Advertisement. Click on the ad for more information.
Winding Oak's Bookology Magazine

Tag Archives | Anita Silvey

Word Search: Let Your Voice Be Heard

Let Your Voice Be HeardPete Seeger was a master musician, a long-time proponent of people and racial equality and fair wages and workers’ rights and ecology and conservation. He cared about the world you and I live in and wanted it to be a better world for everyone. We’re honoring Anita Silvey’s biography this month, Let Your Voice Be Heard: The Life and Times of Pete Seeger. It’s a book that will inspire you to do more to help the world … and to sing. If you love puzzles and games, we hope you have a good time solving this Word Search. 

Simply use your mouse or touch pad to draw a line over your found words and the program will mark them off for you. Words can be found forwards, backwards, horizontally, vertically, and diagonally. As you find a word, it will be highlighted on the board and it will disappear from the word list.

Have fun!

Hidden Words

Puzzle by

Anita Silvey

Let Your Voice Be HeardWe are so pleased to have author and educator Anita Silvey talk with us about her book Let Your Voice Be Heard: The Life and Times of Pete Seeger, our Bookstorm this month.

Do you remember when you were first aware of Pete Seeger as a child or teenager?

In my sophomore year in college, I came down with mono and had to be sequestered from other students. So I taught myself guitar as a way to pass the long convalescent hours. That was the semester I fell in love with Pete Seeger.

What made you want to write a book about Pete Seeger?

I had interviewed Pete for Everything I Need to Know I Learned from a Children’s Book. I was talking to Dinah Stevenson of Clarion about that interview, and she mentioned that she had tried, unsuccessfully, to get one of her writers interested in a book on the Weavers. I myself didn’t see the Weavers as the subject of a book but mentioned that a biography of Pete, with a chapter on the Weavers, would be an exciting project. That conversation began an eight-year publishing process.

You begin the book with the Peekskill concert which turned out to be life-threatening. Why did you choose to begin there?

Pete always talked about the Peekskill concert and the ride home as among the most frightening moments of his life. That incident showcases one of the themes of the book. No matter what happened to him, Pete Seeger did not allow anything to keep him from singing.

Pete Seeger

Pete Seeger, 2011, Creative Commons

Were there any “truths” you thought were true but your research proved were otherwise?

There were so many things I didn’t know: for 10 years he was harassed during the McCarthy era; he had difficulties appearing on television, even after he was cleared. The extent of his activities—for unions, civil rights, peace, the environment—amazed me. I could have written 10,000 words about any year in Pete’s life.

Did you find a lot of factual material that you had to check in several sources before you included it in the book?

You have just described the process of writing narrative nonfiction—lots of sources, both primary and secondary, lots of balancing opinions. Basically I had to do that for every sentence that I wrote.

How do you plan an interview with the subject of a biography?

With Pete it was easy. I would have a couple of questions that I needed clarifying. He would do all the rest. Two hours later I’d be off the phone with information I didn’t even know I needed.

When you interviewed Pete Seeger, what surprised you the most in his responses?

His generosity of time. And he sang to me.

Pete Seeger's banjo

Pete Seeger’s banjo, Creative Commons

What proved to be the hardest information for you to find about Pete Seeger?

Toshi Seeger and Pete clearly tried to keep family information out of the press. In the end I honored that desire and kept details about the family to a minimum.

In your Afterword, you write, “Biographers have a responsibility to examine the facts, remain as unbiased as possible, and tell the truth about their subjects.” You follow this up by sharing that “When I read the files that the FBI had gathered about Pete Seeger, and I studied the complete testimony of Pete Seeger’s appearance before the House Un-American Activities Committee, I became angry and disturbed.” In conclusion, you stated, “I offer up his story in the hope that as a nation we never again turn on our own citizens and do them the same kind of injustice.”

After writing this book, do you feel that taking a stance in a nonfiction book is acceptable for an author?

I think writers for children need to admit to a bias if they have one. I didn’t make this type of statement in Untamed: The Wild Life of Jane Goodall. For that book, I remained much more impartial throughout the process. Alerting children to the bias of a writer helps them interpret nonfiction and can send them to other sources. Sometimes when asked by an adult friend about something, I remind them that I am not impartial on this topic. I believe children deserve the same respect.


Bookstorm™: Let Your Voice Be Heard

Bookmap Let Your Voice Be Heard

Let Your Voice Be HeardWhether you include social justice, community service, activism, or social action in your curriculum or at your library, this is the ideal book for you. A biography of Pete Seeger, recipient of our National Medal for the Arts, and champion of the people for his 94 years, our Bookstorm this month, Let Your Voice Be Heard: The Life and Times of Pete Seeger, celebrates his life while it inspires each reader to carry on his work. At once informative and entertaining, Anita Silvey has written a book that looks at Seeger’s childhood, his evolution from singer to worldwide change leader to deeply admired man. Eminently readable, this would be a good book to share with students as  you lead into deeper discussions about involvement and service in your own community.

The book is written at a level for 4th to 6th grade readers, so you can use this with these students, but we also encourage you to use the book in middle school, high school, and with adult groups. It’s an excellent choice for a book club discussion.

In each Bookstorm™, we offer a bibliography of books that have close ties to the the featured book. You’ll find books, articles, websites, and videos for a variety of tastes and interests. This month, we’re focusing on books about the ways in which Pete Seeger influenced our world. 




You’ll find more information about Anita Silvey on her website.


About Pete Seeger. To supplement the information Anita Silvey has included in her biography, we’ve suggested a few other books that offer another perspective.

Written by Pete Seeger. He was remarkably prolific in writing books, or introductions, or collaborating on quite a few books. You’ll certainly recognize Abiyoyo but there are more books for study, enjoyment, and for singing!

Pete Seeger’s Music. He’s so well-known for his music and he recorded a great number of folk songs for children and all ages. We’ve pointed you in the direction of some of the best that you can share in your classroom or library. 

Civil Rights. Well-known for his efforts on behalf of the Civil Rights Movement, for over  70 years, we offer recommendations so you can gather a shelf full of paired books including fiction, true stories, and poetry.

Labor Movement. September is the month when we honor the hard work of those who have fought for workers’ rights, outlawing child labor, ensuring health and vacation and sick leave benefits. Pete Seeger was a tireless proponent of this work. You’ll find a number of recommendations to support this aspect of his biography, certainly engendering discussion. We’ve included recommendations for songs to accompany this study.

Folk Music, Collecting, Playing, Singing. Do you know the work of Alan and John Lomax, Woody Guthrie, Charles and Ruth Seeger, Smithsonian Folkways, and other musicologists? This is a fascinating aspect of Pete Seeger’s life that can lead to discussions of preserving culture, the intrinsic place of music within a culture … and more singing! Suggestions are made for further study of many individuals important to the preservation of folk music.

Politics: Under Suspicion and Blacklisted (Censorship). During those times of the year when your classroom or library is focusing on censorship, Anita Silvey focuses on the House Un-American Activities Committee of the 1950s, Communism, and blacklisting. All of these can be compared to the political climate in contemporary America. We have included a variety of fiction and nonfiction recommendations.

Protesting War (Vietnam). The protests of the 1960s and 1970s in America left an indelible change on the country that a number of anthropologists argue continues to affect America today. Pete Seeger was active in this protest movement. Books on the war, its aftermath, and songs of protest are a part of this Bookstorm.

Think Globally, Act Locally. Pete Seeger’s social action with The Clearwater Project, gathering communities to clean up The Hudson River in New York, was accomplished through song, community gatherings, fundraising, and hard work. We provide quotes, videos, websites, and a lot of books for students to use for learning more and making their own plans for involvement.

Let us know how you are making use of this Bookstorm™. Share your ideas and any other books you’d add to this Bookstorm™.


Celebrating Ezra Jack Keats

The Snowy Day and the Art of Ezra Jack KeatsJackie: This is the time of year when I read the Travel Section of the Sunday paper. I just want to go away from gritty snow, brown yards and come back to Spring. Well, there are no tickets on the shelf this year so Phyllis and I are taking a trip to the city created by Ezra Jack Keats. And why not? This month, this year marks his one-hundredth birthday.

As our travel guide we’re taking The Snowy Day and the Art of Ezra Jack Keats (Yale University Press, 2011), written by Claudia Nahsen to coincide with The Snowy Day’s 50th anniversary and the showing of many of his works at the Jewish Museum, New York

Last Stop on Market StreetI’ve been thinking of Keats since I read Last Stop on Market Street, this year’s Newbery Award winner, written by Matt de la Peña and illustrated by Christian Robinson. Robinson’s wonderful depictions of the urban landscape and the text’s suggestion that beauty is all around us, reminded me of Keats’s city scenes. Often they are set in his childhood home in Depression Era Brooklyn but enhanced with Keats’s brilliant collages, sketches, and jazzy palette.

A bit about his life, which I learned from Nahsen’s beautiful book: Jacob Ezra Katz was born in New York, on March 11, 1916. He was the youngest of three children born to immigrant parents in a “loveless marriage.” He grew up in a family marked by strife and unhappiness. He felt invisible as a child and believed “’life was measured by anguish.’” (Nahsen,p. 5). Art saved him. And in his art he gave life and validity to the streets he remembered from his childhood and to the kids, often invisible to society, who live on those streets.

The Snowy DayPhyllis: And up until publication of A Snowy Day, the first full-color picture book to feature an African American protagonist, those kids were virtually invisible in picture books as well. I especially love how Keats makes us see the city and the children and grown-ups who live in it with fresh eyes—his art includes graffiti, trashcans, and the struggles and celebrations of childhood. Nahsen quotes Keats: “Everything in life is waiting to be seen!” While some people criticized Keats, a white writer, for writing about black characters in The Snowy Day, the poet Langston Hughes wished he had “grandchildren to give it [the book] to.” Keats felt the criticisms deeply but continued to tell and illustrate the stories in his world “waiting to be seen.”

LouieJackie: Keats wrote and illustrated twenty-two books in his career. The ones I know are just as fresh, just as in tune with the lives of children as they were when he wrote them. We all know Peter of A Snowy Day, Peter’s Chair, A Letter to Amy. But Keats’s Louie is not quite as familiar. Louie is a quiet, kid who hardly ever speaks. But when he sees the puppet Gussie (Keats’s mother’s name) at Susie and Roberto’s puppet show, he stands up and yells “Hello!, Hello! Hello!” Susie and Roberto decide to have Gussie ask Louie to sit down so they can get on with the show. After the show they bring Gussie out so Louie can hold the puppet. Then the boy goes home, eventually sleeps and dreams he is falling and kids are laughing at him. When he wakes up, his mother tells him someone slipped a note under the door—“Go outside and follow the long green string.” At the end of the green string is—Gussie! There is so much to love about this story—a sensitive portrayal of a child who is somehow different, gets laughed at, yelled at by some kids; two kids, Susie and Roberto, who treat Louie with great kindness; and a hopeful ending.

Nahsen says: “…neglected characters, who had hitherto been living in the margins of picture books or had simply been absent from children’s literature take pride of place in Keats’s oeuvre.” She quotes from his unpublished autobiography: “When I did my first book about a black kid I wanted black kids and white kids to know that he’s there.” So it is with Louie. Keats reminds readers that the quiet kids, the kids who march to a different drum, the kids who live behind the broken doors, or on broken-down buses and can only have a cricket for a pet (Maggie and the Pirate) are there.

Maggie and the PiratePhyllis: Just as Keats portrays the real lives of kids who live in buses or city apartments without “even any steps in front of the door to sit on,” he doesn’t shy away from the small and large griefs and troubles of childhood. In Maggie and the Pirate, Maggie’s pet cricket, taken by a boy who admires the cricket’s cage, accidentally drowns in a river. Maggie and her friends hold a cricket funeral, and when the “pirate,” a boy who didn’t mean for the cricket to die but wanted the cage “real bad,” brings Maggie the cage with a new cricket, the children

                “all sat down together.
                Nobody said anything.
                They listened to the new cricket singing.
                Crickets all around joined in.”

Tragedies and consolation in the death of a cricket—a world seen through children’s eyes.

The Trip, Louie's Search, Regards to the Man in the Moon

Jackie: Keats came back to Louie with three other books and used this character to help him present some of the other problems of childhood—The Trip (1978), Louie’s Search (1980), and Regards to the Man in the Moon (1981).

The Trip tells us that Louie and his Mom move to a new neighborhood. Louie’s Search takes place after Louie has moved to a new neighborhood. “’What kind of neighborhood is this?’ thought Louie. “Nobody notices a kid around here.” He puts on a paper sack hat and paints his nose red and goes out for a walk. Eventually he picks up an object which has fallen off a junk wagon and so encounters the scary junkman Barney. Barney is huge and thinks Louie has stolen this object. “’Come back, you little crook,’ Barney bellowed.” They go to Louie’s house where Barney tells his Mom, “Your son’s a crook!’”

What Louie had found was a music box. When he holds it the box makes music. When he drops it, it stops. Barney decides to give the music box to Louie and stays for tea with Louie and his mom. It’s the beginning of a wonderful relationship that ends with a wedding and Louie finding the Dad he hoped for.

The Trip, Jennie's Hat, Dreams

Phyllis: Another thread throughout Keats’ work is the power of imagination. Louie in The Trip imagines a plane flying him to his old neighborhood. Jennie in Jennie’s Hat imagines a beautiful hat instead of the plain one her aunt has sent, and the birds, who she feeds daily, swoop down and decorate her hat with leaves, pictures, flowers (paper and real), colored eggs, a paper fan, and a pink valentine. In Dreams, Roberto imagines (or does it really happen?) that when a paper mouse he has made tumbles from his windowsill, its shadow “grew bigger—and bigger—and BIGGER” until it scared off the dog terrorizing his friend’s kitten on the sidewalk below.

Ezra Jack Keats: Artist and Picture-book MakerWe haven’t really even talked about his art and his brilliant use of collage and color. Just as Keats’s books celebrate the power of the imagination, Anita Silvey says that Keats took “absolute joy in the creative process.” We can share that joy in his books in stories and art that recognize that everyone needs to be seen, everyone has a place, and everyone, joyously, matters.

Jackie: Brian Alderson in Ezra Jack Keats: Artist and Picture-Book Maker writes that in The Snowy Day Keats “came home to his proper place: a colorist celebrating the hidden lives of the city kids.” I would add that that can be said for most of his works. And we are the richer for it.


Beautiful Books: an interview with designer Marty Ittner

Untamed: the Wild Life of Jane GoodallFor young writers who aspire to write information books of their own, or readers who will enjoy the experience of reading more, we’d like to help them understand how a book designer works.

Marty Ittner designed Untamed: the Wild Life of Jane Goodall and graciously agreed to answer bookologist Vicki Palmquist’s questions.Flourish

When you start the process of designing a book, what provides your inspiration?

The design process actually begins in the middle of a book’s life. The project has already been conceived, researched and approved by the author and publisher to make sure it is a story worth the investment. So when the designer first receives the text and photos, it is important to honor the life of the book and the author’s vision. Therefore most of the inspiration comes from coming to know the story, and how to tell it visually. Simply put, inspiration comes from within the book itself.

How do you physically organize your ideas for the book layout?

At first I will do some rough pencil sketches in my Moleskine notebook, alongside the notes taken from initial discussions with the book team. But by and large the ideas are collected digitally in InDesign (a page layout program) and Photoshop, a program which enables adjustments to photographs such as adding color to an old black and white photo.

Do you start by knowing the book will be a certain size and number of pages or do you decide the size and number of pages after you’ve examined the content and created a rough design?

National Geographic’s marketing and distribution teams determine the size and number of pages before it reaches the designer. These specifications are based on a long history of publishing and reviewing similar books and products.


There’s a lot of space on many pages where there is no printing and no photographs: white space. Why is this important to you?

That’s funny, because to me this book is brimming with color and images, compared with books that are designed for adults, which have much more white space. I wouldn’t fill an entire room with furniture or survive without sleep. Space is simply the absence that allows us to see what is present.

You’ve used a graphic, screened back to 15% or 20% of a solid hue to lay behind the primary elements on many pages. What does this do for the reader?

On the first sketches for the book, I included some exotic vines and leaves that were meant to set the stage for Jane’s time in the jungle. The book team liked the idea and decided to take it further by hiring an illustrator (Susan Crawford) to draw the specific plants found in Gombe National Park, where Jane was studying the chimps. At first the reader may only see them as a background, but eventually may develop a curiosity to find out more, much like Ms. Goodall’s own work and notebooks. We went so far as to include a page describing each plant, some of which provide food and shelter for the chimps. In this way, the reader can discover more about life in the jungle, and the interdependence of all species.


On some pages a photo covers the entire page. On other pages, a photo may take 1/12th or ¼ of the page. How do you make decisions about how big the photos will be?

In children’s books, we use what’s called “tracking”, which is that a photo must be on the same spread as its mention. For example, the photo of Jane with her stuffed toy Jubilee would run next to the text “her father bought her a large stuffed chimpanzee”. This can sometimes be tricky, but fortunately I love solving puzzles. The other factor is the quality of the image. We will highlight good images by running them large and minimize photographs that don’t have the best quality.


Do you work on a grid?

Absolutely! Structure and form are the underpinnings that make a book cohesive—creating a rhythm that is inherently felt. The regularity of the grid creates an ease of entry for the reader, as their eyes are not jumping around.

What computer program do you use to lay out the book?

Adobe InDesign.

ph_knifeDo you do any of your work by hand?

I love the feel of a book as an object. So when designing, I always print and trim out the pages with an xacto knife to see how they will look in the final book.

When a reader picks up Untamed, how do you hope the book’s design will affect them?

It was a great honor to work with National Geographic and Anita Silvey to tell the important story of Jane Goodall and her beloved chimps. It touches on compassion, the environment, animal rights and the strength of a remarkable woman. My hope is that the design delights and carries the reader through the whole story. In this way, we can hope to inspire a new wave of compassionate conservationists.


Bookstorm™: Untamed: The Wild Life of Jane Goodall

Untamed Bookstorm

Untamed: the Wild Life of Jane GoodallThis month, we are pleased to feature Untamed: The Wild Life of Jane Goodall, written by Anita Silvey, with photographs and book designed by the incredible team at National Geographic. This book is not only fascinating to read, it’s a beautiful reading experience as well.

It’s not often that a book offers us a glimpse into the childhood of a woman who has followed a brave, and caring, career path, but also follows her through more than 50 years in that chosen profession, describing her work, discoveries, and her passion for the mammals with whom she works. I learned so much I didn’t know about Dr. Goodall and her chimpanzees, Africa, field work, and how one moves people to support one’s cause.

In each Bookstorm™, we offer a bibliography of books that have close ties to the the featured book. For Untamed, you’ll find books for a variety of tastes and interests. The book will be comfortably read by ages 9 through adult. We’ve included fiction and nonfiction, picture books, middle grade books, and books adults will find interesting. A number of the books are by Dr. Jane Goodall herself—she’s a prolific writer. We’ve also included books about teaching science, as well as videos, and articles accessible on the internet.

Jane Goodall and Her Research. From Me … Jane, the picture by Patrick McDonnell about Jane Goodall’s childhood, to Jane Goodall: the Woman Who Redefined Man by Dale Peterson, there are a number of accessible books for every type of reader.

Primate Research. We’ve included nonfiction books such as Pamela S. Turner’s Gorilla Doctors and Jim Ottaviani and Maris Wick’s Primates, a graphic novel about the three women who devoted so much of their loves to studying primates: Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, and Biruté Galdikas.

Chimpanzees. Dr. Goodall’s research is specifically about chimpanzees so companion books such as Michele Colon’s Termites on a Stick and Dr. Goodall’s Chimpanzees I Love: Saving Their World and Ours are suggested.

Fiction. Many excellent novels have been written about primates and Africa and conservation, ranging from realism to science fiction and a novel based on a true story. Among our list, you’ll find Linda Sue Park’s A Long to Water and Eva by Peter Dickinson and The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate.

World-Changing Women and Women Scientists. Here you’ll find picture book biographies, longer nonfiction books, and collections of short biographies such as Girls Think of Everything by Catherine Thimmesh, Silk & Venom by Kathryn Lasky, and Rad American Women: A to Z by Kate Schatz.

Africa. The titles about, or set on, this continent are numerous. Learning About Africa by Robin Koontz provides a useful and current introduction to the continent. We also looked for books by authors who were born in or lived for a while in an African country; Next Stop—Zanzibar! by Niki Daly and Magic Gourd by Coretta Scott King Honoree Baba Wague Diakiteare are included in this section.

Animal Friendships. Children and adults alike crave these stories about unlikely friendships between animals who don’t normally hang around together. From Catherine Thimmesh’s Friends: True Stories of Extraordinary Animal Friendships to Marion Dane Bauer’s A Mama for Owen, you’ll be charmed by these books.

Animals In Danger of Extinction. We’ve included only two books in this category but both of them should be stars in your booktalks. Counting Lions by Katie Cotton, illustrated by Stephen Walton, is a stunning book—do find it! Dr. Goodall contributes a moving book, Hope for Animals and Their World: How Endangered Species Are Being Rescued from the Brink.

Teaching Science. If you’re working with young children in grades K through 2, you’ll want Perfect Pairs by Melissa Stewart and Nancy Chesley. For older students in grades 3 through 6, Picture-Perfect Science Lessons will inspire you.

Let us know how you are making use of this Bookstorm™. Share your ideas and any other books you’d add to this Bookstorm™.



From the Editor

by Marsha Qualey

Untamed: the Wild Life of Jane GoodallThank goodness for public libraries. I’ve been a user and fan for well over 50 years now, but for the last eight months, as I’ve worked with the other bookologists putting together the magazine, I’ve put more book miles on my card than in many years combined.

My local library is the largest in a consortium of nearly 50 libraries in western Wisconsin, which means delivery of special requests happens quickly; that reach and speed has been a key element in my ability to keep up with the necessary book work. This is especially true for the Bookstorm™ books. Before we recommend or write about those titles we like to—at the very least—get our hands on the candidate books, riffle pages, and examine back matter and illustrations. And of course we read. For nearly a year now I make the trip to the library several times a week to see what’s waiting for me on the hold shelf.

This month our Bookstorm™ features Untamed: The Wild Life of Jane Goodall, written by Anita Silvey, with photographs and book design by the editorial team at National Geographic. The companion book reading for this month’s storm has quite possibly covered more literary distance than that triggered by previous Bookstorms. Not only have I crossed and recrossed the African continent, but I’ve read about animal friendships and inspiring scientists, East African trickster stories, and visited a market in Zanzibar.

golden-baobab-prizeI’ve discovered more than books, of course. I’ve learned about the developing and exciting children’s literature scene throughout the African continent: The Golden Baobab Prize, first awarded in 2009 to celebrate and encourage emerging writers and illustrators of children’s stories; Bookshy, a wonderful blogger who focuses on African literature and book art; Book Dash, a writers and illustrators’ project designed to provide thousands of children with story books at little or no cost, and–most intriguing–Worldreader, a nonprofit that provides e-readers and e-books to schools and students in Africa and also works with African publishers to digitize their titles. 

And of course, I’ve read and thought a lot about Dr. Jane Goodall. As Bookstorm™ creator Vicki Palmquist says in her introduction to this month’s ‘storm, “[i]t’s not often that a book offers us a glimpse into the childhood of a woman who has followed a brave, and caring, career path, but also follows her through more than 50 years in that chosen profession, describing her work, discoveries, and her passion for the mammals with whom she works.”

Thanks for visiting Bookology. Please roam, and enjoy.


Skinny Dip with Anita Silvey

bk_UntamedWhat keeps you up at night?

Usually one of my beautiful Bernese Mountain Dogs. My girl developed a love affair with the local raccoon and woke me every time he came near the premises.

What’s the bravest thing you’ve ever done?

Left a nine to five job with benefits to become a full-time writer.

What’s the first book you remember reading?

 Seuss’s Horton Hatches the Egg

What TV show can’t you turn off?

Newsroom or Nashville

Do you like to gift wrap presents?

I’m dangerous with scissors and tape, so as few as I can.

What do you wish you could tell your 10-year old self?

Relax and enjoy the journey; it is going to be okay.


Scaly Spotted Feathered Frilled Companion Booktalks

To get you started on the Bookstorm™ books …

cover imageAge of Reptiles and Age of Reptiles: the Hunt, Richard Delgado, Dark Horse Books, 2011. Ages 12 and up.

  • Wordless storytelling through beautiful (sometimes gory) art
  • What happens when you steal the T-rex eggs? What happens when an Allosaurus takes revenge on the Ceratosaurs that killed his mother?
  • The author-artist has worked on movies such as Men in Black, The Incredibles, WALL-E

cover imageCaptain Raptor series, written by Kevin O’Malley, illustrated by Patrick O’Brien, Walker Books, 2005. Ages 5-8.

  • Dinosaurs are the characters on the planet Jurassica
  • Rocket ships and action
  • Good guys, bad guys, scary stuff, and fun inventions

cover imageThe Dinosaurs of Waterhouse Hawkins, written by Barbara Kerley, illustrated by Brian Selznick, Scholastic Press, 2001.

  • Biography of  19th century paleoartist Waterhouse Hawkins who popularized dinosaurs and once threw a dinner party inside one of his dinosaur sculptures
  • Just why are pieces of his dinosaur sculptures buried in New York’s Central Park?
  • Caldecott Honor book

 cover imageDinosaurs: the Grand Tour, written by Keiron Pim and Jack Horner, The Experiment, 2014. Appropriate for children and adults.

  • Report material on more than 300 dinosaurs and the scientists who have discovered and studied them
  • Helpful organization (color-coded by Geologic period) with gray scale illustrations
  • Includes Chinese and Native American mythology linked to dinosaurs

cover imageHow the Dinosaur Got to the Museum, Jessie Hartland, Blue Apple Books, 2013. Ages 6 to 9

  • Picture book about the teamwork needed to bring a dinosaur skeleton to a place where many people can see it and learn from it (the Smithsonian Museum)
  • Solid information delivered in bright art and lively language
  • A Booklist “Top Ten Sci-Tech Books for Youth” (2010)

cover imageHow to Draw Incredible Dinosaurs, written by Kristen McCurry, illustrated by Juan Calle, Smithsonian Drawing Books/Capstone Press, 2012. Ages 5 and up.

  • Step-by-step instructions for ages 5 and up
  • Each drawing lesson comes with a brief “bio” of the dinosaur model
  • One in a set of 4 drawing books (also: Incredible Ocean Animals, Amazing Animals, Amazing Spacecraft)

cover imagePaleontology: the Study of Prehistoric Life, written by Susan H. Gray, Scholastic, 2012. ages 4 and up

  • A beginning introduction to the science of paleontology
  • Quick facts in colorful large font, illustrated with many photographs
  • Includes history of paleontology, how scientists date fossils, the tools they use

cover imagePlant Hunters: True stories of their daring adventures to the far corners of the Earth, Anita Silvey, Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2012. Ages 8 and up.

  • Scientists have had the craziest adventures
  • Beautifully illustrated (many archival photographs) and usefully organized—great report material
  • Includes a chapter on contemporary scientists

bk_BulletPrehistoricLifPrehistoric Life by DK Publishing, 2010. Ages 8 and up

  • Dinosaurs and more: the plants, invertebrates, amphibians, birds, reptiles, and mammals from the origins of life in the sea to the evolution of man
  • DK’s signature exploded diagrams, cutaways, and high-interest visuals
  • Coffee table-beautiful and with tons of report material

cover imageStone Girl, Bone Girl: the Story of Mary Anning, written by Laurence Anholt, illustrated by Sheila Moxley, Frances Lincoln, 2006. Ages 6-9

  • Mary Anning: Struck by lightening as a baby, famous at age 12, a girl working in a man’s world
  • Vividly illustrated picture book story about the most famous fossil hunter of all (and the inspiration for the wicked tongue twister “She Sells Sea Shells”)
  • Puts an engaging, human face on the 19th century icon by mixing biography with an element of tall tale

cover imageUbiquitous: Celebrating Nature’s Survivors, written by Joyce Sidman, illustrated by Beckie Prange, HMH Books for Young Readers, 2010. Ages 7-12.

  • Mammals and birds and reptiles that have survived extinction, excellent for contrast in a discussion about dinosaurs
  • Each spread includes a poem, facts, and a hand-colored linocut
  • From the creators of the Caldecott Honor Book Song of the Water Boatman and Other Pond Poems



Gifted: Children’s Book-a-Day Almanac

Anita Silvey writes, among other things, books that help us find good books. And not only does she help us find more books that we or our children or our students will enjoy, but she tells us the story behind those books. Oh, what fun it is to know that Charles Dickens had to publish […]


Written in code

Having just finished a terrific new book called J.R.R. Tolkien, by Alexandra and John Wallner (Holiday House), I was reminded about codes. I spent a good number of hours during my junior high days fashioning notes in Elvish and leaving them in my friends’ lockers. The runic writing fascinated me and, of course, the idea […]


A gentle nudge

Sometimes we get so caught up in discussing the literary merits of a book that we forget who the intended readers are. Sometimes we enjoy playing the game of who will win the awards so much that we forget there are all kinds of readers who are touched by books in many ways … and […]


Everything We Know

Synchronicity. We mark its occurrence by saying the word out loud, not fully grasping its power but understanding that we are honoring a confluence in our lives. There are three contributors to my confluence: Anita Silvey, Wendell Minor, and Katherine House. Last fall, Anita Silvey‘s book Everything I Need to Know I Learned from a […]