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Cover Reveal: Everything You Need to Ace Chemistry

Swanson Cover Reveal

I’m so excited to reveal the cover for the newest entry into the Big Fat Notebook series:  EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO ACE CHEMISTRY IN ONE BIG FAT NOTEBOOK, by MUF and STEMTuesday contributor and National Science Teacher Award-winner Jen Swanson.

Got Chemistry?

Chemistry is one of the most feared subjects in high school, but fortunately, Jen has broken down this daunting subject into accessible and memorable units, from how to conduct an experiment to the Laws of Thermodynamics.

About the process of writing a book on Chemistry, Swanson told MUF,  “I love learning about how things react and why. As a kid, I went through 5 or more chemistry sets. In fact, we found a few, many years later, still stuck under my bed (good thing all of the chemicals were inert). But for me, the excitement is in the discovery of how things interact. That is also why I probably loved cooking as a kid. Chemistry and cooking are basically the same thing.”

About the Big Fat Notebook Series

CHEMISTRY is one of two new high school entries in the popular series; all five of the other entries are written for middle school readers. All books are organized by key concepts, summarized in easy-to-understand language. Important ideas are highlighted in marker colors, all definitions are explained, and illustrations help describe some of the more complicated ideas.

The books meet  Common Core State Standards, Next Generation Science Standards, and state history standards, and are vetted by National and State Teacher of the Year Award-winning teachers.

Writing About Chemistry

About writing this book, Swanson says, “Chemistry is a much more difficult science to learn. There are so many different concepts. The trick is to mimic the curriculum to make sure that you’ve set a good base knowledge before moving forward. For example, readers must know and understand the periodic table and the hows and whys chemicals are located there, ie.  the groups (the vertical columns) and periods (the horizontal columns) before you can really talk about how two chemicals will react with each other. While most of science works from this idea, in chemistry it is much more important. If students don’t understand the chemical make-up of an element, say Oxygen, then they can’t predict how it will interact with other elements … it was challenging to write this book. Mostly because I took chemistry over well, let’s just say a LONG time ago in college.”

((Want to read other STEM books by Jen Swanson? Check out this interview here about another one of her cover reveals.))

Cover Reveal

And at last … drum roll… we reveal the cover for EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO ACE CHEMISTRY IN ONE BIG FAT NOTEBOOK. Ta-da!

Swanson Cover Reveal

You can buy the book on Amazon or on Bookshop.org

About Jen Swanson

Author Jen Swanson

Science ROCKS! And so, do Jennifer Swanson’s books. A self-professed science geek, Jennifer is the award-winning author of more than 40 books for children, mostly about STEM. She is also the creator and administrator of the Mixed Up Files own STEM Tuesday blog, and the creator of STEAMTeam2020. You can learn more about Jennifer at her website, www.JenniferSwansonBooks.com

Don’t forget to check out her NEW STEM podcast starting in May 2020!

 

American Dog: Brave: An Interview with Author Jennifer Li Shotz

I’m excited to have had the chance to interview Jennifer Li Shotz, author of the bestseller Max: Best Friend. Hero. Marine. This book was made into the 2015 movie Max. Jennifer has written many other dog books, as well as a new series titled American Dog. Two of those books, Brave and Poppy, are coming out on April 7 (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers).

Before I begin my interview, here is a brief description of American Dog: Brave:

Brave is a stray dog surviving on the streets after a hurricane in San Antonio, Texas. He’s skittish and starving, but when he encounters 12-year-old Dylan, everything changes. Dylan is having a tough time himself and feels like he and Brave can help each other—if Brave doesn’t destroy his mom’s new couch or ruin Dylan’s friendships first.

Thanks for joining us, Jennifer. I enjoyed reading American Dog: Brave. I am a dog person myself, so I especially loved the story. Being the author to so many books featuring dogs, I’d love to know your connection. Did you grow up having dogs? Why such an interest?

Dog lovers, unite! Though I just want to start by saying that I’m also very much a cat person—I don’t discriminate. Cute and fluffy is cute and fluffy. My son is super allergic to cats, though, so we’re a dogs-only household.

Believe it or not, I only had dogs for a very brief period in my childhood—maybe a year or so—but it was during a really tough time when my parents first separated. I was about 7 years old I think. The dogs’ names were Mork and Mindy (look them up, kids—nanu nanu!), and they were the light of my life. I still remember lying on the floor with Mork, who was a big yellow Lab-retriever mix. I’d put my head on his belly and tell him all kinds of things, like whether I was feeling sad that day or the latest divorce updates, as if he were my oldest friend in the world. In response, he’d blast me on the cheek with some sweet puppy breath, and our BFF status was sealed. Those moments of feeling so connected to him and safe with him are what made me a dog lover for life.

Now my family and I have a 3-year-old rescue mutt named Vida. She was a stray in Puerto Rico who was brought to New York by an amazing organization. She’s the sweetest, goofiest, snugliest, and most unbelievably stubborn dog you’ll ever meet. She can open baby gates and our front gate with her snout, and she once stole an entire pork roast off the counter. Don’t tell her this, but I don’t mind her antics, because I know she’s a friend to my kids the way Mork and Mindy were to me.

I always find it interesting what ideas shape a story. You incorporated many interesting topics in your book: the stray dogs in Texas, the aftermath of a hurricane, the Blue Lacy, and ranchers. Were any of those jumping-off points for this story?

Any of those things could be interesting on their own, but I’m less interested in the thing itself and more curious about how a child experiences or sees it. That’s the jumping-off point for every story. Whether it’s epic or mundane, anything can stir up intense feelings for a young person.

So, let’s say it’s a big natural disaster, like a hurricane. How would an 11- or 12-year-old feel when the wind is louder than a freight train and the roof is rattling so hard it feels like it’s going to get sucked up into the air? How about after that event is over—does the world feel like a safe place anymore? Grownups are shaken too, of course, and in many ways kids are more resilient than we are, but the experience is very different and unique for them.

How would a young person feel encountering a sweet, sad stray dog on the street? A grownup might think, well, that dog is breaking my heart, but we don’t have room for it in the house, or I can’t afford the vet bills and the food, so I have to walk away. But a kid? No way—a kid’s whole being gets invested in that dog as soon as their eyes meet. That’s what drives my curiosity—and the story!

 

Great point (us writers are taking notes). I love how each book in the American Dog series is set in a different state. How do you pick which state to start with?

Every state has its own fascinating mix of geography, history, local identity and culture, and native or prominent dog breeds—we just had to pick someplace to start! Texas was an easy choice because 1) Texas is awesome, 2) there are so many different cultures and experiences and such rich history there, and 3) the Blue Lacy is a really cool dog that’s not very widely known. It seemed like a setting that could offer lots of storylines and ideas—and it was!

 

Which has been your favorite to write and why?

Hmmm, that’s a hard choice because I love them all, but I’ll go with American Dog: Poppy because I’m a native Californian and I love and miss my home state so much. Hopefully the book captures some of the essence of California life. Also: surfing dogs. What could be bad?

 

Which has been the most difficult to write and why?

Difficult isn’t quite the right word, but American Dog: Star, which comes out in the fall, was the most challenging of this new series. The main character is a boy with dyslexia, and it was so important to me to capture his experience in a way that felt real and true. These days there are definitely more opportunities for kids with learning or other issues to see themselves in a book or story, but they’re still somewhat rare, and it’s important to get it right.

 

Can you share with us some of the fun things you did or places you went for research for any of the books in this series?

Have you Googled “surfing dogs” lately? I’ll never get all those hours of my life back, but it was worth every second. Go try it now—trust me on this one.

 

Wow! Fascinating! Thank you, Jennifer for sharing so much about your new series. American Dog: Brave and American Dog: Poppy are both available on April 7.

JENNIFER LI SHOTZ is the author of the #1 New York Times bestseller Max: Best Friend. Hero. Marine., about the coolest war dog ever. She is also the author of the Hero and Scout series. A senior editor for Scholastic Action magazine, she lives with her family and Puerto Rican rescue dog, Vida, in Brooklyn. For the occasional tweet, follow her @jenshotz.

Kids At Home? We have got some resources for you!

Homeschooling in covid19

Hi Everyone,

We hope you are all doing well and staying safe. In light of the current COVID-19 social distancing requirements, I bet more than a few of you are at home with your families.  It can be difficult to find ways to keep everyone occupied, especially for kids of all ages. 🙂

Thankfully, TONS of organizations– including the kidlit community– have stepped up and are offering online FUN resources. We have compiled some of them here. Note, this is not a full list of everything that’s out there. If you have more suggestions, please add them to the comments so everyone can see them.

 

Here is a list that we have compiled so far:  (click on the highlighted words in each listing for the link)

 

Connecting with Children’s Authors

SCBWI Connect – the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators  has compiled a huge list of links to connect with authors for resources, activities, and book read alouds

Mom’s Choice Awards Authors

Spooky Middle Grade website teacher guides 

Kate Messner’s Read, Wonder, and Learn— a FABULOUS resource!!

Loree Griffin Burns 

Melissa Stewart 

Stimola Live — has lots of great readings and live streams by children’s authors

 

Connect with some of our own Mixed-Up Files Authors

Shari Larsen

Dorian Cirrone

Jennifer Swanson 

Melissa Roske 

Samantha Clark

 Julie Rubini 

 

Connect with Children’s Illustrators — many of whom are offering free coloring pages and more!

Jarrett Lerner

Joe Cepada 

Rafael Lopez

Steve Musgrave

 

 

Children’s Publishers

Many publishers are setting up a resource page where their authors can post videos

Charlesbridge Publishing (check out their resource tab)  https://www.charlesbridge.com/pages/remote-author-content

Peachtree Publishing  https://peachtree-online.com/resources/

Macmillan Kids https://us.macmillan.com/mackids/

Scholastic https://www.scholastic.com/home/

National Geographic Kids https://kids.nationalgeographic.com/explore/publishing/

 

Science Activities

STEM Tuesday from our very own website. It has two years worth of activities, project ideas, and literacy and STEM connections for kids of all ages https://fromthemixedupfiles.com/stem-tuesday/

Skype a Scientist Live! Follow on Twitter @SkypeScientist for live talks given by real scientists.

National Science Teaching Association (NSTA) Learning Center https://learningcenter.nsta.org/science60/science60-learning-together.aspx

Follow @ScienceStory on Twitter for great #STEM activities

STEAMTeam2020 website packed with videos and STEM activities  http://www.steamteambooks.com/

 

 

Museums

Shedd Aquarium https://www.youtube.com/user/sheddaquariumchicago/videos

Smithsonian Museum Online learning https://www.si.edu/educators

The Field Museum https://www.fieldmuseum.org/educators/learning-resources

The USS Intrepid Museum 

 

Writers

Highlights Foundations  #HFGathers 

 

There is so much to do!  And these are not everything. So many authors, publishers, teachers,  and professionals are coming together to help each other out in this time. It’s wonderful to see. Take advantage of it if you can.

To find more resources online,  take a look at the following hashtags that are being used to promote resources

On Twitter look for #kidlitquarantine  #covid-19  #kidsathome #parentingathome #operationstorytime #homeschool #quarantineactivities

But also, take the time you need. Here is a great post that gives you tips for how to cope during this time

10-suggestions-1-for-suddenly-homeschooling-your-kids

Whatever you do, please be safe.  And hang in there!

 

From the Mixed-Up Files crew