Friday, January 3, 2020

Book Nook: Puffins Take Flight

Playful little puffin Árni is about to leave his burrow for a four-year adventure at sea. But Árni doesn't want to go—at least not today. He wants one more day to play with his best friend Birta, but she is nowhere to be found. While Árni searches Iceland for Birta, his mother and father are searching for him. Little pufflings shouldn't be wandering about all alone!

Puffins Take Flight is the entertaining and educational first installment in RA Anderson's Iceland: The Puffin Explorers Series. Aimed at children ages pre-K through 2nd grade, Puffins Take Flight introduces readers to puffins and their breathtaking surroundings in Iceland. Fun facts are sprinkled throughout the book and include interesting tidbits about Iceland, puffins and a mention of Icelandic sheep.  

Will Árni find Birta and will Árni's parents find him before it's too late? Come along on Árni's big adventure to find out! Illustrated with actual photographs taken during the author's exploration of Iceland, this eye-catching picture book is sure to entertain readers of all ages.

Why did you write this book?
Iceland is rich in history and culture and is eco-friendly and self-sufficient, and the more I learned while researching, the more I wanted to share so young readers could experience this faraway place and understand there is so much variety in the world around them. However, this book actually started with a wedding! My oldest son Cody and his then bride-to-be Cassaundra decided on a destination wedding in Iceland. When they asked me for assistance, I had no idea how challenging it would be to plan a wedding in a place not one of us had traveled. The nagging feeling of not having the perfect wedding for them kept me up at night, until I decided to go meet the people we were hiring, look at the wedding reception location, visit the waterfall where they planned on saying “I do,” go see the busses we were hiring to tour us to the wedding location and touring stops before and after, and eat at the restaurants we were having cook for our 40-50 guests for the reception and groom’s dinner. My youngest son Zane and I hopped on a plane to Iceland, rented an SUV with a tent on top, and planned on camping around Iceland after we made sure all the wedding plans were set. Zane and I could hardly stand upright when leaving the airport to get our car rental, the winds were so fierce and cold. Camping in this weather wasn’t going to be fun or easy, but the people we met were extremely kind and everyone spoke English, and they even put us in rooms on the nights the wind was too extreme. In the westernmost point of Iceland, I met my first colony of puffins who simply stole my heart. The whole island fascinated me, the friendly people, the farmlands and roaming sheep, the twenty-three-hour sun with a sunset that lasted about an hour, whooper swans flying everywhere, more waterfalls than anyone could count, Icelandic horses that seemed to always stop eating long enough to visit the tourists, dairy farms with the most incredible ice cream, and every place we went was powered by geothermal energy. Three incredible trips to Iceland, one beautiful wedding, making wonderful new friends, lots of cool pictures, all of this together inspired these books. I wanted to bottle Iceland up and bring it home to share with others and thought about telling my future grandchildren about where their parents got married, being able to show them these books one day.
Why is it important to introduce kids to animals from around the world? 
It’s an outreach of curiosity and compassion! My example would be: when a child sees a puffin for the first time (maybe from my book), he/she might have the “awww!” at first glance feeling. From that moment on, the child feels a connection and wants to learn more about his/her new friends. By learning more about their new friend, they also learn about their homes, families, fears and dangers, and where in the world they can be found, which might lead to travel and exploration. If not the puffin, they could have their heart strings tugged by the Arctic Fox or the Icelandic Horse, but no matter what animal they fall for, it will become a learning experience.

How can parents encourage curiosity about a variety of animals?  
Reading my puffin series books about is an awesome start. Visiting zoo’s and animal parks is another way to introduce kids to animals from around the world. One of my favorite things to do with my children was play the alphabet animal game. Starting with A and trying to make it to Z, we took turns around the car, table, or room naming animals. I would try and name new animals and introduce them as we went along. Pictures of animals, plus learning some simple fun facts is also a great way to build their curiosity. This is another reason Iceland the Puffin Explorers Series has pictures and fun facts throughout the books.

How can parents nurture kids' love of exploring without leaving their house? 
Having three children with three totally different learning strengths was actually really fun when it involved exploring. If I had my puffin books when my children were young, I would have read it to them and then, because we don’t live in Iceland, I would have showed them a world map and explained that we can’t simply walk outside and see a puffin here, but we do have birds. Discuss the birds outside your own window. What are their predators, what do they eat, where do they live, and then how can you help them? For a hands-on project, build a bird house or bird feeder or cut an orange in half and hang it from a tree. Simple little projects at home lead to little minds wanting to explore more, learn more, and care more.

Watch for future adventures with Árni and Birta in the upcoming Puffins off the Beaten Path and Puffins Encounter Fire & Ice.

Author RA Anderson is a wanderer who has lived all over, from California to Belize, and currently, home is a town called Rome, in Georgia that is!

A lifelong passion for creative writing and photography became her life. Her award-winning photographs have been featured in table books, magazines and front-page news, and her writing has been published in magazines, poetry books and children's books. Her If Pets Could Talk series includes Cats, Dogs, Farm Animals and A Service Dog. Iceland, The Puffin Explorers Series is her newest children's series. Coming soon is her YA fiction release, Girl Sailing, the Western Star.

Three boys—her heart and soul—call her Mom. She and her husband are recent empty-nesters, leaving them more time to travel.

For more information, please visit, or connect with her on social media at; @aruthanne Instagram;  @ra_anderson_author Instagram; or @aruthanne Twitter.

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