We had so much fun launching our new book, Did You Make the Hole in the Shell in the Sea?, at The Gift Horse Bookstore during the Holiday Stroll in Topsfield, Massachusetts. Both children and adults enjoyed interacting with the sea animals, and even adults learned a thing or two they hadn’t known before (including what makes the hole in the shells in the sea!) It was a great kick-off to giving our new book a little exposure.
Artist/designer Robert DuGrenier from Vermont has designed and created hand blown glass shells that are so life-like, hermit crabs are crawling inside and using them as their homes. This gives us a wonderful view of how hermit crabs look inside their shells. Scientist in New Zealand are using glass shells to help study hermit crabs. It took about 7-10 days for hermit crabs to move into the glass shells, voluntarily, after the shells had been placed inside their tanks. These scientists have a code of ethics that would make it unacceptable to force the hermit crabs into the shells. Congratulations to these scientists who had the patience to wait for the hermit crabs to accept the shells on their own, and for giving us a fascinating view of life inside a hermit crab’s shell.
After feeding my sea animals today, I noticed a moon snail crawling out of the sand and up the side of its home. When I placed a piece of clam near it, I was able to see its radula, which is a tongue-like structure with small white teeth that’s capable of scraping a hole right through a clam shell in order to eat the soft body inside. In the video above, you can see the moon snail’s radula and teeth, as it gets ready to stretch it’s tongue out to break off a piece of clam to eat. And by the way, this is the subject of my latest illustrated children’s book, “Did You Make the Hole in the Shell in the Sea?” which solves the mystery of why you can find perfectly drilled holes in shells at the beach. We are looking forward to this book’s release this Fall, 2013.
A good crowd of people came out to hear a group of nine very different authors speak about their books and the publishing process. It was great fun getting a chance to talk about “Perfection To A Fault: A Small Murder in Ossipee, New Hampshire” again. My focus has been on marine life and horseshoe crabs recently, but I’ll never forget the chilling, true-life tale of Frederick and Florence Small. Thanks to all the people who dropped by to talk and purchase books. It was great fun retelling the story of how I came to write this incredible tale of true crime at the turn of the century, with a somewhat haunting twist!
Excited to learn that “Perfection To A Fault: A Small Murder in Ossipee, New Hampshire, 1916 is number 8 in the Kindle store in its category. Thanks to everyone who purchased the book. Enjoy!!
Moon snails are excited to be the first animals collected for the 2012-2013 school year. They’re busy checking out their new home, and making acquaintances that will become year-long friends. It’s amazing watching them glide majestically and at great speeds across the sand, avoiding each other’s foot and changing direction when they’re in danger of colliding.
The best time to search for sea animals at the tidal flats is, of course, at low tide, when the ocean’s water is shallow and has slipped away from the shore. However, if you wait for a spring tide, when the Moon is either full or new, the low tide will be extremely low, uncovering even more of the sandy bottom than at other low tides. This is because during spring tides, the Moon and the Sun line up with the Earth, causing their gravitational pull on the ocean’s water to be extremely strong. (The name spring tides has nothing to do with the Spring season, even though the name might indicate that it does.) The worst time to look for sea animals on the tidal flats is during neap tides, when the Moon is quartered, and the Sun and Moon are at right angles to each other. With the Sun and Moon being perpendicular to each other, their gravitational pulls cancel each other out, and the tides are weak.
We are very excited to learn that “The Bumpy, Lumpy Horseshoe Crab” book has just reached the Amazon Best Seller Rank of #92 in children’s books about marine life. Thank you so much to everyone who has purchased a book. Enjoy!!
Most teachers choose to study marine life in the Springtime, with Summer on it’s way. But did you know that the Fall is an even better time to learn about the fascinating coastal marine life? As educators, we all know how important it is to activate prior knowledge and background information when teaching students. In the Spring, the ocean and beach are distant memories for many students, especially the really young ones. But in the Fall, most students have spent at least a day or two at the beach while on Summer break, leaving them with a fresh impression of what the sea is like. They may have found some sea animals or shells while walking along the water’s edge. This creates invaluable building blocks for teachers to use as a foundation, making additional information more meaningful and better retained.
And if a visit to the tidal flats or tidepools is on the field trip agenda, the Fall is full of sunny, warm days, and the ocean water is at its warmest in the Fall. Planning a trip to the shore in the Spring can be tricky, with many cool, raw days, and the ocean water usually topping off somewhere in the 50 degree range.
Therefore if there’s any wiggle room in the timing of your curriculum, you may want to consider sea and marine life as a Fall unit. There will still be plenty of time to pick apples and carve pumpkins, and it could be cleverly integrated with a Christopher Columbus or Thanksgiving theme. Did you know that Pilgrims often ate lobsters when food was scarce, and even fed them to their pigs at times? Did you also know that Native Americans taught the new settlers how to grind horseshoe crab shells to make fertilizer for their gardens? As you can see, the Fall is the perfect time to study about coastal marine life!