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The Picture Book Buzz

The Picture Book Buzz - March 2024 Interview with STEAM Team Books Members (Part 1)

Whether you're here to support the STEAM Team authors, curiosity, or because you love nonfiction books, I hope you read to the end because you'll discover some amazing authors and super spectacular books!

Steam Team Books Logo - Name and a decending rainbow of books on a white grid globe and a black background.

Today I have the pleasure to introduce you to five authors from the STEAM Team Books – a group of authors who joined together to celebrate and help promote their STEAM books. I 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 2023. 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?...)

Laurie Ann Thompson – You Are a Robin! (Dial Books 3/5/2024) and the board book editions of You Are a Honey Bee! and You Are a Raccoon! (Dial Books 3/12/2024)– 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 You Are A Honeybee!, illustrated by Jay Fleck  (2023), You Are A Raccoon! , illustrated by Jay Fleck (2023), Elizabeth Warren's Big, Bold Plans, illustrated by Susanna Chapman (2020), Two Truths and a Lie: Forces of Nature with Ammi-Joan Paquette, illustrated by Lisa K. Weber (2019), Two Truths and a Lie: Histories and Mysteries with Ammi-Joan Paquette, illustrated by Lisa K. Weber (2018), Two Truths and a Lie: It's Alive! with Ammi-Joan Paquette, illustrated by Lisa K. Weber (2017), Emmanuel's Dream: The True Story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah, illustrated by Sean Qualls (2015), My Dog Is the Best, illustrated by Paul Schmid (2015), Be a Changemaker: How to Start Something That Matters (2014).]

Jessica Stremer – Lights Out: A Movement to Help Migrating Birds (Paula Wiseman/S&S 3/5/2024)I’ve been writing books for kids since 2019, although the desire to write had existed well before I first put pen to paper. Once I got started writing it didn’t take long to hone in on the types of stories I wanted to tell – nonfiction narratives about lesser-known topics or events that inspire kids to look at the world differently.

 

[Author of Great Carrier Reef, illustrated by Gordy Wright (2023).]

Alison Pearce Stevens – Animal Climate Heroes (Henry Holt Books for Young Readers 3/5/2024) – I was a biologist and college professor up until 2010, at which point I made a big jump to writing about science and nature for kids. It’s not really a surprise that I’m drawn to writing nonfiction STEAM books; I’m still writing about all kinds of fascinating things I learned as a biologist—and so much more! I’m intensely curious and love learning new things to share with equally curious young readers.

 

I used to have lots of up-close encounters with unusual animals. Now they’re largely limited to my family’s three dogs and a gecko. Two dogs like to lie under and around my desk while I write, the third insists on bouncing her ball around the room. So far, she’s managed to spill my coffee, unplug my printer, knock the books off the bookshelf, and disconnect me from the internet. She can be pretty distracting, so I have to shut her out of the room when I really need to focus. (The gecko says in her terrarium. She escaped once and we found her a week later behind the washing machine.) I’m a full-time writer, so I work in my home office and keep pretty standard work hours. I do my best to keep my weekends free for other things, since life experiences make for better stories!

 

[Author of 6 books, including Rhinos in Nebraska: The Amazing Discovery of the Ashfall Fossil Beds, illustrated by Matt Huynh (2021), 5,000 Awesome Facts (About Everything ) (2016), Weird But True Sports: 300 Wacky Facts about Awesome Athletics (2016), Weird But True!: Ripped from the Headlines 3: Real-Life Stories You Have to Read to Believe (2016), Weird But True!: Ripped From the Headlines 2 (2015).] 

Karen Jameson – Wake Up, Woodlands (Chronicle Kids Books 3/5/2024) – My best writing happens first thing in the morning - fresh from dreams. Coffee in hand, I’m at my most creative and productive, before the obligations of the day begin to seep in. I indulge myself in reading picture books quite often too, which is how I began to connect with some incredible STEAM titles in recent years. What a great fit for me, as I’m drawn to animals, nature and science themes!

 

[Author of 7 books, including A Llama in not an Alpaca; And Other Mistaken Animal Identities, illustrated by Lorna Scobie (2023), Time to Shine: Celebrating the World’s Iridescent Animals, illustrated by Dave Murray (2022), Where the Wee Ones Go: A Bedtime Wish for Endangered Animals, illustrated by Zosienka (2022), Farm Lullaby, illustrated by Wednesday Kirwan (2021), Woodland Dreams, illustrated by Marc Boutavant (2020), and Moon Babies, illustrated by Amy Hevron (2019).]

Annette Whipple – Quirky Critter Devotions: 52 Wild Wonders for Kids (Tyndale Kids 3/5/2024) – I didn’t know I enjoyed writing anything but letters to friends until I began blogging in 2009. Before long, I wanted to improve my writing skills and began taking courses. At first, I wrote for magazines with adult women as my audience. But my first book idea in 2014 was for kids. I’ve been writing nonfiction for children ever since!

 

Most of my writing process takes place at my desk though at one time I was writing books at the kitchen table and on the couch. A few years ago, we transformed our small dining room into an office space for me. (Actually, I didn’t do anything. My husband did it all—including a wall of bookshelves for me. My back appreciates a proper writing space these days!)

 

I love the writing process and sometimes get caught up in my research, especially when I can get hands-on with a topic when I meet with an expert. I just love writing science and history for kids. I love learning about new things!

 

[Author of 11 books including Scurry: The Truth About Spiders (2021) Woof: The Truth About Dogs (2021), The Laura Ingalls Wilder Companion: A Chapter-by-Chapter Guide (2020), Whooo Knew? The Truth about Owls (2020), and The Story of the Wright Brothers (2020).]

 

What helps you to be inspired? (perhaps a certain place, music, activity, etc.) 


Laurie Ann Thompson – Whenever I’m in need of inspiration, I go for a walk in nature. I’m fortunate to live between two lovely, forested city parks, so all I have to do is step outside and I’m instantly immersed in the wonder and beauty of nature. My dog knows all the trails and apparently has his own very important agenda, so I usually let him lead. All I have to do is follow his nose, knowing he’ll bring us home eventually! While he goes about his business, I try to use my senses to pay attention to what’s around me, observing the many sights, sounds, smells, and textures. It feels meditative, restorative, even spiritual to me to note the small wonders all around us and the ways in which they interact. Plus, the steady, rhythmic movement helps to unlock my brain and reveal answers to whatever issues I might be facing with my current works in progress. It’s a great “brain break” that leaves me feeling energized and ready to get back to work!


Jessica Stremer – I find inspiration all around me, especially when spending time outside. I like listening to podcasts and reading, of course. Sometimes just a word or two will pique my curiosity and lead me down the research rabbit hole.

 

Alison Pearce Stevens – The outdoors, especially forests or any place with mountains or water. I regularly read National Geographic magazine, which always sparks new ideas. And music. Music is perfect for lifting my mood, getting me moving, and generating ideas, but it has to be something upbeat and danceable.

 

Karen Jameson – Nature is, and continues to be, my greatest inspiration. I’m especially drawn to the solitude, sights, sounds and wonders of gardens, trails, forests, and beaches. These are the places I feel most at home.

 

Annette Whipple – This world around me and the people in it inspire me! When I get stuck writing, fresh air and sunshine help me out of the rut. I’m recovering from foot surgery and cannot wait to actually go for a walk this spring. In the meantime, I sometimes sit on my back steps and watch my visitors at the bird feeders.


I think it's unanimous; nature is a wonderful source of inspiration. Now that we know a little more about all of you, what sparked your interest and caused you to write this book? 

Laurie Ann Thompson – You Are a Robin! (3/5/2024) – Most of us have seen a robin and think we’re quite familiar with them, even taking them for granted. But how much to we really know about how they survive and thrive? What might it be like to be a robin? I have always been a sucker for an underdog story and sharing the lesser known—but thoroughly fascinating!—facts about supposedly well-known creatures like robins feels like a great way to highlight the extraordinary wonder that is all around us… if we just take the time to really look.

Jessica Stremer – Lights Out: A Movement to Help Migrating Birds (3/5/2024) – The original idea for Lights Out included a variety of challenges birds face during migration. My agent was the one to suggest focusing on just one challenge – light pollution. I loved that there was room for kids in the story and was excited to discover that children had played such an important role in spreading the initial movement.

Alison Pearce Stevens – Animal Climate Heroes (3/5/2024) – During the pandemic shutdown, I attended a webinar in which the speaker mentioned her favorite fact: Sea otters help fight climate change. I’m a former zoologist and behavioral ecologist, and this comment immediately got me searching for other examples of animals that do this.

 

It’s so easy to get sucked into a fatalistic “it’s too late” attitude when it comes to climate change, but it’s absolutely NOT TOO LATE. I thought we needed a book that featured animals we know and love to remind everyone that we’re not alone. These critters are also battling climate change, and not only in the ways we hear about, where climate change is causing them harm. I wanted to showcase how incredibly important nature is in helping us keep climate from shifting too far. Our natural spaces are hurting, but they don’t get as much attention as climate, so this seemed like a good way to remind people that nature matters too.

Karen Jameson – Wake Up, Woodlands (3/5/2024) – Sometimes the stars and moon just align, making way for a project. Such was the case with Wake Up, Woodlands, the spring companion to Woodland Dreams (Chronicle, 2020). As Woodland Dreams sold extremely well both here and internationally, my editor suggested a follow-up book - a second collaboration with the incredible, Marc Boutavant. We landed on a spring theme and Wake Up, Woodlands evolved from there.

Annette Whipple – Quirky Critter Devotions: 52 Wild Wonders for Kids (3/5/2024) – Writing Quirky Critter Devotions took years! It began with just a simple faith-related insect series idea. But over five years (and longer until publication), the insect series morphed into something different—and better! In that time, I transformed the idea four times until I came up with Quirky Critter Devotions. (You can read the full story of how the ideas finally became this book here.)

 

I love how it turned out. Like my other ideas, it’s full of incredible animals that children will be curious about, along with a strong faith component. Each devotion is packed with facts, a God-connection, journaling, and a hands-on activity. I even have 52 Quirky Critter Question Cards for free download to help kids enjoy the book even more.

 

What do each of you find to be the most challenging aspect of being a children’s author?

 

Laurie Ann Thompson – Oof, I think that has to be rejection, doesn’t it? It’s difficult to work hard on something and then have it not be received in the way you intended or hoped, whether that’s by industry professionals (agents, editors, book reviewers), by consumers, or by readers. There’s a certain amount of optimism and hope necessary to do the work in the first place and a certain level of vulnerability required to put your work out into the world, so it’s definitely painful when things don’t go quite the way you wanted. But it’s all part of living a creative life. For me, knowing that I created something that didn’t exist before, that I added something to the world, is enough. I can only control my part of the equation by doing the best work I possibly can.


Jessica Stremer – The waiting! There’s waiting in finding out if a book I’ve written will be published, waiting to find the perfect illustrator, waiting for the publication date. I also sometimes find it difficult to choose what I want to write about next. There are so many interesting topics I’d like to explore and only so much time in a day. And I know I have to pace myself because there’s only so much room in the market at a given time. Sometimes I’ll sit on an idea until the timing feels right, then dive into research and let that drive the direction for how the story will be told.

 

Alison Pearce Stevens – Waiting on other people. I’m a fast writer and can crank things out quickly, but once they leave my office, the pace slows to a crawl, and that’s really hard for me. Sometimes delays happen during the research process, when people I need to interview don’t respond or take weeks to get back to me. Sometimes it’s the editorial stages or some other aspect of publishing. I know everyone is super busy, so I completely understand why things take a long time, but it still frustrates me. I juggle multiple projects, so I always have something to keep me busy when one project hits a major slow-down.

 

Karen Jameson – Hands down, the most challenging thing for me is the endless waiting! You wait to go on submission, then wait and wait some more to see if anyone is interested in your manuscript. When your book is finally acquired- YAY- you just want to shout it from the rooftops. But, no! You have to wait until the contract is signed, an illustrator is onboard, and all parties are ready to make an official, public announcement. ARGHHHH! After that, you guessed it… MORE WAITING! It’s an average of 2-3 years (but often longer) for picture books to go from contract to book birthday.

 

Annette Whipple – The most challenging part of writing for children is probably my most favorite part, too. Writing for children (for me) involves meeting readers, families, and educators on social media, presenting at schools for author visits, teaching other writers, and even spreading the word about the importance of nonfiction for children. I love it all, but when I’m on deadline, balancing it all can be challenging when I just want (and need) to write!

 

Waiting does seem to permeate every aspect of writing and publishing. Is there anything special you want your readers to know about your book?

 

Laurie Ann Thompson – You Are a Robin! (3/5/2024)and the board book editions of You Are a Honey Bee! and You Are a Raccoon! (3/12/2024) – The entire Meet Your World series features active verbs and a second-person point of view to help young readers imagine and imitate the animal subjects featured in each book. On the surface level, this allows children to learn about and appreciate the individual animals through interactive play, which I think is a worthy enough goal on its own. But I also believe there’s a deeper lesson included in that. I feel the books show kids how much all creatures (including humans) have in common: We all want food, water, shelter, and safety, we all have families, and we all learn and grow. My hope is that when young readers understand these universal basic needs, they will be more motivated to care for the environment as a whole and for other people everywhere.


Jessica Stremer – Lights Out: A Movement to Help Migrating Birds (3/5/2024) – This book is geared for younger readers but can be enjoyed by readers of all ages. It’s especially useful in the classroom and for encouraging kids to be more mindful of how their actions affect others.

 

Alison Pearce Stevens – Animal Climate Heroes (3/5/2024) – Writing this book got me through the pandemic. It gave me hope, and I sincerely hope it does the same for my readers. There seem to be so many uphill battles these days, but Animal Climate Heroes is a reminder that every single one of us can have a positive impact on the world.

 

Karen Jameson – Wake Up, Woodlands (3/5/2024) – I want readers to be sure and look for the special surprises the illustrator drew into the final spread! Such fun!

 

Annette Whipple – Quirky Critter Devotions: 52 Wild Wonders for Kids (3/5/2024) – This is my first faith-based book! I had so much fun creating a book full of science while including spiritual truths to draw the reader closer to God.

 Text © Annette Whipple, 2024.


Quirky Critter Devotions sets you on an animal-themed expedition to uncover wildly weird facts, journal your thoughts, and gain hands-on experience with zoo-tastic activities! Discover a wide range of crazy-cool critters spanning seven animal categories—mammals, insects, amphibians, birds, fish, reptiles, and spiders. From familiar critters like turtles and honey bees to incredible creatures like the Goliath bird-eating spider, this devotional is sure to cultivate a passion for God’s Word and his creation.

 

Each entry features:

  • Fast Facts highlighting the animal’s scientific name, other common names, length, and diet

  • A devotion bursting with astounding discoveries and spiritual truths

  • Journaling space to unpack real-life applications

  • A memory verse and prayer to connect with God

  • A Wild Wonder fun fact with a humorous animal doodle

  • A Creature Connection activity like a craft, game, or snack

 

The perfect blend of Scripture and science, this exciting and informative devotional will expand the minds and grow the curiosity of your young ones. A fantastic gift for the animal lover in your life.

 

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 © Laurie Ann Thompson, 2024. Image © Jay Fleck, 2024.


Laurie Ann Thompson – You Are a Robin! (3/5/2024) – You’d think there would be ample information about these fairly ubiquitous birds, but what I discovered was there are a lot of myths and misconceptions out there about robins! When I was doing my research, I found a lot of conflicting sources and outdated information. Do they migrate, or don’t they? Do they mate for life, or not? Which calls do they make in different situations? It took some surprisingly deep digging to make sure we were using—for both the text and the illustrations—was the most reliable and up-to-date information available.

Text © Jessica Stremer, 2024. Image © Bonnie Pang, 2024.


Jessica Stremer – Lights Out: A Movement to Help Migrating Birds (3/5/2024) – The most challenging part of writing this book was choosing which species of bird to feature, and then making sure the facts I wanted to include were accurate to that species. Songbirds in particular are especially vulnerable to light pollution and building strikes, and I want readers to learn about them all.

Text © Alison Pearce Stevens, 2024. Image © Jason Ford, 2024.


Alison Pearce Stevens – Animal Climate Heroes (3/5/2024) – The hardest part was the shutdown. I usually travel to do research and couldn’t leave my town or state. Fortunately, I’ve seen some of these animals in the wild and could draw on those experiences. And there was one big benefit: I was stuck at home—but so were the scientists who would normally have been out in the field doing research! This made them not only readily accessible, but super excited to share their research with me.

Text © Karen Jameson, 2024. Image © Marc Boutavant, 2024.


Karen Jameson – Wake Up, Woodlands (3/5/2024) – The hardest part for me was validating that the exact species of animals I chose were actually in that same habitat in the spring. Some animals migrate or wander to other sites, so I needed to be sure that the animals were there and that their springtime behaviors were factually correct.

Text © Annette Whipple, 2024.


Annette Whipple – Quirky Critter Devotions: 52 Wild Wonders for Kids (3/5/2024) – I knew writing about 52 animals would be a ton of fun. What I didn’t realize was how many incredibly cool and quirky animals I’d have to leave out! I included the seven main categories of animals (fish, birds, mammals…) and had to limit how many I included in each category. Then I had to work with a word count for each animal! The cool thing is I have lots of ideas of which animals I might include if I get to write a second animal devotional with Tyndale!

 

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

Laurie Ann Thompson – The next book in the Meet Your World series, You Are a Garter Snake!, comes out in June. This was, somewhat surprisingly, one of my favorite projects to work on ever. I am embarrassed to admit that I have a bit of an irrational phobia about snakes, so I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel about digging into the research for this book. But the more I learned about these fascinating creatures, the more I began to appreciate them! I’m pleased to say that the last time I saw one in the wild I didn’t scream and jump away like I would have before writing the book. Instead, I leaned in closer and studied it, cheering it on as it made its way in the world. (Note: I’m not sure I’m quite ready yet to grab one and pick it up--LOL!) I’m hoping the book will have the same effect on other readers who may not consider themselves snake lovers--yet. It’s hard not to love them thanks to Jay Fleck’s illustrations, which are so, so adorable!

Jessica Stremer – I have been very fortunate to connect with some great editors in the last few years. I have a middle grade nonfiction book, Fire Escape: How Animals and Plants Survive Wildfires publishing in June of 2024. It’s my first middle grade book and I’m both excited and nervous to see how it’ll be received.

 

I’m also looking forward to 2025, when I have three books publishing. Plight Of The Pelican: How Science Saved a Species publishes in the spring, Wonderfully Wild in the summer, and Trapped In The Tar Pits in the fall. Each one has a different writing style, and the illustrators are incredibly talented. Hopefully, there will be even more books down the road!


Alison Pearce Stevens – I have three more books coming out in the next two years. Detective Dogs are on the Case  (Holiday House) will be out in September. It looks at conservation dogs that are sniffing out invasive species to help protect our ecosystems. The Wild Mile (Holiday House, 2025) showcases efforts to rewild the Chicago River in the heart of the city, because cities aren’t just for people. When Beavers Move In (Godwin Books/Henry Holt, 2026) with Métis illustrator Natasha Donovan will be my first picture book. It shows the extraordinary ways the Tulalip Tribes are healing their ancestral lands by trapping “nuisance” beavers near Puget Sound and relocating them high in the Cascade Mountains.

 

Karen Jameson – Right now, I’m busy collaborating on the details for The Secrets Of The Jellies (Chronicle, 2026)! This deep dive into jellyfish is a STEAM project with gorgeous art by Marie Hermansson. Such fun!

 

Annette Whipple – My love for animals continues with the sixth book in The Truth About series (Reycraft Books). Chomp! The Truth About Sharks will be published this fall! My newsletter subscribers have even had a sneak peek at the cover. Next year, we’re looking forward to Flick! The Truth About Lizards.


All of these books sound amazing. We will have to keep our eyes open for them. How do each of you deal with, or celebrate, rejections?

 

Laurie Ann Thompson – Ah, the age-old question! I think it’s important to recognize that they do hurt, no matter how much of a professional you are. There’s simply no getting around it. So, I give myself some time to grieve and wallow. I focus on self-care and doing things that bring me joy. I spend time with friends who can help me pick my self-esteem up the floor, especially writer friends who’ve been there and can remind me that it’s only temporary. Then I remind myself that I did my part—I did the work—and that’s all I can do. Then I get back to work. I found the book The Bulletproof Writer: How to Overcome Constant Rejection to Become An Unstoppable Author by Michael Alvear to be really helpful in setting up and maintaining a healthy mindset around rejections.

 

Jessica Stremer – If I receive a pass, I’ll let myself feel whatever I need to feel for a bit, then redirect my energy into something that makes me feel good, like exercising or writing.

 

If I get good news I celebrate right there on the spot. One time my agent called while I was floating down the lazy river at our local pool. I awkwardly climbed out of the water, ran to my phone started jumping up and down as she told me the good news. I didn’t care how silly I looked in front of everyone else at the pool. I sold a book!

 

Alison Pearce Stevens – I’ve been doing this long enough that rejections don’t bother me the way they used to. I’ve come to accept that not every story will be accepted. Of course, I’m disappointed when I get a “no,” but I can shake it off pretty easily and move on with the next project. That’s another advantage of juggling multiple projects—there’s always another one waiting in the wings.

 

Karen Jameson – Rejections are inevitable in this business, so I try not to take them personally. I usually indulge in a bit of chocolate therapy! Ha! After that, I take a moment to see if there is anything useful to be gleaned from the editor’s comments.

 

Annette Whipple – I learned very early on to have thick skin when it comes to rejection. Unless there’s feedback with a rejection (and honestly, it’s mostly silence), then I just move on and get back to my current project.

 

Thank you for these strategies and advice. Last question, is there a plant or flower you love growing, or wish you could grow, in your yard or garden?

 

Laurie Ann Thompson – My entire front yard, literally, is a giant sequoia tree. It is around 150 feet tall, and the view from my wall of living room windows is all branches. It feels like I’m living in a treehouse (except much drier, warmer, and cozier)! I LOVE my giant sequoia. When we first bought the house, it was a very competitive real estate market. There were multiple offers besides ours, some even at a higher price, but ours was the only one that didn’t come with a contingency to cut down the tree prior to transfer. The previous owners loved the tree as much as we did, so we got the house! Now I feel a bit like I’ve been entrusted with its care and preservation, and it’s not always easy. I have to have to get it treated regularly to slow its growth and “soften” the roots, so it doesn’t destroy the foundation, the driveway, and/or the street. It constantly drops needles and cones that need to be cleaned up. And it sometimes needs pruned so the branches don’t scrape against the siding and eaves. But it’s worth it. It sequesters a whole lot of carbon from the atmosphere, it’s a spectacular landmark in the center of my neighborhood, it keeps my house cool in the summertime, and it’s a sight to behold when we point the projector at it during the holidays.

 

Jessica Stremer – We’re actually in the process of rewilding our yard, planting trees and wildflowers that are native to the area. I’m hoping to plant as many natives as I can to support the local ecosystem. I’d also love to have a huge willow tree in the yard someday.

 

Alison Pearce Stevens – My garden is a huge pollinator buffet, with dozens upon dozens of native plant species, so this is a tough question. Since it’s spring, I’ll say mountain golden banner, which is a big, beautiful plant with deep green leaves and tall spikes of yellow flowers. It’s one of the first plants to bloom in the spring and the bumblebee queens that are just emerging flock to it. Every time I see it, it makes my heart sing.

 

Karen Jameson – I love lilacs and peonies! Alas, neither grow in my agricultural zone. So, I always treat myself to a bouquet when I see them at Trader Joes!

 

Annette Whipple – I have a handful of perennial flowers in my flower bed as well as a lilac bush. About ten years ago we planted blueberry bushes. My family helps to pick them. Last summer we built a raised bed garden for strawberry plants. My kids love eating fruit all summer!

 

It’s good I have these plants outside because inside, I’m not doing so well. There are only a handful of plants I can have since I have a kitty who loves to eat all plants. (My other cat doesn’t touch them!) Spider plants are known for being hardy (and cat-safe). However, last year I killed two spider plants. I’m trying to keep a third one alive. It’s surviving, but certainly not thriving.

 

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

You Are a Robin! by Laurie Ann Thompson, illustrated by Jay Fleck (Dial Books 3/5/2024) - Succinct sentences, a second-person point of view, and colorful, engaging illustrations gently guide young readers through the life cycle of a robin. Throughout, action words, like "shiver/ snuggle /sleep," are highlighted and mirrored by children in spot illustrations engaged in recognizable activities - such as shivering on a winter day, snuggling a dog, or lying in a sleeping bag. The back matter offers information about robins and their importance, a glossary, and fun activities. It's a wonderful early STEM book.


Synopsis: The third in the 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.


Flit, flap, flutter! You might have seen a robin flying overhead or heard one singing in the trees. Did you know that robins tidy themselves up, teach their babies to find food, and are almost fully grown in just two weeks? From birth to first flutter and beyond, discover all that goes into being a robin in this charming picture book, the third 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!

Lights Out: A Movement to Help Migrating Birds by Jessica Stremer, illustrated by Bonnie Pang (Paula Wiseman/S&S 3/5/2024) – A wonderful exploration of the effects of lights on migratory birds, in this case sparrows, and the "Lights Out" movement that grew from a few volunteers to a world-wide movement to encourage cities to turn of unnecessary lights during migration season. The back matter offers readers ways that they can help migrating birds. This is a gorgeously illustrated, lyrical STEM picture book.


Synopsis: Based on the real-life Lights Out movement, this inspirational picture book shows how even the smallest of actions, like flipping a switch, can make a big difference in helping migrating birds.


When the seasons change and it’s time for a flock of sparrows to move on, a map made of stars guides their way. But when they reach the city, light pollution masks the map and confuses the birds. One sparrow becomes separated from the flock. A girl rescues the lost sparrow and decides to take action so this doesn’t happen again.


She rallies a group of friends, and together they encourage people all over the city to help the sparrows by turning off their lights at night. But will the city be ready by the time the flock return?

Animal Climate Heroes by Alison Pearce Stevens, illustrated by Jason Ford (Godwin Books/Henry Holt Books for Young Readers 3/5/2024) – With conversational text and comic illustrations, this fascinating middle grade STEM book explores the animals who are fighting against the villain - climate change. After examining the causes of this villain's rise and some unsung heroes (plants, algae, and cyanobacteria), the book highlights the superpowers of whales, plankton, sea otters, forest elephants, echidnas, fungi, and each of us to battle against this villain. The book offers ways to help these heroes and resources and suggestions for ways to become involved in this battle. It is an entertaining and informative book.


Synopsis: In our left corner we have the meanest villain that’s ever existed. Responsible for rising seas and loss of biodiversity, it’s climate change ready to wreak havoc on the Earth. But in our right corner? We have four superheroes ready to save the day!


Forest elephants protect our forests by trampling trees.

Whales boost ocean health with their massive poo-nados.

Sea otters defend kelp forests from purple invaders.

And echidnas bury tons of soil to stop climate change.


But we can’t leave them in this fight alone. We need to protect our heroes who, in return, defend our planet. Get ready to learn all about these four legged, and two-flippered, creatures and how YOU can be a climate hero too!

Wake Up, Woodlands by Karen Jameson, illustrated by Marc Boutavant (Chronicle Kids Books 3/5/2024) – As a family wanders from the house through the woods, they call to various animals ("Little whiskers," "Long ears," and "Small paws") to shake off the winter doldrums and come enjoy spring. Rhyming couplets work with the soft, colorful illustrations to highlight each animal's families, habitats, and their diets. This is a sweet, lyrical early STEM picture book celebration of the arrival of spring.


Synopsis: Celebrate the promise and potential of spring in this effervescent follow-up to Woodland Dreams.


Oh, the promise of spring and a new day! A honeybee, bear cub, bunny, squirrel, fawns, and more wake up as the landscape brims and bursts with spring firsts. In this beautifully illustrated picture book follow-up to their beloved bedtime book, Karen Jameson and Marc Boutavant offer a lyrical and reassuring ode to the morning and a celebration of a new season, affirming the power of greeting the day with energy, positivity, and hope.


Readers will adore the heartwarming illustrations and tender moments between animal parents and children. Perfect read-aloud to share over breakfast, with a preschool class for morning storytime, or on the first day of spring.

Quirky Critter Devotions: 52 Wild Wonders for Kids by Annette Whipple (Tyndale Kids 3/5/2024) – Using photographs, charts, and comical illustrations, this book examines fun facts of 52 unusual mammals, insects, amphibians, birds, fish, reptiles, and spiders. Engaging text combines with wonderful scientific information on each species, activities, and a devotional journaling page related to a feature of each creature to create a year-long exploration of some very unusual critters.


Synopsis: Quirky Critter Devotions is specially designed for curious minds interested in God’s animal kingdom.


Formatted to look like an explorer’s field journal, this book will encourage kids to embark on their own expedition and discover wildly weird animal facts with full-color snapshots, record their thoughts in the journaling space, and gain hands-on experience with zoo-tastic activities. They’ll discover a wide range of crazy-cool critters spanning seven animal categories―mammals, insects, amphibians, birds, fish, reptiles, and spiders. From familiar faces like turtles and honey bees to quirky creatures like the Goliath bird-eating spider, this devotional is sure to cultivate a passion for God’s Word and his creation.


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:

 

Laurie Ann Thompson – You Are a Robin! (Dial Books 3/5/2024) and the board book editions of You Are a Honey Bee! and You Are a Raccoon! (Dial Books 3/12/2024) –

 

Jessica Stremer – Lights Out: A Movement to Help Migrating Birds (Paula Wiseman/S&S 3/5/2024) –

 

Alison Pearce Stevens – Animal Climate Heroes (Godwin Books/Henry Holt Books for Young Readers 3/5/2024)

 

Karen Jameson – Wake Up, Woodlands (Chronicle Kids Books 3/5/2024) –

 

Annette Whipple – Quirky Critter Devotions: 52 Wild Wonders for Kids (Tyndale Kids 3/5/2024) –

 

 

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Maria Marshall

 Photograph © A. Marshall

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