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A Nonfiction Minute

I am one of several dozen nonfiction authors featured on a strangely-named site called iNKThinkTank.org. (No, it is not a place to buy printer ink! The name stands for "interesting nonfiction for kids.) One wonderful feature of the site is called the Nonfiction Minute. There are about 170 there, on a wide range of subjects, and one of mine is called "Watch a Webmaster at Work." Here is how it starts:

"This summer, you may be able to observe an amazing event in nature. You can watch a small animal build a structure much bigger than itself, using materials from inside its own body. This is what happens when a spider spins a web."

In addition to the roughly 400 words there, narrated by me, there is a quick video of a spider spinning. A few weeks ago a librarian in an elementary school told me that she used this Nonfiction Minute to help prepare her students for my author visit. This is the first time a librarian or teacher offered me specifics of how Nonfiction Minutes can be used. We know they ARE used; the site gets many thousands of visits every week, even through summer vacation. In a variety of ways, fascinating bits of nonfiction are getting into schools and homes--a good thing!  Read More 
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A Book Written! Subject: Elephants!

Yesterday I submitted a manuscript of a book--Elephants! Strange and Wonderful--that will be published a long time from now, 2019. I'm excited about it, about the process so far, which includes research on these extraordinary animals, and the writing just ended. The rest of the long process includes comments from my editor and an elephant scientist, both of whom will help make the book better. Then artist Meryl Henderson will devote several months creating her usual wonderful illustrations.

In all writing, and maybe especially in writing nonfiction, a lot has to be left out. That seemed particularly true on this subject. I felt I could write much more about one elephant body part: the trunk. There is no other animal part quite like it. (It can be used to sniff odors, spray water, hug, grab food, and much more.) And so much can be written about the awful reality of wild elephants today, with great loss of their natural habitats, and being killed so that people can have jewelry, trinkets, and other objects carved from the ivory of their tusks. Fortunately, my writing ended on a slightly hopeful note as the Chinese government just vowed to end the whole ivory business in that nation (where more than half of all ivory-made products are sold). Say No to Ivory! Read More 
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Two Friend-Writers, and Chocolate

There are no Trader Joe's stores in Montana, and this presents a serious problem for Sneed Collard III of Missoula. Sneed and I met last century (1987) and became steadfast friends. We are far apart geographically but close in other ways. He is a prolific author, mostly of nonfiction but also of novels. Most recent title: Hopping Ahead of Climate Change: Snowshoe Hares, Science, and Survival. One reviewer (me) called this book "a gem of excellent science and environmental writing."

Now about the chocolate. Sneed claims that his writing falters when he lacks certain kinds of chocolate. One kind he treasures (bittersweet with almonds) is available in one
pound packages from Trader Joe's. In West Nyack, NY, I'm fairly close to a Trader Joe's.
Thus, several times a year, Sneed receives a special package from me. It is rather costly
but I want his wonderful writing career to continue. And he is on a short list of really good friends. Read More 
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