Monday, December 19, 2011

Cool Clouds: In a Minute

When I looked out the window and saw these lovely, low-lying cumulus clouds, I grabbed my camera. But it only took a moment--less than a minute, really--for me to realize they wouldn't be the topic of this post. Well, not exactly.

The most interesting thing I noticed wasn't the clouds themselves. It was how fast they were moving across the sky. 

Using the second hand on my watch, I took these four images at 15 second intervals. See, what I mean? Those clouds are really zipping along.

I listened to our house creak and groan in the blustery breezes all night long. So I guess it's no surprise that the wind is still going strong today.

This series of images is a perfect example of why I'm loving this Cool Clouds blog strand. This is something I never would have noticed--or enjoyed--if I hadn't  been paying extra attention to the world outside my window.

Happy Holidays, Everyone. I'll see you back here in 2012.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Behind the Books: What’s for Dinner?

For the last couple of weeks, I’ve been reading through the books on this year’s National Science Teachers Association-Children’s Book Council Outstanding Science Trade Books for Students. I’ve enjoyed all the books so far, but one really stood out.

I admit that I’m a sucker for science poetry, especially funny science poetry. And readers of this blog know I love gross and goofy science facts. What’s for Dinner?: Quirky, Squirm Poems from the Animal World by Katherine B. Hauth is a book that delivers on both counts.

Here’s a petite appetizer:

“Finding food
is not a joke.
Living things must eat
or croak.”

The book features 29 poems that will make kids laugh out loud as they learn about the food chain, predator-prey relationships, animal defenses, symbiosis and more.

It looks like I’m not the only one who thinks this book is a real treat. The sometimes snarky folks at Kirkus gave What’s for Dinner? a starred review, and NC Teacher Stuff sums up the book's contents nicely: “This book is not for the faint of heart, which makes it perfect for older elementary and middle school students.”

Trust me. This is a book to add to your reading list.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Cool Clouds: Take a Look

Nothing but blue skies all around me . . . at least today.

But I also wanted to share a fascinating image that I took last Tuesday or Wednesday.

It was a warm morning and fog blanketed the ground and hung in the air. Look how it showed up in this photo. Pretty cool, isn't it. But it didn't eally look this pink.

Photography is wonderful for capturing what we see most of the time, but sometimes it can't truly reflect the wonders of the natural world. It's a good reminder that Mother Nature is a boundlessly complex and untamable creature.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Friday Fun: Five Gross and Goofy Body Facts

  • When something stinks, you use muscles to wrinkle your nose. Muscles inside your nose sniff sweet scents—and nasty ones, too. And when you have a cold, they blow out slimy snot and crusty boogers.
  • When your sister tells a lie, you use muscles to raise one eyebrow. When the sun is too bright, you squint your eyes.
  • When you want to whistle a tune, you purse your lips. Muscles around and inside your mouth help you, too. You use them to talk, chew food, and stick out your tongue.
  • Six muscles work together to move your eyeballs up and down, right and left. And more muscles inside your eyeballs help you see.
  • Dozens of muscles take turns contracting and relaxing to tell other people how you feel. You use them to smile, scowl, and frown; to look scared or surprised; and to make goofy faces.

Looking for more Gross and Goofy Body facts? Check out my book Moving and Grooving: The Secrets of Muscles and Bones. It’s full of weird, wacky, strange, and surprising information about your body and the bodies of other animals.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Behind the Books: Festival of Trees

I have fantastic news. My book Under the Snow has been included in this year’s Family Trees Festival at the Concord Museum in Concord, Massachusetts.

A group of ladies from the Concord Council on Aging got together and sewed all kinds of wonderful animal ornaments for the tree.

Take a look. There’s a fish, a turtle, a beaver, a hibernating chipmunk and lots of ladybugs.

The tree looks even better in person than it does in these photos.

If you live in the Concord area, you can see my tree and about two dozen others until the end of the year. On December 15 from 5-8 p.m., a bunch of local authors will be at the museum talking about or books and signing copies.

Stop by if you can. And bring your kids. They’ll be mesmerized.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Cool Clouds: More Warm, Fair Days

I can’t remember a year when it’s been so consistently warm this late in the year. Most days still boast temperatures in the high 40s or 50s. The gorgeous cumulus clouds outside my window today are harbingers of more warm, fair days.

I’d like to say winter in New England just doesn’t get better than this. But the scientist in me is getting worried. Cold temperatures kill deer ticks and other creepy crawlies that cause a lot of trouble.

And that’s not all. Hardy New England trees can endure unseasonably warm winters from time to time, but not if warm winters become the norm. They need cold days to bud and leafout properly in spring.

Overtime, warm winters will kill the trees—not to mention all the creatures that depend on them. And since I’m one of those people who likes to breathe about 20 times a minute, I’m pretty fond of all the oxygen the trees around me provide.

Besides, if we don't get snow on our rooftops by December 25, Santa won't be able to land his sleigh.