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The Picture Book Buzz

The Picture Book Buzz - Interview with June STEAM Team Authors

Today I have the pleasure to introduce you to four 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. But if you disagree, I still 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?...)

Michelle CusolitoDiving Deep: Using Machines to Explore the Ocean (Charlesbridge 6/14/22) - I started writing for children around 2007 but didn’t sell my first book until 2016 (which came out in 2018). My first job out of college was as a Naturalist at an environmental camp on Cape Cod. Then I became an elementary school teacher and a science curriculum developer, so the transition to writing STEAM books for kids was a natural one. I have a deep sense of wonder for the natural world, and I want to share that with kids.

I write in a variety of places: at my standing desk, at the kitchen counter or dining room table, in my screened porch, in cafés (before Covid), lounging on the sofa, or in my bed first thing in the morning. (I wrote the first draft of my 4th book—which is not announced, yet—before I got out of bed one morning). I also like writing outside: the first draft of Flying Deep was written while I sat at the edge of a pond.

[Author of Flying Deep: Climb Inside Deep-Sea Submersible Alvin illustrated by Nicole Wong (2018).]

Laura Chamberlain Gehl – Odd Birds: Meet Nature's Weirdest Flock (Abrams 6/14/22) - 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), 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). 21 Picture Books, including Who Dug This Hole? (2022), 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).]

Darcy Pattison – Diego: The Galápagos Giant Tortoise (Mims House 6/14/22)) - I write daily, but I find each day is different and challenging. Multiple projects are in various stages, from first drafts to looking over proof copies. The constant is the desire to provide kids with fascinating, factual stories. I love stories of scientists who struggle, persevere, and finally win through to an amazing result. The story of the Galápagos giant tortoise is one where the scientists didn’t give up on a species. For over fifty years, they (and many volunteers and staff backing them up) worked to bring back a species from the brink of extinction. What an inspiration!

[Author of over 51 books, including The Plan for the Gingerbread House: A STEM Engineering Story (2021), A.I.: How Patterns Helped Artificial Intelligence Defeat World Champion Lee Sedol (2021), The Leaf Detective: How Margaret Lowman Uncovered Secrets in the Rainforest (2/9/2021), Erosion: How Hugh Bennett Saved America's Soil and Stopped the Dust Bowl (2020), Nefertiti, the Spidernaut: How a Jumping Spider Learned to Hunt in Space (2016), Liberty (2016), Rowdy: The Pirate Who Could Not Sleep (2016), Burn: Michael Faraday’s Candle (2016), Longing for Normal (2015), The Read and Write Series​ (2015), Vagabonds (2014), The Girl, the Gypsy and the Gargoyle (2014), Saucy and Bubba (2014), The Aliens Inc. Series – short chapter books (2014), Abayomi, the Brazilian Puma: The True Story of an Orphaned Cub (2014), Wisdom, the Midway Albatross: Surviving the Japanese Tsunami and Other Disasters for Over 60 Years (2013).]

Alexandra SiyBristlecone: The Secret Life of the World’s Oldest Tree (Web of Life Children’s Books 6/19/22)I started writing in 3rd grade. My first “book” was a biography of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. I also wrote in diaries throughout childhood and had a writing rule that required me to write at least one sentence every day. Some days I wrote, “I don’t feel like writing today.” When I was 12 I sent a postcard I found in a magazine to enroll in courses at the Children’s Literature Institute. I lied about my age, but still didn’t get “accepted.” I like observing nature and looking at interesting photographs, which have inspired several of my books. I write books on my laptop in bed, on my couch, in my office, and in the Adirondack chair. I still write in diaries, and I take notes and write ideas in notebooks. My hiking friend gives me notebooks with pictures of Mrs. Tiggy Winkle and other Beatrix Potter characters on the cover.

[Author of 23 books, including One Tractor (I Like to Read) illustrated by Jacqueline Rogers (2018), Up Close With Spiders photos by Dennis Kunkel (2018), Up Close With Bugs photos by Dennis Kunkel (2018), Voyager's Greatest Hits: The Epic Trek to Interstellar Space (2017), Spidermania: Friends on the Web photos by Dennis Kunkel (2015), Bug Shots: The Good, the Bad, and the Bugly photos by Dennis Kunkel (2011), Cars on Mars: Roving the Red Planet (2011), Sneeze! photos by Dennis Kunkel (2007), Mosquito Bite photos by Dennis Kunkel (2006), Footprints on the Moon (2001).]

What’s one of your favorite things to do outside?

Michelle Cusolito – I have a hard time choosing a favorite anything, whether that’s a book, a color, a song, or something to do outside. I have too many interests.

But I can say that I love sharing my sense of wonder for the natural world with others, especially kids. Recently, I went on a faculty writing retreat with other Simmons University instructors. One of the participants is from the Midwest and she was fascinated by all of the animals on the beach in front of the retreat center. I collected seashells and gave her a little nature lesson.

I try to take a walk daily, and most often I do that in the woods behind my house. There are lovely trails that lead out to a lake. I also love to go tidepooling—poking around on a rocky seashore to see what I can discover. Reading in my hammock is always a nice way to relax at the end of a workday.

Laura Chamberlain Gehl – I love to hike, or just to walk in the woods. I have a loop through the woods near my house that I walk several times each week year-round. I get to watch the trees change through the seasons, hear the frogs come out in the spring, and listen for my favorite pileated woodpeckers.

Darcy Pattison – I love to go to a local lake and jump in the water. After that first jump though, I just want to float and float and drift and let the day pass in a relaxed blur. It’s the place I go when I need to relax and not think, but just BE.

Alexandra Siy - I hike up a mountain near my house every day. From the top I can see the Heldeberg Mountains, the Adirondack Mountains, the Green Mountains, the Berkshire Mountains, and the City of Albany 12 miles away. I don’t get bored of this hike because nature changes every day. It’s amazing to see leaves unfurling, mushrooms appearing and disappearing, rain clouds approaching, sunsets blazing; and I get to experience all kinds of weather in every season.

Now that we know a little more about all of you, what inspired you to write your book?

Michelle CusolitoDiving Deep: Using Machines to Explore the Ocean (6/7/22) - When my first book, Flying Deep was completed, I stayed in touch with Bruce Strickrott, Chief Alvin pilot and the Manager of the Alvin Group, who was the primary expert who helped me with that book. Bruce showed me a book he had bought for his kids that features machines designed by Leonardo da Vinci. We agreed that a book about the variety of ways that humans travel deeper and deeper into the ocean would be valuable, so I set out to write one.

Laura Chamberlain Gehl – Odd Birds: Meet Nature's Weirdest Flock (6/14/22) -This book is a sequel to my board book Odd Beasts. As you can guess from the title, this book is again about some of nature’s oddballs, but this time I focused on some of the most weird and wonderful birds.

Darcy Pattison – Diego: The Galápagos Giant Tortoise (6/14/22) - In 2013, I wrote the story of the oldest known wild bird in the world, Wisdom, the Midway Albatross. It is the story of an individual animal who has interacted with humans enough that it has been given a name. She’s been banded since December 10, 1956, an amazing endorsement for the importance of the bird banding programs. She’s been re-caught and re-banded about four times since then.

What I did in that book was set up a pattern for a series of books about animals: a named individual that tells us something about the type of animal and presents an environmental question. And, most important for me, it had to be a fascinating story!

I followed that with a mammal, Abayomi, the Brazilian Puma, in 2014, which emphasizes the need for wildlife corridors in urban areas.

Then, I heard the amazing story of a spider who went to space and survived to come back to Earth, which resulted in Nefertiti, the Spidernaut in 2016. I was thrilled to speak to the astronaut as part of the research about this fascinating arachnid.

The series got a name: Another Extraordinary Animal. But it just got harder because it included a bird, mammal, and spider, leaving reptiles and amphibians as the next animals to include. Where do you find an individual, named amphibian or reptile?

Rosie, the Riveter: The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County (2018) was a fun book because it draws on the long history of frog-jumping in California. Of course, it began with Mark Twain’s short story, The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County. Rosie, a female bullfrog, added a new twist because she won the jumping contest over 30 years ago and her distance has stood.

So – a reptile! That’s all the series needed next. Reptiles are turtles, lizards, snakes and so forth. I heard stories of interesting reptiles here and there, but they didn’t meet my criteria. Sometimes, the reptile didn’t have a name. Or, perhaps, the story was really about a species, not one individual. Or there was something interesting, but not a real story.

Then, I heard about Diego: The Galápagos Giant Tortoise, who fathered new generations to help bring his species back from extinction. From 14 individuals in 1950s to over 2500 today, it’s an amazing uplifting story of survival. The credit goes to the scientists, their staff and volunteers. But in the end, it’s still the story of the tortoises. The Kirkus reviewer understood this when they praised the art: “Human features are less detailed than the tortoises, making it clear that the creatures are the heroes.”

The Another Extraordinary Animal Series is probably done, and I’m sad. I’ve enjoyed reading animal stories in search of a way to bring the animal kingdom to kids in a fun and personal way. If you hear of an amoeba where an individual is named because of its interaction with humans, though, be sure to let me know!

Alexandra SiyBristlecone: The Secret Life of the World’s Oldest Tree (6/19/22) - I saw a NOVA documentary about the Methuselah Tree, the oldest tree on Earth, and became infatuated. I wrote a grant proposal for a SCBWI Non Fiction Work in Progress Grant to photograph the ancient bristlecone pines in California and Nevada. I won! First I flew to Salt Lake City and rented a Jeep and drove to Great Basin National Park in Nevada and photographed the trees on the glacial moraine off of Wheeler Peak. Then I flew to Las Vegas and rented an identical Jeep and drove to the White Mountains of California in search of the Methuselah tree. I found Methuselah but never published its photo, in keeping with the tradition never to reveal the exact location of famous trees.

Discussions, sequels, and documentaries are excellent sources for inspiration. Who was a favorite/special author, illustrator, and/or favorite book as a child?

Michelle Cusolito – I know it’s strange to say, but I didn’t really have favorite books as a kid. That probably goes back to what I said above: I have too many interests. I remember that the first book I read on my own was Put me in the Zoo by Robert Lopshire. I was so proud! As I got older, I loved Paddington. In elementary school and middle school I remember going to the 700s section in the library to find arts and crafts, “How to” books. The first book I bought with my own money was The Jatakas Tales of India retold by Ellen C. Babbit. I still have it. I later bought a little boxed set of A Boy, A Dog, and a Frog by Mercer Mayer. I was well beyond the target age range for those books, but I loved them because I connected with the boy. He reminded me of the times I spent searching for frogs in muddy swamps near my home.

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!

Darcy Pattison – I loved reading the Lord of the Rings series by J.R.R. Tolkein. Someone once said that his books are very environmentally friendly. They explained that when you read about orcs, who destroy the landscape as they cross it, you can’t be neutral about the environment. I agree. The series does many things well: it tells a story, it creates new creatures, it scares and delights. But an additional thing is that it gives you a respect for the Earth, for the unsullied environment that only exists when evil is defeated.

Alexandra Siy - Bread and Jam for Frances, The Cat in the Hat, Caddie Woodlawn (I have my grandmother’s signed copy), Pippi Longstocking, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, and Brave New World were favorites up until 9th grade.

So great to see so many familiar favorites and discover a few new ones. Is there anything special you want your readers to know about your book ?

Michelle CusolitoDiving Deep: Using Machines to Explore the Ocean (6/7/22) - I am dedicated to making sure that my books are accurate. Six different experts reviewed Diving Deep, each of them multiple times, to make sure that the text and illustrations are accurate. A freediving instructor checked the section on freediving, a saturation diver checked that section, Bruce (from Flying Deep) checked the submersibles sections, and two ocean scientists checked the animals. (One of those ocean scientists has also been down in a submersible so she reviewed that page). Finally, my editor, Karen Boss, is a certified scuba instructor, so she made sure the scuba pages were correct.

Laura Chamberlain Gehl – Odd Birds: Meet Nature's Weirdest Flock (6/14/22) -Board books don’t usually have back matter. But this one does! Following the main text, which is spare rhyming text paired with Gareth Lucas’ gorgeous illustrations, there are a few pages of back matter. The back matter includes photos of each bird, as well as more detailed information about each one.

Darcy Pattison – Diego: The Galápagos Giant Tortoise (6/14/22) - While the story of Diego has come full circle, the Galápagos Islands are still struggling to save other species of animals. We’ve had success with this one species, but the work isn’t done yet. The next generation of kids will inherit this legacy and know that saving a species is possible! That’s not a small thing. As that generation struggles to keep the Earth healthy, this book should give them hope.

Alexandra SiyBristlecone: The Secret Life of the World’s Oldest Tree (6/19/22) - At first, I thought I would write about searching for and finding the Methuselah tree. But I realized that was not important. The most important things I learned from visiting the Bristlecones and doing research, is that they survive in an incredibly harsh environment, where other trees cannot live, and that they contain thousands of years of natural history inside their rings. They are like storybooks with a secret language all their own. Inspiring and amazing!

You've all created inspiring nonfiction books that readers (of all ages) will enjoy. What was the hardest, or most challenging, part of writing, or researching, your book?

Text © Michelle Cusolito, 2022. Image © Nicole Wong, 2022.

Michelle CusolitoDiving Deep: Using Machines to Explore the Ocean (6/7/22) - Figuring out how to structure this book and which deep-sea submersibles to include was the most challenging. For a long time, I had the opening and the ending but had no idea what to do in the middle because there was too much information to cram in there. Making a dummy book helped, even though I had no middle. I determined how much room I really had to work with. Then I decided which vehicles to include. (I described my process in this blog post).

Text © Laura Chamberlain Gehl, 2022. Image © Gareth Lucas, 2022.

Laura Chamberlain Gehl – Odd Birds: Meet Nature's Weirdest Flock (6/14/22) - The hardest part of this book was definitely narrowing down my choices. There are SO many wonderfully odd birds out there, and it was hard to choose. I had to leave out some favorites, including the helmeted hornbill, whose red helmet is about one third of its body weight, and the ribbon-tailed astrapia, whose tail is three times as long as its body!

Text © Darcy Pattison, 2022. Image © Amanda Zimmerman, 2022.

Darcy Pattison – Diego: The Galápagos Giant Tortoise (6/14/22) - The hardest thing was finding an appropriate subject for a reptile story that fits this series. Once I found the story of Diego, the rest was easy!

Text © Alexandra Siy, 2022. Image © Marlo Garnsworthy, 2022.

Alexandra SiyBristlecone: The Secret Life of the World’s Oldest Tree (6/19/22) - It took me almost 10 years to write the book. I wrote many drafts. I finally figured out that Bristlecone was a character, and that its life cycle is really a hero’s journey. The secrets inside its rings contain scientific data and tell stories. We are all on a life journey, and bristlecone’s journey happens to be the longest journey of all. I also had to let go of the idea that my photographs would illustrate my book. Instead they were used as photo references by illustrator Marlo Garnsworthy who created beautiful art that brought the story to life.

Have you discovered a routine or “trick” to keep yourself motivated and creative?

Michelle Cusolito – I try to take a walk every day. The movement helps me stay creative and healthy. I also practice yoga.

I don’t necessarily “write” every day when I’m not on a deadline, but I try to stay connected to my work in some way. (I put “write” in quotation marks because I mean that I’m not necessarily physically putting words on a page for a new project). Sometimes I read or attend a webinar as part of my research for a new project. Other times I might work on goal-setting for the year or write a blog post like this one (which gets me thinking about ideas). Sometimes I read a pile of new books that I brought home from the library to stay up with what’s current in the market. All of this is part of my job as a writer.

Laura Chamberlain Gehl – If I am feeling unmotivated, brainstorming helps me a lot. I brainstorm titles, or characters, or settings, or even just interesting words I want to use in a book one day!

Alexandra Siy - I “write” when I’m hiking alone. I figure out things and come up with phrases and sentences when I am moving. Coffee is helpful when I’m sitting with my computer. Also, the 5 minute rule: “You have to write for 5 minutes every day.” Usually it goes on for much longer, but I’m only required to write for 5 minutes. Similar to the one sentence rule from childhood.

So, are there any upcoming projects that you are working on now that you can share a tidbit with us?

Michelle Cusolito – One year ago, I went on a three-week expedition to the North Atlantic with Wood Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI). My job was to help write daily blog posts for WHOI’s website and to research for an upcoming middle grade book (Charlesbridge Publishing) about the expedition. (Read those blog posts here.) Last week, I completed a conceptual edit of the full manuscript for my editor, Karen Boss, and turned in all of the photos and captions to the book designer, Diane Earley. The book is slated to come out in the summer of 2024.

Laura Chamberlain Gehl – My next two books are not as science-focused as this one. They are the first two books in a humorous picture book series about a large, diverse Jewish family celebrating different holidays. The series is called Ruby Celebrates!, and the first two books are The Rosh Hashana Recipe and The Hanukkah Hunt (8/1/2022).

Darcy Pattison – Coming next year is the exciting story of Jeannette Powers, a French scientist, who invented the aquarium, tentatively titled, Aquarium: How Jeannette Powers Invented the Aquarium to Observe Marine Life.

Alexandra Siy - Oh dear, I really don’t like to talk about what I’m writing because then I think it sounds ridiculous and I get discouraged. But with that said, I am working on three books that may or may not get published.

We will definitely have to keep our eyes open for these books. If you could meet anyone (real or literary), who would that be?

Michelle Cusolito – This is similar to asking me for a favorite, and you know I don’t like that! 😊

I met Maya Angelou, but if I could have had a conversation over a meal with her, that would have been amazing. Or Toni Morrison. Or, “Her Deepness,” Sylvia Earle. Or Jacques Cousteau. Or Kathy Sullivan. Or Edie Widder.* (You see my problem? Too many interests.)

*I started answering these questions about a week before sending them in for publication. I didn’t know it would happen at the time, but a few days ago, I got to meet Edie Widder! [That's so cool - look what happens when you put it out there! 💖]

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.

Darcy Pattison – If I could meet anyone, I’d love to meet Jeannette Powers, the French scientist who invented the aquarium. Her research was done while living on the island of Cypress in the Mediterranean Sea. I’d really like to go there to meet her!

Alexandra Siy - Margaret Atwood and Beatrix Potter.

Last question, what is your favorite National Park or Forest, regional park, or city park? Or the one you’re longing to visit. Why?

Michelle Cusolito – Favorites again! Gah! I have visited and loved both Acadia National Park and Denali National Park. My sisters live in San Francisco, and while I think Golden Gate Park is lovely, I’m partial to Sutro Park for its sweeping views of the Pacific. When my family lived in Dublin, Ireland, I was partial to a little-known park in our neighborhood called the Irish National War Memorial Gardens which has gorgeous flowering gardens and paths along the Liffey River.

Laura Chamberlain Gehl – I really want to visit Yellowstone. We had a family trip planned there two years ago that was cancelled due to COVID. I want to see the wildlife and the geysers!

Darcy Pattison – I’ve hiked and photographed many national parks. But I still haven’t made it to Yellowstone National Park. Maybe next year!

Alexandra Siy - I love visiting Alaska, where I once lived and where my brother still lives. The hike along the Exit Glacier in Kenai Fjords National Park is still my favorite all time hike because of the pay off at the top: the Harding Icefield. There are no words.

NOW, let me take a moment to introduce you to these amazing STEAM books!

Synopsis: From snorkeling to freediving, scuba, submarines, and Challenger Deep, discover the different technologies scientists use to explore the ocean in this deep-sea STEM picture book.

How does ocean exploration work? What kinds of machines and equipment help researchers under the sea? How deep can we dive to find out more about the plants and animals that live in the ocean? For fans of Alvin from Flying Deep, Diving Deep introduces all the ways humans have figured out how to engage with, explore, and learn from the oceans.

After answering the question - "What drives humans to dive into the sea?" - this exquisite book examines twelve ways individuals and scientists explore and research increasingly deeper in the ocean. From snorkeling (1 meter), free diving (15 meters), and scuba diving (30 meters) to an atmospheric diving unit (300 meters) and seven different submersibles which can dive from 600 meters to 10.9 kilometers deep. Gorgeously detailed, colorful illustrations highlighting the wonderful flora and fauna found at the various depths combines with a lyrical, conversational text to transport the reader along on each journey. While detailed sidebars provide the depth, length of time and number of people involved, as well as detailed discussions of each type of dive. It is a wonderful book for anyone interested in the ocean, submersibles, or exploration.

Synopsis: Meet nature’s oddballs in this charming board book about some of the most unique birds in the world.

Backyard birds—move over! Odd Birds introduces babies and toddlers to unusual bird species, including the magnificent frigatebird with a bright red throat pouch and the California condor—the largest flying birds in North America! Gentle rhyming verses provide the comforting repetition that little ones crave, even as their minds are opened to new and fascinating creatures from around the world. At the end of the book, readers will find photographs of each bird, along with more detailed factual information. The eight birds featured are the magnificent frigatebird, blue-footed booby, shoebill stork, ostrich, hoatzin, oilbird, California condor, and burrowing owl.

With bright, bold, collage-like illustrations and a succinct rhyming text, this board book offers a close-up look at some very unique birds. A fun twist at the end might get kids wondering how birds see them. Unusual for board books, there are two wonderful back matter spreads featuring photographs of all eight birds and short blurbs about their habitats and unusual features. It's a great book to introduce babies to some fascinating birds to encourage slightly older kids to learn about these odd birds.

Synopsis: Can humans save a species from extinction? Yes! With patience, persistence, and a full dose of hope.

This is the heartbreaking tale of a Galápagos giant tortoise species that was almost extinct, the herculean task of conservation work by scientists and volunteers, and a heartwarming tale of hope for our planet.

In 1959, Ecuador established a national park to protect the Galápagos Islands. When they did a census, scientists found only 14 individual Española Island tortoises. The species was almost extinct. Then, they found one more Española tortoise-in the San Diego Zoo! They named him Diego and brought him back to the Galápagos for a breeding program.

Ecuador established one of the most successful breeding programs in scientific history. For sixty years, scientists and hundreds of volunteers have fought valiantly to save this amazing giant tortoise species. Would it be enough? Would they be able to save the species? Read the amazing story of Diego, the giant Galápagos tortoise.

This is the fifth book in a picture book series, Another Extraordinary Animal, which includes a bird, mammal, spider, amphibian, and reptile. Back matter for this book contains information about Diego, his species, the Galápagos Islands, and more.

This is a touching, cautionary, and ultimately celebratory look at the special Española giant tortoise - Diego - who helped scientists at the Breeding Center on Santa Cruz Island save his species from extinction. Briefly discussing the decimation of these tortoises (from around 8.000 to 15) by sailors and their invasive goats, the book follows Diego's long journey to San Diego, Santa Cruz, and finally back home to Española. And looks at the scientists' hard word and what they learned from the tortoises that allowed them to save Diego and his species. Wonderful back matter discusses tortoises, conservation, and the Galápagos islands.

Synopsis: Living for more than five thousand years, ancient bristlecone pines are the oldest trees on Earth.

Recorded in their rings are “secrets”—scientific evidence of a changing planet. A volcano erupts in 2036 BC. In 775, a storm explodes on the sun. Lightning strikes in 1122. And during the 20th century, the temperature increases dramatically.

What is the secret to the bristlecone’s exceptionally long life?

Alexandra Siy’s lyrical text, paired with Marlo Garnsworthy’s meticulously researched mixed media paintings, reveals the life cycle of the mysterious ancient bristlecone pine.

“Still growing, safe and strong in its place in the sun, the bristlecone’s secrets are waiting to be discovered by anyone who can read its rings.”

Enticing the reader with the secret of discovering the 5,000 year-old Bristlecone Pine tree, Alexandra Siy explores the life cycle of these tenacious, slow growing pines (6 inches tall after 50 years!). Accompanied by stunning illustrations, the book marvels at how these trees have patiently recorded 10.000 years of ecological history of the planet - volcanic eruptions, droughts, fires, insect attacks and bitter winters - in their rings. A wonderful STEM discussion shows how scientists obtain and evaluate core samples to discover and read the trees' secrets. And a glorious quadriptych demonstrates how the seasons have sculpted the unique weathered and twisted trunks of these trees. Topped off with great back matter, this is a wonderful book on an amazing tree.

Thank you all 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:

Michelle CusolitoDiving Deep: Using Machines to Explore the Ocean (Charlesbridge 6/14/22) -

Laura Chamberlain GehlOdd Birds: Meet Nature's Weirdest Flock (Abrams 6/14/22)

Darcy Pattison – Diego: The Galápagos Giant Tortoise (Mims House 6/14/22)

Alexandra Siy - Bristlecone: The Secret Life of the World’s Oldest Tree (Web of Life Children’s Books 6/19/22) –


Maria Marshall

 Photograph © A. Marshall

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