Monday, March 18, 2019

Nonfiction Authors Dig Deep by Laura Purdie Salas

Today we continue the Nonfiction Authors Dig Deep series with an essay by Laura Purdie Salas. Thank you, Laura.

I'm excited to be back sharing how my own personality and experiences have influenced my nonfiction writing. I love this growing awareness among educators, writers, and readers that nonfiction writing is creative and grows out of the person who writes it.

This spring, I have three new picture books. All three are poetry (and thus, nonfiction). Two have informational foundations, and one includes nonfiction prose writing. All three come straight from my heart.

In the Middle of the Night
I grew up in a house with a basement (a rarity in Florida). A dark, spooky, creaky-stairs basement with constant noises from pipes and furnaces and other mysterious things. I spent a lot of time alone in that house, and it never felt comforting, especially at night. So, writing a collection of cheerful poems about what happens in our home while we’re asleep comforted me.

Here’s a sample poem from the book:

Overdue-Book Hide-and-Seek

I’m not in your backpack.
Or under your bed.
And you HAVE to find me—
Ms. Teabottom said!

I creep to your closet—
I burrow. I sneak.
I LOVE to play overdue-book

I love the idea of inanimate objects having their own hidden lives. I am not the center of the universe, and I think that’s a good lesson for all kids to learn. If we and our readers can inhabit the “minds” of inanimate objects, surely we will can feel empathy and respect for other humans and for our world, right?

Snowman-Cold=Puddle: Spring Equations and Riddle-Ku have a lot in common. One shows spring transformations in the form of equations, and the other features haiku riddles about all four seasons. Writing both of these books indulged my love of mysteries and riddles.
Though I was born and raised in Florida, all my sisters and my parents were Indiana-born. I was always jealous! While growing up, I longed for seasons. Real seasons that transformed your daily life. Florida didn’t have that.

My adopted state of Minnesota shows off seasons as varied as anyone could hope for! I find myself writing about seasons again and again—drawn to celebrating their beauty and unlocking their mysteries.

In Snowman-Cold=Puddle: Spring Equations, I focus on spring and all the changes it brings. I loved homing in on this season’s transformations and exploring them in both poetry equations and prose sidebars.

Here’s a sample from the book:
bushes x blooms = perfume    
Lilac blooms are spring’s perfume. The sweet scent invites insects and birds to visit. These important visitors track pollen from flower to flower, like tracking mud from room to room. Humans just enjoy the wonderful smells.

For Lion of the Sky: Haiku for All Seasons, I thought about some of my favorite (dandelions, autumn leaves, snow!) and least favorite (mosquitos!) icons of the four seasons. Then I combined my love of facts and details and mysteries and riddles to write riddle haiku (riddle-ku) about them. I asked myself, what are the essential elements of this particular thing? What clues can I give the reader? This book was such a blast to write!

Here’s an example:
shhh! here’s my secret:
soft petals hide inside me
coming soon—a bloom

You know, I have two distinct sides to my personality. On the one hand, I love facts and flow charts and to-do lists and graphs. I adore analyzing pros and cons, reverse-engineering processes, and trying to solve mysteries and problems. On the other hand, I am a poet. I love to use metaphors and surprising language. Our world fills me with awe, and I find science every bit as wondrous as magic. These two titles capture both sides of my personality.

As always, I feel like a reader who learns about the world through my books also learns about me. And I think that’s pretty cool!

Laura Purdie Salas thought books appeared by magic when she was little. She read non-stop, but the library had a bottomless supply of books to feed her hunger. As a children’s author, she knows there’s a lot of work involved in bringing books to the world—and still plenty of magic, too!

Laura is a former 8th-grade English teacher, a former copyeditor (who has nightmares about errors on menus and signs), and a former magazine editor. She will never be a former reader. Laura is the author of many poetry and nonfiction books, including Meet My Family, Water Can Be…, and BookSpeak! You can meet Laura at her website,, where you can also access her blog and her e-letter for educators or learn where to connect with her on social media.


  1. I am super excited for all three of Laura Purdie Salas's new books. Hooray for nonfiction! Hooray for poetry!!

  2. Congrats, Laura! I'm excited to read all of these books!! I especially love the idea of the spring equations! So fun & clever :)

    1. Thank you, Maria! So fun to meet you at NCTE--C hope our paths cross again soon!

  3. I love your books Laura and I look forward to reading these new ones coming out. So fun!

  4. I love all Laura's books!! Congrats on all your success