and lead to lush, close-up views of a variety of warblers in their regal colors and patterns. Their sharp eyes, attentive expressions, and perky personalities are on full display in their native habitat. As dusk descends once more over sea and forest, the warblers take wing while birdwatchers wait to see them.

For children who are bird lovers and for families who have backyard feeders or enjoy taking bird-watching walks, as well as for classroom science and story times, Warbler Wave is a beautiful addition to home, classroom, school, and public library collections.

Ages 3 – 8 and up

Beach Lane Books, 2018 | ISBN 978-1481448291

To learn more about April Pulley Sayre her books, and her work, visit her website.

National Bird-Feeding Month Activity

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Pine Cone Bird Feeder

 

You don’t need a fancy bird feeder to help out the birds in your backyard. With a pine cone, birdseed, and a bit of peanut butter, lard, or vegetable shortening, you can make feeders that birds will flock to!

Supplies

  • Item to Cover, such as a pine cone, conical ice-cream cone, piece of toast or stale bread, bagel, paper towel or toilet paper tube
  • Peanut butter, lard, or vegetable shortening
  • Bird seed
  • String or wire for hanging
  • Large bowl or container
  • Knife for spreading

Directions

  1. Attach the string or wire to the item to be covered
  2. Cover the item with peanut butter, lard, or vegetable shortening
  3. Pour birdseed into a large bowl or container
  4. Roll the covered item in the birdseed until well covered
  5. Hang your homemade bird feeder!

Picture Book Review