Label: Author Study

November 12, 2012

Yesterday was a very special day, because I went to the memorial service for the great writer Jean Craighead George. She died this year at age 92, and her daughter Twig told me that her mother had still been writing up until four days before her death. Isn’t that wonderful?

Jean grew up in a family of naturalists, in a house full of rescued wild animals. She once told an interviewer that when she started kindergarten she was shocked to discover that she was the only child who had a turkey vulture for a pet! She wrote in an essay for "Children’s Books and Their Creators": "I have discovered I cannot dream up characters as incredible as the ones I meet in the wilderness."

  Jean was an outdoorswoman her whole life, and many fellow authors and editors who spoke about knowing her yesterday described trips they made with Jean to visit the wolves in Yellowstone National Park, to the great aquarium in New Orleans, and to observe whales migrating in Alaska. Amy Kellman, a librarian from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and a longtime friend of Jean’s, quoted a line from one of Jean Craighead George’s books in which she was describing a peregrine falcon named Oxie, who "did things her own way." Kellman said that she always thought Jean was describing herself when she wrote about the independent falcon.

Her son, Dr. Craig George, is a Senior Wildlife Biologist in Barrow, Alaska, working with bowhead whales. Craig told the gathering that just a few years ago his mother camped with them on unstable ice, at minus 20 degrees, during the bowhead census. "She was absolutely fearless," he said.

 

Jean Craighead George wrote more than 100 books. The most famous one was JULIE OF THE WOLVES. Have you ever read it? It is a wonderful story about a girl known as Miyax in her small Eskimo village; to her friend in San Francisco, she is Julie. When Miyax runs away from her village, she finds herself lost in the Alaskan wilderness. In danger of starving to death, Miyax survives by copying the ways of the wolves. She is soon accepted into their pack, and when she finally returns to her old life, she struggles to decide who she is - Miyax of the Eskimos—or Julie of the wolves? 

 

Here is a passage from the story:

Miyax stared hard at the regal black wolf, hoping to catch his eye. She must somehow tell him that she was starving and ask him for food. This could be done she knew, for her father, an Eskimo hunter, had done so.

 

Jean Craighead George was a great supporter of the Wolf Conservation Center near her home in Chappaqua, New York.

At the end of yesterday’s memorial service, stories, we all sang "This Land is Your Land"......and then Twig asked for a minute of silence.


As we sat quietly, the doors in the back of the auditorium opened and a trainer leading a white wolf entered the room. We all rose to our feet as this gorgeous creature, from the wolf sanctuary that Jean Craighead George loved, took the stage and looked at us all. It was magical.

 

I admired Jean as a writer and a person. She was, and still is, an inspiration to my own writing. She will always remain one of the towering figures in children’s literature, one of the inspirational models for the rest of us in her field.

 

 

Photo: Rocco Staino / School Library Journal

Posted by: Seymour Simon

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May 10, 2012

Seymour Simon receives many letters from students (and sometimes teachers) asking questions about his books, his life, and his experiences with animals, space, photography, etc.

In fact, he gets so many letters that there is not enough time for him to answer them (this is a man who has written 250 books, and is working on five new ones as we speak!).

So, today we have introduced a new section on his website called FAQ. This is a common Internet term that stands for Frequently Asked Questions.

So now, when you are writing a book report or doing an author study about Seymour Simon, make your first stop the FAQ page on his website. You will find it underneath the "About Seymour Simon" label at the top of every page on his website. I guarantee you that you will learn things about Seymour that you have never known before!

Posted by: Liz Nealon

(0) Comments  •   Labels: Author Study, Seymour Simon, Book Reports   •  Permalink (link to this article)

April 20, 2012

Another Earth Day is almost here! This Sunday, April 22, we will celebrate Earth Day and take a moment to reflect on the elegant beauty of our planet. And we will think about how to protect it for future generations.

My wife, Liz Nealon, and I do many things year round to help reduce our impact on the environment around us. We recycle, we plant trees to help cleanse the air, grow our own vegetables so that we can "eat local" as often as possible and eat meatless meals a couple of times a week. We use fluorescent light bulbs and drive a car that reduces our carbon emissions. These are all good choices that most people can make not just on Earth Day, but every day.

But I think I can do more. So, my Earth Day promise is not only to love our home planet, but also to keep writing, visiting schools, talking with students and doing everything I can to inspire my readers to take action on behalf of our planet, Earth.

Because, as a reader named Jackie wrote on my blog last year, "it takes one step at a time and if we start now the Earth will get better sooner. If we don’t start….who will?"


This is your last chance to enter Seymour Simon’s YOUR EARTH DAY PROMISES contest. Prizes include personally autographed books and a free classroom Skype session with Seymour. Click here for details about how to enter. Tomorrow, Saturday, is the last day!

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(4) Comments  •   Labels: Author Study, Seymour Simon, Earth Day 2012   •  Permalink (link to this article)

April 19, 2012

Check out this wonderful video biography (click "Play" below) made by the fourth graders at Middle Gate School, where I visited last week. I love the fact that every page is unique, handmade, and signed. Thanks so much, everybody, for your great work. I really loved our visit together, and I hope you did, too. Please stay in touch with me here on the blog and let me know what you are reading and thinking about.


Be part of Seymour Simon’s celebration of Earth Day 2012 by commenting on blog stories like this one, and telling Seymour about YOUR Earth Day Promises! How are you going to make a difference for the Earth? What will you do to make it be Earth Day / every day? Each time you leave a comment between today and April 22, you will be entered into a drawing to win a free, personally autographed book from Seymour Simon. You must enter by midnight Saturday night, April 21, so get started by clicking "comments" below, and tell us about Your Earth Day Promises!

 

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(0) Comments  •   Labels: School Visits, Author Study, Seymour Simon   •  Permalink (link to this article)

April 19, 2012

 

The second graders at Middle Gate School in Newtown, Connecticut made a wonderful powerpoint in which they contributed all the things they learned during my visit last week. I know that this was really a lot of work, and I love it! Check out the video below to see their wonderful report. 

 

 


Be part of Seymour Simon’s celebration of Earth Day 2012 by commenting on blog stories like this one, and telling Seymour about YOUR Earth Day Promises! How are you going to make a difference for the Earth? What will you do to make it be Earth Day / every day? Each time you leave a comment between today and April 22, you will be entered into a drawing to win a free, personally autographed book from Seymour Simon. You must enter by midnight Saturday night, April 21, so get started by clicking "comments" below, and tell us about Your Earth Day Promises!

 

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(0) Comments  •   Labels: School Visits, Author Study, Seymour Simon   •  Permalink (link to this article)

March 21, 2012

         

 

 

When Seymour Simon visited Carl Sandburg Elementary School in Springfield, Illinois last week, he was interviewed by the 5th Grade Sandburg News Team. Click on the "Play" button below to see their report. (Be patient - it may take a minute or two to load!).

 

 

 

 

Posted by: Liz Nealon

(2) Comments  •   Labels: School Visits, Author Study, Seymour Simon, Video, Kids Write   •  Permalink (link to this article)

March 18, 2012

 

Last week, Seymour Simon visited Carl Sanburg Elementary School, in Springfield, Illinois. The fourth and fifth graders made a wonderful book - 100 pages long! - about his life and his books. We decided to scan some of the book and make it into a video, which you can see here. Hope everyone enjoys it!

 

 

 

Posted by: Liz Nealon

(1) Comments  •   Labels: School Visits, Author Study, Seymour Simon, Video, Kids Write   •  Permalink (link to this article)

March 9, 2012

 

 

I had a wonderful time with the kids at the Menands School yesterday. Each group I spoke with were terrific participants, well-prepared, asking and answering good questions. We had a lot of fun together.

These fifth graders prepared a presentation that included a music performance and an original poem! Here is a video of their performance; the words of their poem are below.

Science and nature he knows very well,

When he writes a book it surely will sell.

Lions and tigers, planets and trees,

Puppies and kittens and human disease.

Tornadoes and blizzards, earthquakes and rain,

He knows all about them, he uses his brain!

Past and present, old and new,

Unsolved mysteries he presents to you.

Read Seymour Simon whenever you can,

And when you do, you’ll become his fan.

Dogs are born both blind and deaf,

Police dogs stop all kinds of theft.

Bloodhounds, terriers, yorkies and shar pei

Are all kinds of dogs that love to play.

Writing nonfiction, advanced technician,

Animals, animals, animals!

Outer space and weather,

Science is his mission.

He is the dean, he is the man,

He can write about anything, yes he can!

He’s taught science, he’s taught writing,

Everything he writes is so exciting!

Funny books, lots of laughs,

Airplane books and tall giraffes.

Science is his main theory,

All those books must make him weary.

Rattlesnakes, hyenas and devil rays

make his book a fright,

And sharks, bats, grizzly bears

are animals that will bite.

Vultures and Gila Monsters

are an interesting lot

But spiders are creepy

and they’re hard to spot.

Writing nonfiction, advanced technician

Animals, animals, animals!

Outer space and weather,

Science is his mission.

Huge coastal storms known as hurricanes,

He knows all about them, he uses his brain.

The history of them, old and new.

And how they can form, he tells to you.

He knows how they start, he knows how they end,

Writing so much he started a trend.

 

*Fifth graders - I think I missed a word here or there. Someone write and help me correct these lyrics! And thank you again to Mrs. Ford, all the faculty and especially the kids at Menands School for a great day!

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(10) Comments  •   Labels: School Visits, Author Study, Seymour Simon, Video, Kids Write   •  Permalink (link to this article)

March 5, 2012

Students in Springfield, Illinois and their teachers are preparing for my visit next week. They sent me a number of questions which I decided to answer here, so that everyone can read.

Tommy W. asked: Have you ever been diving before?

(SS) Yes, I used to love scuba diving, seeing the fish and collecting shells. It is an amazing world under the sea! In fact, my next book, which is coming out this summer, is about CORAL REEFS. 

Izzy wants to know: How many dolphins are there in the world?

(SS) This is a hard question to answer, since there are at least 45 different dolphin species, and they live all over the world. Some species are declining or endangered, other species are growing and doing well. Scientists estimate that there are about 170-million dolphins currently living on Earth. You can learn a lot more about dolphins in my book about these magnificent creatures.

Tyler C’s question: How long have you been a discovering all this knowledge? (SS) I have loved nature since I was a little kid. Although I grew up in the Bronx - a very crowded part of New York City - the natural world was all around me. There is weather in the city, just as there is in the country. You can see the sun, moon and stars from a rooftop in the city. And I explored a vacant lot on my street, which wasn’t exactly a park, but still had birds, earthworms, small plants, and trees. In fact, when I grew up one of the first books I wrote was called SCIENCE IN A VACANT LOT.

Maddie R.: How do you get all of the pictures in your books? Have you ever
been bitten?
 Sydnee wondered much the same thing: How do you take pictures of sharks without getting bitten?

 

(SS) I am asked this a lot because photographs are such a big part of telling the stories in my books. Sometimes I travel to places myself and take the photographs. I have photographed glaciers in Alaska, volcanoes in Hawaii and wildfires in California. Other times, I arrange to use other people’s photographs. 

Often these kinds of photographs are taken by the biologists who study the animals because they are with them so often, and have many opportunities to catch just the "right moment" on film. 

These photographers also use very specialized camera equipment, so that they can photograph a dangerous animal from a safe distance, even though the photograph looks as though they are very close by. This distance keeps them from startling the animal, provoking an attack or scaring it away.

Thanks for writing everybody. Although I am happy to answer your questions, I am really more interested in hearing your thoughts about science, nature and fascinating animals. Please come on my Seymour Science blog regularly and use "comments" to tell me what you are discovering as you are reading here.

I am looking forward to meeting you all very soon!


READERS: Are you wondering how to add your own "comment" to this blog? Click here for exact directions on how to add a comment so you can become one of our Seymour Science writers! We also want you to be safe and not share too much information when you write on this blog, so please take a minute to read about how to stay safe on the Internet. We love to hear from you, so give "comments" a try! 

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(10) Comments  •   Labels: Sharks, School Visits, Dolphins, Author Study, Seymour Simon, Kids Write, Photography   •  Permalink (link to this article)

March 1, 2012

The Development Studies Center posted an extensive, new interview with Seymour Simon this week. Educators will enjoy reading it, and we think it will be very helpful for students doing Author Studies, as well.

Interviewer Jennie McDonald really did her homework, and she asked Seymour questions that no one had ever asked him before. The result is an interview in which you learn a lot about Mr. Simon, from how he learned to read, to how he decides what to put in and what to leave out of a book, to the story of a childhood experience like A Night at the Museum!

Click here to read for yourself. And then click "Comments" below and tell us what you think!

Posted by: Liz Nealon

(1) Comments  •   Labels: Author Study, Seymour Simon   •  Permalink (link to this article)