Header3.png

Facebook Networked Blogs

Heroes & Friends

I spent Saturday down near home for the funeral of Mrs. Artemeasie Brandon. I knew Mrs. Brandon first because she raised my friend, Marhea Farmer, who I’ve known since second grade. Mrs. Brandon, 97, was also a quilter and I got to know her through an artist-the-schools program my mother created.
cq group
Here’s a photograph of Crossroads Quilters, a group I later joined, with Mrs. Brandon in the center. Later, when Marhea and I were in high school, we edited an oral history magazine that featured quilters, storytellers, folk artists, teachers, and other interesting people in the community.
Sarah and Marhea-3488
Mr. Nate Jones spoke at Mrs. Brandon’s funeral because they were longtime friends. Mr. Jones will be 100 on Thursday. He drove my school bus when I first moved to Mississippi in second grade. He made a special place for me to sit up beside him, and I loved it. I named my middle son for Mr. Jones. When my older sister, Emilye, grew up to be a historian of the Civil Rights Movement, we learned much about the courage of people like Mr. Jones, one of the first members of the NAACP in Claiborne County, who quietly but forcefully stood up for justice.
sarah marhea
Understandably it was a hard day for Marhea, who now lives in Michigan, to say goodbye to Mama Mease.
marheas boys
I had a chance to visit briefly with Marhea’s sons, Marius and Avery.
Rhonda & Ricky
And some of Mrs. Brandon’s other young relatives, Rhonda and Ricky, who went to school with my younger sister, Jessica.

Girls Prep Public Charter Visit

Last month, I visited Girls Prep Public Charter School in the Bronx, New York, to work with second grade students for a unit on writing nonfiction books. While I was there, I also spent an hour with the fourth grade writing club. With second grade, I worked with the students for three days. I was testing some ideas for a presentation I am slated to give at the International Reading Association annual conference in New Orleans in May.

Girls Prep WS group

The first day, I presented my “Love a Critter? Make a Book” session to all three classes in one big group. It was Read Across America Day so some of the girls and teachers were dressed as characters in books.

jess in background
The reason I chose Girls Prep is that my sister, Jessica Crosby-Pitchamootoo (pictured in the center dressed as the tree in Chicka Chicka Boom Boom), works there as a reading specialist. Jessica will join me and Dr. Amy Broemmel, a professor of education at the University of Tennessee Knoxville, to present “Reading and Writing Science Books? Paths to Creating Authentic Informational Texts.”
teacher gp small group
In the second and third days at Girls Prep, I led each class in a mini-lesson and then the girls did some guided practice. On the first day, my topic was “Taking information from research and writing in my own words to suit my purpose,” and the second day, it was “Making a plan for my writing, keeping my purpose in mind.”
lady bug girl
julie
sarah w stu
During the mini-lesson on planning, I showed the students how I make a book dummy when I am deciding the order of things in my books. I led them in making an instant book.
folding
star
numbering
book
girl writing
The feedback from the second grade writing unit has been good. One teacher said she believes the girls really understand author’s purpose in a much deeper way. One student told her teacher: “This is the most fun I’ve had while learning!” That’s exactly what writing should be. Fun, while learning!
I’ll post photographs of my session with the fourth grade writing club next.

Mysterious Patterns Big Splash at NSTA

Richard and I had a great time at the annual convention of the National Science Teachers Association in Boston. We signed at least 80 books for teachers, professors, and science specialists. Mysterious Patterns: Finding Fractals in Nature got lots of love!

session

On Saturday, I was part of a session called “A Real-Life Page Turner: Award-winning Trade Book Authors Share Their Research Strategies.” As always I began by talking about Wolfsnail. We had about 40 participants who rotated through three tables for 15-minute mini sessions. A group of professors of literacy and science education put the session together.

dr. saul

Dr. Wendy Saul opened the session with a discussion of why books remain important, especially in nonfiction.

mp in session
Here I am talking about the page in Mysterious Patterns where the first explanation of fractals comes.
other groups
A look at the other groups’ tables.
amy broemmel
Here I am conferring with Dr. Amy Broemmel, an early literacy expert at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. She was my table partner for this session, and will be a co-presenter with me and Jessica Crosby-Pitchamootoo at the International Reading Association annual conference in New Orleans in May.

In addition to presenting and signing books, I attended a number of great sessions, including:

Asking, Imagining, Arguing: Using Books to Provide Examples of Science Practices in Action (Broemmel, Rearden)

NSTA Press® Session: The Authors’ Picks! Teaching Science Through Trade Books (Royce, Morgan, Ansberry)

Sense-of-Place Writing Templates: Connect Your Students’ Past Experiences with Science AND Literacy! (Clary)

Using Writing to Motivate Students to Learn Science (Caukin)

Connecting Science, Engineering, and Literacy in an Elementary Classroom (Laurier, Denisova)

family
While I was attending sessions, Richard was hanging out with Graeme at MIT. We shared three suppers in a row. It was nice!

Guest Posting at Elizabeth Dulemba’s Blog

Today, I offer tips on finding and working with experts when you are writing nonfiction for children. My post appears on the blog of children’s author/illustrator Elizabeth Dulemba, a friend from SCBWI’s Southern Breeze region. I hope you’ll click here to read the post. You could win a free copy of Mysterious Patterns: Finding Fractals in Nature.

Elizabeth has a new novel out next month called A Bird on Water Street. I read an advance copy and I think she did a masterful job of exploring the environmental impacts of resource mining through the eyes of boy growing up in Appalachia.

Physically, I am in Boston for the annual convention of the National Science Teachers Association. I will present in a session titled, “A Real-Life Page Turner: Award-winning Trade Book Authors Share Their Research Strategies” and then Richard and I will sign copies of Mysterious Patterns. I’ll post pictures when I get back home.

 

 

Mysterious Patterns Launch at Lemuria

I thoroughly enjoyed reading and signing Mysterious Patterns at Lemuria yesterday. My mother took a ton of pictures and I’m happy to share some here.

reading MPThis is actually one of my favorite pages, with fractal patterns in leaf veins and human lungs.

big crowd shotHere’s Jackie Hayes, a retired teacher, talking about how teachers use books to extend the curriculum.

showing sierpinski carpetA group of students from Davis Magnet IB World School came to the signing, including four who have been part of this book’s journey for a few years. Read about my Davis Magnet critique group here.

Emily G selling booksHere’s Emily Grossenbacher, the manager  of Lemuria’s Children’s section, helping sell my books!

signing for Barbara Signing books for Barbara McLaughlin and her granddaughters, Tinsely and Tatum.

critique groupMy faithful critique group.

Nice Booklist Review, Signing at Lemuria Today!

MP coverIt’s publication week!!

Finally, finally, my third book, Mysterious Patterns: Finding Fractals in Nature, is ready to make its way into the world.

Publication week brings one more nice review, this time from Booklist. In its April 1 print edition, Booklist calls Mysterious Patterns a “beautifully designed volume,” with “many clear color photos (to) illustrate the examples.” (The full Booklist review is not available online without a Booklist subscription.)

See other reviews here.

You are invited to Lemuria bookstore this afternoon at 4 p.m. for the official launch of Mysterious Patterns. I can’t wait to celebrate with my good friends at Lemuria, especially the manager of the children’s store, Emily Grossenbacher, who has been cheering me on through the many drafts.

I’ll bring along some of my 3-D geometric fractals and my fractal quilt.

fractal quilt
This design is based on the Sierpinski Carpet. I pieced the eight nine-patch blocks on my sewing machine (each one made of nine 2-inch squares). The 1/2 inch blue squares in the middle of the 64 yellow squares are sewn on (again by machine) using a blanket stitch. I used my Serger machine to finish the edging, as you can see in the detail photo below.

edge

Mysterious Patterns Book Launch at Lemuria

MP coverI know I’ve been talking about Mysterious Patterns: Finding Fractals in Nature for months, but the date of publication is finally upon us. Next week, in fact. So, please join me at Lemuria bookstore on Monday, March 31, at 4 p.m. to officially launch Mysterious Patterns.

I’ll read from the book and answer any questions you have about fractals.

In the meantime, you can read reviews here.

Later next week, Richard and I will travel to the National Science Teachers Association‘s Annual Convention in Boston. I will join other authors for a session titled “A real-life page turner: Award-winning trade book authors share their research strategies,” and we will sign books at the booth of Stenhouse Publishers, a sister company to my publisher, Boyds Mills Press.

We will also visit our son, Graeme, who is in his first year at MIT. We can’t wait!

 

 

 

Visit to The Dalton School

Last week, I visited first graders at The Dalton School in New York City. I began by speaking to all 5 classes (or houses, as they call them) in a kind of foyer that the school uses for such presentations. I knew the first graders were familiar with Growing Patterns from discussions with Dalton staff, but I brought them new material by starting with Wolfsnail.

presenting wolfsnail

I can’t say enough “thank you’s” to Melissa Haile-Mariam, librarian, and Karen Bass, communications/technology adviser, for their help in coordinating the visit, taking photographs, guiding me through the school, and making an amazing video about my visit.

Your browser does not support the video tag.

sarah showing snail

Dalton audience

more audience

groupThe most amazing part for me was visiting House 34, where I found Fibonacci Folding Books on display!

in the hallway outside house 34

description

Fib Book

I have more images of student books, and I’ll be adding them to my collection of student art on my main website. Thank you, Dalton!

Growing Patterns to be Published in Korean!

Great news is coming in fast and furious around here. It’s hard to keep up with the reporting.

growing patterns overGrowing Patterns: Fibonacci Numbers in Nature will be published in Korean by a Korean publisher.

Here’s how I found out: I received a nice check in the mail from my publisher with no explanatory letter. The memo on the check just said “Advanced Pay.” I sent off an email to my editor asking about the mystery check. She passed it on to our rights manager who told us that the Boyds Mills Press international team had sold the rights to publish a hardcover edition of Growing Patterns in Korean to a Korean publisher. Wow!

My check is an advance against royalties so the hope is that eventually, there might be further royalties from the deal. I haven’t seen any royalties from my first foreign rights deal, which was to publish Wolfsnail: A Backyard Predator in China in 2011.  I keep scouring the twice-a-year royalty statements, and occasionally bugging my editor, who then bugs the international team. I’ll keep you posted.

Mysterious Patterns Earns Second Star — School Library Journal

I’m thrilled to report that Mysterious Patterns: Finding Fractals in Nature got a starred review in School Library Journal.

Here’s an excerpt: Mysterious Patterns Cover online small-“Using clear text and outstanding color photographs, Campbell explores the concept of these unusual shapes. Beginning with circles, cones, and cylinders, she leads readers carefully and concisely through examples of fractals such as trees, rivers, mountains, broccoli, lightning, and lungs. The photographs, sometimes highlighting the ever-smaller pieces of a vegetable fractal against a black background, sometimes drawing back to give a aerial view of a geological feature, are crisp and precise and underscore the clear text.”

Read the whole review here. I am excited about the reception that Mysterious Patterns is getting in the review press, but I am even more excited about the reception it is getting from kids.

“I never knew about these before!” “Oh, now I see. Cool.” Music to my ears.

Girls Prep Fractals-

st lukes fractals