Writing stories that make us bigger on the inside
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Perfect for fans of STEM, this inspiring picture book biography tells the extraordinary story of pioneering astronomer Maria Mitchell.
Maria longed to travel beyond her small island of Nantucket. But she wasn’t sure how. Her father taught her to look to the stars for guidance. If you knew how to read them, he said, the stars could tell you where you were, and where you needed to go. They spent hours scanning the night sky together through a telescope on the roof. Maria learned how to use astronomers’ tools to measure and track time by the stars. But what could she do with her skills? Then, one day, she heard that a prize was being offered to the first person to find a new comet. Could this be the opportunity she was waiting for?
This absorbing picture book biography by Laura Alary tells the fascinating, though not well-known, story of a remarkable nineteenth-century woman scientist and women’s rights advocate. After winning that prize for discovering a comet, Maria Mitchell would go on to become the first professional female astronomer in the United States, first female member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and one of the first female college professors.
Beautifully illustrated with lovely textured artwork by Ellen Rooney, this is a well-told story with a teachable STEM component, supporting both science and social studies curriculums, that supports a growth mindset. It’s also a wonderful guide sure to inspire readers to find their own way in the world. It includes backmatter that further describes Maria’s impressive life and achievements.
Watch for it in May 2022. Available now for pre-order: https://www.amazon.ca/gp/product/1525303481?pf_rd_r=AY597XC5RSD8AG8H3S3W&pf_rd_p=05326fd5-c43e-4948-99b1-a65b129fdd73&pd_rd_r=96e75d26-97d9-478b-9045-36928f1b70c2&pd_rd_w=2FnlK&pd_rd_wg=Igv2V&ref_=pd_gw_unk
The cooking of a healthy breakfast moves from parent-child bonding to an eloquent conversation about energy, the growth of plants, and the miraculous ways the sun’s light nourishes us all.
It began with the sun,
Who showers the earth
With heat and light—
Tiny packets of energy.
How does a home-cooked breakfast give a little girl the energy she needs for a brand-new day? In gently expressive language, her mother takes readers on a journey into the earth where sleepy seeds are tickled awake and grow into golden oats; into blueberry patches, where green leaves break apart water and air to build sweet sugar; and into a pasture where sun becomes grass, becomes cow, becomes milk.
Author Laura Alary’s free verse breaks big ideas into child-sized pieces, making Sun in My Tummy an accessible introduction to the concepts of matter and energy, and how the sun’s light becomes fuel for our bodies through the food we eat. Andrea Blinick’s mixed-media illustrations pair the cozy and homelike with the glowing and dramatic as she takes readers from the kitchen to the farm field and to the sky and back. A concluding Author’s Note shares further information about photosynthesis for young readers.
Coming March 14, 2022 and available now for pre-order: https://www.amazon.ca/Sun-My-Tummy-Laura-Alary/dp/1772782416/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=sun+in+my+tummy&qid=1625794233&sr=8-1
At the heart of Breathe lies a puzzle: How can Jesus go away, yet promise to be with us always? Can we trust someone who comes and goes so mysteriously?
In the style of Make Room: A Child’s Guide to Lent and Easter and Look! A Child’s Guide to Advent and Christmas, Breathe: A Child’s Guide to Ascension, Pentecost and the Growing Time explores the comings and goings of Jesus and the Spirit through retellings of the biblical stories of Ascension and Pentecost, interwoven with contemporary reflections from the point of view of a child.
Moving beyond long ago and far away events, Breathe guides children to wonder about and watch for the presence and work of the Spirit here and now, in practices of prayer and mindfulness, and through acts of justice, generosity, and the sweet taste of kindness.
In the end, the young narrator arrives as a satisfactory solution to the puzzle: the Spirit that was in Jesus is in us too. We are his body now, his way of being in the world. Whenever we choose the way of love, Jesus is there. Always.
“Every person who tells these stories does it in a slightly different way. And every person who reads these stories hears something a bit different. So even though these stories are very old, they are also always new.”
I’ve been eager to share this and now I can!
A few years ago I became fascinated by the American astronomer Maria Mitchell, whose life story is a significant part of the book Figuring, by Maria Popova. Naturally, I decided I wanted to try my hand at writing a picture book biography about her so I could share her story with a younger audience. This process was well underway when I discovered that there already was a beautiful picture book about Maria Mitchell called What Miss Mitchell Saw, written by Haley Barrett and illustrated by Diana Sudyka. I found a copy and was pleased to discover that because the two books narrate different portions of Mitchell’s life, they are actually very complementary. A life as rich as Maria Mitchell’s can definitely inspire multiple tellings!
In the months to come I will have much more to say about my own book. For now, just let me say how thrilled I am to have had the opportunity to work with the amazing Ellen Rooney. Her attention to detail, care for historical accuracy, and subtle sense of humour enliven the story on every page. Just look at that cover and feel the awe!
The Astronomer Who Questioned Everything: The Story of Maria Mitchell will be released on May 3, 2022 but it is available now for pre-order: https://www.amazon.ca/Astronomer-Who-Questioned-Everything-Mitchell/dp/1525303481/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=the+astronomer+who+questioned+everything&qid=1633379659&sr=8-1
I have a lot of respect for Building Faith, a ministry of Virginia Theological Seminary, and frequently turn to their website for resources.
While searching for something else recently, I stumbled upon this article about selecting children’s bibles. I was delighted to find that Read, Wonder, Listen: Stories from the Bible for Young Readers (Wood Lake Books) is included as a top pick.
Here is part of what the reviewers had to say: “With gorgeous poetic language and full-page images, this story Bible will appeal to a wide range of ages and is an especially great pick for inquisitive children starting to ask more challenging questions about the Bible.”
Inviting readers of all ages to ask deep and challenging questions is something I always aim to do, so I was particularly pleased to read this comment.
See the full review and complete list here: https://buildfaith.org/choosing-a-childrens-bible-2/
One of the best things about writing picture books is getting that first glimpse of the artwork!
While this cover may be tweaked slightly over the coming months, it gives a great sense of the joyful style of illustrator Andrea Blinick.
Here is a brief description of the book:
“How does a home-cooked breakfast give a little girl the energy she needs for a brand-new day? In gently expressive language, her mother takes readers on a journey into the earth where sleepy seeds are tickled awake and grow into golden oats; into blueberry patches, where green leaves break apart water and air to build sweet sugar; and into a pasture where sun becomes grass, becomes cow, becomes milk.
Author Laura Alary‘s free verse breaks big ideas into child-sized pieces, making Sun in My Tummy an accessible introduction to the concepts of matter and energy, and how the sun’s light becomes fuel for our bodies through the food we eat. Andrea Blinick‘s mixed-media illustrations pair the cozy and homelike with the glowing and dramatic as she takes readers from the kitchen to the farm field and to the sky and back.”
Sun in My Tummy is available for preorder on Amazon: https://www.amazon.ca/Sun-My-Tummy-Laura-Alary/dp/1772782416/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=sun+in+my+tummy&qid=1625794233&sr=8-1
There are a few blogs I follow regularly because their quality is consistently good, their content helpful and practical, and I have come to respect and trust the writers.
One such blog is Faith at Home, written by Wendy Claire Barrie. Wendy is writer, editor, Christian educator, speaker, and author of the book Faith at Home: A Handbook for Cautiously Christian Parents. She is also someone I am glad and grateful to call my friend.
I am honoured that Wendy featured my books about the circle of the church year on her blog. You can read her comments here (and please spend some time browsing the rest of her posts): https://wendyclairebarrie.com/2021/05/15/laura-alarys-breathe-look-and-make-room-guides-through-the-church-year/?fbclid=IwAR0ruGGhwqM28B4qNUhxbuILJoBrU560gE2wGQElHaYCA6L4Ni_hOMFVxgE
The tagline on author Laura Sassi’s website is, “Celebrating reading, writing, and life.” Definitely three things worth celebrating! I was so pleased that Laura invited me to join her in conversation about writing for children, cultivating wonder, the seasons of the Church year, and more.
Here is our interview:https://laurasassitales.wordpress.com