Author Archives: Jennifer Swanson

Interview and Giveaway with Science Author Patricia Newman

I’m so excited to welcome Author Patricia Newman to the MUF blog today. She writes SCIENCE books!  YAY!

Patricia (middle) is shown here with Lilian Carswell (L) and Brent Hughes (R).  Photo credit:  Elise Newman Montanino

 

Author Patricia Newman has written several titles that connect young readers to scientific concepts, including Sea Otter Heroes: The Predators That Saved an Ecosystem, a Junior Library Guild Selection and recipient of a starred Kirkus review; Plastic, Ahoy! Investigating the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a Green Earth Book Award winner; Ebola: Fears and Facts, a Booklist Editors’ Choice selection; and the upcoming fall 2017 release, Zoo Scientists to the Rescue. In her free time, she enjoys nature walks, the feel of dirt between her fingers in the garden, and traveling. She lives in Northern California with her husband.

Patricia is here to share her newest book,

Sea Otters: The Predators that Saved an Ecosystem (Millbrook Press, 2017)

 

Why do you write science books? 

I like the way science connects to nearly all aspects of our world. For instance, in Sea Otter Heroes: The Predators That Saved an Ecosystem I show kids how saving endangered predators can benefit our air, our water, and our food supply. In my opinion, for kids to be successful in the 21st century, they will need to become global citizens who look at the bigger picture. Science can help us do that.

 

How do you choose your subjects for your books?

In the case of Sea Otter Heroes, the subject chose me. I was invited to the David Smith Conservation Research Fellows Retreat in April 2015 by Chelsea Rochman, one of the scientists that I featured in Plastic, Ahoy! Investigating the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. She thought her colleagues might be interested in learning more about communicating their research to children.

 

I conducted a day-long writing workshop, and somewhere in the middle, marine biologist Brent Hughes and his mentor Lilian Carswell (the Southern Sea Otter Recovery Coordinator with US Fish and Wildlife) approached me to see if I would be interested in writing about Brent’s sea otter discovery. He explained to me that he’d discovered a trophic cascade in which sea otters, the apex predator in an estuary off Monterey Bay, restored the natural food chain and healed the ecosystem so it could perform functions that benefit us. The more I spoke with Brent and Lilian, the more I liked the idea. Everyone thinks sea otters are adorable, and every kid knows about food chains, but Brent had found an amazing twist that most kids wouldn’t know about.

 

You seem drawn to eco-friendly topics. Is that something that you are passionate about? 

Yes, without a doubt. We have only one planet. It sustains us in so many ways. The ocean produces nearly 75% of our oxygen, it feeds us, and it entertains us. In a world where concrete is king, I think kids (and adults) benefit from getting closer to nature. In the current political climate, I want to persuade kids to love nature before they are corrupted by “alternative facts.” Caring is key because we protect what we love.

 

Tell us a little about how you do your research. How much time do you spend? What type of sources do you look for?

Nonfiction requires digging, and like my colleagues I dig through scientific journals, online sources, books, magazines, and newspapers. I also interview scientists conducting amazing research, and if I’m lucky I take a field trip to visit their labs. For Sea Otter Heroes, I spent a day on Brent’s research boat enjoying the sun on my face and the crisp ocean breeze, watching pelicans dive and sea otters crack open crabs with a rock. There are definitely worse jobs!

 

Why is back matter useful for readers?

As a researcher, I love back matter because it contains all sorts of gems. But for kids, I hope it extends the reading experience. When a novel or a fictional series ends, we have to say good-bye to beloved characters, but nonfiction science back matter lays more research, more videos, and more books within a child’s reach and encourages continued inquiry—the basis of all science.

 

Anything that you are working on that you would care to share? Other books that we can look for from you soon?

Photographer Annie Crawley (from Plastic, Ahoy!) and I team up again for Zoo Scientists to the Rescue (Millbrook Press, Fall 2017). We had a great time with this book, traveling to three different zoos, getting up close and personal with the animals, and fighting a fierce Colorado blizzard. The book features three endangered species—orangutans, black-footed ferrets, and black rhinos—and shows how zoos protect them and their wild habitats. Annie and I are excited to introduce our readers to the three scientists that we interviewed. The two women and one man are amazing role models for kids.

For fall 2018, think elephants.

 

Do you do school and/or Skype visits? Why do you think these are helpful to students?

I visit schools in person or virtually every year. Author visits motivate kids to apply themselves to reading and writing. We introduce them to a variety of literature—some of which is bound to pique their interest. Authors also show kids what real revision looks like and that writing takes perseverance. I tell students that writing is the hardest job I’ve ever had, but even in the face of rejection I refuse to give up on myself. What child who shares a piece of writing with me or asks about writer’s block or struggles to put ideas on paper wouldn’t benefit from believing in him/herself?

If you want to learn more about Patricia’s books or just drop her a line, you can find her on Twitter @PatriciaNewman  or visit her website at http://www.patriciamnewman.com/  to check out some of her other amazing science books:  

 

 

 

 

It’s Time for a Giveaway!!    Patricia’s publisher, Millbrook Press/Lerner, has generously donated a copy of her Sea Otter Heroes book. For a chance to win, leave a comment below about your favorite animal!


Jennifer Swanson is an award-winning author of over 25+ science books for kids. Visit her at her favorite place to explore the world around her www.JenniferSwansonBooks.com

 

 

February New Releases

Looking for a good book to curl up with next to the fire? Check out these awesome new releases! We even have a few from our very own MUF members.

HUGE Congratulations to Dori Hillestad Butler and Kimberly Giffiths Little for their new book releases this month!

The Ghosts at the Movie Theater #9  by Dori Hillestad Butler (Grosset & Dunlap)

Kaz are Claire are on the case again–this time, they’re looking for Kaz’s long-lost uncle Their search takes them to a bakery and a movie theater. Along the way, they meet another kid ghost detective. Will Kaz and Claire be able to figure out what’s going on?


 

Returned by Kimberley Griffiths Little (HarperCollins)

After tragedy strikes on the day they were to wed, Jayden must support Kadesh as he ascends the throne and becomes king of Sariba. But with the dark priestess Aliyah conspiring to control the crown, and the arrival of Horeb, Jayden’s former betrothed, Kadesh’s kingdom, as well as his status as king, is at stake.

Jayden knows that the time to be merciful has come and gone, and that some enemies can only be halted by death. Now she and Kadesh must prepare to fight not only for their love, but also for their kingdom.

 

Dragon Captives (The Unwanteds Quests) by Lisa McMann (Aladdin)


Ten years after Alex and Aaron Stowe brought peace to Quill and Artimé, their younger twin sisters journey beyond the islands in this first novel of a new sequel series to The Unwanteds, which Kirkus Reviews called “The Hunger Games meets Harry Potter.”

 

The Playbook: 52 Rules to Aim, Shoot, and Score in This Game Called Life
by Kwame Alexander (HMH BFYR)


You gotta know the rules to play the game. Ball is life. Take it to the hoop. Soar. What can we imagine for our lives? What if we were the star players, moving and grooving through the game of life? What if we had our own rules of the game to help us get what we want, what we aspire to, what will enrich our lives?

 

Hilo Book 3: The Great Big Boom Hardcover by Judd Winick (Random House BFYR)


Hilo may look like an ordinary kid, but he’s DEFINITELY not! When we last saw Hilo, DJ, and Gina, Gina had been sucked into a mysterious portal to who knows where! But friends don’t let friends disappear into NOWHERE! It’s up to D.J. and Hilo to follow her. Will there be danger? YES! Will there be amazing surprises? OF COURSE! Will Gina end up being the one to save them? DEFINITELY! The trio will have to battle bad guys and face disgusting food, an angry mom, powerful magic, and more! Will they survive . . . and make it back to Earth before the portal closes again?!

 

Avatar: The Last Airbender–North and South Part Two by Gene Luen Yang (Dark Horse Books)

After attempting to kidnap Katara and Sokka, Southerner Gilak leaves a haunting note for Hakoda: “Soon you will see the truth, chieftain”. The vow leaves everyone on edge–including Katara, who remains wary of the two tribes’ integration. As Northerner Malina announces a partnership with the company owned by Toph Beifong’s father, her own brother comes forward to defame her. Have Katara’s worst fears been confirmed?

 

Tornado Terror (I Survived True Stories #3): True Tornado Survival Stories and Amazing Facts from History and Today by Lauren Tarshis (Scholastic Press)

The Tri-State Tornado of 1925 was the deadliest tornado strike in American history, tearing through three states and killing 700 people. The Joplin Tornado of 2011 was a mile-wide monster that destroyed heart of a vibrant city. The true stories of these two events plus fascinating facts, profiles of tornado scientists and storm chasers create a unique and thrilling nonfiction read, by the author of the New York Times bestselling I Survived series.

 

The Heroes of Olympus, Book Two, The Son of Neptune: The Graphic Novel  by Rick Riordan (Disney Hyperion)

Percy is confused. When he awoke after his long sleep, he didn’t know much more than his name. His brain-fuzz is lingering, even after the wolf Lupa told him he is a demigod and trained him to fight. Somehow Percy manages to make it to the camp for half-bloods, despite the fact that he had to continually kill monsters that, annoyingly, would not stay dead. But the camp doesn’t ring any bells with him.

 

Survivors: The Gathering Darkness #3: by Erin Hunter  (Harper Collins)

Storm is determined to protect her Pack from any threat—but how can she protect it from her own Packmates? Some dog is sabotaging the Pack from within, and suspicion and distrust are tearing the dogs apart. If they don’t uncover the traitor soon, there will be nothing left for Storm to protect…

 

Saturdays at Sea (Tuesdays at the Castle) by Jessica Day George (Bloomsbury)

There is never a dull moment for Celie and her family in Castle Glower–even when they’re not in the Castle itself! After traveling to the seaside kingdom of Lilah’s betrothed prince, Lulath, Celie and her companions are busy training griffins, enjoying wedding festivities, and finishing construction of a grand ship built from parts of the Castle. But on their maiden voyage, the Ship steers them far off course into uncharted waters. Celie and Lilah hope that the Ship is taking them to the ancient island where unicorns once roamed, but as the journey grows longer and supplies run low, they are in trouble. Celie, Lilah, and Rolf know they must trust the Ship as they trust the Castle, but what if they never reach land again?

 

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl: Squirrel Meets World Hardcover by Shannon Hale (Marvel Press)

WHO RUNS THE WORLD? SQUIRRELS! Fourteen-year-old Doreen Green moved from sunny California to the suburbs of New Jersey. She must start at a new school, make new friends, and continue to hide her tail. Yep, Doreen has the powers of . . . a squirrel! After failing at several attempts to find her new BFF, Doreen feels lonely and trapped, liked a caged animal. Then one day Doreen uses her extraordinary powers to stop a group of troublemakers from causing mischief in the neighborhood, and her whole life changes. Everyone at school is talking about it! Doreen contemplates becoming a full-fledged Super Hero. And thus, Squirrel Girl is born! She saves cats from trees, keeps the sidewalks clean, and dissuades vandalism. All is well until a real-life Super Villain steps out of the shadows and declares Squirrel Girl his archenemy. Can Doreen balance being a teenager and a Super Hero? Or will she go . . . NUTS?

Winner of the WHO WINS? book

Congratulations to Traci B.!!  You are the winner of the free copy of

Workman Publishing’s  book

 

Many thanks to all who commented. Nonfiction ROCKS!!