BOOK: Children & Other Wild Animals

Recently published from the OSU Press:

Brian Doyle, Children & Other Wild Animals (Corvallis: Oregon State UuniversityPress, 2014), 176 pp

Publisher’s Description In Children & Other Wild Animals, bestselling novelist Brian Doyle (Mink River, The Plover) describes encounters with astounding beings of every sort and shape. These true tales of animals and human mammals (generally the smaller sizes, but here and there elders and jumbos) delightfully blur the line between the two.

In these short vignettes, Doyle explores the seethe of life on this startling planet, the astonishing variety of our riveting companions, and the joys available to us when we pause, see, savor, and celebrate the small things that are not small in the least.

Doyle’s trademark quirky prose is at once lyrical, daring, and refreshing; his essays are poignant but not pap, sharp but not sermons, and revelatory at every turn. Throughout there is humor and humility and a palpable sense of wonder, with passages of reflection so true and hard earned they make you stop and reread a line, a paragraph, a page.

Children & Other Wild Animals gathers previously unpublished work with selections that have appeared in Orion, The Sun, Utne Reader, High Country News, and The American Scholar, as well as Best American Essays (“The Greatest Nature Essay Ever”) and Best American Nature and Science Writing (“Fishering”). “The Creature Beyond the Mountain,” Doyle’s paean to the mighty and mysterious sturgeon of the Pacific Northwest, won the John Burroughs Award for Outstanding Nature Essay.

Doyle will be a featured author at the Wild Arts Festival, November 22-23; more information here.

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BOOK: Field Guide to Oregon Rivers

Recently published from the OSU Press:

Tim Palmer, Field Guide to Oregon Rivers (Corvallis: Oregon State University Press, 2014), 320 pp

Publisher’s Description Despite Oregon’s watery reputation, the state has lacked a field guide for its many celebrated rivers and streams—until now. Preeminent river conservationist, photographer, and author Tim Palmer’s Field Guide to Oregon Rivers is an unprecedented reference that profiles 120 waterways throughout the state, from the Alsea to the Williamson.

Field Guide to Oregon Rivers offers travelers, outdoor enthusiasts, and resource professionals an interpretive approach to the state’s network of waterways. The book begins with a natural history of Oregon’s rivers— geology, climate, hydrology, plants, animals, and ecology. Then in ten chapters organized by watersheds, Palmer presents portraits of individual rivers, with a summary of its character, notes about its nature and fish, and comments about ongoing threats along with protection efforts. He points to opportunities for seeing the river, hiking along its shores, fishing, and exploring by canoe, kayak, raft, or drift boat.

The guide concludes with a series of appendices addressing the Best River Running, the Best Hiking Along Rivers, the Best Fishing, Oregon’s Finest Natural Rivers, and more. With fifty illustrations identifying common riparian plants and animals, and 150 of Palmer’s award-winning photographs showcasing the variety and grandeur of Oregon’s magnificent rivers estate, this volume is an ideal outdoor companion for all Oregonians and visitors to the state.

Palmer will be a featured author at the Wild Arts Festival, November 22; more information here. He will also be giving several presentations about his book:

Nov. 3, 6:30pm – Next Adventure Paddle Sports Center
Nov. 5, 7:00pm – Audubon Society of Portland
Jan. 8 – Patagonia Store

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BOOK REVIEW: Fall nature book titles from Dawn Publications look at prairies and seed dispersal

I’ve reviewed books from Dawn Publications (Facebook/Twitter/blog) before (see here). They publish some of the best nature books for kids in my opinion. Their two new titles for Fall are equally as informative, creative, and appealing as previous titles.

In The Prairie That Nature Built (Nevada City, CA: Dawn Publications, 2014), Marybeth Lorbiecki and illustrator Cathy Morrison teach kids about a particular habitat – the prairie – through text following the popular nursery rhyme “This is the House That Jack Built.” Starting with creatures that “worm and squirm,” we learn about the “diggers, with tunnels so steep,” “roots that plunge so deep,” and the “plants that shoot so high” – all the way through insects, birds, herbivorous mammals, carnivorous mammals, fire’s effect on the landscape, rain, and ecological renewal. All this culminates in the appreciation of the prairie by a young boy and his dog. Lorbiecki presents complex ecological concepts in a fashion suitable for young readers, with charming and colorful artwork by Morrison. Whether or not your family or your students live somewhere near a prairie landscape, it’s an environment that all should learn about, especially to know about the Great Plains. Here are some sample pages (courtesy Dawn Publications) that will give you an idea of the text (click to enlarge):

The Prairie That Nature Built also comes with a free “pop-up” app that can be downloaded (for both Apple and Android users), making reading this book an interactive adventure in itself!

For those of you in Oregon, did you know that the Nature Conservancy protects North America’s largest remaining grassland of Pacific Northwest bunchgrass, the Zumwalt Prairie Preserve in northeast Oregon? Learn more here, and watch a video from OPB’s Oregon Field Guide all about this “ecological jewel.”


Seed dispersal – how plants spread to new places – is an exciting nature topic. There’s probably no better plant to teach kids about seed dispersal that the dandelion, for many kids regularly pick and blow the seeds off them (and many adults will recall with fondness memories of doing this). In The Dandelion Seed’s Big Dream (Nevada City, CA: Dawn Publications, 2014), Joseph Anthony tells the story of a single dandelion seed as it is carried through the air in a city landscape. Will it find a place to settle in soil and grow into a flower? The seed comes across several obstacles, but eventually finds a home at a community garden. After little yellow flowers finally pop up, new seeds are dispersed and the journey starts again. While this simple yet meaningful story is about a seed, one can take away from it that life is a struggle with hardships but they can be overcome through courage and perseverance. As with all of Dawn Publications’ titles, the illustrations – by Cris Arbo – are full of color and warmth. In the back of the book, Anthony includes factual information about the natural history of dandelions, discusses how they are viewed as beautiful flowers by some or as annoying weeds by others, and offers some ideas for educational activities to learn more about dandelions and seed dispersal. Here are some sample pages (courtesy Dawn Publications) that will give you an idea of the text and detail in Arbo’s illustrations (click to enlarge):

Here’s a photo from 2011 of my son blowing on dandelion seeds, at Graham Oaks Nature Park in Wilsonville, OR:

Graham Oaks Nature Park, Wilsonville, OR

As for most of their titles, Dawn Publication offers downloadable activities related to its books for classroom use. Find them here.

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Wednesday photo of the week: salmon homecoming

Salmon homecoming at Oxbow Regional Park
Note: this photo was taken by my wife

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Lunch with the Birds! in Hillsboro, November through June

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Monday thought of the week: a direct connection to the other world outside

A thought:

I always think that we are animals and we shouldn’t be inside these boxes all day and all night long. And then to walk outside and only walk on sidewalks and never touch the earth or think about that you’re on this spinning planet… To me, a direct connection to the other world outside is a very important part of my life and my child’s life. Everybody knows that children don’t get to play outside anymore. It’s true. But it is so important to get their feet barefoot in the water. It’s just so important.

- artist Nikki McClure, in an interview for NW Book Lovers (March 11, 2014)

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Upcoming nature events in Portland

Hike series with Friends of the Columbia River Gorge

Hike series with Oregon Wild

Fall nature classes at Jackson Bottom Wetlands Preserve

October 18 | Park After Dark: Sounds of the Night | Tualatin Hills Nature Park

October 18 | Salmon Homecoming | Oxbow Regional Park

October 18 | Introduction to Mycology | Tryon Creek State Park

October 19 | Salmon Homecoming | Oxbow Regional Park

October 19 | Wahclella Falls Kids Hike | Friends of the Columbia Gorge

October 22 & 26 | Two part nature series: Digging deep into fungi | Metro

October 22 | First River Professor Talk: Native People of the Tualatin River – Past & Present | Tualatin Riverkeepers

October 23 | Book talk: Welcome to Subirdia with John Marzluff | Powell’s Books (Beaverton)

October 24 | Kids Nature Night Out: Witch’s Potion | Cooper Mountain Nature Park

October 24 | Owl Prowl | Columbia Slough Watershed Council

October 25 | Nature Days in the Park: Stoller Creek Greenway | THPRD

October 25 | Grand opening of Nature Play Area at Westmoreland Park & Salmon Celebration | Portland Parks & Recreation

October 25 | Classroom Discovery Days: Banana Slugs | Tryon Creek State Park

October 25 | Native Forest Hike With Marcy Houle | Forest Park Conservancy

October 25 | Fall Family Field Trip Day | Columbia Springs

October 25 | Halloween Night Flight | Audubon Society of Portland

October 26 | Fall Color Tour | Hoyt Arboretum

October 29, Nov. 2 & 9 | Three part nature series: Wildlife tracking | Metro

November 2 | Mushrooms for beginners at Mount Talbert | Metro

November 5 | Night at the Refuge | Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge

November 5 | Author Event With Tim Palmer, Field Guide to Oregon Rivers | Audubon Society of Portland

November 8 | Newt Day | Tualatin Hills Nature Park

November 11  Family Fun on the Farm   Sauvie Island Center

November 14 | Park After Dark: Owl Prowl | Tualatin Hills Nature Park

November 15 | Scouters Mountain nature hike | Metro

November 16 | Nature Days in the Park: Foothills Park | THPRD

November 21 | Book talk: Welcome to Subirdia with John Marzluff | Oregon Wildlife

November 21 | Kids Nature Night Out: Geology Rocks | Tualatin Hills Nature Park

November 21 | Park After Dark: Owl Prowl | Cooper Mountain Nature Park

November 23 | Thanksgiving walk at Oxbow Regional Park | Metro

December 3 | Night at the Refuge | Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge

December 12 | Kids Nature Night Out: Frozen | Tualatin Hills Nature Park

December 13 | Park After Dark: Owl Prowl | Tualatin Hills Nature Park

Regular nature outings (check websites for seasonal scheduling): Nature Days in the Park and Nature Mobile from Tualatin Hills Park & Recreation District’s Natural Resources, Honeybee Hikes at Leach Botanical Garden, Story and Strolls and Guided Nature Walks at Tryon Creek State Park, Ladybug Nature Walks with Portland Parks & Recreation, Puddle Stompers at Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge, Bird Walks for adults and kids through Backyard Bird Shop, free field trips with Audubon Society of Portland volunteers, Library events with The Bug Chicks, Tadpole Tales with Columbia Slough Watershed Council, Farm Fridays at Zenger Farm, and Second Saturdays at the Water Resources Education Center in Vancouver, WA.

– $2 admission at OMSI the first Sunday of every month
– $3 admission at the World Forestry Center the first Wednesday of every month
– $4 admission at the Oregon Zoo the second Tuesday of every month
– FREE admission at the Portland Art Museum the fourth Friday of every month, 5-8pm
– FREE admission at the Portland Children’s Museum the first Friday of every month, 4-8pm
– FREE admission at the Oregon Historical Society & Museum every day for Multnomah County residents

*My friend Laura posts a monthly listing of kid and family-friendly events of natural, scientific, and cultural interest. October’s list is here.

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Wednesday photo of the week: sand and water play

Sand fun at Westmoreland Park Nature Play Area

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These Parks Depend On You and Me – Yes on 26-159

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Monday thought of the week: set the children free

A thought:

Set the children free. Let them have fair play. Let them run out when it is raining, take off their shoes when they find pools of water, and when the grass of the meadows is damp with dew, let them run about with bare feet and trample on it. Let them rest quietly when the tree invites them to sleep in its shade. Let them shout and laugh when the sun wakes them up in the morning, as it wakes every other living creature.

- Maria Montessori, The Discovery of the Child (1948)

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