'My Dozen Animal Friends'
Photo taken on January 27, 2005, Thursday, in the living room: I and my six-year-old niece Amberlyn
The first gifts I ever gave (for their birthdays last year, March 20 and July 9, respectively) to my nieces six-year-old Amber and five-year-old Julie were books: Firefly Pocket Guide: Birds (1995, Dorling Kindersley London Ltd.) and Firefly Pocket Guide: Mammals (1998, Dorling Kindersley London Ltd.). They are my way of influencing them into developing a fascination for animals and a love for books; for I myself, as a child used to, and now continues to be fascinated with the peculiarities of animals and to be smitten by books.
I delight in the fact that, among Amber and Julie's books, Birds and Mammals have become among their favorites. They usually bring these every time we go out; and how, in the van, the three of us would marvel at the different kinds of animals featured in them. I also take pride in the fact that it was from me whom my nieces learned about obscure animals like the narwhal, pangolin, and sea dragon; that monkeys and apes differ from each other because of the tail or the lack of it; and that the beaver (Castor canadensis) is one of Canada's national animals (the common loon [Gavia immer], a bird, being another).
Amber's seventh birthday is approaching, so I've been thinking of what book to give her this time. Then, voila! I thought of making a children's book about animals. What nicer gift could I give but an animal book authored by myself!
After several days of finalizing the book concept that has long been playing in my mind, I took my journal and started to scribble the words for the book. I was able to profile at least twenty animals, but I decided to feature only a dozen. I used to work as an editor/writer of Science and English books and magazines for elementary and high school; so I know that, for a children's book, the simpler and shorter (yet precise) the textual content, the easier for the intended readers to understand it.
Yesterday I googled for animal pictures which will accompany the children's book I entitled My Dozen Animal Friends. Today I'm finishing the cover and the entire layout; I expect to be able to make a printout tomorrow, a copy of which I'd be posting separately under eLf files.
Here's the textual content of the children's book I made.
My Dozen Animal Friends
by aLfie vera mella
I have a friend anteater.
She lives in the forest.
She has no teeth,
But she has a long snout.
She feeds on ants
And on termites as well.
I have a friend seahorse.
He is a caring father.
He has a pouch on his belly,
Into which the mother lays her eggs.
He takes care of their eggs
Until these hatch into baby seahorses.
I have a friend platypus.
She lives near the river.
She has webbed feet and the beak of a duck.
She lays eggs, instead of giving birth.
She is a mammal;
Not a duck nor any other kind of bird.
I have a friend mudskipper.
He is a kind of fish.
He is named mudskipper
Because he loves skipping in the mud.
I have a friend sea dragon.
He lives in the ocean.
He looks like a seaweed.
He is good at hiding among the plants,
Every time big fishes are around.
I have a friend ostrich.
She is the largest bird
And lays the largest egg.
She surely cannot fly,
But she is the fastest-running bird alive.
I have a friend panda.
He lives in China.
His fur is woolly.
His fur is white and black.
He looks for bamboo shoots and leaves
When it is time for his meal or snack.
I have a friend koala.
She lives in Australia.
She stays atop the eucalyptus tree,
Feeding on eucalyptus leaves.
Just like a kangaroo baby,
Her young is called joey.
I have a friend carabao.
He is the Philippines' water buffalo.
He has a pair of large spreading horns.
He is a cousin of the cow.
He is a hardworking mammal,
Helping farmers till their lands.
I have a friend orangutan.
She lives in the jungle.
She has a shaggy brownish-orange coat.
She has very long arms.
She is an ape—not a monkey—
Because she lacks a tail.
I have a friend pangolin.
She is also called scaly anteater.
She lives in the forest.
With its long sticky tongue,
It feeds on termites and ants.
It rolls up into a ball,
When it is frightened or alarmed.
I have a friend narwhal.
He lives in the Arctic.
He is the kind of whale
That has on its head a long spiral horn.
He has also a spotted pelt.
He is sometimes called sea unicorn.
©2005 eLf ideas