Wednesday, January 23, 2013

New energy books for The Next Big Thing #nextbigthing #literacy #nature #eco #lrnchat

Thank you to picture book author Danna Smith for inviting me to participate in The Next Big Thing, a global awareness blog campaign originally launched in Australia that highlights upcoming releases from authors and illustrators. Every author responds to (nearly) the same list of questions, so here goes...


  • What are the working titles of your next books? Energy Lab: Biofuels and Energy Lab: Water Power are two books being released this month as part of an alternative energy series.

  • Where did the idea come from for the books? I was contacted by the publisher this time around. I know that sounds unusual, but many nonfiction series often begin within the publishing house.
  • What genre do your books fall under? Nonfiction (Hooray for nonfiction!)
  • What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition? Hmmm, this is a hard one when it comes to nonfiction. I'm thinking documentary, possibly narrated by Morgan Freeman or Richard Attenborough.
  • What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book? Discover how the world can reduce its dependence of fossil fuels with gasoline from plants and electricity from ocean waves and tides.
  • Who is publishing your books? Biofuels and Water Power are part of Cherry Lake Publishing's Language Arts Explorer series, which applies the NCTE/IRA Standards to science and social studies content. Each book sends the reader on a fact-finding mission, posing an initial challenge and concluding with questions and answers. Through engaging, interactive scenarios, readers experiment with text prediction, purpose-driven research, and creative problem solving--all critical thinking skills--while learning about ways to care for our planet.
  • How long did it take you to write the first draft of each manuscript? When a publisher assigns an author a topic within a series, the lead time is extremely short:  about one month per book. Each book required in-depth research before I could craft a detailed outline and bibliography for approval by my editor. Once the outline was approved, I had about two weeks to actually write the book. I had to drop everything else I was working on to meet my deadlines!
  • What else about the books might pique the reader's interest? I interviewed several eminent scientists and entrepreneurs, including:  a research scientist from Lawrence Berkeley Labs at University of California, Berkeley; a sawgrass plant manager for British Petroleum (BP); scientists and educators at Cornell University who are developing ways to include biofuel research into the public school curriculum; the president of a company that manufactures turbines to capture energy from ocean tides and currents; and a research scientist from the National Renewal Energy Lab.
  • Who or what inspired you to write this book? I accepted this assignment because I enjoy writing about topics related to our environment. I am a new member of Authors for Earth Day, "an international coalition of award-winning children's authors and illustrators, who care about kids and nature—and the future of both. Each participant schedules one A4ED school visit in the month of April and donates at least 30% of that day's speaking fee to a non-profit conservation organization, as directed by a student vote at the author's host school." I will visit Genevieve Didion K-8 in Sacramento on April 19.
  • My next, next big things? Watch for two books about military special ops (fall 2013) and Plastic, Ahoy! (spring 2014)!
Next week, please visit the following authors for their Next Big Thing:  fellow SCBWI regional advisor Judy Goldman, author/illustrator April Chu, and illustrator Hazel Mitchell.

2 comments:

Pat Kahn's Childsplay said...

Both books sound really valuable. Bravo!

Pat Kahn's Childsplay said...
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