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YA Eco Mysteries, Memoirs, Novels & Travel

Claire Datnow

Endangered Orange-Bellied Parrot


The Orange-Bellied Parrot Mystery
by Sophia R. Morris, Age 10
Vestavia Hills Elementary Central, Teacher Mrs. Fulkerson
Winning Entry in the Eco Mystery Writing Contest


parrot orange-bellied


Claire White reached for her cup of cold lemonade, her pale skin once covered in some light shadow, now glinting in the sunlight.

“This is the life isn’t it, girls,” nodding to the two girls beside her. “We can finally relax after solving that jewerly crime.” Maria Monday and Stacy Woods, the girls in lounges beside her murmured “Ya……..” Read More...

UAB Scientists Explore Antarctica

Margaret Amsler Antarctic Researcher

Claire: How fortunate for me to have attended two of your thought-provoking presentations in one week! Thank you for taking the time to share your work with us, Maggie. As the author of an Eco mystery series, I am fascinated by the intricate research you do to solve the Antarctic’s ecological mysteries. It’s my sincere hope that your work will inspire the next generation to follow in your footsteps. What first sparked your interest in Antartica?

MOAatPalmerSign2013lores
Dr. Margaret Amsler at Palmer Station (photo credit: C. Amsler)

With a declared major of marine biology I was assigned an academic advisor who studied both freshwater and marine crustaceans.  Research on the latter was conducted in Antarctica.  I had to meet with her once a term to review coursework progress.  Each meeting she shared enthralling stories about the remarkable organisms of Antarctica and their various adaptations to the frigid south polar waters.  My junior year I volunteered in her laboratory on campus and during my senior year was asked to be a participant in her field work in Antarctica after I graduated.  Read More...

Alabama Butterfly Atlas Launch

Invitation to Participate in the Alabama Butterfly Atlas
It is my honor to interview Sara and Paulette about their plans to create an on-line
Alabama Butterfly Atlas. By good fortune, I meet Paulette at the Moss Ross Festival and she motivated me to add an eco mystery about butterflies to my on-going eco mystery series.
Sara Cunningham Bright is a professional photographer whose work has been featured in Canoe, Southern Living, Birder’s World, Outdoor Life, Geo, and Portico, and is on permanent display at McDonald’s Corporation, Alabama Power, Wachovia Bank, and the Birmingham Botanical Gardens.
Paulette Haywood Ogard has taught classes on wildflowers and native plants at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and conducted workshops throughout the southeast on wildlife habitats, butterflies, and butterfly gardening. Paulette and Sara are the co-authors of Alabama Butterflies: Glimpses into their Lives.

Blogger book cover
Glimpses into their Lives. Read More...

Rosenwald Film a Jewish Philanthropist

Rosenwald documentary Connects Julius Rosenwald and Booker T. Washington

After viewing Aviva Kempner’s documentary “Rosenwald,” currently showing at the Edge 12, Crestwood Festival Center, in Birmingham, Al, I was moved to write a review.

Historical novel Blog
Historic Alabama Theater, Birmingham (Boris Datnow)

Kempner begins her documentary by asking, “Who is the white man prominently framed on the wall of numerous black schools located throughout the American South?” Most viewers will not recognize the man in the photograph, and therefore will be astounded by the magnificent legacy of former Sears & Roebuck CEO Julius Rosenwald, high school dropout, brilliant entrepreneur, and inspired philanthropist. 
Read More...

Discover and Solve an Ecological Mystery

Project and Problem Based  Eco Mystery Unit.

How can you inspire kids—of all ages—to embark on a lifelong adventure that will motivate them to become wise stewards of nature? In my presentation to Mrs. Geri Evan's fourth grade students at Bluff Park Elementary School, I began by inviting kids to hunt for ecological mysteries in their outdoor classroom.

Monarch Butterflies Kids make connections
DISCOVER AND SOLVE AN ECOLOGICAL MYSTERY
Read More...

Restoring Alabama’s Native Prairies

Limestone Park and Native Prairies

I’m standing at the edge of a flourishing prairie in
Limestone Park Prairie, Alabaster—practically on Birmingham’s doorstep. Butterflies flit through a colorful maize of wildflowers.

Buckeye
Buckeye, Limestone Prairie Park (Boris Datnow)
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7 Best Places on the Iberian Peninsula

Galicia and Andalusia, Spain

1. The medieval towns of A Coruña (in Galician)/La Coruña, Betanzos, Vigo, and Baiona/Bayona are rich in the history and culture of this region.
Climb the Tower of Hercules, the lighthouse at the entrance to A Coruña, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Built in the second century, it is the oldest Greco-Roman lighthouse constantly in use and the oldest existing lighthouse in the world.

A Caruna 1 Read More...

Women's Hall of Fame

Alabama Women's Hall of Fame
Our
midsummer jaunt with friends of the Cosmos Club began with a visit to The Alabama Women's Hall of Fame in Marion, Alabama, located on the historic campus of Judson College.
Visit to Judson College
Visit to Judson College, Alabama

As we stepped into the beautifully restored A. Howard Bean Hall, rows of
gleaming bronze plaques, honoring Alabama’s most outstanding women, welcomed us in. Pausing before the inscriptions on the plaques, we discovered the significant contributions each one of them have made to our state and nation. Read More...

Traveling Rough and Ready

Basic Necessities: Toilets and Showers

pastedGraphic

It is my pleasure to introduce Rhoda Lurie, fearless traveler and treasure hunter par excellence, as my guest blogger. Over her long career, Rhoda traveled to 75 countries around the world, in particular under developed countries including Papua New Guinea, Africa, Vietnam, and South America to mention just a few. Once there she journeyed to remote villages to meet with artists in their studios and shops to see firsthand how they created beautiful traditional arts and crafts of the region.

Read More...

Butterfly Awareness Botanical Gardens


Butterfly Education and Awareness Day

Monarch Butterfly (Poster created by Ellie Usadan)
Kids Enjoyed Coloring the Poster Created by Ellie Usdan

We were delighted to join the
Birmingham Botanical Gardens, on a perfect summer day, to celebrate Butterfly Education and Awareness Day, and also to share the newest book in the eco mystery series for middle grades, The Adventures of The Sizzling Six: Monarch Mysteries (book 6 in the series).
Read More...

Peace and War

The Common Good and Common Destiny
by Carl Schinasi

It is a privilege and pleasure to share Carl Schinasi's talk with you. His thought-provoking speech about how each one us can contribute to making peace in the world is well worth reading.

Imam Um’Rani, congregants, guests, and friends, thank you for inviting me to speak here this evening.  I must admit it also comes as a surprise. When Imam asked me to speak, I immediately suggested he contact someone at Temple Emanu-El.  I explained to him that someone there could speak more knowledgeably about Judaism.  When Imam assured me he wanted me to speak, I was thrilled.  I was thrilled because I realized his invitation amounts to a great honor. Here I stand, a Jew from New York speaking in a Mosque at a pre-Ramadan banquet in the Deep South. 

Arab Street Mosque Singapore
Arab Street Mosque, Singapore (Boris Datnow) Read More...

Green Ribbon Schools Award

Alabama Green Ribbon Schools
On a day filled with sunshine, it was my pleasure and privilege to attend the celebration recognizing the three schools and a university as Alabama Green Ribbon Schools Award Winners for 2015.

Green Ribbon Shirely Farrell
Shirley Farrell, State Dept. of Education, with Liz Ellerson of E.A.T. South (Boris Datnow)

Congratulations to the winners:
Auburn University
Bluff Park Elementary School, Hoover City Schools 
Lincoln Elementary School, Talladega County Schools
Lincoln High School, Talladega County Schools Read More...

Environmental Project Based Learning

How to Launch Environmental Project Based Learning

1. LAUNCH PARTY. To arouse the students’ curiosity, plan the event to be novel and dramatic. Design a presentation that encourages students to generate questions that plunge them into an intriguing ecological mystery that they must solve in order to help save an endangered species. You could invite an author of eco mysteries or non-fiction books with environmental themes. For example, for my school presentation I dress up as Mrs. Margarita Mariposa, a character in The Adventures of The Sizzling Six: Monarch Mysteries (Book Six). I wear a striking mask with flowers and butterflies, and send
paper monarch butterflies into the air. 

Mexico in Birmingham
Read More...

Alesund and Sunnmore

Ålesund & Sunnmøre Magical Highlights

For me, the most magical cruising experience is to wake early in the morning and find myself in enchanting, new surroundings. The spectacular setting of Ålesund is just such a place, nestling on small islands, surrounded by fjords, and framed by the high peaks of the Sunnmøre Alps.
Perched on a fishhook-shaped peninsula, its harbor shelters Norways largest cod-fishing fleet.

Alesund 3_tonemapped
Read More...

Travel Agents Gifts

Books for Travel Agents to Give as Gifts

Travel agents know the value of rewarding clients with gifts. Thoughtful small mementos from a cruise, or tour, your clients book are always appreciated.Travel books, make excellent promotional gifts, bon voyage presents, or holiday remembrances.

Chair Obidos
CHAIR WITH SHAWLS OUTSIDE STORE, OBIDOS, PORTUGAL
Read More...

Protect World Heritage and Biospheres

Help to Preserve the World’s Cultural and Natural Heritage

Following our passion for preserving wild places, Boris and I took the plunge and entered National Geographic's "Expedition Granted" contest for $50.000! Whether you’re a nature lover, a traveler, a teacher, an armchair explorer, you can participate in “Expedition Granted,” with one click. Here’s How:

NG PosterVersion 4 Read More...

Birmingham Butterfly Awareness Day

Butterfly Gardening and Conservation

Butterfly on Boris

On a  perfect summer day, I was delighted to join the Birmingham Botanical Gardens to celebrate Butterfly Education and Awareness Day, and to share my newest book in the eco mystery series for middle grades, The Adventures of The Sizzling Six: Monarch Mysteries (book 6).

Read More...

Butterfly Education and Awareness Day

Butterfly Education and Awareness Day
Birmingham Botanical Gardens, June 14, 2014, 10 - 2 p.m. Free

Ellie & Butterfly

Read More...

Hiking The Tuskegee National Forest

Audubon Field Trip to Tuskegee National Forest
On a crisp early morning in April, a group of intrepid explorers from the Birmingham Audubon Society arrive at the Pleasant Hill Trailhead in the Tuskegee National Forest. Bird calls ring out high above, which our knowledgable birders identify for the novices as pine warblers, red-eyed vireos, brown thrashers, eastern towhees, northern cardinal, Carolina wrens and a variety of other birds. The blackened areas in the forest show the on going effort by the US Forest Service to restore the longleaf pines by controlled burning of undergrowth.This is because extensive timbering and replanting with loblolly pine during the settlement period of the nineteenth century increased the population of pine beetle and caused a sharp decline in longleafs—and with them the endangered Red-cockaded woodpecker that nests in mature longleaf pine forests with grassy undergrowth.
Pleasant HillTrail Read More...

How to Handle a Torah

When a Torah Tumbles to the Ground

I came across this article in the
Jewish Daily Forward, “When Torah’s Tumble to the Floor, What’s a Shul to Do?”  It immediately triggered a connection to a similar incident in which Leah Rosen, a tragic character in my historical novel, causes the Torah to drop to the floor:

“Leah shoved her way through the throng, unaware of heavy heels crushing her toes or sharp elbows jabbing into her ribs. When she reached her father, she tried to seize the Torah from him. With a strangled exclamation Hershel twisted sharply away from her outstretched hands, lost his grip on the Torah, and fell to his knees.” Read More...

Green Apps to Get Kids Outdoors

Let Your App Be Your Nature Guide
We've all heard about the problem of kids—and adults—spending too much time indoors playing video games and not enough time outside moving about. With new “green” apps, outside time and screen time do not have to be mutually exclusive. Instead of battling to keep kids away from gadgets, why not use technology to encourage kids to explore outdoors? My friends who are birding enthusiasts and environmental educators are already doing so, so why not join them. In this blog I suggest apps that will enhance kids’ experience outdoors—as well as our own. 
Read More...

Technology That Connects Us To Nature

In Search of the Elusive Cerulean Warbler

When we venture outdoors, many of us try to unplug from electronic devices. I don’t appreciate a ringing cell phone while floating down a peaceful river, or the jarring sound of an ATV or motorcycle, drowning out bird calls. My recent outdoor adventures, however, have shown me that nature and technology need not be kept at a distance.  Read More...

Citizen Scientist Eco Mysteries

For many kids, science class means slogging through textbooks, memorizing the discoveries of others, and performing pretested experiments that come with preconceived answers. Citizen science projects can offer kids the chance to study and to participate science outside the confines of the classroom.

Read More...

Protect Wildflowers

Easter Wildflower Hike with Fresh Air Family.

The spring weather was perfect for an invigorating hike despite the threat of showers. Verna Gates, Founder and Executive Director of Fresh Air Family, guided us on a delightful walk through the Birmingham Botanical Gardens. Drawing form Biblical parables and old folk tales, Verna wove stories around the amazing variety of spring wildflowers, some of them only to be found in Alabama. Blazing yellow, red, and orange tulips, pansies, and poppies created a gorgeous contrast to the delicate blue, violet, and mauve trilliums, spiderworts, and wild geraniums, to name but a few. Read More...

Birds in The Everglades National Park

Boris and I wanted to share these photo taken an Everglades National Park. The birds were warming themselves in the sun after an unusually chilly night for South Florida.  No need for binoculars, the birds seemed to be posing for us as they thawed in the sun. Read More...