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Mysterious Patterns

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.

Summer Reading at Tisdale Library

I read recently at the Charles Tisdale Library as part of the Summer Reading Program. One challenge of these programs is the wide-range in age of the children who come. Many in this group were two years old, but the range went all the way up to 10- and 11-year-olds. I brought an activity for the older ones to do with the librarian, using Mysterious Patterns. I stayed with the large group of little ones and read a wide range of snail-related books, including Wolfsnail. With about 15 minutes left in my program, I asked the older ones back to talk with the whole group about fractals and other geometric shapes. I appreciate the help of the librarians, Patrick McCarty and Miss Mays.

Sarah Reading at Tisdale-2

Cook Prize Ceremony

cook prize webRecently I was at the Bank Street College of Education to receive a Cook Prize Honor for Mysterious Patterns.

The folks at Bank Street have a video stream of the event on their website.

My portion of the ceremony begins at 57:18.

 

 

Mysterious Patterns Finalist for The Cook Prize

MP cover Such wonderful news came in last week. Mysterious Patterns: Finding Fractals in Nature  was chosen as one of four finalists for The Cook Prize for best STEM picture book.

This prize is given by The Bank Street Center for Children’s Literature. It is unique among prizes for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) books in that the winner is chosen by third and fourth grade students. If you are a teacher or librarian and want your students to participate, please click here to register.

The other finalists this year are Behold the Beautiful Dung Beetle by Cheryl Bardoe, illus. by Alan Marks (Charlesbridge), Galápagos George by Jean Craighead George, illus. by Wendell Minor (Harper), and Mr. Ferris and His Wheel by Kathryn Gibbs Davis, illus. by Gilbert Ford (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt).

Cheryl Bardoe, author of Behold the Beautiful Dung Beetle, is also a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism’s master’s program. She and I did a fireside together four years ago when I was in Evanston promoting Growing Patterns: Fibonacci Number in Nature. Read about that here.

 

Fractals in Asheville

Home from a great trip to Asheville, North Carolina, where I met friends and talked a lot about fractals. After the book stuff, I went to a family wedding. But first, Asheville … I met up with Joe D’Agnese and Denise Kiernan. Joe wrote Blockhead, a picture book biography of Fibonacci that came out in the same season as Growing Patterns. We enjoyed wonderful food and fellowship.

Malaprops

I signed books at Malaprop’s Bookstore.

hall fletcher
I did a presentation for 4th and 5th graders at Hall Fletcher Elementary School, and made fractals with 5th graders.

group pic
Those of you who follow me on Facebook will know that I also sat for an interview with Greta Johnsen, the co-host of Nerdette, a podcast that is distributed by WBEZ in Chicago. I’ll keep you posted for when that will air.

Like true kindred spirits, Joe and Denise had sunflowers in their garden. I love sunflowers.

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flower2ash

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.

Poindexter Park Comes to Purple Word

Last Saturday, the Poindexter Park After School Club came to the Purple Word to make their own fractal pop-up books, as well as to learn more about the book- and print-making processes.

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The group first learned about fractals after reading Mysterious Patterns.

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The students finally unfold their fractals.

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Even group leaders Mr. Brad and Ms. Keyana had fun making the fractals!

 

After learning what a fractal is and how to make their own, the group moved to the back room of Purple Word to make their own monotype prints.  Suzanne, a staff member at Millsaps College, taught the kids about reductionist prints — that is, prints in which the design is made by taking away ink rather than adding ink.

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Suzanne helps the students spread their ink — a task that is certainly much harder than it looks.
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Here I am helping a student roll out her ink —  a very big task for small arms!

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Like I mentioned earlier, this form of print-making is a form of reductionism.  The students used Q-tips to remove ink from their plates to be printed on paper.

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The group eagerly watches as Suzanne runs a test print under the roller.

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Keyana, Sarah, Suzanne, and I with the kids after a fun morning.

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.

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.