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Viewing Blog: Unabridged - Charlesbridge Publishing Company, Most Recent at Top
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Charlesbridge publishes high-quality books for children, with a goal of creating lifelong readers and lifelong learners. Our books encourage reading and discovery in the classroom, library, and home. We believe that books for children should offer accurate information, promote a positive worldview, and embrace a child's innate sense of wonder and fun. To this end, we continually strive to seek new voices, new visions, and new directions in children's literature.
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1. School Visits (and the Genius Ideas I Learn from Them!) by Suzanne Slade

Every school visit I always learn something interesting from teachers and students. My last author visit was no exception because I discovered a genius idea called Genius Hour. During my presentation I’d shared the proof pages of my upcoming picture book, The Inventor’s Secret. Later, one teacher came up and said The Inventor’s Secret would be perfect to kick off her Genius Hour program.
I was excited to see her so enthused about a book I’d worked on for four years, yet I was a bit embarrassed to admit I’d never heard of Genius Hour. So she kindly explained—Genius Hour is a program where students work on a project of their choosing for one hour each week. The great part about this student-driven program is that children are highly motivated to learn about their topics.
Genius Hour lends to a wide variety of projects in one classroom, as each student selects the subject he or she wants to research. For example, at the school I was visiting—Meadowview School in Woodridge, IL—fifth graders in Ms. Wright’s Genius Hour program baked up cotton candy cookies, built battery-powered cars out of spare parts, and much more!

Meadowview students building a battery-powered car from leftover parts from science kits and spare toy parts.

Fifth grade Meadowview student decorating cotton candy sugar cookies with blueberry drizzle.

During my school visit this teacher also explained the message of persistence in The Inventor’s Secret would help inspire young inventors working on their own contraptions in school “makerspaces.”
Okay, full disclosure, I didn’t know what a makerspace was either! So I did a bit of research and found out makerspaces (aka fab labs or hackerspaces) are workspaces in schools and libraries where students can brainstorm, experiment, and create their own projects. Makerspaces are filled with various kinds of equipment, such as 3D printers, electronics, tools, computers, hardware, craft supplies, and more.
Now my son had tinkered on gadgets for years in our basement, which slowly aquired an assortment of tools, wires, and electronics equipment (including a 3D printer that he used to make his own inline skates), so I understood the enormous potential of a school makerspace.

 Since learning of makerspaces, I’ve enjoyed reading about school labs around the country and the incredible projects children are creating in them. Would you believe students at Fox Meadow Elementary in New York made models of Lincoln’s face in their makerspace using a 3D printer and files of Lincoln’s actual life mask from the Smithsonian 3D image library? How awesome is that? (FYI - A technology teacher at Fox Meadow, Peter McKenna, started a School Makerspace forum where teachers can exchange ideas and projects.)

Fox Meadow school makerspace

3D printed model of Lincoln life mask

Actual Lincoln life mask

So as another new school year begins, I can’t wait to learn more fascinating things from students and teachers during my author visits. I’d also be thrilled to receive pictures of your school’s creative projects, including the sling shot cars, electric circuits, or flip books your students make using The Inventor’s Secret free Teacher’s Guide.

Suzanne Slade is the award-winning author of more than 100 children’s books (and former engineer who working on car brakes and Delta IV rockets.) Her latest picture book, The Inventor’s Secret, shares the fascinating, true story of persistence (and friendship) of two of the world’s most famous inventors—Thomas Edison and Henry Ford. Use it to kick off your Genius Hour, inspire young inventors, or celebrate National Inventor’s Day (February 11.) Also, check out the book’s trailer and look for more teacher resources on Suzanne's website.

The Inventor's Secret: What Thomas Edison Told Henry Ford
ISBN: 978-1-58089-667-2 HC $16.95
Available September 8, 2015
Find Out More
Genius Hour Livebinder 
Suzanne’s List of Genius Hour Resources 
Designing a School Makerspace 
Manufacturing Makerspaces 
Instructables - website with great DIY projects 
Make: - website with more great DIY projects

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Ah, the memories. ALA Annual 2015 in San Francisco. The authors! The illustrators! The librarians!
What a great event!

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3. David's Drawing Table episode 2

Did you ever want to be a storyteller? You probably already are! Join author/illustrator David Hyde Costello at the Drawing Table and help him figure out what to do about one scary lake monster. Is he friend or is he foe? Your ideas are needed!

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4. Drop Everything and Read

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5. Eating Your Homework is as Easy as Pi!

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Humdrum or delicious? When students eat their homework, the classroom suddenly turns from tedious to oh-so-tasty. Get ready to serve up some yummy new fun—while discovering and learning about math and science.

Psst, did you remember that Pi Day is March 14? It’s time to divvy up some Variable Pizza Pi. Look up the recipe for this constant crowd-pleaser in Eat Your Math Homework, and get set for variable excitement—quite a lot . . . or mega.

Never mind the constants (the crust and the sauce), here’s your chance to add your own variables: toppings such as pepperoni, green pepper, or pineapple chunks. And we’re not done yet! Measure the circumference and determine the diameter of the pizza. This will help you pinpoint pi, that amazingly endless decimal number that starts 3.1415926 . . . (pi = circumference divided by diameter)

What about in the classroom? How about switching things up a bit with this yummy classroom adaptation? Share circle shaped cookies (Yes, the cookie itself and the icing are the constants). Have students decorate each cookie with variables such as chocolate chips, raisins, or colored marshmallows. Figure out the circumference and diameter of one cookie (Hint: To measure the circumference, use a piece of string. Place the string around the rim of the cookie. Cut or mark the string to match the size of the cookie’s circumference. Straighten this measured string and find its length using a ruler).

When students find the circumference divided by the diameter, it’s easy as pie to calculate pi. Was the answer close to 3.14? Why wasn’t it exact? What else can you find out about pi?

And now here’s another tasty tidbit. Let’s face it, all science lessons are not created equal. Neither are rocks. In fact, there are three basic categories of rocks: metamorphic, igneous, and sedimentary. Heat and pressure cause metamorphic rocks to morph, or change form. Igneous rocks form from cooled liquid rock beneath the earth’s surface. And sedimentary, well, think of a lasagna—when layers of sediment press against each other, the layers meld together.

Speaking of lasagna, check out the recipe for Sedimentary Pizza Lasagna from Eat Your Science Homework . . . Yum!

. . . Or whip up some classroom friendly Sedimentary Sandwiches instead. Use 3 or 4 layers of bread (or crackers) and your favorite sandwich fixings to build a rock solid masterpiece. Bite in—and don’t worry about chipping a tooth!

For more on how to turn your classroom into a banquet of learning, please check out Eat Your Science Homework and Eat Your Math Homework from Charlesbridge Publishing.

Your constant math and science pals, 

Ann and Leeza

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6. Introducing a Children's Book to Scholars?

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At first, I was elated when the Hunan Provincial Museum invited me to their International Symposium Commemorating the 40thAnniversary of the Excavation of the Han Tombs at Mawangdui. Elated to be surrounded by experts and scholars from Asia, Europe, and North America who research myriad aspects of Mawangdui. To meet people whose work I had studied in preparing my book, At Home in Her Tomb. To return to Changsha, where Lady Dai and her family had lived and were buried in their lavish tombs.

But then reality and intimidation set in. Like the other symposium participants, I was expected to make a presentation. Oh no. This was the audience I worried about while writing the book because they would know if I had made any mistakes. And now, what could I say about writing a children's book that would possibly be of interest to scholars? Could the book interest them as a research project on introducing Mawangdui to students and nonspecialists—people who haven't heard about the tombs and don't know how important they are?

I flew to Changsha in early December where more than one hundred people from nine countries gathered for the symposium. For two days we met in general sessions all together and in three smaller groups focusing on Mawangdui's archaeology, artifacts, and bamboo and silk writings. I reveled in learning from the many experts about different aspects of the tombs.

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I was awed to see people who took part in excavating the tombs and to meet leaders and staff of the Hunan Provincial Museum. I recognized many of their names from articles and books I had studied. Meeting Dr. Peng Long-xiang was especially meaningful because we had corresponded about the autopsy on Lady Dai's body.  

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 With Dr. Peng at the opening dinner
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During my presentation (with help from my wonderful translator, Lee), I recounted how becoming captivated by Lady Dai at a museum exhibition launched me into learning everything I could about Mawangdui. I described writing challenges, especially in adapting academic research about ancient history into a book that modern students and non-academics could find compelling. I talked about discovering the human story of a family in grief honoring their lost loved ones. I shared how learning about Mawangdui helped me understand Chinese traditions for honoring the dead that continue today, including within my extended family. Lastly, I reported how readers are responding to the book.

Although I had worried about what the experts would think, they were excited that people—especially children—in America and other countries are learning about this archaeological site that reveals so much about life in early China. Several who worked in major museums said I'd given them ideas for outreach and education programs for their museum collections.

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The ramp and steps of the son's tomb, which remains open for viewing.

On the last day, we visited the excavation site of the Mawangdui tombs. Standing where Lady Dai, the Marquis of Dai, and their son had been buried brought tears to my eyes, along with gratitude for how learning about this family has impacted my life.

By Christine Liu-Perkins
978-1-58089-370-1 HC $19.95
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7. The Words That Connect Us

Jennifer Wolf Kam
Words have always been my friend. From the earliest days of my childhood, when I was delighted by tales of fairies, princesses and pokey puppies, through my grade school years when I crafted my very own books out of construction paper and crayon, they have been there. In middle school, the words I penned were filled with emotion and wonder, and they sustained me through the harrowing teen years. 

I wrote my first novel inside my 8th grade wood shop notebook. On the first page of my notebook, you can still see where I took notes on how to use a T-square ruler. After that, my words—pages and pages of themhave nothing to do with 8th grade wood shop (belated apologies to Mr. Kennedy.) The novel I wrote in it, well, it was a little too similar to a book I’d just read. But it was a start, a leap actually, because for the first time ever, I’d written something longer than five pages. Remarkably, it had a beginning, a middle and an end that actually (sort of) made sense.
The wood shop notebook novel was messy, and in the days before most of us used computers, filled with scratch-outs and scribbles and words formed in different-colored inks. I’d drawn hearts and stars all over the front of the notebook (my first cover art?) but it was mine. And the truth is, I’d needed to write it. For years I had carried stories inside of me. I’d bottled up feelings, observations, and other worlds. I was full to bursting and finally, now, it could all be set free on the page.

I shared that first novel with very few people. My writing was for me, a private thing, a sanctuary. I wrote another book afterwards, and then another after that, gradually stacking notebooks of my words inside my desk. For the rest of high school, I wrote and played and experimented with words and formats. 

Writing was not simply fun, it was a need, in fact, a joy. Eventually, as an adult, I was ready to share my stories with a larger audience. Perhaps, even (gasp!) publish a book.
I spent hours, weeks, months at my laptop, writing and revising, creating and imagining, dipping a little too deeply into a nearby stash of chocolate. I joined critique groups, attended conferences and earned my MFA in Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts. But it would be years, I mean yeeears, before my efforts led to a book contract. 

Then, one day, I received the exciting news that I’d won the Children’s Book of the Year Award from the National Association of Elementary School Principals and that my debut teen novel, DEVIN RHODES IS DEAD, would be published by the fabulous Charlesbridge.

Which is how I found myself, last month, standing in front of a class of creative writing students at John Bowne High School in Flushing, New York. My visit was part of the New York City Adopt-a-School program, which pairs authors with public schools as a means of encouraging and celebrating literacy and a love of books. The first students I spoke with were seniors, already wise and intuitive, thoughtful and oh, so very smart. And for a moment, looking around the room, I was back there with them—a student, young, passionate about writing, filled with words. So, in a way, I felt I knew them. I knew what it was like to want—no—to need to write. To put my stories down, whether or not anyone else ever read them.

I spoke to them about my experiences, my writing life. About my construction paper and crayon creations. I told them about my wood shop notebook and the other notebooks that followed. I described the many hours and years of work I’d put into developing my writing. And we talked a lot about rejection.

They listened and they responded. Their responses were insightful and sharp. They understood that, as writers, perhaps they hadn’t chosen the easiest path. I wanted to tell them not to worry, that everything would work out, even though I know that life sometimes has other plans. I wanted to, because, I think that, although there are no promises, things have a way of working out when least expected. So, we discussed perseverance and grit and never giving up on something if it’s what you love—no matter what the world tells you. The world isn’t always right, after all. But your heart usually is. 

I spoke to two more groups that day and the students impressed me with their self-awareness, confidence and energy. Each time, I was transported just a bit further, back to that place where it all began for me. Where I first found the courage to write down my words, to persevere despite everything. It was an amazing thing, I thought, that I had been invited, I imagine, to inspire these students, when so clearly, they had inspired me

They are brave and have so much ahead of them. And one day soon, I hope, their words, whatever they are, will make their way into the world…which would be most fortunate for us all.

Jennifer is the author of Devin Rhodes Is Dead
978-1-93413-359-0 HC $16.95
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8. Imani and I

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I cannot express how excited and proud I feel to be writing this blog. And of course, it’s all because of a small African girl who strived to touch the moon—and succeeded. Little Imani: the girl with the big dreams.

It’s such an interesting thing when you set out to write a story, and it takes on a life of its own. Imani started off male, Elijah first then Ayubu. All either boy did was jump and jump and jump and succeed. Not much of a story arc, right? But I knew there was something more to this story. As I dug deeper and fine-tuned the story, the voice that called resoundingly from the page was not a boy’s, but was that of a girl, a small girl, with a big story to share. I think this is something I am most proud of regarding how Imani came to be. Hearing her voice and realizing how her story is one so many can relate to, a story of setting “impossible” goals and working hard to reach them in the face of opposition. Most of us have been in situations like that, when something seemed insurmountable, but we persevered anyway.

Can I be honest? That has actually been my experience in this world called publishing. Pushing, pushing, pushing, and never giving up.

The more I polished Imani and incorporated aspects of the regal Maasai people, the more I saw the parallel between Imani and my own goal of becoming a children’s book author. I actually had the ambition of becoming a writer ever since I was in grade school. I loved getting lost in the stories of my mind. Writing and storytelling were authentic parts of me. So much so that my 6th grade teacher, Mrs. Welch, predicted that I’d become a published author (best-selling, to be precise) when I grew up, based on the stories and poetry I’d write in her class. That want was ingrained in me from a very early age.

Once I finished college, I decided to give it a try. Write, perfect, publish. One, two, three. Simple, just like that. Of course, any author who has attempted to publish can probably tell you how it actually happens. Well, yes, there is writing. And of course, there’s “perfecting” as best you can. But the publish part was often replaced by rejection instead. The form letters or no response at all, time and time and time again, kind of like the teasing children or naysaying animals of Imani’s story. “You’ll never make it!” “That’s impossible!” “Give up! Give up!”

Sometimes I ask myself, what if I had just given up? What if I had let those “Nos” define me and place me in a box that would be locked, and remain locked, indefinitely? What if I had let them ground me by accepting the thought I would never touch the moon?

This is where the belief part comes in. The word “imani” actually means “faith” in Swahili. That was the last piece of Imani’s journey to a finished manuscript. Her name. Imani. Faith.

And that’s what I had to do: believe in my craft, my abilities, my story. Believe in Imani.

I remember when I received the email from the National Association of Elementary School Principal’s Children’s Book of the Year committee member, telling me I had won the contest and that Imani’s Moon would be published. I cried. Big happy tears falling down a smiling face. (And then I called my mother and we screamed together in sheer, concentrated excitement).

So now, each time I see Hazel Mitchell’s beautiful illustration of little Imani in her orange robe, reaching her arms out in triumph, I see myself. But not just myself, I see all the women who had big dreams, and all the little girls who have big dreams, who may have been told or may be told that they can’t do it, but who shut out the negativity and aim for the moon.

And I am so grateful. Grateful that I made it to my metaphorical moon. I’m also so grateful to NAESP and Charlesbridge and to my editor Julie Bliven and my fantastic critique group family (especially Rosi Hollinbeck and Elizabeth Varadan who’ve been there from the start) for helping bring my story to where it is today. My heart is as full as the moon shining behind Imani on the cover.

In closing, my hope is that someone somewhere will pull inspiration from Imani’s story, from my story, and push on, preserve, succeed. Even if no one else believes he or she can. Because, just as Mama tells Imani as she sits on Mama’s knee, “A challenge is only impossible until someone accomplishes it. Imani, it is you who must believe.”

Believe, and you will get there!

JaNay Brown-Wood is the author of Imani's Moon, illustrated by Hazel Mitchell.

$17.95 Ages 6-9
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9. John F. Kerry, U.S. Secretary of State, Pens the Intro to "Peter, Paul and Mary: Fifty Years in Music and Life"

 I was a college kid on a cold Connecticut night in 1964 when I first heard Mary’s angelic alto. On that night in New Haven and on so many nights over the next five decades, in so many places all over the world, Peter, Paul, and Mary’s music asked more of us than to simply sing along. “The hammer of justice” and “the bell of freedom”! These are more than just lyrics; they were then, and they remain, a call to conscience, and as Peter especially has always reminded me, when something pulls at your conscience, you need to act.

As Peter, Paul and Mary journeyed from coffee houses and campuses to the Billboard Top 40, there could be no doubt that we were all living in turbulent times. But in their harmonies was a magic and message more powerful than a decade of discord and exhilaration.

That is why, after all these years, we return to the music. That is why when we turn the pages of this incredible book, we are questioned, liberated, and challenged once again.

I know my experience with Peter, Paul and Mary is one that I shared with so
©Barry Feinstein
many in those years of challenge and transformation. Their music became an anchor: “Blowin’ in the Wind” as the war in Vietnam escalated. “Leavin’ on a jet Plane” as I left to join the war. “Puff the Magic Dragon” as I patrolled the Mekong Delta. Their songs became the soundtrack of my life and of a generation.

They changed the cultural fabric of this nation forever. Peter, Paul and Mary brought folk music from the shadows of the blacklist McCarthy era to the living rooms and radio stations of every town in America. They gave the world its first listen to young songwriting talents from Bob Dylan to John Denver, Gordon Lightfoot to Laura Nyro. 

© Jan Dalman
And though their music might stop and the band would break up for years, they never stopped marching. They marched for peace, for racial justice, for workers rights.  They marched against gun violence, homelessness and world hunger. They marched for clean air and clean water, against apartheid and nuclear proliferation.

Through both their songs and their struggle, they helped propel our nation on its greatest journey, on the march towards greater equality. With their passion and persistence, Peter, Paul and Mary helped widen the circle of our democracy.

It was at Dr. King’s March on Washington, that Peter, Paul and Mary first
performed “Blowin’ in the Wind.” On that day and for decades thereafter, they made it clear that it was up to all of us to reach for the answer by reaching out to one another and to the world. Their message was not defined by protest but by taking responsibility—taking the risks that peace, the most powerful answer of all, always requires.

After the 1960s, those risks left many of us with wounds and battle scars, physical and spiritual, real and metaphorical. We saw too many of our heroes and friends—our flowers—gone to graveyards far too soon. In the years to come, their music helped us to heal.

It was in 1971, at one of the many marches in Washington that Peter, Paul and Mary helped to lead, when I first met Mary. She once told me she was always guided by advice she got from her mother: “Be careful of compromise,” she said. “There’s a very thin line between compromise and accomplice.” She wasn’t just speaking about music or even politics. It was a worldview, a philosophy of life—and it is within these pages and in the spirit that Peter and Noel (Paul) continue to share with audiences around the world, Mary’s spirit endures.

But this book is not a tribute to any “time that was,” or even to three incredible people who changed music and our lives forever. Instead, it is a testament to what they achieved with their audience, both as musicians and as individuals, as artists and as activists, as Americans and as citizens of the world.

It is also a testament to what’s left undone. The questions that Peter, Paul
© Bernard Cole Archive
and Mary posed more than fifty years ago at the March on Washington—how many roads, how many years will it take?—these are still our questions and we still have a responsibility to answer.

That is why the power of Peter, Paul and Mary’s music and their work in the world is enduring. That is why it remains an inspiration for the work to come, for our work together, and for all we hope to leave behind.

One of my favorite Peter, Paul and Mary songs has always been “Sweet Survivor.” I was moved when Mary sang it for me on my 50th Birthday, and then when Peter sang it for me on a cold bus in Iowa in 2003. Its words still speak to the future, not the past: 

“Carry on my sweet survivor, carry on my lonely friend
Don’t give up on the dream, and don’t let it end.
Carry on my sweet survivor, you’ve carried it so long.
So may it come again, carry on, carry on, carry on.”

And so as we read this book—and remember the music—we do it with much more than nostalgia: we do it because Peter, Paul and Mary remind us still to carry on.

John F. Kerry
US Secretary of State
February 2014
© Sylvia Plachy

 is on sale November 4, 2014
978-1-936140-32-9 HC $29.95

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10. A Credit to our Ancestors

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I am a history nerd. I get shivers of excitement standing in some historic place I’ve written about. Just knowing that I am really theregives me chills. I call those goose bump moments.

I went looking for those goose bumps when I was researching The White House is Burning: August 24, 1814. I wanted to be in those places in Washington I’d been reading and writing about. I was extremely fortunate to be given a private tour of the White House to see the still-visible scorch marks on old blocks of stone (mega goose bumps!). I tramped through the Congressional Cemetery to find the gravestones of Stephen Pleasanton, who’d carried the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution to safety, and of Mordecai Booth, who had been so horrified at his orders to burn the Navy Yard. I felt honored to be there.

But I have to say, mostly the magic of the place felt tantalizingly out of reach. I knew just where nine-year-old Michael Shiner must have been standing when he first spied enemy troops, and where I should find the building where British officers dined by the light of a burning White House. I could point to those places on my circa 1814 maps. Well just try exiting the Metro stop and finding those places now! Hard to find any magic when you’re just trying to get across the street.

And then I was invited to Brookeville, Maryland. The little town had played a small part in the story of the burning of Washington. It had given refuge to President James Madison as he fled the burning capital. Madison was later joined by Secretary of State James Monroe as well as the capital’s treasury and government papers. By noon the next day, the president’s party had left, but for one day the quiet Quaker village of Brookeville was the seat of a government-in-exile. 

That small role became part of the town’s identity. The house where the president stayed is now known as “the Madison House,” and a plaque marks the historic spot. A sign on the main street proclaims historic Brookeville the “United States Capital for a Day.”

Two hundred years later I was invited to Brookeville’s bicentennial US Capital for a Day celebration to sign copies of The White House is Burning. And I found magic. This was not some small celebration marking a small moment in history. The entire town was involved. Streets were closed down—all the streets. There were tours of the Madison House. Townspeople dressed in very authentic period costumes and reenacted the roles of their 1814 counterparts. Those who were descendants of 1814 residents—and there were many—proudly displayed their ancestor’s name on badges. This was a town that didn’t just know its history. It embraced it.

On the second day I was introduced to a very busy Katherine Farquhar, called the “mayor” of Brookeville. (She’s actually the president of the Town Commissioners.) I remarked that I had never seen so many people so enthusiastic about history, and I told her how impressed I was with the town and its US Capital for a Day celebration. 

“Well,” she answered, “it’s a labor of love and a credit to our ancestors.” She hurried away before I had finished my double take. “A credit to our ancestors.” Had she really said that?

It must have been ninety degrees in Brookeville, Maryland that day. And I had goose bumps.

Jane Sutcliffe is the author of The White House Is Burning

ISBN  978-1-58089-656-6
$19.95 Ages 9-12
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11. A Journey Through Time with Christine Liu-Perkins

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I first learned of the Mawangdui tombs in November 1999, at a special exhibit at the National Palace Museum in Taipei, Taiwan.  Seeing objects of the Li family’s daily life and then staring at a model of Lady Dai “sleeping” created for me an irresistible connection to her.  I was gripped by the vivid awareness that Lady Dai had been an actual person who had combed her hair, suffered illnesses, and enjoyed good food and music.

My Desire to learn more about the Li family and their world led me to track down materials of all kinds on Mawangdui and on life in the early Han dynasty.  I prowled university libraries for articles, haunted bookstores in American and Asian cities, scoured websites, and was spellbound by videos.  Every source’s bibliography launched a search to track down its sources. 

In 2002 I traveled to the city of Changsha to see the tomb site, as well as Lady Dai and the artifacts in the Hunan Provincial Museum.  Seeing the full range of artifacts impressed upon me so many new details—the astounding preservation of the two-thousand-year-old food, the glamour of the silk clothes, the massiveness of the burial chamber timbers.  Seeing Lady Dai’s actual body was mesmerizing.

The next year I published an article, “Silk Treasures of Mawangdui,” in Dig magazine.  But writing one article wasn’t enough to satisfy my curiosity; I wanted to keep exploring by writing a book about the tombs.

Pieces of information about Mawangdui lay scattered about my mind like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle.  How could I fit them together into a book?  Finally I recognized that the Mawangdui tombs are like a time capsule: every artifact reveals something about life in the early Han dynasty.  Each artifact tells a story—what it meant to the mourners who buried it, how it expresses the artisans’ knowledge and skills, and what it was like to live in that time and place.  Within this framework I could not only describe the Mawangdui artifacts but also explore the history and culture of the early Han dynasty.

This expedition has lasted fourteen years so far, yet my fascination with Mawangdui and Lady Dai is as intense as ever.  Next?  I would love to go back to Changsha to see the artifacts and tomb site again, and to silently thank Lady Dai and her family for inspiring my marvelous journey through time.

Author's Note From:

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12. Science? It's Sedimentary, My Dear Watson!

Want a sure-fire way to make your summer rock this year? Think geology and food! As the weeks of summer stretch by, one way to keep kids engaged (and learning) is to head to the kitchen and cook up some science! Not only is this a fun way to tap into a child’s curiosity, but it maintains the momentum of learning that often stalagmites—I mean stagnates—during the summer.

Let’s get rocking! Actually, rocks come in three basic "flavors": metamorphic, sedimentary, and igneous. Metamorphic rocks are those that have "morphed" or been changed through heat and pressure. If you visit a museum this summer, you may notice the marble floor and statues. Marble is an example of metamorphic rock.  Sedimentary rock is formed from small pieces of other rocks and minerals fused together. Maybe you will be lucky enough to have a chance to walk on a sandy beach this summer. If you do, think of sandstone--a sedimentary rock formed by particles of sand cemented together. Then there’s igneous rock which is formed from liquid rock beneath the earth’s surface that has cooled and hardened.

Are you still on solid ground with all this science? Think again! Like a piece of delicious summer fruit, the earth has an outer "skin," but the inside is a whole different matter. In thickness, the surface of the earth is like the skin of a peach—only 4- 44 miles (6- 70 km) deep, compared to the rest of the earth which measures nearly 4000 miles (6400 km) to the center. Phew! Travel down to this center of the earth and you’ll find a solid metal core. This is surrounded by a thick layer of liquid metal—mostly iron and nickel. Even though the inner core has a temperature similar to the surface of the sun (9800°F / 5505°C), it is solid because of the enormous pressure pushing in on it. The next layer is called the mantle and the part of the earth that we live on is called the crust. The mantle is where the pockets of magma—molten rock—come from that erupt and form lava.

I don’t know about you, but all this talk about rocks makes me hungry. Head over to the kitchen to make this yummy Sedimentary Pizza Lasagna. Mmmm! 

Sedimentary Pizza Lasagna  
Illustration copyright © 2014 by Leeza Hernandez.

Before You Begin
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 45 minutes
Oven temperature: 375°
Yield: 4-6 servings
Difficulty: medium

Frying pan
Spoon or spatula
Rectangular pan (8 x 10 inches or larger)
Heavy duty aluminum foil
Small bowl

1/2 pound (8 ounces) ground turkey or beef
2 cups pizza sauce
1 egg
1 cup ricotta cheese
Oven-ready lasagna noodles
Sliced pepperoni
1–2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

  1. With an adult’s help, cook the ground meat in a frying pan until it is brown. Drain off any fat. Add the pizza sauce and mix well. 
  2. Spread about 1/2 cup of the meat sauce on the bottom of the rectangular pan. Top with oven-ready lasagna noodles, overlapping slightly to cover the whole pan. Top with more sauce—about 1/2 cup. 
  3. Crack and beat the egg, then mix thoroughly with ricotta cheese. Spread half this mixture over the noodles.
  4. Arrange a layer of pepperoni next, followed by a sprinkling of cheese. Top with a layer of lasagna noodles.
  5. Repeat the layers. Cover the final layer of lasagna noodles with the remaining meat sauce and a generous amount of mozzarella cheese.
  6. Cover the pan with heavy-duty foil. Bake in a 375°F oven for 35 minutes. Uncover and bake for another 10 minutes. Can you still identify the individual ingredients?


Posted by Ann McCallum, author of Eat Your Science Homework.

Remember the old excuse: the dog ate my homework? Did it ever work? Teachers are more savvy than that. But try saying that YOU ate your homework and you’ll put a smile on Teacher’s face. You know why? The kitchen is a laboratory, recipes are experiments, and food is science. Eat Your Science Homework releases August 5, 2014.

Ann McCallum is the author of several books for children including Eat Your Math Homework, Rabbits Rabbits Everywhere, and Beanstalk: The Measure of a Giant. Eat Your Science Homework: Recipes for Inquiring Minds, was recently named a Junior Library Guild selection. Ann lives in Kensington, MD with her family.

Leeza Hernandez has illustrated several children’s books, including Eat Your Math Homework. She is also an author and graphic designer whose art has been featured in books, magazines, and newspapers. She is the recipient of the Tomie dePaola Illustrator Award from the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. Leeza lives in central New Jersey. Visit her online at www.leezaworks.com.

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13. Anna McQuinn Writes and Gardens and She Takes Lola with Her

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Writing is a funny thing. You think you're writing about one thing, but it turns out you're writing about something else altogether, you just don't realise it!

When I started writing Lola Plants a Garden, I thought I was just writing a simple story about Lola and gardening. I thought, 'if she wanted to garden, Lola's a bit like me, so first thing she would do is read up on the subject.' 
She loves books anyways, so that was appropriate and that's what I made her do. 

I actually have a small town garden and I don't really regard myself as a gardener. But I do have a wonderful collection of gardening books with fantastic photographs of beautiful gardens and inspiring schemes… Our garden is at it's best in spring, (when I do a little weeding and planting) but once the big cherry tree comes into leaf it's too shady for many flowers, so I spend most of the time sitting in the shade reading gardening books (and occasionally cook books, craft books…) I've always been a little bit more into reading about doing things and looking at nice pictures of things than actually making or doing!

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I actually did more gardening when I was very little. My dad is a very keen gardener, growing vegetables and fruit in our back garden, as well as flowers and a large lawn out front. His carrots, turnips, potatoes, onions, lettuces, strawberries, and rhubarb kept us happy and well fed (except for the year when, aged three, I picked the strawberry flowers and presented them in a bunch to my mother!).

I helped with weeding and planting, and he also gave me a little patch to grow my own stuff – some onions, lettuce, a few flowers… My most adventurous year was the one when I decided to grow various items mentioned in the Enid Blyton stories I was reading. Like Lola wanting to re-create Mary Mary's contrary garden, I wanted to be like the Famous Five and the adventurous four who seemed to exist on a diet of radishes, watercress sandwiches and ginger beer.( I thought ginger beer was alcoholic and off limits  – in fact I was a bit shocked the children were allowed to drink it) but I was determined to find out what watercress and especially radishes tasted like (having never eaten them before). 

I have to tell you, both were disappointing. I couldn't really understand the attraction of watercress (though combined with hardboiled egg and mayonnaise  - a recipe from one of the cooking books I also happened to have borrowed from the library - it was just about OK). But the radishes were a total bust! I think that in combination with the descriptions of Dick and George wolfing them down, the very word 'radish' sounded delicious to me. So the bland, pale, hard white radishes I grew were a horrible disappointment. Worst of all was I'd been very successful and had an enormous crop which I couldn't give away fast enough!

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Whenever I took a break from all that planting and weeding (not!) I was off to do the other thing I liked to do in the garden – pretending to be a spy! I would get down on my tummy and crawl between the vegetable ridges, pretending I was sneaking up on some bad guys or escaping from some bad guys… and you know, I think this is really what Lola Plants a Garden is about. It's about the fact that little kids are like little sponges – soaking up experiences and trying stuff out and working out how the world works and who they are and how they fit. And it's about the fact that we must not limit their options or their imaginations. Too often we see a little girl who loves reading and we put her in the 'cerebral'  box. We buy her more books (good thing) and read to her (good thing) but perhaps forget that on other days she may enjoy running in the garden just as much… We see a little girl who loves to run about and we put her in the 'sporty box'. We sign her up for after school sports clubs (good thing) and cheer her from the sidelines (good thing) but perhaps forget that once in a while she might like to sit and listen to a story… We see a little girl who loves dressing up and we put her in the 'artistic' box and we sign her up for art class (good thing) and dance class (good thing) but forget that once in a while she might like to run about in the mud or plant some flowers…

I was that mix of things – a crazy reader, soaking up information and stories but then acting them out, running about, pretending… getting muddy. I was fortunate that my parents accepted that mixed up bundle of stuff and it wasn't really until my teens when I started to run middle-distance competitively that these two sides of my personality seem a problem to other people. My running club peers were curious about my 'bookishness', seeing it as at odds with my my passion for running and some of my 'cerebral' friends thought  my love of physical exertion was just weird. (And did I mention that I was also into art and played two musical instruments). Happily, none of my friends were anything other than puzzled by my 'other' interests and I continued with them all. 

But more and more I see a modern trend to channel people into a particular stream earlier and earlier (I think so they can be sold things more efficiently). The tailored advertising of the 'if you liked that author/musician/dress – you'll like this author/musician/dress' is ubiquitous. It may seem innocuous, but is a symptom of a world where we are encouraged to identify with a particular (and often narrow) set of values/ambitions and stick with them. When applied to young children, this tendency to label and contain seems to me to be kicking in earlier and earlier. I have parents of 2-year olds tell me 'he's not really into books' as if this is a fixed character trait like having brown eyes (and as if ANY trait is fixed in a 2-year old) and I see parents dress their little girls as princesses and wonder why they don't want to run and play outside.

So Lola Plants a Garden is about ALL of that… It's about a little girl who is like a little sponge, soaking up information about the world around her; acting out things from books; trying out different roles and figuring out what makes her happy and where she fits in the world…

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Lola loves to sit on her mom's lap and read books together. 

 Anna McQuinn is the author of Lola at the Library and other books about book-loving Lola, as well as Leo Loves Baby Time. Her newest book--Lola Plants a Garden--will be available August 5, 2014. Visit Anna online at www.annamcquinn.com.

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14. FEATHERS: A Book That Has Really Taken Flight

A Junior Library Guild Selection

Feathers: Not Just for Flying by Melissa Stewart and illustrated by Sarah S. Brannen was released on February 25, 2014 and it has really taken off! Critics, teachers, librarians, readers of all ages, but especially love this book. Who knew feathers had so many uses?

Feathers received rave reviews, including a starred review from Publishers Weekly, and the first printing quickly sold out. The perfect summer reading for curious kids, the scrapbook-style format begs for a young readers to take this book outside and used as a guide for observing birds.

"A focused and thorough examination that highlights the striking beauty of these often-unnoticed natural objects." 
                              -Publishers Weekly, starred review

"The combination of thoughtful approach and careful crafting makes this an excellent resource for early nature study."
                             -Kirkus Reviews
"Beautiful and concise, this is an excellent resource for units on animal adaptation, and a treat for the youngest bird lovers."
                          -The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
"Part science journal, part read-along nonfiction, Feathers succeeds in what such science books for young readers should strive to do: help young minds spot the extraordinary in the seemingly mundane."

 More about Feathers: Not Just for Flying from author Melissa Stewart

While I was doing research for another book, I stumbled across a fascinating article in Birder's World (now BirdWatching magazine). It described some of the amazing ways birds use their feathers. I knew this would be a great topic for a children's book, so I photocopied the article adn pinned it to the idea board in my office. 

A few months later I dug into the research. As I do for all my books, I turned to three main sources for information: the library (for books, magazines, and newspapers), the Internet (for journal articles and locating experts in the field), and my own nature journals. Some examples in this book are based on my personal observations in the natural world. Others come from interviews with scientists as well as reports in scholarly books and scientific journals. 

For me, research is the easy part of a project. The hard part is figuring out the most interesting way to frame the material. I'm always asking myself, "Is there a way I can make this even more engaging?" For this book, I spent three years tinkering with the text. I wrote countless drafts and did four complete overhauls before I finally latched on to the idea of comparing feathers to common objects in our lives. That's when the writing came to life, and I knew the manuscript was ready for my editor. 

From the author's note in Feathers: Not Just for Flying

A note about collecting in nature: Gathering and keeping feathers from native wild birds is prohibited. In some cases you may collect feathers after obtaining a specific permit or license. Please be mindful of the laws that protect birds and their environment.

Visit author Melissa Stewart online.
Visit illustrator Sarah S. Brannen online.

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15. The Very Tiny Baby: A Story I Needed to Write


1989: My first baby, Flora, was born very premature and died shortly after birth. Very sad story. 

1992: My second baby, Sam, was born very premature, stayed 3 months at the hospital, came home, and is now a junior in college. Happy story.

Sam, November 1992
Sam, July 2013

Ideas are easy to come by! Developing them into interesting story lines, with engaging characters and a satisfying ending, that’s hard work.

From the day Sam came home as a very tiny baby, I wanted to write a story using the experience of her prematurity.

What would the story line be? Who would be the main character? What would be the problem to solve? I had no idea.

What followed was years of mothering whirlwind. Illustrating projects were done between diaper changes, school lunches, and play-dates. Very little thinking time was spent on the Idea. Still, the mind has its own way of working things out.

Both mothering AND illustrating allowed for endless enjoyment of children’s books. And two main points were emerging very strongly: 

1) I was enjoying stories told in the first person very much.
2) I was becoming enamored of children’s drawings and trying to incorporate that into my work. 

DING!The story of the premature baby? I would write it--in first person--through the eyes of an older sibling. Jacob!

DING! I would draw it in a child-like manner as if Jacob was recording his experience. 

DING! I would do it in a journal/scrap-book format.


2008: Sam was 10 and I could enjoy longer stretches of working time.

In keeping with the scrap-book notion, I surrounded myself with scraps of paper and filled them with all the thoughts that could come up in Jacob’s mind.

The thoughts then got organized and reorganized till they formed a coherent story-line fit for a 32 page book. Some had only a few words on them, some had doodles. Some seemed more important, some disposable.
Sample spread from the first draft
Something unusual happened to me while I worked. I felt very emotional. The work was pouring out of me. I would hardly take any breaks. It was as if I had pierced a hole in an emotion balloon inside my head.

And suddenly it all made sense:

1) I was not drawing on my experience as the mother of a premature child. I was drawing on my experience as the older sibling of a very premature baby brother.
2) I was writing for myself.

I have no actual memory of when I was that young, but the family story goes like this:

When I was 2 ½ my brother, Albert, was born very premature. He spent some time at the hospital where he failed to thrive. Then he was sent home “to die.” Because of the terror of germs, my mother closeted herself with my brother in an empty white room and nursed him to life. The story usually concentrates on what my mother went through--her fears, her exhaustion, her responsibility.

What about "little me"? That was not part of the story. I’m sure I was kept clean, fed, and safe. But what was I told? Was I told anything, even? How did my world change? How much was I asked to do by myself now that I was a “big girl"?

In those days, children were asked to be “nice." I was very, very “nice.” I still am. Was I trying to please in order to win back my parents’ love?
Me and my little brother, Albert.
What I now understand: through Jacob, I was talking to "little me." I cried and allowed myself to be “not nice," to have “mean thoughts.” It felt good. Cathartic.


2010: After many rejections, the book dummy found a publisher: Charlesbridge. Both my editor, Emily Mitchell, and my art director, Susan Sherman, understood what I was after and supported my vision, even when marketing expressed misgivings. They helped me reshuffle, simplify, refine, and rewrite what was then The Baby Who Came Too Soon and is now TheVery Tiny Baby.
Another stage of the same spread...

...and another!
And the final version!  
The book came out in 2014, 21 years after Sam's birth! Some seeds lay dormant for a long time.


Because of theme of prematurity, The Very Tiny Baby will be considered a “niche” book and will be shelved accordingly. I understand.

In my mind, however, the main subject of the book is Emotional Upheaval. And that is a universal subject--whether the expected baby is premature or not, whether there is an expected baby or not.

My wish for this book is for it to be read to or by many children and to help some of them deal with their personal emotions, to recognize them, to realize other children feel them too, and to accept them.


Although I described the style of The Very Tiny Baby as similar to that of a scrap-book or journal, it is a story told in sequential panels and is very much a graphic novel (0r comic). The world of comics is exploding in exciting ways. It includes an enormous variety of stories and styles. I am passionate about it and am so pleased to have my own contribution in the form of The Very Tiny Baby. 


I am now putting the finishing touches on Zig and the Magic Umbrella, a story for Dial Books for Young Readers, done in panel format and in collage paintings. (A little blue monster, a little yellow bird, adventure, trials, friendship.)

Detail from a page of Suzette Totvitz.
Combining my love of comics and my experience with difficult pregnancies, I am now posting a web comics--for adults. It is a work in progress. My goal is to create 3 to 5 new “pages” a week. You can follow Suzette Totovitz, a character I created while working on this project, on my blog at www.sylviekomix.blogspot.com. You can also to stay up-to-date with me, my ideas, and future books on tumblr. and facebook.

Posted by Sylvie Kantorovitz, author and illustrator of The Very Tiny Baby.

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16. In Honor of Family

Photograph by David Schlatter

My first book, At Home in Her Tomb: Lady Dai and the Ancient Chinese Treasures of Mawangdui, describes a woman and her elaborate tomb─the memorial created by a grieving family. Writing this book was not only a fascinating intellectual endeavor for me, but also a personal journey of connection to my extended family and our ancestors.

After growing up in China, my parents immigrated to America in 1946. My brothers and I were born in the Northeast, and then we moved to the Midwest when I was three years old. So I grew up far from the land of my heritage. 

But every summer we drove from Kansas City to Toronto for reunions with our extended family. (My father's parents and siblings had also immigrated to the USA or to Canada.) There I was aware of belonging to a large family, a long history, and a complex culture beyond my everyday life. I was surrounded by my grandparents, uncles, and aunts chatting in Cantonese while I played with my cousins. I was introduced to dimsum—small plates of juicy dumplings, steamed buns, and other mouthwatering treats—plucked from carts rolling between a restaurant's giant round tables. I remember my grandfather giving me candy from a secret cache high on his closet shelf, but I also sensed that the entire family treated him as the most honored member.

When I was a mother with two young children, my own mother died. My parents always being there had been my secure foundation, but that shifted with her death, leaving a hole of grief and vulnerability in my life.

In November 1999, I traveled with my father to Taiwan and China. Serendipitously I stumbled upon a special exhibit of Han dynasty artifacts at the National Palace Museum in Taipei. This was the first time I had ever heard of the three tombs of Mawangdui, but I was immediately hooked on learning more about them. Who were the mother, father, and son buried in the tombs? Why would their family bury them with so many treasures, including personal items like the mother's cosmetics case, the father's signature seals, and the son's zither? 

The next week, we journeyed to the southern Chinese village where my father's family has lived since the late 1500's. Along with two dozen relatives living in or near the village, we visited the cemetery where four generations of our ancestors are buried. In front of their niches, we lit candles and incense, offered food and drink, and burned mock money and paper clothes—modern versions of rituals performed for thousands of years. I was struck by the realization of being connected to these people whom I'd never met, yet were literally part of me.

After lighting candles and incense, we set out food and drink in front of our ancestor's niches.

Three years later in June 2002, my father took me, my brothers, and our families to visit his homeland. We entered the Forbidden City, inspected the First Emperor's terracotta troops, sailed down the Yangzi River, and saw where my parents had lived and been schooled.  

I took a side trip to Changsha to see the Mawangdui tomb site and the many artifacts in the Hunan Provincial Museum. By then, I had studied enough about Mawangdui to be completely agog at seeing the silk-draped body of Lady Dai and the cavernous tomb of her son.

The following day twenty-one of us from America and ten of us from China met at the same cemetery I had visited before. My daughters, nieces, and nephews participated for their first time in the traditional rituals of lighting candles and incense, offering food and drink, and burning mock money and paper clothes. I marveled at the continuity of life that bound us together across centuries and continents: four generations of living descendants paying our respects to four generations of ancestors. As I watched the smoke from the burning paper rise into the sky, I saw an image in my mind of an endless queue of our ancestors winding across the cemetery.

It is believed that burning mock money and other paper goods sends them to the ancestors. 

Through seeing artifacts from the Mawangdui tombs and performing rituals at my ancestors' graves, I could imagine the family of Lady Dai expressing their love and respect in creating an elaborate tomb for her. I could identify with her family through my experiences of missing my own mother and of honoring my ancestors. And through learning about Lady Dai and her world, I understand more of the history and meaning behind the rituals my family performs to commemorate our loved ones.


Posted by Christine Liu-Perkins, author of At Home in Her Tomb, which releases on April 8, 2014. Find out more about her at www.christineliuperkins.com.

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17. "When I'm Good, I'm Very Good. But When I'm Bad I'm Better."

 Mae West spoke those provocative lines in the movie I'm No Angel, and women have been identifying with it ever since. But women were bad a lot further back than that 1933 movie. Find twenty-six of the world's most notorious females in Bad Girls: Sirens, Jezebels, Murderesses, Thieves, & Other Female Villains by Jane Yolen and Heidi E. Y. Stemple, with illustrations by Rebecca Guay.

Modern Times and Changing Gender Roles

If Salome dropped her veils today, would we call her bad? Or would we arrest her parents for a variety of crimes against a child? If Mata Hari made up a whole new self tomorrow and danced her way into a criminal lifestyle, would we execute her or send her to counseling for post-traumatic stress disorder? Would we encourage Lizzie Borden to move into her own apartment, Bloody Mary to establish an ecumenical council, and Typhoid Mary to take some nursing courses at a community college? Would we still consider these women bad? Or would we consider them victims of bad circumstances? As our world changes, so does our definition of bad. Especially when it comes to half the world's population--the half that happens to be female.

With women's relatively new rights--to speak out, to vote, to have power over their own bodies--comes a new set of responsibilities. Women are no longer required to do a man's bidding--no matter whether that bidding is legal or not. But no longer can a woman say that she was just followign a man and count that as justification for bad acts.

We measure guilt and innocence today on a sliding scale. And never has it been easier for the general public to "weigh" the misdeeds of its favorite modern-day bad girls. The nightly news, tabloids, blogs, and the fast pace of the Internet all make sure of this. Today, as throughout history, the court of public opinion is capable of swaying or tempering the criminal courts.

Now that you have been introduced to some of history's bad girls, you will have to decide for yourself if they were really bad, not so bad, or somewhere in the middle. And perhaps you will see that even the baddest of bad girls may have had a good reason for what she did.

from the Conclusion of Bad Girls

March is Women's History Month!

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18. Sloth Bears and Sun Bears and Grizzlies, Oh My!

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I didn’t know it at the time but the seed for Wild About Bears was planted in my mind twelve years ago when my husband, three children, and I traveled by car from Maine to Montana. 

Friends, guides, and park rangers had all told us that the chance of a bear encounter would be next to nil. Boy, were they wrong. Minutes after passing through the gate into Glacier National Park we spotted two black bears close to the road. Later that afternoon, after hiking a well-traveled path, we spied two grizzlies meandering down that very same trail. We started to call ourselves bear magnets!

Grizzly & Discovery Center, West Yellowstone

Later that week, after seven hours in the saddle on the first day of a pack trip, we found ourselves deep in the Lee Metcalf Wilderness, camping beside a beautiful mountain meadow and a clear cold stream. That afternoon my husband, blissfully fly-fishing downstream, looked up to see a large bear standing up and staring at him from thirty feet away on the opposite bank. Defying the rule “Never run from a bear,” he turned tail and sprinted, yelling and gasping for breath. At an altitude of 8,000 feet, needless to say he did not get very far. Luckily the bear did not follow . . . or so we thought.

Within the hour I spied the same bear in our camp curiously peering at us from behind a tree, almost as though he were playing hide and seek. He was much too close for comfort. Our guide and wranglers had to run him off two different times before he was gone for good.

That night our family of five settled uncomfortably in our tent. My husband, a shovel by his side as his weapon of choice, didn't sleep a wink.

The seed thushad been sown, along with great memories and a love, fascination, and respect for bears. Wild About Bears is the result.

Original artwork from Wild About Bears

Years later, my husband and I built a small home in Montana, just an hour from Yellowstone National Park. I am always on the lookout for bears. My husband prefers to watch from the car. 

Wild About Bears will be published on March 11, 2014, and I am jumping for joy at the prospect of visiting schools to share the many bear facts I have been collecting for several years. Kids will marvel at the uniqueness of each of the eight bear species as well as the commonalities they share.

I am currently working on the illustrations for The Decorated Horse,written by Dorothy Hinshaw Patent (forthcoming from Charlesbridge).

Posted by Jeannie Brett, author and illustrator of Wild About Bears. Visit Jeannie's wesbite at www.jeanniebrett.com, "like" her on facebook, and follow her on twitter, @jeanniebrett. Be sure to check out the Wild About Bears facebook page too!

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19. A Brief History of Michelangelo's David

Author Jane Sutcliffe
A month after Michelangelo's David was unveiled in September 1504, more work was ordered. David's sling and the tree stump behind his leg were covered in gold. Some experts say David himself wore a crown of gold leaves. And he was given a belt of copper leaves to cover his nakedness.

The people of Florence hoped that their David would always bring the city luck. But as it turned out, he wasn't in the luckiest of spots.

Once lightning struck the statue and damaged the base.

Another time someone threw a bench out of a window just above David's head. The bench hit David's left arm and smashed it into three pieces. A friend of Michelangelo's rescued the pieces. Later the statue was repared.

Then the giant faced a different kind of danger. Year after year of standing in the city square meant year after year of hot summers and cold winters. It meant year after year of rain and wind and dirt. And bird droppings

After a few centuries someone noticed that the statue was looking pretty dirty. Worse, the marble was pitted and damaged. David was being worn away. 

There was only one thing to do. The statue was cleaned and moved inside for safekeeping. Of course the people of Florence could not think of a city square without David. So a copy was made to stand in the same place.

Now David has been standing for more than five hundred years. He is safe and protected. The adornments are gone. People who come to see David today see him much as he must have looked when he left Michelangelo's hands.

From the Author's Note in Stone Giant: 
Michelangelo's David and How He Came to Be

                   Stone Giant: 
     Michelangelo's David and 
          How He Came To Be
                      by Jane Sutcliffe
           and illustrated by John Shelley

                Available April 8, 2014

The stone giant had been laying in the cathedral yard before Michelangelo was even born. Many artists took a stab at it—literally—but left it behind with cuts, chips, and in one case a hole. Nobody knew how to make
David, the shepherd that defeated Goliath, emerge from the stone. Even Leonardo da Vinci said, “No, grazie.”

Florence’s officials refused to give up on the giant, however. And native son, Michelangelo, was persuaded to return from Rome to take a look. He saw something in the giant block of marble. He chipped away at what was not-David for nearly three years. Slowly, bit-by-bit, a foot, a hand, a nose
. . . and then his David appeared.

In this moving, inspiring story, author Jane Sutcliffe uncovers the artist’s heart and drive to create. Like David overcoming Goliath, Michelangelo conquered a giant and gave his city a symbol of grit and endurance.

John Shelley’s expressive illustrations are full of whimsy, period detail, and is evocative of Michelangelo’s own drawings and design notes.

A Junior Library Guild Selection

When Jane Sutcliffe visited Florence, she sat in the Galleria dell'Accademia and stared at the David for a very long time. She knew there was a story in that face. Jane is the author of Leonardo's Monster and The Attack on Pearl Harbor, as well as nearly two dozen biographies for young readers. She lives with her family on a farm in Tolland, Connecticut. 

Visit Jane online at www.janesutcliffe.com.

John Shelley once stayed in a bed-and-breakfast overlooking the square where the replica of the David stands. The sketch below is from his journal at the time. John is the illustrator of more than foryy children's books, including Family Reminders by Julie Danneberg. He lives with his daughter in Norwich, England.

Visit John online at www.jshelley.com

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20. Interview with an Illustrator

February is Black History Month and we have a new and inspiring book to help you celebrate. Under the Freedom Tree by Susan VanHecke, illustrated by London Ladd, tells the little-known story of the first contraband camp of the American Civil War.  

One night in 1861, three escaped slaves made their way from the Confederate line to a Union-held fort where they were declared “contraband of war” and granted protection. As word spread, thousands of runaway slaves poured into the fort. These “contrabands” made a home for themselves, building the first African-American community in the country. In 1863 they bore witness to one of the first readings of the Emancipation Proclamation—beneath the sheltering branches of the tree now known as Emancipation Oak. 

London took a moment to speak with Unabridged about what it was like to illustrate this important picture book.

What was it about the manuscript for Under the Freedom Tree that made you want to illustrate the book?
This was a fascinating part of not only African American history, but American history that I had no idea existed. The actions of three men led to the first African American contraband camp and eventually their own self-sustaining free community. Here during the era of slavery, African Americans could learn to read and write and build their community.

How challenging (or easy!) was it to illustrate the story of Frank Baker, James Townsend, and Shepard Mallory?
The most challenging aspect was when I gathered all the research. As I dug deeper I would find more details that would catch my interest. I had to force myself to focus on the information needed rather than get lost in the vast amount of information available.

The easy part of this project was going to visit the actual location of the events. Visiting Fort Monroe and standing where the three men launched at Sewell's Point and standing next to the Emancipation Oak was a moving experience.

Most authors and illustrators don't get the chance to work closely with each other--oftentimes, they never even meet! Yet you and Susan worked very closely to create Under the Freedom Tree. What was the process like? Have you had similar experiences with other authors in the past?
This is the first time I have actually worked with the author of the book I illustrated. It was very nice to connect with Susan because we shared similar visions for the book. She lives in Virginia, right near the Emancipation Oak, and therefore was able to show me some of the sites that I went to visit and had great insight.

What kinds of stories are you drawn to as an illustrator?
Most importantly a story has to speak to my heart. I'm drawn to stories of perseverance, survival, and overcoming obstacles. I think it's fascinating to illustrate stories that show the strength of the human spirit.

Are you influenced or inspired by the work of other children's book illustrators? If so, who and why?
The answer to this is a big fat YES! I have so many illustrators that I love and constantly refer to when I need a creative push. I'm a big fan of classics like NC Wyeth, Dean Cornwell, Jessie Wilcox Smith, and John Lagotta, but there are current illustrators that I just marvel at and study intensely: Greg Manchess because of his color palette, how he applies his paint, his brush stroke technique, and the way he captures subject matter whether it's something still and quiet or action-packed; James Gurney because the guy is the epitome of an illustrator--extremely knowledgeable, amazingly creative, constantly working on his craft, and eagerly sharing his knowledge with anyone who asks; Chris Van Allsburg is a master storyteller with his expressive characters and beautifully designed books. I also admire other phenomenal modern age illustrators like Kadir Nelson, Brian Collier, Jerry Pinkney, David Shannon, Gary Kelley...just to name a few.

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21. Goldy Luck's Arduous Path from Vision to Reality

As Goldy Luck and the Three Pandas’ publication date finally arrives on Jan. 7, 2014, after a lengthy and arduous nine-year journey, I can’t help but reflect on the path this book has taken from my original vision to the final product, and the many hands it has passed through and how each has helped shape the book in some significant way.

The journey began about a dozen (or so) years ago, when I learned about fractured fairy tales at a writing conference. I was intrigued by the idea of re-writing a familiar tale from a different perspective or culture. After checking out some books at the library, I played around with a few fairy tales. Something about the Goldilocks story had always stuck with me. Here was a little girl breaking and entering into the three bears’ home, destroying their stuff, and leaving a mess never to be heard from again. How rude! And what kind of message does this story give kids? I wanted to re-write this story with a more compassionate protagonist and a more satisfying ending.

My first few attempts told the story from Papa Bear’s perspective (I believe it was called “Papa Bear’s Good Deed”). The story began from the moment Goldilocks ran away, leaving her hat behind, and Papa Bear’s journey to find Goldy and return the hat to her—and all the people he inadvertently frightened along the way (because he was a bear) even though he had set out to do a good deed. It went on for about 2,000 words. Yeah, not even close to publishable. And, it didn’t have the unique angle I was looking for or the resolution that I felt was missing from the original story.

Then, a title and a “what if” question popped into my head. What if Goldilocks wasn’t a little girl with blonde ringlets, but Chinese? I asked my aunt to help me come up with a Chinese name that sounded phonetically similar to Goldilocks and hence, the first seeds of  a story called “Go Dil Lok and the Three Chans” began to germinate. But I wanted the book to be about more than just Goldy having a different ethnic background. I wanted the story to also offer some insights to Chinese traditions and culture. So, Go Dil Lok began her fictional life in a skyrise apartment in Hong Kong (where I had spent my adolescent years), preparing to celebrate the biggest and most colorful Chinese festival of the year, Chinese New Year.

In its nine-year route to publication, this story passed through the hands of my writing group, The Ukiah Writers Salon (multiple times), and five different editors from two publishing houses who have all contributed greatly to shaping the book. This meant changing the name from the hard to pronounce Go Dil Lok to Goldy Luck (“Luck” serving the double purpose of being a Chinese last name as well as mirroring the theme of good luck in the book) and relocating Goldy from an international location to an American one (which one editor felt kids in the US can better relate to.)

In my attempts to give the mundane beds and chairs a modern twist, earlier versions of the book included an aquarium (Goldy smudged the glass), an oriental rug (she spilled fish flakes all over it) and a computer game (Goldy beat Little Chan’s record). And a greatly detailed Chinese New Year parade with lion dancers. I thought it’d make for really fun illustrations, but another editor wisely suggested I simplify the story and revert back to the original three bowls/chairs/bed structure. 

Still, I wanted a slightly different spin. Enter my uncle’s massage chair and my parents’ Tempurpedic electric bed (as a writer, I never know what every day event or thing creeps into a story!). The really fun part was implanting the traditions and rituals of the New Year (receiving “lucky” red envelopes, eating turnip cakes) into the story and thinking up ways to make Goldy’s experiences more culturally relevant (“She felt like stuffing in a pork bun,” “The mattress felt as hard as a week-old almond cookie”)

Finally, illustrator Grace Zong added her fabulous artistic touch, and brought Goldy Luck and the Three Pandas to vibrant life.  So, how many people did it take to make this children’s book? One writer, five editors, four readers in a writing group, one agent, one illustrator, one publisher, not to mention the cast of people behind the scenes from the art director to the marketing personnel. Yes, an entire village. Writing may be a solitary endeavor, but publishing is not. And I am truly grateful to my Charlesbridge village for making my vision become a reality. 


Posted by Natasha Yim, author of Goldy Luck and the Three Pandas, releasing January 7, 2014.

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22. An Interview with an Editor!

'Tis the season! The holidays are upon us, which means it's time to start thinking of great books to give to those bookworms you know. We'd like to highlight a 2012 favorite, A Black Hole Is NOT a Hole. This book is an ideal holiday gift for any astronomy lover--young or old! Children and adults alike will learn a ton of spacey facts in this far-out book that’s sure to excite even the youngest of astrophiles. 

To learn more about the book, we thought we'd share an interview with Charlesbridge editor Alyssa Mito Pusey about what it was like to work on the book with author Carolyn Cinami DeCristofano. Carolyn's friend and business partner Deb Dempsey--a former fifth-grade teacher--conducted the interview. Enjoy!

Alyssa, one thing I’m wondering about is why you chose this book, this story, to publish. What was it about A Black Hole Is NOT a Hole that made you want to work on it? 

There are rare and wonderful moments when, as an editor, you hear about a book and think, This is IT. I have to work on this story. You get goose bumps—thrills and chills—and are filled with a deep-down certainty that’s at once exhilarating and a little terrifying. You hold your breath. Can the book possibly be as good as it sounds?

It was sort of like that for A Black Hole Is NOT a Hole. Carolyn and I were chatting about misconceptions one day, when she said, “You know, Alyssa, so many kids think a black hole is a hole.” My head reeled. My understanding of the universe shifted. I got those goose bumps. “It’s not?!” I yelped. I had never thought much about black holes, but suddenly I had to know more. I had to read that book. And luckily, Carolyn was the perfect person to write it. Yes, the book could be as good as it sounded. 

As the book evolved, what specifics did you see in the book that you believed would pull in kids? 

What I love—and I think kids love—about Carolyn’s writing is her conversational voice. She writes like she talks and talks like she writes. She is there on the page, inviting you to explore this marvelous, incredible science with her. But she’s not just a fellow explorer; she’s also an expert guide. She points out amazing sights and leads you to new heights of understanding—without leaving anyone behind. As a science educator, she knows exactly what support kids might need. She provides that scaffolding through some of the clearest, most engaging science writing I’ve ever read.

Can you talk a bit about your vision for how readers will encounter Black Hole? I’m wondering how you envision children at home reading this book . . . and how the book might be used in schools. 

I imagine that kids who are already interested in astronomy will snap Black Hole up. Our expert reviewer, a professor of astronomy, says that she would have loved this book as a child. I’m hoping that those kids who aren’t necessarily interested in science will see the cover—with its cool topic, gorgeous image, intriguing title, and sassy speech bubble—and be intrigued enough to open the book. Once hooked, they’ll learn not just about black holes, but also about gravity, atoms, and the way light moves. The book is about cutting-edge science, certainly, but it’s also about fundamental principles of physics. 

And that’s what makes Black Hole so useful in the classroom. The Common Core calls for nonfiction reading across the curriculum. I envision science teachers turning to Black Hole for its top-notch content as well as its exemplary science writing. I see language arts teachers using it as a model for expository writing, as well as a treasure trove for teaching about metaphor, voice, structure, and the author’s purpose and perspective. Black Hole is exactly the kind of rich, complex informational text that teachers are looking for as they strive to meet the Common Core.

As you know, I’ve worked with Carolyn for years now – just about the time when she started writing books, actually. I know her work as an educator, but I’m curious: What do you think is unique about Carolyn’s writing?
Well, I’ve mentioned Carolyn’s inimitable voice. That’s certainly unique; there’s no one else in the world who could have written this particular book. But Carolyn also has the gift of being able to explain big, complicated, abstract ideas in clear, concrete, kid-friendly ways. She can take something like nuclear fusion within the heart of a star and make it understandable. And interesting! She is both scientist and storyteller and that, in my opinion, is the secret to her unique power as a writer. 

I know that Carolyn feels she learned a lot about writing, publishing, and science while writing this book. What have you learned as an editor while editing this book? 

Everything I know about black holes I learned from A Black Hole Is NOT a Hole. Okay, that’s not strictly true, but it’s close to the truth. Thanks to this book, I can now explain black holes to my five-year-old son! I’ll always be grateful to Carolyn for that—as well as for her gracious, enthusiastic, tireless collaboration. As an editor, I have learned so much from working on this book: 

  • How to deal with change, accepting and embracing the natural evolution of a project (Black Holestarted off as a 32-page picture book!)
  • How to write about abstract concepts for kids (I recently ran a writers’ workshop on this topic, almost entirely based on what I learned from Carolyn. 
  • How to help prune, cut, and shape while respecting both the science (Don’t dumb it down!) and the author (It’s her book!)
  • How to keep it fun (In our hundreds of emails, we never got tired of making jokes—good ones and lots and lots of bad ones.)
  • How to work on a book for 8+ years without giving up or losing hope, knowing all along that it will be an amazing resource for kids everywhere. 

Thanks, Deb and Alyssa! To read another interview with Carolyn in Kirkus Reviews, click here.

Click here to learn more about A Black Hole Is NOT a Hole by Carolyn Cinami DeCristofano, illustrated by Michael Carroll.

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23. Writing Under the Freedom Tree: A Picture's Worth a Thousand (or So) Words

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It started with this.

This striking photo in the back pages of a Virginia lifestyle magazine caught my eye; the caption describing it as the location of the South's first reading of the Emancipation Proclamation sent me on the research trail. I'd lived just a few miles from this gorgeous tree for many years, had unknowingly driven by it countless times. How had I never heard of it and its amazing history?

As I dug into archives and academic works, I was astonished to learn the full story. One May night in 1861, three slaves held by Confederate forces in what is now Norfolk, Virginia, slipped away under cover of darkness, stole a skiff, and rowed across the harbor of Hampton Roads to the Union-held Fortress Monroe. It was a daring and courageous act; the men risked grave punishment for the hope they saw on the other side.

Had they escaped days earlier, they would have been returned under the 1850 Fugitive Slave Act. But Virginia had just seceded and was therefore no longer a part of the United States. So the Union commander at Fortress Monroe declared the slaves enemy "contraband" and refused to return them to the Confederates.

As word spread, hundreds and, ultimately, thousands of runaway slaves made their way to the refuge of Fortress Monroe. While technically these individuals weren't free, “contraband” was surely preferable to “slave,” and a step closer to freedom. The contrabands worked for the Union forces and lived in camps they built themselves just outside the fort in Hampton, Virginia.

Contraband slaves assisted Union forces in and around Fortress Monroe. View a collection of rare and vintage images regarding the Civil War's contraband slaves at http://underthefreedomtree.com/gallery/

There, under the shade of that enormous live oak tree, slave children learned to read and write, taught by a local free black woman working with the American Missionary Association. The open-air education defied longstanding laws against teaching slaves or free blacks to read or write. These classes are considered the first at what is now Hampton University.

When Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, the contrabands learned of their eventual freedom when the document was read under the tree, likely on January 1, 1863. Though I wasn't able to confirm that it was the first reading of the proclamation in the South, it was certainly among the first.

I was stunned. I'd never been taught these documented aspects of the Civil War. We so often accept the "classic" version of emancipation, with the passive, helpless slaves liberated by the kindness of the white man, when, really, African Americans were bold, willing, and active participants in determining their own freedom.

I knew I had to write a book about it. I wanted to make sure my children and their friends learned this incredible history.

But what kind of children's book? Nonfiction, straight up? That would be a lot of dates, names, facts. Boring—and the history made under and around that tree, eventually called the Emancipation Oak, was anything but boring. I was stumped.

Around the same time, I was preparing to interview poet Arnold Adoff, husband of the late author Virginia Hamilton, for an online column, so I was reading a collection of Hamilton's speeches and essays. I was especially struck by her concept of "rememory," which she defined as "an exquisitely textured recollection, real or imagined."

As I learned more about the tree, I drove over to Hampton University to view it in person. It was a beautiful early summer day, the campus was quiet, and standing alone under those branches was a truly magical thing. I may have broken a rule, but I simply had to touch the tree. With my fingers on the bark, I could literally feel all that history, like I was absorbing those tears, that determination, the sacrifice, the hope and joy—all in that moment. It made me weep, and I'm very glad no one was around to see me.

So how best to express that? Poetry—rememory—seemed the way to go, with this spectacular tree as the axis around which the events would revolve. And so the words began to flow.

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To my surprise, by the time I'd finished researching and writing about how the contrabands themselves had triggered the start of slavery's end, I'd stumbled across a fascinating full circle. I learned that it was in the waters off Fortress Monroe that the first African slaves were brought to the English colonies in 1619.

Under the Freedom TreeThere's a satisfying congruency—closure—to both the beginning of slavery and the beginning of the end of slavery in America occurring at the same place, just two miles from the Emancipation Oak. Imagine, when those first Africans were brought to the colonies for the purpose of slavery, the Emancipation Oak might have been a newly sprouted acorn.  

Had it not been for that photograph in the magazine, I would have never embarked on the Freedom Tree journey, even though I'd routinely traveled past both the historic oak and Fortress Monroe and had even fished Hampton Roads harbor at the very point where those three brave slaves stepped into a rowboat and made their escape.

It's made me realize how incredibly fragile history is. History must be protected, promoted, cultivated, shared—or it can be so easily forgotten or overlooked.

Posted by Susan VanHecke, author of Under the Freedom Tree. On sale January 7, 2014. Susan is also the author of Raggin’ Jazzin’ Rockin’: A History of American Musical Instrument Makers (ALA Notable Children’s Book), An Apple Pie for Dinner, as well as several books for adults. She lives in Norfolk, Virginia. Visit her online at www.susanvanhecke.com, and check out the website for Under the Freedom Tree: www.underthefreedomtree.com.

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24. Melissa Stewart's "Aha Moment"

Melissa StewartIt was 1996. My first children’s book had just been accepted for publication, and I was headed to East Africa with a group of scientists to do research for a second book. Life was good—or so it seemed.

As friends and family heard about my success, I received a flood of phone calls. They congratulated me, of course. But they also asked some unexpected questions.

“So now are you going to write a real book? You know, one for adults.”

“It’s nonfiction? That’s great. But wouldn’t you rather write fiction?”

These questions confused me. They made me wonder and worry. Was I headed down the wrong path? Was writing for children a waste of time? Was nonfiction less important than fiction?

Luckily, my journey halfway around the world gave me the perspective—and the answers—I needed. 

One night around a campfire at the edge of Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park, Ann Prewitt, an anthropologist and educator from the American Museum of Natural History, said she was fascinated by "aha moments"�seemingly small experiences that change the course of a person’s life. She asked the circle of scientists if they could recall such events from their own lives.  

When my turn came, I described exploring a wooded area in western Massachusetts with my dad and brother when I was eight years old. As we hiked, my dad asked lots of questions: 

“Why do stone walls run through the middle of the woods?”

“Why do sassafras trees have three kinds of leaves?”

“Why don’t chipmunks build their nests in trees like squirrels?”

He wanted us to think about our surroundings, and he knew a guessing game would be more engaging than a lecture. 

As we reached the top of a hill, my dad stopped and scanned the landscape. Then he asked if we noticed anything unusual about that area of the woods.

My brother and I looked around.

We looked at each other.

We shook our heads.

But then, suddenly, the answer came to me. “All the trees seem kind of small,” I said.

My dad nodded. He explained that there had been a fire in the area about twenty-five years earlier. All the trees had burned and many animals had died, but over time, the forest had recovered.

Why was that an "aha moment" for me? Because I instantly understood the power of nature. I also realized that a field, a forest, any natural place has stories to tell, and I could discover those stories just by looking.

As the firelight flickered across the African savanna and I described my childhood insights, heads nodded all around me. I was among a new group of friends, kindred spirits who understood my fascination with the natural world.

They knew why I didn’t write fiction.

They knew why children were my primary audience.

No Monkeys, No ChocolateAnd suddenly, so did I. It was another "aha moment."

Now, 17 years later, I’ve written more than 150 children’s books about science and nature, including my newest title No Monkeys, No Chocolate (Charlesbridge, 2013). Some people still ask me why I’ve never written a book for adults. Others want to know if I’ll ever write a novel. But these questions no longer bother me.
I know that my personal mission, the purpose of my writing, is to give today’s children their own "aha moments" in the natural world—the same gift my dad gave me on that special walk through the Massachusetts woods.

Posted by Melissa Stewart, author of No Monkeys, No Chocolate. Visit her online at www.melissa-stewart.com

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25. Why Folktales Matter

I love fairy and folktales. I enjoyed them since I was a child and continue to do so. At home in Mexico City, when I was a child we had a room that was filled with floor to ceiling shelves crammed with books of all kinds, including those of the Brothers Grimm, Hans Christian Andersen, and Andrew Lang's multicolored books. I also found them in the library of the American School, where the school librarian, Mrs. Figueroa, set them aside for me along with many others because she knew that I liked to read. My parents, both readers, bought me many books, comics, and magazines, mainly British and American. Besides fairy and folktales, I loved (and still love) fantasy, comic books, historical novels, short stories, science fiction, and mysteries. I read everything I could get my hands on, even the cereal box, and continue to do so. To this day, the shelves in my home groan under the weight of my books and I carry a book with me everywhere.

Reading eventually led to writing and, to date, I have had stories and books published in Mexico, the US, Columbia, and Germany.

So why folktales? Simply because I enjoyed and continue to enjoy them, no matter where they come from, be it Russia, India, Israel, the US, China, England, France, and Spain, among many others.

And why from Mexico? Besides writing stories that spring from my imagination I also retell folktales because I find them filled with wisdom and universal truths and they explain where things come from. They also enlighten, delight, and teach without being preachy. What more can you ask for? Besides, I believe that any child, no matter what his or her background is, can enjoy them.

The folktales in are five of my favorite stories from my country. They explain, for instance, why insects were created, especially a very pesky one; how an opossum gave humans a great gift; what happened when a young frog with a big mouth had a surprising adventure; and how a patient turtle helped to create the world. These stories are exciting, funny, amazing, and moving.
Whiskers, Tails & Wings: Animal Folktales from Mexico

I love to look for these stories in many different places, including libraries, dusty bookstores of used and vintage books in very old buildings in downtown Mexico City, where the shelves reach the very high ceilings and are so far up that you practically need binoculars to see what's up there. I have also listened to great storytellers who know how to enthrall their audiences.

I write about Mexico because I find my country endlessly fascinating and want children see beyond the stereotypes. Of course, writing about Mexico is also important because there are millions of children of Mexican descent living in the US who have heard versions of some of these stories from parents and grandparents. These kids live in the US and are American but they're also Mexican and there is no need for them to lose their roots to fit in. They can, like many of us who are bicultural, take what they can from both cultures and be all the richer for it. There is no need for them to feel ashamed of what they are or where they come from. There is no need for them to hide that they speak Spanish at home. There is no need for them to forget what they are so they can blend in with the rest. They should be proud of themselves and where they come from and reading books where they can see themselves and where those things that are familiar are not something "exotic." Best of all, these books, which are fun, exciting, or fantastic, do what any good book does: they enthrall readers and make them want to read more and more. Besides, any kid can read them and have a great time. Teachers, parents, and librarians shouldn’t make the mistake of thinking that because the theme is Latino only children of Latino descent will want to read them. Reading about different cultures can only develop tolerance and sympathy, something any reader, no matter what his or her age, will benefit from since what is familiar will not cause rejection.

The five stories in Whiskers, Tails & Wings: Animal Folktales from Mexico, with the wonderful illustrations by Fabricio Vanden Broeck, can introduce any child to the culture of Mexico. Though the Aztecs and the Maya are better known, these five stories come from the rich traditions of the lesser known Tarahumara, Seri, Huichol, Triqui, and Tseltal. And once readers know something about these people perhaps they will see Mexicans as they really are: friendly, warmhearted, welcoming people. Mexican kids need to be delighted by their culture and heritage so let’s give them something they can be proud about so, no matter where they live, be it in Mexico or the US, so they can be sure about who they are and where they come from. And let’s not limit stories to a certain group: kids of all walks of life should be introduced to folktales from cultures from the entire world.

That's why folktales matter.

Find out more about Whiskers, Tails & Wings at www.charlesbridge.com.
"One of the most satisfying folklore collections in recent memory."
--Kirkus Reviews, starred review

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