Today we have a special interview for you. It’s with one of our own STEM Tuesday crew!!
I get to interview author Carla Mooney about her awesome book, The Chemistry of Food
Carla Mooney loves to explore the world around us and discover the details about how it works. She is an award-winning author of numerous nonfiction and fiction books and magazine articles for children and teens. Carla has her BS in Economics and is a former certified public accountant. Now she loves writing about science and technology, nature and the environment, history, biography, business, current issues, health and medicine, and sports. She is also a regular STEM Tuesday contributor on the Mixed-Up Files of Middle-Grade Authors blog. When not writing, Carla is the Pittsburgh chapter director for Flashes of Hope, a nonprofit organization that provides professional portraits of kids with cancer and other life-threatening conditions and raises money for childhood cancer research.
Thanks so much for answering a few questions about your book, Carla!
The chemistry of food — How do you think these two topics go together?
Chemistry and food. It’s not a pair that you would think go together. But food is matter, like any other matter you study in chemistry class. And what’s really interesting to me is how the chemistry you learned in school can be applied to food to explain what happens when you mix, cook, bake, and more. I had never really thought about food in that way before I researched and wrote this book and it was fascinating to make those connections.
What are some fun facts that you learned while writing this book?
1. When you add baking soda (a base) to cupcake batter, it causes a chemical reaction that produces gas bubbles that make the cupcakes light and airy. (I always thought stirring put the airy bubbles into the batter!)
2. Different flours have different amounts of protein in them. (I always thought all flour was basically the same!)
3. Your nose and mouth work together to perceive flavor and aroma – its not just your nose smells or your tongue tastes.
Can you give us three things that you hope kids will learn from your book?
In general, I hope they learn the “why” of what happens to food in cooking and baking and it will help them become better chefs. (I also hope that it is helping me cook a little better too!)
I also hope this book helps kids realize that chemistry and science and general can be fun and accessible.
And I want kids to be excited to investigate the world around them and use science to better understand it – from the food they eat, the games they play, and much more!
You’ve written a lot of series for different publishers. Do you get to pick the topics in those series or are they assigned?
Most of my books are with educational publishers who come up with a series idea and a list of titles. They send me the list and I usually get to pick which series and titles sound interesting to me. A few times, I’ve suggested a title to a publisher.
Can you give any tips to writers who want to break into nonfiction children’s books? Should they start with educational publishers or go straight to trade?
I think everyone’s path is different, so it depends on what you like to do! For myself, I actually started writing for magazines, newspapers, and an online website. Then, I decided to send in an introductory packet to a few educational publishers and landed my first assignments. I’ve done most of my work with educational publishers. I really like researching and learning about new topics all the time, which is something that I get with educational publishers. I have a few ideas for potential trade books, but they are in the early stages.
What are you working on now?
I have a few projects going on – one that I’m really excited about is also about food in a way – it is looking at how the history of humans and certain staple foods are connected and have influenced each other. So stay tuned!
If you could spend the day with any scientist or engineer, who would it be and why?
There are a lot of choices out there, but I think I’d like to spend the day with paleontologist Mary Anning. Going on a dinosaur dig with her would be a lot of fun!
Thanks for all of your great responses, Carla. I learned something new about food today!
Jennifer Swanson is the author of over 45 books for kids, mostly about STEM. She is also the creator and cohost of the award-winning podcast, Solve It! for Kids
. You can find Jennifer walking along the beach looking for sea turtles or looking up into the sky watching rockets launch. www.jenniferswansonbooks.com