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The primitive-looking coelacanth (pronounced SEEL-uh-kanth) was thought to have gone extinct with the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. But its discovery in 1938 by a South African museum curator on a local fishing trawler fascinated the world and ignited a debate about how this bizarre lobe-finned fish fits into the evolution of land animals.
There are only two known species of coelacanths: one that lives near the Comoros Islands off the east coast of Africa, and one found in the waters off Sulawesi, Indonesia. Many scientists believe that the unique characteristics of the coelacanth represent an early step in the evolution of fish to terrestrial four-legged animals like amphibians.
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Although jaguars are native to Arizona, little is known about the population segment that resides in Mexico and uses southern Arizona and New Mexico as the northern extent of its range. It was thought the species had been extirpated from the state until 1996 when the first jaguar documented since 1986 was photographed by a southern Arizona rancher/mountain lion hunter. After capture, collar and release, a web of intrigue surrounded death of the only jaguar in Arizona, Macho B.
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Interview Questions about the Aquitaine Reluctant Reader Series:
• What are the challenges of writing children’s illustrated books?
Writing children’s illustrated books requires text that suggests a picture to the artist. The artist’s picture then must illuminate the child’s curiosity to read further, finally, to complete the book.
Illustrated books are a challenge even if you are not an illustrator. The writer must write text that suggests pictures to the illustrator. These young adult “picture books” I’ve chosen to write are nonfiction and use photographs for illustrations.
• What is unique that you have discovered when you were writing “The Aquitaine Reluctant Reader Series”?
This series is a “picture book” for young adults, who for a multitude of reasons, do not like to read. They can read, they just think they have better, more interesting things to do.
These books are geared to the Common Core standards for Grades 9 to 12. By reading these books, students will receive an introduction to the topics and be prepared to begin the study of the topic in their classes. Sources for further study are included in each book.
• Why did you want to write for the reluctant reader? The reluctant reader is an underserved population in schools, especially high schools, which assume students are interested and will spend the time necessary to read assignments. Not so; they need material that is closely aligned to their school curriculum, most usually prescribed by the Common Core, which is presented in an interesting format, especially copiously illustrated with graphs, side bars and photographs. These books are based on the old adage, “A picture is worth a thousand words”. The information is presented in short, easy-to-read, segments.
• What are your key messages? The key message in this entire series is reading can be entertaining AND informative, even fun.
• Which other characters have you crafted that you like the most? These books are not character driven, they present information in a concise, illustrative format; in other words, they are nonfiction.
• Why and when did you begin writing? I began writing seriously as an undergraduate (English Education major) and have written many scientific articles for nonscientists. I specialize in “science for the public”, concentrating on animals, wildlife and natural phenomena.
• Who influenced you the most in your life as a children’s book writer? I attended a session on writing for children presented by Kathleen Kudlinski, a renowned children’s writer, which gave me the impetus to begin writing for children.