Category: Writing

Oregon Book Awards Finalist!

My young readers’ adaptation of Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species is my favorite among all the books I’ve written. (It wasn’t an easy choice, though.) That’s why I’m so happy to report that it has been chosen as one of five finalists in the Children’s Literature category for the 2020 Oregon Book Awards.

These awards are given every year in seven categories to writers who live in Oregon. The list of past finalists and winners includes many, many gifted writers and extraordinary books. I am honored to be among them.

The 2020 winners in each category will be announced in a ceremony at the end of April. No matter which book wins, we can be sure of one thing: it will be a great book!

Lies, truth, and history

I’m proud to have been chosen to write the Young Readers version of a great book: Lies My Teacher Told Me, by James W. Loewen. It’s about U.S. history–and the parts of it that our textbooks leave out, or get wrong. If you’ve ever wondered whether you’re learning the full story about Christopher Columbus, or the Pilgrims, or the Vietnam War, or much, much more, I hope you’ll check this book out. Many students have shared it with their history teachers and changed the way history is taught in their schools.


New book: The Wild West in Paris

Another new book of mine will be coming out soon. It’s a young people’s version of a terrific book by Jill Jonnes called Eiffel’s Tower. The book tells how engineer Gustave Eiffel built his famous tower in Paris in spite of fierce attacks. Some critics thought the tower was a hideous monstrosity. Others feared it would fall over and crush their neighborhoods, or draw huge lightning bolts from the sky.

In the end, Eiffel just managed to get the tower finished in time for a grand World’s Fair in 1889. People from all over the world came to Paris for the fair–and to marvel at the Eiffel Tower, or even make the daring, adventurous trip to its top. Among them were Buffalo Bill Cody and Annie Oakley. Their Wild West show in Paris was almost as big a sensation as the tower itself.

Eiffel’s Tower is the story of Eiffel’s genius, his struggle to build the tower, and his later downfall. It’s also the story of how the Wild West captured the hearts of Parisians, and of the many colorful characters, including inventor Thomas Edison and the Shah of Persia, who met and mingled in Paris in the summer of 1889–a time when anything seemed possible. Whether you’re interested in building things or reading about the larger-than-life personalities of the day, I hope you’ll enjoy Eiffel’s Tower for Young People.

Great news about my YA Origin of Species

The Junior Library Guild has named Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species: Young Readers Edition as one of its selections. The book, soon to be published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers, a Simon & Schuster imprint, will be shipped to some 1,400 school and public librarians who subscribe to JLG. This is a big boost for the book, as being chosen by the JLG generally results in improved visibility and sales. I couldn’t be happier–or more eager for the book to come out.

Charles Darwin for younger readers

Just half a year from now, Simon & Schuster will publish my young readers edition of the most important scientific book ever written, a book that became a key foundation piece of modern biology, as well as a landmark in our understanding of the world in which we live.

I was twenty-three, studying English in graduate school, when I first read  Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species. In the years that followed, as my nonfiction writing career took me deeper into writing science books for kids, I reread On the Origin of Species several times, alongside many more recent works on natural history and evolutionary biology. So once I’d published YA adaptations of books by Howard Zinn, Jared Diamond, and others, it was perhaps inevitable that I’d think, “What about Darwin?” And here we are.

Bonus: The Young Readers Edition is not just for kids. It’s for anyone who’d like to read a shortened, streamlined, illustrated version of On the Origin of Species.

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