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Practically Paradise
Inside Practically Paradise

Afraid of the water? You will be after reading this series by Bearport

Portuguese Man-of-War: Floating Misery by Natalie Lunis. Bearport Publishing. ISBN: 978-1-59716-946-2. Original Price $22.61 School/Library Price $16.96. 2010 

The books in this series Afraid of the Water cram 24 pages of fantastic photos with fascinating facts. Intended for grades 3+ with an interest level of 1-6, this is a wonderful series for elementary and middle-schools. It’s going to meet research needs but more importantly it’s going to hook those jaded students who are tired of researching sharks, dolphins, and whales, and who need to be surprised. You are going to receive demands for more, so you’d better order the entire set. 
Nonfiction Monday
While unpacking books one day, I saw the cover of Portuguese Man-Of-War and immediately dropped everything I was doing to read. I just didn’t know much about this creature except that it was deadly and near Australia. After reading it, I discovered the Portuguese man-of-war drifts all over the world. Seeing the cover gave me a shiver and I had to wonder if the photo was altered. Was a person really in the water near this creature? 

Bearport Publishing does such an amazing job of matching photos to their text that I always check out the photo credits on the copyright page to try to learn more. James O’Connor is the photo researcher for this text and I salute him! The design team has created a science nonfiction book that is compelling and informative. The narrative is straightforward and simple enough for elementary students, yet compelling for middle school interests.

The information in Portuguese Man-Of-War stayed with me and I looked for opportunities to share my new insights into this creature that is NOT a jellyfish. I also read Blue-Ringed Octopus: Small by Deadly by Natalie Lunis ISBN: 978-1-59716-944-8. Did you know this fact?

 "An octopus doesn’t just change its color. It can also make its skin bumpy to match the texture of its surroundings.?

Imagine how excited I was to see this deadly octopus at an aquarium the next day. I confirmed that there is no known antidote to its poison and I was left to wonder how anyone cares for this creature in an aquarium or zoo. How do they stay safe?

Last week I was able to visit with some librarians as part of the ARSL Annual Conference. ARSL is the Association of Rural and Small Librarians.

 They were meeting in Gatlinburg, TN, (vacation dream place) and had an opening Library Luau at the Ripley’s Aquarium. What a fantastic evening! If you are planning a library conference, you should have an event at the aquarium, too. Good food at 3 stations – appetizers while listening to a band, a buffet where you can sit outdoors and stare at the mountains or the tourists, and a dessert bar with a chocolate fountain. 
While driving there, my BFF from college Shirley and I saw a sign saying this was America’s #1 Aquarium. Being skeptics, we decided we’d have to judge ourselves.
After reading every sign, participating in every interactive aspect, viewing the feeding of the sharks and sting rays, petting the sting rays, and riding a moving sidewalk through the sea closer to sharks and sawfish than any person should ever be, we have decided this was the most amazing aquarium we have ever been to, also. It has our votes.

Here I found some unusual looking rocks. But when I was pointing and asking questions about them, they suddenly all jumped up and swam away. We were in the exhibit on how sea animals camouflage themselves. Seems they fooled me. Hmm? Fooled by fish that act like rocks? I don’t think I’ll be bragging about that one.
The only bad part of the experience for me was discovering that there are these terrible beasts in the ocean called Japanese giant spider crabs. Rounding the corner and seeing these enormous things frightened me so much I couldn’t move. Shirley had to guide me out of the display. I’m not joking! I immediately decided Aldo Leopald was wrong and that there are some creatures on this planet that shouldn’t exist – giant crabs that look and act like spiders being top of the list. Good thing I wasn’t in charge of their feeding and care! I’m not the only one to be shocked and amazed as you can see by Vince Lewis’ website. Where are the books on these beasts?
These beasts looked at me menancingly. I swear it because I went back 3 more times to try to face my fears. I got close enough to read that they can grow up to 12 feet long when one climbed on top of another to wave his claws at me horrifically. I tried one final time while we were taking pictures to show you, readers, but it crawled towards me and I just had to give up and go home. I studied the map for where they are located and decided I never need to go into the sea near Japan. I will let them exist as long as it’s never close to me again. They can have their territory and I will stay in mine. Argh! Wait, I just read that they frightened people once inland in Japan. Weren’t they also the cause for the demise of some villains in a Japanese samurai book I read this spring? I’m going to have to go back and re-read that chapter.

If you look closely at this picture, you can see the diver in there with his arms wrapped around his body. He is surrounded by rays that are nibbling food from his pouches. The sharks are in there with him. I marveled at how sting rays’ mouths are shaped. While we tried to pet them, a spotted sting ray splashed me playfully and I jumped back. The attendant laughed so hard. I think I’d better read the rest of this series so I know what to be afraid of in the water, and what not to fear. Do you think growing up in a landlocked state and being a child of the Jaws era has had an effect on me? I do.