Husband and wife team co-write children’s book

PHOTOGRAPHER:
Husband-wife team from the town of Florida, George Steele and Anita Sanchez, talk about their first joint book, “Wait Till It Gets Dark: A Kids Guide to Exploring the Night.” The books helps parents and children to explore and understanding the biology of night creatures. (The Leader-Herald/Eric Retzlaff)

FLORIDA—Environmental educators George Steele and Anita Sanchez never tire of seeing children’s eyes light up with wonder and excitement.

The area husband-wife team have been leading children on explorations of nature for decades and have just released a joint book, “Wait Till It Gets Dark: A Kid’s Guide to Exploring the Night,” that gives parents and youths 8 and older a chance to learn about the biological world and sharpen their own senses.

The authors’ premise is daylight is not a prerequisite to learning about animals and plants. Much can be discovered at night.

“It’s a treasure hunt for the treasures of nature,” said Steele.

The reader learns about specific animals and how they use their senses. Unlike people, animals often can more easily survey the world around them using senses other than sight. But the book encourages children to rely on not only their vision, but other senses.

Fear of the outside world and of the dark as well as the allurements of indoor technology often keep people trapped in their homes. It’s not unknown for a youngster to say, “Wow, I never thought I’d see a pine cone in my life,” said Sanchez. “We’re afraid of everything. It’s harder to get people outdoors.”

“Kids are fearful of touching pine cones because they might have germs,” said Sanchez, who bemoans rampant “germaphobia” in society.

“Children have a desire to experience something about the wilderness,” said Steele.

“The littlest kids are filled with excitement.”

Steele and Sanchez both have worked as educators for the state Department of Environmental Conservation, teaching for schools, museums, libraries, and such nature sites as the Landis Arboretum in Esperance and Five Rivers in Delmar. However, kids often don’t have to go any farther than their backyards to discover nature, they said.

The couple complements each other since Steele is more of an animal buff while Sanchez specializes in plants. Sanchez has written seven books, but the current book is their first joint venture.

Many animals have keen eyesight but can’t see color. Deer have a good perception of movement and odors but can’t discern a bright orange jacket on a hunter, Steele said.

People can see both, but at low-light levels, colors are harder to distinguish. People have a hard time seeing red, blue and green crayons at night compared to yellow, pink and orange, Steele said.

The book gives children things to do such as showing them that it takes 45 minutes for their eyes to adapt to get their best night vision —still not as well as an owl’s eyes. Or cupping their hands around their ears to pick up more sound—still not as well as a frog’s ears. Or rubbing a smelly onion on branches two feet apart to see if friends can track it — still not as well as a deer’s nose.

The book is published by Muddy Boots, an imprint of Globe Pequot. For more information, view their websites: anitasanchez.com and georgesteele.webs.com.

By Patricia Older

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