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The Sanibel Snakes Are Gone by Elaine A. Powers, Author

I have spent a lot of time in South Florida, nearly every year since I was born. I remember seeing massive Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnakes crossing the road. All the cars would stop and we’d get out and watch as the magnificent snakes slithered across, unconcerned by the humans nearby.

Curled rattlesnake
Image by Usman Khaleel (Moe) from Pixabay

My father, a physician, correctly diagnosed a bite a neighbor had received while working under his trailer at the RV park we stayed in. The man thought he had been bitten by a spider, but my father told him to proceed immediately to the ER, since he had been in fact been bitten by a Pygmy Rattler. This correct diagnosis saved the man’s hand. When I worked at J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge, I was privileged to see several Eastern Coral Snakes. These shy snakes were rarely seen.

Consequently, I thought Ft. Myers and Sanibel would be good places to peddle my book about rattlesnakes. I was surprised and saddened to learn that the native venomous snakes are no longer found in the area. Sadly, Eastern Coral Snakes have not been documented since 2002.

What a tremendous loss to the ecosystems.

Would a book like Don’t Me Rattle! have made a difference? Maybe if people had been educated, they would have worked to preserve these species. We’ll never know now.

But you can help educate people about the value of rattlesnakes, which eat insects and rodents we humans don’t like. And tell them their venom is actually a digestive aid and their only defense if something tries to hurt them. The rattle-sound is meant to warn, not to scare—just step away and avoid a meeting.

Not only is Don’t Make Rattle! filled with educational and entertaining information, you’ll find a Western Diamondback Rattlesnake workbook and a U.S. Rattlesnake coloring pages book on the LyricPower.net website.

A book cover, with a Native American 'feel,' and a painting of a Western Diamondback Rattlesnake

a white and light blue book cover with an image of a western diamondback rattlesnake

yellow book cover with rattlesnake image and list of workbook pages

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Maybe I Should’ve Brought the Other Book, Too by Elaine A. Powers, Author

female author sitting at book signing table, books in the background
Me, signing books at Tohono Chul Museum Gift Shop

July 13 was the 2019 Tohono Chul Bloom Night. If you’re not familiar with the night-blooming Cereus, the cactus only blooms at night and they all bloom on the same night, once each year! It’s incredible.

Linda Wolfe of Tohono Chul gave me the idea to write about the night-blooming Cereus, and Lee Mason provided the information about these amazing cacti. I finished writing The Queen of the Night: The Night-blooming Cereus just in time for the big night. I was delighted to be able to sign the books as they were purchased in the greenhouse gift shop.

The staff and visitors were excited about the flowers, but another local created a bit of excitement. A rattlesnake came out to enjoy the evening, as well. Fortunately, everyone got along.

But it make me wonder if maybe I should have had a few copies of my rattlesnake book with me to sign, as well.  Something to think about for next year.

Of course, you don’t have to wait until next year to get your copies. 🙂

a light brown book cover with green lettering: Queen of the Night: Night Blooming Cereus, with illustration of a white flower
A favorite in Southern Arizona where the Night-blooming Cereus bloom all together, one night per year

Don’tMakeMeRattleA brown book cover, with a circle with blue sky, with a rattlesnake popping out of the circle, title: Don't Make Me Rattle

Everything you ever wanted to know about rattlesnakes, written in rhyme, with beautiful, colorful illustrations.

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Is the Snake Oviparous, Ovoviviparous or Viviparous? By Elaine A. Powers, Author

Snakes are reptiles and as such, they produce eggs. Snakes that lay eggs are called oviparous. The eggs are incubated in the natural world until they hatch. Most “common” snakes fall into this category.

However, there are two other categories of reproducing snakes. Some keep the eggs inside their bodies where the baby snakes hatch and are then released as live young. The rattlesnake is an example of this. These snakes are called ovoviviparous.

As amazing as ovoviviparous snakes are, even more incredible are the viviparous snakes, which reproduce in a manner similar to mammals. Viviparous snakes develop their young inside their bodies without an egg shell. The mothers nourish their developing young through a placenta and yolk sac, which is very unusual in reptiles. Boa constrictors, like the Bahamian boas, are examples of this reproductive method.

To learn even more about rattlesnakes and boa constrictors, check out my books, Don’t Make Me Rattle! and Bahamian Boas: A Tabby Tale.

A brown book cover, with a circle with blue sky, with a rattlesnake popping out of the circle, title: Don't Make Me Rattle

A children's book cover, brown background, orange and yellow lettering, with images of snakes from the Bahamas
BAHAMIAN BOAS: A TABBY TALE Now Available at Amazon

 

And check out Lyric Power Publishing’s fun, educational supplements, our workbooks and activity sheets on snakes, tortoises, turtles, birds, plants and rocks!

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How Does the Rattlesnake Drink Water? By Elaine A. Powers, Author

A colorful, red and gold illustration of a rattlesnake
From the book “Don’t Make Me Rattle!”

With the start of the monsoon season, you may be wondering about the animals that live in this harsh desert environment. With an annual rainfall of only 12 inches, having water to drink is a significant issue. Rattler bodies are adapted to prevent unnecessary water loss: the scales are impermeable, the snakes don’t urinate and they can detect water with their incredible sense of smell and taste.

Rattlers take advantage of rain by drinking from puddles, of course.  But more impressive, is that they collect water on their skin to drink. This amazing behavior is shown in this illustration from Don’t Make Me Rattle!, a book I wrote in rhyme to make learning about rattlesnakes fun!

This image was created by the talented Tucsonan, Nick Thorpe.

 

 

A brown book cover, with a circle with blue sky, with a rattlesnake popping out of the circle, title: Don't Make Me Rattle

Lyric Power Publishing also publishes supplemental, educational and fun activity sheets and workbooks. Want to learn all about rattlesnakes while keeping busy this summer? Click below to see all that is inside these masterful workbooks.

a white and light blue book cover with an image of a western diamondback rattlesnake

A Book Cover, Colorful Dotted Border, Yellow Background, Orange letters My Book About United States Rattlesnakes, with an image of a Rock Rattlesnake and a list of US Rattlers

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Reptiles in My Neighborhood by Elaine A. Powers, Author

In this post, I’d like to tell you about some of the common reptiles that live in my neighborhood in the Sonoran Desert.

Illustration of a Red Racer, or Coachwhip snake Coachwhip (Masticophis flagellum cingulum) is a slender nonvenomous snake with variable coloring to help in camouflage. In Tucson, Arizona, coachwhips that are pink to red in color are called Red Racers. The pattern on the scales give the snake a braided look, like an old-time leather coach whip. Their large eyes provide good eyesight. In times of trouble, they prefer to rapidly slither away (considered one of the fastest snakes) but, if cornered, they will rise up, hiss, vibrate the tips of their tails to simulate the sound of a rattlesnake, and strike quickly and repeatedly.

The coachwhip is associated with several Western fables. One is that the snake bites its own tail to form a hoop, then rolls in pursuit of its prey. Another is that a coachwhip will chase a person, coil around him, and then lash him to death with its tail. The snake checks the person for life by inserting its tail into the person’s nose. If the person isn’t dead, the snake will continue the lashing.  Of course, none of these stories are true.

image of desert spiny lizard on a rock
Desert Spiny Lizard; Photo by Skeeze from Pixabay

Desert Spiny Lizard (Sceloporus magister) is a large, stocky lizard of southwestern Arizona. The male’s body features a purple stripe near the neck.

 

Illustration of western diamondback rattler
Illustration of Western Diamondback Rattlesnake

 

Western Diamondback Rattlesnake (Crotalus atrox) This snake is known for its distinctive rattle when threatened. The keratin rattle mechanism at the tip of the tail twitches up to 100 times per second. The dark diamond-shaped pattern on its back identifies this common Tucson rattler.

Rattlesnakes belong to a group of venomous snakes called pit vipers and are found in a wide range of habitats. The pits, located between the nostrils and the eyes, are used in sensing the heat of other animals, and are sensitive enough to detect a body only a fraction of a degree warmer than the ambient air. Rattlers usually hunt at night, preferring small nocturnal mammals. Rattlesnakes are important in controlling the populations of disease-carrying rodents.

If you want to learn about this fascinating snake, I recommend my picture book, Don’t Make Me Rattle! You’ll also find a 46-page Diamondback Workbook here, which is used by teachers, tutors and parents to supplement children’s educations.

image of children's workbook cover, with picture of western diamondback rattler and a listing of the activity sheets inside

A brown book cover, with a circle with blue sky, with a rattlesnake popping out of the circle, title: Don't Make Me Rattle

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Rhyming is Required for Picture Books, In My Humble Opinion by Elaine A. Powers, Author

A brown book cover, with a circle with blue sky, with a rattlesnake popping out of the circle, title: Don't Make Me Rattle
“Rattlers have tongues that we flick out and back. We’re not smelling your scent so we can attack. We’re “tasting” the molecules that float in the air, Our Jacobson’s organs determine what is there.”

 

I write children’s books, both adventure tales and picture books. My personal opinion is that picture books should rhyme.  It doesn’t need to be overt rhyming, it can be subtle rhyming, but the text does need to rhyme. However, rhyming alone isn’t enough for a book.  The rhyming text must have a point, purpose, or reason, meaning some lesson must be taught.

The lines and rhyming can be any way you want them to be: a few beats per line, or complete sentences. However, they must be consistent.  You can also arrange the words in a visual pattern for more fun (but no changing patterns within the book).

Even though the text rhymes, the story-line must still have an arc, which builds to a climax.

Please use correct punctuation.  Some poems today are free-form with their punctuation, but when teaching children to read, correct usage is important.

Write a book that children and adults will enjoy reading over and over – that is the ultimate goal. Repetition allows children to learn the language, ideas, and the story-line of the book.

Many people have told me they wanted to write a children’s book. I encourage them all. However, if you’re thinking of writing a “mere” children’s book, know that writing a rhyming picture book is as tedious and as difficult as writing a novel!

“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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Why Poetry is Important to Children by Elaine A. Powers, Author

A green and blue book cover, with a castle, title: A Child's Garden of VersesI was asked once, What was the first book I remembered reading as a child? It was Robert Louis Stevenson’s A Child’s Garden of Verses. All through the years, I have enjoyed revisiting my favorite poems. The wonderful thing about poetry is that it is not age dependent. Sharing rhymes creates a special bond between children and adults. Both can learn and enjoy together.

Poetry has been shown to support cognitive development in children. Poetry improves language skills. Interestingly, children learn new words even if they don’t fully understand their meaning at that time. This helps prepare them for academic success, not only through language development, but also by increasing information and confidence. Poetry also improves imagination and creativity, and encourages an interest in reading and, in some people, writing poetry.

The rhythms in poetry are exciting to small children who love to dance and move to the beats and sing rhymes. This continues into adulthood. After all, song lyrics do usually rhyme.

That is why I have written three science-based children’s books in rhyme. It makes learning all about the creatures fun and interesting. Plus, I love vivid, colorful illustrations, which is a trait of my books. I get a lot of oohs and aahs from others, too. You’ll find the rhyming “Don’t” series here.

A brown book cover, with a circle with blue sky, with a rattlesnake popping out of the circle, title: Don't Make Me Rattle

 

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Books, by Popular Demand! by Elaine A. Powers, Author

I inherited my mother’s house, which is in an RV Resort in Ft. Myers, FL. Every year, I travel there at Christmastime to perform in each year’s original Cantata, composed by a very talented woman, Ruth Rodgers, and her husband, Dr. Ted Rodgers. I directed the orchestra, sang, played the trumpet and thoroughly enjoyed the celebration. Sadly, 2017 was the final cantata.

That meant, however, that this past Christmas, I could fully participate in the park’s holiday potluck dinner.  A gift exchange takes place every year—you know, the kind where everyone gets a number and as each number is called, that person selects a gift. The fun part is, they may keep the gift they chose or trade for one another person has already selected. Some gifts are traded (grabbed!) repeatedly until the numbers finally run out.

I decided to take the collection of my “Don’t” series books (Don’t Call Me Turtle, Don’t Make Me Fly, and Don’t Make Me Rattle) as my gift. I also took along some Southwestern-themed wrapping paper and tape since I didn’t know what supplies were in the house. I brought some yummy Tortuga rum cakes from my travels to the Cayman Islands. I was ready.

Green book cover with a tortoise standing on hind legs, pointing at the viewer
Let ME tell you about the differences
between tortoises and turtles.

Cold feet struck that afternoon. Was bringing my own books the right thing to do?  Geez, maybe I should have brought something more appropriate. I searched the house for something I could substitute, but there was nothing. Fate determined the “Don’t” series books would be my gift.

One of my neighbors greeted me at the door that evening . “Is this one of the books you’ve written?”  

I confessed it was.

His reply? “I know what gift I’m choosing.” 

Sure enough, his number was called and he selected my gift.  I was honored and delighted that he wanted my books.

His number was called early, but his possession of the books was short lived. A few numbers later, a woman took the books from him.  Then a few more numbers, and another woman selected the books—and so on! 

My books were one of the most desired gifts of the evening. It was both engaging and rewarding to know that my efforts to make science education fun are working. I hope to inspire many future scientists by creating books written in rhyme, filled with scientific facts, that children and their parents truly enjoy reading.

Happy new year to all!

A brown book cover with a Diamondback rattlesnake inside a circle, showing the sky
I am shy and I love it
when you simply pass by.
An orange book cover with a southwestern roadrunner painted within a circle, blue sky in background
Roadrunners don’t fly–
do you know why?