Catherine Carvell is a children’s author, writing coach and manuscript editor with a passion for children’s literature as well as the art and craft of storytelling. She is the author of Darcy Moon and the Deep-fried Frogs and would never ever eat a frog, not even a deep-fried one, because frogs are her favourite amphibian. By the way, no frogs were harmed in the making of her book.
The Wood Frog (Rana Sylvatica) can survive being completely FROZEN for weeks at a time!
The Wood Frog lives in the cold Arctic environment of Alaska so this is a very clever adaptation to have.
During the freezing winter, the tiny amphibians can survive for weeks with an incredible two-thirds of their body water completely frozen. Frozen frog popsicles!
When their body temperature drops, they stop breathing and their hearts do not beat. In order to keep ice from freezing in their cells, they pull water away from their extremities and produce a type of antifreeze solution (known as cryoprotectants) that keeps them safe.
In most animals, prolonged exposure to freezing temperatures causes cellular shrinkage — a process in which the formation of ice in the tissues pulls water from the body’s cells, essentially sucking them dry and eventually killing the cell. But in Wood Frogs, the cryoprotectants in their bodies, which includes glucose (blood sugar) and urea, lowers the freezing temperature of the animal’s tissues and reduces the amount of stress on the cells and tissues, allowing them to survive a deep freeze.
Watch this video for fan-froggy-tastic footage of the Wood Frog defrosting. Amazing!
Darwin’s frog was named after Charles Darwin, who discovered this unique creature living in Argentina and Chile, while on his famous world voyage.
Darwin’s Frog is a very cleverly adapted frog. It camouflages itself from predators by lying on the ground looking like a dead leaf (it has a pointy nose giving it a leaf shape). It can also turn on its back exposing the boldly patterned surface of its belly. The most amazing feature of this frog however, is that the tadpoles develop into frogs inside the male frog’s throat!
First, the female lays her eggs in the water. The male guards the eggs for 2-3 weeks but still, about half are eaten by insects and other predators. Any eggs that actually make it to the tadpole stage (usually about half) are swallowed by the male, who carries them around in his vocal pouch and protects them as they grow.
Once the tadpoles are tiny froglets, and large enough to protect themselves, they hop out of dad’s mouth and swim away. What a clever and unique way to protect your babies!
But sometimes clever adaptations like this are not enough.
Plastic Free July was developed in Perth, Western Australia and since its inception in 2011, has spread across Australia and Internationally.
It aims to raise awareness of the amount of plastic in our lives by encouraging people to eliminate the use of single-use plastic during July each year.
Did you know that Australians alone discard 1 million tonnes of plastic each year? And in America, 28 million tonnes of plastic waste ends up in landfills. Once there, it can take up to 1,000 years to decompose! And in addition to the plastics in landfills, it’s estimated that there are 100 millions tons of plastic debris floating around in the oceans threatening the health and safety of marine life.
How can you get involved?
There are loads of ways your school can participate in Plastic Free July. Some big, some little, but all voluntary and fun!!
The guide is divided into three sections: Foundation to Year 2, Year 3 to Year 6 and a secondary school leadership package. Each section includes four activities teachers can complete according to their own planning timetable.
Have a nude food day Nude food lunch days are days when students (and parents!) try their best to pack a lunch box without single-use disposable plastic. You could have a nude food day per week or if you’re up for it, a whole month of nude food.
Conduct a bin audit
See just how much single-use plastic your school has been using. You could take a photo of the plastic in your bin or even get your class to count/weigh the waste if you are keen.
Create a class dilemma bag
A dilemma bag is where the students and teachers place the plastics they found hardest to avoid. You could create graphs to see which plastics show up the most.
Celebrate and share
Make sure you celebrate your school’s efforts!!!! Host an event and encourage students to bring along their dilemma bags and share their stories.
You can also check out my blog post Recycling Plastics for more information about plastic and how to reduce, reuse and recycle.
Due to rediculous timing, Darcy Moon and the Deep-fried Frogs almost didn’t get an official launch.
The reason for this is simple.
The release of Darcy Moon came within weeks of my family’s move from Singapore to Perth, and in the chaos that accompanies moving countries with two young children, I almost gave up on my life-long dream of throwing a book launch party.
It all seemed like too much to deal with.
But as you can see, common sense took over and I soon realised that I could NOT let a moment like this slip by unnoticed. No matter how much crazy stuff was going on in my life, this was something I had to celebrate. This was the culmination of a childhood dream.
So, with the help of my ever supportive family, we took the plunge and organised a party, which we very cleverly planned to take place ONE DAY before we left the country.
(Please note, life since then has been stupidly busy involving, amongst other things, temporary accommodation, buying a car, opening bank accounts and shopping for winter clothes as well as endless random items such as potato mashers, wind-up crayons and easter eggs – this may go some way to explaining the time gap between the book launch and the BLOG about the book launch … but back to the point.)
Darcy Moon and the Deep-fried Frogs was launched on April 13th, 2014 in the beautiful Blue Room at the Arts House in Singapore.
It was a very special occasion. A chance to celebrate the publication of my first book (I have my fingers crossed there will be more), and also, a chance to say farewell. Farewell to Singapore and the friends I made there.
The Illustrator of the book, Michael Scott Parkinson, couldn’t make it (for geographical reasons), but nonetheless his presence was everywhere and made the day soooooo much more visually appealing!!!
I was super nervous about my speech, but everyone was so supportive and looking back on the day, I hope people left with a glimpse into how much writing this book has meant to me, and the emotional road to publication.
Thank you to my husband for taking hardly any photos throughout the event (I forgive him only due to his constant support, encouragement and love over the past decade – lucky escape!).
Thank you also to my daughter and friends for their beautiful singing, and thank you to my son for his delightful impromptu speech.
And a sincere thank you to Sarah Mounsey, for her moral support and heartfelt words on the day, as well as her enduring and much treasured friendship.
Also, thank you to everyone who attended. Your presence meant the world to me.