Tag Archives: nonfiction

Happy Earth Day! Green Earth Book Award Winners Announced

Happy Earth Day!

My father was the organizer of our town’s Earth Day celebration the first year it was held in 1970, so it holds a very dear place in my heart. I was smack dab in the middle, too, at 10 years old. With that in mind, here is a news release from The Nature Generation. I wish these books had been available for 10-year-old me:

April 22, 2016 — The Nature Generation, a nonprofit that inspires environmental stewardship, announced today the national 2016 Green Earth Book Award winners. The literature award is recognition of authors and illustrators whose books best inspire young readers to care for the environment.  Second graders from Culbert Elementary School helped unveil the winners during a nature field trip at the Chapman DeMary Trail in Purcellville, Va.

 “This year’s Green Earth Book Award winners are particularly poignant, introducing young readers to the vulnerabilities of humanity in terms of our connection to the natural world.  In these winning books, the adversity and  the struggles to make sense out of life lead to hope and beauty and lay the foundation for stories that inspire us to greatness. They will motivate young readers to view their relationship with nature differently, and to become future stewards of the natural world we live in,” said lead review panelist Dr. Ernie Bond, professor at Salisbury University and leading specialist in children’s and young adult literature.

 Picture Book

The Stranded Whale, written by Jane Yolen and illustrated by Melanie Cataldo (Candlewick Press)


Honor winners:

Crane Boy, written by Diana Cohn and  illustrated by Youme (Cinco Puntos Press)

The Seeds of Friendship,  written and illustrated by Michael Foreman (Candlewick Press)

Young Adult Fiction

The Beast of Cretacea, written by Todd Strasser (Candlewick Press)


Children’s Fiction

The Thing About Jellyfish, written by Ali Benjamin (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)


Honor winners:

Sydney & Simon Go Green!, written by Paul A. Reynolds and illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds (Charlesbridge)

The Order of the Trees, by Katy Farber (Green Writers Press)

Children’s Nonfiction

Mission: Sea Turtle Rescue, written by Karen Romano Young and Daniel Raven-Ellison (National Geographic Society)


Honor winners:

One Plastic Bag: Isatou Ceesay and the Recycling Women of the Gambia, written by Miranda Paul and illustrated by Elizabeth Zunon (Millbrook Press)

Untamed: The Wild Life of Jane Goodall, written by Anita Silvey (National Geographic Society)


April New Releases

Happy April! While today may be the day to play tricks, these books on this list are the REAL DEAL!
I’m thrilled to announce some amazing titles that are being released this month including two from our very own Mixed-Up Files Members:

Hillary Homzie and Tricia Springstubb!!


 The Queen of Likes by Hillary Homzie (Aladdin)

A tween social media queen is forced to give up her phone and learn that there’s more to life than likes in this M X novel from the author of “The Hot List.”
Karma Cooper is a seventh grader with thousands of followers on SnappyPic. Before Karma became a social media celebrity, she wasn t part of the in-crowd at Merton Middle School. But thanks to one serendipitous photo, Karma has become a very popular poster on SnappyPic. Besides keeping up with all of her followers, like most kids at MMS, her smartphone a bejeweled pink number Karma nicknamed Floyd is like a body part she could never live without.
But after breaking some basic phone rules, Karma’s cruel, cruel parents take Floyd away, and for Karma, her world comes to a screeching halt. Can Karma who can text, post photos, play soccer, and chew gum all at the same time learn to go cold turkey and live her life fully unplugged?


cody 2 cover Cody and the Mysteries of the Universe by Tricia Springstubb  (Candlewick)

Not everything turns out to be as it first appears when Cody and her best friend, Spencer, navigate a neighborhood mystery and the start of a new school year.
Cody’s best friend, Spencer, and his parents are moving in with his grandmother right around the corner, and Cody can t wait. For one thing, Cody needs Spencer to help solve the mystery of the never-seen Mr. Meen, who lives on the other side of the porch with a skull-and-crossbones sign in the window and an extermination truck out front. How’s Cody to know that a yellow jacket would sting her, making her scream “Ow Ow ” just as they start spying? Or that the ominous window sign would change overnight to “Welcome home,” only deepening the mystery? In this second adventure, Spencer’s new-school jitters, an unexpected bonding with a teacher over Mozart, and turf-claiming kids next door with a reason for acting out are all part of Cody’s experiences as summer shifts into a new year at school.

CONGRATULATIONS Tricia and Hillary!!!

Keep going for some more fantastic books releasing this month:

Demigods & Magicians: Percy and Annabeth Meet the Kanes by Rick Riordan (Disney-Hyperion) Magic, monsters, and mayhem abound when Percy Jackson and Annabeth Chase meet Carter and Sadie Kane for the first time. Weird creatures are appearing in unexpected places, and the demigods and magicians have to team up to take them down. As they battle with Celestial Bronze and glowing hieroglyphs, the four heroes find that they have a lot in common–and more power than they ever thought possible. But will their combined forces be enough to foil an ancient enemy who is mixing Greek and Egyptian incantations for an evil purpose? Rick Riordan wields his usual storytelling magic in this adrenaline-fueled adventure.

Scar: A Revolutionary War Tale  by Jennifer Ann Mann (Candlewick) Sixteen-year-old Noah Daniels wants nothing more than to fight in George Washington’s Continental Army, but an accident as a child left him maimed and unable to enlist. He is forced to watch the Revolution from his family’s hard scrabble farm in Upstate New York—until a violent raid on his settlement thrusts him into one of the bloodiest battles of the American Revolution, and ultimately, face to face with the enemy. A riveting coming of age story, this book also includes an author’s note and bibliography.


The Pet and the Pendulum (The Misadventures of Edgar & Allan Poe) by Gordon McAlpine (Viking BFYR) In The Tell-Tale Start, twins Edgar and Allan Poe foiled the nefarious Professor Perry, who wanted to use them in his deadly quantum entanglement experiment. In Once Upon a Midnight Eerie, they took on his equally evil mother and daughter. Now, in The Pet and the Pendulum, it’s time for the real showdown, which takes place in an old mansion right outside Baltimore. As with the first two books, The Pet and the Pendulum is filled with codes, brain-teasers, smart (not snarky) humor, and cameos by the actual Edgar Allan Poe, who is watching over his great-great-great-nephews from the Great Beyond. Readers won’t want to miss the Misaventures’ end.



Evil Spy School  by Stuart Gibbs (Simon &Schuster BFYR) When Ben gets kicked out of the CIA’s spy school, he enrolls with the enemy. From “New York Times “bestselling author, Stuart Gibbs, this companion to the Edgar Award nominated “Spy School “and “Spy Camp “is rife with action, adventure, and espionage.



Red: The True Story of Red Riding Hood By Liesl Shurtliff (Alfred A Knopf BFYR) “Red” is the most wonder-filled fairy tale of them all Chris Grabenstein, “New York Times” Bestselling author of “Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library.”
Red is not afraid of the big bad wolf.She’s not afraid of anything . . . except magic.
But when Red’s granny falls ill, it seems that only magic can save her, and fearless Red is forced to confront her one weakness.
With the help of a blond, porridge-sampling nuisance called Goldie, Red goes on a quest to cure Granny. Her journey takes her through dwarves caverns to a haunted well and a beast’s castle. All the while, Red and Goldie are followed by a wolf and a huntsman two mortal enemies who seek the girls help to defeat each other. And one of them just might have the magical solution Red is looking for. . .


War Dogs: Churchill and Rufus By Kathryn Selbert (Charlesbridge) Winston Churchill, the prime minister of England during World War II, was one of the greatest wartime leaders of the modern era. While he is often likened to the English bulldog due to his tenacious personality and even his physical resemblance to the breed, Mr. Churchill was actually a devoted poodle owner and held quite an affinity for his miniature poodle, Rufus, who withstood the trials of World War II by his owner’s side.
Readers follow Rufus and Winston’s friendship through major events in World War II from the bombings of London and the invasion of Normandy to post-war reconstruction. Secondary text includes quotes from Churchill himself taken from his rousing speeches to the people of England and to the world. Backmatter includes a timeline of World War II, an author’s note about Churchill’s pets, as well as a short biography, quote sources, and a list of recommended resources for further study.

This or That 4:Even More Wacky Choices to Reveal the Hidden You By Michelle Harris; Julie Beer (National Geographic Kids) Would you rather choose THIS: Join a Viking festrival, or THAT: Join a voodoo festival? Welcome to This or That?, a wacky book of choices where every answer brings you one step closer to discovering the hidden YOU. This fourth all-new book in the series features 10 awesome categories: outer space, amazing animals, festivals from around the world, amazing inventions, music, silly stats, and more Discover amazing stuff about the real-world and yourself, with fun facts about every option and insights about what your answers mean from the hilarious Dr. Matt Bellace at the end of every chapter.

Write Your Own Book by  DK (DK Publishing) Tell your own story with this unique book filled with creative writing prompts and activities. Young writers can build their skills, develop their confidence, and learn how to write a book in this unique format filled with creative writing ideas and exercises.


Do Fish Fart?Answers to Kids’ Questions about Lakes By Keltie Thomas (Firefly Books) This intriguing collection of questions and answers about our lakes and freshwater systems will fascinate, amaze and inform young readers and anyone who is curious about this world of water. The book answers questions submitted by youngsters curious about water and life in a watershed.


Author Nancy Castaldo Talks about her New Nonfiction Book and a Giveaway!

Today I am so excited to be interviewing

Author Nancy Castaldo



about her awesome new STEM book:

Although it has only been out a few weeks, Nancy’s book has garnered some FANTASTIC reviews:

* “A terrific, engrossing resource.”
—Booklist, STARRED review

“An impassioned call to action…”
—School Library Journal

“Castaldo delivers a sobering global status report—and a call to action…Well-crafted and inspiring.”

“Castaldo breaks down threats like climate change and disease, while providing a greater sense of interconnectivity in nature and within world communities.”
—Publishers Weekly
Congratulations on the success of your new book, The Story of Seeds: From Mendel’s Garden to Your Plate, and How There’s More of Less to Eat Around the World (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016).  The book looks fantastic! I can’t wait to read my copy.


How did you come up with this idea?

Thank you! There wasn’t one spark that fueled the idea for this book – there were many! My daughter was working at a local farm store and completing her Girl Scout Gold Award project. She had come up with a 30-mile diet in which you ate food produced or grown within 30 miles of your home. It was eye-opening to realize the benefits of this for both the health of the environment, the local economy, and us!  It brought food front and center at our house. As an environmental educator I was well informed about issues of the environment – including loss of habitat and endangered species, but I began to learn about endangered seeds, endangered crops, and the crisis we’re facing. Soon it seemed that everywhere I turned there were issues with our agriculture and native plants — from war-torn Iraq to the fields in Iowa.  What’s the best way to get the word out? A book, of course!


What kind of research did you have to do for this book?

The research for THE STORY OF SEEDS took me to California, the Hudson Valley, and all the way to Russia in the middle of winter.  I tasted heirloom watermelon, discovered jeweled-colored corn, visited seed banks that store our future food, and celebrated biodiversity in our fields, farms, and tables. I met the most dedicated seed scientists and activists along the way!


Was it hard to get a publisher interested in this idea?

I am so lucky to have an editor who championed this book along its path. Without her it might not have happened.


When did you start writing? What drew you to nonfiction?  

I have been writing since I was a kid. My first published piece was a poem in Seventeen magazine. I was 16!  Before I was writing books, I was writing magazine articles for a variety of publications – from the Sierra Club Wastepaper to Family Fun. During those days, I was also a contributing editor for Berkshire Magazine. It was great fun to explore topics and stories and share them in this form. Books followed.


Why books about science?

I write mostly about science because I am an environmental educator and my undergrad work was in biology and chemistry. I love being outside and learning about the world around me. Sharing it through writing is the icing on top!


What part of science to you like the best?

I enjoy writing most about how we (humans) interact with our environment.


You’ve been writing for a few years, can you share some of the different books that you’ve written. Any favorites among them?

My first book was published in 1995, so it has been a few years! I have written activity books that explored various ecosystems, a historical fiction picture book about pizza, a National Geographic title about polar bears, and a middle grade titled, SNIFFER DOGS: HOW DOGS (and THEIR NOSES) SAVE THE WORLD.  It’s impossible to pick a favorite. I will admit, though,  that I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of writing and photographing SNIFFER DOGS. It does hold a special place in my heart, as do the dogs and handlers I met along the way.


Is there a particular age range that you enjoy writing?

I have written for the very young set to young adult readers. I enjoy it all. Every story dictates how it will be told. Some are meant to have young readers and some older readers. It really depends on the story.


In your school visits, what do you talk about? Do you get the kids interested in science and the environment?  

I love taking to students about research. It’s the lifeblood of nonfiction and the part I love the best. Learning how to conduct research is a life skill that they will be able to use in every aspect of their life.  The environment is awe-inspiring. Through tales of research both in and out of the field I strive to inspire kids to explore the world around them. My goal is to empower them to make a difference wherever they live.


Any upcoming books or projects that you are currently working on that you can share with us?

I’ve had a blast working on my upcoming BEASTLY BRAINS. It’s all about animal intelligence and is due out early in 2017. I’m currently at work researching the next book for middle grade readers. Let’s just say that I’ll be doing a lot of traveling in the coming year to meet some rare creatures.

Cover Reveal!!


Anything you’d like to add?

With the amount of research I need to conduct for my books my school visits are limited these days. Teachers should contact me as early as they can to book a visit. When I am not available to visit a school in person, there is always Skype!  I love meeting students and chatting about science and research any time I can!

Thanks for hosting me!

My pleasure, Nancy. I love to see the success of great middle-grade STEM books!

To learn more about Nancy,  go to her website at NancyCastaldo.com

For all you teachers and librarians out there, be sure to check out the

THE STORY OF SEEDS curriculum guide.
You can find it here:


Nancy has generously offered to giveaway an autographed copy of her book. Leave a comment below to be entered.  If your comment has something to do with seeds or planting you get a double entry!



Jennifer Swanson is the author of over 25 books for children. Her titles focus mostly on STEM/STEAM topics. You can find more information about her at www.JenniferSwansonBooks.com