Ready, Set... Wait! What Animals Do Before a Hurricane

Booklist - December 2010

As a hurricane builds at sea, people in its path gather provisions and protect their homes. Meanwhile, a little boy wonders how animals prepare for the storm. The next 10 double-page spreads show different animals protecting themselves: fish search for food, then bolt into coral grooves and caves; sharks head for deep water; seagulls move inland; butterflies shelter in rocks and hollow trees; rabbits run for their burrows. The simply written story concludes when the hurricane reaches the shore. Readers who want to know more will find a wealth of information in the appended pages on hurricanes: their prediction and measurement, where they occur throughout the world (and what they are called in each locale), barometric pressure, storm surge, how children can help prepare for a hurricane, and which animals’ behaviors in the book have been documented. The back matter includes a list of scientists and researchers consulted. Clearly written and nicely illustrated with colorful paintings, this picture book will be a useful resource in hurricane-prone areas and an appealing addition to classroom units on weather.
- Carolyn Phelan

NSTA Recommends - December 2010

"Natural habitats (like mangrove swamps) that have provided such shelters over time are fast disappearing because of human construction, so the book lends itself to extensions and lessons on conservation. The book includes an outstanding section at the end on how a hurricane forms. Another section for advanced readers or teachers explains what scientists know—and what they do not know—about these animals' behaviors. This is a great book to share with students, especially those who live in hurricane-prone areas."
- Suzanne Flynn

NSTA Recommends - September 2010

Have you ever been through a hurricane? Did local radio and television warnings prompt your family to secure your home and stock up on food, water, and batteries? That's good for humans, but how do wild animals prepare? Using well-researched information, this story follows several animals as they sense a change in the weather, react to it, and prepare to endure a hurricane.

Colorful illustrations add accuracy to the observations of fish and lobsters seeking underwater hideaways, dolphins and sharks heading into deeper ocean waters, manatees settling near sea grassbeds, coastal birds huddling amidst mangroves as a safe refuge, and butterflies hiding in trees. Readers are “hooked” into finding out what a crocodile does for shelter and where rabbits head as a hurricane approaches. The end of this engaging book invites us to learn more about hurricanes as natural disasters—with expanded vocabulary, map skills, ways that humans prepare for storms, and what the numbers on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale mean to us.

The last two pages focus on animal behaviors. The book's information was verified by NOAA’s Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory staff as well as by many scientists and reliable researchers at other locations. "For Creative Minds" is a free online extension for teachers to use with their students, in English and Spanish. Other online resources that link with this book (at are interdisciplinary teaching activities, interactive quizzes, related websites, and alignments to state standards from a searchable database. This intriguing book and website have it all!
- Suzanne Flynn

Good Books for Kids-2012

This book takes a unique approach and answers the question of what animals do when hurricanes come. Lovely drawings.

Eclectic Homeschool Online - October 2011

Ready, Set... Wait! is a gently told, lavishly illustrated picture book about animal behavior during one of the most awesome weather events that can happen, that do happen, and several times a year. We see scenes of howling wind, pounding waves, and the destruction left behind by these tremendous storms, but we seldom (if ever) hear about how wild creatures prepare for and weather such a storm. This book not only tells the story, but also does so in a way that reinforces our awe at the marvels of Creation and the natural instincts built into wild creatures, that help them to survive even a hurricane.

Just Our Thoughts - September 2011

We don’t have hurricanes where we live on the Canadian prairies.  This is a good book.  I had hoped for a little more in depth information, but that seems to be included in the teaching activities available on the website.  I think this book would be best for preschoolers, maybe up to second grade.  My older girls would be searching for more information.

McCrenshaw's Newest Thoughts-April 2011

We received our book yesterday. My little guy, my oldest, AND my husband couldn't put it down! Thank you so much!!!
- Alicia McDonagh-Crenshaw

Mommy Loves Giveaways-March 2011

I really enjoyed Ready, Set...WAIT! Before reading the book I didn't even think about how animals reacted to hurricanes. The title alone drew me in! I also like that the reading level is perfect for young readers. I had my 7 year old son read the story to me. Although there were some challenging words he had to sound out, he was able to read the whole story with very little help.

School Library Journal-September 2010

Gr 2-3–Teachers and homeschooling parents will appreciate this tidy package. It contains simple text; colorful pictures; and a raft of data, maps, diagrams, lists of storm prep for humans, and some scientific (and not-so-scientific) observations of animal behavior prior to the arrival of a hurricane. From humans stockpiling food, water, and batteries to reef fish packing in some extra calories to butterflies hiding in hollow trees, Zelch’s quiet text and McLennan’s realistic illustrations offer a glimpse of hurricane readiness in the natural world and our own. Adults are also directed to free online resources where they will find extra pointers, interactive quizzes, and the like to plump up their lesson plans. Useful, if uninspired.
Patricia Manning, formerly at Eastchester Public Library, NY

Scholastic Instructor Magazine Best Non-Fiction Kids Books-September 2010

People are forewarned of the arrival of a hurricane and have time to prepare. But what about animals? This picture book explains how animals can forecast trouble and prepare for a hurricane.
- Natalie Lorenzi

Live, Learn, Love - September 2010

Natural disasters and concerns are all around us.  Often times we shelter our children from some of life's difficulties, but there are certainly times when it is most appropriate to educate our children instead of ignoring their concerns or educating them before it is a concern. Ready, Set...WAIT and Panda's Earthquake Escape offer insight as to animals' reactions to hurricanes and earthquakes.  If you live in a region where earthquakes or hurricanes are the norm, it's most critical to teach your child how to prepare and react.  These books will help parents and educators comfort children and teach them how animals prepare and react to natural disasters.

Before I share with you the books, I want to tell you what Arbordale books offer for those of us who teach, whether at home, school, or other setting.  Their books are aimed for children ages 4-8 (and 9).

Arbordale Publishing educates children in science and math through the means of literature.  They're doing a fantastic job, too, offering informative, educational books with realistic and beautiful illustrations.  The books alone are really great, but they help classroom teachers and homeschooling parents in huge ways.  Each book (and ebook) comes with great resources!

For Creative Minds which is an educational section in the back of each book.  It extends the story and gives additional information.

Being September, we are in peak hurricane season.  Living just a couple hours from the Atlantic Ocean means that we watch the weather for hurricanes, though they typically do not impact us too significantly here.  Ready, Set...WAIT!, written by Patti R. Zelch and illustrated by Connie McLennan offers children a look at how people and animals prepare for an approaching hurricane.  It begins with what children know best-people.  After boarding windows and gathering supplies, we go inland.  Then the book continues to answer the question of what animals do and if they know that a storm is coming.  Nine different land, sea, and air animals sense, react, and prepare for the approaching hurricane.  I think this is an excellent way to reassure children of God's special and unique design of all his creatures!  Through their instincts, animals are able to sense approaching danger-even that of a hurricane.  (FYI: This is not a Christian book, but I still think it shows God's greatness and design.)
- Annette Whipple

AuthorsNow! - August 2010

This week, we’re celebrating Patti’s debut! One of Patti Zelch’s fondest childhood memories is of her family’s’ weekly visit to her hometown library in East Liverpool, Ohio. That family ritual created a love for books that traveled with her when she and her husband moved to south Florida. There she read to her three children, shared books with the pupils in her elementary school class and used picture books to introduce lessons to her middle school students. After fifteen years of teaching, Patti retired and became a student. She earned her MFA at Spalding University in Louisville, Kentucky, and pursued her dream of writing for children. Many of her stories are influenced by the wonderful wildlife of south Florida, but it was a question from her oldest grandson that inspired her to write Ready, Set…WAIT! While the family prepared for Hurricane Wilma, he asked, “What do wild animals do during a hurricane?” Now that she has answered Jaxon’s question, Patti is busy fishing, boating, reading and, of course, writing from her home in the beautiful Florida Keys.

Here’s a little bit about READY, SET…WAIT! (Arbordale Publishing).

When hurricanes threaten, humans prepare, but what about wild animals. How do they prepare? Ready, Set… WAIT! answers that question. Children of all ages will learn how herons and pelicans glide toward the mangrove islands and huddle among the twisted roots. How sharks explode through the shallows of a nearby bay; and how crocodiles crawl into caves in the canals that crisscross the land. They know and they wait

If you had to give your book a movie rating: G through Rated R, which one would you give and why?

G –Learning about animals and hurricanes appeal to children of all ages as well as adults.

What topics, issues, or themes does your book address? What drove you to write about them?

Ready,Set…WAIT! deals with hurricanes but, rather than tell how humans prepare, it explains how some animals seem to sense an upcoming storm and get ready. My oldest grandson asked me what wild animals did during hurricanes. I didn’t know but set out to find the answer. Ready, Set…WAIT! is the result.

Name a few examples of readers who would identify or like your book.

List a few statistically improbable phrases or sentences one might find in your book. These are phrases or sentences you might never find anywhere else

Dolphin pods squeeze closer – whistling and buzzing to one another.

Their silver bodies streak through the waves heading for the safety of the open sea. They know!

How can your book be used in the classroom?

Teachers can use Ready, Set…WAIT! as an introduction to a weather unit. It can also be used when students are studying animal behavior.

Now tell us about other already-published books that readers of your book might enjoy.

As far as I know, there are no other creative nonfiction books for children that deal with animal behavior in regards to hurricanes.

Now whet our appetites with a teaser.

Far out over the warm ocean waters, clusters of storms join together; lightning lashes – thunder thumps.

The wind grows stronger and begins to spin the clouds into a tight curl.

A hurricane is brewing!

Are you offering authors visits to schools, libraries, or other organizations?

Yes, I am.

Are you willing to speak nationally?


List a few example titles of presentations, talks, or workshops you might give for an author visit.

This concludes our interview with our latest author, PATTI ZELCH. We wish her much success with her debut novel Ready, Set…WAIT!. To see what Patti is up to these days, visit her Facebook page.

Chronicles of the Earth - August 2010

I always love release time at Arbordale Publishing! Five new great books came out for fall 2010. I passed these around to several local homeschooling families and got some great feedback from all the mothers who previewed them.

Ready Set Wait is a refreshingly simple story with education value that helps explain what animals do before and during a hurricane. Out of the five releases this was my 9 year old's favorite saying she "really liked the type of story, the way it was written." I think she liked the repeating phrases found throughout the book. Connie McLennan's illustrations are rich and captivating. The book is wonderful for the younger crowd but the For Creative Minds section in the back really jumps up in level for older children.
- Alia Heise

In the Pages - August 2010

Another box I never tire of is Arbordale's latest releases. I LOVE their focus on Science and Math and the supporting materials they offer. Their website is just loaded with great resources for teachers and parents - really, they are NOT to be missed!

Their latest titles are:

Ready, Set...Wait! by Patti R. Zelch. This is an interesting book - all about what the animals do to prepare for hurricane. Something I have not considered before, but based on research and observations, Zelch describes what animals of all types may do when a hurricane is coming. Really an interesting read - one that kids will enjoy. (Ages 4-9)

Amazon Reviews - August 2010

Author Patti R. Zelch and artist Connie McLennan have brought us another wonderful learning tool through Arbordale Publishing. As with all the books offered by this company, this one is something rather special.

This work begins with a family preparing for a hurricane which will arrive shortly. As the family makes all the necessary preparations and precautions, the little boy of the family looks into a tree and wonders, "what do wild animals do before and during a hurricane?" And so our story really starts.

The book now take a look at twelve different animals; fish, lobsters, crocodiles, dolphins, manatees, butterflies, sharks, birds and rabbits, and briefly tells us just what preparations these creatures who surround us take when a big storm is about to hit. Over and over again the author stresses that the animals "know," and indeed, those of you that are familiar with the wildlife in your local area will understand perfectly what the author is talking about. The animals most certainly do know when a storm is about to hit or when the weather is in for a drastic change.

The story text in this work is straight forward and is geared toward the 4 through 9 year old age group. There is plenty in the story that will keep a child's interest and as a matter of fact should bring on a plethora of questions as you read! (Better do your homework). The words the author has chosen are easily read by this age group but the author has thrown vocabulary building words in here and there such as "instinctively," "antennae," and more. Each word could be used to develop a story within a story if the reader or teacher chooses to do so. This is something I like.

The illustrator, Connie McLennan has given us some amazing paintings of creatures in their natural habitat. I took a close look at the various animals represented here and could find absolutely nothing anatomically incorrect. The artist has use bold lines and colors yet has kept the integrity of the creature she has drawn along with a beautiful background in each and every frame. The text goes perfectly with the illustrations, all of which are in a double page format.

The last seven pages of this book are for the parent or teacher. We are given a rather close-up look at just what a hurricane is, it seasons, what cyclones, tropical cyclones and typhoons are. The designated strength number given to storms at different stages is discussed at length and there is a very nice summation of actions that need to be taken by us humans when a storm approaches. The author then goes on to discuss in more detail each of the critters covered in the book and gives a short discussion on animal behavior during storms.

This entire work is quite well researched by both author and artist. It is of course an ideal book to add to your child's library and it is also ideal for use in the public or private classroom and most certainly would be useful for home schoolers.

There is a tremendous amount of information packed into this small book and it has been professionally presented. This is certainly one you will want to put on your list.
- Don Blankenship, The Ozarks

Katie's Literature Lounge - July 2010

As coastal families prepare for the upcoming hurricane season and an impending storm, gathering food and water; testing flashlights, batteries and radios; and closing shutters, one little boy wonders what animals do to prepare for a hurricane. Author, Patti R. Zelch doesn't hold back from sharing that information with readers! From schools of fish to rabbits and mice, readers will learn that animal instincts set in, allowing animals ample opportunity to take shelter and prepare for the hurricanes themselves!

This is a wonderful book - so often we hear about human preparations to ready ourselves in the event of a hurricane. It's very seldom that we learn about how other members of our ecosystems are impacted and how they handle similar situations! I really enjoyed reading this title. The story and text were simple, and one important thought was reiterated throughout, "They know!" Definitely a great story to read during hurricane season!

Learning/Reading Activity:
To coincide with the book, Arbordale Publishing has provided a 50-page teaching activity guide for teachers, available on their website. My personal favorite activity can be found on pages 25-32, in which children are being asked to come up with a hypothesis for a given theory regarding what the different animals do to prepare for an upcoming hurricane, come up with a plan on how to test the hypothesis, a list of materials needed, and to imagine setbacks they might face. This is a great activity to get children thinking scientifically!
- Katie Harvey - July 2010

Birds and butterflies become biological indicators of what’s about to happen when tropical storms and hurricanes threaten, but if you watch backyard wildlife and your pets you'll discover they frequently warn of approaching strong storms. Children often wonder about birds, squirrels, deer, and other wildlife as well as cattle, horses, and domesticated animals when hurricanes pound coastal communities. If humans are asked to evacuate, and they live in relatively strong houses, will wildlife evacuate voluntarily? In conducting some quick research on this topic I’m not sure children are ready to hear the complete answers. Hurricanes are part of what’s referred to as disturbance ecology and the force of the winds and water can alter wildlife habitats. Animals indigenous to these regions live in hurricane habitats. This is what I know. Children’s author Patti R. Zelch attempts to answer young children’s questions in Ready, Set…WAIT! What Animals Do Before a Hurricane using a strategy that’s factual and less disturbing.

Who knows about wildlife and hurricanes? I think this is as interesting as the content of the book. To verify information Ms. Zelch approached researchers at the Biological Oceanography of the University of South Florida College’s Marine Science facility, researchers at the Australian Institute of Marine Science, and professors in various departments at the University of Florida. They, along with many others in similar institutions, contributed to her understanding of where fish, dolphins, sharks, lobsters, manatees, birds, crocodiles, and butterflies go during storms and they verified her content.

The book opens with a family preparing their house by testing batteries, sealing window shutters, and collecting water. As the winds began to blow and the human community knew the storm was headed their way they gathered enough food and water supplies to last at least three days.

“A young boy stops and stares at a squirrel scampering up a tree. The boy wonders—what do wild animals do before and during a hurricane?”

In the following pages we leave the boy and his family and go below the water’s surface where fish are swimming and frantically searching for food and shelter. They instinctively know. Dolphins swim in tighter pods and head for open sea. Sharks also leave shallow water for deeper water. Lobsters and manatee appear to know where to go and what to do in advance. For all of them it’s important to find secure shelter and extra food prior to the storm's arrival.

Above the water coastal birds seek shelter and places to huddle. Crocodiles, rabbits, mice, and butterflies know in advance and find shelter prior to the storm's moving on shore. They all know and wait.

Each of the following two-page illustrations features one or two of the twelve animals in its habitat and a brief statement on how each has adapted to a hurricane climate. Then the hurricane arrives and rolls on shore. The wind howls, tree branches are whipped around and huge waves pound the shore. The story concludes at this point although I was left wondering where the squirrel went.

Wildlife adaptations to hurricane habitats are actually very complex and in the real world wild animals not only can suffer tremendous harm, especially if storms arrive during migration, but following the storm can be more challenging. The simple answer, wildlife knows, is accurate. This Arbordale Publishing Book introduces the question and fosters curiosity. The last six pages in the book’s For Creative Minds section offer teaching activities and background information on both hurricanes and animal behavior.

I once had a cat that was so sensitive to approaching storms and dropping air pressure that she would run frantic laps around the house while literally bouncing off walls. Our chocolate lab became so attuned to serious storms in Illinois that he would head to the basement long before we did. Animals know. “What do animals do during natural disasters? Can animal behavior help us to predict certain natural disasters, such as earthquakes and tsunamis? These are questions that scientists would like to study.” The book’s discussion, Animal Behavior—Scientific of Observation?, explores these questions and explains who studies behavior and how.

They combine observation and research in the wild and in zoos, nature centers, and museums.

“Butterflies in a rainforest exhibit at the Florida Museum of Natural History hid in tree hollows and under rocks a few hours before the arrival of Hurricane Jeanne.” Nine paragraphs in this section answer some questions but should also prompt more.

As we move deeper into hurricane season and the Atlantic and Gulf waters become increasingly active with tropical systems forming, concerned children will not only be asking about hurricanes but wondering about wildlife. The Arbordale Publishing site ( offers an impressive collection of hurricane links to related websites. My search for websites that addressed wildlife and hurricanes didn’t paint an optimistic picture. It’s not incorrect to state that wildlife prepares and that they know a storm is coming. They do and that’s sufficient for young children. This will motivate some to learn more.

The website includes free teaching activities, alignments to standards and reading/math quizzes for educators. Connie McLennan’s illustrations render the calm before the storm with soothing colors. The storm itself doesn’t appear much worse or more frightening than a brief summer storm. Hurricanes understandably terrify children as I found out after moving to Houston soon after Hurricane Ike—this book won’t contribute to that fear.

Ready Set…WAIT! What Animals Do Before a Hurricane is a simple, more palatable explanation for young readers with recommended ages of four to nine. This can and should be used to introduce animal adaptations and weather when teaching early pre-K and Kindergarten. My guess is the story is more appropriate to the younger ages in the range but the valuable resources in “For Creative Minds” is more suitable for the older children.

FYI: Animals covered in this book included fish, dolphins, manatees, sharks, lobsters, seagulls, herons, pelicans, crocodiles, butterflies, rabbits, and mice. Children might wonder about the squirrel that was frantically scampering up the tree at the start of the story. My understanding is that urban squirrels tend to appear at a lot of rescue centers following hurricanes and that what happens definitely depends upon the strength of the hurricane.
- Patsy Side

Wild About Nature - July 2010

We see images on television of long lines of people at the grocery store stocking up on non-perishable food items, bottled water, candles, batteries, etc. We also see people boarding up their homes and evacuating. We know what humans do when a hurricane is moving in, but what about animals? How do they prepare for and protect themselves and their families from an approaching storm?

This insightful new title introduces us to animal behavior prior to a hurricane. Ready, Set…WAIT! shows us fish banding together, searching for food and safe shelter. Sharks head for the safety of the deep blue water. Lobsters burrow down in holes in the sand. Butterflies wedge under rocks. Manatees hold up near seagrass beds where they will have plenty to eat. This book clearly illustrates that these creatures and many others prepare for a hurricane the same ways in which we do. And just like humans, the animals get ready, get set…and wait!

As with all Arbordale titles, this book contains a For Creative Minds section. This fact-filled back matter delves further into what a hurricane is, other names for a hurricane, storm preparation and animal behavior. Click here for related websites, interactive math, reading and comprehension quizzes and teaching activities.
- Kim Hutmacher

Free Press - June 2010

KEY LARGO — When your five-year-old grandson asks what animals do before a hurricane, how do you answer? For Patti Zelch, 65, the answer was simple: spend the next 18 months researching and writing a book about it. Her training and experience as a 15-year teacher, combined with a fresh master’s degree in writing for children, came in handy as she set out to pen her first children’s book. She had already had a story about a turtle rescue based on an actual experience with husband Dave published in an anthology of short stories.

As a result, Key Largo resident Zelch (the “ch” is pronounced like a “k”) will see “Ready, Set, WAIT!: What Animals Do Before a Hurricane” on the shelves at local book stores by July. Her grandson, Jaxon Zelch, now 9, was visiting last week. He says he thought it would make a good book. His grandmother says she took over a year to research the answer to his question, and it became a manuscript.

Arbordale Publishing a small publisher in South Carolina, turned it into a book, she said. Zelch beams as she recalls getting the e-mail from Arbordale Editor Donna German telling her she will be published.“I felt like a kid. I couldn’t wait to tell everybody,” she said. “But first I called Dave over to see for himself. Dave was just as excited as I was. We celebrated.”

The shiny book is illustratedby Connie McLennan. Zelch says she was not allowed to communicate with her. “It was in my contract that I have no contact with the illustrator. As it turns out I love her illustrations,” she said.

Her use of alliteration -“lightning lashes” and “thunder thumps” — shows children and animals gathering food. Each page demonstrates how different animals — crocodiles, fish, dolphin, lobster, sharks, birds and manatees— prepare for a hurricane.

The book concludes with a six-page section called “For Creative Minds” with factual hurricane information, how to prepare your home, a map showing cyclonic activity around the globe and scientific observations of animal behavior.

Zelch said the publishing process was a good experience, even without an agent, because German was good to work with. “When Donna wanted to make a change, we would work it out together. She would consult with me and we’d come to an agreement,” Zelch said. Zelch plans to travel the East Coast to promote her book.

She says her next book will be a novel geared towards sixth- and seventh-grade students. “It’s about a young girl who gets lost in the North Carolina mountains and is helped by the ghost of a Cherokee Indian boy,” she said.

“Ready, Set, WAIT!: What Animals Do Before a Hurricane” can soon be found at Moore Books in Key Largo, Cover to Cover Books on Plantation Key and Hooked on Books in Islamorada. The 32-page hardcover version sells for $16.95; the 32-page paperback sells for $8.95. EBooks are also available in both English and Spanish. The book also can be purchased through or
- Steve Gibbs

Reader's Haven Reviews - December 2015

What do animals do when a hurricane is coming? That is what this book discusses. It talks about people and how they get prepared as well as many animals in and out of the ocean.

This book is best for younger children. Although, there is a lot of informative information that would be helpful to adults even at the end of the story.

I recommend this book for younger children. It is a great book that describes hurricanes in a "not so scary" way.

M.G. Paregian - July 2018

People know exactly what to do if there is a hurricane warning. Get cover... and fast! But what do animals do when they sense the weather is taking an extreme change? These animals include: fish, lobsters, crocodiles, dolphins, manatees, butterflies, sharks, birds, and rabbits. Using dramatic photographs and explanatory text, the author and artist relate to the reader what these animals do in case of a hurricane and other natural disasters. This is a fascinating journey for the reader and answers the question in the title of the book.