Nonfiction

Interview with Scott H. Longert author and book giveaway!

Scott H. Longert is the author of Cy Young: An American Baseball Hero, published by Ohio University Press, Biographies for Young Readers.

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Thanks for taking the time to chat with us here at the Mixed-Up Files of Middle Grade Authors!

What attracted you to share Cy Young’s story with younger readers?

I was thinking about somebody who would be relevant to a young reader, someone they wouldn’t know very well, but that they might have heard of them. Of course, we have the Cy Young Award, so I thought lots of young people might know about the Cy Young Award, but do they really know Cy Young the man. I knew some things about him, he came from a small town, and he rose up as high as you could go in baseball, so I thought he would be a good guy to write about.

You share in your author’s note that you went to the historical society and to where Cy lived. Can you share with readers how these experiences helped you in your research on Cy’s life?

It really kind of humbled me when I went there. He was born in Gilmore, (Ohio) a real small farm community outside of Newcomerstown, which is a fairly small community as well.  Just to see his imprint there, was amazing. When we came into town, we saw the Cy Young baseball field and park, and the museum devotes just about an entire wing to Cy and his life so you could see right away that he was a very important person It really helped me writing the book to getting a sense of who he was by visiting where he was born and the house he passed away.  To stop by and look at that house and to know that he sat on that porch many times, just a regular guy and just happened to be probably the greatest pitcher in the history of the game.

Please share with readers what Cy’s real name was, and how he came to be nicknamed “Cy.”

His real name was Denton. As a young boy, and as a teenager everyone called him Dent or Denton, and he was fine with it. He could throw a baseball extremely hard from a very young age and everyone knew it.  When he got his first tryout for professional baseball to pitch for Canton, he was on the mound, and  there were a few players watching, and he took his wind up, he threw the ball so hard that the catcher literally let it go by him and the ball smashed into the grandstand and apparently cracked some of the wood. Cy did this several times. One of the people watching commented, “Look at that man, he throws like a Cyclone!”  The name really stuck and then people, instead of calling him Cyclone, just called him Cy, and he liked that name. From then on, Denton disappeared, and everybody called him Cy.

Cy was born in 1867 and began playing professional baseball in 1890. Baseball was a slightly different sport then. You share the many changes from then until now in the book. Can you offer a few of the differences from then until now?

One of the major ones, was that there was no pitching rubber at the time, where the pitcher had to put their foot on it and couldn’t move off of it when they pitched then, they called it the pitchers box, they could stand at the end of it, they virtually could take three of four steps forward, and just launch the ball they didn’t have to be confined to one spot and just let a lot of momentum when you were going to throw the baseball. There were some other rules about “fair and foul” if you hit a foul ball, it wasn’t counted a strike, you could be at bat for quite some time and not have any strikes against you.

It wasn’t considered manly to try to and protect your hands at all, you were a tough individual only the catcher would wear a thin glove, kind of like what we’d wear in the winter, to shovel snow. When Cy got in the major leagues, a few guys here and there most guys felt like “I don’t need a glove, that’s for babies.” Eventually guys, after getting more broken fingers and broken hands, decided it would be a good idea to wear a glove to protect their hands. Cy didn’t wear one until mid-1890’s, so he resisted for many years. As the pitcher, you are closer than anyone else. But he would not wear a glove for the first three or four years of his career.

How long did Cy play?

Cy started in Canton 1890 and played all the way through 1911. He was in the Major Leagues for twenty years as a pitcher. His career was over several decades. Most guys not able to do. He had a lot of strength and stamina.

Do you feel the physical requirements as a farmer helped him to be so strong?

I think it had something to do with it. A number of guys would take it easy during the off season, the most they would do, they would hunt and fish.  Other guys had jobs, indoor jobs, sitting behind a desk. Cy was outdoors all the time, tending to his farm which was 125-150 acres, which was a lot of ground to cover. He believed in running. He would do a lot of running on his own, which was very rare for athletes at the time, he thought that helped him, so he would run. I’m sure wearing his farm clothes, coat and boots, running around the property, helped him. He’d usually come to spring training in good condition. It was customary to come to spring training, probably 5-10 pounds overweight, and use spring training to get back in shape. Other players would let themselves go over the wintertime.  Cy would come to camp just about ready to play for opening day and was usually several steps ahead of everybody else.

Tell me about Cy the man.

What I found was that Cy was a great member of the community, he was a good man, and he was honest. He was a clean-living man, he didn’t really drink, he didn’t smoke, when he wasn’t playing baseball, he was home with his wife and working at the farm. He was a hard worker, and  he never let success go to his head, he was the same guy he was when he was nineteen leaving for his first efforts in semi-pro baseball until the time of his retirement, he was the same guy, always kind and good hearted. I think that was the thing about the man that impressed me. He never had a big head about himself, like “don’t you know who I am, I’m the great Cy Young.” He didn’t think like that all, he was just a regular guy, who loved going home to the farm on the off season and being with his friends and family. He preferred staying home and reading or visiting with friends, he was very content with that, to be on the farm, take care of animals, plant crops and of course, chop down trees, which was his favorite thing. He was always willing to help anyone, anytime. He was very good to his friends, when people needing a helping hand, they could always call Cy.

As a fellow biographer, I stress the importance of primary sources with younger readers. What sources did you discover through your research? How did they help in sharing Cy’s life journey?

The Baseball Hall of Fame has a wonderful research library. The most important thing at the research library at Cooperstown is the player files. The Hall of Fame keep an active file on everyone who has played major league baseball. In the file you’ll find lots of newspaper clippings, magazine articles, which could be from 1893 up to something written a couple of years ago, photos, letters from the player, and to the player, statistics on the player, all kinds of things that help you get a picture of who the person was, as a ball player and a person. I think it is very vital in researching a baseball player, to see his player file and read everything there. And usually that leads to other sources. Ball players from long ago, born in small towns, usually there is a historical society that keeps the history of the town and the people who in it. If the baseball player comes from a small community, chances are the historical society will keep records of that person, and a lot of personal things, so that’s really important to visit the local historical society. If you can, in a lot of cases, the ball player you’re doing research on, has grandchildren or great-grandchildren, and usually the relatives are very happy that you are interested and happy to share stories that have been passed down from generation to generation.

The Cy Young award is given to the best pitchers in both the American League and the National League. The award was created the year after Cy’s death. How do you think he would feel about this honor?

It’s a shame that they didn’t decide to do the award while he was still alive. He would have been extremely happy and proud of the award. I think that after he passed away the Major Leagues, said what can we do for Cy? I think it would have been okay with him that even though he was gone, that baseball thought enough of him to create one of their biggest awards, and name it in his honor. Just knowing Cy, he was happy with whatever came his way. On his 80th birthday there was a big celebration in Newcomerstown, lots of people came to honor him, and give him gifts, and having a big piece of cake and dinner, shaking hands with people and that’s pretty much all he expected, and that made him happy.

In one sense it would have been great if he would have known about the award, I’m sure he would have been thrilled,  but his name still lives today and will live for quite some time, and I’m sure he would have been fine with that.

Is there anything that you would want our followers to know about your book about Cy Young?

It’s a look at early baseball, how the game evolved during Cy’s time, when it started, when he played ball first for Cleveland in 1891 and how the game gradually changed, until he retired in 1912. And a little bit of history about our country at the time. America was a growing place, with expansion and new jobs, and exciting things the telephone, and automobiles and then radio and television, Cy lived through all those things. Even Little League, Cy was a big fan, and would go out and talk to the kids and show them the fine points of being a good ball player. I think the book gives a good sense of America and all about baseball and how important it is to society by reading the book.

We’re giving away a copy of Cy Young: An American Baseball Hero! Contest applicable only to those living in the United States. Click here to enter!
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Women In STEM (Math & Science) – Author Interview with Laurie Wallmark, and Giveaway

 Today we’re interviewing Laurie Wallmark, author of Numbers in Motion, and several other titles.

 

                               

This book features the STEM topics of mathematical equations and science, and how Sophie Kowalevski became the first woman in the world to receive a doctorate in mathematics that required original research and inspired a generation of mathematicians.

Sophie was also the first to hold a university chair in mathematics, and the first to be the editor of a major scientific journal.

 

  1. Tell us about Numbers in Motion and what inspired you to write the story of Sophie Kowalevski.

As long as I can remember, I’ve loved math. Why? Because it’s fun! Although several of the people I’ve written about before have been talented mathematicians, they were recognized in different fields. I thought it was time to share a woman mathematician’s story with kids.

 

2. How did you do your research for this book? How did you organize all the information you learned about Sophie?

I researched her life through books and professional journal articles. A book that was especially helpful was written by Sophie herself, A Russian Childhood.

I use the program OneNote to organize all my research. I have a separate tab for each book, each of which includes a section for notes and for quotations. It’s very important to be able to go back to your notes and find the source for what you’ve written. In addition, I have tabs for my bibliography, a timeline of Sophie’s life, and, while I was researching and writing the book, an ever-expanding list of possible scenes to write.

 

 

3. How do you envision teachers and librarians using this book in classrooms?

The true value of picture books is that they can be used on so many levels. To start with, there is of course the text and illustrations of the story. Especially in a book like mine that takes place in another time period, there are many possibilities for discussing how the world has changed.

In addition, most nonfiction picture books, including mine, include some basic back matter such as a timeline and a bibliography. Numbers in Motion also has three more pieces of back matter. My author’s note tells how, in addition to being a mathematician, Sophie was also a writer. Next, for students (like me!) who might want to know more about Sophie’s math, I explain in more detail the problem she solved–the rotation of solid bodies. Finally, I include how Sophie Kowalevski’s name was transliterated from the Cyrillic alphabet. This presents a great opportunity to discuss how people’s (possibly even some of their classmates’) names might be spelled different ways when written in our Roman alphabet.

 

4. Can you suggest three questions related to women in mathematics for student discussions?

  1. Why do you think we haven’t heard of as many woman mathematicians as men?
  2. Do you think woman and girls have the same natural ability in math as men and boys?
  3. Do you think there are any women working in mathematics today who have made important discoveries

 

 

5. What do you want readers to take away from Numbers in Motion?

Sophie loved math and overcame many obstacles to pursue her studies. I think the big take away from Numbers in Motion is it’s worth pursuing your dreams, even if other people say you can’t or shouldn’t.

To read more about Laurie and her work, click here.

 

Want to own your very own copy of Numbers In Motion? Enter our giveaway by leaving a comment below! 

 

You may earn extra entries by blogging/tweeting/facebooking the interview and letting us know. The winner will be announced here on April 13, 2020 and will be contacted via email and asked to provide a mailing address (US only) to receive the book.

 

 

 

Support local booksellers with these new releases!

Now more than ever we need to support our local book sellers and children’s book authors. And, we need to keep fueling the minds of the middle-grade readers in our lives. What better way than to purchase these up-and-coming releases geared toward this awesome age group.  Note that each has a link to click on to an independent book seller near you. My favorite local book store, Gathering Volumes in Perrysburg, Ohio, was more than happy to take my order over the phone last week and ship out a gift to my niece. There are some great reads on this list! Happy shopping!

Greystone Secrets #2: The Deceivers by Margaret Peterson Haddix, HarperCollins Publishers, April 7

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The second book in the Greystone Secrets series from the master of plot twists, Margaret Peterson Haddix—perfect for fans of A Wrinkle in Time and The City of Ember!

Until their mother vanished, the Greystone kids—Chess, Emma, and Finn—knew nothing about the other world.

Everything is different there. It’s a mirror image, except things are wrong. Evil. Their mother tried to fix it, but she and an ally got trapped there along with Ms. Morales, their friend Natalie’s mom.

Now the four kids—brave Chess, smart Emma, kind Finn, and savvy Natalie—are determined to rescue everyone.

To do so, they have to go back: into the other world, where even telling the truth can be illegal.

But in such a terrifying place, Chess doubts he can ever be brave enough. Despite all her brains, Emma can’t seem to break the code. With everything spiraling out of control, Finn has to pretend he’s okay.

And for Natalie, the lies of the other world include some she wishes were actually true. What if she’s gotten so used to lying she no longer knows what to believe?

The second book in the Greystone Secrets series, The Deceivers, by bestselling author Margaret Peterson Haddix, continues the twisty and suspenseful story of the Greystone kids and examines the power of the truth—or a lie—to alter lives, society, and even an entire reality.

The Big, Fun Kids Cookbook, Hearst Home Books, April 7

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It’s the ultimate kids cookbook from America’s #1 food magazine: 150+ fun, easy recipes for young cooks, plus bonus games and food trivia!

The Big, Fun Kids Cookbook from Food Network Magazine gives young food lovers everything they need to succeed in the kitchen. Each recipe is totally foolproof and easy to follow, with color photos and tips to help beginners get excited about cooking. The book includes recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks and dessert—all from the trusted chefs in Food Network’s test kitchen.

Ghost Squad by Claribel Ortega, Scholastic, April 7

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Coco meets Stranger Things with a hint of Ghostbusters in this action-packed supernatural fantasy.

For Lucely Luna, ghosts are more than just the family business.

Shortly before Halloween, Lucely and her best friend, Syd, cast a spell that accidentally awakens malicious spirits, wreaking havoc throughout St. Augustine. Together, they must join forces with Syd’s witch grandmother, Babette, and her tubby tabby, Chunk, to fight the haunting head-on and reverse the curse to save the town and Lucely’s firefly spirits before it’s too late.

With the family dynamics of Coco and action-packed adventure of Ghostbusters, Claribel A. Ortega delivers both a thrillingly spooky and delightfully sweet debut novel.

Kate the Chemist: The Big Book of Experiments, by Kate Biberdorf, Penguin Young Readers Group, April 14

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Packed with 25 incredible science experiments kids can do at home, Kate the Chemist introduces young scientists to the fascinating world of STEM!

Have you ever wondered how to make a volcano explode? Or why dropping dry ice in soap bubbles forms neon brains?

With 25 kid-friendly science experiments, and stunning full-color photographs, Kate the Chemist’s big book of experiments, shows kids just how fun—and easy—it is to be a scientist. Learn how to make slime, fake tattoos, edible snot, and more! Experiments include step-by-step instructions, an ingredients list, full color photographs, a messiness factor rating, and a note from Kate.

Create future engineers, scientists, and inventors, and introduce your child to the world of STEM with Kate the Chemist: The Big Book of Experiments!

And, last but not least, this title came out last month, but wanted to shed some light on this great story!

The Prettiest by Brigit Young, Roaring Brook Press, April 14

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A must-read for young feminists, The Prettiest is an incisive, empowering novel by Brigit Young about fighting back against sexism and objectification.

THE PRETTIEST: It’s the last thing Eve Hoffmann expected to be, the only thing Sophie Kane wants to be, and something Nessa Flores-Brady knows she’ll never be . . . until a list appears online, ranking the top fifty prettiest girls in the eighth grade.

Eve is disgusted by the way her body is suddenly being objectified by everyone around her.

Sophie is sick of the bullying she’s endured after being relegated to number two.

And Nessa is tired of everyone else trying to tell her who she is.

It’s time for a takedown. As the three girls band together, they begin to stand up not just for themselves, but for one another, too.

Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates by Brian Kilmeade and Don Yeager, Penguin Young Readers Group, April 21

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A page-turning middle-grade adaptation of the New York Times bestseller about how a newly independent nation was challenged by foreign powers and what happened when America’s third president decided to stand up to intimidation.

When Thomas Jefferson became president in 1801, America was deeply in debt and needed its economy to grow quickly, but its merchant ships were under attack. Pirates from North Africa routinely captured American sailors and held them as captives demanding ransom and tribute far beyond what the new country could afford.

Jefferson found it impossible to negotiate a truce, and decided to move beyond diplomacy. He sent the U.S. Navy and Marines to blockade Tripoli—launching the Barbary Wars and beginning America’s journey toward future superpower status.

This vivid and accessible young readers adaptation of the New York Times bestseller features an exclusive new introduction, extensive back matter, and eye-catching art throughout. Chronicling a crucial moment in American history, this historical thriller will excite and inspire the next generation of patriots.

Echo Mountain by Lauren Wolk, Penguin Young Readers Group, April 21

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The Newbery Honor–winning author of Wolf Hollow and Beyond the Bright Sea returns with the story of an unforgettable young heroine in Depression-era Maine.

“Brilliant.” –Lynda Mullaly Hunt, bestselling author of Fish in a Tree

When the Great Depression takes almost everything they own, Ellie’s family is forced to leave their home in town and start over in the untamed forests of nearby Echo Mountain. Ellie has found a welcome freedom, and a love of the natural world, in her new life on the mountain. But there is little joy, even for Ellie, as her family struggles with the aftermath of an accident that has left her father in a coma. An accident unfairly blamed on Ellie.

Determined to help her father, Ellie will make her way to the top of the mountain in search of the healing secrets of a woman known only as “the hag.” But the hag, and the mountain, still have many untold stories left to reveal and, with them, a fresh chance at happiness.

Echo Mountain is celebration of finding your own path and becoming your truest self. Newbery Honor– and Scott O’Dell Award–winning author Lauren Wolk weaves a stunning tale of resilience, persistence, and friendship across three generations of families, set against the rough and ragged beauty of the mountain they all call home.

Ways to Make Sunshine by Renee Watson, Bloombury USA, April 28

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From Newbery Honor and Coretta Scott King Author Award winner Renée Watson comes the first book in a young middle grade series about Ryan Hart, a girl who is pure spirit, kindness, and sunshine.

Ryan Hart has a lot on her mind—school, self-image, and especially family. Her dad finally has a new job, but money is tight. That means some changes, like selling their second car and moving into a new (old) house. But Ryan is a girl who knows how to make sunshine out of setbacks. As her brother says when he raps about her, she’s got the talent that matters most: it’s a talent that can’t be seen, she’s nice, not mean!

Ryan is all about trying to see the best in people, to be a good daughter, a good sister, a good friend. But even if her life isn’t everything she would wish for, when her big brother is infuriating, her parents don’t quite understand, and the unexpected happens, she always finds a way forward, with grace and wit. And plenty of sunshine.

Acclaimed author Renée Watson writes her own version of Ramona Quimby, one starring a Black girl and her family, in this start to a charming new series.

Living the Confidence Code: Real Girls, Real Stories, Real Confidence by Katty Kay, Claire Shipman and JillEllyn Riley, HarperCollins Publishers, April 28.

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New from the New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestselling authors of The Confidence Code for Girls!

The best way to understand confidence is to see it in action. That’s why bestselling authors Katty Kay, Claire Shipman, and JillEllyn Riley have collected 30 true stories of real girls, pursuing their passions, struggling and stumbling, but along the way figuring out how to build their own special brand of confidence.

From Bali to Brazil, South Africa to Seattle, Australia to Afghanistan, these girls took risks, doubted themselves, and sometimes failed. But they also hung in there when things got hard. Along the way they discovered what matters to them: everything from protesting contaminated water to championing inclusive books to the accessibility of girls’ basketball shoes, and so much more.

Different goals, different stories, different personalities, all illustrating the multitude of ways to be confident in the world.

Packed with photos, graphic novel strips, and engaging interviews, Living the Confidence Code proves that no matter who you are, or how old you are, nothing is out of reach when you decide to try. Join this growing global community of powerful girls and imagine—what would you like to do, once you tap into your confidence? How will you write your story?

Hunger Winter: A World War II Novel by Rob Currie, Tyndale Publishers

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The thrilling story of one boy’s quest to find his father and protect his younger sister during the great Dutch famine of World War II.
“Sometimes you have to take a chance, because it’s the only chance you have.”

Thirteen-year-old Dirk has been the man of the house since his papa disappeared while fighting against the Nazis with the Dutch Resistance. When the Gestapo arrests Dirk’s older sister, who is also a Resistance fighter, Dirk fears that he and his little sister, Anna, might be next.

With only pockets full of food and his sister asleep in his arms, Dirk runs away to find his father. As Dirk leads Anna across the war-torn Netherlands, from farmyards to work camps, he must rely on his wits and his father’s teaching to find his way.