THE MOON: Small-but-Mighty Neighbor

The moon is a small, unassuming celestial body – Earth’s natural satellite. We watch the moon through its phases, but other than that I’d bet most people don’t give it much thought. Neither did I. But as it turns out, life on Earth would be much different without our moon, if it were possible at all. Wait, what?

It’s true. The moon keeps Earthy steady; without the moon, Earth would be very wobbly, tilting too much on its axis. All that wobbling would mean a crazy climate. The moon also keeps the earth from spinning too fast. In addition to really short days, if the earth spun faster, winds and storms would be stronger. It’s incredible to think about. And small though it is (for a size comparison to Earth, set a green pea next to nickel), our moon is a mighty cosmic ally that we truly can’t get by without.

As I did my research about the moon my mind kept coming back to these facts. One random event in space that is responsible for the creation of our moon changed Earth forever. Want to learn what that event was? Or learn more about the moon? Well then, travel the universe with a couple of snarky, adorable aliens starting March 15!

THE EARTH: One-of-a-Kind Planet

In 2019 my editor at Nomad Press asked if I wanted to do another picture book science series, this time on space. Of course I said YES! But then I thought, oh no, space science is hard! And, it wasn’t a subject I was familiar with. As a kid I didn’t even much like space science. Right there was the challenge – how could I deliver information about complex subjects in a way kids like me could understand and enjoy? And maybe even be inspired to learn more about?

I started noodling. There were a lot of choices to make before drafting:

  • What tone did I want for the series?
  • Who would be the narrator?
  • Would there be layered text?
  • Who is the audience?
  • What do I want the reader take-away to be?
  • What is the hook?
  • What is the entry point for each book?
  • What else is already out there on these subjects?

These are all things an author considers, usually before writing a single word. And because these books were going to be a series, there needed to be consistency. Once I had all that figured out, it was time to write (of course there was A LOT of research too).

Now, on March 15, The Earth: One-of-a-Kind Planet will make its way into world, introducing students to Earth’s place in the solar system, how Earth was created, how life evolved, and more.

P.S. There are aliens in the book too!

Ponderosa Pines

Ponderosa pines are one my favorite trees. They grow straight and tall (they can grow to well over 100 feet!), have striking red bark, and smell like butterscotch. It’s true. They are like a living scratch and sniff. If you get close, scratch the bark with your fingernail, and sniff, it does smell somewhat like butterscotch. Other people say they smell like baking cookies. Either way, it’s always nice to get up close and personal to a ponderosa.

They are remarkable in other ways too. These giants can live 400 years. Quite possibly the trees you pass on hikes in the West were around long before our country was founded. Ponderosas are also fire resistant, thanks, in part, to their thick, insulating bark that acts like armor. The outside layer of bark can burn, but if the inner layer isn’t, the tree will survive.

Of course ponderosa pines are critical habitat for wildlife, too. Abert’s squirrels feed on the trees’ cones, buds, and twigs, and even fungus and tree sap. In addition, many types of birds including finches, chickadees, nuthatches, and jays, as well as chipmunks, enjoy the ponderosa pine’s seeds. Even the bark is choice food for beavers and porcupines. Clearly these trees are a favorite among wildlife too!

World Wetlands Day

When people hear the word “wetland” they often think “swamp.” Or they think of someplace mucky, stinky, and gross. Many people envision wetlands as overrun by disease-carrying insects. As a result, they are often drained, dammed, filled in, and used as dumps. But the truth is, as with any ecosystem, that healthy wetlands have few insects, aren’t smelly, and are vital to the overall functioning of our interconnected world.

World Wetlands Day is a day to celebrate wetlands and bring attention to their importance. For example, did you know that wetlands store and clean fresh water?  They do! A healthy wetland actually filters pollutants, working in much the same way kidneys do in the human body. Wetlands also act as a buffer against storms. Because they absorb water, they can help prevent flooding downstream. On coastlines, wetlands act as a buffer between storms and the mainland. Even more importantly in today’s world, wetlands capture and store carbon. In fact, peatlands, marshes, mangroves, and seagrass beds store more carbon than forests. And if all that isn’t enough to convince you of the value of wetlands, they are home to 40% of Earth’s species.

Learn more about wetlands here. Better still, go visit a wetland near you. There’s a lot to see and celebrate.