I'm having fun meeting fans on the Scholastic Summer Road Trip! Click on this photo to find out about my school visits on SANDRA MARKLE SPEAKS!

Thursday, June 23, 2016


The Scholastic Summer Reading Road Trip is fabulous! 

See me? I'm right under the giraffe's head!

I’m having a wonderful time joining in the fun and meeting fans. 

The Vero Beach Book Center in Vero Beach, Florida was such a special store--more like a journey to a magical country.

The store manager estimated the turnout was between 200 and 300 people. I know I signed books non-stop for the whole two hours. 

What's your favorite animal teeth?

If you could have any animal's feet, which would you choose?

At the Vero Beach stop, I also had a special treat--I was asked to sign the table in the Summer Reading Road Trip RV. Now maybe that doesn't sound like a big deal to you. But I remember reading how J.K. Rowling signed the desk in her hotel room when she finished Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. So I've always wanted to do that. However, I've never had the nerve to whip out my pen and scrawl my name on any of my furniture. 

This fulfilled my dream. And, if you ever get a chance to see that table, I added a little face to make my autograph stand out. SMILE!

I also loved visiting the Scholastic Book Fairs Headquarters in Lake Mary, Florida. The atmosphere there is amazing. Everyone clearly loves the books that go out to the Book Fairs. I mean just take a look at the rug at the building's entrance.

I had to remind them that writing for Scholastic took me all the way to the South Pole. In 1996, I did some of the very first reporting to schools from a remote location for Scholastic. And the South Pole is about as far as any book can take you here on Earth. 

And what a great crowd turned out for that event. 

Though the temperature was pushing 90F, people lined up to meet me. Such a treat to say talk to everyone and sign a copy of my newest WHAT IF YOU HAD!? book.

And I whispered the title of the book coming out next--
but don't tell!!!

And the fun went on.  I never stopped autographing WHAT IF YOU HAD ANIMAL EARS!? for over two hours. In fact, I ran one brand new pen dry and had to pull out another. 


Before the day was over I also had a chance to chat with one of my favorite book characters. 

And I joined in celebrating kids all over the country logging in a record-breaking number of minutes reading for the Scholastic On-Line Reading Challenge
That number is the total number of minutes kids have logged in as reading so far--and the summer isn't over!

So, of course, I had to take that reading challenge too by reading my cat, Beau, his favorite book WHAT IF YOU HAD ANIMAL TEETH!?.

And the Scholastic Summer Reading Road Trip isn't over. Friday, July 22nd it will be at the Marietta Public Library in Marietta, Georgia. Saturday, July 23rd it will be at the Little Shop of Stories in Decatur, Georgia. I'm still on board so, if you live close, come visit. Don't miss it. 

Can you guess which animal ears are my favorite in my newest book WHAT IF YOU HAD ANIMAL EARS!? Come meet me and ask me. I can't wait to meet you--and show you the page with my favorite animal ears!!

Friday, June 17, 2016


A young child is smaller than a lot of the people and even other animals and things in their world. So books that focus on what it means to be among the smallest animal in a big wild place can be special discovery experiences for them. Can even give them tools for living in their own BIG world.

Jump into investigating two of the smallest monkeys in the world: golden lion tamarins and pygmy marmosets. Both live in forests in South America.

Author Sandra Markle (Millbrook/Lerner 2015)

Author Sarah L. Thomson (Boyds Mills Press 2016)


First, discover just how small these monkeys are. An adult golden lion tamarin's body is squirrel-sized--about 8 inches long. 

An adult pygmy marmoset's body is about house mouse-sized--about 6 inches long.  

Have children make two paper strips: one 8 inches long (tamarin-sized) and one 9 inches long (pygmy marmoset-sized).  Next have them measure their handspan. To do that, they need to spread their fingers wide and trace around their hand on a sheet of paper. Their handspan is the distance between their thumb and stretched out little finger. Now have them lay each of the paper strips across the outline of their handspan.

Which would fit best in your hand: 
a golden lion tamarin or a pygmy marmoset?

This is a pygmy marmoset.

This is a golden lion tamarin.

Now, have children think about the monkey they're holding. Its long tail would hang down their arm. Use a piece of string or yarn tacked onto the child's palm with masking tape so they can feel what that would be like. 

If they chose to hold a pygmy marmoset, they'll need a  9 inch long piece of string. An adult pygmy marmoset's tail is about 9 inches long. If they decided they would try to hold a golden lion tamarin, they'll need a 10 inch long pice of string. An adult golden lion tamarins's tail is about 10 inches long.

By the way, in case you're wondering just how small a baby is. A baby pygmy marmoset is smaller than a baby golden lion tamarin. In fact a newborn baby pygmy marmoset is the size of an average adult human's thumb. 

To Talk About: 
Twin baby golden lion tamarins.

Both pygmy marmosets and golden lion tamarins usually give birth to twins. Then the father and  older brothers and sisters take turn carrying the babies. 

Twin baby pygmy marmosets.

The mother usually saves her energy to produce milk and only takes the babies while they nurse. But while the family travels in search of food, water, or shelter, the babies have to hang on to the adult's back. What could be two reasons it's good these monkeys have thick, furry coats?

Clue: At night, the family huddles together to stay warm.


Golden lion tamarin leaping.

Being so little means there are lots of big dangers in their forest home. Something both kinds of monkey have in common is they react fast to danger.  As quick as they spot a bird hunting over head or a climbing hunter prowling the branches, they drop, flying between branches or even trees with their very long tail to help them balance. So challenge children to test their reaction time with this game.

1    Have a partner hold a ruler with the zero end down.

Now grab that ruler. Hold it so your thumb is close to the zero.

Open your grip so your fingers no longer touch the ruler.
Pygmy marmoset hanging on tight.

Get ready!

Have your partner decide when to let go.

Grab the falling ruler fast.

Next, see which number is under your thumb. The lower the number, the faster you were able to react.

Repeat two more times.

Do you get faster with practice? From the time it's a baby, a pygmy marmoset and a golden lion tamarin practice reacting fast to escape danger.

Talk About It: 
Both of pygmy marmosets and tamarins have sharp claws instead of flat fingernails like some other monkeys. How could that help them when they make a fast flying escape in the treetops?


Golden Lion Tamarin Family 

Pygmy Marmoset Family 

Both pygmy marmosets and golden lion tamarins live in family groups. 

They have special calls to communicate. Both use high-pitched trills to say "I'm here? Is anybody there?" These can be heard over a mile away. Such calls can be extra important if a youngster gets separated from the family group. Try it. 

Assign children to groups of four to form family groups.  Have each group choose a sound to be their family's call, such as TWEET-Peep-Peep or CHEEEEEP-Click-Click .  Next, have the group members mix together and form one big circle. Then tell everyone to  look down at the floor.

Upon a start signal, have each person start making their family sound and, without looking up, move slowly toward other family members.  

Can every family group reunite?

Talk About It:  How hard was it for family members to find each other?  How would living in the treetops in a forest make this even harder?

Now take one last look at these two little monkeys together. What are four words you would use to tell about Golden Lion Tamarins and Pygmy Marmosets?

Golden lion tamarin on left. Pygmy Marmoset on right. This pygmy marmoset clearly isn't pleased about sharing a meal.

Imagine being as small as one of these monkeys. Make up a story about a day you spent being as small as the monkey you chose.

Saturday, June 11, 2016



I’m on the Scholastic Summer Reading Road Trip with my WHAT IF YOU HAD!? Series. And I won’t be rolling into town alone. There will be other authors and illustrators on board plus favorite book characters. We’ll be signing books. Joining you for photos. Giving away gifts. There will also be crafts to make and activities galore. This is going to be a summer reading-celebration to remember. So DON’T MISS IT!

Come join me at these Road Trip stops.  Can’t wait to see you there!

Monday, June 20, 2016 from 1pm-3pm
392 21st St, Vero Beach, FL 32960

Friday, July22, 2016 from 10am-12pm
Marietta Public Library
266 Roswell St, Marietta, GA 30060

Saturday, July 23, 2016 from 3pm-6pm
Little Shop of Stories

133 E Court Square # A, Decatur, GA 30030

Saturday, June 4, 2016

BRAND NEW--For Teachers!

I'm excited to share the brand new workshop I'm offering for elementary teachers--HANDS-ON/MINDS-ON STEM STARTERS. You'll discover ready-to-go STEM activities with book connections.

This workshop features activities that inspire children to think creatively and learn by doing. The activities also just naturally stretch learning across the curriculum.

Activities focus on developing:

Teachers each receive a workbook of original activities I've created especially for elementary school students. These are safe, easy-to-do activities using inexpensive materials usually found at home or  at the grocery store. 

Teachers will have an opportunity to perform these activities and be ready to put them into action with their students. Permission to reproduce the workbook activities is supplied to all those attending the workshop.

Some activities are for individuals. Some are just right for partners or teams. Others are whole class activities. 

There are also book tie-ins for several of my books, including

TOAD WEATHER (Peachtree Publishers)

BUILD, BEAVER, BUILD! (Lerner Publishing)


Plus a recommended list of books by other authors that are just right for reading aloud and sparking kids to think creatively.

There are also opportunities to share performing science magic that will spark a child's natural curiosity. And just because it's fun!

Monday, May 9, 2016


I've recently been sharing virtual Skype visits with schools. Part of my visit is a science magic show so I've been getting requests to share my secrets. I'm happy to do that because the truth is that discovering how the world works is the real magic--and what science is all about. So here goes. Follow the steps for each activity and you can make science magic too. Just be sure to check with an adult before you start. Even better ask an adult to be your partner and have fun exploring science magic together.

Make Air Pressure Hold A Plate

This could get messy so work over a sink. Even better try this outdoors. 

You'll need:
A study plastic plate
A paper towel
A sturdy plastic glass (juice size works best)

Fill the plastic glass nearly full of water. Fold the paper towel into fourths and place it on the middle of the plate. Next, turn the plate and towel over the cup like a lid. Hold the plate against the top of the cup with your fingers while you turn the whole system over.

Now the glass is on top. Be sure it is straight up and down. Hold on to the cup with the hand that isn't pressing up on the plate. Then--slowly--take your hand away from the plate. The plate won't fall and the water will stay inside the glass.

Air pressure makes this work. Even though it's invisible, air has weight and takes up space. Air is also al around you so it exerts force on you and objects and other people from all directions. As gravity pulls down on the water inside the glass a partial vacuum is created in the air-filled space inside the glass. Now the downward force of the water and air inside the glass is less than all the upward pushing force of air on the plate. You can see how much larger this surface is than that covered by the water inside the glass. The wet paper towel helps by making a tight seal between the glass and the plate. This keeps any air from slipping inside the glass. If that happened, the air rushing into the glass would push the water out. Then there would be a flood and you'd get wet. 

You'll need:
an empty 1 or 2 liter plastic soft drink bottle with a screw-on cap.
3 pushpins (the kind used to display things on a bulletin board)

Work outdoors or at the sink. Fill the bottle to the very top with water. Screw on the cap, making sure it's tightly sealed.

Next, stick the pushpins into the bottle, one at a time. Then have your adult partner hold the bottle by its cap while you carefully twist and tug out the pushpins. 

Surprise! If water leaks out at all, it quickly stops or slows to a tiny trickle.

Did the bottle magically plug the holes? Of course not. Squeeze the bottle to prove it. Water will spurt out the holes. But when you stop squeezing the water will immediately stop flowing.

The magic is that air pressure is at work again. Air doesn't simply push down, it exerts force in all directions. The force of the air pushing in on the water at the holes you made is greater than that of the water inside the bottle pushing out. 

What do you think will happen when you take the cap off the bottle, letting air push down on the water inside the bottle? Try it--just be sure the bottle is over the sink.

Make Air Vibrate and Create Squawky Cans

Want to make strange sounds? You can with a little help from science.

You'll Need:
two cans of different sizes (cleaned and dried)
Sturdy packaging twine
2 paperclips
a piece of clean sponge (about 1 inch by 2 inches)

Have an adult partner use a nail and hammer to punch a hole through the bottom of each can. The hole should be just big enough for the twine to slip through.

Next, cut a piece of twine about twice as long as the can's height. Thread one end of the twine through the hole and tie to a paper clip. Rest the paper clip on the can bottom and tape in place. Repeat these steps with the second can.

Now, wet the sponge and squeeze out the water.

To make your can squawk, hold the can in one hand. With the other hand, pinch the sponge against the string and give it a jerk. This makes the metal-can bottom vibrate. That in turn creates waves of air. When those waves reach your ear and your brain interprets the signals it hears, you hear the spooky noises.

Can you think of some other things you could make vibrate to produce squawks and weird noises? You'll probably think of lots more but here are three to get you started:

A balloon--Blow it up and grip it between your legs so you can use both hands to stretch its neck Then control how much air escapes.

A comb--Hold it in one hand and run your fingernail back and forth across its teeth.

An empty glass soda bottle--Put the rim next to your lower lip and blow a strong blast of air across the opening.

Use Fast Moving Air to Float A Ball In Mid-Air

A blowdryer makes this science magic trick happen.

You'll need:
A blow-dryer
A Ping-Pong ball

Hold the blow-dryer with the nozzle aimed straight up. You may want your adult partner to do that for you. When the dryer is switched on to "high", place the ball in this column of fast-moving air so it's about 5 inches above the nozzle. Let go of the ball and quickly take your hand away.

As long as the air current iss shooting striaght up, the Ping-Pong ball will float suspended above the dryer's nozzle.

This "magic" happens because fast-moving air has less pressure than more slowly moving air. So the Ping-Pong ball is trapped inside the column of fast-moving air. Here the ball is pushed upward by a jet of air with enough force to keep it from falling, but not enough to blow it any higher.

What you've discovered is also the basic law of nature that helps airplanes fly. When viewed on edge the upper surface of an airplane's wing is curved and the lower surface is flat. Air slips over a curved surface more quickly than it does over a flat surface. So there is less air pressure on the upper surface of the wing than there is beneath the wing, giving the airplane lift.

Can you guess why airplanes take off into the wind?