Monday, July 21, 2008

Factoid with wings

I'm busy working away on another new Scratch and Sketch book for my friends at Peter Pauper Press. The topic is Butterflies and Friends, and I came across this interesting fact...dragonfles can fly up to 30 miles and hour! Yikes! If you see one near lakes or streams or rivers this summer, take a close look at their delicate wings. So pretty!

Thanks to all who came out for last night's signing at the new Borders in Wareham, MA. It's a great store, and a terrific place to beat the heatwave!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Three Waves...

They say that waves come in a series of three. When entering the surf, count three big waves, then wait for the calm...that's the best time to enter the surf! If a wave looks like it's going to get you, dive under it. You're less likely to be tumbled! Make sure a grown up is with you!

P.S. That's my little nephew, Jake...he's the cutest thing I've seen this summer! We introduced him to his first wave over the holiday weekend!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Did You Know?

Everywhere I go, I learn interesting facts which I often refer to as "factoids"... even though I'm not actually sure that's a word. Recently, I learned this interesting tidbit from second grade teacher Mrs. Carlson:

If you look at a fiddler crab's hole, you will notice little balls of sand next to it. Line the balls of sand up in a straight line, and that will show you how deep the crab's hole is.

Try it!

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Journey of the Jetsam

We've all heard some version of the story of a message in a bottle that fell into the ocean off the shores of Timbuktu and journeyed a tremendous distance...only to be discovered on the island of Somewhere Else. Although these stories are the stuff of fairytales, in real life, the journey of trash in our oceans is more of a horror story. 

In her book, Tracking Trash: Flotsam, Jetsam, and the Science of Ocean Motion, author Loree Griffin Burns details the research of oceanographer Curt Ebbesmeyer who studies ocean currents by tracking cargo ship container spills with the help of beachcombers. Scientists use their valuable data to help protect and preserve fragile marine habitats and the creatures that live there. Griffin's book is insightful, fun to read, and inspiring especially for young readers interested in science. If I was still teaching, I would use her book as a springboard for discussing many topics including map skills, ocean currents, marine habitats, the effects of pollution, and how students can help save the environment.

I recently had the pleasure of attending one of Griffin's school visits and was very impressed by how she managed to present her information to children of all ages. The children were interested, attentive, and her talk generated many interesting questions. The children (and I), were left truly inspired! What's the buzz on Griffin's latest project?...Bees!

Enjoy your journeys to the beach this summer...just remember to take your trash with you when you leave!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Any Day Now!

My latest book, Journey Around Nantucket will be out in the next couple weeks! I can't wait to see the book when it arrives. It's always such a thrill to see the final product!
The book features many favorite locations on Nantucket with surprise factoids for locals and visitors. My family and I had so much fun visiting the island while doing research for this book. Stay tuned for book signings later this summer on Nantucket and the Cape. I'd love to meet you and hear about your experiences on this lovely island!

Monday, June 2, 2008

Scratch and Sketch

Though most know me for my Journey Around series, I have also written and illustrated several Scratch and Sketch books for Peter Pauper Press where my twin sister Heather is the Creative Director. These great books are so much fun for kids. The activity series combines text and illustrations which encourages children to create their own images on a number of topics as they scratch and sketch the coated black surfaces to reveal colored patterns and metallic foils beneath. Many of my friends like to take these along while they travel because they keep kids happy and engaged for a very long time...they're magic!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Book Now for School Visits this Fall!

Each year, I commit to several school visits, primarily in the Cape Cod and Boston areas. I present my books to students and teachers and describe the journey I've been on to make my dream of publishing children's books a reality. The talks encourage students to take a closer look at their own environments and discover a little more about their unique areas.

My fall schedule is filling up quickly, but I do still have some availability. If you are interested, please contact me as soon as possible at:

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Did You Know?

To discourage buggy racing, a popular sport of the late 1800's, the road in Central Park was deliberately designed with many twists and turns!

Sunday, March 9, 2008

How the Journey Began...

In 1998, I was teaching third grade in Hyannis East Elementary School on Cape Cod. I was taking my class on field trips around the Cape, and was looking for books which would enhance their experience. Not finding much, I began collecting material about the area, and taking
photographs of the Cape. Inspired by a children’s book illustration class I was taking at RISD, I decided to follow her life-long create a children’s book.

My sister Heather, an art director took some of my paintings and notes, and designed a format for the book which would be interesting and appealing to children of all ages. Because the book uses the alphabet, the littlest children like to point out the letters, and to find the birds which I paint into the images. Older children and adults delight in recognizing the places they’ve visited and learning the “instant expert” facts which are included on every page.

Once we had a good mock-up of the book, we started looking for publishers. A local Cape Cod publisher agreed to take a risk with this unknown author and illustrator on a regional book, and Journey Around Cape Cod and the Islands from A to Z was born. His risk paid off...people loved the book. It came to the attention of our current publisher, Commonwealth Editions in Beverly MA. They requested that I create Journey Around Boston from A to Z. I did, and it became an instant hit, making the bestseller list on The Boston Globe many times. To date, there are over 100,000 copies sold!

After having my first child, and illness within our family, I worked with Heather more extensively to research and write the books Journey Around New York from A to Z and The Cape Cod Cookbook, and the series grew!

For each book, the journey begins with an outline of all the places, themes, locations and ideas I would like to include in the book. Once the alliterative sentences which form the framework for the book are created, the sites are visited, photographed, and I can begin creating the illustrations. Once I finish the paintings, Heather designs the books and prepares them to send to the publisher.

Now, with 8 titles in the series, the journey has continued to include San Francisco, Washington DC, Chicago, and Philadelphia. And now, Journey Around Nantucket is on the way this summer!

Children, parents and teachers often ask me about how I create the series. I frequently visit schools and conferences to present our journey. I encourage children to take journeys of their own, and follow their dreams. I hope you will too!