Posts Tagged Nancy Castaldo

STEM Tuesday — STEM Activity Books– Author Interview

STEM Tuesday–Activity Books– Interview with Nancy Castaldo

 

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

Today we’re visiting with STEM Tuesday contributor and prior interviewee Nancy Castaldo. An award-winning author, Nancy has a long list of books for kids, including activity books, such as Deserts. 

 

Picture of the book cover for Deserts by Nancy Castaldo

Carolyn Cinami DeCristofano:

Please tell us about Deserts and your purpose for writing it.

Nancy Castaldo: I began my children’s writing career with a series of nonfiction activity books that centered around the exploration of the natural world. Deserts followed the popular, Sunny Days and Starry Nights, and was published along with Rainforests, Oceans, and River Wild.

My first introduction to the desert environment came as a child. Deserts fascinated my dad and he shared that fascination with me. I can still remember standing in the desert and watching the iguanas basking on the rocks. As a lover of all reptiles and amphibians, I became an instant fan. Of course, there are many types of deserts around the world and each has its own flora and fauna. I wanted my readers to discover them along with me.

 

CCD: Can you share a favorite aspect of the book? What about a favorite bit of information about deserts?

NC: While I enjoyed bits of every desert, much of what I wrote about the American desert returned to me last year during my visits to Arizona. I spent weeks vacationing and researching there and found that chapter of the book rising up in my thoughts daily. Hiking in Saguaro National Park only reinvigorated my love of this majestic cactus species. Seeing the petroglyphs with a Native guide in Canyon de Chelly brought Navajo history alive.

 

CCD: Other than introducing the desert habitat to readers, were there any other themes you wanted to explore in this book?

NC: As an environmental educator, I strive to inform and inspire my readers about the natural world. In this book, along with my books on rainforests and rivers, I wanted my readers to expand their knowledge and perceptions about these ecosystems. Readers might think all deserts are hot or that monkeys live in all rainforest jungles, or that all rivers flow fast.  In these books, they’ll  find that our world is wide and these ecosystems differ from their perceptions in spectacular ways.

 

CCD: In your mind, what makes a great activity in a nonfiction children’s book?

NC: Activities that are easy to follow with simple materials can allow readers to explore ideas on another level. Plus, they are fun!

In DESERTS, readers learn how to make a solar still to collect water in the desert. Illustration: B. Kulak

CCD: Looking over the activities in Deserts, I’d say you nailed the activities on all of those points. I particularly appreciated the way you brought in activities (and text)  that help readers get a sense of how people and culture thrive in the desert. The still, sand painting, and kachina doll activities are some examples.

 

CCD: On a different note, this book goes back a while. How have you as an author changed? What has stayed the same?

While this is one of my older titles, I still have educators reaching out who are using it in their classrooms, especially during this pandemic. I still love including activities and additional ways my readers can engage with my topics in all my books. Whether it is a pizza recipe in my picture book, Pizza for the Queen, or a how-to on hosting a seed swap in my young adult The Story of Seeds, activities can provide a jumping off point for readers young and old.

CCD: It’s interesting to note that your love of activities as a way to help readers engage has stayed with you throughout your career.  Speaking of your career…Deserts is one of your earlier books. Imagine you were going to revise Deserts now. Given any changes in you, publishing, schooling, or the world at large that may come to mind for you right now, what might you want to change about Deserts

ND: I’ve been able to provide photos for many of my books recently. Although I love Betsy’s illustrations, I’d love to supply photos for a reboot of this title if possible.

CCD: Oh, that would be gorgeous–even though I agree that Betsy’s illustrations are lovely. Either way, it’s a wonderful book. Thank you for all of your work helping kids explore STEM ideas and activities, and thank you for the interview. 

Looking for more STEM activity books? Check out the entire August 2020 STEM Tuesday booklist!

Win a FREE copy of Deserts

Enter the giveaway by leaving a comment below.  (Scroll past the link to the previous post.) 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!

Photo of DESERTS author Nancy CastaldoNancy 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 Regional Advisor Emeritus of the Eastern NY SCBWI region. Her 2020 title is THE FARM THAT FEEDS US. Visit her at www.nancycastaldo.com. 

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photo of author and STEM Tuesday contribuor Carolyn DeCristofanoCarolyn DeCristofano, a founding team member of STEM Tuesday, is also a children’s STEM author and STEM education consultant. She recently co-founded STEM Education Insights, an educational research, program evaluation, and curriculum development firm which complements her independent work as Blue Heron STEM Education. She has authored several acclaimed science books, including Running on Sunshine (HarperCollins Children) and A Black Hole is NOT a Hole (Charlesbridge).

STEM Tuesday All About Conservation – Interview with Author Nancy Castaldo

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 author Nancy Castaldo who wrote this month’s featured conservation book, Back from the Brink: Saving Animals from Extinction.

Find out how seven different animal species from around the world were saved from extinction by hard-working scientists and environmental activists in this book. Nancy Castaldo has used her experience as an environmental educator to create award-winning books about our planet for over 20 years including her 2016 title, The Story of Seeds: From Mendel’s Garden to Your Plate, and How There’s More of Less To Eat Around The World, which earned the 2017 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 loves sharing her excitement about nonfiction with readers and fellow writers. Visit her at nancycastaldo.com, on Twitter at @NCastaldoAuthor, or on Instagram at @naturespeak.

Mary Kay Carson: How did this book come about?

Nancy Castaldo: When I was young I had nightmares of creatures going extinct. I was terrified of losing any endangered species. I still am, but I know that my younger self needed to see hope and learn about the helpers. I wanted to give those stories to my readers. I wanted them to see that we all can make a difference, that every endangered species doesn’t go extinct because of the helpers. And that no matter where you live or how old you are, we all have the ability to join in the bucket brigade. I hope that Back from the Brink does that for my readers.

MKC: Could you share some highlights of doing research for Back from the Brink

Nancy: Every place I visit for research and photography has been life changing for me. This book, like the others for Houghton Mifflin such as Sniffer Dogs and The Story of Seeds, has taken me to places I only dreamed of visiting. I am a herper at heart, meaning I love reptiles and amphibians. Spending time with the tortoises and marine iguanas in the Galapagos was heaven. Another favorite experience was spending time with the dedicated California condor researchers in the Sespe Wilderness area. Part scientist and part adventurer, these biologists work tirelessly to conserve the condor population, despite continued threats to the birds from lead poisoning and micro-trash litter. It was a joy to enter their world.

MKC: Do you have a STEM background?

Nancy: I do have a STEM background. I completed a biology/chemistry double major in college and was president of the science club. At the same time I was also the co-editor of my college’s literary magazine. I was highlighted when I graduated in the college’s view book with the title, Creative Combinations. I’m still combining, having then went on to get a master’s that focused on children’s literature. Science, writing, and photography are all my passions. I love writing STEM books. I was a curious kid and I love writing for curious readers. I strive to inspire, inform, and empower my young readers because I believe they are our hope for the future. Our world needs them now more than ever.

Purchase Back from the Brink!

MKC: Any recommendations for fans of Back from the Brink?

Nancy: I’m hoping that readers will become inspired and empowered with the success stories in Back from the Brink and want to learn more about these creatures and other endangered species. There are many wonderful fiction and nonfiction books that can continue the experience. I’ve included many in the Learn More section of the book, including Dorothy Patent’s The Buffalo and the Indian, Farley Mowat’s Never Cry Wolf, and Jazynka Kitson’s Mission Wolf Rescue. While these books are great reads, I really hope that my readers will step out into the wild and discover some of these creatures first hand. I list places throughout the country for outdoor, natural sightings in my book.

Praise for Back from the Brink:

  • “[Castaldo] offers solid, meaningful suggestions for young readers […] including many, many learning opportunities: things to watch and read, organizations to investigate, websites and parks to explore. Challenging but important reading for the intended audience.”–Kirkus, STARRED review
  • “Readers will be moved by Castaldo’s appreciation for these animals.”–Booklist, STARRED review

Win a FREE copy of Back from the Brink!   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!

Hosting this week is Mary Kay Carson, fellow animal lover, science nerd, and author of Mission to Pluto and other nonfiction books for kids. @marykaycarson

 

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