In my spare time, around caring for my companion animals (including a horse!), I write fun science books, mostly for children, but a few for all ages. My writing career started after an encounter with a small lizard, a curly-tail, on a beach in the Bahamas. I wrote my first children’s book inspired by him, Curtis Curly-tail and the Ship of Sneakers, and have gone on to write books for preschoolers, all the way to including adults, such as, Silent Rocks.
I very much enjoy my unexpected second career as an author. I hope you will check out all of my books here, and the workbooks inspired by them–which are wonderfully fun yet educational.
Thank you for stopping here at Lyric Power Publishing LLC. I hope you’ll take a few minutes to look at the books by all of the wonderful authors published here.
I’ve always been a reptile person. I operated a reptile rescue in New Jersey for several years. I’m a retired biologist and, while writing science-based children’s books was inspired by a tiny curly-tail lizard, I do love the big lizards. My Don’t Series of rhyming “desert books” are the most popular, followed by the Curtis Curly-tail Adventure Series, but I’ve written a book about the endangered rock iguanas of Cayman Brac called Silent Rocks and The “Dragon” of Nani Cave is actually an iguana. Maybe someday I’ll write a story that includes Stella, a green iguana, who came to live with me in New Jersey many years ago. Today, I’m remembering her.
A vet in PA had contacted me about taking in an iguana once he had her stabilized. I ran a rescue with the philosophy that I would always make room for an iguana in real need of a place to live. This included healthy iguanas who would need new homes, and being a long-term home for iguanas who needed a forever home.
Stella was found in a neighborhood known for drug business. Her tail had been chewed by dogs, probably a drug dealer’s guard dogs. She was taken to a local vet, who wasn’t convinced she would survive her injuries. He amputated at least three feet of her tail and put her on antibiotics. Once she was ready to be released, she came to live with me. She must have been a magnificent specimen in her prime, at least six feet long and a vibrant lime green.
She was left with a stump the vet had sewn shut. He didn’t believe she would regenerate her tail as iguanas are capable of doing, but she did, squeezing out a thin tail between the sutures. Unfortunately, this made the tail very flimsy and eventually it snapped off. She didn’t miss it.
Her health improved under my care. She even produced eggs the following year, which I found annoying. She wasn’t healthy enough yet to handle the stress of producing and laying eggs, but it did show that her body was healing and trying to do what iguanas do. The eggs were infertile, of course.
I provided forever homes to special iguanas and decided that Stella would become a permanent member of my household. She was a regular at my educational talks, always popular with the audience. When I moved to AZ, she of course came with me. She continued her outreach activities.
Sadly, a few years ago, the nictitating membrane on her eye become swollen with blood. This is a transparent eyelid that protects iguana eyes. I was afraid it would rupture and she’d lose her eye or a lot of blood. The vet diagnosed her with high blood pressure and she was put on medication. Sadly, the swelling continued so she couldn’t be used for outreach anymore, but she lived a happy life, next to her BFF, Ezra. Since she had high blood pressure, the vet decided to try a new instrument on her, a tiny sphygmomanometer. Yes, a tiny blood pressure cuff like those used on people. It worked! It showed she did have high blood pressure.
Stella was a do-her-own-thing type of gal, but every now and then she’d want to cuddle and I treasured those moments. A few times, I was certain her adventuresome life was coming to an end, only to have her rally and continue on for a few more years. She was estimated to be thirty years old when she recently passed peacefully in her sleep.
Stella’s body is being donated to an educational program that prepares skeletons from reptiles. She will continue to teach and her story shared. Stella would be pleased.
Rest in peace, dear friend. You are missed.
From the Curtis Curly-tail Series mentioned above:
Don’t Call Me Turtle is Voted 5-Stars by the Preschool Crowd, Which Shows the Differences Between Turtles and Tortoises *** Colorfully Illustrated by Nicholas Thorpe *** Written in Rhyme * * * 20 Pages. There are many differences between tortoises and turtles, and the wise tortoise who narrates this book tells us about ten of those differences–in rhyme.
What surprised me were the number of comments from people who didn’t know that tortoises could feel anything on their shells. Shells are a living part of a tortoise or turtle and continue to grow throughout the reptiles’ lives. As they grow, turtles shed the upper layer of their scutes, the sections of the shell, while tortoises insert more keratin between the scutes. Keratin is a protein that also makes your hair and fingernails.
Because shells are growing, breathing parts of tortoise and turtle bodies, they shouldn’t be damaged by being painted or etched. Not only does this hurt the animals, it can kill them.
Yes, my tortoises have itchy backs, too. They scrape their backs, or carapaces, on table legs, the edges of the refrigerator door—or their favorite, scratching my metal bed frame . . . in the middle of the night.
If you run across a tortoise or turtle in the wild, please leave it alone. Interaction can accidentally harm them. But, if you have one as a family member, they just might appreciate a gentle back rub.
You might not think tortoises are very smart, but I have one who proved she is. I have a young native tortoise as a foster. Her name is Flipper. Last summer she was big enough to roam outside and it was relatively cool for Tucson. When it came time for her to brumate as winter approached, she was not making good den choices. (She thought a bucket on its side would be sufficient protection from the winter cold.) I brought her inside until spring. Several weeks ago, once the nighttime temperatures came up, I put Flipper back out into the yard.
It has not been cool this year. May 6th it was 105 degrees. (It was 111 at my house today.) Though I love hot weather, in the early afternoon, even I thought it was a bit much.
I supplement the tortoises’ grazing with the vegetables and fruits I feed the indoor tortoises. Flipper would come over every now and then but seemed to be doing well outside. Recently, as I put out the plate of greens, Flipper came running over. She must be really hungry! Nope, she ran right over the plate, up to the door sill, and tried to climb inside. It was too high for her short legs, so I helped her up and over. I soaked her in the bathtub in case she had been dehydrated in the hot, dry weather (nine percent humidity).
After her bath, I gave her a plate of greens, which she “wolfed” down. Apparently, she needs to work on her transition to wild tortoise a bit more. I planned to have her go back outside when it cooled down to the mid-90s, but she beat me to it. A few days later, she somehow knew the temps were back in the 90s, and she rushed out the door.
You know how they say people resemble their pets? Well, in my case, it’s true. I like the hot summer weather that brings out the reptiles of the Sonoran Desert. And today, as the morning temperatures have dropped into the “It’s cold out there” range, I’m dreaming of brumating. I’d like to find a nice warm den, crawl in and wait until the temperatures reach the level of comfy. Tolerable cold just won’t do.
Yes, I know, you’re thinking I’ve made a mistake and should be dreaming of hibernating, which is what warm-blooded animals do. Brumation is the hibernation-like state that cold-blooded animals like reptiles use to survive cold weather. When cold, they tuck themselves away, but on warm winter days, brumating reptiles will move about and drink water. Hibernating animals stay in a deep sleep and don’t move until spring.
Since I am willing to move on warm winter days, I consider myself a brumation wannabe. If you don’t see me about for a while, don’t worry. Like Cantata here, I’m tucked away in a nook or cranny, brumating.
Lyric Power Publishing is proud to offer comprehensive and fun workbooks that chase away the winter blues. Stuck indoors? Why not download an LPP workbook filled with activity sheets to color and complete, and learn along the way?
Storytelling is a part of all human cultures. Today, authors provide us with entertainment, as well as information. November is also National Family Literacy Month. Celebrate by sharing books with your family members. Read to each other. Read with each other. Lyric Power Publishing offers workbooks filled with comprehensive, educational and fun activity sheets that could be colored together and enjoyed by the entire family.
Reading can build up an appetite, so while you’re making yourself a meal, cook something for your pets, because National Cook for Your Pets Day is also in November. Most of my pets’ meals are freshly prepared raw fruits and vegetables. However, once in a while, I do cook butternut squash for my iguanas and tortoises. It is nice and soft and they enjoy it immensely, shoving their faces into the squishy, tasty pulp.
Once they have eaten their fill, they scrape off the residue; after all, they don’t want to be seen with squash on their face!
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!
Water is important to all reptiles. Some need a lot of water, like the tropical rain forest green iguanas and some less, like the desert dwelling Sulcata tortoises.
My iguanas get regular soakings, which they enjoy. Some like the shower, spraying them as if rain is falling, while others prefer the gently rising warm water of the tub. The red-foot tortoises also enjoy soaking this way. Ezra, an old green iguana, requires his daily soaks to maintain his internal health.
Here is Blue, a Cayman Blue-hybrid iguana, enjoying his soak.
But some reptiles don’t like to soak. One big one is Duke, my male Sulcata tortoise. Even though it is important for him to soak occasionally, he hates it. I mean, he really hates it. People tell me how tortoises love to soak and maybe they even float. Not Duke. He sinks like a rock.
I used to soak him in the bathtub until he reached 120 lbs. Then I kind of crushed my finger between him and the side of the tub. Since then, I fill the kiddie pool with warm water for him. I tried rinsing him with the hose as the water level rose. He didn’t like that, thrashing about, trying to climb over the edge.
I tried putting him into an already filled pool. Still he thrashed. I hoped he would calm down and just soak, but no, he tried to climb out every corner of the round pool. I described it like the agitating wash cycle of a washing machine.
Don’t worry, I always let him out after I’ve had a chance to scrub him clean.
Lyric Power Publishing offers an educational 44-page workbook on tortoises, full of fun activities and interesting information about these fun creatures. The workbook for children in PreK-Gr 1 is called My Book About Tortoises and is used by teachers, tutors and parents to supplement the education of their children. Check it out today!
To see all of our comprehensive educational activity sheets and workbooks, click on Our Workbooks.
In their native environment, reptiles use camouflage to protect themselves. I have watched green iguanas climb into foliage and completely disappear. I knew the iguana was in there, but I could not see her or him.
Consequently, I amused when the reptiles in my house attempt to hide.
Here is a box turtle hiding.
And a green iguana hiding in the bed where she knows she isn’t allowed.
Same with this rhinoceros iguana hiding under the sofa pillows, instead of her usual rock den.
I don’t mind that they don’t hide very well. The tortoises figure if their heads are under something, the rest of their body must be there, too. And, with the iguanas forgetting their tails are sticking out, it makes them easier to find.
Of course, it’s important to know where your kids are.
Lyric Power Publishing offers an educational 24-page workbook on turtles, full of fun activities and interesting information about these fun creatures. The workbook is called My Book About Turtles and is used by teachers, tutors and parents to supplement the education of children in grades 2-4. Check it out today!
To see all of our comprehensive educational activities, click on Our Workbooks.
I’m a busy person. There’s always something to do, someplace to be or someone to contact. But sometimes, a place or someone reminds me to slow down, to simply be in the moment. Recently, it was Stella.
Stella is an elderly green iguana from Bethlehem, PA. She was rescued from the streets after dogs had chewed on her four-foot tail. The tail was amputated and Stella recovered in my reptile rescue in New Jersey. Stella has been with me ever since. She is now in her 20s, pretty old for a green iguana. She tolerates me petting her.
This morning, I cleaned her enclosure and put her in the bathtub to soak. When I was done, I picked Stella up to return her to her nice clean home, but she reached out to cuddle me. Stella wanted to cuddle. She relaxed onto my shoulder, without trying to bite me, which is her usual action in that position.
So, instead of rushing her back to her breakfast, I sat down on the sofa. She let me pet her. When I stood up, she leaned in, so I sat down again.
Sometimes, merely being together is what is important.
To learn about our latest science-based children’s books and workbooks, to read our latest blog posts about reptiles, birds, cats, and gardening, in a variety of locations, and about how the books come to be, what inspires an author to write, and many more interesting aspects of the publishing business, fill in the box below and we will add you to our email list.
Science-Based Books in Rhyme and Critter Adventure Stories, PLUS Workbooks & Activity Sheets that Make Learning Fun! Dismiss
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