Disneynature’s latest movie, Born in China, comes to theaters April 21! This epic film takes viewers to some of the most spectacular wildernesses in China and features three of the country’s most iconic creatures — the giant panda, golden monkey and the snow leopard.
Just as Travels with Gannon & Wyatt brings “the magic of the natural world and faraway cultures to the imaginations of young readers and their families,” Disneynature’s film series brings the majesty of the natural world to the big screen. Each film showcases a different environment and the animals that call it home, enlightening viewers to the importance of environmental conservation.
Born in China is the ninth film in the Disneynature series. Other films include Bears, Chimpanzees, African Cats, The Crimson Wing, and Oceans. In all these films, the cinematography is beautiful and the stories are fascinating, making for the kind of wholesome, educational entertainment the whole family will enjoy.
The release of Born in China intentionally falls on the eve of Earth Day. If you didn’t know, Earth Day is a worldwide celebration designed to promote environmental and climate literacy. This year Earth Day will be celebrated on Saturday, April 22. So, this weekend help make the world a better place by doing something positive for mother nature. Maybe recycle some bottles and newspapers, or pick up some litter, or even plant a tree.
BORN IN CHINA MOVIE TRAILER
The world of a snow leopard is not well known to humans. The main reason is that the habitat of a snow leopard is extremely uninviting. One of the rarest and most elusive animals on earth, the snow leopard lives in the Himalayan Mountains. Extreme cold, snow, rock slides and avalanches make it difficult for humans to observe the snow leopard in its natural habitat. Photographers and film crews have camped out in the mountains for months, only to leave without even catching a glimpse of a leopard. This is why the video below is so incredible. It offers a view into a world seldom seen by humans.
The Travels with Gannon & Wyatt team has never been to the Himalayas, but it is high on our wish list. We would love to include in the series a Travels with Gannon & Wyatt: Nepal, Tibet, or Bhutan, or maybe just Travels with Gannon & Wyatt: Himalayas. Imagine Gannon and Wyatt on a Himalayan expedition in search of the snow leopard. During the expedition, they’d might trek to a camp at the base of the tallest mountain in the world, Mt. Everest, climb an 8,000 meter peak, traverse glaciers, dodge avalanches, encounter wolves, eagles, blue mountain sheep, all the while searching for the mythical snow leopard. They would also meet lots of interesting people from this region of the world, and learn all about the Sherpa Culture, or that of the Nepalese, Tibetans or Bhutanese. What an amazing setting for an adventure, right?
It is estimated that there are approximately 4,000-6,500 snow leopards in the wild today. Like all endangered species, they could use your help. To read more fun facts about the snow leopard and lean how you can help protect this majestic creature, check out the World Wildlife Fund Species Overview.
Below is an scene from the BBC’s Planet Earth Documentary Series. It features what is likely the most spectacular footage of a snow leopard ever caught on film. Enjoy! (WARNING: Parts of this wildlife footage may be considered graphic, as it shows a snow leopard stalking and killing a blue sheep).
Below is a collection of seven great quotes on writing. When I speak at elementary and middle schools, I tell students that a big part of writing is “rewriting.” As Ernest Hemingway himself said (and I’m editing out the expletive he used), “The first draft of everything is crummy.” The first step in the writing process is to get your story on paper with a begging, middle and end. But that’s just a start. After you have a first draft it’s time to begin the next phase, rewriting, which is every bit as challenging as writing the original draft, maybe even more so.
Another piece of advice I pass along students, especially those who are interested in one day becoming a writer, is that there are two things they need to do: 1) Read, read, read…and 2) Write, write, write! I mean, all the time! Myself, I am also constantly seeking advice from the greatest writers who ever lived. After all, is it possible to find a better mentor than Mark Twain or Harper Lee? I don’t think so.
I hope you enjoy these bits of wisdom from some of the great literary icons. And happy writing to all!
“If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time — or the tools — to write. Simple as that.” —Stephen King
The difference between the almost right word and the right word is … the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.
Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass. —Anton Chekhov
I would advise anyone who aspires to a writing career that before developing his talent he would be wise to develop a thick hide.
The work never matches the dream of perfection the artist has to start with. —William Faulkner
If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it. —Elmore Leonard
First, find out what your hero wants, then just follow him!
– Ray Bradbury
Writing Travels with Gannon & Wyatt is an adventure in itself, given all the work that goes into each book.
The series is often described by educators as “realistic fiction.” That means the books are a mix of imagination and reality, or fictional adventures in realistic settings.
While the brave characters in Travels with Gannon & Wyatt novels often cross paths with sinister villains and tend to get themselves into some wildly dangerous situations, the descriptions of the landscape, wildlife and local culture are all very true to life.
At schools across the country, students ask how we come up with our stories. The imaginative process is just one part of it. A whole lot of travel and research are also involved. To explain how we go about it, and more importantly, the goal of the series, coauthor Patti Wheeler and I have written a short explanation below.
OUR PROCESS, OUR MISSION
Part journal, part fictional adventure story, Travels with Gannon & Wyatt brings the magic of nature and faraway cultures to the imaginations of young people and their families. Each exciting installment is part of a global journey that subtly instills the importance of conservation, cultural understanding, and strong family values.
Prior to writing each book, we travel to the location where the story takes place. While there, we meet with cultural and environmental experts, socialize with locals, ask questions, and listen. We take lots of photographs and video, and write down everything we learn along the way. When we return home, we review our material and dream up a fun, high-stakes adventure story that we hope our readers will really love.
The fictional characters that guide Gannon and Wyatt on each journey are proud representatives of their cultural and embody skills important for today’s youth—critical thinking, clear communication, collaboration, and creativity. These characters are curious, smart, and compassionate.
Our hope is that this method of storytelling and research produces a uniquely entertaining novel, one that not only educates, but encourages readers to begin their own journey of global discovery—a journey that might one day inspire them to help make the world a better place.
We sincerely hope you enjoy Travels with Gannon & Wyatt, and as always we thank you for your support.
The earth’s wildlife is vanishing. According to the World Wildlife Fund’s Living Planet Report, there has been a 58 percent decline in vertebrate populations between 1970 and 2012. At this rate, it could be 66 percent by 2020. Vertebrates include mammals, reptiles, birds, amphibians and fish.
So, what’s killing off the world’s animals at such an alarming rate? Sadly, humans are the greatest threat to wildlife. Colby Loucks, Senior Director of WWF’s Wildlife Conservation Program, links the problem to “habitat loss, overexploitation, pollution, invasive species and climate change.” Fact is, we are clear-cutting forests, over fishing, and poaching some of the world’s most magnificent species.
Below are some of the most alarming statistics published in the report:
• The African Elephant population has declined 30 percent in just seven years
• Populations of freshwater species have declined 81 percent
• A massive section of the Great Barrier reef has died
• It requires 1.6 Earth’s to provide the goods and services we use each year
The situation is frightening, but there are still reasons to be optimistic. If humans are largely responsible for the decline, a collective effort to save the world’s wildlife could be very effective in reversing the situation. Knowledge is power. As more people come to understand that healthy ecosystems are critical to our own well-being and survival, more people will take action to protect the earth’s wildlife and environment. So, what can we do now? Learn more about the issues, then take action by spreading the word and supporting conservation. Together, we can preserve the wondrous diversity of our planet for generations to come.
We at Travels with Gannon & Wyatt are almost always working on multiple projects at the same time and this month has been about as busy as they come. Hawaii went on sale September 6, we’re wrapping up a third draft of Australia, beginning a first draft of Cuba, and recently hit the road to start gathering research and photography for our book that will be set in the American Southwest.
We began our exploration in the beautiful state of Utah, home to red rock canyons, winding green rivers, snow capped peaks, big horned sheep, bears, mountain lions, sidewinder snakes, and a host of other desert creatures. Utah is rich in Native American history and culture and claims five of America’s most iconic National Parks — Arches, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, Bryce, and Zion — also know as the “Mighty Five.” Those interested in the colorful characters of the “Wild West” will also appreciate the fact that Utah is the location of Robber’s Roost, the one-time hideout of the infamous bank robbers Buch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.
Just about everywhere you go in Utah the scenery is stunning, so we decided to share a few of our early photos with you. Happy Travels!
The following is a journal entry written by Keith Hemstreet during the team’s research trip to Hawaii.
March 11, 2014
Kona to Mauna Kea Hawaii
Day #1, woke at 3:30 AM because of 4 hour time change. Still dark. Lie in bed looking out the window. As the sun began to light the sky, I stepped out onto the lanai. A thousand birds sang. The air was warm but pleasant. Little yellow lights like stars still lit the slopes of the 8,275 ft volcano, Hualalai. Somewhere behind it, the largest volcanoes on earth, Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea.
Smaller than Mauna Kea by 117 feet, Mauna Loa is the mythical home to Pele the Fire God.
Send my wife, Heidi, a picture of the view. She asks about the haze obscuring part of the mountain. It is volcanic smoke, also called “Vog.”
Walk along coast. Buy a coffee and yogurt. Sit at a small table outside and write in my notebook. A giant magnolia tree hangs over the road, its berries smashed into the asphalt. A Hawaiian Palace, built in 1800s, sits across the street. A bird lands on my table and hops around while I write. On the table next to me, a neon green lizard.
Drive to Mauna Kea, “the white mountain” via Saddle Road. Spectacular views as I climb higher from Kona Coast. Dark lava flows run down the slopes to the sea. I pull over to photograph thinking this may be one of my favorite places on earth. Driving higher, the air cools. I see traces of snow atop Mauna Loa and pull over to take photos. Driving higher, I watch the temperature drop on the digital car thermometer. Rolling hills with yellow flowers on both sides of the road. Temp in the mid-60s. I’m at approximately 4,000-5,000 feet when I begin to feel a slight chill. I roll down the window further and John Lennon’s Imagine comes on the radio, making this one of life’s perfect moments.
Pass a Military Base. Two helicopters in flight. Drive over old, blackened lava flows. I see wildlife off the side of the road. A dozen animals amongst the lava rocks. Again I pull over and quietly approach to photograph. Some kind of big horned sheep that I will have to research. I take a few pictures, but they quickly notice me and run away.
Take a left on Mauna Kea Road and wind my way up to the Visitor Center, which sits at an elevation of 9,200 feet. Temp 54°F. Weather station inside center. Temp at summit is 32°F, 0°C. Wind speed 15 mph with gusts to 25 mph, making the wind chill somewhere between 15°F to 20°F. I dress in my pants, fleece, winter jacket and wool ski cap.
Can walk on trail and snow, but not on the cinder. They do not want footprints on cinder. This is part of an effort to keep the sacred mountain pristine. Sign reads, “Leave the landscape as you found it. Do not disturb the stones.”
At the station, I talk to the ranger. He tells me the animals I saw were Mouflon, which look just mountain rams. They are not native to Hawaii. Mouflon are from Corsica and were brought over by Captain Vancouver as a gift to King Kamehameha.
Telescopes atop Mauna Kea are some of the most powerful on earth. They study black holes, dark energy, planets, stars. World class location for astronomy. Because of tropical inversion, it is almost always out of the clouds (clouds sit below). This area has one of the highest percentages of clear nights in the world. Scientists atop Mauna Kea have discovered hundred of planets and mysterious galaxies at the end of the viewable universe.
There is stargazing at visitor’s center. Video starts at 6. Stargazing at 7. Free.
The drive to summit from visitor center is just over 8 miles, but takes 25 minutes. Steep roads. Partially paved. Mostly dirt. I can feel the high altitude. My heart seems to flutter and I wonder if I’m ascending too fast. Maybe I am. Just two hours ago, I was at sea level. This could be dangerous, I think, but I do not stop. I want to summit while my blood cells are still used to the high-altitude of Aspen, Colorado. When I see snow off the side of the road, I become as giddy as a child. I pull over immediately and touch it, stand in it, make a snow ball and toss it. Incredible to me to actually hold in my hand the Snows of Hawaii!
Finish the drive to the top. Park right next to one of the observatories. There is a snowman built atop the asphalt, at the edge of the parking lot, near an observatory. Begin taking pictures. Breathtaking views. Freezing. No gloves. My hands freeze instantly. Painful, but I am too happy to care. I descend onto a snowfield across the road, walk around on the snow, then take a short hike up the trail to the summit. There, I photograph the natural area, away from the telescopes. At the summit, elevation: 13,796 feet, I find a snowman with a palm frond scarf and photograph. Then I upload a photo of my shadow in the snow to Instagram with following caption: “You know that big volcano in Hawaii? This is me standing on top of it.”
Our latest book, Travels with Gannon & Wyatt: Hawaii, is available September 6. Pre-order today by clicking HERE!
Great news! Travels with Gannon & Wyatt: Hawaii is now available for preorder! To celebrate, we’ve set out on a quest to become an Amazon bestseller and want to send you a MAKANA (That’s present in Hawaiian!) for your help!
Just place your preorder on Amazon, forward the receipt to marketing@greenleafbookgro
Be sure to share the news with all your friends. We want to send everyone a makana!
PREORDER AT: http://amzn.to/1rNfryc