Writing & Illustration by Nancy Carol Willis
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Delaware Individual Artist
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The Animals' Winter Sleep book cover spread

The Animals' Winter Sleep
by Lynda Graham-Barber
illustrations by Nancy Carol Willis

Birdsong Books, ages 3-5, 24 pages, 8x9
ISBN 978-09662761-6-9, Paperback

Clear rhyming text paired with large-scale, beautifully-detailed colored pencil illustrations describe how 13 North American animal species survive the winter snows snug inside their dens, nests, burrows and lodges.

Peek inside each winter home for a close-up view. Then locate all of the homes together on the final panoramic illustration.

Two educational pages provide additional species information, depict animal tracks in the snow, and ask questions designed to encourage children to look for details in the pictures.

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Animals Winter Sleep Sample content pg 2-3

Where do the northern animals sleep when it's nose-stinging cold and the snow drifts deep?

Bedded down in the spruce grove, where the howling winds don't blow (White-tailed deer).

In a hollow log near the old fence row (Snowshoe hare).

Wedged between the rocks, sleeping all alone (North American porcupine).

Animals Winter Sleep Sample content pg 4-5
Animals Winter Sleep Sample content pg 6-7

Snug together under a crumbling wall of stone (Striped skunk).

Red Knot
A Shorebird's Incredible Journey

Birdsong Books, ages 6-10, 32 pages, 8 1/2 x 11
ISBN 978-09662761-4-5, Hardcover
ISBN 978-09662761-5-2, Paperback

Eric Hoffer Award BannerFollow one robin-sized shorebird called a Red Knot on her dramatic 20,000-mile migration from the tip of South America to the arctic tundra to nest and raise chicks. Red Knot makes only a few stops along the way in Argentina, Brazil, and Delaware Bay. Her survival depends on having plenty of food available when she lands at each rest stop. Bad weather, habitat loss, predators, and food shortables threaten Red Knot. Will she complete her journey and return home?

Four pages of additional information include a range map, glossary, timeline, shorebird relatives, banding information, and history and conservation of Red Knots.

The Red Knot in our book wears a lime-green flag with the letters "ALX." Nancy chose those letters for her dog, Alex. She then learned ALX was an actual Red Knot that was banded in Delaware Bay on May 14, 2004 weighing 115 grams. ALX was sighted wintering in Tierra del Fuego and again in Delaware Bay during May, 2005 and 2006. On May 17, 2007, ALX was photographed by Patricia M. Gonzalez at Fortescue Beach, NJ. On May 21, 2008, ALX was spotted on Fowler Beach and later in Mispillion Harbor, DE. Let's hope we see him again next year!!

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May 11: Late afternoon, Red Knot flies out over the Atlantic Ocean. With no landmarks to guide her, she makes a turn northwest toward Delaware Bay, 4,000 miles away.

May 12: At midnight, Red Knot crosses the equator. The stars and the Earth's magnetic forces help keep her on course.

May 13: Rain and winds beat against Red Knot. Her small wings pumping hard, she rises 10,000 feet above the storm to clear skies.

May 14: Exhausted, Red Knot's body fat is gone. Her body now must burn muscle for energy to keep her aloft.

Red Knot pages 6-7

Red Knot pages 10-11

May 15, Delaware Bay: Red Knot lands along with other knots, bone-weary and starving. Flocks of Sanderlings, sandpipers, Dunlins and dowitchers crowd the salty shoreline. Tens of thousands of squawking shorebirds feast on the fat-rich horseshoe crab eggs.

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Racoon Moon
by Nancy Carol Willis

Birdsong Books, ages 4-8, 32 pages, 8 1/2 x 11
ISBN 0-9962761-2-4 $15.95, Hardcover
ISBN 0-9962761-3-2 $7.95, Paperback

Join the cubs as they learn to climb a tree, take a swim and escape dangerous predators. Follow them as they forage along stream banks, through cornfields and into a garbage can. With winter coming, the raccoons must double their body weight. Will they survive until the spring raccoon moon?

Teachers and parents will applaud the glossary raccoon facts and trivia, and the hints on helping orphaned or injured baby raccoons.

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"With his belly full, Rusty wants to play. He lies in wait, then jumps on Spice. They roll and tumble, nip and growl. Rudy grabs his brother's tail, and they chase each other, squealing.

What looks like a fight is really a game. By snarling and snapping, the cubs learn how to defend themselves from predators."

"A crescent moon shimmers in the hazy August sunset. Now four months old, the cubs are weaned and no longer depend on their mother's milk.

Rudy and Spice rip the ears of corn from the stalks. Rusty tears away the husk and devours the plump, yellow kernels. He can eat five pounds of food a night. If they are to survive the winter, the cubs must double their body weight before cold sets in."

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White House Ornament 2002

Join Nancy at a White House Christmas Reception

Nancy was invited to represent Delaware by creating an ornament for the 2002 official White House Christmas tree. Her ornament depicts a colored pencil illustration of a great blue heron rising from the marshes and is framed by a gold cutout image of the State of Delaware. Delaware boasts the second largest heronry on the East Coast, and Nancy's home White House Ornament 2009near the Delaware River affords daily views of many species of herons and egrets.

In 2008, Nancy was again asked to design an ornament for the White House Christmas tree from a supplied 6-inch diameter silver ball. Nancy chose to depict Red knots and golden horseshoe crabs (with rhinestone eyes!) on a field of Delaware blue and buff.

Delaware Watersheds Poster

Nancy's Delaware Watersheds poster is part of a statewide seventh grade curriculum unit on watersheds. Did you know only .0003 percent of the water on Planet Earth is available for us to drink? The balance is either salty ocean water, or frozen icebergs, or too far underground to reach, or already polluted. The Earth doesn't manufacture new water - it just recycles existing water in a process called the Water Cycle.

Excerpt from Delaware Bay Shorebirds, an educational poster and viewing guide for the Delaware Dept. of Natural Resources & Environmental Control.

Design, Text and Illustrations
by Nancy.
Colored pencil cover art of black necked stilts by Nancy.

Nancy also served as the art consultant for the book and provided pen-and-ink illustrations for 65 species.

Next Stop - the Delaware Bay

Nature Education for Children and Adults
(Excerpts from Outdoor Delaware magazine Kids Pages and/or DE Bay Shorebirds. Written and illustrated by Nancy Carol Willis. All rights reserved

Delaware Bay Shorebirds


7" to 8 ¾"
Found on almost every beach in the world. Stays on northern beaches in winter. Numbers have decreased 80% in the past decade.

By mid-May over one million shorebirds from 20 different species have arrived on the Delaware Bay. Some have flown 5,000 miles nonstop to gorge on horseshoe crab eggs. In the next six weeks, how many eggs will they eat?


Let's say a sanderling arrives May 15 weighing 50 grams and doubles its weight in two weeks. scientists figure the bird has to eat one horseshoe crab egg every five seconds for 14 hours a day. That's 130,000 eggs in two weeks for just one bird. Altogether, the shorebirds consume 320 tons of horseshoe crab eggs. That's as much weight as 64 elephants!

The Humble Horseshoe Crab

Whether the shorebirds can fatten up enough to fly from the Delaware Bay to their Arctic breeding grounds depends on the horseshoe crab.

Horseshoe crabs come ashore to lay their eggs just as the shorebirds arrive. Each female lays up to 20,000 small, olive-green eggs. The harmless horseshoe crab is a 300 million-year-old relative of spiders and scorpions.

Horseshoe Crab

Ruddy Turnstone

Ruddy Turnstone

7 ¾" to 9 ¼"
Name comes from its habit of overturning stones in search of food. Digs holes in the sand, exposing buried horseshoe crab eggs.

Furry Friends

Bury the Nuts


Squirrels begin to bury nuts as soon as there are too many to eat in a day. First, the squirrel holds the nut in its forepaws and licks it all over to put scent on it.

The nut is then dropped point-down into a three-inch deep hole and covered with dirt and leaves. Do squirrels really remember where the nuts are buried? Actually, they follow their noses. A squirrel can smell a nut buried under a foot of snow!

Chipmunk Stockpile the Seeds
In autumn the chipmunks really go nuts gathering seeds and nuts. They zip across the forest floor, pausing to cram food into their cheek pouches. An observer reported the cheek pouches of one chipmunk held 31 corn kernels, 145 grains of wheat, 32 beech nuts, 65 oil sunflower seeds, 16 chinquapin nuts and 13 prune stones. WOW!

Kindermusik International

Nancy's illustrations for a series of music mini-camps for young children

Kindermusik 1 Arctic

Kindermusik 2 Meadow

Kindermusik 3 Mountains

Kindermusik 4 Forest Kindermusik 5 Sea

Children's Books

Cover from 'The Robins In Your Backyard'
The Robins In Your Backyard
by Nancy Carol Willis

Birdsong Books, ages 4-8, 32 pages, 8 ½ x 11
ISBN 0-9962761-0-8 $15.95, Hardcover
ISBN 0-9962761-1-6 $7.95, Paperback

"Cheerily-cheer-up," sings the robin redbreast to herald springtime's arrival. He has flown over 1000 miles to nest in the land where he was born. Clear text and large, eye-catching illustrations tell how the robin courts a mate and raises and protects his family. Did you know that robin parents feed their nestlings every ten minutes from sunrise to sunset?

The Robins In Your Backyard includes lots of kid-pleasing facts, a glossary and information on aiding injured and orphaned songbirds.

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The Robins In Your Backyard, Pages 18-19

Cover from 'The Rock'


The Rock
by Daniel A. Birchmore,
Illustrated by Nancy Carol Willis

Cucumber Island Storytellers, ages 4-7, 32 pages, 6 x 9
ISBN 1-887813-03-9 $14.95, Hardcover

A peek inside The RockThe Rock has seen many changes over the past million years. He's been worn by waves and buried by silt. Creatures have nested in his crevices. Humans have built their campfires on top of him. Follow the easy-to-read story of geologic time, with colorful crayon illustrations.

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