Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Melissa Stewart Demystifies Nonfiction and Makes It Fun! by Kathy Halsey

There's no question that Melissa Stewart makes nonfiction bewitching and accessible. With over 180+ books under her belt, she knows this category's ins and outs along with the difference between narrative nonfiction, expository nonfiction and more. (Take a look at her nonfiction tree here.)

Last week, I caught up with Melissa at my local indie bookstore, Cover To Cover Books for Young Readers. after her three day author visit to New Albany schools. Melissa tailored her talk to the crowd of seashell lovers, educators, and librarians. 

 Today I'll share my review of Seashells More Than a Home, some key points from her talk and a few fun facts. 


Book Review 

This expository dual-text picture book follows the structure set up by author Melissa and illustrator Sarah S. Brannen in their first book together, the award-winning Feathers: not Just for Flying. Written for ages 6-9, grades 1-4, Seashells is an engaging, accessible introduction to 13 seashells that "sink like a submarine," and "send a warning like the signal from a lighthouse." 
Melissa's use of similes and metaphors makes the main text a joy to dive into, while the second layer gives well-chosen facts still steeped in lyrical language. 
Sarah Brannen's brilliant watercolor illustrations invite readers to pick up their own science sketch book and take to the outdoors to examine, draw, and take note of the natural world. Even the end papers add information with maps that show the habitats for each sheet/mollusk. Young scientists, parents, and educators will enjoy dipping back into this picture book time and again. 
Third grader in Columbus, Ohio, New Albany Schools  share facts from Melissa Stewarts's visit.

Key Points and Fun Facts
  1. Melissa and illustrator Sarah Brannen created an elaborate back story for the illustrations of the children examining the seashells for the book. More work goes on in the creation of captivating nonfiction than you'd think.
  2. During Melissa's Cover to Cover author visit, we chatted about how informational fiction and true expository fiction are  confused by lay people as well as many educators. Check out Melissa Stewart's award-winning blog, Celebrate Science, to learn more here.
  3. Melissa and Sarah are in the same critique group in Massachusetts that has been meeting for over 20 years. They were paired together for Feathers: Not Just for Flying by happenstance. (Typically authors an illustrators do not know each other.)
  4. Again, in a break with customary publishing practices, Steve Jenkins and Melissa worked closely together on CAN AN AARDVARK BARK? Melissa had to go back and revise the text when Steve changed the type of porcupine depicted for artistic reasons.
  5. Even authors with 180+ books get rejections from publishers. Melissa says that sometimes industry professionals don't know how to edit expository work. They want it to have a plot. Expository nonfiction needs a structure or a pattern to create a through line, not a plot. Melissa says children can pick out a pattern/structure more easily than adults.

Cover to Cover owner Melia Wolf welcomes Melissa Stewart

    What's Up Next?
    Melissa has several school visits in her home state of Massachusetts before she wraps up the school year. She and Steve Jenkins are at work on another collaboration and she's writing a professional development book for educators. Finally, Melissa has revamped her web site which is a treasure trove for educators, librarians, and writers. Take a look soon.








    http://www.theclassroombookshelf.com/2019/04/exploring-adaptations-and-design-with-seashells-more-than-a-home/

    25 comments:

    1. Thank you, Kathy. Your interview with Melissa is a huge highlight of my day! You two ladies rock!

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      1. You are so kind, Charlotte. The links I've embedded are so useful.

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    2. Great post Kathy. I've always loved Melissa Stewart.

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    3. Lovely post, Kathy. Thank you.

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    4. I absolutely love Melissa Stewart's books and blog. Thanks for celebrating her work!

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    5. Kathy, so perfect that you got a chance to be "up close and personal" with Melissa. Her books are just wonderful and she is definitely a pro!

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      1. She is one of the best folks in kid lit. It was such a highlight of my week.

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    6. I love Melissa's work and Kathy your posts are always filled with helpful information. Thank you.

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      1. TY, Elizabeth. Glad to see you here. How is your writing going? I remember our AZ critique group!

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    7. Great interview! Love the process!

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      1. Yes, to get a peek into the process is pure gold. We learn so much. TY for reading the GROG.

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    8. Fabulous interview--and review, Kathy. I look forward to checking out Melissa's blog, too.

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      1. Hey, newest GROGGger, glad you are with us. Her blog is a great deep dive of goodness.

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    9. I love Melissa's books - thanks for posting such an informative piece about her work.

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      1. Melissa is always teaching me something, Sue. Wish I lived closer to you NE peeps.

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    10. I am a huge fan of Melissa's work. How fantastic that she visited your store!! Thanks for this round-up, Kathy!

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      1. Jilanne, dinner with her was so illuminating for an NF writer!

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    11. Lovely post of Melissa's work. Thanks, Kathy!

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    12. Thanks Kathy for this piece on Melissa. I respect her work and reference it often.

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    13. Melissa is an award winning author in the genre of nonfiction books. She shares so much with writers. I've learned so much from her through her books and blog.

      Thank you, Kathy.

      Suzy

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    14. Such an honor Melissa & Kathy for Melissa to be here on our site. I have loved her HURRICANE WATCH (Floridian, me!) & also her NG kids books about Meteors & other topics. So groovy to catch up with her latest bridges of great science info with interactive & clever reads. So happy to be "there" in the Cover to Cover store with you both. Many appreciations

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