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Author interview with Sarah Albee

A few weeks ago, I reviewed POISON: DEADLY DEEDS, PERILOUS PROFESSIONS, AND MURDEROUS MEDICINES, by Sarah Albee. Today, I’m excited to host Sarah for an interview with the author! Read on to learn more about how she wrote this particular book and much, much more…


LAT: Welcome, Sarah, and thanks for agreeing to answer my questions!

LAT: You know how much I love your new book, POISON. The whole time I was reading it, though, I kept wondering… how did you first become interested in writing about poisons?

Sarah Albee author photoSA: I’ve been fascinated with poison ever since I was a young kid, from the first fairy tales that were read to me, to stories that I read myself as I got older. Snow White, Sherlock Holmes, Agatha Christie, Shakespeare—I wanted to know if those poisonings from literature were possible in real life, and if they were, I wanted to know what was going on at the molecular level of a person who’d been poisoned. The idea of writing a book about poison occurred to me a few years ago, as I was researching my book, Why’d They Wear That? Associating poison with fashion may sound odd, but my interest was piqued as I learned more about how arsenic became wildly popular in the 19 th century—it was everywhere—at every apothecary shop, in arsenical green fabric, in paint pigments, even in edible arsenic complexion wafers (!). The history of poison just seemed like a perfect way to link so many things that intrigue me—mysteries, detective stories, human passion, alchemy, art, politics, social history, and the history of medicine.

LAT: And that linking of so many different topics is one of the biggest reasons I enjoyed reading it so much! Besides geeky nonfiction authors, what kind of readers do you think this book will appeal to?

SA: I hope it will have what publishers call “crossover appeal,” which for me would be kids who think they prefer to read only fiction. I personally love knowing the “back story,” no matter what genre I’m reading. I find that I still ask myself: “Could that actually happen in real life?” I hope the book will appeal to science-oriented readers, history lovers, and to kids who love mysteries!

LAT: I think it will. Your passion for the subject comes through on every page. What was your favorite part of the book to research and/or write?

Read Sarah’s answer–and the rest of the interview–here!

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100 Things to Be When You Grow Up

100 Things to Be When You Grow Up
by Lisa M. Gerry (Author)

Booktalk: From beekeeper to ice-cream taster, forensic psychologist to Hollywood animal trainer, conservation biologist to Chief Happiness Officer, this book features 100 of the coolest, wackiest and most amazing jobs out there (greeting card maker?? Yes, you can!). Hands-on projects, advice from National Geographic explorers, interviews with experts, weird-but-true facts and tips for aligning your interests and personality to your job and more!

Snippet:
26 Astronomer
Shooting stars, black holes, dwarf planets, orbiting asteroids, meteor showers–these are all in a day’s (or night’s) for an astronomer. These scientists use math and physics to make discoveries, test theories, and conduct research about space and its celestial bodies.

Nonfiction Monday

It’s Nonfiction Monday!

Copyright © 2017 Anastasia Suen All Rights Reserved.

 

Aurora Book Lights Up Children’s Faces

On Wednesday last week (September 6, 2017), the sun produced an unusually large solar flare. This flare results in an increased likelihood of auroras lighting up the night sky here on Earth. To learn more about how this works, let’s look at the timely middle grade book Stories of the Aurora: The Myths and Facts of the Northern Lights by Joan Marie Galat and illustrated by Lorna Bennett.

stories of the aurora

As the title suggests, Stories of the Aurora is a combination of science and folklore. On the folklore side are legends from Inuit, Norse, Greek, and other cultures. On the science side, readers learn about the Earth’s magnetic field, how the auroras form, how they behave, and the environmental effects of auroras.

It’s a surprisingly informative mix. For example, on page 18 we learn that the Sami (also called Laplanders) call the aurora “The Light You Can Hear.” This might not make sense until the sidebar on page 30, when we learn people for centuries have reported hearing crackling and hissing sounds during bright auroras. In 2012 scientists were able to verify the sounds and lights were related and began to piece together how they are created.

Auroras making sounds is just one of the cool things readers will discover in Stories of the Aurora. This award-winning title will surely light up the faces of youngsters interested in finding out more about their world.

For the full review and activity suggestions, see Growing with Science blog.

Poison: Deadly Deeds, Perilous Professions, and Murderous Medicines

POISON cover

POISON: DEADLY DEEDS, PERILOUS PROFESSIONS, AND MURDEROUS MEDICINES
by Sarah Albee
Penguin Random House/September 05, 2017
Middle Grade (8-12), 192 pages

Here’s what the publisher says:

Science geeks and armchair detectives will soak up this non-lethal, humorous account of the role poisons have played in human history. Perfect for STEM enthusiasts! … Part history, part chemistry, part whodunit, Poison: Deadly Deeds, Perilous Professions, and Murderous Medicines traces the role poisons have played in history from antiquity to the present and shines a ghoulish light on the deadly intersection of human nature . . . and Mother Nature.

Professional reviewers have weighed in favorably:

“[Albee’s] light tone makes this morbid, well-researched study a sinister indulgence.“—Booklist starred review

A compelling, entertaining, and informative introduction to a sinister aspect of human history.” Kirkus Reviews

“There’s plenty of material here to delight fans of [Georgia] Bragg’s popular How They Croaked.” —The Bulletin

Ideal for readers, including reluctant ones, who delight in the science and scare factor of poisons or grotesque medicine.” —School Library Journal

And here are my thoughts:

This book is deliciously dark fun! Sarah Albee’s POISON is the perfect mix of science, history, mystery, and entertainment, and readers of many different genres will be thoroughly engaged by this book. I know I was! From ancient times to today (and beyond!), Albee shows us how poisons–both natural and man-made–have affected humans lives and culture. The facts are shocking and fascinating, but broken down in a way that makes them accessible. There’s also a ton of humor to balance the heavy subject matter, with puns and sarcasm galore, especially in the titles and captions. And all of it is tied together with a compelling design featuring sidebars, pullouts, photos, and illustrations. There are also some serious nonfiction features, including a table of contents, author’s note, acknowledgements, notes, selected bibliography, research guide, index, and more. A highly recommended middle-grade nonfiction!

For more information and some interior views to give you a better sense of what you can expect, read my full review here.

And yes, if you’re wondering, this is perfect for Labor Day! One of my favorite features of the book was the “Nice Work if You Can Survive It” sidebars, which told of various professions throughout the ages where people were actually poisoned by their jobs (did you know mad hatters were mad because of the chemicals used for felting?). Sobering, to say the least. And it made me even more grateful for regulations that protect workers from unscrupulous business owners!

 

National Geographic Kids United States Atlas

National Geographic Kids United States Atlas
by National Geographic Kids (Author)

Booktalk: Watch today’s eclipse online with NASA and follow it across the nation with this atlas filled with facts for young readers.

Snippet: Like a giant patchwork quilt, the United States is made up of 50 states, each uniquely different but together making a national fabric held together by a Constitution and a federal government. State boundaries, outlined in various colors on the map, set apart internal political units within the country. (See inside the book.)

FYI: NASA invites eclipse viewers around the country to participate in a nationwide science experiment by collecting cloud and air temperature data and reporting it via their phones.

Learn how you can participate in a NASA experiment.

Nonfiction Monday

It’s Nonfiction Monday!

Copyright © 2017 Anastasia Suen All Rights Reserved.