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The Picture Book Buzz

The Picture Book Buzz - Interview with April STEAM Team Authors Part 1

Because there are ten authors and eleven books releasing in April from Steam Team Books members, I've divided April into two posts. In part one, I have the pleasure to introduce you to five authors from STEAM Team Books – a group of authors who joined together to celebrate and help promote their STEAM books. I hope you forgive the length; I promise it's worth it. Please enjoy this peek at these delightful books and their fascinating creatives.


"STEAM Team Books is a group of authors who have a STEM/STEAM book releasing in 2023. It includes fiction & nonfiction, trade or educational books.”


Welcome Laura, Lisa, Nora, Laurie, & Nancy,


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 GehlClimate Warriors Fourteen Scientists and Fourteen Ways We Can Save Our Planet (Millbrook/Lerner 4/4/2023) - 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). And 21 Picture Books, including Who Dug This Hole? (Abrams 4/5/22) 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).]

Lisa Varchol Perron – Patterns Everywhere (Millbrook/Lerner 4/4/2023) – I write most days of the week at my dining room table, but I’m often squeezing in edits while waiting in the car to pick up my kids from various activities. I’ve been writing poetry for most of my life but not with an eye toward submitting or getting published. I started my first middle grade novel about four years ago, and then I began writing picture books and children’s poetry. Patterns Everywhere was one of my first completed manuscripts. I really like switching back and forth between writing poems, picture books, and novels. As you might guess from my upcoming books, I especially enjoy writing in rhyme. And several of my upcoming books are STEAM nonfiction because I like following my curiosity when writing.


[Debut Author]

Nora Nickum – Superpod: Saving the Endangered Orcas of the Pacific Northwest (Chicago Review Press 4/11/2023) - I’ve always loved writing, but I started working on writing books for kids—both fiction and nonfiction—about four years ago. I also work full time at the Seattle Aquarium, leading ocean policy work. That means I speak up for government policies that will better protect ocean health, reduce plastic pollution, and help endangered species like the southern resident orcas. Because of that day job, my writing time tends to be in the very early mornings and on weekends. I’m particularly drawn to writing STEAM books because I love engaging kids’ curiosity about the amazing world around us and helping them tap into the power they have to make change. And sometimes my writing is inspired by visiting the animals at the aquarium–like the octopus, wolf eels, sea otters, and giant clam–and seeing how excited kids are to learn about them.


[Debut Author]

Laurie Ann Thompson – You Are A Honeybee! and You Are A Raccoon! (Dial Books/Penguin Kids 4/11/2023) – I write for toddlers through college students. I’ve published mostly nonfiction, but I also enjoy experimenting with different kinds of fiction. Like Laura, I find it helpful to always be working on at least one of each, so I can keep moving things forward no matter how I’m feeling on any given day. My degree is in applied mathematics and software engineering was my first career, so I think it’s only natural that I’m drawn to STEAM topics. I write about whatever interests me, though, and I’m curious about all kinds of things! I started writing when my kids were little and I was taking a break from full-time work to raise them. Those kids are off to college now, so I usually write in my home office while my dog snores quietly on the floor beside me.


[Author of Elizabeth Warren's Big, Bold Plans (2020), Two Truths and a Lie: Forces of Nature with Ammi-Joan Paquette (2019), Two Truths and a Lie: Histories and Mysteries with Ammi-Joan Paquette (2018), Two Truths and a Lie: It's Alive! with Ammi-Joan Paquette (2017), Emmanuel's Dream: The True Story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah (2015), My Dog Is the Best (2015), Be a Changemaker: How to Start Something That Matters (2014).]

Nancy Castaldo – The World That Feeds Us (Quarto 4/11/2023) – I’ve been writing books about our planet for over 20 years. I studied biology and chemistry in college and later in grad school, children’s literature. I consider myself as an environmental educator who writes. My goal is to inform, inspire, and empower my readers with each book. STEAM subjects allow me to share my passion and who I am -- a nerdy naturalist -- with readers.

[Author of – 25 books, including When the World Runs Dry: Earth’s Water in Crisis (2022), The Farm That Feeds Us (2020)The Story of Seeds (Jan. 2020), DK Life Stories: Ada Lovelace (2019), Back from the Brink: Saving Animals from Extinction (2018), Sniffer Dogs: How Dogs (and Their Noses) Save the World (2017), Beastly Brains: Exploring How Animals Think, Talk, and Feel (2017), School of Dragons #2: Greatest Inventions (DreamWorks Dragons) (2016), The Race Around the World (Totally True Adventures): How Nellie Bly Chased an Impossible Dream (2015), This or That? 3: Even More Wacky Choices to Reveal the Hidden You (National Geographic Kids) (2015), and National Geographic Kids Mission: Polar Bear Rescue: All About Polar Bears and How to Save Them (2014).]


You are all so tslented. What is the most fun or unusual place where you’ve written a manuscript?


Laura Chamberlain Gehl I’ve written pieces of manuscripts just about everywhere! I’ve written in cars, on trains and planes, at my kids’ sports practices, and in hospital waiting rooms. I wrote the first draft of one of my upcoming books at The Highlights Foundation, a wonderful retreat center for children’s book authors. And I remember finally solving a tricky plot problem for a different book while on vacation with a friend in Austin, Texas.


Lisa Varchol Perron – I work on manuscripts anywhere and everywhere. I’ve even revised some lines in my head while getting my teeth cleaned! But my favorite writing location is at my in-laws’ house in Vermont, looking out at the mountain.


Nora Nickum I like to write on the ferry. I have a 35-minute ferry commute, and that’s a good amount of time to make progress on drafting or revising a picture book, if I don’t have work I need to do. And sometimes I just sit and look out the window at the waves and gulls and seals and wait for inspiration to strike.


Laurie Ann Thompson – I had a deadline for one of the books in the Meet Your World series that I wasn’t quite able to wrap up before leaving for vacation to Kauai. While the rest of my group went scuba diving, I was able to put the finishing touches on my manuscript from the hotel room balcony overlooking the ocean. It was a fantastic office!


Nancy Castaldo – Much of my book research depends on travel so the places I write often move from my home office to libraries or outdoor locations. The Wolves and Moose of Isle Royale, which was published in August of 2022, was written mostly in Isle Royale National Park with the sound of Lake Superior lapping outside my window. I wrote portions of The Story of Seeds in St. Petersburg, Russia across the street from where Fyodor Dostoyevsky lived. With a notebook in hand writing can take place anywhere from a park, a beach, or a coffee shop. Writing happens everywhere.


Wow! Writing does happen everywhere. Now that we know a little more about all of you, what inspired each of you to write your book(s)?

Laura Chamberlain Gehl Climate Warriors Fourteen Scientists and Fourteen Ways We Can Save Our Planet (4/4/2023)A few years ago, I was working on a picture book called Who Is a Scientist?, which was intended to show preschool and elementary school students how many different subjects scientists study (as well as how many different types of people choose to be scientists, and that scientists have a lot of the same interests as kids, like pets, soccer, video games, and ice cream). While recruiting scientists to be a part of that book, I had the idea for Climate Warriors. It's for an older age of reader (approximately 8-14), and of course it focuses on climate change. But just like Who Is a Scientist?, Climate Warriors gives readers a peek into many branches of science—from economics to psychology to artificial intelligence to materials science to hydrology—and shows them that the scientists are real people with interests beyond science.

Lisa Varchol Perron – Patterns Everywhere 4/4/2023) – The idea sparked during a family hike, and I was further inspired by my husband’s scientific research (which includes wave ripples and the spacing of ridges and valleys). I’d read other books that explored a specific pattern in nature, but I kept thinking about the incredible variety and how I might approach the topic differently.


Nora Nickum – Superpod: Saving the Endangered Orcas of the Pacific Northwest (4/11/2023) - I’ve always loved the Southern Resident orcas. Some of my happiest and most vivid childhood memories are of watching them from shore with my family or my friends. And as I grew up and their population started to decline–because of things like not enough salmon and too much boat noise–I was lucky to find jobs in policy advocacy where I could take direct action to help them recover. Writing a book was a way for me to share some of what I think makes these whales so amazing and so like us (they make best friends and play, they recognize each other’s voices, they learn from their grandmothers, and more). I also wanted to share some of the innovative and fascinating things people are doing to study them and help them–and make sure kids know about all those career paths, from science to education to advocacy, as well as things they can do today to help endangered species.

Laurie Ann Thompson – You Are A Honeybee! (4/11/2023)- The idea for You Are a Honey Bee! was gifted to me by my agent, Ammi-Joan Paquette, but she originally got it from Kirsten Hall. Kirsten had seen this fantastic article in the New York Times called “You’re a Bee. This Is What It Feels Like.” by Joanna Klein (Dec 2, 2016), and she thought it would be great to do something similar for young readers. I agreed! I’m so grateful they both offered me the chance to bring this idea to life.


You Are A Raccoon! (4/11/2023) – Honey Bee went to auction and the winning offer was for a four-book deal, so I had to quickly decide which animals to cover for the other three books. As my own kids grew, I was often struck by how much information they could find about exotic animals, like penguins, or even long-extinct ones, like dinosaurs, but how relatively few resources they had to learn about the animals that are all around them every day. So, I knew I wanted to cover animals that were as ubiquitous as possible (at least in the United States), from other classes besides insects. Raccoons have a huge range and exist in the wilderness as well as in rural, suburban, and urban landscapes, so they seemed like the perfect choice. And it doesn’t hurt that they’re adorable!

Nancy Castaldo – The World That Feeds Us (4/11/2023) – The Farm that Feeds Us was released in 2020 and told the story of an organic farm throughout the year. I’ve had a wonderful time finally being able to share it with young readers in person. As I do, I’ve spoken more about worldwide sustainable farming. Those discussions with young readers and my editor led to The World That Feeds Us. I can’t wait to share the stories of so many more farms across the world that are producing healthy food while keeping our planet healthy too.


I love the varied ways that each of these books started. What do you like to do outdoors by yourself or with your family and friends?


Laura Chamberlain Gehl I love to walk anywhere, and to hike in the woods. I also enjoy biking, skiing, kayaking, and swimming in lakes.


Lisa Varchol Perron – I love going for walks in the woods with friends and coastal hikes with my husband and daughters. I’ve also done a lot of backpacking and camping. My most memorable backpacking trip was along the Kalalau Trail on the Nāpali Coast of Kauai.


Nora Nickum - Watching whales from shore is my all-time favorite outdoor activity, but since I can’t be sure if they’ll be in the area on any given day, I find plenty of other fun things to do. My first grader and I search for sea glass and shells, peer in tide pools, and–less fun, but necessary these days–pick up any plastics that have washed up on the beach.


Laurie Ann Thompson – I love hiking, camping, kayaking, and birdwatching. I’m a volunteer naturalist for my city, which means I get to remove invasive species, count fish (yes, really!), help guide canoe tours, and all kinds of other outdoor activities. It’s tons of fun! I also spend a lot of time just sitting on my patio and watching birds, squirrels, bugs, and whatever else happens to pass through my yard.


Nancy Castaldo – Outdoors is for hiking and enjoying nature, usually with my camera in hand. As a kid, I’d climb into our big willow tree with a book and read. I still believe you can’t beat a good book and a shining sun.


It's no wonder all of these books involve nature. Is there anything special you want your readers to know about your book(s)?


Laura Chamberlain GehlClimate Warriors Fourteen Scientists and Fourteen Ways We Can Save Our Planet (4/4/2023)I’m proud that this book is a hopeful, inspiring look at how scientists from so many different scientific disciplines are study climate change and working to find ways to slow it down. I hope it will help kids who are worrying a lot about climate change or suffering from climate anxiety. Also, Climate Warriors includes information for young readers about how they can be climate warriors themselves, including a template for writing letters to elected officials.


Lisa Varchol Perron – Patterns Everywhere 4/4/2023) – There is an educator guide available on my website! It’s free to download and use with students. https://lisaperronbooks.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/02/Patterns-Everywhere_Activity-Guide.pdf.


Nora Nickum – Superpod: Saving the Endangered Orcas of the Pacific Northwest (4/11/2023) - The 73 Southern Resident orcas all have names and unique saddlepatch patterns – that’s the white swoosh behind their tall dorsal fin – kind of like human fingerprints. In Superpod, readers will get to know some of those individual orcas, like Shachi, Onyx, Cookie, and Ruffles. And they’ll hear from scientists about the latest things they’re learning about these whales, using everything from scat-sniffing dogs to samples of whale breath collected in petri dishes on long poles. These whales are resilient and fascinating and the book is full of hope. And while this is a middle-grade book, I wrote it in a way that I hope will be engaging for teens and adults, too.


Laurie Ann Thompson – You Are A Honeybee! and You Are A Raccoon! (4/11/2023) – For both books, I really just want readers to understand how extraordinary nature is–even the parts of it that may seem ordinary to us. All of it is worthy of our study, as well as our respect and protection.


Nancy Castaldo – The World That Feeds Us (4/11/2023) – The World That Feeds Us is gorgeously illustrated by Ginnie Hsu. If you loved her illustrations in The Farm That Feeds Us, you’ll love these too! I hope readers will enjoy learning about where and how our food is produced in a way that protects our planet and us. In addition, I’ve included many ways that we can help support farmers with the choices we make each day.


I think these books will inspire lots of kids (and adults) to find ways to protect our world. What was the hardest, or most challenging, part of writing or researching your book? Was there a bit of your research you didn’t get to include?

Text © Laura Chamberlain Gehl, 2023.


Laura Chamberlain Gehl Climate Warriors Fourteen Scientists and Fourteen Ways We Can Save Our Planet (4/4/2023)The hardest part of writing this book was figuring out how much science to include. I wanted the book to be accessible to upper elementary students as well as middle school students, but I also wanted my young readers to really understand each scientist’s work, which meant including a lot of new vocabulary and difficult concepts. I was very happy when the first professional review included this sentence: “The book doesn’t overwhelm readers with specifics or too many statistics, and it does leave them with a sense that real, positive change is possible.” That’s exactly what I was going for!

Text © Lisa Varchol Perron, 2023.


Lisa Varchol Perron – Patterns Everywhere 4/4/2023) – One of the most challenging parts of the writing was deciding what needed to go in the main text and what could be saved for the sidebar. I ultimately decided that the rhyming stanzas would be an introduction to the pattern and would include strong verbs to make the text as active as possible (which can be tough in a list-style book). The sidebars became a way to give additional information about the formation of that pattern. My goal was to create a book that could be read in various ways each time: rhyming text only, rhyming text + sidebars, or sidebars only.

Text © Nora Nickum, 2023. Photo © Jill Hein, 2023.


Nora Nickum – Superpod: Saving the Endangered Orcas of the Pacific Northwest (4/11/2023) - It was hard for me to look through photos from the Washington state archives and write the chapter about the orca captures of the 1960s and 1970s, when dozens of these orcas were taken from the wild to put in marine parks. But as I learned that policy change put an end to those captures, it renewed my energy to keep doing the work I do today and to encourage young readers to speak up for change. Everyone can make a difference, and young voices are incredibly powerful. And I was glad to have lots of other joyful, fun things to share about these orcas to balance out the emotions in that chapter.

Text © Laurie Ann Thompson, 2023. Image © Jay Fleck, 2023.


Laurie Ann Thompson – You Are A Honeybee! (4/11/2023) I think the hardest part of Honey Bee was that there were so many kids’ books about bees already. I tried to make mine stand out by including specific details like where royal jelly and beeswax come from, in addition to the second-person point of view.

Text © Laurie Ann Thompson, 2023. Image © Jay Fleck, 2023.


You Are A Raccoon! (4/11/2023) – For Raccoon, there aren’t many books about them, for kids or for adults, so the research was much more difficult. I also had to contend with the fact that raccoons are so adaptable–a raccoon in the wilderness has very different behaviors from one living in a city! I chose to show a raccoon that is living as close as possible to how one would live in the wilderness, even though it might be benefiting somewhat from its proximity to humans.

Text © Nancy Castaldo, 2023. Image © Ginnie Hsu, 2023.


Nancy Castaldo – The World That Feeds Us (4/11/2023) – A picture book, even one with increased pages as this one, is still limited on space. There is so much of this story that is also told in my previous award-winning title The Story of Seeds for older readers and The Ultimate Food Atlas, co-authored with Christy Mihaly. All of these titles pair well together and provide a wide view of our global food security.


I'm glad you all persevered, these are all such great books. Are there any upcoming projects that you are working on now that you can share a tidbit with us?

Laura Chamberlain Gehl –My next STEAM book is a lift-the-flap book called Who Laid These Eggs? Little readers can guess which animal laid each type of egg (from robin eggs to butterfly eggs to fish eggs to snake eggs) and then lift the flap to see if they are correct. There is also some extra information about each animal and their eggs under the flaps.


Lisa Varchol Perron – I have six more books coming out over the next couple of years, and I’m excited about them all! One of those projects is a picture book about rocks that I wrote with my husband, Taylor Perron. As an Earth and planetary scientist, Taylor has provided input on several of the nonfiction books I’ve written (including Patterns Everywhere), but this will be our first book as co-authors. Rocks Are All Around (Rise x Penguin Workshop) is illustrated by David Scheirer and set to release in summer 2024. We hope it helps kids feel more knowledgeable about and connected to the world around them.


Nora Nickum I have a nonfiction picture book for 7-10 year olds coming out next year with Peachtree Publishing Co. It’s called This Book is Full of Holes and it explores fascinating, surprising, useful, and problematic holes all around us–like sound holes and wiffle ball holes, sinkholes and potholes, tiny bleed holes in airplane windows and big blue holes in the ocean floor. The illustrator, Robert Meganck, is bringing it all to life and amping up the humor in such a great way. I can’t wait to share the cover soon!


Laurie Ann Thompson – I’m wrapping up final details on the next two books in the series, You Are a Robin! and You Are a Garter Snake!, which will both be out next spring. I’m also working on a middle-grade fantasy novel, along with several picture book projects, both fiction and nonfiction.


Nancy Castaldo – – I’m excited about two books in the works, a middle grade nonfiction title from Holiday House and a picture book from FSG. Both provide more of a focus on our water resources and the great work of water activists and advocates. Look for them coming out soon.


I can't wait to see these books! What’s something you can’t do without either for your writing or for yourself?


Laura Chamberlain Gehl –Dark chocolate! I can’t do without chocolate when I’m writing, or when I’m on vacation.


Lisa Varchol Perron – The library! Between researching nonfiction projects, getting books for pleasure reading, and keeping my kids entertained, I couldn’t do without it.


Nora Nickum For my writing, I rely heavily on Scrivener for anything that requires sorting through a lot of research or writing multiple chapters. It keeps me organized and it’s much easier to find things than it is in a long Word document. For myself, I need plenty of time walking in the woods, getting exercise and soaking up the greenery and inspiration from the ferns and fir trees.


Laurie Ann Thompson – Pets. I need animal companions in my life. I’m thankful to share my home with my chihuahua mix, Louie, and a tuxedo cat named Thor. And nature. I need to be able to see trees, birds, and insects.


Nancy Castaldo – I can’t do without the tools of the trade – my computer, pen, paper, and libraries!


Last question, what is the best advice you’ve ever gotten - whether it’s regarding writing/ illustrating or not?


Laura Chamberlain Gehl –In high school, I first heard the phrase “This too shall pass.” There is disagreement about the origin of the quote, but everyone does agree that it is one of the few pieces of wisdom that holds true in virtually every situation. Whenever I am dealing with a difficult problem, whether it is writing-related or not, I remember that phrase.


Lisa Varchol Perron – I remember a teacher once advising, “Stop looking at the size of the mountain and just start along the trail.” It helps me when I feel stuck or overwhelmed by a writing project, and it helps me approach the dirty dishes on the counter!


Nora Nickum I was told to be sure to pick a topic for a middle-grade nonfiction book that I was truly passionate about–because I’d be spending a lot of my time thinking about it while working on the book, and then a lot of time talking about it once the book came out. And now that’s advice I give to other MG nonfiction writers, since it has definitely turned out to be true for me. I’m so glad I got to write about orcas, which I love, and I’m thinking very carefully about what I want to write about next. I want to make sure to choose something that will sustain my interest and passion for a long time.


Laurie Ann Thompson – As a beginning writer, I was fortunate enough to receive a critique from the fabulous Kirby Larson on one of my early manuscripts. I expected to find all kinds of red marks everywhere, but it came back with hardly any notes at all, except one: “Where’s the emotion?” It was a nonfiction piece, so I’d worked hard to scrub all the emotion out of it! But what I realized was that without it, what I was left with was a boring list of facts. (Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE facts, and so do many young readers! But why stop there when you can connect on an emotional level, too?) Kirby taught me how important it is to establish an emotional connection with my readers, even in nonfiction. Her question, “Where’s the emotion?”, is one I now ask myself at every step of the writing process: idea, research, outlining, drafting, and revising.


Nancy Castaldo – I’m not sure who said it first, but the best advice I ever got about writing was to READ lots of books in the genre you write. I’ve followed that advice throughout my career. In addition, one of my favorite nonfiction authors, Candace Fleming, always has great advice. She advises nonfiction writers to write about what they are passionate about. It’s also advice I live by.


Thank you! This is all such wonderful advice! NOW, let me take a moment to introduce you to these amazing STEAM books!

Climate Warriors Fourteen Scientists and Fourteen Ways We Can Save Our Planet by Laura Chamberlain Gehl (Millbrook/Lerner 4/4/2023) - Reinforcing the important message - "don't give up" - the conversational tone of this book combines with amazing photographs, charts and graphs, and wonderful sidebars to highlights scientists who are using forests, urban development, public policy, conservation, AI, carbon management, psychology, economics, cellular agriculture, renewable energy, civil engineering, ecotourism, public health to combat climate change. In addition to noting the work of five young activists, this wonderful book offers recommendations and specific action readers can take.


Synopsis: Who do you think of when you imagine a climate scientist? Maybe a biologist? Or a chemist? But economists study the climate too!


Meet fourteen different scientists who are working to solve the climate crisis and the surprising ways they are doing it. Along with explanations of different areas of science and the many ways scientists are working to save the climate, readers will find tips for how they too can work for change. Climate Warriors informs young readers and gives them the tools they need to make a difference.


Author and neuroscientist Laura Gehl introduces readers to these incredible scientists, the projects they are working on, and what inspired them to choose their fields of study. From ecology to civil engineering, computer modeling to food science, we have lots of ways to combat climate change. Along with explanations of different areas of science and climate solutions, find out what you can do to make a difference.

Patterns Everywhere by Lisa Varchol Perron (Millbrook/Lerner 4/4/2023) - It is a wonderful, enthralling exploration of patterns in nature that will appeal to a wide range of readers. One that is a joy to read and look at again and again. The back matter explains the rhyming pattern and provides activities, a glossary, and some fantastic books and websites to pair with the book. It's a wonderful book for exploring ways to write about nature and opening discussions on the science and math of nature's patterns.


Synopsis: Look around and discover patterns in the natural world! You might see them in leaf veins, in coral reefs, in sand dunes, and in many other places. Rhyming verse is accompanied by stunning photographs and brief sidebars that explain how these different patterns form.

Superpod: Saving the Endangered Orcas of the Pacific Northwest by Nora Nickum (Chicago Review Press 4/11/2023) – A heartfelt and honest, yet hopeful ode to the magnificent Orca which inhabit the Pacific Northwest. It's a wonderfully personal look at individual orcas and the determined scientists and community activists working to protect them. A wonderful book encouraging readers of all ages to step up and help.


Synopsis: The endangered Southern Resident orcas whistle and click their way around the waters of the Pacific Northwest in three small family groups while facing boat noise, pollution, and scarce food. Superpod introduces young readers to the experts who are training scat-sniffing dogs, inventing ways to treat sick orcas, quieting the waters, studying whales from the air, and speaking out. Author Nora Nickum also discusses her own work on laws to protect the orcas, tackles the dark history of orca capture for marine parks, and shares moments of wonder.


Readers can dive in to help save these majestic orcas with diverse action ideas and to find inspiration for a wide range of future careers.

You Are A Honeybee! by Laurie Ann Thompson, illustrated by Jay Fleck (Dial Books 4/11/2023) – The unique format of this book uses a second-person narrative and active modeling of the actions of a honeybee, by a widely diverse group of kids, to make it fun for the youngest readers to learn about these amazing pollinators.


Synopsis: The first in an adorable, STEM nonfiction picture book series that encourages very young readers to learn—through gentle interactivity and play—about the animals who share their world


Swish, swoosh, fly! You might have heard the words “busy as a bee," but what do bees actually do each day? Did you know bees clean their rooms, help feed baby bees, and build the hive they live in? From birth to first flight and beyond, discover all that goes into being a bee in this charming picture book, the first in the Meet Your World series.


This playful and informative series invites you to take a closer look at the amazing animals that live right alongside you in rural, suburban, and urban landscapes across North America. In each book, words and art inspire you to act out animal actions that are not so different from your own habits. And robust backmatter offers even more facts and fun. From the animals’ families and foods to their environments and behaviors, let’s meet your world!

You Are A Raccoon! by Laurie Ann Thompson, illustrated by Jay Fleck (Dial Books 4/11/2023) – This book also employs the second-person narrative and active modeling of an animal's actions. Making it fun for the youngest readers to learn about these "masked bandits" - the raccoons.


Synopsis: The second in an adorable, STEM nonfiction picture book series that encourages very young readers to learn—through gentle interactivity and play—about the animals who share their world


Crawl, cling climb! You may have seen a raccoon scurry up a tree or across the road just before dark. Did you know that raccoons stay up at night playing, hunting, and eating when you go to sleep? From birth to first stripes and beyond, discover all that goes into being a raccoon in this charming picture book, the second in the Meet Your World series.


This playful and informative series invites you to take a closer look at the amazing animals that live right alongside you in rural, suburban, and urban landscapes across North America. In each book, words and art inspire you to act out animal actions that are not so different from your own habits. And robust backmatter offers even more facts and fun. From the animals’ families and foods to their environments and behaviors, let’s meet your world!

The World That Feeds Us by Nancy Castaldo, illustrated by Ginnie Hsu (Quarto 4/11/2023) - Lively images explore numerous farms around the world as they sustainably prepare, nurture, and harvest our food throughout the seasons. After exploring green farming, the book features the biodiversity of livestock, spring planting and challenges, city farms and farmer's markets, cacao farming, summer weeding and pest control, roof gardens, technology assistance, fall harvests and festivals. This fun book includes tons of interesting information on reclaiming traditional methods, use of modern technology, and the process for making a chocolate bar.


Synopsis: Where does our food come from? Is farming different around the world? In this charmingly illustrated book, follow sustainable farming around the world to discover how farmers from Hawaii, to Sweden, the UK and beyond grow the fresh and tasty food we enjoy eating.


Explore the seasonal workings of farms around the world, and how food can be grown using sustainable methods that focus on quality versus quantity to ensure an environmentally healthy future. The World That Feeds Us explores fascinating farms and farming techniques around the world, including:

Global cacao production

City farms, on rooftops and beyond

Heirloom crops and heritage breeds

Farmer's markets across the globe

High tech machinery such as farmbots


A glossary defines key sustainable farming terms. Through this colourful and global look at farming, children will learn how farmers, and us, can make choices to protect the planet, whilst still enjoying delicious and nutritious food.


Thank you all for giving us a little peek into yourselves and your books. Wishing you all enormous success.


To learn more about these writers, or to contact them:


Laura Chamberlain GehlClimate Warriors Fourteen Scientists and Fourteen Ways We Can Save Our Planet (Millbrook/Lerner 4/4/2023)


Lisa Varchol Perron – Patterns Everywhere (Millbrook/Lerner 4/4/2023) –


Nora Nickum – Superpod: Saving the Endangered Orcas of the Pacific Northwest (Chicago Review Press 4/11/2023) –


Laurie Ann Thompson – You Are A Honeybee! and You Are A Raccoon! (Dial Books/Penguin Kids 4/11/2023) –


Nancy Castaldo – The World That Feeds Us (Quarto 4/11/2023)

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Maria Marshall

 Photograph © A. Marshall

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