For Librarians

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.

A Chat About GLOOM TOWN by Author Ronald L. Smith & An Engaging Challenge For Readers!

Hi Everyone! How are you all doing? Social distancing and self-confinement is not something any of us expected to be doing, right now. Such an abrupt change to our lives can make us feel withdrawn and lonely. But there are ways to combat that feeling of isolation. One way is through reading and writing. Just as exciting is doing that with others through the internet. If you scroll to the bottom of this post, you’ll find a little creative exercise I created for you to do. Those who participate will have a chance to win a prize!

But don’t scroll yet! Take a peek at my next creepy book spotlight and what the author has to say about his writing journey. It’s seriously an amazing, creepy middle grade read.

GLOOM TOWN

by Ronald L. Smith

A delightfully creepy novel from a Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent Award winner imbued with magic and seafaring mythology. Lemony Snicket and Jessica Townsend meet Greenglass House, with a hint of Edward Gorey thrown in.

When twelve-year-old Rory applies for a job at a spooky old mansion in his gloomy seaside town, he finds the owner, Lord Foxglove, odd and unpleasant. But he and his mom need the money, so he takes the job anyway. Rory soon finds out that his new boss is not just strange, he’s not even human—and he’s trying to steal the townspeople’s shadows. Together, Rory and his friend Isabella set out to uncover exactly what Foxglove and his otherworldly accomplices are planning and devise a strategy to defeat them. But can two kids defeat a group of ancient evil beings who are determined to take over the world?

Another delightfully creepy tale from Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent Award–winning author Ronald L. Smith.

 

Hello Ronald! It’s such a pleasure to have you visit us. Let’s begin with an area most readers are curious about: What is it about writing stories that makes it all worth it for you?

Selfishly, it’s a dream come true to do this for a living.  I feel very lucky to have such a cool job. But what’s really rewarding is knowing that kids will read my books and (hopefully) like them.

Did any book(s) from your childhood influence or encourage you to . . .

    1. Want to read more?

                    Absolutely.

    1. Become a writer?

                    Yes. One of my favorite books as a kid was The Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet by Elanor Cameron. I also loved Ray  Bradbury, Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. All of these books fired my imagination and set me on a path of becoming a writer. 

How do you think authors, librarians, teachers, and parents can encourage a love of reading in middle schoolers?

I think they’re all doing a fantastic job. There has to be a story for every kid. The librarians and teachers are on the front lines in suggesting books that will appeal to every one of them, no matter their background. Also, it’s not just books. Comics, graphic novels and poetry also help kids become better readers of novels. So don’t discourage any kind of reading at all!

So very true!

Describe for us the town in which you set Gloom Town and why this story had to be told there?

Hmm. Well, I write organically, and just kind of discovered Gloom Town as I was writing it. I wanted a locale that felt out of time. Kind of like 19th century England but with odd details in the mix as well. The seaside setting was a surprise to me, but once that came to me I really began to love it. Ships, mariners, the docks—it all came together to create a setting I really loved.

I love how the town revealed itself to you as you were writing the story.

What was your favorite part of the story to write?

I like the creepy stuff, so it has to be Lord Foxglove and his minions!

🧡

What makes your main character Rory different from other characters you’ve written?

He has a lot on his shoulders and will do whatever it takes to keep his family safe. He is bright and confident, brave and curious. His home life is different from that of my other characters. His mom is a singer, and her friends are artists and performers, so he has grown up in a creative, avant-garde community.

Why will middle schoolers relate to Rory and/or your other characters in Gloom Town?

Hopefully, they’ll see a bit of themselves in these characters and experience every bit of joy, fear and happiness that they do!

What do you hope readers will take-away with them after reading this story?

Be brave. Fight for your family. Don’t take a job at a spooky mansion.

*laughing*

Food advice: What’s your favorite writing snack?

I don’t really have one. I take a break at noon for lunch. I usually have some tea in the afternoon. But if I had to answer I’d say anything salty and crunchy!

Writing advice: What do you do when the writing just isn’t flowing?

Cry.

Walk away for a while. Read someone else’s novel. Take a walk and clear my head.

One favorite idea-generating method you use is . . .?

Sometimes when I get stuck I imagine that the book is a film. What would happen next if this were a movie, I ask myself. Sometimes it works, Sometimes it doesn’t.

Sounds like a pretty effective method.

Care to share a favorite middle grade book of yours?

His Dark Materials from Philip Pullman and The Abhorsen Trilogy by Garth Nix.

Thank you for sharing your wisdom and experience with us. All the best to you, from your Mixed-Up Files family!

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

Ronald L. Smith is the Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent Award-winning author of Hoodoo, The Mesmerist, The Owls Have Come to Take Us Away, Gloom Town, and Black Panther: The Young Prince. He lives in Baltimore, Maryland.

WEBSITE | TWITTER | INSTAGRAM

 

GIVEAWAY CHALLENGE!

Dear Readers, thank you for joining in to learn more about Ron’s mysterious story of GLOOM TOWN! Are you ready for your home-schooling exercise? Create your own fictional town – Name & a brief Description – in the comment section below along with your Twitter handle for a chance to win a copy of GLOOM TOWN! I can’t wait to see what you come up with! Giveaway runs from today until April 1st, (US only). Winner will be announced via Twitter.