Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Abby in the press

Hi Sea Fans!

It's so exciting, Cape Town Kids website has reviewed my book and it's looking good!  Here's what they had to say:

"This is the first in a new series of books about Abby, written by marine biologist Heidi de Maine and illustrated by Keli Hazelton. Abby’s story is different from most other children’s books about animals in that it introduces not only exotic sea creatures, but also an insight into the world of people who work inside the aquarium. Although it is aimed at new readers (age 6-10), it captivated my 4-year old and I really enjoyed reading it. Useful facts and fun ‘quirks’ about each fish or animal is presented in a language that is easy to understand but also leaves space for more exploration. We had fun answering the questions at the back of the book and both learned something new, and want to test our knowledge at our next visit to the aquarium. Because the book introduces only a small selection of animals and leaves a strong sense of being part of a bigger series, we are now really looking forward to the next book!"

I guess this means that we'll have to get book 2 out soon! : )  Keep an eye on this space and I'll let you know how it's going.

Have a great week Sea Fans and let me know what you think by leaving comments or taking the survey on the right hand side of the blog - only 6 days left to add your voice to this survey.

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Monday, June 21, 2010

Sea Monsters

Hi Sea Fans!

What an amazing week last week was.  I got to attend a talk by Dr Eugenie Clark, the "Shark Lady"!  She's 88 years old and is still diving.  The day of her talk, she had been in 15 degree (celsius) water to check out the seven gill sharks of the Cape waters in South Africa. 

A Sevengill Shark.  (Photo by: G. Zsilavecz)

Wow, I hope I'm like her when I reach the age of 88.  Not only is she a friendly and cheerful person, she has amazing stories to tell about what's she's done in her lifetime.  She has written 3 books, over 160 scientific and popular articles, including 12 National Geographic features AND done 71 submersible dives (this is like a mini submarine that scientists use to dive deeper and longer to do research on the animals of the oceans).  It's amazing what some marine biologists get up to!

Her talk was all about the monsters of the sea, but by monsters, she doesn't mean the Loch Ness type of monster, but rather what people may think look, act or feed like monsters.  Some of the animals she showed us were: the Cookie Cutter Shark that has an amazing set of teeth (it bites into its prey and then twists so that it cuts out a round piece of flesh);

The head of a Cookie Cutter Shark.

The strange rubbery lip and amazing teeth of the Cookie Cutter Shark.

the hooded octopus that looks like it dances when it swims and many people like to call it "Dumbo" because of it's looks;

Deep sea "Dumbo" Octopus.  (Photo: Discovery Channel)

 a huge salp that looks like a long jelly worm but is actually not a jellyfish but rather more closely related to vertebrates (animals with true backbones);

An example of a Salp. (Photo: Dive Matrix)

the megamouth shark with its HUGE jaws;

see the ARKive site for a picture @ megamouth-shark/megachasma-pelagios/image-G5956.html

the basking shark;

A Basking Shark next to a diver showing off it's plankton-feeding mouth.

and the Great White Shark which everyone knows.

So it was a fascinating week and I got to see photos of animals I'd only ever heard about.  Good stuff!
I hope you all have a great week Sea Fans and I'll chat to you soon.
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Monday, June 7, 2010

Praise for Abby's Aquarium Adventures

By: Judy Mann
Director of Sea World at uShaka Marine World
SAAMBR (South African Association of Marine Biological Research)

At last a book that introduces young readers to the exciting world of an aquarium. Abby’s Aquarium Adventures was a real pleasure to read and a welcome change to the common subject matter found in most children’s books. The book traces the adventures of Abby, an aquarist working at a public aquarium and introduces young readers to the fascinating work done in an aquarium. Abby’s Aquarium Adventures also gives readers a chance to learn more about some of the many interesting fish found in our oceans.

The book is clearly written in a language accessible to young readers. Well illustrated, the beautiful, colourful images clearly depict the themes of the different pages. The illustrations complement the text well to produce a book that is clear, interesting and lots of fun.

But, to really test the book I tried it out with a number of little people. After all, the book is aimed at youngsters. Without exception they all loved it! The pictures helped to clarify the new words and the text was easy to read by new readers. They found the subject matter intriguing and they were drawn into the story, asking what will happen next and really engaging with the topics. They loved the fish identification quiz at the end as it gave them a little ‘self test’ to do.

As the Director of uShaka Sea World and with many years of experience in Marine Education, I do not often have a chance to really share my work with little people. This book was a fun way to explain what happens at a place like uShaka Marine World in an entertaining way that really engaged the children. This is the first book of its kind to focus on the marine world, for the younger child, and it is a welcome addition to our resources for marine education. I look forward to reading and sharing more of Abby’s Aquarium Adventures.