Category: Writing

How to Change Everything

Today How to Change Everything, a book for young people that I adapted from writings on climate change and social justice by journalist Naomi Klein, goes out into the world. It was a great honor to work on this book with someone whose fearless and honest journalism I have always admired.

Many of us are worried about the future of our planet, or about the unfairness of the fact that a small share of the world’s people are consuming a large share of its resources–and contributing the most to climate change while doing so. This book outlines the problems all of us face, as well as the solutions we can use to solve them. It profiles kids who have become climate and justice activists in all parts of the world.

Afraid that big changes just aren’t possible? How to Change Everything shows how whole nations have made huge changes to their economies almost overnight, when they’ve had to. And what we’ve done before, we can accomplish again. Are you ready to change everything to build a better, safer, more sustainable future, not just for humans but for all life on this planet? I hope this book will give you some ideas about how to do it.

Freedom Summer is out

Have you ever heard of Freedom Summer? Maybe your history book says something about how, in 1964, dozens of young people went south to Mississippi to help Black citizens register to vote. That summer brought a wealth of new experiences for both the young people–mostly white college kids–and the Mississippians they met and lived with. Some experiences were terrifying. Violence stalked the state, and multiple murders took place. But others were inspiring. The heroism, courage, and dignity of people who simply wanted to exercise their right to vote still inspires us today.


Journalist Bruce Watson wrote Freedom Summer to tell the story of this important chapter in the Civil Rights movement. His book reveals the behind-the-scenes maneuvers of everyone from a racist local sheriff to the President of the United States when confronted by people who demanded their rights . . . and didn’t back down. It also tells the stories of some of the young volunteers, describing that season of hope and fear in their own words. I am proud to have been chosen to adapt Freedom Summer into this version for young readers, published this month by Seven Stories Press.

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.

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