Monday, April 13, 2015

Happy Birthday Thomas!

Today is Thomas Jefferson's birthday, Celebrate with a Nonfiction Minute!
Learn how he became a smuggler and grew America's economy.

This Nonfiction Minute is a preview of my newest book Thomas Jefferson Grows a Nation to be released in the fall.


Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Melissa Stewart on Expository Nonfiction

Check out Melissa Stewart's article about Expository Nonfiction (love the way she describes this name) at:
http://www.bookologymagazine.com/knock-knock/knock-knock-with-melissa-stewart-a-fresh-look-at-expository-nonfiction/

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Children's Bookstore

It's a real thrill (but rare) to see my books in an actual, physical bookstore, so I take my kicks where I can get them. I saw an ad for the Children's Bookstore and their online book fairs in SLJ, and clicked on the link. I scrolled down the list of authors, which was short, and I wasn't there. Maybe this was a small operation working with select authors, I thought. I typed in Farmer George, and it popped up along with four of my other titles. Yippee!

If you're books are in their catalog, they welcome a short (250 word) author's note that they will add to the book listing.  In their instructions they ask that the note be original, "not the usual marketing blurb or cut and pasted information from your website." They'll check!  They recommend a short description about why you wrote the book, or how the book can be used in the classroom, or what expertise you bring to the subject.  I asked about being added to the author's roster, but haven't heard back yet. I will also add their link on my website to give them a bit of traffic.

So, for all of you who are always looking for ways to help promote your books, check out the Children's Bookstore.  You might be there.  

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Award-winning Nonfiction

This time of year is always exciting for children's authors. We get to find out which of our favorite books have won awards. For us nonfiction writers, the biggie is ALA's Robert F. Sibert Award for the most distinguished informational book for children. This year the award went to author Jen Bryant and illustrator Melissa Sweet for The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus (Eerdmans), a beautiful picture book biography.

Being named an honor book is awesome too. This year the five Sibert Honor awards went to:
* Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson (Penguin/Paulsen)
* Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion, and the Fall of Imperial Russia by Candace Fleming (Random/Schwartz & Wade)
*The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker, written by Patricia Hruby Powell, illustrated by Christian Robinson (Chronicle)
* Neighborhood Sharks: Hunting with the Great Whites of California’s Farallon Islands by Katherine Roy (Roaring Brook/Macaulay Studio)
* Separate Is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez and Her Family’s Fight for Desegregation by Duncan Tonatiuh (Abrams)

The YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults went to Maya Van Wagenen's Popular: Vintage Wisdom for a Modern Geek (Dutton)

The four finalists included:
*Laughing at My Nightmare by Shane Burcaw (Roaring Brook)
*The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion & the Fall of Imperial Russia by Candace Fleming (Random/Schwartz & Wade)
*Ida M. Tarbell: The Woman Who Challenged Big Business—and Won! by Emily Arnold McCully (Clarion)
*The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil Rights by Steve Sheinkin (Roaring Brook).

One of the Stonewall Honor Books for exceptional merit relating to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender experience was also a nonfiction title: Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out by Susan Kuklin (Candlewick)

And the elevation of the art and design of nonfiction was evident in the inclusion of several NF titles named Caldecott honor books:
*The Noisy Paint Box: The Colors and Sounds of Kandinsky’s Abstract Art, illustrated by Mary GrandPr√©, written by Barb Rosenstock (Knopf)
*Viva Frida, written and illustrated by Yuyi Morales (Roaring Brook/Porter)
*The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus, illustrated by Melissa Sweet, written by Jen Bryant (Eerdmans)

CONGRATULATIONS to all the winners! If you haven't read them yet, interloan them now. Use them as mentor texts for your own projects, and maybe someday your name will be forever connected to that of Sibert, or Caldecott, or Newbery.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Book Giveaway for President's Day

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Farmer George Plants a Nation by Peggy Thomas

Farmer George Plants a Nation

by Peggy Thomas

Giveaway ends February 16, 2015.

See the giveaway details at Goodreads.

Enter to win

Monday, January 5, 2015

A Clean Desk

I always start the new year off by cleaning my office.  It isn't a nod to feng shui and good karma for the next 12 months. It's to put away the wrapping paper, receipts, shopping bags, and boxes of Christmas decorations that end up in the one room in the house no one needed to sleep in over the holidays.  It's reclaiming my space.

And this year it gives me a place to start now that I am in that odd freelance place between contracts. What should I work on next?  Which idea has percolated in my brain enough that it's ready to dive into. There are so many options, because like most writers I have several ideas brewing at once.  I wish I could work on more than one project at a time, but I'm not a very good multi-tasker, so I have to choose carefully. Is there a project that is time sensitive? Is a pertinent anniversary coming up? That is a good selling point for an editor. Have newer books on the same subject come on the market while I've been percolating? If so, is my idea different enough to compete successfully, or should I shuffle that idea lower in the deck and wait a few years?

How do you decide what your next project is going to be?  What are you working on now?

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Juvenile Nonfiction on the Rise

I  don't usually care about the industry numbers that come out each year ranking book sales, because I always know my category - children's nonfiction - will be mentioned somewhere in the last paragraph, or not at all. But, yesterday PW announced that the sale of juvenile NF increased 15.6% from 2013 (at least among the outlets that report to BookScan).  48,882,000 in 2014, up from 42,283,000 in 2013.  Hooray for us!  It doesn't even dampen my enthusiasm that the top 4 books in the category were handbooks for the Minecraft game. 

These numbers should perk up the ears of editors and agents, and make them more interested in those nonfiction stories that come across their desks.  So, get your manuscripts polished. Let's make 2015 an even better year for children's nonfiction.