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New Word: Geckolet by Elaine A. Powers, Author

Geckolet image courtesy of Wikipedia

As a sixty-something year old biologist, I am excited to learn new things. I believe in learning new things every day. Recently, while listening to a conference, I heard a word I wasn’t familiar with: Geckolet. I’m familiar with geckos, after all, I have two species (Native Western Banded Gecko and invasive Mediterranean House Gecko) that live around my house, but what is a geckolet?

Not only is the geckolet (Sphaerodactylus) smaller than other geckos, but they have round, instead of vertical, eye pupils. Some geckolets are tiny, less than an inch long from their snout to their vent. These are the smallest reptiles in the world, which means they’re interesting to me. You might be able to tell around here that I do love my reptile family!

They are the focus of a good number of my fun (rhyming and adventure tales) children’s science books. I hope you’ll take a look at books such as Tabby and Cleo: Unexpected Friends on my Books Page.

A bright green children's book cover, showing a Five-Fingered Fairy riding a Bahamian Boa

A Magical Chapter Book about
Tabby, the Five-Finger Fairy and Her
Adventures with Cleo, a Bahamian Boa

Reading Level: Ages 8+

52 Pages

Tabby Comes Alive in
Illustrations by Nick Thorpe

Tabby, the Five-Finger Fairy, who comes from the Five-Finger Tree, Tabebuia bahamensis, loves the native plants, animals and people of The Bahamas. She makes friends wherever she goes!

When Tabby is attacked and almost eaten by a rat, a Bahamian Boa comes to her rescue. But she has seen so much fear of  the boas, Tabby is afraid. The boa, Cleo, gently introduces herself and she and Tabby become friends.

After witnessing many attacks on Cleo, Tabby decides to help her find a new home. They go to Mama Hope’s Garden, and Mama Hope teaches her grandson, Scottie, and her neighbors about boas. They are not venomous and they are responsible for killing rats that would otherwise overrun the islands.

Along the way, Tabby helps animals they meet to realize their foolish animosity toward each other and she helps them to, instead, become friends–like she and Cleo did.

Mama Hope realizes the only safe place for Cleo is at Retreat Gardens. They take Cleo there and Mama Hope’s grandson can finally see the Tabby, the fairy.

“Science is important and needs to be studied,” Tabby tells Scottie, “but there are some things you need to believe in your heart to see.”

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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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How Many Eyes Does An Iguana Have? by Elaine A. Powers, Author

photo of third eye of rhini iguana

When giving talks to people about reptiles, a question is asked of the audience: How many eyes do iguanas have? The majority quickly respond “two.” An obvious choice. However, when asked if there are other answers, a tentative “four” is offered? People then look uncertain. The correct answer is three!

The third eye is located on the top of the iguana’s head is and is call the Parietal Eye.  It doesn’t have an eyelid nor is it able to focus but it responds to changes in light and can detect movement.

photo of third eye of green iguana

People have on these “third eyes” as well, but the skull is in the way. It’s called the Pineal Gland. The iguana’s third eye helps with Circadian Rhythm and danger from above. It’s helpful to have a warning when a hawk or snake is coming down. Everything eats an iguana.

The next time you are fortunate enough to be near iguanas, or other lizards, look at the top of their heads. You might see an interesting dome.  Now, you’ll know it’s the very handy “third” eye.

For more information about iguanas, check out the iguana workbook, My Unit Study on Iguanas. LOTS of fun, educational activities in this 30-page workbook.

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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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May I Have Some Privacy Please? by Elaine A. Powers, Author

roadrunner in sonoran desert wings spread

GREATER ROADRUNNER

I’m always trying to get an interesting view of the animals and plants I write about in my books and blog post. Roadrunners move very quickly, so I was having trouble getting a good photo. Then I came across this roadie at the Sabino Canyon Visitors Center near Tucson, Az. The roadie was hurrying along the sidewalk when I joined the bird.  Roadie tucked behind some rocks and an agave cactus, but I was still in sight.

Finally, the roadie decided it was safe behind a grouping of boulders and a large prickly pear cactus. Conveniently, the cactus left a window where I could observe the roadie as it spread its wings to expose its dark back to bask in the sun. I was honored by this opportunity to observe and share the bird’s behavior. I think the roadie got nice and warm.

You can read about this behavior and many others in the rhyming book I wrote, Don’t Make Me Fly!

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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Author Elaine A. Powers Will Be Signing Books at the Tucson Festival of Books, March 14-15, 2020

map of children's area at TFOB

author Elaine A Powers holds a book in front of her booth at Tucson Festival of Books
Come out and say Hello on March 14-15!

On March 14-15, 2020, Tucson will host the third largest book festival in the US, the Tucson Festival of Books. Over 130,000 people come to enjoy this world-of-books every year.

All aspects of the book business are included, with several hundred authors in attendance, many who are involved in panels open to the public. Special programs for children and teens and about science are presented. This event is known for its cultural diversity and promoting literacy among children and adults in Southern Arizona. Millions of dollars have been donated to literacy programs because of this focus.

Author Elaine A. Powers participates in this event by having a booth from which she sells her books. Book lovers enjoy buying books directly from authors and Ms. Powers loves meeting them, as well, and personalizing and signing the books. She says it’s one of the most rewarding parts of being an author.

Ms. Powers will share the booth with author and illustrator, Anderson Atlas. Together, they offer books for all children’s book age groups, and some for adult readers, too.

Stop by and say hello on the weekend of March 14-15.

Tucson Festival of Books
March 14-15, 2020   9:30 – 5:30
University of Arizona
Children’s Section
Booth 324
Grab an Adventure by the Tail
Elaine A. Powers, Author
Anderson Atlas, Author/Illustrator
BOOKS FOR ALL AGES OF CHILDREN

 

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New Author Website Up and Running by Elaine A. Powers, Author

Like my writing, my author website started out small and humble.  As the number of books continued to grow and the business expanded, it was time for a website upgrade.

I am grateful to my initial webmistress, Nora Miller, who got things going and gave me my first website presence. She also compiled my first picture book, Curtis Curly-tail and the Ship of Sneakers, so I have a great deal to be thankful to her for.

Please stop by and check out my new author website. There’s lots to see!

I am very grateful for my new webmistress, Pam Bickell, who brought her artistic eye and creativity to my new website.  Toiling away in the background is Brad Peterson, who has provided technical support. Sure, I could struggle through setting up the website myself, but I would rather be writing and they do a much better job than I would. 

Please come and check out my new author website at www.elaineapowers.com.  Explore, click the buttons, enjoy. Let me know if you have any comments or suggestions. Thank you for visiting.

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New Book Smell by Elaine A. Powers, Author

photo of book with cracked pagesI was at a book meeting this morning when a friend of mine took the new book she had just purchased, opened it to the middle, stuck her nose into the crack and inhaled deeply.  A look of contentment covered her face and radiated through her body.

“Ah . . . the new book smell,” she uttered.

I confess to being unfamiliar with the smell of a new book.  We, of a certain age, remember the smell of mimeograph sheets, but that’s very different. So, of course, I had to try. I picked up one of my books that hadn’t been opened. I pulled the pages apart and smelled deeply of the fresh ink smell (mine was a picture book).

Hmmm, what a delicious smell! I hate to think of the many opportunities I have missed by not smelling my new books. I will not make that mistake in the future.

Even though e-books are convenient, they don’t have that new book smell. Oh, wait! Maybe we could create a fragrance “new book smell” that you could sniff when you turn on your reader! (There’s the lab biologist in me coming out!)

The most important thing, though, is to read, whether the book is electronic, well worn, or being opened for the first time. READ and increase your vocabulary, knowledge base, reduce your stress and enjoy good stories!

But feel free to sniff, as well.

There are lots of fun, science-based books to read at my Author Page on Amazon. Not only do they smell great, they’ll help you learn about turtles and tortoises and lizards and snakes and birds and plants!

infographic about "Don't" series books

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Oxidative Stress Happens to All Animals by Elaine A. Powers, Author

a green colored iguana lying on a tree branchToday we hear about oxidative stress and anti-oxidants. One of the parameters measured on animals in field research is oxidative stress. Reactive oxygen species are quantified, or measured. Do you know what these terms mean and why they are so important?

As we learned in science class, atoms such as oxygen are made up of a nucleus with protons and neutrons, with electrons spinning around it. But oxygens don’t keep tight control of their electrons and they tend to bind to other atoms. Free radicals are oxygen-containing molecules with an uneven number of electrons.  This uneven number allows them to easily react with other molecules. These reactions are called oxidation.

Oxidation is a normal process in bodily functions. Free radicals help fight off pathogens which cause infections and damage to fatty tissue, DNA and proteins. Oxidative stress happens when there’s an imbalance between free radical activity and antioxidant activity. An antioxidant is a molecule that is able to donate an electron to a free radical without destabilizing itself.  The donation stabilizes the free radical, so it becomes less reactive.

But it’s not just humans that get oxidative stress – all animals do.  Nowadays, along with measuring an iguana for the usual length and weight, they are often examined for oxidative stress. Are our human activities increasing the oxidative stress in the native animals around us?  Sadly, yes. And it’s having negative effects on their health, as well.

I’ll be including some of these negative effects in upcoming books, such as Curtis Curly-tail Goes to the Doctor. In the meantime, if you’d like to learn about the what is being done to save the endangered Sister Island Rock Iguana, please read my book, Silent Rocks. It is for sale at Amazon.

cover of book "Silent Rocks." white background, rock iguana pictured in natural habitat on island Cayman Brac
The population of the endemic Sister Island Rock Iguana (Cyclura nubila caymanensis) on Cayman Brac is in serious decline. These vegetarian lizards are an important part of the island’s ecosystem. The reduction in population is the result of human activity on their habitat and the threats can only be eliminated by human action.