The Picture Book Buzz - April Interview with STEAMTeam Books Members
Today I have the pleasure to introduce you to three authors from the STEAM Team Books – a group of authors who joined together to celebrate and help promote their STEAM books. I promise, it's not too long a post. I do hope you enjoy this peek at these delightful books and fascinating creatives.
"STEAM Team Books is a group of authors who have a STEM/STEAM book releasing in 2022. It includes fiction & nonfiction, trade or educational books.”
Tell us a little about yourself. (Where/when do you write? How long have you been writing? What is your favorite type of book to write? What drew you to STEAM books?...)
Laura Chamberlain Gehl –– Who Dug This Hole? (Abrams 4/5/22) - I write board books, picture books, and early readers, both fiction and nonfiction. Picking a favorite type of book to write would be like picking a favorite one of my four kids—I love writing different kinds of books for different reasons. I also like working on both fiction and nonfiction at the same time, because when one project starts getting frustrating, I can hop over to another one. For example, if I can’t think of the perfect ending for a fiction picture book, I can switch to doing research for a nonfiction picture book. Definitely beats staring into space for hours on end!
I’ve always loved both writing and science. In third grade, I thought I was going to be a chemist, and I tried to memorize the periodic table…but I also worked on my first picture book. Flash forward almost twenty years, and I wrote my first published picture book, One Big Pair of Underwear, while working in a neurobiology lab. Many of my books have STEAM themes—not just my nonfiction books, but my fiction books as well.
[Author of 9 Board Books, including Brilliant Baby Fights Germs(2021) and Brilliant Baby Explores Science (2021), Brilliant Baby Plays Music (2021), Brilliant Baby Does Math (2021), Baby Paleontologist (2020), Baby Botanist (2020), Baby Oceanographer (2019), & Baby Astronaut (2019). 20 Picture Books, including The Hiking Viking (2022), Apple & Magnolia (2022) Who Is A Scientist? (2021), The Ninja Club Sleepover (2020), May Saves the Day (2020), Happy Llamakkah (2020), Juniper Kai: Super Spy (2019), Always Looking Up: Nancy Grace Roman, Astronomer (She Made History) (2019) and 2 early readers Goat Wants to Eat (July 2021) and Cat Has a Plan (2020).]
Carla Mooney – Climate in Crisis: Changing Coastlines, Severe Storms, and Damaging Drought (Nomad Press 4/15/22) – Hello! I write on a wide-range of nonfiction topics, from science to history to current events. I’ve been writing for more than ten years. I’m actually a former certified public accountant. In that job, I started writing business plans for a lot of science and technology startup companies. Through that work, I learned to take complicated topics and write about them in a way that non-scientific readers could understand. It’s a skill that has be very useful when writing STEAM books for kids! After I “retired” from accounting, I took a few online writing classes and joined my local SCBWI chapter. I experimented with different types of writing – fiction, magazine articles, newspaper articles, and nonfiction. I discovered that I really love researching and writing nonfiction.
[Author of about 100 books, including The Physics of Fun (2021), The Chemistry of Food (Inquire & Investigate) (2021), The Human Genome: Mapping the Blueprint of Human Life (Inquire & Investigate)(2020), Cutting Edge Careers in Engineering (Cutting Edge STEM Careers) (2020), How Can Gun Violence Be Stopped? (Issues Today) (2020), Big Data: Information in the Digital World with Science Activities for Kids (Build It Yourself)(2018), Industrial Design: Why Smartphones Aren't Round and Other Mysteries with Science Activities for Kids (Build It Yourself) (2018), The Holocaust: Racism and Genocide in World War II (Inquire and Investigate) (2017), Chemistry: Investigate the Matter that Makes Up Your World (Inquire and Investigate)(2016), Rocketry: Investigate the Science and Technology of Rockets and Ballistics (Build It Yourself) (2014), Forensics: Uncover the Science and Technology of Crime Scene Investigation (Inquire and Investigate)(2013), and Genetics: Breaking the Code of Your DNA (Inquire and Investigate) (2014).]
Karen Jameson – Where the Wee Ones Go (Chronicle 4/26/22)- I write lyrical picture books, mostly about nature and animals. My first books were bedtime books. Coming up, I have some nonfiction picture books in the queue.
Becoming an author has been a lifelong dream. As an elementary teacher and mom of three, I was enamored with picture books and aspired to create one of my own. I dabbled it in here and there, but didn’t seriously start writing until a friend encouraged me to join the SCBWI in 2012. Many writing classes and conferences later, I’m published and having the time of my life dreaming up books for kids, especially my two little grands!
[Author of 5 books, including Where the Wee Ones Go (Chronicle, 2022) Time to Shine (Groundwood, 2022) Farm Lullaby (Chronicle, 2021), Woodland Dreams (Chronicle, 2020), and Moon Babies (Putnam, 2019).]
What is something no one (or few) knows about you?
Laura Chamberlain Gehl – I hated watermelon for the first thirty years of my life. Now I adore it!
Carla Mooney – I hated my high school physics class, which led me to major in business and accounting in college!
Karen Jameson – I am hopeless when it comes to reading maps and have a terrible sense of direction. Thank goodness for GPS!
Now that we know a little more about all of you, what inspired you to write your book?
Laura Chamberlain Gehl –– Who Dug This Hole? (4/5/22) – This book was inspired by seeing mysterious holes in the ground and trees while hiking. I wondered…what type of animal made those holes?
Carla Mooney – Climate in Crisis: Changing Coastlines, Severe Storms, and Damaging Drought (4/15/22) – Climate change is a topic that is front and center in today’s headlines. I found it fascinating and scary at the same time to learn more about how and why climate change is affecting people today and how it may progress in near future. Learning the science behind these changes and how they are already affecting communities today, it makes the problem much more real. And I hope it inspires more readers to make an effort in their own lives to reduce damage to our Earth.
Karen Jameson – Where the Wee Ones Go (4/26/22) – Our critique group was catching up one day, when a member mentioned having been to an endangered animal exhibit at an aquarium. As she shared the experience, my story antennae went up. What a great idea for a children’s book! I’d been looking for a theme for my next bedtime book and jumped on it, expanding it to include land & sea animals around the globe.
Who was a favorite/special author, illustrator, and/or your favorite book as a child?
Laura Chamberlain Gehl – I absolutely loved Richard Scarry’s books, and also the Frances books by Russell and Lillian Hoban—especially A Birthday for Frances!
Carla Mooney – I have so many! Growing up, I went to the library almost every Thursday night (while my mother took my grandmother to have her hair done on the same block). I loved mysteries – I think I read almost every Agatha Christie book they had! I also loved the Anne of Green Gables and Emily of New Moon series by Lucy Maud Montgomery.
Karen Jameson – I loved Little Women and Little House on the Prairie, as I was especially fascinated with historical fiction. Plus, being the only girl in a family with two brothers, I craved stories about sisters.
Those are all such great books! Is there anything special you want your readers to know about your book ?
Text © Laura Chamberlain Gehl, 2022. Image © Loris Lora, 2022.
Laura Chamberlain Gehl –– Who Dug This Hole? (4/5/22) – This is my first lift-the-flap book, and the flaps are really big and fun to lift. I hope kids will have a blast lifting the flaps to see which animal made each hole. I also hope young readers will be surprised by the variety of different animals who make holes…even fish!
Text © Carla Mooney, 2022. Image © Traci Van Wagoner, 2022.
Carla Mooney – Climate in Crisis: Changing Coastlines, Severe Storms, and Damaging Drought (4/15/22) – I hope that this book will help readers understand a little better what is happening to the weather and climate around them and will inspire them to make changes in their own lives to protect the earth and its inhabitants.
Text © Karen Jameson, 2022. Image © Zosienka, 2022.
Karen Jameson – Where the Wee Ones Go (4/26/22) – I want readers to know that animal mamas love, protect, and care for their babies just like human mamas! They also love to sleep! Making personal connections with endangered animal babies is important for fostering awareness and future conservation efforts.
So, what was the hardest, or most challenging, part of writing, or researching, your book?
Laura Chamberlain Gehl –– Who Dug This Hole? (4/5/22) – For this book, the hardest part was narrowing down which animals to include. There are sooooo many animals that make holes, and I wanted to include them all!
Carla Mooney – Climate in Crisis: Changing Coastlines, Severe Storms, and Damaging Drought (4/15/22) – When I was in the process of researching and writing this book, it seemed like there was a new story about the impact on climate change in the news every day. It definitely reinforced the timeliness of this topic. But it also made it difficult to choose what stories made it into the book and what had to be cut!
Karen Jameson – Where the Wee Ones Go (4/26/22) – At the beginning of the project, I was asked to provide some endangered animal photos as a jumping off point for the illustrator. Since some of these animals are very rare, there aren’t a lot of photos available. Trying to find photos of them in sleeping positions (with their babies) was even harder. The Chinese alligator proved to be the most evasive. I even went to the Santa Barbara Zoo to see their Chinese alligator up close! But, that alligator didn’t have babies, so the search continued. Our wonderful illustrator, Zosienka, also did her own research. Then, everything was fact checked. So you see, it really does take a team.
How are you staying creative? What things are you doing to “prime” the well?
Laura Chamberlain Gehl – I’ve been doing a lot of brainstorming recently. Brainstorming titles, character ideas, nonfiction topics, fun words to include in a book one day, etc. Brainstorming is something I can do even when I don’t have the mental energy to actually write something new.
Carla Mooney – My in-laws gave me a subscription to a book club for my last birthday. I get two random mystery/horror/suspense books each month in the mail. I love it! I’ve been discovering new authors and really enjoying reading for fun!
Karen Jameson – I love to take nature walks and simply listen and observe the world around me. I get all kinds of ideas that way! We have local trails, but the beach is my happy place. It’s just a one hour drive from our house, but feels like a vacation every time I go.
I love all the different activities that spark inspiration. Are there any upcoming projects that you are working on now that you can share a tidbit with us?
Laura Chamberlain Gehl – I’m currently revising my first-ever middle grade book, CLIMATE WARRIORS, which will be out next year in time for Earth Day. I’m excited for kids to meet the fourteen scientists in the book, each attacking the problem of climate change from a different angle.
Carla Mooney – I’m working on a biography of a world leader who is making a lot of headlines these days. That’s about all I can say on that project right now!
Karen Jameson –Suffice it to say, that all my beach trips have resulted in some ocean themed stories! Stay tuned!
Exciting! I can't wait to see what's next for you all. If you could meet anyone (real or literary), who would that be?
Laura Chamberlain Gehl – I’d love to enter Susan Cooper’s world from The Dark is Rising and meet Merriman Lyon. Or chat with L.M. Montgomery’s Anne Shirley when she was my age, comparing notes about our writing and our kids.
Carla Mooney – Wow, that’s hard to narrow down. I’m going to say George Washington. I wrote a book about him years ago with Nomad Press and found him fascinating. I would love the chance to sit down with him and talk about his journey and the choices he made throughout his life.
Karen Jameson – Great question! It’s difficult to choose just one, but I’m absolutely drawn to author, James Herriot. His All Creature’s Great and Small series is a classic and I would’ve loved to meet him and swap stories.
Last questoin, what is your favorite National Park or Forest, regional park, or city park? Or the one you’re longing to visit. Why?
Laura Chamberlain Gehl – Rock Creek Park is my local park, where I walk several times per week. Right now, the forest is transitioning from winter to spring, and it’s so fun to hear the frogs peeping and see the forest floor turning from brown to green (with pops of purple and white and yellow from tiny flowers).
Carla Mooney – I would love to visit the Grand Canyon one day. I’ve never been there and it’s definitely on my bucket list!
Karen Jameson – Yosemite has a special place in my heart! We’ve been there as a family over the years, and its majestic beauty never ceases to awe and inspire.
NOW, let me take a moment to introduce you to these amazing STEAM books!
Synopsis: Lift the flaps on every page of this board book to learn about seven animal species and their habitats!
In this innovative nonfiction board book, young readers will see a hole in different environments on each spread. Lift the flaps to discover which animal dug, burrowed, or pecked the hole—and learn a simple fact about each species. Featured creatures include ants, woodpeckers, fish, gophers, skunks, tortoises, polar bears, and kids on a sandy beach!
Exploring gardens, forest, deserts, and more, this is a terrific way to spark interest and encourage kids to look around them to see who dug, scooped, or pecked a hole. When you lift the flap you not only learn who made the hole but why they did so. Bright illustrations and an unexpected ending make this a really fun board book.
Synopsis: A close, personal examination of climate science for ages 12 to 15. Read true stories of how climate change has affected people’s lives and learn the science behind the new reality we witness every day.
Does your region get stronger storms and more extreme weather than it used to? Do you have to take steps to conserve water because of drought? Is there more flooding in your area than there used to be? These could all be symptoms of Earth’s climate crisis.
In Climate in Crisis: Changing Coastlines, Severe Storms, and Damaging Drought, readers 12 to 15 discover how climate change is affecting the human population—from extreme weather and rising coastlines to new migration patterns and disease—through real-life stories and a deep examination of the science driving the phenomenon. Climate change is an enormous topic, but through real-life examples of how climate change affects humans directly, readers can find a relatable foothold from which to explore the dependent relationship between the Earth, the climate, and all living creatures, including humans. As kids gain a deeper understanding of our ultimate connection to everything on and around our planet, they are also encouraged to think of innovative ways to help curb climate change, which has been called humanity’s greatest challenge.
Throughout Climate in Crisis, hands-on STEM activities, entertaining illustrations, essential questions, and fascinating sidebars illuminate the topic and engage readers further. In addition, Climate in Crisis integrates a digital learning component by providing links to primary sources, videos, and other relevant websites.
Using a conversational voice, comics, "climate clues" snippets, and fascinating real-life examples of people suffering from and fighting to fix the extreme storms, fires, droughts, and diseases caused by climate change around the world, this book ingeniously captivates the reader. Expanding upon definitions of primary sources and the scientific method, it provides QR codes to actual events and videos and fun STEM experiments. It's a highly interactive, sobering, and yet hopeful book encouraging readers to explore and imagine ways to rescue both the planet and humanity.
Synopsis: Where do endangered animals go to sleep's Immerse yourself in the lush beauty of this bedtime picture book and find out. From the Pacific Ocean to China's mountains, the Australian outback, and beyond, each baby animal has a warm, safe place to fall asleep.
When stars are out and the moon's above,
where do the wee ones go, my love?
Where do the wee ones go?
With a variety of baby endangered animals and their mamas gracing each gorgeous spread, readers will be transfixed by richly-illustrated scenes that span the globe and capture each creature's unique habitat. Snuggle close like a sweet panda, curl up like a cozy koala, and drift off like a drowsy elephant, letting the sweeping environments and soothing bedtime rituals of this gentle animal lullaby lull even the most restless little dreamers into a deep and peaceful sleep.
A wonderful book of baby animals snuggling through the night with their parents. It expands beyond the more usual animals to include alligators, rhinos, hippos, jaguars, & condors. Deeply-colored illustrations feature stunning sunsets and a wide variety of habitats, while the gentle rhyme seamlessly weaves in the name of the country, state, or waterway. Making this not just a perfect book bedtime, but a fun way for young kids to learn about animals around the world.
Thank you Laura, Carla, & Karen for giving us a little peek into yourselves and your books. Wishing you all great success.
To learn more about these writers, or to contact them:
Laura Chamberlain Gehl –– Who Dug This Hole? (Abrams 4/5/22) –
Carla Mooney – Climate in Crisis: Changing Coastlines, Severe Storms, and Damaging Drought (Nomad Press 4/15/22) –
Karen Jameson – Where the Wee Ones Go (Chronicle 4/26/22) –