STEM Tuesday

STEM Tuesday –Planes, Trains, Automobiles, and More! — Book List



Let’s get moving this month with a selection of STEM titles that delve into locomotion — planes, trains, automobiles and other modes of transportation that require science to create.


Support Independent Bookstores - Visit Save the Crash-test Dummies by Jen Swanson, illustrated by Tamika Grooms
Explore how autos are made even safer by using crash-test dummies for design. An entertaining look at the history of car production, as well as the science and engineering behind these machines we can’t seem to live without.



Support Independent Bookstores - Visit Who Built That? series by Didier Cornille – Books include Bridges: An Introduction to Bridges and Their Designs; Skyscrapers: An Introduction to Skyscrapers and Their Architects; and Modern Houses: An Introduction to Modern Houses and Their Architects

As important autos are to us, we couldn’t go far without bridge, tall city skyscrapers, and our own homes. A behind-the-scenes peek into how these marvels of engineering were constructed and who designed them.

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit Wild Buildings and Bridges: Architecture Inspired by Nature by Etta Kaner, illustrated by Carol Wiens

Another title to explore that focuses on building and bridge construction. Architects look to nature to solve structural design problems, for instance mimicking the long roots of grasses to keep buildings standing in an earthquake.


Support Independent Bookstores - Visit Terrific Transportation Inventions by Laura Hamilton Wasman

The sometimes wild and wacky stories of how the inventions we take for granted came to be. Did you know early cars had three wheels, not four? How did we figure out how to launch humans into space? Read this title to find out these answers to these questions and more!


Support Independent Bookstores - Visit Bio-Inspired Transportation and Communication by Robin Koontz

We’re developing a theme of inventors and engineers looking to nature for inspiration. Find out how the flying squirrel inspired skydiving technology and how the octopus inspired water travel.



Support Independent Bookstores - Visit Biofuels by Patricia Newman

Follow a student who interviews experts about alternate sources of energy to power our cars, airplanes, and other machines that run on gasoline. This title covers the history of biofuels, how they are used today, and what we can expect in the future.


Support Independent Bookstores - Visit Titanic: Voices From The Disaster by Deborah Hopkinson

Moving about the world also has its share of disasters. Perhaps one of the most famous is the sinking of the Titanic. Hopkinson brings this terrible moment of history alive in this book.



Green Transport: Exploring Eco-Friendly Travel for a Better Tomorrow by Rani Iyer  

More on eco-friendly alternatives as transportation industries strive to create green options. This comprehensive title explores traditional energy sources and their impacts, alternative fuels, and mass transit issues as cities move toward more sustainable solutions.


Support Independent Bookstores - Visit Elon Musk and the Quest for a Fantastic Future (Young Readers’ Edition) by Ashlee Vance

Discover a true visionary revolutionizing three industries at once — space, automotive, and energy — in this fascinating biography edited for young readers.



Support Independent Bookstores - Visit Milestones of Flight: From Hot Air Balloons to Space Ship One by Tim Grove

Grove gives readers a look into transportation history and science in this book. Illustrated with photographs, documents, and diagrams from the Smithsonian’s collection.


STEM Tuesday book lists prepared by

Nancy Castaldo has written books about our planet for over 20 years including, THE STORY OF SEEDS, which earned the Green Earth Book Award, Junior Library Guild Selection, and other honors. Nancy’s research has taken her all over the world from the Galapagos to Russia.  She strives to inform, inspire, and empower her readers. Nancy also serves as the Regional Advisor of the Eastern NY SCBWI region. Her 2018 multi-starred title is BACK FROM THE BRINK: Saving Animals from Extinction. Visit her at 

Patricia Newman writes middle-grade nonfiction that empowers young readers to act on behalf of the environment and their communities. A Sibert Honoree for Sea Otter Heroes, Newman has also received an NSTA Outstanding Science Trade Book Award for Eavesdropping on Elephants, and a Green Earth Book Award for Plastic, Ahoy! Her books have also received starred reviews, been honored as Junior Library Guild Selections, and included on Bank Street College’s Best Books lists. During author visits, she demonstrates how young readers can use writing to be the voice of change. Visit her at



STEM Tuesday — Digging Up History/Archeology — Interview with Author Kerrie Logan Hollihan

Welcome to STEM Tuesday: Author Interview & Book Giveaway, a repeating feature for the fourth Tuesday of every month. Go Science-Tech-Engineering-Math!

Today we’re interviewing Kerrie Logan Hollihan, author of MUMMIES EXPOSED! The highly-praised first installment in a new Creepy and True series published by Abrams. The book received starred reviews from Kirkus, School Library Journal, and Booklist. Wow!

Mary Kay Carson: Tell us a bit about your new book.

Kerrie Logan Hollihan: Mummies Exposed! takes an in-depth look at human bodies that were preserved either with intent or by Mother Nature. (Some call the latter “serendipitous” mummies but “natural” is a friendlier term for my middle grade readers.)  I tell their stories of discovery—and, thanks in part to STEM research—at least part of the stories of the dead themselves: ten children, women, and men across space and time, explaining why these people (like us) were mummified or how their bodies survived the process of decay.

MKC: Did your exhaustive research led to some interesting finds?

Kerrie: The best surprise I share with my readers is this: There is always something new to discover about something old! For instance, here I am writing about King Tutankhamun when along comes a New York Times story reporting that the blade in one of Tut’s daggers is composed of metal from a meteorite. That fresh fact would merit a quick revision before the book went to press. Stuff like that happened frequently during the more than three years I spent researching for various proposals and eventually writing the book. I like to say it nearly made a mummy out of me!

MKC: Do you choose to specifically write STEM books?

Kerrie: STEM writing found me in the course of thinking about something or someone I wanted to learn about. When I was in a master’s program in journalism at Northwestern University, I took a science writing class that led me to lots of interesting spots to learn—and ask questions about—astronomy, portland cement, nuclear physics, medications, and how to claw your way out of quicksand. I discovered then that I like to learn about the history of science. The key component to science writing, I learned, is to ask questions…lots of them…find answers, and then interpret these for the reader at a number of levels: general readership, science magazines, and best for me, young readers.

Kerrie Hollihan channels her inner sixth grader (who read Compton’s Encyclopedia for fun) to write award-winning nonfiction for young people. Kerrie belongs to the well-regarded nonfiction author group iNK Think Tank and its interactive partner, Authors on Call, and blogs at Hands on Books: Nonfiction for Kids with Fun Activities. Find Kerrie online at

MKC: What approach or angle did you take to writing this book?

Kerrie: In my heart, I’m still a sixth-grade girl who read the encyclopedia for fun. That’s who I target when I write for young people. As it turns out, older people can learn a few things from my books as well if they sit down and read my work. For Mummies Exposed!, I identified which mummies to include, according to availability of information, reliability of sources, and appropriateness for middle grade kids.

Some chapters were far tougher to write, because I had to explain (or gloss) key terms such as anthropology and archaeology, not to mention how they differ! There was quite a bit of science research to explain, as well—DNA and CT scans, aerobic and anaerobic bacteria, tuberculosis, and so on. It took well over a year to research and write the book. I worked chapter by chapter, researching each as I went along. I think you’d say Mummies Exposed! is mostly narrative nonfiction, but I also included bits that are expository, too.

MKC: What are you working on now?

Kerrie: I’m wrapping up final edits in my next book for Abrams Books for Young Readers, Ghosts Aghast! It’s more STEAM than STEM. After we started work on Mummies Exposed!, Abrams suggested a series to me: “Creepy and True.”  Abrams suggested the ghost title, to be followed by a third book (which I’d proposed initially) which we are calling Bones! Think King Richard III buried in a parking lot in England, and a young woman who was cannibalized—posthumously—in the Jamestown Colony. Lots of intriguing STEM info to locate, read, and explain to my readers.

Win a FREE copy of Mummies Exposed!

Enter the giveaway by leaving a comment below. The randomly-chosen winner will be contacted via email and asked to provide a mailing address (within the U.S. only) to receive the book.

Good luck!

Your host is Mary Kay Carson, author of The Tornado Scientist, Alexander Graham Bell for Kids, Mission to Pluto, Weird Animals, and other nonfiction books for kids. @marykaycarson

Supermen of Comics

Art Baltazar and Franco have created many award-winning, all-ages comics. Their latest creation, Superman of Smallville, shows readers what it was like for Clark Kent in Smallville Middle School. He struggles to keep his identity secret in the face of bullies, first crushes, and an alien threat. The Mixed-Up Files sat down with these two super men of comics and asked them what it was like to create this origin story for the Man of Steel as well as creating great comics for kids and adults.

MUF: Superman deals with a bully when he gets to Smallville Middle School. Why did you decide to include the theme of bullying, and why does Clark deal with the bully in the way that he does?

Art: Clark knows he is not a threat. Just a little annoyance. I think Clark sees the good in people and tries to find a peaceful solution to getting bullied by Brad. I think it worked. I learned that if I made the bully laugh, they would usually leave me alone. Ha.

Franco: There are things in life that everyone has to deal with. There are obstacles and barriers to all things that we do. Some of those are easy to overcome and others are not. Bullying happens in everyone’s life at one point or another and learning how to deal with these obstacles is a part of life. It’s important to know that anywhere along the mythos of Superman, it’s all he does is stand up to bullies in all shapes and forms. In doing so he gives all of us the confidence to do the same!

MUF: The Kryptonian language in the book was a fun addition. Did you make it up? If so, how did you come up with it?

Art: Ha. Its actual Kryptonian Language in the DC Comics cannon. Its real as all real gets! We just get to use it. The bonus thing is…now I am fluent in Kryptonian.

Franco: Nope. Not made up. It’s the official Kryptonian.

MUF: Which scene in the story was the most fun to write? Which scene was the most fun to illustrate? Why?

Art: I love the scene when Clark discovers the ship underneath the barn. How the floor was glowing and how he tried to hurry up Lana. Classic secret identity stuff. I love that the ship talks to him. I don’t think that’s ever been done before in the history of Superman. I think.

Franco: Best was crafting the story to – well, I can’t really answer that or you get the biggest spoiler for the end of the book and we wouldn’t want to do that, now would we?

MUF: Superman often uses his super-powers to finish his chores quickly, even when he’s not supposed to. Why do his parents not want him to use his powers even when he’s home and no one can see him? And which chore would you use superpowers to speed through if you could?

Art: His parents want him to learn an honest day’s work. They want him to avoid the short cuts and do things the correct way. Just because you have powers doesn’t mean you should use them for every little thing. Blood, sweat and tears…even though Clark doesn’t break a sweat. Well, metaphorically. True story.

Franco: Doing things fast is not always the right way. The easy way is not always the right answer. We’re both parents and we still to instill this in our kids because we’ve been through scenarios in life where the easy way, just because you can, does not necessarily mean it’s the right way. Which super power would I use? Flight! Those gutters on my house get filled with leaves in the fall and they are really high up there.

MUF: You both have several great comics out for middle-grade readers. What are some of the best things about creating comics for this age group? What are some of the challenges? How did you decide to start writing/illustrating for a middle-grade audience?

Art: I always made comics the way I make them. Its very cartoony and very natural. Cartooning is in my soul. Its my life. It who I am. Famous Cartoonist. I don’t try to make comics deliberately for certain age groups. I make comics that I think are funny and fun. The term ALL AGES really does apply here. We don’t make comics specifically for kids, we make comics that kids can read. Which also almost makes us as creators just as awesome as our comics.

Franco: It’s just what comes out of my brain! Making comics is awesome!!!

MUF: Any upcoming projects that you can tell us about?

Art: Next for DC Comics, we are working on ArkhaManiacs! It’s a book about young Bruce Wayne and all the residents of Arkham Apartments. You guessed it…The Joker, Harley, Clayface, Penguin…those guys. Also, I have lots of creator owned projects coming out soon like Drew and Jot from BOOM, and Gillbert from Papercutz. Also Powers in Action and Big Alien Moon Crush from Action Lab. Whew. I’ve been busy.

Franco: Arkhamaniacs! It’s gonna be a fun ride taking all those Batman villains in funny directions!Support Independent Bookstores - Visit

MUF: You both have drawn/written several DC superheroes and villains already? Are there any that you haven’t yet that you’d like to? Which superhero or villain is your favorite and why?

Art: I’ve worked on tons of different DC characters….and their pets! I would love to do a SUPER PETS comic book series. And, of course…I am always ready for more SUPERMAN!

Franco: I’m not sure if there are any that we haven’t written yet. My answer is: Let’s do them all again!

MUF: Please do! We’d love to see a SUPER PETS comic book series. Last question. Any advice for young writers and artists?

Art: Yes! Carry a sketchbook and/or notebook everywhere you go everyday! Write all the time and draw all the time. Make your sketchbook part of your life. Just like your phone and your keys. Never leave home without it. That’s what I do.

Franco: Just do it!


Superman of Smallville is out now from DC Zoom, but you have an opportunity to win a copy from us. Enter below before September 27th.
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