Every night I say “Sweet Iguana Dreams” to my iguana family members. Some people would think that is a silly thing to say, since iguanas are said not to dream. But I think they do. Iguanas are diurnal, active during the day and they sleep at night. In fact, they can sleep very soundly. I’ve been known to use this deep slumber to move aggressive iguanas or to clip the long toenails of recalcitrant family members.
Usually, the sleeping iguanas stretch out, with their arms relaxed alongside the torso.
I’ve had a few hundred iguanas reside in my rescue over several years. Generally, they sleep quietly through the night. Every now and then, I would hear thrashing in the night and find an iguana asleep, rolling, snapping his or her tail, legs running in place. I believe these iguanas were having bad dreams, perhaps trying to escape a predator. Since they had been rescued, I hoped they weren’t dreaming about fleeing an abusive human.
I gently stroked the disturbed lizard’s back until they woke up, eyes wide open, looking around in panic. For some iguanas, this was enough and they would relax and go back to sleep. Others wanted to be held and comforted, which I was always happy to do.
This article in Scientific American gives a good summary about reptiles and REM sleep. See? They do have the potential to dream as you and I do.
May all your dreams be “sweet iguana dreams,” too.
Here, my youngest iguana, Twizzler Spiny-tail Iguana, is demonstrating that he is literally climbing the wall.
by Elaine A. Powers
If you’re like me, you’re spending more time at home than usual. Of course, this should help my writing output, but I often get distracted by the news of the world. Fortunately, I live with an assortment of animals who help me maintain my mental wellbeing.
At first my reptiles, many of whom free-roam my house, enjoyed having me around. They’d join in at my work area and sit at my feet, or wander by, walking over my feet or pushing my wheeled-chair. I liked the attention.
But over time, I noticed they weren’t around me as much. They had been accustomed to me traveling and having other caregivers while I was gone. Absence made their hearts grow fonder. Now, they have found favorite spots to hang out in in other rooms, especially the spare bedroom.
Was it something I said? Maybe I’m watching too much news or it’s been too long without me taking a trip. Well, we’ve all got our own space, so we should be content, right?
Nope! Today I realized that my reptiles may be experiencing enough stress to drive them “up the wall.” The phrase means being irritated or angry enough that one feels the need to escape, even if it means climbing up and over walls.
Twizzler was eventually able to relax and made his way back down and settled into the day’s activities.
As you can see above, iguanas can become quite large. So, when I wrote The Dragon of Nani Cave–well, the dragon isn’t really a dragon. It’s an iguana and only seems like a dragon to small Curly-tail lizards, the Lime Lizard Lads, who work up enough courage to go find the dragon (with a little help from their friends). While the lizards are having an adventure, young readers are learning all about ecosystems (and they don’t even know it). That’s what we do around here–make learning about science fun!
The Lime Lizard Lads, Gene and Bony, LOVE exploring their island home, where the bravest thing possible is to go seethe Dragon of Nani Cave.
An Adventure Tale For Readers Age 8+ 48 pages
Fun and Colorful Illustrations of the many animals they encounter, including the Dragon! By Anderson Atlas
Gene and Bony are bored. They go see Old Soldier Crab who tells them wondrous, dangerous creatures live up on the bluff. And, if they go, they must prove themselves worthy and return with a piece of Caymanite.
They must journey through Skull Cave and meet bats, and a cat with sharp teeth. Then they meet Kat, a fellow Curly-tail Lizard and she knows the way to Nani Cave. But she warns there might be more than one dragon.
Meeting one danger after another, they finally arrive at Nani Cave. There he is: the dragon! He’s HUGE! And look at all those teeth!
Since I’ve been staying in my den more, I’ve been tuning in to old TV shows. I enjoy the old Westerns set in the US Desert Southwest—maybe because that’s where my good friend and author, Elaine A. Powers, lives! The dry climate there is so different from my humid island weather. Where I live in the Exuma Island chain in The Bahamas, the temperature only varies between 28.0° Celsius (82.4° Fahrenheit) and 20.0° Celsius (68° Fahrenheit).
I mention this because I was watching the show, The High Chaparral, which is set in the Sonoran Desert, outside of Tucson, Arizona. In one episode, the character Manolito complains that the desert is very hot during the day, but so cold at night. Summer temperatures can exceed 40°C (104°F) during the day, but fall to around 20.0° Celsius (68° Fahrenheit) at night!
That’s a huge drop! I wondered how that happens, so I asked Elaine, of course. It’s due to the lack of water. No humidity! The sun warms the ground during the day, which raises the temperature. The lack of water in the ground means all that heat is lost after the sun sets; and the lack of vegetation helps in the loss of heat from the ground, too.
I realized it’s the humidity here in the islands that helps maintain our temperatures, so we don’t heat up too high during the day and lose as much of the sun’s warmth at night. Our temperatures stay within a narrow range, while those in the desert swing wildly.
I’m glad I live here, in this perfect place, here on Warderick Wells Cay in the Caribbean. It could be the most perfect place in the world. Well—except for one thing. The hurricanes. I’d love it if you picked up a copy of my latest adventure/survival story, Curtis Curly-tail is Blown Away! The kids will learn all about how my friends and I work to survive the hurricanes and how the people of The Bahamas help each other to rebuild. It’s an adventure tale with a happy ending—and environmental and weather science woven into the story. That’s Elaine’s specialty: making science books fun! Check her books out here and click on the amazingly fun workbooks to see the educational supplements associated with her books, published by Lyric Power Publishing, LLC.
Really! Check out Elaine’s books! She loves making science fun to read, in the hopes budding scientists will be born. And don’t forget about me! I have my own YouTube channel, where you can learn about Everything Reptiles! Come visit me today at Curtis Curly-tail Speaks. See you next time!
PHOTO above is courtesy of the App called SkyView.
Thanks to Tucson, Arizona being a dark sky city, stargazing can be wonderful. One recent September morning, I enjoyed viewing the crescent moon along with a bright object. Of course, that object was not a star, but the planet Venus. I thought it was worth a photo (below), even though my cell phone doesn’t take the best night-time images.
I’m not very knowledgeable about constellations, so I use the SkyView app. The constellation for the Zodiac sign Cancer was overlaid. I like how the claws appear to be holding the moon.
Several of these astronomy apps are free and fun to use. All you have to do is go outside and look up.
I wonder if Curtis Curly-tail lizard ever navigated his way home using the stars as guides? He certainly is a bright little guy and he really helps make learning science fun. Check out the Curtis Curly-tail series today!
In the heat of the Sonoran Desert, many cacti use the shade of trees to help them survive. They also help in the cold winters. These are nurse trees.
Underneath a mesquite in my yard, I found this thriving Graham’s Nipple or Arizona Fishhook Cactus. The scientific name isMammillaria grahamii. I wouldn’t have noticed it if not for the bright colors of the flowers. The term fishhook refers to the one-three large spines in each spine grouping that are hooked and reddish to brown in color. This species are named after Colonel James Duncan Graham (1799-1851), who took part in a U.S.-Mexico border survey.
Indigenous people have eaten the fruit and pulp of this plant as food, as well using it as a medicine to treat earaches. I’m enjoying it for its natural beauty.
I’m always learning new words. I thought someone who liked reptiles was a “herpephile.” I found out lately it is actually “herpetophile.” There really is a word for people like me who like reptiles and enjoy studying them.
Then I read about “ophidiofomophobia.” I had to look it up, but, unfortunately, it isn’t a real word, although it really should be. I know “Ophidiophobia” is a fear of snakes. Ophidiofomophobia would be the fear of NOT having snakes. I would definitely suffer from ophidiofomophobia. I can’t imagine not sharing my yard with a variety of snakes. They are all welcome, even those that rattle.
This examination of phobia words lead me to wondering about other phobias. Was there a word for people afraid of lizards? Not a specific one for lizards, but there is a general one for reptiles: Herpetophobia is a fear of reptiles, usually lizards and snakes, but also crocodilians. I guess lizards don’t get their own phobia.
I feel iguanas—the big lizards—deserve their own phobia, at least. Iguanaphobia has a nice rhythmic flow to it, don’t you think?
Seriously, phobias are serious issues that shouldn’t be joked about. One of the reasons I’m interested in writing science-based books is to help people learn about misunderstood animals and, hopefully, lessen their fears.
I’ve heard from many people staying at home now that lots of people want to write a book and writing creatively is a good use of time. I would even say it is a perfect use of time when the stories are about me–or even other reptiles, once in a while.
People often ask me for advice about publishing the stories they’ve written. After all, I’ve had several books written about me—I even inspired the first one! So, I do have some advice for potential book publishers.
My first suggestion is to have other people read your story. It’s impossible to proofread your own book. To make proper edits—to find gaps in the plot or missing dialog responses, or you might have a weak setting—you must have other eyes on your words. But be careful about who you choose to read your story. I could have Clive read anything I wrote, but he’s a friend and he would tell me it’s wonderful, whether it was or not. He might even think it’s wonderful just because I wrote it.
If you want to write, you start by putting words on a page, by typing, or handwriting, or using a dictation app, whatever suits your style. As you know, every journey begins with a single step. Writing starts with the writing of a single word. Don’t even worry about whether or not the writing is good. Just get the words out. You’ll be going back and editing when the chapter/section/story is done—again and again, after you have received critical, honest, and sometimes even brutal feedback from others. It does take a village to write a good book worth reading.
If you want to read books written about me, check out the Curtis Curly-tail Series. Elaine A. Powers, who wrote them because she loves making science books fun to read (inspired by my perfection, of course!) had many people read and help edit these books. You can read their names in the acknowledgments at the back of the books, as proof. (Actually, she’s the one who taught me about beta readers, but I’m sure she learned it from a writing expert and now I’m passing it on to you!)
So, write those words down and don’t worry about perfection—no one ever finds it the first few times through. And ask for beta readers and for honest feedback. You’ll be surprised by how much better a writer you’ll become.
Growing up in the Midwest, I didn’t really think about rain. It rained all year long, although in the winter it could fall as ice, or if we were lucky, snow. The only time rain was newsworthy was during tornado season, when nature used it as a weapon, or mid-summer when the corn and soybean crops needed timely rains for optimum growth.
But then I moved to the diverse and complex Sonoran Desert, where rain is not only newsworthy but fascinating. Every time it rains, it’s like I’ve never seen it before. I run to the window to watch the water falling from the clouds. The Tucson area only gets about 12 inches of rain each year, most during the summer monsoons. In my hometown, we were used to around 37 inches a year.
When I first moved to Arizona, I worked on the second floor. One day, I was delighted to see raindrops on the windows. I ran downstairs to stand in the rain, only to discover the rain was not reaching the ground. I looked up and could see the rain stopping about three feet above my head. Yes, sometimes the ground is so hot and the humidity so low that the raindrops evaporate before reaching the ground. Thus, I call it sky rain.
This year, in the weeks before monsoon, when it was very hot and rain clouds started to form, I watched sky rain right in front of me. If you look closely at the pictures, you will see that the rain is not reaching the ground. The ends even look slightly curved upward as the water is being warmed by the hot earth.
When it rains at your house, be glad when it reaches the ground, providing moisture to plants and animals. Sky rain, while fascinating, just doesn’t get that job done.
If you’d like to learn more about the Sonoran Desert, please see my Don’t Series books, which are vividly illustrated children’s book, where the science is written into rhyming stanzas, making learning science fun!
Among the many reptiles I share my home with is a rhinoceros rock iguanawho usually free roams my house. She basks under the heat lamps with the tortoises, shares the plates of veggies and finds sunbeams to relax in. Mid-afternoon, it’s time to head under some rocks for a nap.
No, I don’t have rocks in my house, but I do have pillows on the sofa, which is her designated sleeping place. Recently, however, she has discovered my bed. It, too, has pillows. And it has a blanket where she can stretch out her entire body. She’s over four feet long.
I head to bed late in the evening, looking forward to laying my head on my pillows, all four of them, only to discover my bed is already occupied.
“Hey, Rango, that’s my bed!” So, I picked up the sleeping lizard and carried her to the sofa.
Then, things came to an interesting point. I needed a nap this afternoon, so I got into bed. I hear the tick-tick-tick of approaching iguana feet – they have nails on the ends on their toes which click on the tile floor.
“Uh, oh, will someone be joining me in bed?”
I feel a body knock against the frame. A body impact with the mattress. But no one comes up—I think. Later I turn over to see me being watched by a very confused iguana.
What in the world was I doing in her bed!
Note: You might be able to tell how much I enjoy sharing my home with iguanas. To learn more about these intelligent and interesting reptiles, see My Unit Study on Iguanas at Lyric Power Publishing’sWorkbook page.
And one of my fun children’s science books (written in the form of an adventure tale) features The Dragon of Nani Cave which, when you’re a small curly-tail lizard, is an iguana!
Get to Know Your Customers Day is a day that is of interest to me every day. I want to know my customers. Do they like my books? How can my books be better? What should I write about in the ones to come? How can I improve the workbooks and activity sheets sold at Lyric Power? Would any of my customers be interested in theater scripts—because I am also an actor and scriptwriter.
I do try to write books that fill a specific need in scientific information—as in Don’t Call Me Turtle, which tells the differences between turtles and tortoises. I’d also like the workbooks and activity sheets published by Lyric Power Publishing, LLC to be useful to teachers and families in their educational activities.
So, please, drop me a line. Let me know how my science books, which I work to make fun so that learning is fun, could better serve you. Reach out about your educational needs, etc. Or, maybe you already own one of my books and you’d be willing to write a review at Amazon? It would be a great help to me and sincerely appreciated.
I’m hoping you get to know me a bit more every time I post at the blog, Tales and Tails, but I would like to learn more about you, too, and not just today. I’d truly love it if you reached out to me to introduce yourself, so here’s a link to my contact form. Let’s talk about science and how I can help. Thank you for stopping by at my website today.
Many homeowners have security systems to protect the premises. There are many choices: Ring, ADT, Vivint, etc., all of which involve people.
My security system involves reptiles. I have free roaming tortoises that are adept at tripping. They utilize the carpets that camouflage them well. Yes, even I have face-planted! I also have large roaming lizards with razor sharp teeth and an intense dislike of people they don’t know.
Recently, I discovered that the household reptiles have recruited some of the locals to participate in guarding the house.
This Desert Spiny Lizard,Sceloporus magister, is doing surveillance from the front door. From her spot, she can watch the front of the house and the road. She seems to be doing a good job.
I like helping my human friends prepare the meals for my reptilian companions. This morning I was collecting pads from the prickly pear cactus for the desert tortoises. I only harvest the young pads due to my size. Locally the pad is called a nopal. People also eat them.
The problem is, prickly pear cactus have spines, really big spines. That’s why they’re called prickly. But my human friends are smart like me and many planted the “spineless” prickly pear, Opuntia stricta. Cactus spines are very sharp and difficult to remove because they have hooks to keep them in the skin. They also come in different sizes. You may avoid the obvious, big spines but then be impaled by smaller ones.
Since I was asked to collect young pads from the spineless prickly pear cactus, I wasn’t worried about injuries. Using my perfect hands, I snapped off a pad – and they do snap off easily. But, when I snapped off the second one, I realized I had pain in my perfect little fingers. I looked down to see tiny spines stuck between my scales.
Why did I have spines from a spineless prickly pear cactus in my fingers? Well, they have fewer spines than the regular prickly pears, but they aren’t really totally, perfectly spineless. I kept going, though, adding more spines to my collection until I had enough pads for their tortoise meals.
The tortoises enjoyed their meal, while I spent the rest of the day picking out spineless prickly pear cactus spines and contemplating these not-totally-spineless cactus plants. So, here it is—Be careful out there among the cacti!
Stop by and say hi at my YouTube Page. And check out the fun books my good friend, Elaine, a human, has written about tortoises and turtles!
Reptile skin is really interesting. Instead of flaking off like human skin does, reptiles shed their skin in strips. Snakes shed one complete body skin at a time. Lizards might shed their skin in sections of the body.
The scales that make up the skin are made by the epidermis of the protein keratin. The skin provides an external covering provides protection and helps retain moisture.
My friend Rascal, a Red Tegu, offered to help me show shedding lizard skin. He has thick beaded scales, that appear to be a lovely dark red. However, when it’s time to get rid of his old epidermis, the skin looks white. That’s because the tegu’s color is not in the outer epidermal layer, but underneath.
By the way, keratin is what you humans use to make your skin, hair and nails with. Don’t you wish you could shed your skin like us reptiles?
There’s a saying about being comfortable in one’s own on skin. Recently, this saying took on a new meaning for me. Last year, I became the delighted owner of a Missouri Fox Trotter named Button. She was born in Missouri, so every winter she grows a coat worthy of the cold cruel Midwest winter winds; she is quite cozy here in Tucson’s cool winter weather.
Come spring, Button would shed the massive amount of hair down to her more comfortable summer thin coat. This spring, however, she didn’t shed sufficiently. Temperatures were in the 80s with 90s being forecast. Our workouts left her “sopping” wet with sweat. Action needed to be taken.
I noticed that one of the other horses had been shaved by a local groomer. She’d done a lovely job, leaving the horse’s coat smooth. No razor ridges like I would create. I gave her a call, scheduled Button’s hair appointment and off the thick winter coat came. It was like watching a sheep being sheared! I expected her to be a bright shiny copper penny color underneath but she looks more bronze to me. She is now much more comfortable temperature-wise, but I wondered if she would miss her hair.
After a day of multiple rolls in the dirt, I think Button is now truly comfortable in her own skin.
And now, being comfortable in my own skin, it’s back to to stories I go! To see my science-based and fun adventure tales and rhyming stories, please go to the My Books page.
When I became the owner and BFF of a horse, I was surprised and amused that the vet always refers to me as “Mom.” (Yes, she does know my name.) I do think of Button as a friend but as her mother—not so much.
Even though they don’t have fur, my pets are members of my family. A bunch of them, or more accurately a creep of them, roam my house and sleep in my bedroom at night. Not with me on the bed, but in the corners.
If you visit my house, you may wonder why I have cardboard boxes in many of the corners. Now you know why—well, if you know how “creep” is used as a collective animal-noun, you know. If you don’t know what “creep,” means, may I suggest my book, “Don’t Call Me Turtle!”? It’s full of fun, scientific and rhyming facts, beloved by little ones and their parents alike!
So, let’s celebrate our non-human family members. Give them an extra treat or cuddle or a few minutes of quality time. They bring so much affection and contentment into our lives.
Hello, everyone! It’s me, Curtis Curly-tail, at your service! Well, actually, I’m here today for my friend, Trevor. He asked me to share his rant with you.
Trevor is a Box Turtle. He recently posted a selfie at the beginning of a literacy school event on social media. Numerous comments were added about what an attractive tortoise he was. Tortoise!
Trevor isn’t a tortoise–he’s a turtle! He was incensed, upset, incredulous, even! He obviously has red eyes. Don’t people know that all tortoises have black eyes?
And, Trevor says, he’d sure like to see ANY tortoise try his trick below! Only turtles with lightweight shells and webbed feet can climb screen doors!
Trevor has stomped his little feet (with turtle-webbing between his toes) and insisted that Elaine Powers, his caretaker and author of fun science books, write a book entitled Don’t Call Me Tortoise! Elaine wrote Don’t Call Me Turtle! for Trevor’s roommate, Myrtle the Red-foot tortoise, because everyone kept calling her Myrtle the Turtle, driving her nuts!
I have to back Trevor on this one. Personally, I think Elaine should’ve written Trevor’s book long ago. Am I going to have to push Trevor onto her foot, so he can transmit the turtle-poem to her, like I transmitted my story?
Nah! She’s got this! Right, Elaine? Right?
Below is the fun, rhyming book, Don’t Call Me Turtle!, that tells about the many differences between turtles and tortoises. Geez, the little ones love that book! (Learning with fun rhymes helps with keeping busy.)
P.S. — It’s only right for all the Trevor’s in the world that Don’t Call Me Tortoise! is on its way, too.
And, because a lot of kids are unexpectedly home from school, check out the fun turtle and tortoise activity sheets and workbooks at Lyric Power Publishing!
In a previous blog, I related a story how even in my early years, I was working to keep wild alligators away from people food with stale, very hard, marshmallows. This occurred on Sanibel Island, FL.
Have you ever thought about where marshmallows come from? My marshmallow story took place on Sanibel Island, FL, where you can find the marsh mallow growing. Yes, the marsh mallow is a plant. I learned about it while I was working at the “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge. On Sanibel the species is called Kosteletzkya virginica.
Did you think marshmallows were merely fluffy sugar? Well,
they’re not. Marshmallows have been around since ancient Egypt. They used the
mallow, Althaea officinalis, which
grew in salty marshes. The sweet sap was made into a candy that was dedicated
to their gods.
The ancient Greeks valued the medicinal properties of the
mallow. Many cultures have used mallow to treat wounds, inflammation,
toothaches and sore throats.
In the 1800s, the French created a candy for adult consumption, in addition to its previous medicinal uses. The mallow sap was whipped with egg whites and corn syrup into an easily moldable substance and the modern marshmallow was created. The next time you enjoy a marshmallow, think of the plant from which it came: the mallow growing in salty marshes.
NOTE: Every now and then, I divert from writing about animals to do a bit of plant investigation. To see some of my work on plants, check out The Queen of the Nightabout the fascinating Night-Blooming Cereus, plants that bloom magnificently only one night per year—and they wait for each other to bloom all at the same time.EAP
Last February, I had the honor of giving a science talk at a local bar. Yes, a bar! But it’s a very different bar–it specializes in astronomy and holds weekly science trivia contests with March for Science Southern Arizona.
My talk was about using entertaining children’s books in science education. It was kind of fun that I had multi-colored spotlights instead of plain white. I spoke from a platform and looking down and around the room, I wondered if my talk was appropriate for such an audience. I couldn’t gesticulate as I usually do, because I had to hold the microphone to my mouth (eat the mic) and the slide clicker in the other hand. I felt constrained, but carried on with my assignment.
Even though I watched people drinking and talking through my entire talk and the background noise level was high – it was a bar, after all – some of the audience actually listened. I must say, I was pleasantly surprised by that response and there were even a few questions afterward about book publishing and children’s science books. All in all, it was a great experience.
As a science book writer, I am asked to speak at schools and libraries about my favorite subject: reptiles. I often use props to help people visualize the facts I present. For instance, an iguana egg is about the size of a marshmallow. So, I bring a bag of marshmallows to use and, when allowed, for the kids to eat. The last time I spoke, one bag didn’t get used and the soft puffs got hard. These hard marshmallows brought back a memory from my childhood involving alligators on Sanibel Island, FL.
When I was a child, people in the park gathered at a bridge to feed marshmallows to the local gators. It was not well understood then how we were affecting the local alligators’ behavior. We know now how bad it is to feed wild animals. Not only is the food not good for them, they lose their fear of people and become “problem” animals. Simply relocating them doesn’t usually work, because they are plopped down in the middle of another’s territory and a moved individual can be killed by its own kind already there.
But back to my story about feeding marshmallows to alligators. The only marshmallows Mom could find in the trailer was a forgotten bag way back on a shelf. The usually fluffy confections were rock hard. But we were going to throw them in the water and gators have a bite strength of 2125 pounds per square inch, so a hard marshmallow should be no problem, right? I soon joined the other feeders tossing the treats into the water. Their marshmallows bobbed until a gator stealthily approached, snatched it rapidly, submerged, and re-emerged a short distance away, waiting for the next one. Several gators took turns gobbling down the sugary snacks.
Until they got to my marshmallows. A gator approached,
quickly bit down on one and submerged.
Suddenly, the water erupted with thrashing. The marshmallow was released
. . . unscathed. The gator swam away. This happened again and again until all
the gators failed at damaging my marshmallows and swam away in disgust. The
other people looked at me angrily. I had driven all the alligators away, leaving
only my hardened marshmallows bobbing in the gently moving water.
I like to think that in my unintentional way, my disgusting marshmallows helped prevent a few alligators from becoming “problem” animals.
I guess I was a conservationist even back then.
I hope you will check out my books on the subject of Conservation. I love to make science books fun–it is a part of who I am–but conservation is a subject deserving of both our respect and action. Saving endangered species and looking out for all life on the only planet we and they have is up to all of us.
On March 14-15, 2020, Tucson will host the third largest book festival in the US, theTucson 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.
I participate in this event by having a booth from which I sell my books. It’s wonderful how much people like buying books directly from authors and I love meeting them, as well, and personalizing and signing the books. It’s one of the most rewarding parts of being an author.
I share the booth with my friend and author/illustrator, Anderson Atlas. Between the two of us, we have books that cover all the children’s book age groups, and some for adult readers, too.
Stop by and say hello on the weekend of March 14-15, Booth 324. I’ve included a TFOB map of the location of the Children’s Area at U of A below.
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
Note: This post was inspired by my friend, Don Fialkowski. I had complained about my tortoise, Myrtle, pushing on my chair. My apologies to Aesop and his fable, The Tortoise and the Hare.
A tortoise was recently pushing on
my chair to move it away from the table, over to where she wanted it, by the
“I’ll take you away from there,” she
said with a mocking tortoise laugh.
“No,” I replied to the tortoise, “I’m going to sit here and write science books on my laptop. But I will lift my feet, so that you can push away.”
The tortoise was so amused by my idea that my weight would hold the chair in place that she agreed to the challenge. The iguana in the room, who had consented to act as judge, took her position as observer and told the tortoise, “Push!”
The tortoise braced herself between
the spokes of the rolling wheels. I couldn’t see her beneath my seat, but I felt
her shell hit the metal. She pushed and pushed, and I felt very deeply how
ridiculous it was for her to try to push my chair away from the table.
Confident, I returned to my typing.
The tortoise, meanwhile, kept steadily moving, and, after a time, pushed the chair slightly away from the table. I quite peacefully continued to type until I had to stretch so the tips of my fingers could reach the keyboard. It was too late then. I realized I couldn’t stop her progress. The next push and I couldn’t reach keyboard anymore.
The tortoise had won the battle of the chair, proving the old adage that perseverance pays off.
Below is the book Myrtle asked me to write: Don’t Call Me Turtle!It tells about the differences between tortoises and turtles and there are many! A favorite of preschoolers and their grandparents!
Living on a Caribbean island beach is wonderful (except for dive-bombing seagulls looking for a snack) but some days I do get bored. I love watching people come ashore from their boats, but when they leave, I wonder where the boat is going. Where do those tourists come from? Do they have an island, too?
One day my curiosity got the better of me and I decided to find out for myself. I crept into a sneaker on the beach and traveled with its owner to the big city, delighting in the many sights and sounds a small cay doesn’t have.
Eventually, though, I wanted to go home. It didn’t take me long to realize that getting onto a tourist boat from my beach was much easier than catching a ride home would be. How would I find a boat going to Warderick Wells Cay and get on it? And I had no idea how I would cross the water between the boat and my beach again. I had acted without thinking–but I also knew I had to try to find my way home.
Ever since I operated a reptile rescue center, I’ve had a good number of iguanas. Over ninety percent of newly purchased iguanas die within the first year, so their good health is very important to me. Fresh vegetables and fruits are important to their survival.
I use a potato
peeler to make long slices of zucchini and carrots and chop the other veggies
into small pieces.
Here is a list of basic vegetable and fruits and the special treats that can be given on an occasional basis.
Their basic salad
in the morning includes Collard Greens, Red Bell Peppers, Zucchini, Carrots,
and Bananas or Grapes.
To learn more about these fascinating big lizards, see the 30-page downloadable Supplemental Workbook, My Unit Study on Iguanas at Lyric Power Publishing, LLC.
Iguanas are an important part of my life. They are featured in the children’s book I wrote called The Dragon of Nani Cave, which is an adventure tale starring curly-tail lizards ,Gene and Bony, who live on Cayman Brac. I weave the science of the island into the story, because science can be fun!
I am also the author of the book Silent Rocks, which is for all ages, and is about how to save the endangered Rock Iguana of Cayman Brac.
Most iguanas are found in the Americas and on Caribbean islands. They are grouped into three types: iguanas like the common green iguana, rock iguanas and spiny-tail iguanas. Each has evolved to thrive in their native environment. Unfortunately, through international commerce, the green iguana, Iguana iguana, has been introduced into ecosystems where they don’t belong.
Have you ever
wondered how to tell iguanas apart? Being
able to accurately identify iguana species is important to telling the
difference between native iguanas and the invasive green iguanas. I have
nothing against green iguanas. I’ve known many through the years as pets and
when I operated an iguana rescue. Unfortunately, they are damaging the
ecosystems and out-competing the native species.
live in an environment with many predators. So, greens lay many eggs and adapt
to many foods. They have that in common with rock iguanas, who are also
opportunistic eaters. (Sadly, they’ll even eat human food.)
But back to
the telling iguanas apart. There are now booklets that show the physical
differences. Rock iguanas don’t have the gorgeous subtympanic scale–that’s the
big scale under the ear–that the green iguanas have. My mother called it the
‘jewel.’ It is lovely, in many pretty colors. No other iguanas have that scale.
Greens also have little points on their dewlaps. A dewlap is the piece of skin
under the chin. ( Oooh, that rhymes.) The greens have smooth, striped tails.
Other iguanas have less striped tails. Rock iguanas have that nice
ribbing along the tail, while spiny-tails have keeled scales on their tail
giving them a rough appearance.
I wanted to produce an item that would aid people in correctly identifying iguanas, something that was convenient to carry and interesting to look at. I was asked to make the text rhyme because this helps in memorizing the facts. Anderson Atlas, John Binns and I have prepared these conveniently-sized booklets that people can carry around with them.
Check them out –they’re free. Please use the contact form on the Contact Page to request copies of these brochures for iguana identification.
“Welcome! I’m Elaine A. Powers, the biologist and author of the science books on this website. Welcome to Tales and Tails–a blog written by two adventurers, one human–me–and one small lizard.”
“Hold up! Why are you calling me small?” Curtis asked. “And let’s not forget where your first book came from!”
“Curtis, look at the picture of you on my shoe–you are pretty small, my friend. You’re not an iguana, after all.”
“I may not be an iguana, but I am perfect!”
“I would have to agree! If they removed the word perfect from the dictionary, they would replace it with your picture.”
“Why, Elaine, thank you.”
“You do have a point about the first book, though. Should I tell the readers how it happened?”
“No—I should!” he said. “I tell it much better than you do.”
“Once again, Curtis, you’re right. Let me, instead, welcome and thank our readers for stopping by our new blog, Tales and Tails.”
Curtis and I both hope you enjoy your time here and that you will look around the website. These days, there are fun science books for just about everyone. And, please hop on over to Curtis’s post and he will tell you about how the first book, Curtis Curly-tail and the Ship of Sneakers, came to be.
A second career as a science book author was certainly not on my radar, but when you follow the muse, you never where she will lead you. May your journey be a fun-filled adventure, too!
From both Curtis and me: Welcome to TALES AND TAILS!
We were visited by Elaine Powers, the author who donated a stack of her picture book Don’t Make Me Fly, which presents facts about one of Arizona’s most iconic birds – the roadrunner. Along with writing picture books about animals native to southern Arizona, she’s a conservationist and retired biologist. Elaine brought several rescued friends: turtles and tortoises of varying sizes, including a 100-pound tortoise named Duke who roamed the Lab. She also brought Blue, a five-foot blue iguana (who broke out of his box to say hi), and Krinkle, a three-foot spiny iguana who was saved and bears a deformed body. The students learned ecology, biology, the importance of conservation, proper animal care, and the steps needed to map out a story.
Students who are normally silent and impassive came alive as they held reptiles and learned in a way that videos and lectures could never emulate. One student in particular, who rarely smiles, sat for nearly half an hour with a grin as Krinkle was content to nap in his arms.
The LEARN literacy program is growing and evolving, and the effects are tangible. Through it all, with the correct books, students feel validated, seen, and know that their lives and experiences matter. It increases their comfort and trust in our program and allows them to open up and learn in a way they haven’t before. These days, if you ask a South LEARN student about their favorite book, you just might get an answer. And, though they may not realize it, they’re a step further from that jail cell.
Strictly Necessary Cookies
Strictly Necessary Cookie should be enabled at all times so that we can save your preferences for cookie settings.
If you disable this cookie, we will not be able to save your preferences. This means that every time you visit this website you will need to enable or disable cookies again.