Pipsie Nature Detective: The Disappearing Caterpillar One Day Giveaway

Congratulations to the winner of this giveaway, Stephanie Jacobsen from Maine!

Spring has just arrived, and soon it will be time to discover butterflies in your garden just like Pipsie. Today I am giving away this new book by Two Lions Publishing to one lucky winner. Simply leave a comment on this post. If you share my Facebook post about this giveaway on your Facebook status, you’ll receive TEN extra entries. I will announce the winner at 5 pm today, March 24, 2015 on our Facebook Page. The winner must email his or her mailing address within 24 hours or a new winner will be selected. So check Facebook and/or your email at 5 pm!

Thank you to Two Lions – Amazon Publishing for making this giveaway possible!

FB twitter

DeDonato-PipsieNatureDectective-hires-frontCover-RGB-Final (2)

Cover image – Courtesy of Two Lions

Pipsie Nature Detective: The Disappearing Caterpillar

•    Targeted Audience: Lower Elementary (Ages 5-8)
•    Genre: Fiction, Picture Book
•    Author: Rick DeDenato
•    Illustrator: Tracy Bishop
•    Publisher: Two Lions
•    Publication Date: March 31, 2015
•    Binding: Hard Cover
•    Dimensions: 8.5″ x 11″
•    Printing: Full Color
•    Length: 38 Pages
•    Retail: $17.99
•    ISBN: 978-1477826300

Image

© Copyright – Inside Spread Courtesy of Two Lions

A Metamorphosis Mystery

Pipsie is a curious little girl who loves animals and solving mysteries. One day Pipsie notices that Alfred, her turtle has some mysterious yellow and black stripes on his head. With her magnifying glass, she discovers that it’s a small caterpillar! She names her Frannie, and she sure is a hungry little insect. She eats non-stop and grows 1000 times bigger in just ten days! But one day, Frannie is nowhere to be found. Pipsie and Alfred look everywhere for their caterpillar friend but just can’t find her. Looking for answers, they go to the zoo to ask the bug expert about caterpillars, and he shows them what a chrysalis looks like and explains what is happening to Frannie. But can Pipsie and Alfred find Frannie’s chrysalis in their backyard? Or is Frannie gone forever?

Image 1

© Copyright – Inside Spread Courtesy of Two Lions

What This Book Teaches

What I love about Pipsie is that she shows readers that it’s wonderful to be smart and curious about the world. By asking questions and seeking answers, there are so many wonderful facts about plants and animals just waiting to be discovered. In addition to the charming story, there are facts about the life cycle of the monarch in the back of the book.

Image 2

© Copyright – Inside Spread Courtesy of Two Lions

Why You Should Buy This Book

Kids love a mystery, and along with Pipsie  readers can try to figure out what happened to the caterpillar, and all the while learn about the life cycle of the butterfly. Children will love admiring the colorful, lovely watercolor illustrations too. Pipsie Nature Detective: The Disappearing Caterpillar offers the perfect combination of entertainment and education to keep budding scientists interested in the story. This book encourages kids to get outside to explore the natural world around them, and isn’t that the best kind of book of all?

About the Author

A1zT6yc04pL._UX250_Rick DeDonato started writing and drawing storybooks for his two kids, Alexis and Matt, when they were little. They’re grown now, but Rick is still creating stories! When he’s not dreaming up adventures for Pipsie, he’s an award-winning creative director in advertising. Born in New Jersey, he now lives in Wilmington, Delaware, with Nancy McAleer; their two dogs, Tugger and Nacho; and their turtle, Alfred E. Turtle!

About the Illustrator

a2e0e18bc0d27fd5-96-1Tracy Bishop won an art contest in kindergarten, and she’s been creating art ever since. A graduate of San Jose State University, she is also the illustrator of Not the Quitting Kind by Sarra J. Roth. She lives in San Jose, California, where she is inspired on a daily basis by her son, husband, and a hairy dog named Harry.

Further Learning

  1. Check out this amazing book about bugs called Bugs: A Stunning Pop-Up Look at Insects, Spiders, and Other Creepy Crawlers.
  2. Learn how to attract butterflies to your garden.
  3. Learn about the life cycle of the butterfly.

Trapped! A Whale’s Rescue: A Glorious Sight to See

TRAPPED

Cover Image – Courtesy of Charlesbridge Publishing

Trapped! A Whale’s Rescue

•        Targeted Audience: Lower Elementary School (Ages 4-6)
•        Genre: Nonfiction
•        Author: Robert Burleigh
•        Illustrator: Wendell Minor
•        Publisher: Charlesbridge
•        Publication Date: April 15, 2015
•        Binding: Hard Cover
•        Dimensions: 10″ x 10″
•        Printing: Full Color
•        Length: 32 Pages
•        Retail: $17.95
•        ISBN: 978-1580895583

FB twitter

TrappedSpread

Note: All images on this post are © copyrighted material and are not to be used in any way without permission from Charlesbridge Publishing.

A True Story of a Whale and a Fishing Net

trapped1Trapped! tells the true story of a humpback whale that got entangled in a fishing net long the Pacific coast near San Francisco in 2005. The poor sea mammal struggles for air as she flips and flops, trying to break free. Then divers come to the rescue, risking their own lives in the frigid water to do their best to swiftly cut the net away from the whale. They must hurry before it’s too late!

A Valuable Lesson in Conservation for the Youngest Environmentalists

Through carefully selected, rhythmic text with playful, descriptive vocabulary words, readers discover the habits of a trapped2humpback whale, the largest mammal on earth, and her plight as a victim of human error. A discarded fishing net becomes a weapon for the whale, and it’s up to humans to rescue her. She seems to understand they are there to help her and cooperates with the divers, who are at risk of being injured or even killed accidentally by any sudden movements by the gargantuan whale. Once free, she even swims past the divers, gently touching them, as if to thank them for saving her life.

In the back of the book are two excellent pages of information with facts about the true story of the trapped whale highlighted in the book, more details about what it takes to rescue a whale and fascinating facts about the habitats and behaviors of these sea mammals. Plus there’s a page of resources for further learning.

The Finest Illustrations Tell a True Tale

trapped4For any children’s book author or publisher, having artist Wendell Minor illustrate their story is like having a winning lottery ticket. His personal love and respect for nature shines through in all his artwork, with impeccable detail. He doesn’t just paint – rather he researches his subject and “lives in it” for a while first. His paintings here are absolutely stunning and depict the action of the whale in as poetic of a manner as Bob Burleigh writes his story. Together the words and pictures marry beautifully to make this a truly exceptional non-fiction story. Wendell’s likeness of splashing water alone kept me mesmerized for quite some time, and I almost felt as though I were one of the divers in the ocean helping to free the trapped animal. We as readers are treated to what a whale looks like from beneath the surface too – a rare and glorious sight indeed.

tumblr_nf78ggcgai1sisvyio1_1280

Why You Must Buy This Book

We must teach children from a very young age about conservation and ecology in order to preserve our precious earth. Children love to learn about animals, and whales are among the earth’s most intriguing and mysterious creatures to explore. Since Trapped!  is based on a true story, children are reminded of the importance of human responsibility when it comes to protecting our natural wonders. The story along with the resources in the back of the book lead readers down a path of further learning, as there is so much more to discover about whales and other sea mammals. In addition to all there is to learn on these pages, the superbly written story is ideal for reading aloud, and the illustrations – or rather, paintings – are beyond spectacular. I expect to see Trapped! A Whale’s Rescue win a number of book awards; it’s that outstanding.

Buy Trapped! A Whale’s Rescue here

TRAPPED

About the Author

bobBurleighRobert Burleigh earned his undergraduate degree from DePauw University and his Master’s in Humanities from the University of Chicago. He has written more than 40 picture books on many different subjects, including several illustrated by Wendell Minor – Abraham Lincoln Comes Home, If You Spent a Day with Thoreau at Walden Pond and most recently, Trapped! A Whale’s Rescue. In addition to writing, Robert paints under the name of Burleigh Kronquist. He splits his time between Grand Haven, Michigan, and Chicago, Illinois.

About the Illustrator

Wendell Minor is the illustrator of over fifty children’s books including The Last Train, OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADaylight Starlight Wildlife, Sequoia, How Big Could Your Pumpkin Grow and most recently, Trapped! A Whale’s Rescue. He works in oil, acrylic, gouache and watercolors in his beautiful studio in rural Connecticut. His interest in nature and the environment has taken him and his wife, Florence from the east coast to the west coast and everywhere in between. Wendell’s outstanding artwork has been exhibited in universities and museums and has been acquired by private collectors. An exhibition of 25 years of his children’s book art, entitled, “Wendell Minor’s America,” was on display at the Norman Rockwell Museum from November 2013 through May, 2014.

Read my in-depth interview with Wendell Minor
Read my
review of Sequoia

Read  my review of Edward Hopper Paints His World (also by Bob Burleigh and Wendell Minor)

HopperCover

Further Learning

    1. Check out the publisher’s Discussion and Activity Guide for this title.
    2. Learn more about humpbacks on National Geographic.
    3. Join the Wildlife Conservation Society.
    4. Watch this excerpt from a BBC Documentary about Humpbacks:

If you like this topic, for older readers also check out this excellent title by author Pamela S. Turner:

9780547716381_hres

A Bird is a Bird Because . . .

ABirdisaBird

A Bird is a Bird

•        Targeted Audience: Upper Elementary & Middle School (Ages 3-7)
•        Genre: Nonfiction Science Early Reader
•        Author/Illustrator: Lizzy Rockwell
•        Publisher: Holiday House Books
•        Publication Date: January 30, 2015
•        Binding: Hard Cover
•        Dimensions: 8.5″ x 10″
•        Printing: Full Color
•        Length: 32 Pages
•        Retail: $6.95
•        ISBN: 978-0823430420

FB twitter

 Bird Science for the youngest Readers

A Bird is a Bird reveals to children as young as three the reasons why a bird is scientifically a bird. With simple text, ideal for the age of the audience, readers discover the common traits birds have; they lay eggs, have beaks and wings and feathers, of course. In addition to short, educational prose are colorful gouache and colored pencil illustrations with the names of the species next to each bird.

BirdisaBirdSpread

 What This Book Teaches (and Why You Should Read it)

There are many wonderful animals books for young readers, but what makes this one unique us that it is a combination picture book and field guide. Children learn about the habitats of birds, what makes each species unique and what they all have in common. The text is ideal for new readers to read aloud, and the content will lead to some interesting discussion for further learning. The lovely illustrations offer children a lot to look at and may inspire them to keep a journal and sketch some of the birds they observe outside themselves.

ABirdisaBird

Buy A Bird is a Bird Here

About the Author

LizzyRockwellLizzy Rockwell is an illustrator whose artwork can be seen in picture books, magazines, games and on walls. She studied art and art history at Connecticut College, and drawing and illustration at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. Lizzy is the illustrator of over 25 children’s books by a variety of authors including her mother, Anne Rockwell. She is the author/illustrator of Plants Feed MeGood Enough to Eat: A Kid’s Guide to Food and Nutrition, Hello Baby! and The Busy Body Book: A Kid’s Guide to Fitness. Lizzy has two grown sons, and lives and works in Bridgeport, CT with her husband, Ken Alcorn, a high school social studies teacher, and their dog Reggie.

Further Learning

  1. Learn more about birds with National Geographic.
  2. Get an Audubon Field Guide to North American Birds.
  3. Encourage your child to keep a bird journal.

FB twitter

10 Rivers That Shaped the World – in All Their Power and Glory

1420669668

10 Rivers That Shaped the World

•        Targeted Audience: Upper Elementary & Middle School (Ages 9-12)
•        Genre: Nonfiction Science Middle Reader
•        Author: Marilee Peters
•        Illustrator: Kim Rosen
•        Publisher: Annick Press
•        Publication Date: March 17, 2015
•        Binding: Paperback
•        Dimensions: 7″ x 9.5″
•        Printing: Full Color
•        Length: 135 Pages
•        Retail: $14.95
•        ISBN:978-1554517381

“Hindus believe bathing in the Ganges River can purify you and remove your sins.”

Screen Shot 2015-02-25 at 9.03.11 PM

© Copyright – Inside spread courtesy of Annick Press

“Johanson and Gray could hardly believe their luck as they realized they’d stumbled upon the skeleton of an ancient hominid…When the bones were excavated and studied, they proved to be from a 3.2 million-year-old species of ancient ape that had never been seen before…the little skeleton quickly became famous under another name: Lucy.”

Screen Shot 2015-02-25 at 9.03.18 PM

© Copyright – Inside spread courtesy of Annick Press

 So Much More to Rivers Than You’ll Ever Know

We teach our children that rivers are sources of water to drink and a means for transportation, but but there’s so much more to their significance that author Marilee Peters felt compelled to write a children’s book about them – and you’ll be glad she did. I was eager to review 10 Rivers That Shaped the World because as a Geology PhD student, my daughter is studying rivers and their sediment, and she often shares fascinating information with me as she learns it.

“The Nile floods were so dependable, and so essential, that the ancient Egyptians named their seasons after the changes in the river’s flow.”

Screen Shot 2015-02-25 at 9.03.15 PM

© Copyright – Inside spread courtesy of Annick Press

10 Rivers That Shaped the World takes readers on an historical journey down ten of the world’s most renowned rivers. Each sections begins with a map and the ancient history of the river as well as fossils that have been found there, revealing the earliest human life. We learn how rivers flood and dry out, about the cultures of people who live along them, the life that lives beneath them and the plants and trees that grow along them. There have been civilizations that have risen and fallen along rivers and deadly disputes that have been caused by them. For these rivers are what attracts life and leave clues to the long history of man.

 Screen Shot 2015-02-25 at 9.02.53 PM© Copyright – Inside spread courtesy of Annick Press

What This Book Teaches

There is so much fascinating information in the book, that my review simply cannot do it justice. Think of it as a riveting course in history, geography, biology and geology. Here are some of the lessons readers will learn as they are engaged in the book:

  • How the “lucky accident” of the Nile’s unique flooding patterns allowed the culture of Ancient Egypt to flourish in one of the   hottest, driest places on earth
  • How medieval robber barons seized—then lost—control of the Rhine
  • Why the Amazon helped scientists discover how species evolve
  • How Livingstone’s ill-fated exploration of the Zambezi changed Africa forever
  • Why you can trace just about every hit song back to the Mississippi River
  • How the massive Three Gorges Dam displaced over one million Chinese in the Yangtze River Valley
  • Why people in India have gathered to bathe in the Ganges for thousands of years
  • The crucial roles of the Awash, the Thames, and the Tigris and Euphrates rivers in human history
  • How the rubber tree in the Amazon was discovered and how the Amazon changed the direction in which it flows

“2.6 million cubic yards of water flow into the sea from the Amazon every second. So much fresh water enters the ocean at the mouth of the river, you can drink the water 93 miles from shore.”

Screen Shot 2015-02-25 at 9.03.22 PM

© Copyright – Inside spread courtesy of Annick Press

“Eels are among the oddest inhabitants of the Thames. They arrive in the river as tiny larvae, after journeying over 3,700 miles from an area of the Atlantic known as the Sargasso Sea. The eels stay in the Thames for 20 years before making the long trip back home to spawn.”

Why You Must Read This Book

10 Rivers That Shaped the World reads much like a story, which is a brilliant way to teach middle readers and keep them engaged in nonfiction. Peters’ writing is beautifully descriptive and flows well. The chapters are broken down into sections, making the book easy for children to read, as the information captivates them rather than bogs them down. The historic photographs and eye-catching aqua based illustrations by Kim Rosen add visual interest to the text too.  The book is a clever way to introduce children to world history and many different branches of science that may pique their interest in further study. We must educate our children about the earth so they can take their part to protect it and all its natural resources that are essential to life.

I love books that engage parents as much as they do children, and 10 Rivers That Shaped the World is a book you’ll want to read from start to finish too.

Buy 10 Rivers That Shaped the World here

1420669668

 About the Author

MarileePetersMarilee Peters grew up in Ottawa, Ontario as an avid reader. In order to continue her favorite activity she studied English Literature, eventually earning a Master’s Degree with a specialization in Victorian novels (because they’re the longest). Along the way, she realized that writing, although harder than reading, was just as satisfying and you could even get paid for it. Since then, she’s helped write and edit guidebooks to Parliament Hill, program guides for theater festivals, newsletters about environmental policy, technology, and national parks, blogs about parenting and child development, and articles about everything from why kids don’t walk to school by themselves anymore, to money management. In addition to 10 Rivers, Marilee penned Patient Zero: Solving the Mysteries of Deadly Epidemics. She lives with her family in Vancouver.

 

About the Illustrator

KimRosenKim Rosen grew up in a suburb of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and could usually be found in her room quietly drawing pictures. After high school, she moved to New York City to attend the Fashion Institute of Technology to study Advertising Design. After several years of working as a designer, Kim realized that she was meant to be an illustrator and attended the Savannah College of Art and Design, where she received an MFA in Illustration. The focus of Kim’s illustrations is on the subtle gestures and simple expressions of people in everyday situations. Kim’s color choices are inspired by the life around her. She lives with her partner in Northampton, Massachusetts, in their 115-year-old house.

Further Learning

  1. Locate all ten rivers in the book on a world map.
  2. Get out and visit a river near you to study the way it flows and the wildlife that surrounds it.
  3. Read more about rivers on National Geographic.
  4. Find a River Exhibit at a museum near you.
  5. Choose a culture of people from the book and study them further.

Educating Teens About Food, the Most Important Subject of All: Interview With Foodprints Author Paula Ayer

Paula photoAs an Associate Editor at Annick Press, Paula Ayer knows a good book when she reads one. And she sure knows how to write one too. She recently penned an outstanding title for teens called Foodprints, and it is one of the best written and most important nonfiction titles for kids I’ve ever read. Paula takes teens on a journey of discovering the history of our food, what we eat, how the bulk of it is grown on megafarms, how it is marketed, consumed, wasted and so much more. I was so impressed with Foodprints, its usefulness and the important messages it conveys, I wanted to learn more about what went into the making of this comprehensive book and ask Paula what mealtime is like in her home, since she and her young daughter are vegetarians and her husband is a meat eater.

“I didn’t know any other vegetarians, but on a shallow level, I thought it was a cool thing to be, and on a deeper level, I didn’t like the idea that animals had to suffer for my food.”

Growing up in a family that made sausages, can you tell us what inspired you to become a 1420664306-2vegetarian?

I became very interested in food as a teenager and started doing a lot of reading about diet and health, and about how animals are treated in the factory-farm system. This was pre-internet, so I was discovering things through books and magazines. John Robbins’s book Diet for a New America was a big influence. I didn’t know any other vegetarians, but on a shallow level, I thought it was a cool thing to be, and on a deeper level, I didn’t like the idea that animals had to suffer for my food. I don’t know if I made a conscious decision to stop eating meat altogether, but I started eating less and less, and by the time I was 15 I was completely vegetarian. My mom had no idea what to make for me so I started doing some cooking at home, and after a couple of years my parents and brother went vegetarian too! Everyone probably thought we were crazy. It wasn’t so mainstream at the time.

That’s fantastic that you started cooking your own healthy meals as a teen.

I should mention I wasn’t always a healthy vegetarian. For a while I was very concerned about eating only “correct” things, and in the way of many teenagers, I went totally overboard. It took a while to find the right balance.

From what I read it, your husband was raised in a vegetarian family, but now eats meat. So how do you cook at home to please everyone?

10857749_10152950909916151_1074058350431513331_nYes, it’s funny how our diets have followed contrary paths. He was born in India and his family’s background is Hindu and Jain, so he grew up vegetarian. He started eating meat in his teens, right around the age I stopped. There was probably an element of teenage rebellion in both decisions, or at least wanting to step outside of our cultural comfort zones! We cook vegetarian at home and he eats meat mostly when he’s out, and he does make an effort to find organic or free-range meat. Our daughter, who’s five, has so far chosen to be vegetarian, so he’s outnumbered.

© Image of Paula and her five-year-old daughter

What inspired you to write Foodprints for kids?

The preteen and teen years are when many people start to make their own decisions about food. It’s also a time when kids are bombarded with information; so much fast-food and snack-food marketing is targeted at kids and teens, and then they’re seeing stuff on the internet, and hearing scary things about obesity and what they should and shouldn’t eat, and so on. It’s overwhelming, even for adults, and so much of the information out there is misleading or has an agenda (like getting you to buy something). I wanted to help kids make some sense of it, and equip them with the skills to think about information critically, whether it’s a fast-food ad or GMOs or a new diet they hear about. I also wanted to write the kind of book that I would have found useful when I was a kid curious about these things.

The book is so comprehensive and informative. How did you decide what to put in the book?

I had a very clear idea right from the start about what information I wanted to include. Food is a huge topic, and there’s an almost unlimited amount of information you could use, but I was trying to hit on the basics, to give kids a grounding in the big issues around food production, how it’s sold, how it affects our bodies and the planet. I also wanted to include stories that were positive and empowering, and then there are things I threw in just because I thought they were interesting or funny!

81a-HUu-KYL

© Copyright – Image courtesy of Annick Press

Was it difficult for you to organize all that information into cohesive chapters that flow?

In addition to having a clear understanding of what information I wanted to cover from the start, I also had a vision of how I was going to structure it. I think I sat down to write a chapter outline and did it all in one go in a couple of hours. It probably helps that I’ve worked with kids’ books for years, as an editor and behind-the-scenes person, so I had a pretty good sense of how a book like this needed to be organized. Of course there was some fine-tuning along the way; I think we switched the order of two chapters at one point in editing, and there were things that were added or taken out to make it flow better.

Can you share with us how you went about conducting research for this book?

There were a few books I relied on for information about particular aspects, like the history of food, or factory farming, or food marketing. For specific examples, I found news articles and scholarly journals online. Wikipedia articles, if they’re well sourced, can be great for getting the basics on a subject, and then I’d follow the article links to primary sources. There’s a huge amount of information out there, so I felt my purpose was to bring it together and present it in a teen-friendly way.

You did an amazing job with that! The “Infobites” in the book, with their statistics, are truly staggering. While compiling information for these were you often surprised by the numbers yourself, and which ones did you find most astonishing?

DSC_0058Oh, absolutely. I had an idea, but some of the actual numbers were shocking. The amount of food wasted is one that’s unbelievable to me—about a third of all food worldwide goes to waste. I also found the numbers on food insecurity incredibly depressing: 1 in 4 kids in the US don’t have regular access to enough food, and in Canada it’s only slightly better. There’s no way those kids can have equal chances in life if they’re in school hungry, or worrying about not having enough to eat.

 

© Copyright – Image courtesy of Annick Press

It’s really shocking and sad that so many kids don’t have enough food, and yet we waste so much of it. Did you find it challenging to write about food science for a younger audience?

One nice thing about writing for younger readers is it forces you to really take apart things you think you know and say, “Okay, in the most basic terms, what is happening here? How does it work?” You can’t rely on the shorthand you might use with adults, where you just assume your readers understand something. I found I had a much clearer comprehension of things after trying to explain them to kids, whether it was biodiversity or the difference between simple and complex carbs.

“If we have kids graduating high school who don’t know how to cook something from scratch, and don’t know how to shop for groceries or prepare food, that’s a major failure.”

1042d3d1e51adea0aebdb02c6886-grande

The statistics on the volume of sugar we eat on a daily basis are staggering. Do you think nutrition and healthy eating should be part of the curriculum in schools?

 Image of sugar in the Public Domain

I do think we need a big cultural shift when it comes to sugar. We evolved eating very tiny amounts of it, and up until very recently it was an expensive luxury. All the research is telling us it’s an addictive substance and it’s a big reason for kids and teens becoming pre-diabetic and developing other health problems. And yet we practically mainline it in sodas and Frappucinos, and we push so much of it on kids. It’s a hard thing to talk about without sounding like you’re head of the Temperance Union and you want to ban all fun. And I’m a hypocrite on the subject because I can barely go a day without chocolate! But we’d be better off treating sugar as more of an occasional, special thing, not an ingredient in every food we eat.

If we have kids graduating high school who don’t know how to cook something from scratch, and don’t know how to shop for groceries or prepare food, that’s a major failure. It’s one of the most important life skills you can have! I think there’s more of an awareness of that now, and some schools are teaching cooking and food literacy, starting garden projects, and such. But of course there needs to be much more.

“Don’t talk about how eating something will make you fat, or teach them to associate food with guilt and shame. Show them that eating well makes you feel good.”

What else can we do as parents to encourage healthy eating habits?81DonyBOD8L

As for what we can do as parents, one big thing is to set good examples by showing kids we enjoy healthy food, and that cooking and eating is a pleasure, not a chore. Involve them in shopping for and preparing food—even young kids can help wash veggies or get out ingredients from the fridge or whatever. Talk to them about where their food comes from. I think it’s also important to model healthy attitudes about food and body image. Don’t talk about how eating something will make you fat, or teach them to associate food with guilt and shame. Show them that eating well makes you feel good. And try to sit down and have meals together, even if you can only manage once or twice a week.

© Copyright – Image courtesy of Annick Press

Excellent advice! Do you think it’s possible for teens who grew up eating fast food, drinking soda and eating sweets to successfully change their eating habits? And what would it take to do that?

I think anyone can change his or her eating habits. And teens can change their entire fashion styles, musical tastes, and personas pretty much overnight, so they are probably the most adaptable to change!

Most people find if they get in the habit of eating healthier food, as long as it’s tasty and nutritious and they’re eating enough of it, then they enjoy eating that way and they don’t crave greasy or sugary things all the time. So it’s a matter of building those habits. Of course it helps if they have support from families, and if there’s a culture of healthy eating around them. Fast-food places need to have some truly healthier options, beyond boring salads—it’s getting better, but there’s still a long way to go. And schools and communities need to help too. It’s very hard if you’re on a school trip or at a sports meet or whatever, and there’s nothing to eat but hot dogs and donuts.

“…livestock production actually contributes more CO2 to the atmosphere than transportation!”

I so often think about that fact that the volume of unhealthy foods readily available to kids and the lack of healthy choices, are the biggest parts of the problem. What concerns you most about the future of our food supply in North America?

25275vClimate change is a big worry. The way we produce food is a huge contributor to climate change—livestock production actually contributes more CO2 to the atmosphere than transportation! And we’ve already seen how a changing climate affects our food supply—look at the droughts in California, which supplies about half of all our produce in North America.

Image of farm in California in the Public Domain

All those facts are certainly eye-opening. What do you hope readers learn most from the book?

What inspired me most while writing was how many stories there are about young people who have made a difference. Like the two Girl Guides who said, “No, we don’t think it’s right that orangutan habitats are being destroyed so we can get palm oil to make cookies,” and they actually got major companies to change their policies. Kids who stand up and say, “I don’t want animals to be treated that way to get my fast food,” or “There’s nowhere to buy fresh food in my community, and I’m going to do something about it,” are inspiring others. So I hope readers take to heart that there are things they can do, that there’s more awareness than ever before about many of these issues and they can find networks and organizations to help.

It’s amazing what kids with a passion can accomplish! Do you have any advise for someone who might want tofarm-animals-13800419412Sq write a sophisticated nonfiction book for older children like you did?

Kids and teens are smart, and they can handle more complex issues and ideas than we adults sometimes give them credit for. You don’t have to talk down to them or try too hard to sound like their buddy, because they can sense that phoniness a mile away. And nobody wants to be told what to think—your readers are the ones who get to decide how to think and what to do with the information you’ve given them.

Image of the cow in the Public Domain

No one else could have said that any better!

indexOf course, you do have to keep in mind how much information kids can take in without becoming overwhelmed, and you want to create something that’s appealing and fun to read. I was lucky to have great editors and readers who helped me find that balance. Presentation helps, too—Foodprints really benefits from having lots of colorful illustrations, photos, and graphics, which can help draw kids in to more complex or serious subjects.

Image of produce in the Public Domain

 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Paula, I am so thrilled you wrote this outstanding, comprehensive book for teens. We’ve got to do a better job as  a society educating our children about not only what they are eating but also where their food is coming from, and your book is an excellent resource for them. If only every middle and high school had a course utilizing this book, the world would be a much better, healthier place!

1420664306-2

 Buy Foodprints: The Story of What We Eat here