Tag Archives: animals

ELEPHANTS NEVER FORGOTTEN under contract

 640px-Elephant_near_ndutu

I’m happy to announce that my middle-grade novel, entitled Elephants Never Forgotten, is now under contract with MuseItUp Publishing. It’s a science fiction tale that could easily be pitched as Micro meets Jurassic Park. It was written at a time when I was finishing up my work in humane education and it honors the human/animal bond. The book is set for release in the Spring of 2015 as an e-book.

About the book:

A hundred years in the future, eleven-year-old Nigella receives a shipment from her deceased grandfather. Her inheritance is a herd of micro-elephants. While a lot of her friends have micro-pets, Nigella is at a loss on how to care for them. Why are her micro-elephants so different? What was her grandfather up to? In her quest to understand her pets, she learns that there might be a group of wild elephants left in a remote part of Africa. With the help of her best friend, Kepler, the girls set off on an adventure to discover the truth.

 

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INTERVIEW WITH NAOMI C. ROSE, AUTHOR OF:

WHERE SNOW LEOPARD PROWLS

Tibetan Wildlife Cover.2.indd

This is my first author interview and it seems fitting to welcome Naomi as my first guest. We met several years ago when I was first working on Into the Land of Snows. Naomi was a children’s author/illustrator who had already published a book on Tibetan culture and I sought her out for guidance. She graciously supplied it. I am happy to welcome her here to talk about her fourth picture book entitled Where Snow Leopard Prowls.

Thanks, I’m very honored to be your first interviewed author!!

NaomiRose

Naomi, your first three picture books dealt with Tibetan culture and Where Snow Leopard Prowls marks a change for you. This book is all about wildlife on the Tibetan plateau. Can you talk about how your vision shifted and you were drawn to paint these images?

I’ve had the joy of creating books for children for many years. Two of my previously published books are wisdom tales from Tibet. Several years ago, while painting the illustrations for these books, I found myself painting more and more Tibetan wildlife into the scenes. And as I painted, I felt more and more endeared to these animals. When I finally painted a snow leopard, I knew the animals were calling me. It was time to create a book for and about them. 

I’ve always thought of picture books as a child’s first introduction to art. The time and care that goes into the production of a picture book is amazing. How long was it from the time you decided to write and illustrate this book until you held it in your hands? What was the process like?

I think it was about five years from conception to birth. I really try to give each book the time it needs, to let the inspiration, the art, the book itself lead the way. When I first felt the call to do a book on Tibetan wildlife, I envisioned an activity book. But when I had completed that, I realized there was something more wanting to emerge. So I switched gears and created a full 32-page picture book. Then I posted the activity book as a free companion book off my website.

Baby Leopard

The paintings also evolved in an interesting way. I painted Snow Leopard’s portrait first. To my surprise, I felt very compelled to paint Snow Leopard’s eyes before any other feature. This was NOT how I was taught to paint portraits, but I couldn’t resist the urge. Once the eyes were painted, it felt like Snow Leopard was watching me paint, and guiding me on various details of its portrait. This turned out to be the case with each portrait, culminating in a deeper connection with each animal. 

Some of the animals in the book readers may be familiar with but there are some that were new for me. I’d never heard of a Himalayan Tahr, for example. Was there an animal you researched that was totally new to you? I know the book is full of animal facts and I wonder if there is anything in your research that surprised or even shocked you.

Many of the animals were new to me. Himalayan Tahr is a good example. I don’t remember what drew me to this particular animal, but somehow Tahr popped out at me as I studied the animals and the land of Tibet. Once Tahr showed up on my radar, I had to paint it and give it a place in the book. That’s sort of how it went. I think the animals found me as much as I found them. I had great fun learning about them and finding fun tidbits to put in the book. They’re all so amazing!  These animals became so personal to me that I had to treat them as individuals, thus referring to them by name (“Snow Leopard” instead of “a snow leopard”).

You’ve talked about the importance of having children connect with wildlife. It is in that connection and caring that we may be able to do a better job protecting whole environments. Can you outline a few of the factors that threaten some of the species in your book?

That’s a really interesting question because I ended up choosing to not study those factors.  When I first worked on the book, I focused on how these amazing animals were at risk of extinction as a way to motivate children to care for Mother Earth. Then I realized that approach wasn’t right for me.  I wanted to motivate from the same place that motivated me to do the book, a growing personal connection. I believe that’s another way to motivate; by fostering a love, respect, and connection with wildlife and nature, children will naturally grow to care about Mother Earth and her precious animals. In hopes the book has motivated children to care, I’ve listed things we can do to help in the back of the book. I’ve also listed activities for cultivating a personal connection to the natural world. 

Baby Monkey

My favorite illustrations were the baby snow leopard and the red panda. What animal or animals were the most fun for you to paint and why?

I loved painting them all, of course. But I had a special fondness for the baby animals. They are all soooo cute!  And painting Mama Snow Leopard was especially powerful.  I invite folks to see more of the animals in the short video on my website:  http://www.naomicrose.com/books/wslp-books

Thanks, Naomi for sharing your wonderful book with us. Please visit Naomi’s sites to see more of her beautiful work.

Website link(s):  http://www.naomicrose.com

Facebook:  www.facebook.com/naomicrose

Youtube: www.youtube.com/user/naomicrose

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THE UNEXPLAINED POWERS OF ANIMALS

LUKE

LUKE

In the last two weeks, my husband and I have welcomed a new dog into the family. Luke is a friendly, almost two year old, Golden Retriever who has had a rough start in life. As we are getting to know each other, I’m drawn back into the routine and wonder of dog ownership. All the while, our elderly cat, George, raises an eyebrow and wonders why he can’t live in a one cat household.

 

George

George

I’ve been re-reading and thoroughly enjoying Dogs That Know When Their Owners Are Coming Home (And Other Unexplained Powers of Animals) by Rupert Sheldrake. Sheldrake is a biologist with a Ph.D. from Cambridge. As a pet owner himself he wondered why the stories of pet owners were so universally ignored by scientists. He felt that confining research to lab animals or wildlife observation misses entirely to capture a unique understanding man has with his companion animals. Sheldrake set out to mine this field for its gold. He interviewed hundreds of people with experience with our closest companion animals. These included dog trainers, vets, zoo keepers, kennel owners, and pet owners. Later, he conducted formal surveys in Britain and the US to quantify the frequency of the most commonly reported behaviors in the area of perceptiveness. He took a special interest in reports of dogs that seemed to know when their owners were coming home. These dogs displayed anticipatory behavior which included alertness and going to a particular spot to await their owner’s return. Using a scientific approach, Sheldrake set out to learn what was at work in this commonly reported behavior.

He examined the common explanations many have given for this behavior. An established routine by the owner, a dog’s superior sense of smell, a dog’s keen hearing ability, human cueing, and the use of a familiar mode of transportation did not seem likely. When these things were eliminated, case histories suggested a human/animal bond along the lines of telepathy.

sheldrake

The best way to understand this is to look at the case of Jaytee and owner Pam Smart. Pam often left Jaytee with her parents when she went out and over time, the parents noticed Jaytee would go to a window and wait for Pam to return. Often the parents had no idea when Pam would return but started to trust Jaytee’s signal because Pam did show up shortly after the dog would go to the window. The Smarts kept logs of the incidents and before long an opportunity arose to film what was really going on. A camera was set up to watch Jaytee and a film crew followed as Pam was sent out. At a randomly selected time Pam was told to return home. On split screen and with the times synchronized, the film shows Pam being told it’s time to return while Jaytee reacts at the same moment with alertness and ears pricked. While Pam walks to a taxi stand, Jaytee goes to a window to wait. Jaytee seems to be responding to Pam’s intention to return suggesting a mind to mind connection. Telepathy! Further research carried out in 1995 and 1996, confirmed that Jaytee anticipated Pam’s arrival at randomly chosen times and in unfamiliar vehicles. Psychic debunker, Dr. Richard Wiseman, conducted his own experiment and found the same result.

Work with filming several other dogs indicated that Jaytee is not alone in her ability. Surveys indicate that the behavior is widespread in all kinds of dogs. About 51% of dogs seem to do this. Males display the behavior slightly more than females. A close bond with a human does seem to be necessary to induce the dog to engage in the behavior. Sheldrake advances the idea of morphic fields to explain the mind to mind connection we have with our pets. This invisible connection is likened to a rubber that can stretch over large distances to facilitate communication.

Sheldrake’s book is a delight. There are many stories of dogs, cats, parrots, horses and other animals engaging in behaviors because they are so connected to us. In later chapters, animal empathy, telepathy, precognition, and sense of direction are covered. I invite you to explore this fascinating book and rediscover your pet through the eyes of science. And don’t forget to share your stories here. I spent a lot of time on dogs, but how many of you have cats who know when there is a vet appointment? Mine does and not because the cat carrier is left out.

Watch the videos:

Unexplained Power of Animals http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tLgyFQZxs40

Science Deluded       http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kO4-9l8IWFQ

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A BEATRIX POTTER CHRISTMAS

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The Christmas tree is up and as I peruse ornaments collected over decades, I’m struck by how many of them are animals. There are cats and dogs, rabbits and squirrels, hedgehogs and birds (a humming bird, blue jay, goose, partridge), and cows and horses. At the back door, I struggle with getting sunflower seeds and nuts out for my squirrels. Three inches of snow have to be cleared before I can lay down six piles of seed to accommodate the squirrels. After our dog died, we started feeding birds off our deck but soon found the squirrels to be more entertaining. The birds still come to the feeder and the overflow trickles down to feed a family of field mice who will come onto the deck once the squirrels have had their fill. I won’t see the bunny today because the storm is intensifying but I take comfort that I’ll see him tomorrow once the snow melts off. He was here earlier though; because I see his tracks crisscross the yard. The ornaments on the Christmas tree and the activity in the backyard scream BEATRIX POTTER. I live in a world she knew.

Beatrix Potter

Helen Beatrix Potter was born in 1866 in London. She is best remembered for her children’s stories featuring animals. As children, she and her brother spent many happy family vacations in Scotland and the English Lake District. Undoubtedly, the freedom to explore and interact with nature as a child grounded Beatrix in the natural world and fostered her connection to the land and its creatures. She and her brother made pets of wildlife including rabbits, a hedgehog, mice, and bats. Beatrix’s talents in drawing and painting emerged in childhood and were encouraged by her parents. In her teens, she wandered the Lake District sketching and immersing herself in nature. She took a keen interest in archeology, geology, entomology, and mycology. By the late 1890s, she had become adept at scientific illustration concentrating on watercolors of local fungi. She even had a paper on fungi reproduction presented at the Royal Botanic Gardens (women were not allowed to attend).

Peter

It wasn’t until her mid- 30s that Beatrix took a set of picture letters she had written to children and turned them into her first book. She had The Tale of Peter Rabbit printed in 1901. Publishers turned down the opportunity to publish the book failing to see its merit (think Harry Potter in the Edwardian Age,  JK Rowling was also turned down by multiple publishers). Along came Frederick Warner who published The Tale of Peter Rabbit with color illustrations the following year. Beatrix’s book was highly successful and so were the two (The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin and The Tailor of Gloucester) that came soon after. From then on, Beatrix published two or three books a year. Later her interests in farming and preserving the Lake District became foremost in her life, but she is still remembered fondly for the animal characters and stories she created.

www.beatrixpottersociety.org.uk

http://www.peterrabbit.com

Miss Potter (2006), the movie with Renee Zellweger & Ewan McGregor

 

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ELEPHANTS NEVER FORGET

Lawrence Anthony
From Facebook Thula Thula Reserve

In no way am I a soft touch, but this one got me and got me good.

Not that I’m a stranger to animal stories. I’ve always had pets (mostly cats and dogs) and animals around me. Surrounded by the daily activity of birds, squirrels, and bunnies, nature and nature watching are part of my day. I even spent a couple of years teaching humane education classes to children in schools. And there’s my first full length book on animal intelligence that never saw the light of day. But another of my books is closer to the heart of the story I’m going to tell. That book was about elephants.

Noted conservationist Lawrence Anthony died in March this year and, shortly after his death, two herds of elephants arrived at the family compound in South Africa. No one knows how the elephants could have known about Anthony’s death, but it seemed evident to the family that they had come to pay their respects to a friend who had saved their lives. The elephants lingered for two days before returning to the bush. This incident reminds us of the interconnectedness of all things and the many mysteries that tie our lives together in unimaginable ways. Simple, dignified, powerful, and heart-centered.

Lawrence Anthony was an insurance man and real estate developer before he undertook the running of one of South Africa’s largest game sanctuaries. In the mid-1990s, he purchased the 5000 acre reserve known as Thula Thula. Adding luxury accommodations and fine dining, he promoted eco-tourism.

An out of the blue phone call in 1999 came and changed his life. He was offered a herd of nine problematic elephants who were going to be shot if he refused them. He was also told the herd was violent and the matriarch was a talented escape artist. Knowing the job would be difficult, Anthony took it anyway. There was a chance to save the elephants and reintroduce them onto Zulu lands. Only seven of the elephants were delivered to Thula Thula. Two had been killed in the transfer and in the presence of the surviving seven. The herd arrived traumatized and angry.

That first night the elephants broke out of their containment area. They first smashed an electric generator and then, acting as a team, two adults used a tree to take down the electric fence. Racing against time and locals armed to shoot to kill, Anthony and his reserve rangers managed to get the elephants back onto safe ground. Later, as Anthony looked at the matriarch, he realized that it was just a matter of time before they’d break out again. And that’s when inspiration struck. In order to foster trust and understanding, Anthony decided he’d live with them. His experience with the herd is the subject of his book The Elephant Whisperer.

From Facebook Thula Thula Reserve

Many may also remember it was Lawrence Anthony who raced to Baghdad in 2003 after the American invasion to rescue the zoo animals left abandoned in the city. More about his life can be found in his three published books and on the Thula Thula FACEBOOK page.

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