Out of School and Into Nature

The Anna Comstock Story

Sleeping Bear Press
(pub. 3.15.2017)
32 pages

A True Tale with
A Cherry On Top  

A uthor: Suzanne Slade
      and illustrator:
       Jessica Lanan

C haracter: Anna Comstock

 verview from the jacket flap: 

     "This picture book biography examines the life and career of naturalist and artist Anna Comstock (1854-1930), who defied social conventions and pursued the study of science. From the time she was a young girl, Anna was fascinated by the natural world. She loved exploring outdoors, examining wildlife and learning nature's secrets. From watching the teamwork of marching ants to following the constellations in the sky, Anna observed it all. And her interest only increased as she grew older and attended Cornell University
       ... Eventually, Anna became known as a nature expert, pioneering a movement to encourage schools to conduct science and nature classes for children outdoors, thereby increasing students' interest in nature."

T antalizing taste: 
"So she decided to start by teaching the teachers. Anna grabbed her pen and wrote lessons about nature's marvelous mysteries.
     Caterpillars changing into graceful butterflies.
     Water freezing into six-sided snowflakes.
     Trees turning rain and sunlight into sweet sap.
Her lessons captivated curious teachers. Soon, nature classes sprouted up in schools everywhere."
and something more: The "More About Anna" section at the back of Out of School and into Nature explains that "Anna is one of only four women inducted into the National Wildlife Federation's Conservation Hall of Fame... Her beloved nature-study handbook has been translated into eight languages and reprinted dozens of times. Today children around the world still enjoy her book. Many of her readers have become nature teachers, keeping her passion for the environment alive."


Dorothea Lange

The Photographer Who Found the Faces of the Depression

Albert Whitman & Company
(pub. 2.28.2017)
32 pages

A True Tale with
A Cherry On Top  

A uthor: Carole Boston Weatherford
      and illustrator: Sarah Green

C haracter: Dorothea Lange

 verview from the jacket flap: 

     "Dorothea Lange always wanted to be a photographer.
      She knew she could see what others missed. She understood being overlooked after polio left her with a limp and her classmates avoided her. But polio also gave Dorothea a sense of empathy, which she would never lose. 
      When the Great Depression struck, that empathy led Dorothea to take her camera to the streets. She took photos of men waiting in breadlines and sleeping on sidewalks...
      But Dorothea didn't stop there. People began to notice her photographs and soon she was working for the government. Into the dust bowl, into migrant camps, she went looking for the poor, the hungry, those who had been forgotten. She was in search of faces to depict the Great Depression. 
      In lyrical prose, Dorothea Lange tells the story of how the photographer found what she was looking for and got America to take note."

T antalizing taste: 
"Now the family was stranded and starving.
Dorothea shot a half-dozen or so pictures
of the mother and her children -
the last a close-up of the woman's deeply lined face.
She looks much older than her thirty-two years.

After two of the photos ran in the newspaper,
the government rushed ten tons of food to the camp.

Because Dorothea turned her lens on hunger and poverty,
Florence Owens Thompson, a full-blooded Cherokee,
became the face of the Great Depression.
And the nation could not look the other way."
and something more: I was fascinated to learn that the publication of Dorothea Lange's amazing photo, "Migrant Mother", in the San Francisco newspaper elicited aid from the government. When I read more about this photo, I found out that Dorothea almost didn't take the photo. She actually had finished her photo-taking and was headed home when she passed a "Pea-Pickers" sign and turned back twenty miles later. Serendipity!


Maya Lin

Artist-Architect of Light and Lines

Christy Ottaviano Books
(Henry Holt and Company)
(pub. 5.2.2017)
32 pages

A True Tale with
A Cherry On Top  

A uthor: Jeanne Walker Harvey
      and photographer: Dow Phumiruk

C haracter: Maya Lin

 verview from the jacket flap: 

     "You may be familiar with the iconic Vietnam Veterans Memorial, but do you know about the artist-architect who created this landmark?
     As a child, Maya Lin loved to study the spaces around her. She explored the forest in her backyard, observing woodland creatures, and used her house as a model to build tiny towns out of paper and scraps. The daughter of a clay artist and a poet, Maya grew up with art and learned to think with her hands as well as her mind. From her first experiments with light and lines to the height of her success nationwide, this is a the story of an inspiring American artist."    

T antalizing taste: 
"The first time Maya visited
the finished wall, she searched
for the name of the father of a friend.
When she touched the name, she cried,
just as she knew others would.

Thousands came that Veterans Day
to see and touch and remember.
Salutes, hands on hearts, honoring.
And every day since then,
visitors have done the same."
and something more: I cannnot begin to express my deep appreciation and admiration for everyone who has been involved in the creation of this book --  Deborah Warren of East West Literary Agency (my incredible agent who found a home, a perfect home, for my manuscript), Dow Phumiruk (the amazing illustrator who absolutely astounded me with her talent and perception), Christy Ottaviano (the publisher/editor who edited with the perfect gentle touch and allowed the book to blossom with her attention to detail and incredible talent and experience), and everyone else at Ottaviano Books/Henry Holt who contributed to the book. A picture book is truly a collaborative process, and so many people had a part in it. I truly feel as if I've won the literary lottery with the publication of this book -- it's more than I ever envisioned. 
    Thank you also to my dear family and friends who always support me and encourage me in my writing. I am honored and humbled to have had the opportunity to write this book about Maya Lin and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
    And today, Memorial Day, I learned from the National Mall NPS, that three new names are being dedicated today at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, bringing the total number of names to 58,318. My heartfelt thanks and appreciation and admiration to all who served.


The Marvelous Thing That Came From A Spring

The Accidental Invention
of the Toy That 
Swept the Nation

Atheneum Books for Young Readers
(Simon & Schuster)
(pub. 9.1.2016)
40 pages

A True Tale with
A Cherry On Top  

uthor: Gilbert Ford
      and photographer: Greg Endries

C haracter: Richard and Betty James

 verview from the jacket flap: 

"One day a spring fell from the desk of Richard James, an engineer and a dreamer. Its coils took a walk ... and so did Richard's imagination. He knew right away that he had stumbled onto something marvelous.

Richard and his wife, Betty, took this ordinary spring and turned it into a plaything. But it wasn't just any old trinket - it was a Slinky, and it would become on of the most popular toys in American history.

With magnificent dioramic illustrations, Gilbert Ford captures the joy, creativity, and determination behind the invention of an iconic, one-of-a-kind toy."    

T antalizing taste: 
    "Betty thumbed through a dictionary for two days, underlining words. 
     Nothing sounded quite right ... until she found 'slinky' meaning 'graceful' and 'curvy in movement.' 'Slinky' also sounded like the swish and clink of the spring's coils in motion.
     It was only a name, but it was just right. With one word, Betty thought she could transform this spring into a one-of-a-kind thing!"

and something more: The Note at the back of the book provides interesting stories of other uses of the Slinky over time: "The Slinky was used as an antenna for radios during the Vietnam War, as a device for understanding wave mechanics, and as a therapy tool for patients who had suffered from strokes or other disorders. It was launched into space on the shuttle Discovery to help astronauts demonstrate how gravity worked. And the clinking coils of the Slinky even inspired a musician, John Cage, to create experimental music based on the sound!"


Stand Up and Sing!

Pete Seeger,
Folk Music,
and the 
Path to Justice

Bloomsbury Children's Books 
(pub. 3.14.2017)
48 pages

A True Tale with
A Cherry On Top  

uthor: Susanna Reich
      and Illustrator: 
           Adam Gustavson

C haracter: Pete Seeger

 verview from the jacket flap: 

    "Pete Seeger was born with music in his bones. Coming of age during the Great Depression, Pete saw poverty and adversity that would forever shape his worldview, but it wasn't until he received his first banjo that he found his way to change the world. It was plucking banjo strings and singing folk songs that showed Pete how music had the incredible power to bring people together.
      Using this gift throughout his life, Pete encouraged others to rally behind causes that mattered - fighting for Civil Rights, ending the Vietnam War, or cleaning up the Hudson River. For Pete, no challenge was too great, and what started out as a love for music turned into a lifetime of activism.
     Inspired by the rhythms of American folk music, this moving account of Pete Seeger's life celebrates his legacy, showing kids of every generation that no cause is too small and no obstacle too large if, together, you stand up and sing!"    
T antalizing taste: 
    "Pete was thrilled when Woody [Guthrie] let him 'tag along' on a trip to Texas, playing at union meetings along the way.
     In Oklahoma City the crowd included oil workers and their wives and children - as well as some men lined up in the back of the room, fixing for a fight. Fearing violence, the organizer called on Pete and Woody to play. Soon the families were singing, and the men in the back slunk off.
     That night Pete saw that music could fill a room with peace and harmony - even if he still couldn't figure out how to sing and play banjo at the same time!"

and something more: The Author's Note notes that Susanna Reich, like Pete Seeger, "grew up in a family with a tradition of political activism." Susanna explains that Pete's "ancestors included Revolutionary War patriots and nineteenth century abolitionists, and his father and stepmother had a profound influence on his thinking about music, culture, and politics.  As I researched this book, I came to understand why Pete saw himself as a link in a chain. It's a chain in which music and social responsibility are intertwined, one that began long before he was born and will continue now that he's gone. This book is meant to be a link in that chain."  And this compelling and inspiring story is indeed that.
       As the text of the story states, "Pete passed away in 2014, but his work isn't done. For in times of war, the world needs peace. In times of hatred, the world needs love. In times of injustice, the world needs truth. And wherever people gather in the name of freedom, they find strength and courage in song."  And in political times such as now, children (and adult readers of children's books) need role models, such as Pete Seeger, who stand up for their beliefs. Thank you to Susanna Reich for writing this wonderful book, and giving me the honor of sharing it.


Honey Girl The Hawaiian Monk Seal

Arbordale Publishing
(published 2.10.2017)
32 pages 

A True Tale with
A Cherry On Top  

uthor: Jeanne Walker Harvey
      and Illustrator: 
           Shennen Bersani

C haracter: Honey Girl the Hawaiian Monk Seal

 verview from the jacket flap: 

    "Hawaiian locals and visitors always enjoy spotting endangered Hawaiian monk seals, but Honey Girl is an extra special case. She has raised seven pups, and scientists call her 'Super Mom.' After Honey Girl is injured by a fishhook, she gets very sick. Scientists and veterinarians work to save Honey Girl until she can be released back to her beach. This true story will have readers captivated to learn more about his endangered species." 
T antalizing taste: 
    "Honey Girl hadn't been able to catch or swallow food for several weeks. Unable to eat, she would soon starve. Could she be saved?
     The scientists surrounded her. Honey Girl raised her head as if to bark, but she couldn't make a sound. The people gently lifted her into a crate in the back of a truck. They drove her across the island to Waikiki Aquarium."

and something more: I'm thrilled to share Honey Girl's story so beautifully illustrated by Shennen Bersani (the illustrator of our other marine mammal rescue story, ASTRO THE STELLER SEA LION).
    I dedicated the book "to my amazing sons, Will and Scott, who were with me when I first saw a Hawaiian monk seal (possible Honey Girl) at the Turtle Bay beach."  
    And, as every book is a collaboration and a network of support, I've shared my gratitude at the end of  HONEY GIRL THE HAWAIIAN MONK SEAL
       "Thank you to Dr. Michelle Barbieri, Hawaiian Monk Seal Health Program Coordinator for the Marine Mammal Center/ Ke Kai Ola and NOAA Fisheries, who was with Honey Girl in her rescue, rehabilitation and release, and who generously shared her experiences and expertise with me. 
        And I appreciate all the volunteers, veterinarians, scientists and staff at NOAA Fisheries Hawaiian Monk Seal Research Program (HMSRP), Pacific Islands Regional Office, Waikiki Aquarium, Honolulu Zoo, Hawaiian Monk Seal Response Team Oahu (HMSRTO), and The Marine Mammal Center who worked together to rescue and care for Honey Girl.
        My heartfelt thanks to those who helped me with this story: The Marine Mammal Center’s Executive Director Dr. Jeff Boehm and Story and Communications Curator Sarah van Schagen, Lanikai General Store owner Donna Festa, the committed volunteers in Hawaii featured in the MonkSealMania blog, and my dear family and friends who always encourage me in my writing endeavors.
        And special thanks to my friend and talented illustrator, Shennen Bersani, and expert editor Katie Hall of Arbordale Publishing."