Saturday, March 29, 2008

INK, Camouflage, and other newsy bits of questionable worth

The sun is shining, the sky is blue -- could it be that spring has finally arrived here in Tough City? At least there's no snow, which would be unusual here anyway, but things were verging on bizarre because it snowed almost every day for about a week. Memories of Kaua'i are fading (as is my measly tan) as my To Do list grows. We probably should finally unpack sometime this weekend! Anyhow, I feel energized and vow to catch up on some posts and other things I've been meaning to do...

Last night the hubbie and I actually had a date -- amazing. There was no protest from our youngest sprog, so we could depart guilt-free for a few hours. Took in a concert by Ian Tamblyn at the cozy venue, Trilogy Garden Cafe in the lovely Tofino Botanical Gardens. A smallish turnout, but it was a wonderful evening of music with friends. I have this sort of "six degrees of separation" with Ian Tamblyn as my friend Bill, whom I met at Lakehead U. in Thunder Bay way, way back when (could it really be 26 years ago?), roomed with Ian's brother. And, of course, we started listening to Ian's music back then, too. I'm a fan of his pieces, as in the albums Over My Head or Antarctica, where he's combined nature/animal sounds with his music. It was a treat to hear Ian in concert and to finally have a chance to say hello. He's got an impressively lengthy discography. We picked up two new ones; the latest - Superior: Spirit and Light and an older one from 1992, Through the Years.

Since I'm primarily a non-fiction writer, it was a treat to hear of a new blog dedicated solely to children's non-fiction. INK - Interesting Non-fiction for Kids, is hosted by a variety of authors who take turns posting. Here's a great link on poetry in non-fiction by David M. Schwartz.

I was first introduced to David's work when we were doing the measurement issue of KNOW. David has written some wonderful books on measurement and math, such as G is for Googol or Millions to Measure. So I was delighted to come across his Where in the Wild? (written with Yael Schy, with photos by Dwight Kuhn) when I was on the Cybil's jury for non-fiction picture books.

He talks about Where in the Wild? in his INK post. Judging the Cybils was so difficult because, really, any of the books could have won. They were all fabulous and each had different strengths and styles and, of course, appealed to the jurists in different ways. Anyhow, Where in the Wild was a worthy finalist. The subtitle of this book is Camouflaged Creature Concealed...and Revealed. Even the creator line gives clues to the book's contents: "Ear-tickling poems" and "Eye-tricking Photos." Each spread has a poem (check out David's blog entry to see some of the pages) with an accompanying photo. In each photo an animal is hiding, well hidden by its camouflaged fur, feathers, scales, or skin. This was one of my favourite poems:


speckled treasures lie
bare upon the pebbled bank
fragile life within

The photo is, indeed, of a pebbled bank and it hides the speckled eggs of a killdeer. When you lift the flap the eggs are revealed and there is a page of non-fiction information about killdeers. Such a nice combo. of photographs, poetry, non-fiction, with an added "Where's Waldo" quality. Other animals included in the title are the coyote, tree frog, deer, weasel, moth, crab spider, flounder, green snake and red-spotted newt. Other than a few small quibbles of complex ideas being glossed over (e.g., the evolution of peppered moths from light to dark) and some unexplained words (e.g., exoskeleton) it's a wonderful book sure to please. When I went to the Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) conference in Boston last month, Schwartz and Schy were awarded the 2008 AAAS/Subarus Excellence in Science Books awards. It was also noted as a 20087 Outstanding Science Trade Book by the National Science Teachers' Association.

You can listen to a review of the book on Just One More Book. They also have some great links, and can direct you to a teacher's guide and other goodies.

No comments: