STEM

STEM Tuesday–A Partridge in a Pear Tree and other Birds this Holiday Season– Writing Tips & Resources

A Fowl STEM Tuesday Holiday Post

Good day, ladies and gentlemen. My name is Johnny Cockerel, Gallus gallus domesticus, and I represent the legal interests of the Avian Enrichment Society (A.V.E.S.). 

Photo credit: William Warby from London, England via creativecommons.org

For centuries, birds have been exploited in the popular holiday song, The Twelve Days of Christmas. Humankind has reaped bountiful comfort and joy from my fellow bird species without any compensation. Yet, for some unknown reason to logic or musical sensibility, only half the song includes birds. 

Let us first study the facts. The accepted, modern lyrics to the traditional version of The Twelve Days of Christmas are as follows: 

( Feel free to read, or sing, to the submitted lyrics.)

  • One the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…A partridge in a pear tree.
  • One the second day of Christmas, blah blah blah blah blah blah…Two turtle doves and a partridge in a pear tree.

(Follow the time-space-holiday song-continuum/neurologically ingrained rhythmic pattern for the remaining verses.)

  • Three french hens,
  • Four calling birds,
  • Five gold rings,
  • Six geese a-laying
  • Seven swans a-swimming,
  • Eight maids a-milking,
  • Nine ladies dancing,
  • Ten lords a-leaping,
  • Eleven pipers piping,
  • Twelve drummers drumming.

Notice the deliberate shift in lyrical theme introduced after the fifth day of Christmas which completely overtakes the song on the seventh day of Christmas? Where did the birds go? The lyrics started down the right road and then some human intervention ruined a perfectly good thing. Sound familiar?

A.V.E.S. has engaged my avian legal services to propose a change to the lyrics of The Twelve Days of Christmas. A new set of lyrics that more accurately reflect the importance of the Aves class. Today, we submit a proposal to right past wrongs and to correct a great lyrical misstep. We present a more promising musical holiday future—one where the avian species can truly be appreciated for their role in the ecosystem, food chain, and general enjoyment level of all who live on our fine planet. 

We present our case to you, the jury of STEM. 

Exhibit A

Bird books.

Look at these fine titles from this month’s STEM Tuesday book list. Birds make great reading! 

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.orgSupport Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.orgSupport Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.orgSupport Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.orgSupport Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.orgSupport Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org

 

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.orgSupport Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.orgSupport Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org

Exhibit B

Birders.

Walton LaVonda, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service [Public domain]

Look how happy birds make these fine humans. It makes my heart beat at upwards of 300 beats/min to see such joy generated by my fellow Aves.

Exhibit C 

Ornithology. 

Ornithology, my friends, is more than a fancy-schmancy word. It’s a whole field of science! The study of birds! How awesome is that? Is there a field dedicated to the study of Lords-A-Leaping? How about Maids-A-Milking? I hardly think so. #BirdsRule!

Exhibit D

You know that feeling when you walk outside in late winter and hear the birds singing? That sound warms your heart and signals spring has sprung with greater accuracy than all the computer-generated weather models combined. You know what I’m crowing about here, right?

 

As you can see, birds are a slice of awesome on our planet. Not only do we of the Aves class need humans to get their !@#$ together to ensure our well-being and the well-being of our habitat, perhaps you can find it in your hearts to give us the complete reign of a traditional holiday classic. No maids milking or drummers drumming or lords leaping or ladies dancing or even pipers piping. Heck, display the bling with those gold rings on your fingers instead of singing about them. 

Ladies and gentlemen, if the lyric don’t fit, you must change it.

So fly with us and amend what we can be amended. Accept, as submitted, the A.V.E.S. revised version of the classic holiday song:

  • One the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…A partridge in a pear tree.
  • Two turtle doves.
  • Three french hens,
  • Four calling birds,
  • Five goldfinches,
  • Six geese a-laying
  • Seven swans a-swimming,
  • Eight owls-a-hunting (or hooting, depending on your inclination for small woodland rodents.)
  • Nine parrots…parroting?
  • Ten ravens hopping,
  • Eleven woodpeckers pecking,
  • Twelve cardinals singing.

Thank you and from the entire STEM Tuesday team,

Happy Holidays to all!

And to all a good FLIGHT!

 

 

Mike Hays has worked hard from a young age to be a well-rounded individual. A well-rounded, equal opportunity sports enthusiasts, that is. If they keep a score, he’ll either watch it, play it, or coach it. A molecular microbiologist by day, middle-grade author, sports coach, and general good citizen by night, he blogs about sports/training related topics at www.coachhays.com and writer stuff at www.mikehaysbooks.comTwo of his science essays, The Science of Jurassic Park and Zombie Microbiology 101,  are included in the Putting the Science in Fiction collection from Writer’s Digest Books. He can be found roaming around the Twitter-sphere under the guise of @coachhays64.

 


The O.O.L.F Files

This month’s Out Of Left Field (O.O.L.F.) Files takes wing and goes birding!  

    • Man, I love this book. I remember reading it for the first time. I started to read and thought that it was a good book. Everything changed, though, when Doug finds BIRDS OF AMERICA displayed at the library. This part of the book hit me at a visceral level and resonated through my reader’s soul. A kid from whom little is expected, a kid who is drowning in things beyond his control, finds a lifeline in science and art and is transformed to work at being a better human. Perfect.
  • Bird Taxonomy from Thayer Birding Software
    • In addition to great information about bird taxonomy, this page uses one of my favorite birds, Turdus migratorius, to demonstrate the principles. 
  • Ornithology, The Science of Birds
  • All About Birds from The Cornell University’s Lab of Ornithology 
  • Disturbing news for grassland birds!

 


 

 

 

Interview with Editor Jonah Heller – Peachtree Publishing Company Inc.

We are delighted to have with us, Jonah Heller, associate editor at Peachtree Publishing Company Inc.

Welcome to Mixed-Up Files, Jonah!

Hey, thanks for having me!

 

Could you share your editorial journey at Peachtree with us?

My editorial journey with Peachtree started shortly after I graduated with my MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from VCFA. I was fortunate enough to have a network of peers connected to Peachtree who helped advocate my intern application, and I did my internship with Peachtree in the summer of 2016. Through hard work, careful attention to detail, and routinely showering everyone with baked goods, I left enough of a positive impression that I was hired on as a publisher’s assistant on January 1, 2017.

From there, I was entering orders for sales, organizing mailings, proofing our catalog, and doing just about anything that needed an extra pair of hands while also training into editorial assistant work. As my supervisor left for other horizons—I eventually did take on more editorial work and started dipping into acquisitions by examining imports from Frankfurt and Bologna. It was great exposure to literature abroad and an excellent opportunity to develop my own taste and direction. Of course, the reward for work done well is—more work! So lots of paperbacks and reprints and editorial outreach as an assistant editor. And now I’ve been upgraded to an associate editor, so I’ve been set loose into the wilderness to go find exciting things and build my list. Woo!

 

What are some books you’ve worked on?

Peachtree is very well established in the picture book arena, so plenty of those!

In terms of middle grade: Peachtree is a smaller house, so that means it’s an all-hands-on-deck environment and everyone’s got their hand in the cookie jar at some point. I’ve helped proof various stages of our Charlie Bumpers and Nina Soni series. I’ve also overseen the paperback adaptation process for quite a number of our middle grade titles, which can involve anything from a new cover and revised back matter to substantial text edits and updates with the author.

                                               

Working on imports as an assistant, I adapted The Bookshop Girl from Scholastic UK and oversaw the illustration process from sketches to final art and cover. It’s a fun mystery about a girl who can’t read and has to save her family’s recently acquired bookstore from a shady con man. A good choice if you love whimsy and the idea of a mechanical wonder bookstore with rooms dedicated to rocket ships or pirate treasure aquariums.

What are some subjects you’d like to see authors tackle in middle grade?

Ultimately, I’d like to see them tackle whatever interests them. That’s the best place to start. But as far as my wish list for this group…

Themes: adventure, animal points of view, comedy, coming of age, contemporary, magical realism, mystery, wilderness survival,

Craft: character driven; compelling voice; page-turning digestible plot; 3-dimensional protagonist & antagonist

It’s one of those things, where I’ll know it when I see it and get into the first ten pages. So I try to keep a wide net cast. I would, however, especially LOVE ownvoices LGBTQ+ stories.

Could you share with us your ideas and goals when it comes to the representation of diversity in the books you publish?

Everyone should be able to reach out to literature and see themselves. That’s critical not only to a sense of belonging but also to establishing empathy for other walks of life outside of our own experience. I strive to be mindful and thoughtful in my acquisitions, because I don’t want a one-note list. I’d be very bored and disappointed with that and, ultimately, so would my publisher and our readers.

Putting that into practice: I don’t ever actively look to check off a box and then move on to something else. I don’t think that’s a good approach, nor a sincere one. My goal is to ultimately acquire talent from all walks of life, who can deliver an excellently crafted story while also offering authentic mirrors and varied experiences. I don’t want to just acquire you and your one book and then be done with it:  I want to build a long-lasting relationship with you and work on lots of cool things for years to come.

What are some common reasons for a manuscript to make it to acquisitions at Peachtree Publishing?

For middle grade fiction, it’s usually character- or voice-driven. You can really latch onto someone’s journey and empathize with their trials and triumphs if the writing lets you step close enough. It’s not really theme or topic that drives fiction for us; it’s a fully satisfying story and arc of growth. You walk away from the book, having had some sort of raw emotional experience that sticks to you and you carry around for a while.

Nonfiction: it’s not my area of expertise, admittedly. But this can be topic or theme driven at first and then develop into something that will ultimately be more for the institutional market. So, we’ll ask: how can this be used in the classroom? What makes it different and specialized from everything else already out there? How can we grow it further from this one book? Etc.

What advice do you have for writers who want to query you?

So if you’re unagented, I’m on snail mail at the moment. It’s not everyone’s favorite method, but it’s mine and it keeps me organized! You can find Peachtree’s address and submissions guidelines on our website, and if you were dutiful enough to read this then you’ll now discover that if you don’t put my name on the envelope, it won’t ever come to my desk.

My general wish list is above, but it’s always a good idea to check out a publisher’s catalog and see what kind of stuff they’ve done. That’s always step one. Ask yourself: does it feel like they’re a good fit for my work, or am I going to be an odd duck out here? Or, if they’ve done something similar: how is my work going to stand out?

As I’ve said, nonfiction isn’t generally my cup of tea. But maybe I’ll surprise myself one day.

I’m also probably not the right editor for a divorce or abuse story, unless it culminates in healing and/or some type of cathartic and triumphant resolution. Additionally, fantasy and science fiction haven’t been as prominent at Peachtree, so the pacing, world building, and character work has to be top-of-the-line.

Other tips:

  • Spelling the editor’s name right is cool
  • Showing up at their office in-person is not cool
  • Neither are frequent phone calls
  • Explore resources on writing query letters

What’s going on in Middle Grade at Peachtree right now?

I’ve been Americanizing an illustrated adventure from the UK, called Mr. Penguin. It’s Indiana Jones meets Sherlock, but with a penguin and a kung fu spider. So basically loads of fun.

                                         

 

Our Nina Soni series continues, and upcoming for 2020: we’ve bought the US text rights to Lavie Tidhar’s Candy from Scholastic UK. It’s an awesome film noir-like mystery following young detective Nelle Faulkner as she uncovers the shady underworld of candy smuggling in a town that’s outlawed sugar. We will be re-illustrating, so expect a fun story and a fresh American package!

Domestically, I’m on the verge of some exciting things I can’t share just yet. So stay tuned and be on the lookout for Peachtree’s middle grade!

 

Jonah Heller is an Associate Editor at Peachtree Publishing Company Inc. in Atlanta, GA. He graduated with an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from the Vermont College of Fine Arts and earned his BFA in Dramatic Writing for Film and TV at the Savannah College of Art and Design. His editorial focus ranges from board book to young adult. Say hello on Twitter @jrheller87

 

 

STEM Tuesday– CSI – Forensic Science and Anthropology- Book List

 

This month we uncover clues into the science of Crime Scene Investigation. Forensics is the science of finding evidence and analyzing it for clues. Evidence can be anything: blood spatters, carpet fibers, insects, pollen, powders, fingerprints, and footprints. Each piece of evidence reveals something about what happened at the scene of the crime – even if the crime happened hundreds of years ago.

Crime scene investigation:

Blood, Bullets, and Bones: The Story of Forensic Science from Sherlock Holmes to DNA by Bridget Heos (YA)

Crime scene investigation is not new; early detectives discovered ways to test for poisons, and conducted autopsies to determine cause of death. Over the years, crime-solving tools have become more sophisticated as technology improves. This book examines evidence from prints to ballistics, blood spatter to DNA and more.

Fingerprints : dead people do tell tales by Chana Stiefel.

Fingerprints are unique identifiers. Not even identical twins have the same fingerprints. This book explains the techniques scientists use to collect fingerprints and to identify criminals, and contains stories about how fingerprints helped solve real crimes.

 

Forensics: Uncover the Science and Technology of Crime Scene Investigation by Carla Mooney

This book introduces the science of crime scene investigation, with chapters about fingerprints, blood evidence, bones, and bodies. Sidebars highlight forensic careers, and there are plenty of hands-on activities for kids to try on their own.

Forensic Identification: Putting a Name and Face on Death by Elizabeth Murray

Forensic anthropologist, Dr. Elizabeth Murray takes readers into morgues and labs where scientists use technology to determine the identities of remains. Filled with case files and a diversity of techniques including facial reconstruction, dental records, X-rays, and DNA testing.

Ancient Cold Cases:

Bone Detective: The Story Of Forensic Anthropologist Diane France by Lorraine Jean Hopping

Meet forensic anthropologist Diane France as she lugs a two-gallon bucket containing a brain …without letting it slosh around. Any other day she might be examining skeletal remains of past royalty or Civil War soldiers, or be called to the site of a disaster to help identify victims. Side bars, photos, and diagrams explain science concepts.

Written in Bone: Buried Lives of Jamestown and Colonial Maryland by Sally M. Walker

Forensic scientists use their knowledge of human remains to help solve mysteries of remains found in colonial-era graves near Jamestown, Virginia. Using science, they help recreate the lives of a ship’s captain, an enslaved African girl, and more.

 

Two books about the Kennewick Man:

  Mysterious Bones: The Story of Kennewick Man by Katherine Kirkpatrick and Their Skeletons Speak: Kennewick Man and the Paleoamerican World by Sally M. Walker and Douglas W. Owsley

In July of 1996, two young men accidentally uncovered a skeleton along a bank of the Columbia River in Kennewick, Washington. Was this an unsolved murder or the remnants of a settler’s or Native American’s unmarked grave? Scientists determined that the bones were more than 9,000 years old – transforming our understanding of how humans colonized North America.

 

Channel your Inner Detective:

CSI Expert!: Forensic Science for Kids by Karen Schulz

This book contains 25 hands-on forensic science activities, including fingerprinting, blood-stain identification, chemical analysis, ballistics, and fiber identification. Each activity is set up as a lab.

 

Crime Scene Detective Arson: Using Science and Critical Thinking to Solve Crimes by Karen Schulz

This book includes everything teachers (or mystery dinner hosts) need to set up a mock crime scene based on arson. There are suspects to interview, forensic lab tests, and a section on forensic science careers.

Carson-Dellosa Forensic Investigations Resource Book by Schyrlet Cameron, Janie Doss, & Suzanne Myers

This book contains ten cases for students to solve, including forgery, theft, and vandalism. Each case (unit) highlights specific skill-based activities, such as handwriting analysis. Labs challenge students to apply the skills they learned to solve the crime.

 

One-Hour Mysteries, Private Eye School: More One-Hour Mysteries, and More One-Hour Mysteries by Mary Ann Carr

A series of fun classroom mysteries for 4th and 5th graders. Each book provides five mysteries that challenge students to apply their skills of deductive reasoning, inferring, taking notes, organizing data, and analyzing evidence to solve the case.

 

 

STEM Tuesday book list prepared by:

Sue Heavenrich writes about science for children and their families, from space to backyard ecology. Bees, flies, squirrel behavior—things she observes in her neighborhood and around her home—inspire her writing. A long line of ants marching across the kitchen counter generated one of her first articles for kids. When not writing, you can find her committing acts of science from counting native pollinators to monitoring water quality of the local watershed. Her most recent book is Diet for a Changing Climate (2018).

 

Maria is a children’s author, blogger, and poet passionate about making nature and reading fun for children. She’s been a Cybils Award judge since 2017 and a judge for the #50PreciousWords competition since its inception. Two of her poems are published in The Best Of Today’s Little Ditty 2016 and 2014-2015 anthologies. When not writing, or reading, she bird watches, travels the world, bakes, and hikes. Visit her at www.mariacmarshall.com