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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.

Writing and Illustrating for Kids 2012

All children — those who live sheltered, protected lives and those who face hunger, cruelty, and neglect — need to read about terrible things, according to children’s book author Donna Jo Napoli. If you visit her website’s page listing interviews, you can listen to her TEDx talk on the topic.

Donna Jo NapoliHere are some quotes I noted down: “I don’t think there’s anyone lonelier than a child who thinks they are the worst person alive.”

“It is very consoling to see that other people have problems. It gives you perspective. … When we write about terrible things, we look for the strand of strength in our characters.”

“From reading books, she (an unprotected child) can learn that with hard work and a good spirit, she can see that she can live decently in her own world — even if just inside her own head.”

“In reading, you step inside someone else’s skin. You live their life. You develop empathy. And empathy is the cornerstone of civilization.”

“There’s no better, no safer place to develop that empathy than in a book.”

“When it comes to trying to be the writer you want to be, I urge you not to be afraid of the things that bring high emotion to you. … We need to embrace our misery and learn how to use it.”

Napoli delivered the keynote address at this year’s Writing and Illustrating for Kids conference. Put on by the Southern Breeze region of the SCBWI and held each year just outside Birmingham, WIK offers workshops, critiques, and opportunities to meet and learn from other writers, editors, and agents.

Sarah at signing table

I presented two workshops: Stories + Photos = Winning Nonfiction and You Mean I’m Not Finished? Developing Marketing and Educational Materials. I uploaded two handouts for the Stories + Photos workshop on my website. Click here to see them. I created a Pinterest Board to gather examples for the Not Finished workshop. Click here.

I love sharing my stories in my own workshops, but the downside of being on the faculty is that it limits the number of workshops I can attend. I chose What Educators Can Teach Writers by Jodi Wheeler-Toppen and Trends in Award Winning Nonfiction by Julie Ham, associate editor at Charlesbridge.

Julie Ham

Ham led a fascinating workshop. We read excerpts from 10 Sibert Medal winning books and 4 Sibert Honor books. Based on these short snippets of writing (and, our own background knowledge of the books), we rated them on a continuum between traditional, safe writing to expressive, edgy writing. Making these judgments forced us to look carefully at the writing.

pegram and lewis

 Here are Sharon Pegram, the conference coordinator, and Keri Lewis, my angel during the conference.

An Interview with Me

Starting today, you can read my interview with Alison Hertz, an author, illustrator, and toy designer. She and I talked about how I create my nonfiction picture books.

 

The interview is part of the blog tour for the 2012 Writing and Illustrating for Kids (WIK) conference, where I’ll be leading two sessions: “Story + Photos = Winning Nonfiction” and “You mean I’m not finished? Creating Marketing and Educational Materials.”

 

WIK is organized by the Southern Breeze region of SCBWI, the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. This year’s WIK conference will be Oct. 20 in Birmingham, AL. It’s a great place to learn more about the children’s publishing industry, meet agents and editors, and connect with a supportive network of writers and illustrators.

Learn more about WIK here.

Read my interview at Alison Hertz’ blog.

Whole Schools Summer Institute

Julie Owen and I taught our “Read a Book, Make a Book” workshop this week at the Whole Schools Summer Institute. We taught three book forms: the instant book, Wolfsnail On the Move, and the Fibonacci Folding Book.

showing a book I made as a young girlHere I am showing, and reading from, a book I made when I was in early elementary school.

starting the scroll rollHere Julie is demonstrating how to make the scroll part of the Wolfsnail on the Move book.

participant rollingsample made during classmaking a Fib Folding Book

Visualizing Math Stories at NCTM12

A little less than a month ago, I presented at the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics Annual Conference in Philadelphia. Along with Beth West, the International Baccalaureate coordinator at Davis Magnet IB Elementary School, I taught a workshop on using photographs to illustrate math stories.
beth and sarah at nctm12Regular readers of the blog will have been following our efforts to pilot this work at Davis this Spring. Read about it here. And here.

We had a great group of teachers at our session. We also had help from Andy Boyles, my editor at Boyds Mills Press (and Highlights). He took many of these pictures, and kept the slideshow(s) going while Beth and I alternated with teaching.

group work during sessionworking on stickiesdiscussionteachers reviewing sample booksreviewing kids books

Jane Yolen Headlines 2012 Children’s Book Festival

Jane Yolen was this year’s Medallion recipient and she gave a very nice speech about the importance of story.

Jane YolenAs all of us struggle to figure out how stories will find their audiences in our digital world, it is surely important to remember that story matters most.

This is my fifth Kaigler festival; each one seems better than the last.

This year Julie Owen came along and co-presented with me. Our newest workshop is “Read a Book, Make a Book!” We had more than 50 librarians (and a few writers and illustrators) in the room. We were so busy with the hands-on bookmaking that we didn’t get a single photograph. Errrrgh!

We had good suggestions from Micha Archer, an honor winner in this year’s Ezra Jack Keats New Illustrator Contest.

 Meg Medina and Micha Archer

Meg Medina, winner of the 2012 Ezra Jack Keats New Writer Award for her book, Tia Isa Wants a Car, with Micha Archer, who illustrated Lola’s Fandango.

Jenny Sue's familyPatrick and T, the husband and daughter of Jenny Sue Kostecki-Shaw, who won the Ezra Jack Keats New Illustrator Award for her illustrations of Same, Same But Different. She also was an honor winner of the EJK new writer award for Same Same But Different. One of my favorite bits of the signing time at Barnes and Noble was my tea party with T, while her mom signed books.

Margery Cuyler
Margery Cuyler

Rebecca Kai Dotlich
Rebecca Kai Dotlich

Matt de la Pena

Matt de la Pena signing We Were Here, which he gave (GAVE!) to Julie after his speech, which was very inspiring!
Denise FlemingDenise Fleming, leading librarians in a dance.

Sarah with Floyd Dickman

I spent some time visiting with Floyd Dickman, learning about the curriculum work he’s done with quilts and children’s books in Ohio.

Sarah with meridian librarians

During my signing time, I met some librarians from Meridian.

Claudia Pearson

I spent time with my SCBWI friends at the Southern Breeze table. Claudia Pearson and Jo Kittinger worked hard to spread the word among librarians about homegrown writers and illustrators and to encourage would-be writers and illustrators among the librarians to join us at SCBWI.

Hester Bass

Hester Bass, author of The Secret World of Walter Anderson, hosts the Southern Breeze table.

Diane ButlerDiane Butler, librarian at Magee Middle School, wins the Kaigler-Lamont Award, which is given to a librarian who has done outstanding work in turning kids on to books.

Valerie Nye and Kathy Barco, who were signing their book, True Stories of Censorship Battles in America’s Libraries.

Thanks, Julie, for coming along, and for taking the pictures that include me.

Photo Math

My second school-based project this month involves teaching third graders to use digital photography to illustrate math stories. I began by reading Growing Patterns: Fibonacci Numbers in Nature in each class, and then I talked about my process — from idea to publication. I showed them early (and awful) drafts, described my breakthrough on layout, my complete re-write, and the photography.

Sarah Campbell school visit

As noted in my previous post, I am working with Beth West, IB Coordinator at Davis Magnet School, to develop a lesson plan for a presentation we are giving at the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics conference in Philadelphia in April. Two books that have helped us a lot was we’ve developed our unit are Math is Language Too: Talking and Writing in the Mathematics Classroom and New Visions for Linking Literature and Mathematics by David J. Whitin and Phyllis Whitin.

The Davis third graders will work in groups to make photo-illustrated books about patterns or measurement. Our primary model texts are: Growing Patterns and For Good Measure by Ken Robbins.

We will ask our students to write regularly in their math journals about the project. Beth and I are very interested in seeing how the students make sense of the pattern and measurement concepts and the book-making process. I will write regular updates here to let you know how the process is going.

Mississippi Library Association Annual Conference

I spent a few hours at the Mississippi Library Association Annual Conference last week. I went to hear my friend, Hester Bass, talk about her book, The Secret World of Walter Anderson, at lunch. Then, I went back for the Awards Dinner, where Hester won a Special Award for The Secret World of Walter Anderson. I had my little camera so the images don’t have the crisp look I’d like, but there worth sharing anyway.

opalko

Nancy Opalko, youth services librarian at Oxford Public Library, introducing Hester.

bass

Hester Bass delivering a singing telegram to the lunch crowd.

Bass signing

Hester siging copies of her book after the luncheon speech.

Cynthia Wetzel

Cynthia Wetzel, a librarian at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, introducing Ellis Anderson.

Ellis Anderson

Ellis Anderson, author of Under Surge, Under Siege, winner of the nonfiction award.

Read more about Under Surge, Under Siege here.

Anderson 2

Donna  P. Fite

Donna Fite, librarian at Purvis Public Library, introduces Mary Anna Evans.

Evans

Mary Anna Evans, author of Floodgates, won the fiction award.

Read more about Mary Anna Evans and her books here.

coleman gives bass award

Marty Coleman, librarian at First Regional Library and chair of the Author Awards Committee, giving Hester her award.

You can read more about Hester and her books here.
Also, if you have read this far and are still interested, you can see last year’s award winners.

Writing and Illustrating for Kids 2011

I spent the weekend in Birmingham for Writing and Illustrating for Kids, the fall conference of the Southern Breeze region of the Society of Book Writers and Illustrators. We had a fabulous line-up of speakers and I got to see many of my writer and illustrator friends. My volunteer job this year did not involve photography so I have very few photos to share. These are ones I took in the library during the final session of the day: formal critiques.

dulemba prepping
Elizabeth Dulemba preparing for her critique.
manlove critique
A member being critiqued by Melissa Manlove, editor at Chronicle Books. See more about Chronicle Books here.
pratt critique
A member being critiqued by Linda Pratt, an agent with Wernick & Pratt Agency.
kaplan critique
Elizabeth Dulemba showing her portfolio to Deborah Kaplan, art director at Penguin Group USA.
Kaplan critique 2
cooper critique
A member discussing her work with Alexandra Cooper, editor at Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers.
oliver critiqueLin Oliver, author and executive director of SCBWI, discussing work with a member.
Yee critiqueA member discussing work with Author Lisa Yee.