YA Eco Mysteries, Memoirs, Novels & Travel
A dozen pairs of eyes fix me, challenging me to do something really interesting.
And so I begin, "How would you like to go on an amazing adventure that will last for your entire life?"
Hands shoot up, wave in the air.
“Great! Then I'm going to show how to become an Eco Detective.”To launch the program, I present the students with eco mysteries to solve. Read More...
On a cruise around the Grand Banks of Newfoundland and Labrador, my husband and I feasted on fresh cod: fried for fish and chips, sautéed in butter, patted into fish cakes, marinated in lime juice for ceviche, and dried and salted into fish jerky.
With Cod Fisherman at Peggy's Cove, Nova Scotia Read More...
"I shall collect plants and fossils. Yet this is not the main purpose of my journey. I shall endeavor to find out how nature's forces act upon one another, and in what manner the geographic environment exerts its influence on animals and plants. In short, I must find out about the harmony in nature." Alexander von Humboldt
Group of Bioblitzers at Limestone Park (Boris Datnow)
Do you have an interest in learning more about plants and wildlife around you? Would you enjoy improving you skills as a naturalist? Would you like to contribute data that will help scientists protect and conserve nature? If you do, I highly recommend participating in a Bioblitz as a citizen scientist. The cool thing about a Bioblitz is that it brings together the expertise of scientists with the observations of citizens willing to take a snapshot of an area’s biodiversity in about 24 hours.
A BioBlitz can take place in national parks or schoolyards, in urban or rural areas. The purpose of a Bioblitz is to study the population of particular species as well as an areas’ biodiversity.
Tupelo Gum Swap (Boris Datnow)
My first Bioblitz experience took place in Limestone Park, Alabaster, Alabama. The park has with a wide range of habitats, including wetlands, grasslands, and a Tupelo Gum swamp. In addition, thanks to the determined efforts of Dick Mills, and Ken Wills there is also a flourishing Prairie. To launch the bioblitz, Ken, Dick, and Professor Ken Marion arrived early to run a minnow/turtle trap line in the tupelo swamps of Limestone Park.
Ken Wills, Dick Mills, and Ken Marion with turtles capture at Limestone Park. (photo Boris Datnow)
It was fascinating to see, firsthand, the species they’d caught. Before the animals were released, the experts shared their knowledge about the species with the group.
After that interesting introduction, the citizen volunteers, lead by a scientist, fanned out across the park to collect samples of the trees, fishes, reptiles, birds, wildflowers, amphibians, and invertebrates in the park.
Pond Slider Turtle, Limestone Park, Alabaster (Boris Datnow)
Ken Wills ably guided my group through the boggy peninsular marsh area to a tupelo swamp. Everyone kept their eyes peeled for anything of interest to document and photograph. We were fortunate to spot a slider laying eggs.
Sensitive brier (Mimosa microphylla) on the Peninsular Trail (Boris Datnow)
Around noon, all groups reconvened to show and tell what they had found—and to enjoy a delicious repast courtesy of Birmingham Audubon Society. As we had hoped, the different habitats yielded a good variety of insect, plant, fish and amphibian species. Ansel Payne, Audubon Teaching Naturalist, carefully preserved all the insects and bugs that were found. All data collected during the Bioblitz will be entered in the iNaturalist data base for future reference.
Our group found at least 5 new native plants and 4 new exotics, including dog bane and a species of Loosestrife (Lysimachia)
Fine additions to the plant list which is now up to 162 species. That gave us a nice sense of accomplishment.
Thanks to Andy Coleman, Audubon Program Director, for organizing the bioblitz, and to Birmingham Audubon Society for sponsoring it. The data collected during the Bioblitz will help to conserve the species of this area in the future.
My environmental eco mystery series (grades 4-7), The Adventures of The Sizzling Six, inspires young people to appreciate the amazing diversity of out natural environment and to become young citizen scientist.
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When I hear friends comment, “I love the feel of a real book in my hand, I just don’t enjoy reading from a digital device,” I reply, “I love real books and ebooks, too.” Please don't misunderstand me, I revel in the feel of traditional printed books as much as you do. Don't you agree, however, that now it's great to have the choice between physical printed books and ebooks, depending on your needs. Read More...
Through my Sizzling Six eco mystery series I hope to inspire young people to feel wonder and curiosity for the natural world, and then to learn how to take intelligent action to resolve environmental problems. Here is a selected list of books with an environmental theme that I have enjoyed and that I believe my young readers will also enjoy:
1) Carl Hiaason creates child-heroes as environmental activists in his trio of young-adult novels: Hoot, about endangered owls, Flush, on the illegal dumping of raw sewage into the ocean and Scat.
2) Will Hobbs writes outdoor stories that appeal to both boys and girls. Hobbs has readers discovering wild places, sharing adventures with people from varied backgrounds, and exploring how to make important choices in their own lives. http://www.willhobbsauthor.com/index.html
3) Gary Paulson's survival stories. http://www.randomhouse.com/features/garypaulsen/
4) Jean Craighead George still ranks with the best of eco mystery writers.
Jean Craighead George's Official Website
5) Ben M. Baglio. The Dolphin Diaries series.
6) Hannah West series by Linda Jones
7) Operation Redwood by S. Terrell French
8) Missing Manatee by Cynthia DeFelice
9) Bonnie Doerr
10) Claire Datnow. The Adventures of the Sizzling Six, eco mystery series.
Did you know that there is a National Outdoor Book Award—for adults and young people? To see a listing of 2011 winners visit:
Other Interesting Links:
Do you have some nifty ways that you recycle, reduce, and reuse household waste? If so, we would love to hear from you (just: e-mail email@example.com). Read More...
Boris and I are absolutely thrilled about an upcoming trip to shoot video footage of biologists reintroducing the endangered Lampmussel (Lampsilis virescens) into Bear Creek, a tributary of the Tennessee River, to save the species from extinction. We plan to use these videos in our Enhanced Print Book, The Adventures of The Sizzling Six: The Living Treasure, young adult eco mystery series. Over 1,000 cultured mussels, raised at the Alabama Aquatic Biodiversity Center, will be released on October 6, 2011 and we will be there to record it. “We’re excited to be part of saving what is truly one of the rarest species in the United States,” said Dr. Paul Johnson, Program Supervisor. Stay posted for more about our adventure and a sneak preview of the actual videos in about ten days!
If statistics are to be believed, Mobile phones are becoming so ubiquitous that only 9% of American teens would be willing to go without their cell phones for 24 hours and the average child spends an hour and a half texting each day. So can we boost teen reading with mobile devices? We certainly think they can!
We’ve harnessed the power of mobile devices to integrate our printed books with video clips to “magically” transport the readers from the words on the printed page to let readers see and hear what the characters in the story are seeing and hearing. HOW?? Just watch the two-minute video on HOME page.
And please help to distribute these books FREE to schools, libraries and organizations of your choice. In addition you will receive great rewards. HOW?
The Cahaba Lily Festival, hosted by the town of West Blocton for the past 22 years, celebrates the rare lily protected by federal law within the Cahaba National Wildlife Refuge. Read More...
* Local and state organizations that offer entertaining and educational activities and field trips
* Books, fiction and non fiction, that educate and inspire kids to improve their natural environment
* Links that connect educators and young people to organizations promoting nature conservation