Long-Armed Ludy and the First Women’s Olympics

Long-Armed Ludy and the First Women’s Olympics
by Jean L. S. Patrick (Author) and Adam Gustavson (Illustrator)

Booktalk: Lucile “Ludy” Godbold was six feet tall and skinnier than a Carolina pine and an exceptional athlete. In her final year on the track team at Winthrop College in South Carolina, Ludy tried the shot put and she made that iron ball sail with her long, skinny arms. But when Ludy qualified for the first Women’s Olympics in 1922, Ludy had no money to go.

Thanks to the help of her college and classmates, Ludy traveled to Paris and won the gold medal with more than a foot to spare. Hooray for Ludy!


Nonfiction Monday

It’s Nonfiction Monday!

Copyright © 2017 Anastasia Suen All Rights Reserved.

Bloody Mary

Bloody Mary (Urban Legends: Don’t Read Alone!)
by Virginia Loh-Hagan (Author)

Booktalk: This urban legend has been told many ways over the years. Have you heard one of these versions? Do you believe in mirror witches?


Nonfiction Monday

It’s Nonfiction Monday!

Copyright © 2017 Anastasia Suen All Rights Reserved.

Fine Art Adventures

Today we are excited to feature Fine Art Adventures: 36 Creative, Hands-On Projects Inspired by Classic Masterpieces by Maja Pitamic and Jill Laidlaw.


Fine Art Adventures focuses on 18 well-known classic works of art. Children learn about the background of the art and artist, and then have their choice of hands-on activities to explore related art concepts and techniques.

As Mike Norris, staff educator at the Metropolitan Museum for Art says:

…the genius of this book is that each activity — designed for the skills of children aged between six and eight — extends logically from the original artwork, no matter what its medium, providing refreshing insights about painters and painting.

The projects range from creating a Pointillist artwork using paints and a toothbrush, to making a shoebox diorama to accompany Henry Rousseau’s Surprised!

One question you might have is whether this book is for adults or children. The brilliance of Chicago Review Press books is that, with their easy-to-read and easy-to-use format, they work for both. The suggested age range is 6 and up.

Fine Art Adventures is a great resource for either school or home use. The best part is no experience is needed!

Stop by Wrapped in Foil blog for the full review and an art activity suggestion to accompany the book.

Interview: Zoo Scientists to the Rescue


Last week Laurie Ann Thompson posted a review of ZOO SCIENTISTS TO THE RESCUE on her blog, here. Today she’s honored to follow up on that post with an interview with both of the book’s creators, author Patricia Newman and photographer Annie Crawley, as part of their blog tour. Enjoy, and be sure to check out the rest of the stop in the blog tour, too!  (See below for a complete list.)

LAT: How did you first become interested in doing a book about zoo scientists in general, and about these three in particular?

Patricia headshotPatricia: When my niece was in fifth grade, she told me about a persuasive essay her teacher assigned. The topic was zoos—are they good or bad? Only the teacher didn’t provide a balanced look—most of the literature she shared with the kids was anti-zoo. As the mother of a zookeeper, I knew my niece—and kids like her—needed the other side of the story. That experience planted the seeds for Zoo Scientists to the Rescue.

Patricia: During my initial research, I learned that zoos tackle conservation using three basic approaches: visitor education; captive breeding and reintroduction programs; and in situ study, or studying wildlife in their native habitats. I searched for several months, conducting brief phone interviews with people at various zoos to find the best match. Not all zoos are large enough to have research departments, and the largest zoos often charge an hourly fee to interview their scientists. Some even charge hefty licensing fees to write about their “intellectual property.” But finally, the pieces slid into place only slightly denting my bank account. I found three charismatic species (orangutans, black-footed ferrets, and black rhinos) and three scientists willing to speak to me who address the three main ways zoos promote conservation. And this was all before I’d written a word!

Annie headshotAnnie: I was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois. Lincoln Park Zoo connected me with nature on a very deep level. It is open 365 days a year and it is free, so for a Mom with four kids that was important. All summer long we would go to the zoo in the morning and North Avenue Beach in the afternoon. We would get to know the animals. In 5th grade I learned that all of our Great Apes needed protecting. I signed up for a special Behind the Scenes program for students. This program had us working with the scientists, keepers, and access to so many wildlife leaders. Zoos had a great impact on my life and the way I choose to live my life. When Patti approached me to work with her on Zoo Scientists to the Rescue, I was all in. It is vital for kids/teens to connect with nature and conservation and I believe Zoo Scientists to the Rescue will inspire many families to protect our world.

LAT: I so agree. As a zoo lover myself, it was really heartening to read such a thorough, well-researched (and gorgeous!) look at the good work that zoos are doing. Besides me, what kind of reader do you think ZOO SCIENTISTS will appeal to?

Read the rest of the interview here!


Zoo Scientists to the Rescue

Zoo Scientists to the Rescue
by Patricia Newman (Author) and Annie Crawley (Photographer)

Booktalk: Zoos take care of animals and welcome visitors of all ages, but that’s not all. Go behind the scenes at three zoos to meet scientists working to save endangered animals.


The creators share their process in this revealing interview:

Q. When did you start writing?

Patricia: As a kid, I carried a book everywhere I went, but I wasn’t one of those kids who sat under the apple tree and filled journal after journal with stories. I started dabbling with stories in the early 1990s at the urging of my mother-in-law, not at all sure this was something I could (or wanted to) do. I knew I had a lot to learn and it felt frightening to start over in a new field, so I approached writing with the eye of a skeptic. At that time, my kids were young with the usual complement of energy and curiosity and my writing time was measured in moments. I learned to bring a notebook wherever I went—the school pick-up line, karate class, horseback riding lessons—to jot down a new thought or revise an older one. I met with enough early successes to continue plugging away. I began to attend SCBWI conferences. With every manuscript, my skills developed until I felt comfortable calling myself a writer.

Annie: I can still remember the day I sat in my Grandmother’s kitchen looking at a world map, listening to one of her stories, and then looking outside at my backyard. Back and forth between the map and my backyard. And the biggest aha hit me. The world is my backyard and I knew I needed to see, experience, and document our world. I have always been visual, but when I was a kid growing up, I had no camera. I have always been an observer and notice the unspoken. I look for light. In college I studied broadcast and photojournalism. I was on the sidelines for all the college football games, on the court for our basketball games, and wandering campus with cameras in hand always looking for a story. After graduation, I saved my money and bought an around the world ticket. My first stop was Australia. As I was walking down the street, I saw a sign “Learn to Scuba Dive.” And the next thing I knew I learned to scuba dive and didn’t return home for four years. I’ve lived all over the world from Indonesia to Belize, Papua New Guinea to Galapagos. This past year I’ve visited China, the Philippines, Mexico, the Arctic and as I type this I am in an airport on my way to Tonga to photograph/film humpback whales. I’ve dedicated my life to inspiring others through images and stories.

Q. Describe your writing process.

Patricia: In a word, messy. I wouldn’t wish my process on anyone. Writing is about saying what’s in your heart, and although I frequently know what I want to say in broad strokes, I don’t always know how I want to say it.

Generally, I’m an organized person, but my first drafts for my recent environmental books start out as a jumble of words with no real narrative and a lot of seemingly unconnected science concepts. My poor critique group is very patient with me! I’ve grown to accept that a regurgitation of the basic facts is a necessary part of the process. With the basics down, I begin to re-imagine the scope and story that I want to tell, a process that demolishes the manuscript to the studs before beginning the remodel.

Often times, I write the chapters out of order. When writing Zoo Scientists to the Rescue, I actually wrote the three middle chapters about the scientists first, and saved the first and last chapters until the end. The first and last chapters are always hardest for me because they define the theme of the book. Once I have these chapters finished, I go back through the whole book to weave the now-identified theme throughout.

Annie: When we collaborated on Plastic, Ahoy! Investigating the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, I traveled with the scientists on board the research vessel, the New Horizon, photographing, filming and documenting everything. Patti entered the picture after the expedition had returned to dry land. As Patti wrote, I clarified aspects of the expedition during the writing process, and of course, worked with the editorial team in choosing the best photos to tell our story.

For Zoo Scientists to the Rescue, it was a different process. We traveled together for the interviews so I was documenting all of our expeditions and the scientists’ work with images and film. Once I read her first chapter, I needed to go and visit more zoos and take more images. I believe I took more than 5000 images while working on this title and traveled across the US from Seattle to Washington DC visiting locations as well as Australia!

Once Patti and Carol Hinz, our editor at Millbrook Press, had the text locked, I made a first pull for the production/design team. They were super to work with as they shared working documents with Patti and me. Because I shared my large pull with Patti, we worked closely together on recommending different shots, or more shots to better show the story.

Q. Tell us about your latest book.

Patricia: Zoo Scientists to the Rescue shows how three scientists use their expertise to tell their animals’ stories: Meredith from Smithsonian’s National Zoological Park who used to live with orangutans in Borneo; Jeff from the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo who breeds black-footed ferrets and releases them into the wild; and Rachel from Lincoln Park Zoo who studies wild rhinos to better care for zoo rhinos.

I wish every reader could have the chance to speak with one of these scientists in person like Annie and I did. The scientists are dedicated to helping their animals survive in the wild, and their enthusiasm for their work inspires kids to follow in their footsteps.

As a bonus, Annie and I got a behind-the-scenes peek at (and some wonderful close encounters with) orangutans, black-footed ferrets, and black rhinos. We hope kids get as much of a thrill reading this book as we got creating it!

Annie: I ditto everything Patti just said.

A few weeks ago, I received a box from our publisher expecting bookmarks for promotional reasons, and instead received a few copies of our new beautiful book. I sat down and read it cover to cover. I cried tears of joy because of the inspiration it brings while showcasing and not watering down what is really happening on our planet right now. Patti and I cannot only be author/photographer, we also have to help get the word out on what these extraordinary people and zoos are doing for animals in the wild. We must work together to protect our world.

This book is an incredibly special title and the important message shares hope for our future with some real astonishing environmental problems happening right now in our world, in our backyard. The burning of rainforest destroys orangutan habitat and every other species that coexists with them, and just might kill the wild orangutan population.

Our book trailer is on YouTube right now and starting in October we will be posting other videos to complement our experience and time together visiting the scientists.

Thanks for sharing your new book, Patti and Annie!

Nonfiction Monday

It’s Nonfiction Monday!

Copyright © 2017 Anastasia Suen All Rights Reserved.