Did You Know? Unicorn Edition

That Narwhals may be the ‘original’ unicorns?

I found this information on page 31 in the book Whales and Dolphins by Robin Kerrod. This ‘Exploring Nature’ book is all about whales, porpoises, dolphins, and more and explains the differences between them. Long ago when narwhals were little known, their ‘horns,’ which are actually a large protruding canine tooth, were thought to be (and passed off as) unicorn horns. A unicorn’s horn is sometimes called an alicorn.

Narwhals by Todd McLeish describes how narwhal horns were sold for great amounts of money to royalty and others as unicorn horns. Narwhals are still being hunted for their horns, and conservation efforts are under way.

Another animal that has been mistaken for a unicorn is the saola, a relative of antelopes, goats, and cattle. The Last Unicorn by William DeBuys tells about the author’s journey to find a living saola. It sounds like it was quite an adventure through Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos. While saolas do have 2 horns, from the side it looks like they have one.

Unicorns have many names and appearances. They are known as Ki-lin in China with a short curly horn and Karkaddan in Arabia and Persia with a long pointy horn. Behold the … the Unicorns! by Gail Gibbons lets us see the way unicorns are viewed around the world and the legends behind them. It is also well-known that ‘uni’ means one, as in unicorn = one horn, unicycle = one wheel etc. One is a book of colors and numbers by Kathryn Otoshi and helps teach kids to stand up for themselves. Kathryn has won 15 awards for her books and this ‘one’ won the E.B White read aloud honor.

It doesn’t matter if you believe they are real or not, there are many stories about unicorns. The Unicorn Treasury by Bruce Coville is a book that has unicorn stories and poems. Now if you have a unicorn, it will need to be properly trained! Pip Bartlett’s Guide to Unicorn Training by Jackson Pearce and Maggie Stiefvater is a must for the unicorn owner. Pip works at a magical creature clinic and has points and tips for caring for your unicorn, shadyhog, wimpleing or other magical beast. So, keep your eyes open, because you never know when you might see a unicorn!

Did You Know? Woodpecker Edition

That a woodpecker’s ‘tongue’ wraps around its brain to act as a shock absorber when it pecks on trees?

I found this information on page 16 in the book Woodpeckers of the World by Gerard Gorman. Technically, it is the cartilage and bones inside the tongue called the hyoid and an inwardly curved maxilla (an overhang of spongy tissue) that functions as a shock absorber. Their skulls can experience shocks of 1200 G (force of gravity), whereas a human is typically concussed at 100 G or below! This book shows all the species of woodpeckers and their habitats. There are a great many species located here in the Northwest.

Imperial Dreams by Tim Gallagher and The Race to Save the Lord God Bird by Phillip Hoose are about the Imperial and the Ivory Billed woodpeckers which are both endangered and/or presumed already extinct. There have been rumors of sightings, but nothing has been documented. You could join the birdwatchers trying to catch a glimpse of these giant birds…. and be famous if you got a photo!

We have The Russian Woodpecker on DVD. It’s a film by Chad Gracia who follows eccentric artist Fedor Alexandrovich. Alexandrovich reveals to the world an enormous secret weapon, suspected to be for mind control, that stands in the shadow of Chernobyl and makes a woodpecker type noise on a specific radio frequency heard all over the world…. After going on for years, the noise had stopped right after the Chernobyl accident, but is now back on the air! Fedor’s conspiracy theory is that the reactor was deliberately destroyed as a grand cover up because the ‘woodpecker’ was supposed to be inspected by the Russian government the next month, and it would have failed.

Finally, growing up, we always looked forward to watching cartoons. Woody Woodpecker was always one of my personal favorites. We have Woody Woodpecker and Friends Holiday Favorites on DVD so you can remember just what a character he was and introduce him to your family.

Did You Know? Lobster Edition

That in 1880s Massachusetts servants went on strike so they wouldn’t have to eat lobster more than 3 times a week?

I found this information on page 215 in the book Good Eats, the Early Years by Alton Brown. This book is based on his TV series that explains the science of different foods, with lots of tidbits and trivia facts. Alton also gives very good instructions for preparing and cutting up a lobster, as well as a recipe for Stuffed Lobster.

The New York Times Seafood Cookbook edited by Florence Fabricant has many lobster recipes. I actually can’t wait to try my hand at making the Lobster Thermidor or risotto. For those of you who don’t have the opportunity to get or use fresh lobster, 200 Best Canned Fish & Seafood Recipes by Susan Sampson has recipes for Lobster Newberg, Lobster in Américaine Sauce and Shortcut Lobster Thermidor.

We mainly think of lobsters as an expensive delicacy but, back in the day, they were plentiful and cheap. As yummy as any one food can be, too much of a good thing can be very tiresome. Craving: Why We Can’t Seem To get Enough by Omar Manejwala, M.D. explains the science of why we crave certain things. Let’s just say it has a lot to do with neurotransmitters, serotonin, enkephalins, and norepinephrine. The author has lots of advice on how to break the cycles of addiction and craving.

Lobsters are crustaceans that belong to the larger family of arthropods. There are more than a million species of animals, and 3/4 of them are arthropods. Lobsters and other Crustaceans is a good book from the World Book’s ‘Animals of the World’ series. This children’s book explains all about lobsters being decapods (10 legs), their exoskeletons, molting, breeding and almost everything else you ever wanted to know about them! Animals Without Backbones by Ralph Buchsbaum gives even more details about these fascinating creatures.

And lastly, The Lobster is a funny movie about finding love… The story centers on David, as he searches for love at an exclusive resort. But, there’s a catch: you have 45 days to find love or you will be turned into an animal of your choosing!

Did You Know (Speeding Edition)

That the first person arrested for speeding in the United States was driving 12 miles an hour in 1899?

weirdbuttrueI found this information on page 115 in the book Weird but True! Stupid Criminals by National Geographic Kids. This book has more than 150 silly stories about criminals, and will have you laughing out loud!

Fifty Cars that Changed the World shows a 1908 Model T, just a little newer than the first car to get a ticket…. But chances are someone DID get a ticket in one of them. Fifty Cars tells the history of some of these vintage vehicles and how they changed the auto industry all over the world.

barnfindroadtripBarn Find Road Trip by Tom Cotter is “3 guys, 14 days and 1,000 lost collector cars discovered.” If you enjoy tinkering and restoring cars, you will love seeing the treasures they found. Some of them are even for sale if you need a project. If nothing else, you may get inspired to start peeking in some of the old barns around here.

It is ok to speed, sometimes! Like …. On a race track! On the Speedway by Jake Maddox is a children’s book with four short stories about teenage boys at the speedway. Anyone who dreams of being behind the scenes at the races will enjoy these stories.

racingdriverThere are many different kinds of auto racing: NASCAR, sports racers, Indy cars, Formula 1 cars, Stock cars and more. Racing Driver by Giles Chapman is ideal for a future race car driver. It shows “how to drive Race Cars step by step.”

So, basically, those NASCAR guys were criminals in their own right…. Real NASCAR: White Lightning, Red Clay and Big Bill France by Daniel S. Pierce shows how the colorful characters that were rrealnascaracers-by-day and bootleggers-by-night created the NASCAR that people love today.

But, the need for speed has always been with us. I’m sure that cavemen were racing each other to that hill over there, just because there was a hill over there. But we have all kinds of books on horse racing, motocross, hydroplane racing, bike racing and even the Iditarod. So… race right into the library and get one of these exciting books!

Did You Know? (Pigeon Edition)

That the pigeon Cher Ami was awarded France’s Croix de Guerre Medal with a palm Oak Leaf Cluster for bravery after saving the ‘lost battalion’ in 1918?

flycheramiI found this information on page 67 in the book When Hitler Took Cocaine and Lennon Lost his Brain by Giles Milton. This book has lots of ‘the rest of the story’ stories from accounts in history.

Fly, Cher Ami, Fly! by Robert Burleigh tells Cher Ami’s story with a suspense that illustrates all the drama of the situation. Top Secret Files: World War 1 by Stephanie Bearce and Animals with Jobs: Carrier Pigeons by Judith Janda Presnall both talk about the famous pigeon as well. There are a few small details that differ from version to version, but I believe we can all agree that Cher Ami is a hero that deserves his place in history and the Smithsonian!

coldwarpigeonWhen we think of spies we don’t usually think of animals, but they have been used to spy for longer than you can imagine. 24/7 Spy Files: the Cold War Pigeon Patrols by Danielle Denega explains how dogs and dolphins were also used as spies. In Everything World War 1 by Karen L. Kenney you can even see pictures of a horse and a dog with specially fitted gas masks helping out behind enemy lines. Of course there are all kinds of animals that are ‘working’ animals: service dogs, plow animals, and trained animals acting in all kinds of TV shows, commercials or movies. Animal Stars by Robin Ganzert gives you the stories of some famous animals you have probably seen on TV or in the movies. You may even get some tips on how to train your pet and make them famous.

pigeon

Mo Willems writes a very popular series of books about a pigeon that the kids love! Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the BusThe Pigeon Wants a Puppy and The Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog are just a few of the titles available.

comebacksalmonHere in Everett, we have Pigeon Creek #1. The book Come Back, Salmon by Molly Cone tells the story of how the kids at Jackson Elementary cleaned up the creek so salmon could come back and spawn there. The project started in 1984. Today it remains a healthy creek thanks in big part to those dedicated fifth graders.

Lastly, some people are said to be ‘pigeon toed’ (also known as metatarsus varus, metatarsus adductus, in-toe gait, intoeing or false clubfoot). This is a condition which causes the toes to point inward or outward when walking. The Good Foot Book by Glenn Copeland DPM tells us what can be done to correct that problem. It makes me wonder if a pigeon that has its feet turned incorrectly would be ‘human toed?’

Did You Know? (Island Edition)

mythopediaThat the nation of Greece is made up of over 6000 islands? Only 227 are inhabited.

I found this information on page 84 in the book Mythlopedia: Oh My Gods by Megan E. Bryant. This book is full of fun little stories about the Greek gods and their “personality traits.” Poseidon was very greedy. The water wasn’t enough for him… he battled several of the other gods for control of some of the islands. If you would like to visit the Greek Isles yourself, I recommend taking a travel guide. Greece: Athens and the Mainland is just one of the books available at the library.

galapagosThere are about 180,000 islands on earth! Some islands are very well-known for one thing or another. The Galápagos Islands are famous for their animals. Galápagos: Preserving Darwin’s Legacy by Tui De Roy is a fantastic book of pictures and history of the islands. Ellis Island was the heart of immigration for Europeans. Angel Island in San Francisco Bay is where many Asians immigrated into the USA. You can read more about the immigrants in these books by Elaine Landau and Russell Freedman.

imagesofamerica

We have many islands right here in the Pacific Northwest! Whidbey, Orcas, Bainbridge, Lopez and Camano just to name a few. We have a series of books called Images of America that are put together by historical societies and have lots of pictures and anecdotes from a wide variety of Northwest places.

hawaiibigislandThe Hawaiian Islands are probably some of the most visited islands. Mountains, forests, waterfalls, volcanoes, beaches, snorkeling, scuba diving, surfing, golf courses, hiking, swimming…. The water is safe to drink and no passport is needed. Need I say more? Hawaii Dreamscapes Revealed by Andrew Doughty has gorgeous pictures of places you can visit and Hawaii the Big Island: the Ultimate Guide Book also by Andrew Doughty is the best travel book I have seen. Aloha!

Another ‘island’ is the kind in people’s kitchens. 150 Best New Kitchen Ideas by Manuel Gutiérrez shows picture after picture of beautiful kitchens; some with islands, others with design features such as angular cupboards, open shelving and herb gardens.

treasureislandAnd lastly, islands are the theme in many fiction books and movies. Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson, Shutter Island with Leonardo DiCaprio, The Island by Elin Hilderbrand, Plum Island by Nelson DeMille and Lord of the Flies by William Golding are just the tip of the iceberg… which, by the way, reminds me that Greenland is covered in ice, and is the world’s largest island!

Did You Know? (Cell Phone Edition)

That nomophobia is a new phobia that describes the feeling of severe anxiety that results from being without your cell phone.

scaredstiffI found this information on page 112 in the book Scared Stiff by Sara Latta. Nomo is short for no mobile. Young adults between 18 and 24 are the most likely to suffer from this disorder. There is a check list to help you see if this is a problem for you.

In the book Talk Nerdy to Me by Joe Fullman, it tells us that 2,425 cell phones are lost in a day in the U.K. by accidentally flushing them down the toilet, with  another 160 being chewed by dogs. Imagine all the nomophobia that causes!

isitjustmeWith so many people having and using cell phones, cell phone etiquette is becoming more and more of an issue. Whoopi Goldberg talks about this in her book Is It Just Me? Or Is It Nuts Out There? She comments on people using their phones and having loud conversations “as if they were in their living rooms” at the theater, restaurants, and in their cars. Like many of us, she doesn’t want to hear your conversation… no matter where you are!

jerkcellphoneTexting is now another part of this problem. How many times have you seen people texting and driving or been at a restaurant and seen a family at another table and all of them have their phones out?  Hmmm… is that quality time or what?!!  The Jerk with the Cell Phone by Barbara Pacher and Susan Magee is a survival guide that is even more useful now then when it was first published in 2004. The authors have some good advice on dealing with cell phone ‘jerks’ out in public.

givesuptextingKatie Friedman Gives Up Texting (and Lives to Tell About It) by Tommy Greenwald is a story about Katie and 10 of her friends who give up texting and Facebook for a week to win backstage passes to a concert. The kids are faced with incredible challenges, such as using a phone book to make an actual phone call and writing a letter to communicate. It’s actually a real eye opener to see how much we really rely on our phones.

Zapped by Anita Louise Gittleman discusses some health problems caused by electricity and wireless signals. The problems stem from ‘dirty electricity’ and can cause heart palpitations, tinnitus, chronic fatigue, dizziness, diabetes, attention deficit disorders and a host of other symptoms. You can have an electrical quality expert take measurements to determine the severity of the problem, and there are filters that can be installed to help.

worldsscariestprisonsAnother ‘cell’ is a prison cell. World’s Scariest Prisons by Emma Carlson Berne shows us some of the oldest prisons in the world. You can read about the ‘squirrel cage jail,’ aka Pottawattamie County Jail in Iowa, which was a 3 story rotating jail that is now open for tours. Or read about the Carandiru Station in São Paulo, Brazil that was the largest prison of its time in South America. It was supposed to hold 4,000 prisoners but the population grew to more than 8,000. Life in Prison by Stanley “Tookie” Williams should be read by America’s youth as a scared straight type of story. He tells exactly what it is like to be in prison. His story was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.

cellsAnd finally are the ‘cells’ that make up living creatures. Cells by Darlene R Stille is an informative book that shows all kinds of cells (skin, muscle, stem, plant etc.) and explains what they are and do. Just think, without these cells we wouldn’t be here to talk on our ‘cells!’