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!

Tiny jewels beneath our feet

Pieces of sand from a beach in Maui, Hawaii

“See the world in a grain of sand,” wrote the poet William Blake. The photographs taken by Dr. Gary Greenberg make that amazingly easy to do.

Using microscopes that he designed and invented, Greenberg has magnified and photographed. His images reveal that what we may think of as trillions of identical “grains” are really a colorful array of tiny fossils, bits of minerals, and pieces of coral and shells.

You can see more of his photographs at http://www.sandgrains.com. He has even photographed sand from the Moon!

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.


Mapping a Natural Marvel

If you like the Grand Canyon, or maps, or stories about how people overcome difficulties to do great things, you will enjoy this article about how Bradford Washburn created this masterpiece of modern mapmaking. 

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