Blog Tour: The Last of the Sandwalkers by Jay Hosler


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I’m excited to be the last stop of The Last of the Sandwalkers blog tour. I hope you enjoy learning about Jay Hosler’s Whirligig beetle.

Take it away Mr. Hosler!

Character Name: Whirligig beetle

Species: Gyrinus sp.

Length: 3-18 mm

Color: Black.

Habitat: surface of streams, rivers and lakes

Superpower: four eyes, nasty spray and swimming underwater


There is a park down by the river that runs through the town where I live and in the summer, it’s easy to find clusters of whirligig beetles darting across the surface of the river near shore.  They are supported by the surface tension of the water as they skitter, spin and whirl. It looks like they’re having an aquatic square dance, but in reality, much of their time is spent hunting for hapless insects which don’t have the whirligig’s gift for swimming and who have gotten trapped in the water.


Clusters of whirligigs can be quite crowded (check out the videos at the Arkive website) and this crowding raises an interesting behavioral question. Isn’t a conspicuous cluster of tiny, fast moving insects on the surface of the water an easy target for hungry fish and birds?  This might be a problem for some critters, but whirligigs have several adaptations to deal with would-be predators. They have two sets of eyes for starters; one set above the water for detecting aerial threats and one set below the water to spot death by fishy. The also have sensory organs that alert them to ripples in the water made by approaching denizens of the deep looking for nummies. Whirligigs can take evasive maneuvers by flying or swimming away, but if worse some to worse and they get sucked into a fish’s mouth, they have one final defense. They can secret a chemical from their pygidial gland that is so nasty tasting that a fish will spit them out before the whirligig is harmed.

ARKive video - Whirligig beetle - physical appearance

If the threat comes from the sky, whirligigs can dive underwater and stay there for extended periods of time thanks to an air bubble trapped under their elytra (the hardened out wings that all beetles have). This bubble is essentially a gill for the whirligig, allowing it to stay hidden underwater until the threat has flown away.

In Last of the Sandwalkers, our intrepid beetle adventurers meet whirligigs for the first time and quickly learn that a lot of great things can come in small packages.

Jay Hosler is a biology professor at Juniata College, and a cartoonist. He enjoys telling stories about science and the natural world, and his first graphic novel (Clan Apis) won a Xeric Award and was selected for YALSA’s 2002 Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults. His latest book, Evolution: The Story of Life on Earth, was a 2011 Junior Library Guild selection, a nominee for YALSA’s 2012 Great Graphic Novels for Teens, and has been included in the Texas Library Association’s Maverick Graphic Novel Reading List. He lives in central Pennsylvania with his wife and his two little nerdlings.

Panthers Pocast: Suzanne Woolworth



Before spring break Ben Gilpin and I got the chance to sit down and talk with Suzanne Woolworth about all the greatness going on in her classroom and around Parma Elementary.

I have the honor of working with Mrs. Woolworth each and every day. We are the two third grade teachers at Parma, and I cannot think of a better teammate. She pushes me to be a better teacher.

I hope you’ll take the time to listen to this episode. Suzanne’s story is inspiring.

39 Story Treehouse Trifecta – An Interview With Terry Denton



Happy Trifecta Tuesday! I’m excited to celebrate the Treehouse series today with Mr. Schu and Nerdy Book Club. My students are madly in love with these books. MADLY IN LOVE. They are some of the most reread books in my entire classroom library.

Check out Mr. Schu’s interview with Treehouse author Andy Griffiths. Griffiths is the guest blogger today on Nerdy Book Club.

nerdy monsterNow it’s my turn. I hope you enjoy my interview with Treehouse illustrator Terry Denton.

5. Can you tell us a little bit about the Treehouse books?

When we go away to plan our books, Andy will talk through the ideas while I quickly capture them in comic strip form. One time we were working on a story about a guy who is captured by pirates, then gets shipwrecked on a deserted island where he builds a treehouse shelter. But this adventure story wasn’t working so well, so eventually we abandoned it. But we couldn’t let go of the image of the treehouse. We all loved the idea of a series of stories set in a treehouse that just keeps growing bigger and bigger and where anything is possible.


4. What is your favorite thing about being an artist?

I love it when we are planning the next book and I am roughing out the drawings. That is so exciting because we don’t know where it’s heading. 


But the best bit of my job is when I get to do colour work, like on the covers. I am in heaven whenI am playing with my watercolour paints. 

3. If you could spend one day inside the world of any book which book would you pick?

My favourite picture book is Dawn by Uri Schulevitz. It is set on the edge of a lake surrounded by beautiful mountains. It is a pretty chilled, but sublime, watercolour world that I’d love to wake up to.


2. What advice do you have for the young writers in my classroom?

For writers and drawers my advice is the same: immerse yourself in your writing or drawing. Love the doing and practice, just a few words or a scribbled drawing, as often as you can in your sketchbook. 

1. What’s the hardest thing about being an artist?

Deadlines are always the hardest part, as with the Treehouse books where I have 2 months to complete more than 400 drawings.

5, 4, 3, 2, 1 Interview: A. F. Harrold


I’m excited to celebrate The Imaginary with Mr. Schu reads and Nerdy Book Club today. Be sure to check out their sites to see what they have in store.

I hope you enjoy my interview with A.F. Harrold!



1. Can you tell us a little bit about The Imaginary?

It tells the story of Rudger, an imaginary friend, and Amanda, a real friend, and what happens when they get separated.

It also stars an imaginary dog called Fridge, a real cat called Oven, some grownups, some weather and villain called Mr Bunting.

It is illustrated by the amazing and prize-winning illustrator Emily Gravett who has made the book a very beautiful thing.


2. What is your favorite thing about being an author? 

Being paid by people to write things down, that’s quite nice, along with all the baths I’m allowed to take.
Whenever I get stuck with writing I’ll have a bath and try not to think about what’s got me stuck.
The bath has to be hot, very hot, and there must be bubbles and a good book to read.
If the bath doesn’t help, then I might go for a walk down by the river, that’s quite nice too. 

3. What’s the hardest thing about being an author?  


4. If you could spend one day inside the world of any book which book would you pick? 

Just one day?
I’ll spend it in the Hundred Acre Woods, catching up with old friends.

5. What advice do you have for the young writers in my classroom?  
Keep on reading and keep on writing.
Throw nothing away, even the things you think might be rubbish.
Put them in a bottom drawer and leave them there.
From time to time take things out, have another look: you might see how to make them better now.
If you’re stuck, go have a bath.


5, 4, 3, 2, 1 Interview: Lee Wardlaw


I hope everyone is enjoying today as much as I am. I’m writing this introduction on a beach chair as I watch my kids play in the Gulf Of Mexico. I’m going to ge tight to the interview so that I can get get back to beachin’.

5,4,3,2,1 Interview with Lee Wardlaw


Can you tell us a little bit about the WON TON AND CHOPSTICK?

Won Ton cat’s purr-fect life is forever changed when his family does the incomprehensible: They adopt a (gasp!) D.O.G. Think sibling rivalrywith whiskers! (2)



What is your favorite thing about being an author?

I get to work at home in my kitty slippers. (1)


What’s the hardest thing about being an author?

Newbie writers think the hardest thing isselling that first manuscript. Nopeit’s when one of your books goes out of print. It’s like raising a child: you do all you can to ensure he’ll be happy and healthy, and have goodfriends. And then, one day, he’s kicked out of the cool club, relegated to the remainder table because no one wants to play with him anymore. WAH! (5)

4. If you could spend one day inside the world of any book which book would you pick?

Easy: Harry PotterI’d be BFFs with Hermione. And I’d have a wand made of Hawaiian koa wood with a little bit of cat hairembedded in it. (3)

5. What advice do you have for the young writers in my classroom?  

If you’re stuck for an idea, write about the time you felt a super strong emotion, such as embarrassment, shame, fear, anger, grief, or jealousy. (I used all six of thoseand more!in Won Ton and Chopstick! See if you can find them!) Strong emotions are a great tool for helping you connect with your story, and connecting your readers with that story. (4)

Lee Wardlaw swears that her first spoken word was “kitty.” Since then, she’s shared her life with 30 cats (not all at the same time!) and published 30 books for young readers, including Won Ton: A Cat Tale Told in Haiku, recipient of the Lee Bennett Hopkins Children’s Poetry Award, the Myra Cohn Livingston Award for Poetry, and the Cat Writers’ Association Muse Medallion. She lives in Santa Barbara, California with her family.

Activity Kit for Won Ton and Chopstick:

Teacher’s Guide for Won Ton and Chopstick:

Twitter: @LeeWardlaw

The Nerd Camp Song


I cannot believe that this is a real blog post. It blows my mind that Nerd Camp has an actual theme song. How cool is that?

I’m very thankful that Christopher Petty, volunteered by his wife Dev, wrote us the perfect theme song for our summer literacy event. I can’t wait to play it for my students.


If you’d like more information about Nerd Camp please click on the image below (Designed by the lovely Laurie Keller).


Be sure to check out the book trailer to Dav’s I Don’t Want To Be A Frog. Mr. Petty wrote the theme song to this one, too!