I finished a novel today that I have to mention here. It was All the Living by C.E. Morgan. I want to quote from it, but I gave it to my friend to read. When I get it back, I’ll be copying some words into my notebook. Many reviewers have praised Morgan’s descriptions of place, but what I loved was the characterizations. Aloma was flesh and blood for me and her meditations on love and want and happiness made me think. I will be looking for more from Morgan and I’ll be reading All the Living again. I have to say it was much more to my liking than my book group’s latest selection, Netherland (suggested by me).
Here are two more of Richard’s water pictures. He did some tweaking in Photoshop.
Richard woke up this morning wanting to take some creative photographs. He set up a ton of equipment in the kitchen and began playing with water. I helped every so often when he didn’t have enough hands. I love this one! (If you click on it, you’ll see a larger version.) I’ll share more as he edits more.
My two younger boys, N and D, are on the Chastain Middle School Science Olympiad team. They competed Friday in a series of events against other teams from all over the state. I’m proud to say the Chastain team won the 2011 Spirit Award and took home medals in two events. I am grateful to Coach Johnnie Canales and Ms. Bigelow for sponsoring the team. Here are some photos from the day.
I have time for a quick post today. One of the things I got in San Francisco was a whole bunch of stickers that say Outstanding Science Trade Book. I affixed them to the copies of Growing Patterns we sold at the NSTA convention, but I was eager to get a new image of the book featuring its stickers: the OSTB and the ALA Notable.
In addition the partnering with the Children’s Book Council to select Outstanding Science Trade Books, the NSTA also has a program called NSTA Recommends. Growing Patterns is an NSTA Recommends title and the review appears here.
I blogged about my school visits in the San Francisco area, but once I moved on to the NSTA conference, I stopped posting updates. There were a few reasons for this: First, I moved into The Palace Hotel and they charged for internet in the rooms (I still don’t understand why budget hotels provide free internet and breakfast and so-called luxury hotels charge through the nose for both). Second, I was working from breakfast to supper and falling asleep after a few clicks of my Kindle.
Boyds Mills Press rented a corner booth in the conference exhibit hall and my editor, Andy Boyles (pictured above helping M. make a Fibonacci Folding Book), and I were responsible for greeting conferees. Andy arranged display copies of all of BMP’s science titles around the walls of the booth. We set up a table in the front of the booth with display copies of Wolfsnail: A Backyard Predator and Growing Patterns: Fibonacci Numbers in Nature. I put out my two mini-quilts (here and here), some private eye loupes, a pinecone, a nautilus shell, a sample Fibonacci Folding Book, and a stack of my postcards. I’ve gone to two other national conferences, the 2009 American Library Association meeting in Chicago and the 2010 International Reading Association convention (also in Chicago). In those cases, I was one of many BMP authors and illustrators who signed books. I was scheduled for an hour on each day. This time, I was signing all day every day. We left the booth only for three presentations (two featured information about 2011 Outstanding Science Trade Books) and a lunch meeting. I met lots of interesting people — some who teach science to kids, others who teach teachers how to teach science to kids, and people who work with organizations that promote science education.
We sold all the copies of Growing Patterns that BMP shipped and could have sold at least a dozen more. It helped that many teachers had seen the feature article about the 2011 Outstanding Science Trade Books for Students K-12 in Science & Children, NSTA’s magazine for elementary school teachers. Andy and I had a great time having lunch with current, former, and future members of the Outstanding Science Trade Book selection committee, including Suzanne Flynn, J. Carrie Launius, Betty Crocker, Steve Rich, Karen Ostlund, Kristin Rearden, and Juliana Texley. We also met Lauren Jonas and Emily Brady, who are on staff at NSTA and help coordinate the NSTA Recommends program and the OSTB list. We learned about the process and met some great people. Most of them seem to be on their second or third career. They started in classrooms teaching kids and then went into either administration or into teaching teachers at the college or post-graduate level.
They had stories about using trade books in classrooms. Juliana told me about the time she took flowers on an airplane so she could use them in a presentation about my book. They didn’t like the dry environment and shriveled beyond use. She had to hit a grocery store for replacements. One plant she bought was a peace lily (featured in the book to illustrate 1). When it was time to go home, she put it in her suitcase. “I threw some clothes away and made room for it,” she said. “It’s still doing fine.”
Right after lunch, I participated in a session featuring the 2011 NSTA/CBC Outstanding Science Trade Books led by some of the teachers at the luncheon. Other authors with winning books who participated were: Debbie S. Miller, who wrote Survival at 40 Below, and Seymour Simon, who wrote Global Warming.
The final session Andy and I attended was led by Seymour Simon and centered on the changes in children’s book publishing being driven by electronic devices. Simon and his wife, Liz Nealon, who has worked in many creative capacities over the years including with Sesame Street, talked about the growing numbers of children and families who have access to electronic reading devices such as Kindles, iPads, Nooks, iPhones, etc. Simon demonstrated how he has begun publishing some of his out-of-print titles in electronic format. His talk was very inspiring and I left there thinking about how I could get some e-publishing going.
I mentioned it to Richard when I got home and he’s spent a good amount of time this week building an iPhone app for Wolfsnail. How cool is that?!
The list of finalists for the 2011 Magnolia Children’s Choice Award is available. If you are a school or public librarian, you can get your students and young readers involved in this program. Read more about the voting here. Voting is open now and continues until April 30th.
1. Alvin Ho: Allergic to Girls, School & Other Scary Things by Lenore Look
2. Dragonbreath by Ursula Vernon
3. Extra Credit by Andrew Clements
4. Gooney Bird is So Absurd by Lois Lowry
5. Hush Harbor: Praying in Secret by Freddi Williams Evans
6. Knucklehead: Tall Tales & Almost True Stories of Growing Up Scieszka by Jon Scieszka
7. Masterpiece by Elise Broach
8. Make Way for Dyamonde Daniel by Nikki Grimes
9. Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11 by Brian Floca
10. Redwoods by Jason Chin
11. The Secret World of Walter Anderson by Hester Bass. Read my post about this book here.
12. Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin
Today I drove down to Oakland to visit fourth grade students at the International Community School and Think College Now. Thank you, Ms. Woodard and Ms. Hatscheck. Your students asked great questions and gave me tons of things to think about. Read about my visit with students at St. Matthew’s Episcopal Day School here.
I spent a great day with students and teachers at Washington School. I had sessions with first graders through fifth graders and the emphasis shifted over the course of the day from more Wolfsnail to more Growing Patterns. The students had wonderful questions; there were a bunch of young scientists in the library that day. Thank you, Louise Potin, elementary librarian at Washington School, for the invitation and the tremendous time.