Junior Library Guild Book of the Day: Rhino Rescue!
On March 28th my new book with National Geographic Book KIDS was featured by Junior Library Guild as their Book of the Day. Click here to read more.
I’m thrilled to announce the publication of my new book with National Geographic KIDS: Rhino Rescue! And more True Stories of Saving Animals. The three animals featured in the book are Honey Girl, A Hawaiian Monk Seal, who got tangled in fishing line while she hunting for food in the ocean; Kuzya and Borya, two Amur tiger brothers from the Russian Far East who lost their mother at 3 months old; and a mother and baby white rhino named Kass and Draegon who were part of a daring airlift to move rhinos away from poachers in South Africa to a new home in Botswana.
Photo Courtesy of NOAA
I loved doing the research for this book. First, I tracked down Amur tiger expert Dale Miquelle who lives many time zones away in the far east of Russia. He directs the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Russian program and helped rescue Kuzya and Borya. I went to the Island of Oahu in Hawaii to research the endangered Hawaiian monk seal. Did you know that there are less than 1200 of them left in the world and they are only found in Hawaiian waters? It was exciting to interview NOAA Marine Mammal Veterinarian Michelle Barbieri and scientist Tracy Mercer who helped rescue Honey Girl and nurse her back to health so she could be returned to the wild in record time. Last, and largest in animal size, was Kass and Draegon’s story.
National Geographic Explorers-in-residence Dereck and Beverly Joubert are the founders of Rhinos Without Borders an organization whose mission is to save the endangered South African Rhino from extinction. Over 1,000 rhinos are slaughtered each year by poachers who sell the rhino tusks for money. The Jouberts came up with a bold plan to move Kass and Draegon and up to 100 rhinos to a safe wilderness home in a secret location in Botswana. Why Botswana? You’ll find out when you read Rhino Rescue!
Available NOW at your local book stores or on Amazon.com
Calling all parents, teachers and librarians: Olive and Max are back!
I’m so excited to report that my National Wildlife Federation magazine series, “The Backyard Adventures of Olive Opossum and Max Mole ,“ has been republished as an ebook series on schoolwide.com.
Each story in the series is built around fun facts about different animals that live in Olive and Max’s backyard. With humor and quick thinking, Olive and Max are there to help their animal neighbors solve problems as they hunt for food, shelter, and raise their young. Both illustrations and actual photographs of the animals are included to bring the nonfiction parts of these stories to life.
Schoolwide.com offers all 26 of my stories as part of a huge library of free ebooks for download in the classroom to paying subscribers. It also provides webinars and other products and services. as part of its mission to improve students' reading, writing, and learning by supplying the tools teachers can use to teach effectively.
Schoolwide Executive Editor Susan Tierney reports “Our first webinar series, The Guided Reading Webinar, is proving very successful right now and we anticipate more to come. There is so much you can do in the classroom with Zing as well, like the Personalized Learning Upgrade for example, which allows for classroom management, personalized interaction with students, and assessments."
Kids will love the interactive format, too. They can actually hear the sound of the page turning as they read the story. A glossary at the end of each story gives them fun facts to share what they learn with friends.
Please check it out and let me know what you think.
It was a love fest for Judy Blume at Town Hall in Seattle tonight. Seattle Arts and Lectures brought celebrity children’s book author Judy Blume who has a new novel for adults called In the Unlikely Event which is based on a true event from her childhood. It was a totally entertaining interview with Nancy Pearl and Judy who looks as young as ever and will forever be that courageous writer who wrote from the heart with great humor and taught us that nothing is taboo to write about when you have a good story to tell.
I was fortunate enough to take the first small-group writing workshop Judy Blume ever gave at a writers conference in Key West, her winter home, a number of years ago. I had just left the practice of law to be home with my children and had published my first children’s book when I took her 4- day class. Here are a few of the pearls she gave us:
- Keep a notebook when you’re writing a book for snippets of information and character description
- Write from the heart.
- Don’t think about the audience when the story is first being created, but you will need to later to get it published.
- You can’t write the universal book. It only the specific story that will work.
- Begin your story on the day when something different happens.
- Criticism should be honest but only helpful.
For many years, I have taught writing in the Seattle public schools as part of Seattle Arts and Lectures’ award-winning Writers in the Schools (WITS) program. I typically spend two months working in an elementary or middle grade school with one grade level guiding them through the process of writing a story from idea to finished book complete with a colorful cover and chopstick binding. This year, I worked with third grades at Whittier elementary.
Here is a blog post about Teaching Story Structure using one student’s work as an example: https://salwits.wordpress.com
(Above: Ms. McGrath’s third grade class with their finished books)
(Above: The last day of the writing workshop when students share their finished stories.)
A few months ago, I was contacted through my website by a PTA mom inviting me to do an In-school field trip on teamwork for third graders at her daughter’s elementary school.
I was delighted to learn that Team Building was part of the third grade curriculum and that when she googled "Team building." my website came up.
Together, we organized 3 teamwork-related activities for 110 third graders starting with a photo-illustrated slide show presenting 10 Tips on Teamwork based on my interviews with the Seattle Sounders FC coach and team for my children’s book, Soccer Dreams: Playing the Seattle Sounders FC Way. This included several volunteers from the audience who donned professional goalie gloves and dribbled a Fredy Montero-signed soccer ball to help demonstrate a basic teamwork strategy that the Sounders FC use, The Triangle Formation.
For our next activity, we made soccer balls out of plastic bags and newspaper tied with nylon string. This, I explained, is the kind of ball that is used by kids all over the world to play soccer. No fancy shinguards. Even shoes are optional. All you need is a ball.
Our third teamwork activity which took place in the classroom was a one hour writing and performance piece. Each student worked with a partner to create a Buddy Poem. First they interviewed each other to find out something they had in common - for example, they both like sports, or music. or video games. Then they created three stanzas, each coming up with every other line. I am always amazed how quickly they get engaged in the project and how excited they are to perform their poem in front of their classmates. Here is an example of a 3-some buddy poem from Ms. Shannon’s third grade class:
We Are All A Little Crazy
I like to smack the ball in tennis.
My imagination runs like paint over an open canvas.
I like riding my horse through the meadows.
We are all a little crazy.
I like to jump on my trampoline
My mind is like a gizmo where the wheels, gears and trinkets of my ideas are still turning.
I like to wash my horses in the rain in the barn.
We are all a little crazy.
I love to play everything outside.
My pencil flies across the paper as words are sewn together to create a beautiful story.
I love to ride across the jump cones in the rain int he wind.
We are all a little crazy.
Here was a great note from Christine Strandell, Clyde Hill PTA: "Thank YOU for taking the time to come to our school two days in a row! You did a phenomenal job keeping the kids interested during the assembly yesterday. They truly had fun during the soccer ball activity too. I personally enjoyed your writing segment. I think the kids liked having the close contact with you; you made them feel special and their writing was also made special by you, which was evident by some of the writing I saw take shape and was shared. "
Fall is a great time to pull out that manuscript draft and polish it up for submission to a publisher by the end of the year. My six-week class will help you meet your goal in a nurturing and generative workshop environment. All genres are welcome, from picture book to young adult novels. The class will run on Thursday evenings from 7-9pm at Hugo House, a writers cooperative on Capital Hill in Seattle, starting September 18. Read more…
You have a story in progress and maybe even a finished draft. How do you polish it for submission to a publisher? We’ll focus on strengthening story structure, dramatic tension, voice, and character development. Discover the right amount of detail and description to include for your target age group and the themes that will deepen your story and give it broader appeal. Students will submit one story in progress to the class and receive constructive feedback on their work from the instructor and classmates. For more information or to register, please contact Hugo House at 206-322-7030 or click here.
Photo caption: Special guest Elizabeth George talked about Character Development in my Spring 2014 Hugo House Story Structure class.
Thank you for visiting my Web site. I create stories for children that help them connect with the world around them. Through my books, I share my excitement and curiosity about:
Through my writing workshops and In-School Field Trips in schools and libraries, children discover their own voice and create stronger stories using my three-problem approach to story structure. Please take a few moments to look around my website.