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November 8 is Both National Parents as Teachers Day and National STEM/STEAM Day

graphic using children's books for science education

Parents have always been teachers of their children. They teach us how to speak, walk, how to count, colors, how to behave and endless other important life lessons. With the at-home learning required by the COVID-19 pandemic, parents are now more “official” teachers of their children, as well, and we are celebrating these parents on November 8th. I commend every parent dealing with this new situation and the stresses this has put on their families.

November 8th is also the day to celebrate STEM and STEAM. S is for science, T is for technology, E is for engineering and M for mathematics. The additional A in STEAM is for arts. Including these subjects is important in enabling students to be critical thinkers and innovators for the future.

We at Lyric Power Publishing LLC not only publish entertaining science-based books, we also offer accompanying materials in the form of activity sheets and workbooks that include aspects of STEAM education. The contents of each workbook are listed on each cover. They are substantial, comprehensive, educational, fun and economical. Once purchased, they can be printed as many times as you’d like.

So, parents on this day, as your child’s teacher, remember to include STEM/STEAM.  Browse our website for books and educational aids that will increase everyone’s enjoyment in learning. Our future depends on it.

infographic about fun science education books about turtles and tortoises
Lyric Power Publishing’s Books and Workbooks both make science education fun

Don’t

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Where? Everywhere! With a Twigentacle! by Elaine A. Powers, Author

image of a horse pen in southern AZ

Authors are frequently asked where they get their story ideas. Often, the response is, “Where don’t I?” Story ideas can come from any location and any activity.

For instance, I was riding a placid Button (my horse) when I decided to practice ducking under tree branches. On trail rides, Button frequently cuts a little close to the trees, giving me a new understanding of why Western riders wear long-sleeved shirts. The spines on those trees are rough. Blood-letting used to be popular in days of old but not today.

Back to my ducking practice. A lovely mesquite grows next to the arena. I sit under it when I let my horse out for some free time, a turn-out. My plan was to ride Button under the branches, leaning forward, low on her neck. I successfully cleared the first branch, the ends scratching gently over my helmet.

Branch ends catching in the helmet can be a problem. I know this because there was that time when the branch end caught in the groove of my helmet and yanked me backwards. This time, the branch ends flowed over my helmet. I was happy.

Until the second branch wrapped around my neck. I thought I could push through it, accepting that I would lose some skin to those mesquite spines—but, “No!” The branch tightened on my neck and pulled me off my horse! It was as if it had looped around my neck. I grabbed onto the bars of the round pen to try to make my descent to the desert floor more graceful . . . Ha! My horse stood over me, snickering.

Photo of desert sand and broken tree branch
This is where I landed. Not too much damage to the tree.

What does this have to do with story ideas? This experience not only makes for a good blog post—right?—it inspired me to create a new kind of tree for a story. This tree has tentacles instead of branches. I came out with a new term for it, too: “Twigentacles.” If Dr. Seuss and Lewis Carroll can make up their own words, I figure I can, too. I thought about “tangletwigs” or even better, “entanglewigs,” but settled on ‘twigentacles.’

Which one is your favorite?

I think as long as the new word’s meaning is obvious, I’ll keep making them up! Wouldn’t it be fun to add a new word to my new books?

I hope you’ll check out my children’s science books at my website, ElaineAPowers.com, or here at Lyric Power Publishing, LLC. It’s my belief that learning science should be fun. That is why I write science into rhyming verses or adventure tales—to inspire new scientists like myself, now a retired biologist. Grab some fun science for your children, soon! And check out Lyric Power Publishing’s comprehensive activity sheets and workbooks, too.

children's book cover illustration with iguanas and curly-tail lizard
The fourth in the Curtis Curly-tail Adventure Series. Have some fun while learning science!
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Which English Should I Use? by Elaine A. Powers, Author

children's book cover illustration with iguanas and curly-tail lizard

Lyric Power Publishing is pleased to announce that the fourth book, Curtis Curly-tail is Blown Away!, in the Curtis Curly-tail Adventure Series is now for sale at Amazon.com.

By Elaine A. Powers, Author

What language do you speak and write? I was raised in Illinois in the U.S., so I write in the English language. However, some of my books are set in the countries of the British Commonwealth of Nations, where they also speak and write English. But the British spell certain words differently than we do in America. For instance, here in the US, we spell the word “color” without the “u” used in the  Commonwealth countries, where it is spelled “colour.”

I’ve always been a pretty competent speller, but I often wonder what I should do about the differently spelled words. After all, my books are for children, who are still learning their language. When the books are set in the Bahamas, should I spell color, colour? That is I where I assume the greatest market for my books will be. Or should I write in my native English and assume the readers will correct the spelling to their version of the language?

For now, I write in American English and ask the readers to substitute their preferred spellings. We will see what happens in the future.

There is another issue with British spelling which has to do with pronunciation. For example, Curtis Curly-tail Lizard, my inspiration for the Curtis Curly-tail Adventure Series, lives on Warderick Wells Cay. How would you say “cay?” Does it rhyme with “day?” No, it is actually pronounced “key.” In the US, we would also spell it “key,” as in the Florida Keys. Some experts say they are just different spellings of the same word, while others suggest they have different linguistic roots, despite meaning the same thing: small sand island.

Languages are evolving things and, perhaps, the Englishes spoken in Great Britain and the US are growing away from each other. “In America, they haven’t used it for years!” says Professor Henry Higgins says in the musical “My Fair Lady” in the song “Why Can’t the English Teach Their Children How to Speak?”

It is my hope that in the Commonwealth countries, it is not too difficult to translate the US English I write with into the English that they understand!

Note: I’m happy to announce that the fourth book, Curtis Curly-tail is Blown Away!, in the Curtis Curly-tail series, is now for sale at Amazon.com. It is an adventure tale for ages 8+. The gorgeous illustrations are by Monique Carroll. Curtis Curly-tail wants to help his friends survive a hurricane. But Curtis is blown away! What happens to the iguanas on Beach Cay? (Pronounced “key,” of course!) Will Curtis be blown back home to Warderick Wells?

Pick up a copy today for your child who loves adventures–and you’ll love the environmental science woven into the story!

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Science Vs. Poetry? Why not Science THROUGH Poetry? By Elaine A. Powers, Author

One of our core tenets at Lyric Power Publishing is that science education can be enhanced by using rhyme. The flow and meter of the verses attract and hold the attention of the reader. If the reader is engaged, they hear and absorb the scientific information being offered. Several LLP authors are using poetry to teach science. After all, science should be fun!

Recently, in a poetry critique meeting, one of the participants made interesting comments. He felt that the science slowed down the poetry I had submitted for review, and that the scientific facts should be alluded to, not elucidated. The poem describing ants was unnecessarily factual, he said.

I was surprised. The purpose of LPP’s rhyming picture books, such as the Don’t series, is the presentation of scientific facts. We call this type of rhyming applied poetry. The purpose of applied poetry here is to elucidate scientific facts.

Poetry can be used for a multitude of purposes: to stimulate emotion, to create mental images, and to document history—all very valid. Also valid is using poetry to clarify science, creating a work that is both entertaining and educational. We receive fan mail from parents about their young children reciting or singing stanzas from the Don’t series books, leading us to believe we are onto something here! After all, science should be fun! Just ask Myrtle (the Tortoise) pictured here, who asked me to write Don’t Call Me Turtle! She loves the rhymes as much as the kids do—just as long as no one calls her turtle! That’s what her book is all about—the differences between turtles and tortoises and there are many! You can hear it read by clicking here.

And here is a book review of another science-based, rhyming, picture book by Helen Woodhams that appeared in the Arizona Daily Star:

Review by Helen Woodhams of Don’t Make Me Fly in the Arizona Daily Star:
“What a curious creature the roadrunner is! This iconic desert bird prefers hoofing it to flying, and its footprints are the same backwards as they are forwards. With vibrant illustrations by Nicholas Thorpe, this picture book is jam-packed with scientific facts about roadrunners, delivered in verse form to keep the narrative lively. Roadrunners “…grab their victim/behind its head/And bash it on/the ground until it is dead.” Want to know how to swallow a horned lizard? Keep reading! This is the second offering in the “Don’t” series by Tucson author Elaine A. Powers. The first is “Don’t Call Me Turtle!” “Don’t Make Me Fly!” is recommended for children in grades K-4.”

 

A copper colored book cover featuring an illustration of a Roadrunner bird
“With vibrant illustrations by Nicholas Thorpe, this picture book is jam-packed with scientific facts about roadrunners, delivered in verse form to keep the narrative lively. Roadrunners “…grab their victim/behind its head/And bash it on/the ground until it is dead.” Want to know how to swallow a horned lizard? Keep reading!” AZ Daily Star
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What Kind of Non-Fiction Do We Write at Lyric Power Publishing?

infographic for Queen of the Night the Night-Blooming Cereus Queen of the Night is available at Amazon.com. We at Lyric Power Publishing LLC are delighted to write science-based children’s books–and a few for adults, too. The scientific information is accurate, but it is presented in entertaining ways, hopefully making learning more accessible. Poetry and adventure tales are used to present the science and they’re fun! We’ve been asked if the books are non-fiction. Not technically, because a story-line is used instead of real animals. But as this definition is debated, Melissa Stewart wrote about the new kinds of non-fiction children’s books.As nonfiction book sales to schools and libraries slumped, authors began searching for ways to add value to their work, so they could compete with the Internet. The result has been a new breed of finely crafted expository literature that delights as well as informs. Unlike traditional nonfiction, expository literature presents narrowly focused topics, such as STEM concepts and processes, in creative ways that reflect the author’s passion for the subject. These books typically feature an innovative format and carefully chosen text structure, a strong voice, and rich, engaging language.” After reading Stewart’s descriptions, the books published by Lyric Power Publishing LLC fit best in the category of Expository Literature. They are innovative, have a strong voice, and engaging language. Along with science, these books can include local culture and vibrant illustrations. In addition, the workbooks and activity sheets published at LPP enhance the STEM education goals, as well as providing language and geographical information. Come explore a new kind of non-fiction—check out Lyric Power Publishing’s books and workbooks.
an infographic of complete information about the book Don't Make Me Fly
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What Kind of Non-Fiction Do We Write at Lyric Power Publishing?

infographic for Queen of the Night the Night-Blooming CereusQueen of the Night is available at Amazon.com. We at Lyric Power Publishing LLC are delighted to write science-based children’s books–and a few for adults, too. The scientific information is accurate, but it is presented in entertaining ways, hopefully making learning more accessible. Poetry and adventure tales are used to present the science and they’re fun! We’ve been asked if the books are non-fiction. Not technically, because a story-line is used instead of real animals. But as this definition is debated, Melissa Stewart wrote about the new kinds of non-fiction children’s books. As nonfiction book sales to schools and libraries slumped, authors began searching for ways to add value to their work, so they could compete with the Internet. The result has been a new breed of finely crafted expository literature that delights as well as informs. Unlike traditional nonfiction, expository literature presents narrowly focused topics, such as STEM concepts and processes, in creative ways that reflect the author’s passion for the subject. These books typically feature an innovative format and carefully chosen text structure, a strong voice, and rich, engaging language. After reading Stewart’s descriptions, the books published by Lyric Power Publishing LLC fit best in the category of Expository Literature. They are innovative, have a strong voice, and engaging language. Along with science, these books can include local culture and vibrant illustrations. In addition, the workbooks and activity sheets published at LPP enhance the STEM education goals, as well as providing language and geographical information. Come explore a new kind of non-fiction—check out Lyric Power Publishing’s books and workbooks. an infographic about the book Don't Make Me Fly
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Adjectives and Covid-19 by Elaine A Powers Author

illstration of covid-19 virus

The Oxford Dictionary describes an adjective as “a word or phrase naming an attribute, added to or grammatically related to a noun to modify or describe it.”

Okay, an adjective can add descriptive information to a noun.  This can be very useful in writing.  However, over the years, I heard what I considered inappropriate adjectives used in descriptions. I enjoy oceans and the animals that live within them.  I confess, I find it irritating when waters are described as “shark-infested.” Infested refers to a large number of animals present to cause disease of damage. However, the presence of sharks in ocean waters is not an infestation; it’s their native environment, where they typically live.  Infestation creates the illusion that all those sharks swarmed to the particular location only to attack people. Nope.

Recently, as we all struggle with the COVID-19 virus, I heard the virus referred to as “vicious.”  A virus can be virulent, and vigorous, but not vicious. Being vicious means that the virus was intentionally cruel or violent. A virus is not a thinking organism, but a piece of RNA (ribonucleic acid). Consequently, a virus cannot be vicious. There’s even debate on whether a virus is a “living” organism. That characteristic is reserved for organisms that reproduce on their own.  A virus requires the cellular machinery of another organism to reproduce.

Adjectives are very important tools in the English language. Being powerful, they should be used appropriately and wisely!

For interesting and fun science, check out Lyric Power Publishing’s Book selections, and the fantastic workbooks filled with fun and educational worksheets and coloring pages! 

 

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For Some of Us, Research is Fun! by Elaine A. Powers, Author

Book cover for the Night-Blooming Cereus

One aspect of writing science-based books is doing research, which is perfect for me because I’ve always loved reading about different subjects.  As a child, I read the encyclopedia. I wonder sometimes if younger people know the joy of pulling out one of the many books in a set of encyclopedias and flipping through those pages packed with information? When I needed details, I would go to the reference section of my local library and search through the many pages in the reference section.

book cover for Hickatee Turtles
The Cayman Islands have turtles that live both on land and in the sea. Hickatee lives on land and doesn’t belong in the sea, like the sea turtles. Do you know the differences? Come inside and learn about turtles, especially the marvelous Hickatee.

Nowadays, we merely search the Internet. My projects cause me to search for many subjects, such as the Night-Blooming Cereus and the Hickatee Turtle. I type in words that might lead to the desired topic, then branch out depending on the results. It’s truly amazing, the information you can find on the World Wide Web. I learn all sort of things. I find details about the animals and plants I am writing about, along with photographs. That way I can guide my illustrators.

It’s easy to spend hours following one line of investigation to another, but I don’t consider it time wasted. Any time you can learn new information is time well spent. I searched “time well spent” and this is what the Internet says: “Time well spent” is any time that brought you fulfillment, comfort and satisfaction, energizing you for your life goals (writing books, for me) with enthusiasm and drive.”

I hope this is as true for you as it is for me.

For some fun “time well spent,” please see our interesting and inexpensive workbooks chock full of fun activities and coloring pages.

book cover Greater Roadrunner grades 2-4

book cover my book about rocks

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Blurbist: New Word for the Day by Elaine A. Powers, Author

back cover of Time and the Garden

I was at a meeting where book publishing was discussed. One of the final touches to every book is the “blurb.” A blurb is defined as a short promotional piece for a creative work, like a book.  I refer to the tease on the back of the book as a blurb. The blurb can be written by the author, publisher or reviewer (a positive review is the best kind of blurb). Traditionally, blurbs are printed on the back or rear dust-jacket but today, they are also put on websites.

I found it amusing that at the publishing discussion, the presenter came up with a new word: blurbist. We all laughed at this creation of a new word.

However, it turned out that blurbist really is a word. As you might suspect, it does mean the “writer of a blurb.”

So, despite my friend, Gene, thinking blurbist was a new word, it wasn’t. I still think blurbist makes a great vocabulary word of the day.

The photo above shows “the blurb” for the Lyric Power Publishing Book, Time and the Garden by Jo Busha. Here’s the cover of the wonderful book of essays about gardening.

a book cover with a photo of a lush, Vermont garden
Jo Busha’s Book of Essays about life, gardening and the natural world

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Who was that Man with a Knife? by Elaine A. Powers, Author

Dark book cover showing a man holding a knife

A man stands in the median of a busy road, holding a knife, blood dripping from his hand. Who is he? Why is he in the middle of the road? What happened next? Arizona mystery writers create their own stories based on this real-life event.

When I started writing, I wanted to write murder mysteries. But a theater I belonged to needed scripts, so for several years, I wrote scripts. It was great fun to hear my words out loud instead of just in my head. I learned to write dialog and to keep the storyline trim. Of course, many of my scripts feature reptiles, especially lizards.

Then I was transferred out West and my mother came to live with me.  I couldn’t work all day and do theater at night, so I turned to writing books. I still held onto the dream of writing murder mysteries, but I fell into the science-based children’s book niche and that type of writing took off. Then someone suggested I could write short stories, so that’s what I did.  I wrote a few mystery short stories.

I am a member of the Sisters in Crime organization, and when a speaker had an emergency and cancelled her talk, we had to scramble. We had mystery writers in attendance who had paid expecting some sort of activity to help develop their craft.

One of our members had observed a strange sight a few days before: a man standing in the median of a busy road holding a knife dripping with blood.  She notified the police but never did find out what was going on.

Well, with a group of mystery writers, what else could we do other than write our own interpretations of the event? Recently, those short stories, including mine, were published in an anthology entitled Man With A Knife. Imaginations went to work, and the result is great fun!