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Gibbon wake-up call

Gibbon wake-up call

We arrived in Sumatra two days ago and woke our first morning to the wild and bellowing call of the gibbon. I’ve woken to coyotes, owls, New York CIty taxi cabs, the Colorado River down at the bottom of the Grand Canyon, the haunting cry of sandhill cranes in Nebraska, but nothing prepared me for this in-your-face primate proclamation. I’ve learned these are territorial calls. No worries gibbons. This stretch of Sumatran jungle is all yours.

We are visiting two International School campuses in Sumatra, the 6th largest island in the world and home to more than 50 million people. (Vermont, where we live, has just over half a million people.) Once lush tropical rainforest covered Sumatra from coast to coast. Like so many habitat loss stories around the world, much of this biological wildlife paradise has been lost to development and palm oil plantations. Yet, deep, deep in the untracked remnants of forest live lovely reddish-brown orangutans, and even some last Sumatran rhinos.

Listen to a gibbon here:

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January 20, 2014 · 1:43 pm

Goodbye Singapore; hello Sumatra!

Goodbye Singapore; hello Sumatra!

We celebrated our last night in Singapore with a fantastic meal at Samy’s Curry Restaurant. Curry fish head, like chili crab or chicken rice, is one of the iconic dishes in Singapore – spicy but oh so good. The food gets plopped on banana leaves and cold beers and iced lime drinks cool the palate.

The days flew by at Stamford American International School. Before I knew it, Friday afternoon arrived and the end of the first week abroad. The student’s produced wonderful poems and engaging pieces of writing about sea turtle hatchlings.

With jet lag behind us (and the Mac Book Pro power cord I left behind in one of the classrooms…grrrrr!), it’s off in the morning for a week of teaching in Sumatra.

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January 17, 2014 · 2:09 pm

Day Three and going strong at Stamford American!

Day Three and going strong at Stamford American!

We had fun gathering together after our Cool Details writing workshop in the morning 4th grade class. I wish we could have given every kid a book to hold but thumbs up worked just fine.

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January 15, 2014 · 12:25 pm

Writing with cool details at SAIS

Writing with cool details at SAIS

Day 1 at Stamford American International School was a great day. I began, double-shot cappuccino in hand (yes, I drink a lot of coffee…still a wee bit jet lagged) with a general assembly presenting to all 3rd, 4th and 5th grades…all some 400 students. Do you know what it’s like to have 400 students sing along with you on your song, “One in a Thousand?” It’s loud and pretty cool.

I then dove into writing workshops, 5 in all, back to back. We focused on writing with vivid details. With a 20 minute lesson on enriching our language by using strong verbs, cool details and hooking the reader, the students tried their hand at turning a boring group of sentences into an exciting and interesting paragraph. I gave them this: I was on the beach. I saw a lot of baby turtles go down to the ocean. It was fun. And boy, did they do some great revisions. They added cool details (“cloud-splattered skies” “palm fronds that touched the sky”) and strong verbs (“stippled” “tip-toed” “nudged”). We celebrated our revisions with thumbs up and rounds of applause. Way to go SAIS kids!

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January 13, 2014 · 12:15 pm

See Ya Later USA! Here we come S.E. Asia!

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From the cold snowy tundra of Vermont to the rooftops of Brooklyn then on to the tropical cities and jungles of Singapore, Sumatra, Surabaya, Borneo and Bali we leave this afternoon. I’m taking Sea Turtle Scientist on the road! ll be visiting International Schools, presenting author assemblies, doing book signings and writing workshops. I’m traveling with my true blue partner Heather. I’ll be talking up my new book, Sea Turtle Scientist, as 6 of the 7 sea turtle species swim or nest in the region.  We’ll post photos, videos and travel entries.  Follow us as we journey to the other side of the planet!

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January 9, 2014 · 7:39 pm