Friday, June 19, 2015

Fan-mail Friday

This is my final Celebrate Science post for the 2015-2016 school year, so I've decided to end with some recent fan mail that really made my day.
Happy Summer, Everyone! Celebrate Science will be back in September.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Behind the Books: Using Social Media for Research

From the moment I received the assignment my new book Hurricane Watch, I knew I wanted to take readers on a journey through the stages of hurricane formation and give them a front row seat to what happens when the super storm hits land. Because I’ve never experienced a hurricane, I needed to interview people who had.

How did I find those people? Twitter. 

Within minutes of posting a tweet, I had a half dozen responses from people who’d lived through hurricanes in Florida, Texas, and Hawaii. We exchanged email addresses and over the next week, I collected their stories, looking for sensory details and other tidbits that could help me bring these powerful storms to life for young readers.

Here are a few excerpts from those interviews:

“Everything that wasn't nailed down blew away, including beach sand, gravel, tree limbs. Lawn furniture became projectiles.” 

“Even inside the house, [the blowing wind] was so loud we could hardly hear each other talk. It really roared.”

“The palm trees bent way over in the wind. The fronds dragged on the ground."

“The winds blew so hard that we could see all the coral reefs that were usually underwater.” 

“Projectiles kept hitting the house--whatever was loose.  The sky was gray and cloudy and the wind's sound was incredible. The whole house shook.” 

Pretty cool, right?

Ultimately, I didn’t have room for all these great details, but they definitely informed my writing. Thanks to these comments, the drama of the storm seems palpable in the final text.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Nonfiction for New Folks

If you're interested in writing nonfiction for kids, but aren't sure how to get started, you may want to attend Nonfiction for New Folks, a writing retreat organized by Pat Miller.

When: September 17–20, 2015
Where: Rosenberg, Texas
Faculty: Candace Fleming, Karen Blumenthal, Peggy Thomas, Nancy I. Sanders, and me

For more information, check out this fun video.

I hope to see you there.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

21st Century Nonfiction Conference: Breaking the Boundaries

From outrageous illustrations to engaging voices, the confining walls of humdrum nonfiction are being chipped away by one boundary-pushing book after another. In this session, Heather L Montgomery and Melissa Stewart examine where children’s nonfiction can go in the future. You will practice outside-of-the-box thinking, try an exercise to see where voice can take you, and experiment with visual thinking tools.

Some Exciting Trends

Memoirs
Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

The Scraps Book by Lois Ehlert

Graphic
El Deafo by Cece Bell
Look Up! Birdwatching in Your Own Backyard by Annette LeBlanc Cate
 
Visual Storytelling
Redwoods by Jason Chin
The Day-Glo Brothers by Chris Barton

Creative Art Styles
Separate Is Never Equal by Duncan Tonatiuh
Witches! by Rosalyn Schanzer
Viva Frida by Yuyi Morales


Stunning Photos
Raindrops Roll by April Pulley Sayre

Wolfsnail by Sarah C. Campbell

Spiders by Nic Bishop

Dynamic Design

Move! by Steve Jenkins & Robin Page

Unusual Format
The Extraordinary Mark Twain by Barbara Kerley
 
Clever Structure
Those Rebels, John & Tom by Barbara Kerley
Swirl by Swirl by Joyce Sidman
 
Innovative Narrative Approach
Bomb by Steve Sheinkin
The Family Romanov by Candace Fleming

Attention-grabbing Hook
Bugged: How Insects Changed the World by Sarah Albee
Why’d They Wear That? by Sarah Albee
Zombie Makers by Rebecca L. Johnson
When Lunch Fights Back by Rebecca L. Johnson
 
Unique Perspective
Handle with Care by Loree Griffin Burns

A Leaf Can Be… by Laura Purdie Salas
No Monkeys, No Chocolate by Melissa Stewart
Weeds Find a Way by Cynthia Jenson-Elliot


Visual Thinking Tools
Concept Maps
Sticky Notes
Build a Structure Sculpture
More Approaches
--http://hotandthinkertools.wikispaces.com
--Compare subject to something very similar or different
--Write a sentence for each of a variety of photos with different moods/tones.

Playing with Voice

An Egg is Quiet by Dianna Hutts Aston

Feathers: Not Just for Flying by Melissa Stewart

How Rude! 10 Real Bugs Who Won’t Mind Their Manners by Heather Montgomery



How They Croaked: The Awful Ends of the Awfully Famous by Georgia Bragg
 








 


 
 
 

 
 

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Twenty-first Century Nonfiction Conference: Nonfiction that Flies Off Shelves

An Author’s Point of View: Elements of NF with Commercial Appeal
·         High-interest topic

·         Entertaining voice

·         Fun stuff—jokes, factoids, interactive

·         Eye-catching, modern-looking design

 
Voice in Nonfiction Writing


Design in Nonfiction Books






Is There a Market for My Book Idea?

1. Has a similar book been done before?
    
     If YES
à How did it sell?
          POOR
à Why?
          STRONG à How will mine be different?

     If NO à Is there a marketing limitation?

2. Who will buy my book?

3. Where will my book be sold?
 

Friday, June 12, 2015

21st Century Nonfiction Conference: The Nonfiction Triumvirate Handout

Nonfiction Categories
Life Story
The Boy Who Loved Math by Deborah Heiligman

Brave Girl by Michelle Markle

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

El Deafo by Cece Bell

The Family Romanov by Candace Fleming

Lives of the Presidents (and What the Neighbors Thought) by Kathleen Krull
 
Separate Is Never Equal by Duncan Tonatium

The Right Word by Jen Bryant

 
Survey Book
Eyewitness Books

The Horrible, Miserable Middle Ages by Kathy Allen

Lightning by Seymour Simon

National Geographic Readers

Spiders by Nic Bishop

Why’d They Wear That? by Sarah Albee

 

Specialized Nonfiction
Chasing Cheetahs by Sy Montgomery

Handle with Care by Loree Griffin Burns

Feathers: Not Just for Flying by Melissa Stewart

Meadowlands: A Wetlands Survival Story by Tom Yezerski 

Sniffer Dogs by Nancy Castaldo

Sugar Changed the World by Marc Aronson and Marina Budhos

The Port Chicago 50 by Steve Sheinkin

 

Concept Book
Actual Size by Steve Jenkins

Just a Second by Steve Jenkins

Lifetime by Lola Schaefer

Mysterious Patterns: Finding Fractals in Nature by Sarah C. Campbell

No Monkeys, No Chocolate by Melissa Stewart

A Place for Butterflies by Melissa Stewart

Seeing Symmetry by Loreen Leedy

A Star in My Orange by Dana Meachen Rau

Trout Are Made of Trees by April Pulley Sayre

 

-------------------------------------------------------------
Writing Styles

Expository
Facts Plus
A Black Hole Is Not a Hole by Carolyn Cinami DeCristofano

Born to Be Giants: How Baby Dinosaurs Grew to Rule the World by Lita Judge

Bugged: How Insects Changed History by Sarah Albee

Eye to Eye by Steve Jenkins

Feathers: Not Just for Flying by Melissa Stewart

Tiny Creatures: The World of Microbes by Nicola Davies

Fast Facts
Animal Grossapedia by Melissa Stewart

Eyewitness Books

Guinness Book of World Records

Time for Kids Big Book of Why

 
Narrative
Plot
Ballet for Martha by Jan Greenberg and Sandra Jordan

Bomb by Steve Sheinkin

Buried Alive by Elaine Scott

The Day-Glo Brothers by Chris Barton

The Family Romanov by Candace Fleming

When Marian Sang by Pam Munoz Ryan

Cycle
Beneath the Sun by Melissa Stewart

A Drop of Water by Gordon Morrison

Frog in a Bog by John Himmelman

Red-Eyed Tree Frog by Joy Cowley

Redwoods by Jason Chin (due to the art)

Vulture View by April Pulley Sayre


-------------------------------------------------------------
Common Text Structures
Description/Explanation  
A Black Hole Is Not a Hole by Carolyn Cinami DeCristofano

The Beetle Book by Steve Jenkins

Creep and Flutter by Jim Arnosky
Dolphins! by Melissa Stewart

Frogs by Nic Bishop

Lightship by Brian Floca

Tiny Creatures: The World of Microbes by Nicola Davies

What to Expect When You’re Expecting Larvae: A Guide for Insect Parents (and Curious Kids) by Bridget Heos

 
Sequence
Chronological narrative
Balloons Over Broadway by Melissa Sweet

The Boy Who Loved Math by Deborah Heiligman
Buried Alive by Elaine Scott

The Day-Glo Brothers by Chris Barton

Marvelous Mattie by Emily Arnold McCully

Noah Webster & His Words by Jeri Chase Ferris

Planting the Trees of Kenya: The Story of Wangari Maathai by Claire A. Nivola

Pop: The Invention of Bubble Gum by Megan McCarthy

The Secret World of Walter Anderson by Hester Bass

What to Do About Alice? by Barbara Kerley

Episodic narrative
Ballet for Martha by Jan Greenberg and Sandra Jordan

Brave Girl by Michelle Markel

When Marian Sang by Pam Munoz Ryan

Braided narrative
Amelia Lost by Candace Fleming

Bomb by Steve Sheinkin

The Family Romanov by Candace Fleming

Titanic: Voices from the Disaster by Deborah Hopkinson

We’ve Got a Job by Cynthia Levinson

Journey narrative
If Stones Could Speak by Marc Aronson

Lost Treasure of the Inca by Peter Lourie

Quest for the Tree Kangaroo by Sy Montgomery

Saving the Ghost of the Mountain by Sy Montgomery

Cycle narrative
A Drop of Water by Gordon Morrison

Frog in a Bog by John Himmelman

Red-Eyed Tree Frog by Joy Cowley

Redwoods by Jason Chin (due to the art)

Beneath the Sun by Melissa Stewart

Vulture View by April Pulley Sayre

Chronological expository
Bugged: How Insects Changed History by Sarah Albee

Poop Happened!: A History of the World from the Bottom Up by Sarah Albee

Why'd They Wear That?: Fashion as the Mirror of History by Sarah Albee

Cumulative expository
Here Is the Tropical Rain Forest by Madeleine Dunphy

No Monkeys, No Chocolate by Melissa Stewart

Older Than the Stars by Karen C. Fox

How-to expository
Dessert Designers: Creations You Can Make and Eat by Dana Meachen Rau

How to Swallow a Pig by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page

The Klutz Book of Paper Airplanes by Doug Stillinger

Roald Dahl's Revolting Recipes by Josie Fison and Felicity Dahl

Try This! 50 Fun Experiments for the Mad Scientist in You by Karen Romano Young

 
Compare & Contrast
Dueling spreads
Frog or Toad? How Do You Know? by Melissa Stewart

Mosquito Bite by Alexandra Siy

Neo Leo by Gene Barretta

Those Rebels, Tom & John by Barbara Kerley

 
List book
Born in the Wild by Lita Judge

Born to Be Giants: How Baby Dinosaurs Grew to Rule the World by Lita Judge

Eye to Eye by Steve Jenkins

Feathers: Not Just for Flying by Melissa Stewart

Move by Steve Jenkins & Robin Page

My First Day by Steve Jenkins & Robin Page

Just One Bite by Lola Schaefer


Q & A Books
Bone by Bone: Comparing Animal Skeletons by Sarah Levine
Good Question series (Sterling)
Creature Features by Steve Jenkins & Robin Page

Hatch! by Roxie Munro

Hello Bumblebee Bat by Darrin Lunde

Scholastic Question & Answer series

What Do You Do with a Tail Like This? by Steve Jenkins & Robin Page

 
Cause & Effect
Earth: Feeling the Heat by Brenda Z. Guiberson

Frog in a Bog by John Himmelman

A Place for Butterflies by Melissa Stewart
When Rain Falls by Melissa Stewart

-------------------------------------------------------------
Mixing & Matching

If you’re writing a Life Story . . .
  • Probably sequence (chronological) structure
  • Narrative writing style
If you’re writing a Survey Book . . .
  • Description/explanation, sequence, Q & A
  • Expository writing style
If you’re writing Specialized Nonfiction . . .
  • Probably sequence, compare & contrast
  • Narrative or expository writing style
If you’re writing a Concept Book . . .
  • Sequence, compare & contrast, Q & A, cause & effect, problem—solution, or invent your own
  • Probably expository writing style

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Behind the Books: Hurricane Watch

I’ve been a big fan of HarperCollins’s Let’s-Read-and-Find-Out series for years. Launched in 1960 by author Franklyn Branley and educator Roma Gans, the series changed the way people thought about merging the worlds of science and literature.

Today, fifty-five years later, LRFO books are still going strong. And I’m delighted to become an author for the venerable series.

Hurricane Watch, published yesterday, is a survey book with a sequence text structure and an expository writing style. It takes young explorers on a journey through the stages of the super storm’s formation and gives them a front row seat to what happens when the hurricane hits land. The book also explains how people can prepare for and stay safe during the storms.

Many researchers think that climate change will lead to more severe storms, including hurricanes, so this book would be a great addition to your collection.     

Monday, June 8, 2015

Teaching Science with Kidlit: Best Books

Looking for some great science books to add to your collection?

The American Association for the Advancement of Science has an excellent review journal called Science Books & Films, and each year they create a list of what they consider to be the best titles for children, teens, and adults.

Here are there picks for 2014. Adult titles are listed first, so scroll down to find recommended books for children.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Fan-mail Friday

Over the summer, I decided it would be fun to look back through all the mail kids sent me during the 2014-2015 school year. I've picked out some of my favorites and will be posting one every Friday. They truly are inspiring.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Behind the Books: Editing vs. Proofreading

When I visit schools, I often encounter a disconnect between the way professional writers use the word “editing” and how students have been taught to use it. In many schools, editing = checking one’s own manuscript for proper use of conventions such as spelling, punctuation, and capitalization.

That’s not how professional writers or people who work at publishing companies use the term. For us, editing involves reading a manuscript written by someone else and providing feedback. The person who does this job is called an editor.
Many schools include “buddy editing” or “peer editing” as a step in the writing process. This is the proper way to use the word “editing” as long as the student reader is providing substantial feedback (not just checking conventions).

In a school setting, the teacher is the primary editor. The teacher-editor guides the writer by asking questions and making specific, gentle suggestions that will help the writer improve the manuscript . Then the writer uses those comments as he/she revises.
Professional writers rely on proofreaders employed by their publishing company to check conventions. This is a tiny little step at the very end of the process, just before the manuscript goes to the printer.
As educators work to emulate the professional writing process with their students, I hope that they will modify the way they use the term “editing” and introduce the term “proofreading” to describe the final step of the writing process.