Friday, December 17, 2010

My Teacher is a Dinosaur reviews

School Library Journal has this to say about My Teacher is a Dinosaur and Other Prehistoric Poems, Jokes, Riddles, & Amazing Facts:

Gr 2-5–Organized chronologically, this collection zips through prehistoric times, starting about 4.5 billion years ago when “a new planet was formed.” Each page hits the highlights of a period, focusing primarily on living things. “Let’s go to the Cretaceous/ inside a time machine,/ the creatures are voracious, /excitable and mean.” The digitally drawn and painted illustrations are all captioned and include pronunciations. Varied fonts help to keep the busy pages organized so that the poetry is distinguishable from riddles, etc. An excellent time line helps put everything into perspective. An introductory note reminds readers that the dates are estimates and facts are subject to change with new discoveries. Overall the tantalizing facts and pictures in this book will stimulate readers’ curiosity.–Julie Roach, Cambridge Public Library, MA

And here is the review from Booklist: 
Gr 3-5–This colorfully illustrated book takes readers on a tour through prehistoric times. Combining poems, jokes, and riddles with tidbits of information, it opens with the formation of the earth 4.5 billion years ago; traces the arrival of various plants and animals; and concludes 150,000 years ago, when the fossil record shows that modern humans as well as woolly mammoths, mastodons, and giant ground sloths walked the earth. The verse forms vary from one double-page spread to the next, with plenty of limericks and rhymed couplets. The riddles include such child-pleasers as “Q. Why didn’t the mammoth work in the school cafeteria? A. The hairnets weren’t big enough!” Readers initially drawn to the pictures of strange creatures or the jokes may find themselves reading the captions and poems as well. Teeming with digital drawings and paintings of creatures great and small, the pages are a bit busy, but lively. Useful for its inclusion of prehistoric life before the dinosaurs, this makes a good addition to many collections.

November 1, 2010

And from Kirkus:
Gr 3-5—What do you get when you combine punny jokes and riddles with diamond poems and rhyming verse? When it’s from Leedy, you get a whole lot of learning (just don’t tell the kids). Her latest introduces readers to the history of the Earth and its plants and animals. Children will have no problem following the succession of life through the pages, from the beginnings of the Earth, with bacteria making oxygen and life in the sea, to the early insects, first forests and dinosaurs that covered the land. Each spread presents one topic with a poem conveying the primary information; surrounding that poem are goofy riddles, factlets and question-limericks that expand on it. The pages are unapologetically jam-packed with information, but they never overwhelm. Lots of smaller pictures make up each spread, creating a visual flow for the facts (there is a disclaimer about habitats and exact time periods). Backmatter shows a timeline from Earth’s formation to the present day. Prehistoric time was never this much fun.
August 15, 2010

Receiving such positive reviews from these three important publications is not easy, so yay! Previous posts about this title can be found here.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Handy list #2: my science books

These are my books in print that have a science theme. The titles are linked to each book’s page on my web site:
When a group of robots travel though our solar system, they stop at an intriguing spot: Earth! After wondering why the planet isn’t called Ocean, they locate the poles and equator, then visit on each continent to see what is located thereabouts.
A feline waiter shows hungry diners what their options are by exploring all the sections of the updated USDA Food Pyramid. Vivid illustrations show the grains, veggies, fruits, nuts, and proteins that make up a varied, healthy diet. A spread about exercise in this revised edition encourages kids to get moving in their favorite ways.
What can the residents of Beaston do about having too much trash? After visiting the landfill, they reduce their trash in various ways such as buying less stuff, fixing things, and recycling.
Messages from Mars (coauthored by Andrew Schuerger)
A hundred years in the future, a group of lucky students travel to Mars to see the largest volcano in the solar system, visit historic landing sites, fly through vast canyons, walk around huge craters, and much more.
Starting 4.5 billion years ago, readers are taken on a whirlwind tour to see early cyanobacteria, invertebrates, fish, amphibians, reptiles, dinosaurs, mammals, and birds. The highlights of life on Earth are described with verses, cinquains, limericks, jokes, and fascinating facts.
A robot named Dr. Quasar takes students from Mercury to the Moon to Pluto (now designated a “dwarf planet”). Each student sends home postcards in his or her own unique writing style to tell family and friends about the amazing adventure.

Erg is a bolt of lightning that explains the good and bad news about various forms of energy from fossil fuels to wind, solar, and geothermal.

That’s all for now folks, so happy reading!

Friday, November 12, 2010

The Storymaker's Art exhibit in Fort Lauderdale

The Storymaker’s Art is an exhibit of artwork from eight Florida children’s book illustrators. If you’ll be anywhere near the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale on Friday, December 3, 2010, you’re welcome to attend the panel discussion, reception, and book signing at the Mark K. Wheeler Gallery on campus. Click to enlarge the flyer below:
Seven of the eight illustrators will be answering questions at the panel discussion from 2–4, then we’ll be on hand for the reception and book signing from 5–8. I’ll have six illustrations in the exhibit, including one from my fall book, My Teacher is a Dinosaur.

For more details, please visit The Storymaker’s Art web site. Hope to see you there! If you can’t attend the opening, the exhibit will be up until January 5th.

Poetry Friday: Prehistoric Poems

This book begins with a brand-new, molten Earth 4.5 billion years ago then takes readers on a whirlwind tour of the history of life...much of it conveyed in the form of poems, cinquains, and limericks. Exclusively for today’s Poetry Friday, here a few samples from My Teacher Is a Dinosaur and Other Prehistoric Poems, Jokes, Riddles, & Amazing Facts:
©2010 by Loreen Leedy
I had fun writing riddles in the form of limericks such as this one on page 11:
©2010 by Loreen Leedy
The answer to the riddle is...Insects! They were the first creatures on earth that could fly. 

Most spreads have a longer verse, such as this one on page 16:
©2010 by Loreen Leedy

©2010 by Loreen Leedy
Perhaps as a side effect of writing and illustrating quite a few math picture books, I felt compelled to compile some poetic statistics for this book:
Cinquains: 6
Limerick riddles: 14
Verses: 20

Some titles of the longer poems include:
The Bad Old Days
Plant Pioneers
The Fish That Wanted Legs
How to Stay Alive
Did Hadrosaurs Quack?
A Warning from the Mammals

Oh, I almost forgot to mention how many jokes are in the book...zillions! For example:
Q. Why did T. Rex eat the teacher? 
A. He was hungry for knowledge!

To see a full spread from the book plus reviews, please click here.
To see its page on Amazon, click this link: My Teacher Is a Dinosaur: And Other Prehistoric Poems, Jokes, Riddles & Amazing Facts 

My Web Site

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Blogs about science books for children

It was a pleasant surprise to find this review of The Shocking Truth about Energy on the blog Simply Science: Using books for easy science lessons. I certainly can’t argue with this quote:

“The publisher says the book is for younger audiences, but I loved it and can see it read by older kids, too. It is succinct and complete, and a wonderful resource. I’d love to see it in every library in this energy-conscious age.”

It is funny how publishers put an age range on books that isn’t necessarily that accurate. It may have something to do with how they organize their catalog or some other arcane reason. Guess I should ask one of these days.

Here is an activity page for this book. Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

A handy list of my math picture books

Since starting to “tweet” I can see how useful it is to create blog posts about a very specific topic. The “math phobia” #mathchat last week also was an inspiration. Without further ado, here are my math picture books with a summary and a link to each book’s page on my web site:

George the quarter starts at the mint, becomes change in a cash register, is used to buy a balloon, falls out of a pocket, is saved in a piggy bank, and has many other adventures as he travels through the economy.

Miss Prime and her students learn about fractions in five short stories, starting with simple geometric shapes and objects such as half a glass of milk. Scenarios such as how to divide food evenly for a lunch or how far to discount lemonade for sale in wintertime show how fractions are used in real life.

Who is the best at making graphs, Gonk the toad or Beezy the lizard? With Chester the snail as judge, they set about collecting data and making bar graphs, pie charts, Venn diagrams, and quantity graphs. Rocks, bathing suit patterns, cookies, and flowers are some of the items that wind up being grouped and displayed in colorful visual form.

Lisa’s dog Penny is the focus of her homework assignment about probability. Lisa predicts the likelihood of events such as whether Penny will see a shark, dig up a buried treasure, or turn into a cat, then records the actual results.

Mapping Penny’s World
This time Lisa needs to make maps, so she starts with a floor plan of her room, complete with symbols, a key, a compass rose, and a scale. Other maps include Penny’s treasures, her favorite places, and a trip around the world Penny might take some day.
Lisa needs to measure something for her homework, so she chooses her dog Penny and a few of her doggie friends at the park. Lisa uses both standard and nonstandard units to measure tails, paws, noses, as well as how high the dogs can jump and many other characteristics.

When a town’s numbers vanish one day, everyone discovers how difficult a world without math would be. If nobody can count, add, subtract, make phone calls, use a computer, or buy anything then life becomes impossible, so hopefully a local detective can crack the case.

Miss Prime explains the basics of addition, then her students venture out into the world to add up scores, tally up their pets, sell things at a garage sale, and write word problems.

When a young monster and a girl want to join The Monster Club, they must earn money to pay dues, help add up the group funds, and figure out what to spend it on.

Seeing Symmetry is a concept book with dozens of examples of line and rotational symmetry. From horses to hubcaps and bugs to boots, symmetry is all around us!

Subtraction Action
In seven short stories, Miss Prime’s students watch a magic show, put on a play, run an obstacle course, and try to win a prize by making things disappear.

In six short stories, silly Halloween characters such as ghosts, black cats, bats, and skeletons demonstrate the multiplication facts from 0 X 0 = 0 all the way to 5 X 5 = 25.

Whew, have I really made 12 math books?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Twitter hashtags about children’s books, writing, publishing, and education

We can officially add Twitter to the list of Things-I-Said-I’d-Never-Do-But-Now-I-Am. Since I’ve only been tweeting for a couple of weeks, it may be premature to compile this list, but what the heck. 

Hashtags are the way people index their tweets, which allows anyone searching on a hashtag to find info about, say #ebooks or #elemed (elementary education) or #math. Here’s an example from fellow I.N.K. blogger, Vicki Cobb:

"Before you cobble together free reading material for your kids, read this: #education #edweeklive #literacy."

I’m not sure what #edweeklive is, will have to check it out, might be a conference. The shortened URLs are obtained at or some other service for free. If there are tweet buttons on the blog, the post's URL is automatically shortened for the tweet.

By the way, I’m tweeting under @LoreenLeedy, so hope to see you there. The tags in bold are the ones I use the most…without any further ado, here are the tags:

#amediting        from people who are editing
#amwriting        from people who are writing
#arted               art education
#artsed             arts education
#askagent         agent questions and answers
#bookapps        book-like apps for iPad, Android, etc.
#ece               early childhood education
#edapp           educational app
#edtech          education technology
#edubk            books about teaching
#elemed          elementary education
#ellchat           english language learners
#ePrdctn         electronic production (e.g. book designers)
#esl                 english as a second language
#hsc                homeschool
#innochat         innovation
#kedu               kindergarten education
#kidlit              children’s literature
#kidlitPRchat   marketing children's books
#mglitchat          middle grade literature chat
#mlearning         mobile device learning, e.g. phones, tablets, etc.
#nanowrimo       national novel writing month
#NFforKids        nonfiction for kids
#ntchat               new teacher chat
#pblit                  picture book literature
#pblitchat           picture book literature chat
#pubtip                publication tips
#SCBWI              re the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrator
#storyappchat     chat for book app authors, illustrators, developers, and users
#titletalk             librarians talking about specific book titles
#tlchat                teacher-librarians
#webfic              web fiction
#weblit               web literature
#wip                   work in progress
#writequote       quotations about writing
#writetip            writing tip
#writingtips        writing advice
#yalitchat          young adult literature chat

Tags that end with -chat are discussions held at a scheduled time such as once a week, but some people seem to put them on tweets at any time.

My source for some of these is here: Daily Writing Tips and here: Cybraryman. The rest I cribbed from reading various tweets, of course.

[Update Feb. 20, 2012: Added and deleted some tags. Suggestions are welcome!]

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

This post is such a joke

[This article is adapted from one originally posted on I.N.K. (Interesting Nonfiction for Kids) on October 15, 2008. At the time, I was doing research for what became this year’s Fall book, My Teacher is a Dinosaur. Only one of these jokes ended up in the book as it turned out. Maybe there needs to be a sequel...!]

For some odd reason I recently began writing riddles and jokes about invertebrates, among other creatures:

Q. Why are anemones so popular?
A. The anemone of my anemone is my friend.

Q. Why are tubeworms so shy?
A. They‘re introvertebrates.

Time travel came up... temporally, at least:
Q. What’s the most common way to time travel?
A. Throwing the alarm clock at the wall!

Q. Why is time travel so confusing?
A. I already told you that next week!

Astronomy tried to take on a starring role:

Q. What do you call a mean meteor?
A. A nasteroid!

Q. How does the Earth say good-bye to the Moon?
A. Later, crater!

If there‘s an award for awful jokes, I hope to win it. It’s been about twenty years since I last grappled with similar material, and then to do just the illustrations for David Adler’s The Dinosaur Princess. So, how do you write a riddle or joke, anyway? Here's one method:

1. Choose a subject, let‘s say mammoths. List words that describe how they looked, their behavior, their habitat, and so on.
trunk trumpet tusk snow ice huge big bones big teeth, etc.

2. Think of rhymes, similar-sounding words, and/or words that contain the word:
scary contrary fairy canary very necessary Larry
go know no slow slowpoke snowflake
junk chunk clunk skunk truncated

3. Use these ideas to write a rhyming, nonsensical, or goofy possible answer:a scary
hairy fairy
a snowpoke

4. Make up a question that gives a hint of the answer:

Q. Why were baby mammoths afraid of losing a tusk?
A. Because of their hairy scary tooth fairy!

Q. How fast did mammoths walk in winter?
A. They were snowpokes!

5. Try variations on classic joke formulas:

Q. How many mammoths did it take to change a light bulb?
A. None because there were no lamps in the Ice Age!

Wording the question and answer carefully will maximize the effect. For a real challenge, once you get good at writing regular riddles, try incorporating one into a poem or limerick. (I’d show a sample, but have to save them for the book.)

One book for kids about how they can write their own jokes is
Funny You Should Ask: How to Make Up Jokes and Riddles with Wordplay by Marvin Terban. He has written over thirty books for kids about various types of wordplay.
I ran across This Book is a Joke by Holly Kowitt in a used book store, and find it especially funny for some reason. It covers a ton of topics from pets to school lunches to the eight types of classmates. Mostly text, it does contain a few delightfully goofy cartoons. Note the award seal on the cover which proudly proclaims: This Book Won Nothing.

The world of nonfiction has a lot of potential gold for the enterprising humor prospector... because you have know some facts about a topic in order to be able to make fun of it. And that’s no joke!

Disclaimer: It’s possible somebody has already thought of some of these jokes/riddles... I came up with them on my own, but people have been kidding around for a long time!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Nonfiction picture books: praise and pet peeves

I just came across this post on The Miss Rumphius Effect from last May, don’t know how it managed to elude me until now. The author of this popular blog, Tricia Stohr-Hunt, has a Ph.D. in Science Education and teaches at The University of Richmond. Nonfiction Picture Books, What I Love and What Makes Me Crazy has very kind words to say about my books and several other terrific authors.

One of the crazy-making issues she mentions is when nonfiction books are lacking...can you guess what?

I’ll give you a hint...or maybe you’ll just have to go read the article. The comments are excellent, also.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

My Teacher is a Dinosaur on I.N.K.

The I.N.K. blog (Interesting Nonfiction for Kids) is back after an August hiatus with plenty of interesting articles about nonfiction books. Please visit this link to read my post, Time for prehistory

I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of “infographics”... it’s pretty much what it sounds like, just simple graphics that visually convey information. Anyway, I used a few simple ones to help make my point, that while there are a zillion books about dinosaurs, what about the rest of prehistory?

Happy reading!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

PW on The Shocking Truth about Energy

I forgot to post this previously, but this book is sure to be a classic, so no worries, right? By the way, take a peek at my fab new favicon. You have to actually be on the blog page to see it up to the left of the’s a little pile of books and a heart with my initials on top. That’s a lot to fit into a 16 X 16 pixel square(!) In case you’re viewing this in a reader, here it is at 32 X 32 pixels so you can see it:
Anyway, Publishers Weekly included my spring book under the headline Hot Topics!, which highlighted history and science books for young readers.
“This lively picture book stars Erg, a lightning bolt of ‘pure energy.’ Erg shares how energy gets transferred into different forms...describes the effects of global warming, and weighs the pros and cons of solar, wind, geothermal....Personified automobiles and appliances communicate via speech balloons, as easy-to-follow flowcharts make a potentially abstract concept tangible.”
Publishers Weekly

Below is a simple diagram from the book showing how water flowing through a dam makes power. (An earlier illustration goes into more detail about how a power plant generates electricity.)
From The Shocking Truth about Energy ©2010 by Loreen Leedy
I always learn a lot when writing and illustrating a book... this one was no exception! An activity/coloring sheet for this book can be found here. To see a spread from this book, please visit this page on my web site.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Sneak peek #1

I’m working on a dummy for a book that will be available next fall (assuming I get it finished, that is.) Here is a little glimpse of what may be in it (this actual image may change):
 You’re welcome to guess what the topic of the book is, but I can’t tell you yet. : )

Sunday, September 5, 2010

The Shocking Truth about Energy activity sheet

The Shocking Truth about Energy “...takes readers on a fast-paced journey, explaining what energy is, its various forms, how they are generated, and the ‘good news’ and ‘bad news’ about each one...a welcome addition on an important subject.” School Library Journal 

For more info, reviews, and a math project idea, see this page on my web site. 

Here is an activity/coloring sheet I whipped up this morning, utilizing some artwork from the book:
Just click on the image, then print out the enlarged view for use in the classroom. The idea is that each item will be marked with a letter according to what type of energy it needs to function. Here is the answer key:
Fossil Fuel: jet and truck
Muscle Power: bicycle and skateboard
Solar: calculator and plant
Wind: kite and wind turbine

If you have any comments or questions, please let me know.

Monday, August 30, 2010

The greenest book: paper or electronic?

[This post first appeared on INK (Interesting Nonfiction for Kids) about a year ago. While the technology has progressed quite quickly, the issues discussed below have not.]
I’ve been pondering this topic quite a bit and found several online articles (listed at end) plus insightful reader comments that helped me to make this list. Without getting into heavy number-crunching to calculate carbon footprints, here are some pros and cons of traditional paper books vs. electronic books. Some of the items aren’t necessarily energy-related, but impact the reader’s experience and thus the desirability of one form over the other.

Paper book pros:
Trees are a renewable resource.
Paper books require little energy to read (aside from a lamp and some cookies, perhaps.)
Browsing is easy.
Paper books...
can last for decades or centuries
are often lent to many readers (via libraries as well as informal passing around.)
are generally not thrown away but are donated or sold.
are a carbon sink.
are pleasant to read in bed, in the bath, on the beach, or atop Mt. Everest.

Paper books...
are heavy to ship.
become dated very quickly and can’t be directly updated.
are an all or nothing proposition. You either buy the whole book or none of it.
can be made from recycled materials and printed with non-toxic ink but often (usually?) are not.
Paper manufacturing requires a great deal of water and energy.
Pulp trees are often grown in an unsustainable way.
Many (most?) books are printed overseas and shipped long distances.
Because book returns are allowed, many books are shipped twice... to a bookstore, then back to the warehouse.
Excess books that are returned may ultimately never be sold and instead get recycled or destroyed.
Bookstores, libraries, and warehouses must be heated, cooled, and otherwise use energy.

Now for electronic books... first, a definition. For my purposes, a book in digital form can be a PDF that is downloaded from the Internet, a book published on a web site, read via a Kindle or other portable device format, on a CD, or hidden inside stuffed animals, etcetera.

E-book pros:
take almost zero physical storage space... say “bye-bye” to bookshelves loaded with books nobody reads!
can be very inexpensive or free (depending on the economic model.)
can be easily subdivided so readers could buy only the portion they really want.
can easily be revised and updated.
Text and images that have been turned into electrons require little energy to “ship.”
Hundreds of books can be stored in one easy-to-carry package.
Various enhancements such as dictionary access, easy searching for terms, sound, animation, and who knows what else already are (or soon will be) possible.
Creative possibilities such as multiple endings, non-linear reading, internal and external linking, reader collaboration, and other multimedia mash-ups are possible.
Narrow interest publications are more economically feasible.

E-book cons:
They can’t be read without electricity.
Reader devices (e.g. computer, Kindle) take energy to manufacture and ship, and often contain toxic or nonrenewable materials.
Device life spans are relatively short.
Current devices are expensive.
Some technologies allow the seller to delete the book from a purchaser’s device (yikes!)
Readers can’t share a book under copyright (legally, anyway) except by lending their device.
Many titles are not currently available in electronic form.
Many people just don’t like reading on a screen.
Browsing e-books is a clunky experience compared to swiftly flipping through books in a bookstore.

I haven’t reached many firm conclusions, but one thing is for sure; it’s highly desirable that both paper and e-books be as green as possible, period. The trend is for “we the people” to be more demanding about how the products we consume rate in terms of their sustainability. As authors and readers, these issues are a top priority for us to think about now and in the years to come.
Innovation and the Future of E-books by John W. Warren (downloadable PDF)
The New York Times: Are E-Readers Greener Than Books? by Joe Hutsko
Cleantech Group Report: E-readers a win for carbon emissions(summary)
The New York Times (April 2010) How Green is My iPad?

Saturday, August 28, 2010

“Reading is an Investment” teaches kids about money

While digging through the blogosphere, I stumbled over a new program in Vermont designed to teach young children basic financial concepts. Debuting this fall statewide, I’m delighted to say that one of the three books utilized will be Follow the Money.

The story begins as George, a quarter, is minted. Taken to the bank, he soon becomes change in a cash register drawer, then goes on to be spent, lost, saved, donated, and even washed in a washing machine as he travels hand to hand through the economy. Among other things, I wanted to show how people make such varied choices about how to use their money.

The second book is One Hen: How One Small Loan Made a Big Difference by Katie Smith Milway, and illustrated by Eugenie Fernandes. It’s based on true story about a boy in Africa who started with one chicken and ended up with a large poultry farm. The story shows how microlending impacted not just the main character but also his family, village, and region. 

The third book is Money Madness, written by David Adler and illustrated by Edward Miller. It explores early systems of exchange such as bartering, and early forms of money including rocks, feathers, and lumps of metal. It describes the advantages of money with concrete examples to show how difficult it could be to trade bread for a house, for example.

Many of us didn’t get very much practical information about personal finance and almost certainly could have used more guidance at an early age. It’s wonderful that the State Treasurer’s Office in Vermont decided to pursue this important aspect of their students’ education. 

As John Bramley, one of the Reading is an Investment program supporters stated, “Financial literacy is more important today than ever, as shown by recent events.” I suspect we can all agree on that point.

[Update August 29, 2010] The Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy has a K-12 standards PDF available with an outline of the knowledge and skills students should possess. Topics include taking responsibility for personal financial decisions; finding/evaluating financial info from various sources; developing a plan for spending and saving; and many more. Mastering these topics is a good investment for all ages, no doubt!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Pin It button on image hover