BATS IN THE CLASSROOM: BEYOND OCTOBER!

batcountOctober has come and gone and, with it, Halloween. If you haven’t already, you’ll soon be returning your bat books to their shelves, where they’ll sit again until next year. BUT WAIT — NOT SO FAST! Bats are too cool to be relegated to just one month!!

In Anna Forrester’s BAT COUNT (which does NOT take place in October!), Jojo worries about the bats disappearing from her family’s barn, and helps out on a citizen science project that’s researching white nose syndrome, the disease that is killing so many bats. BAT COUNT (Arbordale, 2017) introduces bats plus all sorts of other life science concepts: habitat, animal adaptation, species differentiation, hibernation and more.

Four pages of back matter in BAT COUNT cover bat facts and bat anatomy. BAT COUNT’s publisher, Arbordale, also provides a rich, interdisciplinary Teaching Activity Guide, and other aligned math and language activities. Curriculum materials for more extensive bat studies are available on line, too, at Bat Conservation International and the Organization for Bat Conservation.

Studying white nose syndrome offers older students a great, real-world entry point to broader topics too: interdependence, population dynamics, and human impacts. Check out Arbordale’s materials as well as whitenosesyndrome.org’s teacher resources.

And finally, Jojo’s bat count works as a great introduction to the field of citizen science. Through citizen science  projects, kids uses crowd sourcing and digital technologies to help professional scientists do real-world STEM work. Check out The Crowd & The Cloud video series to learn more about citizen science, and at the Cornell Ornithology Lab, Zooniverse and SciStarter you’ll find scads of other great citizen science initiatives.

And: you can find more resources on Anna Forrester’s website!

Click here for the Rafflecopter giveaway of one signed copy of Bat Count and a set of classroom bookmarks.

forresterannaframeAnna Forrester loves nothing better than to stumble onto a funny idea or a great question, and hold on tight as it leads her through books, her imagination, and unexpected nooks and crannies of the real world. She loves words and stories, and many of her adventures find their way into the books she writes. Anna lives in Philadelphia with her husband, two daughters and two dogs. Visit her on line at www.annaforrester.com, or on Twitter @annaforr.

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A HALLOWEEN TWO-DEBUT INTERVIEW: Annie Silvestro Talks with Anna Forrester About Her Debut, BAT COUNT

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AS: Anna, congrats on your debut picture book, BAT COUNT! It’s a beautifully told story, jam-packed with interesting facts as well as the fantastic concept of “Citizen Science.” It’s also a big hit in my household! Thank you for answering some of my two-debut interview questions.

AF: My pleasure, Annie!

BAT COUNT seems especially appropriate for this time of year. Even though the actual bat counting takes place in August, Halloween is the time people most associate with bats (and vampires!)

I know, from a marketing perspective, the story’s timing is wonky — October has a complete monopoly on bats!!

Where did you get the idea for BAT COUNT?

My family has an old farm in central Pennsylvania, and a colony of bats lives in its barn. When we heard about white nose syndrome — and that scientists were asking people to track bat colonies – we decided to start a count. Jojo, the narrator, definitely has bits of me and my two daughters in her!

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Tell us a little about what has drawn you to bats and what compelled you to tell this story?

Writing Bat Count and doing events with scientists who work with bats has taught me a ton about them; they are really cool creatures! But the citizen science aspect of the story always felt just as important. I’m a nature-geek, and have this hyper-awareness of the negative impacts that humans are having on the planet. Though any real fixes are going to have to happen at systemic levels, getting involved in citizen science makes me feel a little less helpless. Hopefully Jojo and her story can give kids a sense of hope and agency too.

BeyondThePondIf you could choose to live in the world of any picture book, which world would it be? Why?

The pond-portal in Joseph Kuefler’s Beyond The Pond leaps to mind. I love what that book captures about how imagination and new experiences can change the way we see the world. Plus: who wouldn’t want to have a day like Ernest D.’s?

ThisIsNotMyHatIf you could take credit for ANY other published PB out there, which one would you choose?

Jon Klassen’s This Is Not My Hat. That particular unreliable narrator, the perfect page turns, the eyes, the ambiguous ending… I find myself going back to that book over and over again.

Tell me about the pet/s you had growing up.

Our first pet was this snarky black and white cat named Rimsky.  when he was a few years old his tail started drooping, and we discovered he had a degenerative neurological disease that was moving up his spinal cord and would, eventually, paralyze him. To save him, the vet removed half of his tail, and Rimsky ended up with a perky little stump that didn’t match his personality and — it seemed to me — embarrassed him. He was totally long-suffering.

Are you a fan of Halloween? Will you dress up this year? If so, what will your costume be?

I’m not a big dresser-upper, but my family does have a Halloween tradition that gets me to put on a pointy hat and robe: we live in a row house in downtown Philadelphia, on a corner, and we open the gates of our postage-stamp-sized back yard, push the furniture aside, and set up a table full of candles and jars of all sorts of gross things (mostly made of food): cat brains, dog eyeballs, baby fingers… We put a candy basket in the middle of it all and dare trick-or-treaters to stick their hands in one of the jars before they take any candy. The kids totally love it.

And I can’t resist – what is your absolute favorite Halloween candy? (and least favorite?)

SMARTIES. Hands down. Though I wouldn’t turn down a box of MILK DUDS either. And, despite loving coconut, I will never understand the appeal of MOUNDS.

Thank you for sharing your answers with us!

Thanks Annie! It has been great getting to know you and the other debuts at Picture The Books this year!

For Halloween enthusiasts in the NYC area, Anna will be reading and talking about bats at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s Ghost and Ghouls festival on Saturday, October 28. It’s a huge event, with great music and activities, and a fantastic line-up of children’s authors!

 

silvestroannieAnnie Silvestro is a lover of books who reads and writes as much as possible and can often be found shuffling piles of them around so she has a place to sit or someplace to put her teacup. She is the author of Bunny’s Book Club, illustrated by Tatjana Mai-Wyss (Doubleday), and Mice Skating, illustrated by Teagan White (Sterling). Forthcoming books include The Christmas Tree Who Loved Trains, illustrated by Paola Zakimi (HarperCollins Fall 2018) and Bunny’s Book Club Goes to School, illustrated by Tatjana Mai-Wyss (Doubleday, Summer 2019). Annie lives with her family by the beach in New Jersey. Visit Annie online at www.anniesilvestro.com or on Twitter and Instagram @anniesilvestro.

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Anna Forrester’s picture book, Bat Count (Arbordale), was released in February 2017 . Anna loves nothing better than to stumble onto a funny idea or a great question, and hold on tight as it leads her through books, her imagination, and unexpected nooks and crannies of the real world. She also loves words and stories, and many of her adventures find their way into the stories she writes. In her other life, she makes landscapes for play. Anna is a Missouri native, and now lives in Philadelphia with her husband, dog, and two daughters.  Visit Anna on line at www.annaforrester.com, or on Twitter @annaforr.

A Two Debut Interview – Camille Andros

One of biggest perks of membership in Picture the Books has been getting to know one another. Bonding with fellow picture book authors and illustrators has been so much fun – and may be one of the few things keeping us all sane as our debut book release dates approach!

We want to share the fun with all of you, so we’re starting a series of Two Debut Interviews in which team members interview one another. For our first in the series, Anna Forrester chats with Camille Andros.

Camille Andros’s debut, CHARLOTTE THE SCIENTIST IS Charlotte the ScientistSQUISHED, releases next week on March 14 (illustrated by Brianne Farley; HMHKids/Clarion). Charlotte is a serious scientist who solves important problems using the scientific method. In CHARLOTTE THE SCIENTIST IS SQUISHED she tries to solve the problem of not having enough space to conduct her experiments and being squished by her many brothers and sisters (she is a rabbit, after all). This funny, satisfying story is a playful introduction to the scientific method and perfect for sparking an interest in STEM subjects.

AF: I can’t wait to talk about CHARLOTTE THE SCIENTIST IS SQUISHED — but for starters, how about some quick ice breaker questions… If you could choose to live in the world of any picture book, which world would it be – and why?

CA: THE LITTLE HOUSE by Virginia Lee Burton. I love the idea of living simply out in the country where it is peaceful and quiet….but I think I’d like to keep a penthouse in NYC too;)

AF: You get to pick a pen name – what is it?

CA: Hmmm, maybe some cool ambiguous initials with a famous scientific sounding last name…

AF: If you could take credit for ANY other published PB out there, which one would you choose? 

CA: This is hard. There are so many wonderful picture books. THE LITTLE HOUSE would be at the top of the list. It’s the book that made me want to write my own.

AF: How many siblings do you have and where do you fall in the birth order – and did it matter?

CA: I am the oldest of seven kids. I think Charlotte is a bit of an autobiography in that sense 😉

AF: Tell me about the pet/s you had growing up.

CA: No pets, but when I was eight years old I did catch and keep a tarantula in a big mason jar from the vacant lot next door to my house, but when my dad had to go out of town on business, my mom made me get rid of it.

AF: And… what’s the funnest or funniest job you’ve had, besides author/illustrator?

CA: I once scrubbed cheese vats at a dairy when I was in college.

AF: You had a brush with arachnology in the form of that tarantula, and with microbiology in the form of cheese cultures. But that happened a long time ago! How did you get the idea for a book about the scientific method?

CA: The idea evolved over time and many revisions, but I always loved the idea of showing a kid (or bunny 😉 who loves science and makes it look fun and interesting. I want the kids who read CHARLOTTE to be able to see themselves as scientists and know that being a scientist can look like a lot of different things.

AF: On your website you mention that you were one of seven kids and now have six of your own! You probably don’t have a re-purposed, carrot-like rocket ship writing studio in YOUR back yard — how DO you find the space and time to write?

CA: I sneak it in when I can. For a long time it meant lots of early mornings and late nights and that still happens too, but now almost all the kids are in school and my youngest is in preschool for half days now, so I try and be as productive as I can during those short preschool hours.

AF: Brianne Farley’s illustrations for CHARLOTTE do such a great job of keeping Charlotte’s scientific work warm and homey. What grabbed you most when you first saw the illustrations? 

CA: Brianne did an incredible job bringing Charlotte and her huge bunny family to life. I love all the little details she adds like the portraits of famous scientists on the walls. The end papers are amazing and filled with such fun details  – I can stare at those for a LONG time -and I love how each bunny in the family has a distinct personality that plays out through the book.

AF: It’s a delightful book, Camille – and is sure to inspire budding scientists of both the human and bunny variety. Congratulations!

Stay up-to-date with all the Picture the Books debuts, news, and interviews on Twitter @picturethebooks, on Instagram @picturethebooks and by becoming a follower of our website/blog using the Follow button on this page! 

Camille Andros HeadshotCamille Andros loves asking questions and won first place in the school science fair when she was in Kindergarten. She lives in Chapel Hill, North Carolina with her husband and six children who know a little something about being squished. Visit Camille online at www.camilleandros.com on Twitter @camdros, and Instagram @camilleandros.

Pre-order CHARLOTTE here! 

Anna Forrester’s debut, BAT COUNT, illustrated by Susan Detwiler (Arbordale) released in February 2017. BAT COUNT features bats, citizen science and Jojo — another STEM-savvy girl.