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I just returned from a great weekend speaking at the Evansville Vanderburgh Public Library where they are celebrating 100 years and the young authors in their community. The educators and authors were so inspiring! Back home I found that Here Come the Humpbacks is in the major review arenas such as Kirkus. A few blogs are popping up, such as one on Nonfiction Detectives. Touch a Butterfly: Wildlife Gardening For Kids, which will be released April 23rd, has a very thorough review in ForeWord Reviews. I’ll be traveling widely for school talks and young author conferences the rest of March and all of April 2013. I look forward to seeing many of you on my travels.
Choosing snack to munch while going over proofs for Fall 2013 book illustrated by Steve Jenkins. Yup, blueberries!
Here Come the Humpbacks! illustrated by Jamie Hogan should be swimming its way into stored on Feb 1st. Then, April 23rd, Touch A Butterfly: Wildlife Gardening With Kids arrives in stores. It’s an adult book and will be in the parenting section.
My long awaited next book with Steve Jenkins, Eat Like a Bear, will be released by Holt sometime next Fall. Finally, the sequel to Rah, Rah, Radishes and Go, Go, Grapes will also show up sometime late next year. It’s Let’s Go Nuts: Seeds We Eat.
Here Come the Humpbacks! My new nonfiction picture book, illustrated by Jamie Hogan of Maine, traces the migration of a humpback whale from the Caribbean to Stellwagen Banks near New England. It will be released in hardback and paperback Feb 1, 2013 by Charlesbridge Publishing. The main narrative text is supplemented by expository sidebars. It’s a tad older, longer read than some of my youngest picture books. It’s a good pairing with Turtle, Turtle, Watch Out! because it traces some of the environmental challenges along the migrating animal’s journey.
There was a TED talk recently about vultures. I think educators might be interested in seeing it for their own background research. It’s only a little over six minutes long. You’ll want to look it over first before deciding whether it is appropriate for your elementary school students. The humor at the beginning would probably raise more sidetracking questions than it would actual vulture inquiry. So take a look and perhaps start two minutes twenty seconds in (2:20). Because the rest of it is good stuff for older elementary, middle school, and high school. There are quite a few carcasses involved and it is frank in environmental threats to vultures worldwide.
Want to know what to plant to help native pollinators in your area? Check out the free guides on the website of the Pollinator Partnership. Wish I’d seen this before my book Touch A Butterfly: Wildlife Gardening For Kids went to press because I would have loved to list it and these folks are doing such important work. Touch a Butterfly: Wildlife Gardening With Kids will be available in bookstores April 23, 2013 and can also be ordered from www.roostbooks.com. They’re the publishers of the I LOVE DIRT book from a few years ago. It’s geared for families, educators, and interested kids in upper elementary grades, as well. It’s my 25 years of knowledge about seeing the landscape through the eyes of animals and gardening with their needs in mind. Probably my most personal work.
Eat Like a Bear, my book illustrated by Steve Jenkins comes out in late 2012. But I’m already gathering like a bear for winter. The bears in that book are brown bears (grizzlies) but perhaps your classrooms want to study black bears. Here’s a great place to start. My cousin suggested that I might learn from this fellow and it seems he might do presentations in New England so perhaps some schools/organizations might want to work with him.
Ben Kilham presentations
He’s written books and has been featured in television programs. See here.
My eyes are peeled for resources that connect to children’s nutrition. Here’s what’s come across my platter recently.
First, Annette Triplett from the University of Missouri extension office shared with me a coloring book and book From The Farm to You about a tomato’s journey. Interesting! I had not recently thought about extension offices and their role in agricultural education and nutrition education. Of course! They’ve been doing it for years. Great place to start for support in sharing nutrition/agriculture…your local extension office.
While at NAEYC in Atlanta I came across a booth for www.PortionSizeMatters.com. The have portion size plates for children. Great idea, begun by a nutritionist.
On the other end of the spectrum, articles that are important and of concern related to children’s nutrition:
Interesting article regarding “The Clean Plate Club”
First Course of Veggies May Appeal to Hungry Preschoolers
If you want to know who I am and what I do, NAEYC’s Young Children magazine November 2012 issues has what’s probably my best interview yet: www.naeyc.org/yc/files/yc/file/201211/MeetTheAuthor.pdf
I recently spoke at the national conference of NAEYC, in the Meet the Authors session, which featured Mem Fox and James Dean, creator/illustrator of Pete the Cat. Yes, I know, MEM FOX! Wow, her voice is enthralling.
James Dean creator of Pete the Cat, Mem Fox (center) telling something funny to April Pulley Sayre
She actually read Dean’s book, Pete the Cat, out loud. The moment was somewhere between historical and hysterical. You could just feel the audience (and we other speakers) were thinking wow wow wow…so glad we were here to hear this! Afterwards I signed at The Book Vine for Children, THE place to find great books for 0-6. Isabel Baker reads pretty much every book out there for this age and is super knowledgeable and picky about selecting the books so you can count on them. Thank you Renee Nicolo for loaning the camera so someone could jump on stage and take a photo.
For you aspiring poets, and teachers of poetry, I recommend the new book Write a Poem Step By Step by JoAnn Macken. It’s incredibly useful. So clearcut and inspiring.
I love writing poetry. A few folks have even convinced me to admit I’m a poet. (Okay, so I was late to accepting that particular moniker. Afraid…perhaps!)
I blogged about this quandry on Katie Davis’ site. I also discussed some of the math behind my chant/poetry work on INK.
On Jama Rattigan’s site I celebrated poetry month. See? I’m getting used to the idea…perhaps!
Science Books and Films’ November 2012 issue has an article by Terrence E. Young, Jr that celebrates science picture books: “November is Science Picture Book Month.” Vulture View and Stars Beneath Your Bed are mentioned and there’s a page at the end with a paragraph quote about my view of science picture books. Also, a new article on my writing process is in Bruce Black’s wordswimmer blog.
Just publishing one of my poems here because. Because why not put it out there? Just dug it out of a little corner, forgotten, of my computer file pile. There are so many poems stuck in there like scraps of paper.
April Pulley Sayre
To Love a Toad
To love a toad
is to love all manner of wartiness
and melded colors
and cool air that hovers
near mud and shade.
To love a toad
is to laugh on rainy days
at slip slap soundings
to shake your head,
to raindrop fling.
To love a toad
is to kneel knee dirty un caring
to sup with slugs and creature crawl
to watch where you step
in case the toads trust too far.
To dig gently
just in case
a toad’s at home.
Love these folks! They’ll pump you up for changing the world, whether it relates to veggies, or not!
First, here are some inspiring TED talks about vegetable garden power:
Stephen Ritz: A Teacher Growing Green in the South Bronx.
Seriously. You gotta see this guy’s talk through to the end. He’s a wild man, on a mission, empowering so many kids!
Pam Warhurst: How We Can Eat Our Landscapes
Hear how volunteers in one town changed their landscape and thinking.
Noah Wilson-Rich Every City Needs Healthy Honeybees
I’m a fan of native bees because of The Bumblebee Queen but this fellow does the job for honeybees and he is inspiring!
But I don’t have to travel that far for inspiration because there’s a huge community gardening movement here in the Michiana area. Sara Stewart is an amazing leader and there are so many volunteers. See what’s happening in Indiana: Unity Gardens. I’ll be at their fundraiser tomorrow.
And here’s a lovely book about the enduring meaning of a garden by an Indiana author and illustrator: The Goodbye Cancer Garden. (Janna Matthies and Kristi Valiant)
An interview on Jama Rattigan’s blog.
It’s almost fated to happen. Every time I go to press, I find a flood of books/websites, and the like, which I wish I’d known about so I could include them in my resource section. Usually, when I’m writing a book, I spend time on my own text and the science and interviews underlying it. I don’t worry much about looking sideways into what other resources are in the field. I just share what gems have come my way…those go-to books that have nurtured me over the years. That, alas, probably misses some more recent ones.
In wildlife gardening, there are so many goodies! Like this book I came across:
Birdscaping the Midwest: a Guide to Gardening with Native Plants to Attract Birds by Mariette Nowak. Itchy Cat Press, Blue Mounds, WI, 2007. She has lots of terrific charts, plant lists for a variety of creatures. It’s a perfect complement to my book which, by design, had to be more general about recommendations because it was going nationwide. If you’re ready to dig in to midwest, check out this book.
On a tangent, Jeff and I just visited Blue Mounds briefly to take photos for the field guide he is co-authoring with Kenn Kaufman. So, now I can imagine what a beautiful habitat this little production press inhabits. A good origin, for sure! Bravo, Ms. Nowak, for your hard work in this field! Hoping many fields of native plants result…
My book Eat LIke a Bear comes out next Fall. It’s a picture book, for young ages, about grizzly bears. But I just read about a curriculum that might interest some educators who want to learn more about bears in order to create related curricula. It’s a STEM based study of bear biology: Curriculum Guide to the Bear Book. Eight lessons in science, math, and problem solving for high school ages. Perhaps it might be used/adapted for some younger students, as well? I have not seen it, but read about it in a NSTA publication. It’s done by Melissa Reynolds-Hogland, exec director of Bear Trust International. I am not very familiar with the various conservation organizations surrounding bear issues, including this one. So if any of you have experiences with the curriculum, and opinions about it that you’d like to share with me, feel free to contact me so I can update this post.
I listen to TED talks as I walk and as I do dishes. Time and again, I come across ones that I think might be inspiring or useful for educators. So I’m starting this post and updating as I come across ones that hit a chord. Here goes!
Caitria and Morgan O’Neill: How to step up in the face of disaster
This talk is by two young American women who took charge and helped organize recovery efforts after a tornado. It’s about taking charge, stepping up, and finding better ways to do things.
Suitable for probably 4th grade up although I think it would hit middle schoolers and high schoolers best.
Studying weather? Natural disasters? Planning Mapping? Graphing? Variables? I an imagine lots of great math and computer projects in schools as an outgrowth of watching this video. It would be a good kickstart for a Dan Meyer kind of math exploration.
Sheila Patek clocks the fastest animals
This is a straightforward yet cool science talk by a woman who studies mantis shrimps. There’s something so engaging about her gentle humor. She just loves what she does—science! Science students should see these kinds of talks…just feel how drilling down deeply into a subject can be engaging during a lifetime of study.
Suitable for: 5th grade and up. Middle School, High School
Purpose: fire up kids about science, let kids see models of adults who love intellectual inquiry and experimentation. Study muscles, the scientific method.
Here’s an article listing ten great ted talks about animals.I have not reviewed these. But if you’re searching for science ted talks, this might be a good start. http://www.bestuniversities.com/blog/2010/20-unbelievable-ted-talks-about-animals/
Rah, Rah, Radishes is on Oprah’s Kids’ Reading List 2012, ages 4-7! What I love is that Oprah.com had serious children’s book experts, folks at ALA-CBC, ALSC choose the 25 books on this list. So the whole list is chock full of good stuff, including one of my favorites, Actual Size, by Steve Jenkins. (Jenkins writes great books and illustrated Vulture View. He’s illustrating my book Eat Like a Bear, which comes out Fall 2013. Yippee!)
Just returned from co-presenting “Read Aloud Wow” with Isabel Baker at NAEYC’s national leadership conference. This Sat, June 23rd, I’ll be signing at the South Bend Farmer’s Market 9am-12. Here’s where I’ll be presenting at conferences the next few months:
June 21st, 2012 ALL WRITE CONFERENCE, Warsaw, IN 3 breakouts
Sept 22, 2012 ALSC NATIONAL INSTITUTE, Indianapolis, IN , Closing General Session
Sept 23, 2012 INDIANA STATE READING Conf, Indianapolis, IN Keynote
Oct 4-6, 2012 YOUTH LITERATURE FESTIVAL, Bloomington, IL school visits and Sat festival talks
Nov 7-10, 2012, NAEYC NATIONAL CONFERENCE, Atlanta, GA, speaking at main author session, just before keynoter Mem Fox
Durian, oh prickly one. Here’s a photo of the durian that the kind folks at Saigon Market allowed me to create in the back of their store. When I created this photo, it was in a stanza that involved crates. So I did a lot of durian hefting and rearranging. Yet we changed the stanza and ended up using a much earlier photo I took when I first saw durian in their store, side-by-side with persimmons.
The durian in the photo have been kept cool, even frosty, so they don’t have the characteristic durian stink. They are heavy, bigger than footballs, and tough on the hands if you handle them without the netting.
These fruit have the same kind of reputation as limburger cheese. The fruit is so stinky that there are signs on some trains in southeast Asia banning people from carrying durian onboard! My friends Candace and George bought one. Okay, so they kept it in their cool garage for several days. They’d go out, now and then, scoop out some fruit and eat it. They said it was delicious. But the thing was too stinky to have in their kitchen. My friends Andrea and Donnie who bought durian cookies, opened the package, and the smell that wafted out was so intense that they ran and threw the package outside their door.
Candace said she’d be happy to buy a durian fruit to bring to a launch party for Go, Go, Grapes: a Fruit Chant which comes out on May 22nd. I, on the other hand, would actually like some people to stay at the party so I’m vetoing the idea. Of course, we could put it out on the porch, I suppose…
Jeff and I were first introduced to this fruit on a long guided bus ride through Ecuador. The driver stopped by a fruit stand, bought some cherimoya, cut it up and offered it to all the passengers. The flesh was white, creamy, sweet, and delicious. It was somewhere between a pudding and a banana in texture. I don’t know how good cherimoyas that arrive here in the states are. But they would be worth a try.
Their closest relatives in the U.S. are our native Paw Paw fruit. Both have creamy flesh. Here’s a little info about the fruit from the cherimoya page provided by rare fruit growers of California.
I have heard this fruit’s name pronounced both CHEER-i-moy-a and also CHER-i-moy-a.
Kids and educators intrigued by my book The Bumblebee Queen, there’s finally a truly great publication I can send you to for follow up. This has been on my wish-some-expert-would-write-this dream list for years. Hooray for USDA and all the authors involved! Fisheries biologist John Magee in NH, thanks for giving me the heads up on it.
The publication is a free, downloadable pdf, you can store it on your computer, ipad, iphone, whatever.
Stars Beneath Your Bed: The Surprising Story of Dust is a natural for fulfilling the new science standards. That’s one of the things I learned when I attended NSTA and spoke on a panel of authors organized by Carrie Launius and hosted by Wendy Saul. Each of the educators at the conference gave activities to go with various books. Carrie worked with teacher to get them to consider how the book deals with cross-cutting concepts:
Cause and Effect: Mechanism and Explanation
Scale, Proportion, and Quantity
Systems and System Models
Energy and Matter: Flows, Cycles, and Conservation
Structure and Function
Stability and Change
I can’t speak to all the teachers’ comments on how the book fits in. But here are some of the ways that popped into my mind, as I learned of these cross-cutting concepts.
Patterns. (Questions about relationships and the factors that influence them certainly applies to SBYB.)
Cause and Effect (Dust and sunsets…all the things that create dust…waves that splash salt, and so on. Lots of way to go with this one!)
Scale (Going from the scale of dust to the scale of sunsets certainly gets kids thinking about that. Dust being pieces of so many things mentioned in the book certainly works here.)
System and Models (I’m a tad fuzzy on how this applies but I’m sure an experienced teacher would have some ideas. I get the systems but not the models)
Energy/Matter/Flows/Cycles/Conservation (SBYB certainly goes for this one. Even conservation if you consider the lines about dust from long ago still being around.)
Structure and function ( I don’t think this is a major one illustrated by SBYB. Other books probably do this beter.)
Stability and change (Although no rates of change are mentioned, certainly the cycles of dust/sunsets/and change are well illustrated by the book.)
This older title of mine has just been reprinted, along with Dig, Wait, Listen: a Desert Toad’s Tale. So it looks like these will be around for a while. Stars Beneath Your Bed seems to be growing in popularity, year-by-year.
Go, Go, Grapes: a Fruit Chant, my new book, was released by Beach Lane Books, a division of Simon & Schuster today. Please join me in eating some fruit to salute designer Lauren Rille for her joyful design of this new book! It is available on paper and also in a digital form.
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I received this inquiry regarding my new book, GO, GO, GRAPES: A Fruit Chant:
Dear Ms. Sayre,
Would you kindly tell me what kind of fruit is pictured on the page that reads: “treats from trees and from the land”?
My son keeps asking me and I don’t know the answer. We think they look a bit like pears but I don’t think pears grow in threes that way. ..
Julie and son, you are right. Those three are pears. I checked with the orchard owner but he’s not sure exactly what variety they are. I agree they are unusual in shape!