Category Archives: My Books

Summer Projects

© Loree Griffin Burns

© Loree Griffin Burns

That there is a photo I recently took in my garden. The baskets are filled with turnips, under them sit the weeds I haven’t managed to clear yet and behind them the paste tomatoes desperately in need of staking. This garden is the number one reason I have not blogged much since May.

The number two reason? I’ve been working on finishing up this book.

The number three reason? I’ve been working on a new Scientists in the Field book.

I’d tell you more, but I’m working on a website update (it’ll coincide with the publication of these two books next year) and getting ready for our family vacation, too!

But sometime soon, when all these summer 2013 activities have been enjoyed to their fullest, I plan to share the details here. Until then, I hope you are having yourself a fabulously wild summer!

My Next Big Thing

The Next Big Thing is a blog meme designed to get authors and illustrators talking about their works-in-progress My friend Kathy Erskine blogged about her Next Big Things last week (yes, Kathy has TWO books on the horizon) and then tagged me so that I could join the fun. Thank you, Kathy!

So, here we go …

1.  What is the working title of your book?

The working title has been Special Delivery: A Butterfly Story for years, and I am really, really, REALLY attached to it. Unfortunately, there has recently been talk of changing it.  Apparently someone else is working on a children’s book with the same title, and that someone may beat me to publication. Bah! Keep your fingers crossed for me!

2.  Where did the idea come from for the book?

I wrote about the genesis of this book a while ago, in a post on my blog. The short version is this: in 2008 I took my kids to the Butterfly Garden at the Museum of Science in Boston; I found the idea for this book just hanging out there, on a ficus tree.

3.  What genre does your book come under?

Special Delivery will be my first picture book. It’s nonfiction, of course, and illustrated with full color photographs by Ellen Harasimowicz.

4.  Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a move rendition?

The main characters in Special Delivery are tropical caterpillars, pupae, and butterflies. There are a few cameos by the farmers who live and work at El Bosque Nuevo, a butterfly farm in Costa Rica, and by Lea Morgan, the Assistant Curator of the Butterfly Garden at the Museum of Science in Boston. These folks are super cool, interesting people and I think they should play themselves.

5.  What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Special Delivery shares the surprising and far-flung life story of the tropical butterflies on exhibit at your local museum or zoo. Did you know that most of these butterflies spend their caterpillar lives on farms thousands of miles away? Where they are raised en masse like a crop of carrots? It’s true!

(I know. I know. Four sentences. I couldn’t help it.)

6.  Who is publishing your book?

Special Delivery will be published by Millbrook Press in spring 2014.

7.  How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

Because this is a work of nonfiction, and because I originally envisioned it as a longer book, my first draft was actually a 20-plus page book proposal. I started writing it while I was still in Costa Rica, living and researching at El Bosque Nuevo. (You can see my ‘office’ in the righthand photo above.) I finished it about three months later in my boring, old home office. (No photo necessary; it doesn’t compare.)

8.  What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

I’m sort of stumped on this question …

The imagery reminds me of books like Pumpkin Circle: The Story of a Garden, by George Levenson and Shmuel Thaler and Nic Bishop’s visually stunning Frogs. The text, however, is more personal, a true-life story along the  lines of Owen and Mzee, by Isabella & Craig Hatkoff or Tara & Bella, by Carol Buckley.

9.  Who or what inspired you to write this book?

Plainly and simply: curiosity. Once I realized the butterflies in that museum exhibit were ‘born’ in Central America, and that they’d been shipped to the museum in the belly of a jumbo jet, I was hooked. I had to tell their story.

10.  What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Ellen and I traveled to Costa Rica twice to research this book. Both times we lived at El Bosque Nuevo, where we were able to embed ourselves in the work of raising a crop of butterfly pupae. I will never, ever forget those trips. Especially the little bat who lived in the shower!

Thank you for reading about my Next Big Thing. Now I get to tag a couple writer pals to share their Next Big Things. I’ve got two amazing nonfiction writers in mind, and since neither of them keeps a blog, they’ve agreed to let me host their Next Big Thing posts here at A Life in Books. As if that weren’t cool enough: their new books involve dolphins and spiders. Stay tuned!

Citizen Scientists news

CitizenScienctists(lowres)

The past few months have brought some nice accolades for CITIZEN SCIENTISTS, each of which makes me proud and very, very grateful. Thank you to the teachers, librarians, scientists, reviewers and children’s book lovers who make these awards happen …

  • It was awarded an AAAS/SB&F Prize for Excellence in Science Books (Hands-On Science category). You can read more about this award and all the 2013 finalists here.
  • The National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) named it an Orbis Pictus honor book. You can read about the Orbis Pictus winner, the Orbis Pictus honor books, and more NCTE Recommended titles here.
  • The National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) included it on their list of Outstanding Trade Books for Students K-12. Access the complete list here.
  • The New York Public Library included it on their 2013 list of 100 Titles for Reading & Sharing. You can see that complete list here.