Monthly Archives: May 2010

A Year of Reading Reviews Growing Patterns

Growing Patterns cover A Year of Reading reviewed Growing Patterns: Fibonacci Numbers in Nature. “Here’s another great pick for your mathematics library — a book about Fibonacci Numbers that is easy to understand! Campbell’s photos of single garden flowers whose petals follow the Fibonacci sequence, along with clearly stated text make this a book that can be shared with even very young children.”

Read the whole review here.

Book Party for St. Therese Authors

Today I attended a book party for the St. Therese Catholic School fourth, fifth, and sixth graders who made Fibonacci Folding Books. Click here to read about the pilot project we did earlier this spring with St. Therese third graders.

Librarian Julie Owen stacked all the books on her display steps. The impact upon entering the library was impressive.
Stack of Fibonacci Books

In addition to listening to the authors read their work, we enjoyed fresh fruit on skewers, speared in Fibonacci patterns. (This was Julie’s idea and it was the perfect finale for a fabulous project.)
skewers and fruit for fibonacci
Students Make Fibonacci Treats

Letters from Kids

Here is a small sample of the wonderful packet of letters I got this week from students at the Martin Luther King Jr. Laboratory School in Evanston, Ill., a school I attended for a few months of second grade. Read about my visit and see photos here.

I also got a nice note from a teacher. The arrival of the packet gave me a good reason to update the feedback page of my website.

kids letters 1
kid letters 2
kids letters 3
kids letters 4

Sumrall Elementary Mississippi Day Celebration

I participated in a Mississippi Day Celebration at Sumrall Elementary School today.
Audience Sumrall Elementary School
Sarah Campbell reading WolfsnailA morning rainstorm forced the teachers to move the planned outdoor activities into the gymnatorium. That’s where I performed, too, in front of a very large audience — first, of kindergartners through second graders, and second, of third and fourth graders. The whole school (a very impressive 3-year-old facility) was decorated to celebrate Mississippi. As I did some set up in an adjoining classroom, I heard parts of an inspirational speech by a high school football coach. He had followed several beauty queens. I was feeling like I had some tough acts to follow — until I saw the guy who was up after me.

Elvis at Mississippi Day Celebration
I appreciate the invitation from Kristi Williamson and the enthusiastic reception from the students and faculty at Sumrall Elementary School.

Kindergartners Pick Snails as Research Subject

Wolfsnail coverMy sister, Jessica, recently wrote to say that several kindergartners at her school (Girls Prep) had chosen snails as a research subject. She said they had read Wolfsnail: A Backyard Predator and then had spent time on my website to help them think about how people research topics they know nothing about. Cool!

Meanwhile, Tricia Stohr-Hunt at Miss Rumphius Effect, recommended Growing Patterns: Fibonacci Numbers in Nature for people looking to do some mathematical reading.

I spent several hours Monday at a school working on a video project. I’ll be wrapping that up tomorrow. On Thursday, I head to Sumrall Elementary School for a Mississippi Day celebration.

Reading Makes Everything Better

Reading aloud even makes statewide standardized test days more bearable. I volunteered to be a proctor during this week’s tests at my sons’ middle school. (Well, I was nudged into it by my middle child.) I was assigned to a 7th grade classroom with Mrs. Whitley, a reading teacher.

The first time I served as a proctor, a few years ago, I felt as miserable as the kids as we sat in a room with nothing to do and waited for everything to be in place for the testing to begin. In short order, I was casting around for anything to read. I grabbed the novel the social studies teacher was teaching and started reading — out loud. The kids looked at me like I had lost my mind, but they asked if I would continue after the tests had been completed and were on the way back to the test administrator.

Ever since, whenever I am talked into proctoring, I make sure I have a suitable book. Last year, for a class of 8th graders, I read from Walter Dean Myers’ book Fallen Angels. This year, I grabbed Ten Mile River by Paul Griffin. I reviewed the book here last year.

I always have to believe enough in what I am doing to bully through some of the initial reactions. Is this woman crazy? Is she really reading those words? Did she just say ‘yo’? Yo? I proctored two days and they asked me to make sure I brought the book back the next day. Several asked whether it was available at the school library. I told them how they could get it through the public library across the street, that they should pursue it through inter-library loan if it wasn’t in the collection.

Maybe they will and maybe they won’t, but I know they enjoyed spending time with Ray, Jose, Trini, and Yolie. It made it much more fun for me, too. (I’m still trying to figure out how to improve the experience of walking the floor for two and a half hours while they test.) Charlie Chaplin slow motion, maybe?

Growing Patterns Noted in Horn Book Newsletter

Horn Book NotesGrowing Patterns was included in a roundup of concept books in the May 2010 issue of Notes from the Horn Book, an online newsletter. The issue’s headliner is an interesting interview with Laura Vaccaro Seeger. I’d already seen and noted the three other books grouped with mine: Stephen R. Swinburne’s Whose Shoes? Mark Gonyea’s A Book About Color, and Ken Robbins’s For Good Measure. Three of the four are illustrated with photographs and two of the four (mine and Swinburne’s) are books by my publisher: Boyds Mills Press. Cool!

Another note from the Notes newsletter: Deborah Wiles‘s Countdown is featured in a roundup of War Stories. I am looking forward to getting my hands on a copy of this book, which is billed as a documentary novel. It is in the War Stories section because it deals with the Cold War. (I have just finished a Korean War story, Chang-rae Lee’s The Surrendered and I am about to begin Karl Marlantes’ Matterhorn, a Vietnam War story.)

American Tree Frog

American Tree Frog

I found this frog in the basement and released it to a halfway house (plastic tub with lots of dirt and hiding places) onto my porch. Richard snapped a few photos before it took its leave. This is the first time I’ve seen one of these guys around. Mostly, I just see toads.

“Fireside” with Northwestern Students

The final event during my recent Chicago trip was a joint effort with author Cheryl Bardoe. She and I learned of each other’s work when Cheryl’s husband, Matthew, reviewed Growing Patterns in draft form. Upon further acquaintance, Cheryl and I discovered we both write nonfiction books for children on science and math topics and we both graduated from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism (she’s younger than I am by enough years that our paths did not cross in Evanston).  When I was invited to present an informal talk, or a fireside, for current NU students at the Communications Residential College, I invited Cheryl to join me. I was an active member of the Humanities Residential College during my years at NU and helped form the Residential College Board. It was a lot of fun to be back in a residential college setting.

Before the fireside, I joined the students in the dining hall. Though I had taken some meals in that very place as an undergraduate, I noticed several changes for the better: an elimination of trays (for environmental reasons) and a stir fry bar, where I ordered a mixture of vegetables on a bed of brown rice.

Sarah Campbell and Cheryl Bardoe at NU's CRC

Communications Residential College students gather around to see the snail

Many of the CRC students are journalism majors, but a few come from other disciplines, including biology. Cheryl, the author of Gregory Mendel: The Friar Who Grew Peas and Mammoths and Mastodons: Titans of the Ice Age, chronicled her path from journalism school graduate to public relations work with nonprofits to museum marketing to museum curatorial/education to children’s book author. She is now working on an MFA in writing with a concentration in writing for children.

Growing Patterns and Wolfsnail

Growing Patterns and Wolfsnail on display at NU's CRC

Though Growing Patterns is the new book (and therefore the focus of much of my current marketing), the star of this particular event was clearly Wolfsnail. College students are just as taken with the idea of a predatory snail as kindergartners. In fact, when the students learned over dinner that I had brought a live wolfsnail, the word spread on the internet and swelled attendance. We had gathered in a nice circle to talk, but when I started reading Wolfsnail, the students to my right and left scrambled into position up front. Unfortunately, the snail stayed inside its shell. At least, the slugs provided some entertainment.

I thank Roger Boye, the CRC master, for the invitation; Nancy Anderson, from Residential Life, for helping arrange accommodation in a guest suite; Julie Kliegman, the CRC academic chair, for arranging the fireside; and Ariana Bacle, a social chair, for taking the photos in this post.

Horn Book Review for Growing Patterns

Horn Book Magazine Cover Art May 2010

My copy of The Horn Book Magazine arrived while I was away. Though my editor had sent me an electronic copy of Tanya D. Auger’s review for Growing Patterns and I wrote about it here, it was very nice to see the hard copy.

It is my first review since the magazine added color throughout. I love the page they chose to feature next to the review. It seemed to print a little dark, but gives readers a good look  at the book’s design.

Here’s an excerpt: “With its glossy, clutter-free pages; crisp, colorful photographs; and clear, straight-to-the-point text, this interactive picture book by the creators of Wolfsnail is an attractive, satisfying introduction to the Fibonacci sequence: 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8…Horn Book Review for Growing Patterns A lone seed and a peace lily with its single petal are presented as the first two elements of the number pattern. Readers are then asked to count the petals on a crown of thorns (2), a spiderwort (3), a flowering quince (5), and a cosmos (8). Each new flower is pictured in an increasingly larger square with dimensions linked to its number of petals (e.g., the spiderwort is shown in a three-by-three square, the quince in a five-by-five square, etc.).”

Just like in Publisher’s Weekly, the Growing Patterns review appears next to a review of Blockhead: The Life of Fibonacci, a book by Joseph D’Agnese. I hope they’ll pop up together in home, classroom, school, and public libraries, too.

Lightroom Collage Old Black & Whites

Photographs from Old Scrapbooks

Lightroom Collage

Many people are interested in how to make a photo collage using Lightroom. Just recently I had another question about it on an old post. I decided to make sure I remembered how to do it. I made this one, again based on this tutorial.

The recent question had to do with how to convert the collage (or multi-picture package, in Lightroom lingo) into a jpg. Here is how I did it:
1) With the photograph selected, I chose the Print menu from the choices on the top right menu bar (Library, Develop, Slideshow, Print, Web).
2) Scroll down the right column until you find the Print Job menu.
3) Just under print job, you may choose “printer” or “jpg”. (Only one is visible at a time; they toggle back and forth).
4) After choosing jpg, the button on the very bottom right will read Print to File.
5) At that point, a dialogue box will appear and you will have to select the place where you would like to save the jpg file you’ve created.
Good luck.