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Jambalaya Writers Festival

Jambalaya Writers Festival-9341

I spent a lovely day Saturday at the Terrebonne Parish Public Library in Houma, Louisiana, for the Jambalaya Writers Festival. I am pictured here with Monique Martin, who flew in from California to talk about her paranormal time travel romance novels. In addition to signing books, I gave a talk on the art of making nonfiction picture books illustrated with photographs.

Jambalaya Writers Festival-9333

We had gorgeous weather for the outdoor lunch (Jambalaya, of course) and the sunset party on the patio.
I’ll be back on the road on Wednesday for the Fay B. Kaigler Children’s Book Festival at USM in Hattiesburg. See you there.

Mysterious Patterns on NYC Reading List

MP coverMysterious Patterns: Finding Fractals in Nature made another good reading list: recommended for third graders by the New York City’s Department of Education. See the full list here.

Many things have been going on around here so I’ve been away from the blog for longer than I care to calculate. Now seems like a good time to jump back in, though, because I have a few events coming up.

First up, I will be at the Jambalaya Writers Conference at the Terrebonne Parish Public Library on April 2nd. My presentation is titled, “Story + Photographs = Winning Nonfiction.”

After that, I will be at the Fay B. Kaigler Children’s Book Festival at USM in Hattiesburg. My presentation, with Cheryl Mathis and Carrel Muller, is titled “Amazing Author Visits that Won’t Break The Bank.”

I will be signing books at both festivals. Please come by and see me if you are in the area.

Mississippi Book Festival

What a wonderful day it was on Saturday for the first Mississippi Book Festival! It was amazing to have full rooms (though not so amazing to have people turned away).

I had a tough time getting into any of the other sessions, but the crowd was tremendous, the bookstore(s) fantastic, and I always love seeing colleagues (though, again, I hated missing out on hearing/seeing/greeting some of my favorite people.)

Sarah showing page

One great thing was that since the festival was in my home town Richard got to come along. He took some nice photographs so we can update the website with my “new look” so I won’t surprise people when I show up with longish hair.

Mississippi Book Festival-2

I love this panorama of the room.
Mississippi Book Festival

And, guess who else gets to come when we festival in my home town: my nephew! Another budding Wolfsnail fan, I’m sure.

Mississippi Book Festival-4

International Reading Association 2014

I am finally home after a long road stretch. For the next few posts, I’ll catch you up on where I’ve been. I started with a trip to New Orleans to present a session and sign books at the International Reading Association National Conference.
Jess Sarah IRA

My sister, Jessica, and I presented a session with Dr. Amy Broemmel titled, “Reading and Writing Science Books: Paths to Creating Authentic Informational Texts.” Our session drew on our experience with a bookmaking project earlier this year at Girls Prep Charter School – Bronx, which is where Jessica is the reading specialist.

Amy Broemmel

Here is Amy, who teaches at the University of Tennessee – Knoxville, talking about a list she developed of good mentor texts for specific types of writing.
looking at the girls' books

Jessica brought along some examples of the books published by the students at Girls Prep.

IRA 2014 Session-0376

I began my presentation, as I almost always do, with a reading of Wolfsnail: A Backyard Predator. It was the first time my editor, Sarah Zhang, had heard me present. She took these photographs.
Sarah with QAL
I noticed Queen Anne’s Lace growing on the side of the interstate so I stopped to pick some for Sarah. We used it to decorate the table at my signing.
IRA 2014 signing-0387
Our signing was a success.
cousins
I learned through Facebook that my cousin, Meg Sanford, a first grade teacher, was also in town for IRA. So, we met up for dinner along with Jessica and her husband JC, my friend, Julie, and some of Meg’s colleagues. It was a fun way to end the day.

Horn Book Gives Mysterious Patterns Strong Review

mysterious patterns coverMy Horn Book magazine arrived yesterday with the review for Mysterious Patterns: Finding Fractals in Nature. It brought a big smile to my face.

“Bring up the math term fractals in a roomful of adults, and it’s likely quite a few eyes will glaze over. Yet wife-and-husband team Sarah and Richard Campbell (Growing Patterns: Fibonacci Numbers in Nature, rev. 5/10) succeeds in making fractals accessible and engaging to—get this—the elementary-school crowd. Sarah Campbell’s writing is clear, fluid, and concise, effortlessly so.”

The review is illustrated with a spread from the book (pp.12-13), which explains fractals and illustrates the explanation with a graphic of a fractal tree and a photograph of a living tree. Here’s a blog post from the day we took the tree photographs.

It still gives me thrill to see my work reviewed in The Horn Book because it has been part of my education in children’s books. “Glossy, well-designed pages feature crisp, up-close photographs, which pair perfectly with the text — making this the go-to choice for introducing fractals to children (and grownups).

Back-to-Back Conferences

On Friday, I drive to New Orleans to present at the International Reading Association‘s Annual Conference. I’ll be doing a session Saturday called “Reading and Writing Science Books? Paths to Creating Authentic Informational Texts,” with Dr. Amy Broemmel, who teaches pre-service teachers at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, and Jessica Crosby-Pitchamootoo, who is a reading specialist at Girls Prep Charter School Bronx in New York. I spent a few days at Girls Prep in March, which you can read about here.

I will be signing copies of Mysterious Patterns and my other books on Sunday at 10 a.m. at the Boyds Mills Press booth.

On Monday, I fly to Pennsylvania for Writing About Nature, a Highlights workshop held at the homeplace of Highlights’ founders, Garry and Caroline Meyers. I’m excited to be on a faculty that includes Dianna Hutts AstonSallie WolfDebbie S. Miller, Mark Baldwin, and Andy Boyles (science editor at Highlights). I’ll be presenting a session titled “Photos + Stories = Winning Nonfiction,” critiquing manuscripts, and learning more about nature journaling and photography.

Boston Globe Review

The Boston Globe ran a nice review of Mysterious Patterns, too. “Sarah C. Campbell, aided by photographs she and her husband, Richard P. Campbell took, explains what does (lightning) and doesn’t (a swallowtail caterpillar’s markings) constitute a fractal. She delivers a tidy education, gives a nod to the use of fractals in the built world, and offers the hope that readers will invent new uses.

Read full review here.

Children’s Book Festival

I presented recently at the Fay B. Kaigler Children’s Book Festival at the University of Southern Mississippi.

heather & sarah
Here I am signing a book for my friend and science writer Heather Montgomery.

My friend Julie Owen and I presented a session called Finding Fractals, Making Fractals to a full room.

in the session
Two attendees checking out the Educator’s Guide that Boyds Mills Press developed to go with Mysterious Patterns: Finding Fractals in Nature.

step 1
step 2
step 3
done
listening to fractal stories
A librarian telling me a story about a fractal song.
S&J with samples
Julie and I are holding Fractal Pop-Up Books made by fifth grade students at St. Luke’s Episcopal School in Baton Rouge. Read about that work here.
I posted the instruction sheet for making Fractal Pop-up Books in your library or classroom on my website here.

I appreciate the help we had from Mary Schmidt, my intern. She took photographs, helped participants, and edited photographs.

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 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!

 

 

 

Two Sessions at NSTA 2013

I’ve been hard at work on the work-in-progress. And, the work is hard. I’m wrestling text and images and graphics into place, staring down a deadline. In the last two days, I’ve made really good progress. There’s nothing like having Richard available to produce the graphics I need when I need them. I wish he were my full-time office companion.

After two long days, I need to let some things settle a bit so I have time for a quick blog post. I was in San Antonio last weekend for the National Science Teachers Association annual convention.

Sarah at NSTA13

I was one of nine authors (Terry Jennings (Gopher to the Rescue), Darcy Pattison (Desert Baths), Elizabeth Rusch (The Mighty Mars Rover), Melissa Stewart (Under the Snow), Catherine Thimmesh (Team Moon), Peggy Thomas (Farmer George Plants a Nation), and Sallie Wolf (The Robin Makes a Laughing Sound) who participated in a workshop titled: “Integrating Science and Literacy: A Journey, Not a Destination.” Each of us was paired with a professor of education. My partner was Dr. Amy Broemmel from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. She helped me share the educational materials I’ve developed for Wolfsnail and Growing Patterns with four groups of teachers who rotated through our table. She took these photographs.

the backstoriesIn my second session, “The Power of Scientists’ Stories in Teaching NGSS Methods and Practices,” I teamed up with Dr. Kristin Rearden, who also teachers at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, and Andy Boyles, science editor at Highlights.

Once again, it was my job to share ideas with teachers for using my books in classrooms to meet the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).

teaching looking at snail on move book

I led the group in making a Fibonacci Folding Book, and talked about the Fibonacci Puzzle, the Wolfsnail On The Move book, and the instant book.

Kristin Rearden

Here is Kristin talking about bringing pinecones into the classroom to have students look for the Fibonacci sequence in the spirals on the bottom.

three presentersWe had lunch after our session to talk about what we might do for future conferences. Presenting at national conferences is always a wonderful experience because it brings me into dialogue with the people who use my books in classrooms and libraries with kids. I always learn things, and I always have fun.

Check out a new blog called Perfect Pairings: Linking Science and Literacy written by Kristin and Amy. You’ll find great trade picture books to use in your classrooms.