Thank you AAAS (American Association for the Advancement of Science) for selecting this book for your 2014 holiday book gift list. Click on this photo for a free activity MARKLE'S BOOK SAFARI ADVENTURE on SANDRA MARKLE SPEAKS!

Sunday, December 14, 2014


I love receiving letters from young readers. Yesterday, I received a wonderful letter from a third grader in Mrs. Akason's class in Brookview Elementary School in West Des Moines, Iowa.  I was so impressed with her thoughtful questions I'd like to share her letter with you. And my answers.

NOTE: Child's name purposefully deleted


I liked receiving your letter and finding out that you too like exploring outdoors. In fact, I was impressed with how well you write for being 8 years old. SMILE!

And you’ve also asked me some of the most interesting questions I’ve ever been asked: Why did I want to be an author? How did I find all that out about animals? What did I do when I was little? These are such interesting questions because all of the answers go together.

I was an only child so I didn’t have any brothers and sisters. Plus there were few children to play with in my neighborhood. So I read lots of books and spent a lot of time at my grandparent’s house. That I loved because it was just outside the little town I grew up in, Fostoria, Ohio, in the middle of a farming area. There were fields and forests and streams around. Best of all, my grandfather loved the outdoors and was happy to share all the “treasures” I found on my journeys into this just wild enough world. One summer, I rescued a young fox squirrel with fur as red as my hair that liked to ride on my shoulder until it was ready to go off on its own. So was born my fascination with animals and my desire to really understand them and how they live in their world.
I wandered.
I wondered.
I watched and loved what I saw.

No surprise that when I went to college I majored in biology, which is the study of animal life. Summers, during college, I worked at a girl’s camp in Vermont, taking groups on trips to hike, canoe, and explore the forests, lakes, and rivers in that area. When I started teaching school fulltime, I mainly taught science from fifth through eighth grades and always did a lot of outdoor investigating. My classes made rock collections, leaf collections, insect collections, and bird feeders to draw the local birds close enough to study. We also set up nature trails and planted vegetable gardens on the school grounds.

In those years, it seemed to me there were never enough really interesting—fun—books for children about animals and nature. That’s why I began writing my own. These were first for my students and my own son and daughter. Then, once I was published, for lots of young readers, like you. SMILE. And one of the biggest things I worked to change was to have my nonfiction books be in full color. It may be hard to believe now but when I first starting publishing all of the photos and even the art in nonfiction books were always black and white. I was thrilled when my publishers finally agreed to have my books be in full color. Now, they always are.

I’ve now published well over 200 different books but I’m not done. There are so many interesting animals and parts of the world to investigate and share. I love finding out about all the animals. Sometimes, like my three trips to Antarctica to live with 60,000 Adelie penguins while they raised their chicks, I learn for myself. Just as exciting is that I’m able to connect with experts around the world who have spent their lives studying animals. And they kindly share their research adventures with me.

So I hope this answers your questions.  You make me wonder some of my own, like what do you like about the outdoors? What are your favorite animals to read about? And do you sometimes write stories of your own about animals? Writing books about animals for children is a wonderful career. I know I love it! As well as you write already, this could be something to think about for your future.

With Very Best Wishes!
Sandra Markle

Saturday, November 1, 2014


I've only ever written one book that's just about trees--OUTSIDE AND INSIDE TREES.  However, as I looked back through the books I've written, I discovered something very interesting. Trees--sometimes whole forests--are an important part of many of my books.   

Check it out!

In THE CASE OF THE VANISHING HONEYBEES (Millbrook/Lerner) almond trees are possibly one reason entire colonies of honeybees are vanishing--and thought to probably be dead.

California's almond blossom season is the single biggest pollination event in the world.  

Over one million beehives full of worker bees are needed for about a months. So beekeepers truck in lots of hives, each full of its colony of honeybees.

Having lots of bees on hand is the only way orchard owners can make sure nearly every blossom on their almond trees is visited by a bee.

That's what has to happen. The blossom produces a little sweet nectar. 

A bee pushes into the blossom to collect that nectar and in the process picks up a little pollen, the male reproductive cells. A little pollen from another tree is also dropped off. That fertilizes the flower's ovules, the female reproductive parts.

What's good for the trees is hard on the bees. Beekeepers transport their hives from all over the U.S. to California but they arrive early, ahead of the trees blooming. So they have to feed their bees a sugary syrup to keep them going. It's not a healthy diet. And because of it the worker bees are weaker than normal. And the bees have just come from pollinating other crops.

Being overworked could be one reason honeybees are dying causing honeybee colonies to collapse. 
Do you think honeybees should be trucked to different places to pollinate crops? Why? Or why not?

Read the CASE OF THE VANISHING HONEYBEES to find out at least two other things that could be effecting honeybees.

A tree plays a dramatic role in my book LITTLE LOST BAT (Charlesbridge).

In this story, the mother bat leaves her baby in the bat colony's cave nursery and goes hunting for insects to eat. On night, she passes a tall oak tree.

Read this story to see what is in that tree.
Keep reading to find out what happens next.

And keep on reading to find out happens at the very end of this story.

Trees are a key part of my story FINDING HOME (Charlesbridge).

First, something happens to a forest to start this story. What happens?

Then there is a big search for one kind of tree. Why is that?

Finally, list five steps that tell what happens along the way to finding that special kind of tree.
FINDING HOME is an exciting story. And people lend a helping hand. 
So don't miss finding out what happens.

A tree stars in my book BUTTERFLY TREE (Peachtree Publishing).  This story is based on one of my very own childhood experiences. I grew up in Ohio near Lake Erie. And one autumn, I had the unique chance to see the migrating Monarch butterflies come across the lake and settle into a forest for the night.

Read this story to see where the butterflies spend the night. It will surprise you!

Next, write your own story. Make up a story where a tree plays a key part.

What tree's fruit is a pod the size of a football, hard as wood on the outside and full of beans surrounded by white pulp?  
Did you guess its a cacao tree?  

CHOCOLATE: A Sweet History (Grosset & Dunlap) is a whole book starring the cacao tree. Yes, it's true. Chocolate is made from cocoa powder. And cocoa powder is made from the seeds of the cacao tree.

Ready to dig for treasure? Then read this book to find facts you can treasure an share with your friends and family.
How did the ancient Mayans make chocolate spicy?
What king was the first to sweeten chocolate?
Why did Antarctic explorers take chocolate with them to the South Pole?
Why does chocolate sometimes turn gray?

There are even trees featured in WHAT IF YOU HAD ANIMAL TEETH!?  and WHAT IF YOU HAD ANIMAL HAIR!? (Scholastic). Can you find them?

For that matter, you couldn't read a printed copy of any of my books if it wasn't for trees. 
If it wasn't for trees, there wouldn't be wood pulp.
If it wasn't for wood pulp, there wouldn't be paper.
If it wasn't for paper, there wouldn't be printed books.

Clearly, trees are very important to me. 

Saturday, October 11, 2014


In this newest true-science mystery, you'll share how science detectives tracked down what's been killing a great many bats. So many that little brown bats that were once among the most common kind of bat are in danger of becoming extinct (no more exist). You’ll also discover what's being done to try and save bats of all kinds--even how you can help save your local bats.

Then put what you discovered in this book to work and dig even deeper 
to tackle these activities.

What If You Could HIBERNATE?  

You know what it's like to be asleep. You do it every night. So what if you could hibernate for an entire season the way little brown bats do during the winter? Read about how a bat's body changes during hibernation (read over pages 10 and 11). Then look at this list. Which describes how your body would work if you were hibernating.

1. Your body stays its normal temperature--about 98.6F.
2. You become active sometimes to pass liquid wastes.
3. You become active sometimes to get a drink of water.
4. You eat at least three times a day.
5. Your heart rate drops to a much slower rate than the usual resting rate of 100 beats per minute. 
6. Your immune system isn't nearly as strong in fighting bacteria, viruses, and fungi.

If you could hibernate, which of the four seasons would you choose to skip: Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter? Why would you like to miss that one?

What Should We Do?

Here are three ways scientists are trying to help bats survive. Choose the one you believe has the best chance of working. Prepare to tell others why you think this effort is the one to focus on.

*Winifred Frick and her team hope to find bacteria or fungi that could just naturally stop the growth of Pd, the fungus causing the problem. Then bats could be swabbed with this to help them resist infection. (Check it out on pages 38-39)

*David Blehert and his team are trying to find ways to change the temperature and humidity inside hibernation sites. Their goal is to make those sites less likely to encourage Pd to grow. (Check it out on pages 34-35)

*DeeAnn Reeder and her team is working on developing an implant that could be inserted into the bat's bat. It would slowly release a protective chemical into the bat's blood over the winter. (Check it out on pages 36-37)

Once Upon A Field Trip

Find out more about little brown bats. Go online. Use these keyword phrases as you search for information:

1. Little brown bat diet
2. Little brown bat echolocation
3. Little brown bat nursery colonies


Now use your research to write a one-page story.  Pretend you’re on a field trip (during the day or at night). Tell about watching this bat. Work something you learned about this bat’s life into your story. 

And don't miss checking out these sites for ways you and your family can help bats survive!

Organization for Bat Conservation

Bat Conservation International