There are many mysteries in life, questions that we need to know the answers to.
Like this one: How many tortoises can fit in a corner?
And the follow-up question: how many tortoises can you stack on top of each other before they topple?
I don’t know the answer to these inquiries, but these girls are well on their way to solving these mysteries.
Meanwhile the smaller, smarter one, is off enjoying a bit of nectarine.
Do you know the differences between turtles and tortoises? And did you know the typical answer: “Turtles live in the water, and tortoises live on land,” is not that simple? If you want to find the answers to the question, How are turtles and tortoises different, you will certainly enjoy, Don’t Call Me Turtle! (That’s one mystery that’s easy to solve.)
It’s a fun, rhyming book and a favorite among the little ones–I get the most fan mail with their pictures about this book, along with notes from their parents telling me that they learned a lot, too, while reading Don’t Call Me Turtle!
One of my favorite stories for an episode in the Audio Theater Script Series, Conversations with Dudley Dewlap, by Yours Truly, is called The Hex. It is about the use of witchcraft at the annual World Soccer Championships. When I first heard about it, I thought it was an exaggeration, but apparently not. I bet it’s still going on.
Here, Dudley and Miles discuss Loa, the voodoo-practicing Lizard; and, as usual, Dudley turns the conversation to himself.
“DUDLEY: I was chatting with my pal Loa Lizard last night and he was telling me about soccer. I confess I’ve become obsessed. Listeners, Loa is an iguana from the Caribbean and an expert in voodoo. His name, Loa, means Voodoo guardian spirits.
LOA: Now there be lots of misconceptions about voodoo around and I tries to educate people.
DUDLEY: He’s in town for a big human soccer tournament and was hired to find out if the soccer field had been tampered with, if any curses or hexes had been put upon it.
MILES: The humans couldn’t do this for themselves?
LOA: No, the team advisers, or witch-doctors as they be known, were banned by the soccer ruling body.
DUDLEY: So they turned to Loa. Some teams will climb fences into the stadium rather than use the main gate, fearing a spell may have been put upon it.
MILES: You’ve got be making this up.
DUDLEY: I’m not that creative.
Interestingly, Dudley decides he wants to try out for the soccer team.
DUDLEY: Have you seen the game? The players aren’t allowed to use their hands.
MILES: Yes. So?
DUDLEY: Not only do I have powerful legs…
MILES: (BITE CUE) Yes, you can outrun any human.
DUDLEY: But the pièce de résistance is my tail! With my powerful tail, its incredible accuracy, I could be the entire team!
ANNOUNCER: Once again, today’s topic was directly from the news. The issue of witchcraft was discussed at the 2002 soccer World Cup. Really, Elaine couldn’t make this stuff up!”
NOTE: Conversations with Dudley Dewlap: The World from a Lizard Point of View is a collection of short comedy, small cast, audio scripts. Most roles are gender neutral. The primary characters are talk show hosts who discuss various amusing topics. The scripts can be combined or used
individually. Additional cast can be used for the sound effects. Along with being entertaining and family friendly, many of the scripts are also educational. The scripts are amenable to radio theater, readers theater, or may be adapted for stage. Approximate running times vary with each script, ranging from 5-20 minutes. The purchase of the scripts includes performance rights.
Please see all Elaine A. Powers theater audio scripts at Amazon here.
The episodes I wrote from Conversations with Dudley Dewlapare based on real-life events. The “Pet Psychic” episode in the Dudley Dewlap audio script was inspired by real pet psychics. In listening to one of their episodes, I found out that green iguanas want to take over the world. The way green iguanas are spreading around the world as an invasive species, they just might succeed.
People often comment on my unusual pets, so I’ve decided to share the story of an even more unusual pet who lives with a family in Germany (as reported by Reuters). This family has kept a pet eel named Aalfred in their bathtub for 33 years. Yes, I said 33 years.
Pet activists complained Aalfred was being held under unnatural circumstances and asked authorities to release the eel into the wild. However, after examination by a vet, the eel was found to be in excellent health and well cared for. (I’m sure an animal psychic could’ve told the authorities how happy the eel was.)
This story has a happy ending: Aalfred the eel was allowed to stay with his family if they installed an arm-length pipe so he could rest more comfortably. The eel’s family stated, “This was the only reasonable outcome – in any case, we would have protected Aalfred.”
Math was not my favorite, nor my best, topic, but I did like the math used to solve real-world problems. I enjoyed using geometry to determine how tall a tree is. Discovering the unknown variables in algebra fascinated me; it was like a secret code that had to be deciphered. I eventually came to understand how to use statistics and calculus in measuring aspects of ecosystems and in animal behavior. It turned out that I did like math–if it applied to my interests in science!
When master educator Marilyn Buehrer designed the Lyric Power Publishing workbooks and activity sheets based on my children’s storybooks, I was thrilled that she included some of my favorite animals in her math problems. I particularly like the one where she has the students measure the iguanas to determine average and median sizes in the workbook My Unit Study on Iguanas. I could use that in my citizen scientist work out in the field with the rock iguanas of Cayman Brac!
If you’re curious at all about the Sister Isle Rock Iguanas on Cayman Brac, check out my poignant book, Silent Rocks, pictured above. The population of Cyclura nubila caymanensis on Cayman Brac is in serious decline and these vegetarian lizards are an important part of the island’s ecosystem. Their reduction is the result of human activity on their habitat, and the threats can only be eliminated by human action. I am hopeful the people of Cayman Brac will turn this sad situation around.
In The Dragon of Nani Cave, the Lime Lizard Lads, curly-tail lizards of Cayman Brac, seek an adventure up on the bluff. Their goal is to reach Nani Cave and meet the dragon that lives there. (The dragon is a Rock Iguana, but when you’re a small lizard, an iguana is a dragon!) Gene and Bony soon realize how big and how dangerous the world beyond their beach really is. Leaving home is easy, but what if they do find the dragon? And how will the lads make it back?
For educators and homeschooling parents, LPP offers a 30-page coordinating workbook designed for grades 3-6. Fourteen pages are taken directly from The Dragon of Nani Cave, with 14 pages of corresponding questions. Teachers and parents read the book aloud to students, then hand out the reading and question pages. Students reread pages from the book and answer the questions for each page; they also color in the black and white pictures on every page.
If you have any interest in the identification booklets that LPP has published on how to tell the differences between the invasive green iguanas and the native rock iguanas, please contact Elaine Powers at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’m a retired biologist and I enjoy teaching children and consequently, adults, about science. Science education doesn’t have to be dry and tedious. I like to be creative, so I write rhyming picture books and adventure tales, in the hopes of slipping in facts while the reader enjoys the story.
However, my writing career didn’t start with the books for sale on this website. It actually started with radio/audio theatre scripts and a couple of talkative lizards.
Have you met Dudley or Didi Dewlap? Or Miles or Molly Monitor?
Dudley and Didi are green iguanas, known for being rather self-absorbed but energetic talk-show hosts.
Miles and Molly are water monitors, much more down-to-earth lizards, the perfect sidekick for an iguana. Did you know that green iguanas are arrogant and according to a pet psychic, that they want to take over the world? Not sure how they intend to do this, but it will be interesting to see them try.
In the meantime, Dewlap and Monitor discuss the world from the lizard point of view, and they include the pet psychic, witchcraft and the soccer World Cup in their musings.
The scripts in this book are written in talk-show style and they provide a great deal of information in a very humorous fashion. Not only is the news of the day discussed, but classic works of literature are discussed . . . by lizards. And by the way, they’re “political activists,” too. Reptilian politics, that is.
NOTE: Conversations with Dudley Dewlap: The World from a Lizard Point of View is a collection of short comedy, small cast, audio scripts. Most roles are gender neutral. The primary characters are talk-show hosts who discuss various amusing topics. The scripts can be combined or used individually. Additional cast can be used for sound effects. Along with being entertaining and family friendly, many of the scripts are also educational. The scripts are amenable to radio theater, readers’ theater, or may be adapted for stage. Approximate running times vary with the scripts ranging from five to 20 minutes. Performance rights are included with the sale of the book–as many times as you’d like!
What a wonderful day–a day of encouragement. We all need encouragement, whether it be for something small or something big. As a writer, I’m constantly in need of encouragement. It’s one thing to put words on a page–that is easy. But I need encouragement to share my work with the world. I’ve gotten encouragement to write stories, to get them published, to market them to shops, and to speak in public about them.
My writing career started because the other passengers on a boat encouraged me to publish the story. So,Curtis Curly-tail and the Ship of Sneakers was published. But the real encouragement came from the first children who read it when they asked me, “When is the next Curtis story coming out?” I hadn’t planned another Curtis, but their sweet encouragement led to the stream of books, 26 to date, that have flowed from me. I will be forever grateful.
I am also encouraged when children who had the book read to them, incorporate the science into their daily lives and even share it with others around them. Like my friend’s young grandson who corrects adults who call a tortoise a turtle. “Don’t call him a turble!” he exclaims.
And I’m encouraged when an adult tells me after she’s read a book to the young person in her life, “I didn’t know that, either. I learned something new yesterday.”
We all have a story to share. I encourage you to share a story with a special little someone today.
Clarissa Catfish and White Thunder are characters in the storybook, Clarissa Catfish Visits the Peoria Riverfront Museum.
I was back in my hometown of Peoria, IL., so I stopped by to visit a couple of old friends and a couple of inspirations. Clarissa Catfish and White Thunder from my story, Clarissa Catfish Visits the Peoria Riverfront Museum, are featured in the photo above. You can see why I didn’t want Clarissa to be kidnapped and eaten!
I was delighted to see they are still swimming about in the Illinois River Exhibit. Even though they look similar, Clarissa and WT are different kinds of catfish in my book, Channel and Bullhead. The book is an exciting tale of friendship and danger, plus you will learn a lot of fun facts about Channel cats.
Clarissa’s adventures will continue. The ending of her first book was left open ended. You’ll want to see where she goes next!
In this blog post, I’d like to chat about scientific names versus obvious common names and tell you about a new one I’ve just learned.
The scientific community has organized our plants and animals with Latin names. An easy one is the green iguana, Iguana iguana. Most living things also have common names. I find it easier to remember common names than scientific names, but sometimes people use different common names for the same thing.
For instance, the tree I know as the Gumbo Limbo in Florida is the Gammalamee in the Bahamas and the Red Birch in the Cayman Islands. I used these different terms in my book Grow Home, Little Seeds, which is a wonderfully illustrated story of a graduating bundle of mixed seeds at the Leon Levy Preserve. The story is about seed-friends who vow to stay together and form their own forest, but their natures lead them in different directions, for they each must find what they need to survive, to germinate and to put down roots. You’ll meet the Gumbo Limbo/Gammalamee/Red Birch tree and many others as these Bahamian natives each seek their own place to call home. The characters are named for their common names, but their scientific names are listed, with details about each tree, in a glossary in the back of the book. The illustrations are a joy. Both children and adults alike enjoy thtale of friendship and finding a place to call home.
My very first children’s book character is a commonly named Curly-tail lizard called Curtis. He is based on lizards found on the Caribbean islands, where I met him. And yes, they do curl their tails up and over their backs. Of course, they aren’t the only lizards who curl their tails, but they’re the ones that got that name first.
I just love the appropriate common names of plants and animals and I recently came across another. I was in the Corkscrew Swamp and saw this intriguing fruit. It was noon on a hot July day and I was rather hungry.
It was an apple! Was it my favorite apple, a yellow delicious, in the swamp?
No, it was on a plant called . . . you might be able to guess from my mention of descriptive common names . . . the Pond Apple (Annona glabra). This is a native tree and it has a second common name, the Alligator Apple, because alligators often eat the fruit. The leaves also add to the naming because they smell like green apples.
Amazingly, this tree cannot grow in dry soil, but thrives in both fresh and brackish water. The fruit disperses by floating, releasing its 100 or more 1-cm long seeds. The pulp is eaten by people as well; the flavor is similar not to apples, but to honeydew melons! However, the Pond Apple is not as popular with humans as its relative, Soursop.
I was delighted to learn the descriptive common names of this interesting plant. They’re obvious enough that I should be able to remember them. Because the tree was in a protected environment, I didn’t get to taste it. Maybe someday I’ll get to eat an appropriately named Pond Apple. I look forward to that day.
I wrote a book about a Channel Catfish native to the Illinois River. Clarissa the Catfish is washed up near the Peoria Riverfront Museum in a flood, and she makes her new home and new friends from a tank inside the museum.
I have met other kinds of catfish, also. While I was in the Corkscrew Swamp, I encountered a fish working away at something at the base of a cypress tree just below the water line. Finally, the catfish swam through a sunlit bit of water for identification.
Unlike the native Channel Catfish such as Clarissa, the catfish found in Florida waters in an invasive species, introduced from South America. The Brown Hoplo Catfish, Hoplosternum littorale, was intentionally stocked in Florida’s waters, since they are considered a good tasting fish. They are caught with cast nets.
Gills are used for breathing, but the catfish can also swallow air, absorbing oxygen through its intestines. This allows the catfish to survive in water with low oxygen and high hydrogen sulfide levels.
This catfish builds a nest of bubbles at the water surface where the eggs are placed, an excellent strategy for swampy environments.
If you’d like to read an adventure tale with Clarissa the Catfish having great fun exploring the museum (on wheels!), I recommend the story of her visit to the Peoria Riverfront Museum.
When I write a book set in the Bahamas, I consider whether a similar story could be applicable to the Cayman Islands. Both countries are located in the Caribbean Sea and have many similarities, but they do have differences. I wrote a book about boa constrictors endemic to the Bahamas called, Bahamian Boas: A Tabby Tale. During my research, I learned there is a second group of snakes that are also called boas – these are the Dwarf or Pygmy Boas, which are not considered to be true boa constrictors.
I decided to check to see what boas are found in the Cayman Islands, but there is only a pygmy boa, the Dwarf Boa (Tropidophis caymanensis). This is the same genus that is found in the Bahamas. So, the Cayman Islands don’t have any true boas.
Both countries have racers, which are an important predator in the island ecosystems. Both countries also have their own species of blind snakes. Unfortunately, the North American corn snake has been introduced to the islands through the pet trade. These non-native snakes have become an invasive pest.
I encourage you to read about the Bahamian Boas, as well as the native snakes in your own neighborhoods.
CURTIS CURLY-TAIL COMES ALIVE ON YOU TUBE!
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