Label: New Books

October 13, 2010

People often ask me if I personally shoot all the photographs in my photo-essay books, since both words and images are so important in telling the story. The answer is that although I use my own photographs whenever I can, often the subject matter demands photographs that can only be had from specialists. For example, books like PENGUINS or the forthcoming BUTTERFLIES include photos by professionals who have literally spent years observing and photographing these animals. Part of what I do when I’m writing a book is photo research - scouring the archives to find photographs that I believe will best illuminate and in many cases expand on the text. Sometimes, if I find a photograph that is interesting enough, I will even rewrite the page to go with the photograph. It is a fluid process, writing and doing photo research, and one that I really enjoy. 

I do, however, photograph nature and animals often….pretty much every week I find one day when I can get away from my desk and spend time in the outdoors with my camera. We recently visited an alpaca farm in Columbia County, NY, and I found these animals to be irresistibly photogenic. The bangs hanging over their eyes certainly enhance what are already quirky, expressive faces!  

Alpaca grimaces

 We often are tempted to assign human emotions to animals… thinking that this little guy is looking at me quizzically. The fact of the matter is, when you get close to an alpaca, it often summons up green liquid (from chewing its cud) to spit at you. Spitting is how they stake out their territory, as well as reinforce the pecking order in the herd. Unfortunately, when an alpaca is sucking on partially digested grass, he often gets a bad case of sour mouth.

So, although I’d like to tell you a lovely story about how this young cria (pronounced "cree-ah," the Spanish word for baby alpaca, commonly used among English-speaking breeders, too) and I established a wonderful relationship, the truth is he was just letting me know I was getting too close to his territory!



Posted by: Seymour Simon

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September 21, 2010


As teachers and students settle into the new school year here in North America, I’m busy doing my homework — editing and revising my Science Dictionary. It is now available and searchable for kids on my website, and we’ve added lots of new photos to entice casual browsers. It is also being re-published next year by Dover. So, it’s time for an update.


My process has certainly changed since I first wrote the Dictionary just over 15 years ago. The first time around it took me several years to write it, because I had to research over 2,000 entries by hand, at the library. Now, with the Internet, I am revising and updating the entire volume in a matter of months. That’s what I call progress!

Speaking of progress, the list of new entries has made me realize how much of a scientific and technological revolution we’ve experienced since I first published this book, back in 1994. New entries (which either didn’t exist or weren’t relevant to kids 15 years ago) include: Internetavatarcell phone, International Space StationHubble Space TelescopeGPS, global warmingdigitalforensic scienceCT-Scanoil pollution....the list goes on and on. And of course, Pluto is re-defined as a "dwarf planet, an object in the Kuiper Belt."


One of the great things about publishing on the Internet is that it’s a fluid, evolving media. That means it is possible to continue tweaking, adding, revising and updating my Science Dictionary. So, if there are words that you think should be included, send me a note or comment here.




Posted by: Seymour Simon

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August 12, 2010

Seymour Simon’s new Collins/Smithsonian book, TROPICAL RAINFORESTS, will be in store on August 24th. And we now have a 90-second video trailer so that you can preview this breathtaking photo essay book. Click here to view and enjoy!

Note to Teachers: This is a "safe" video, hosted on Clicking to watch this video will no longer take you to YouTube, or anywhere off Seymour’s website.

Posted by: Liz Nealon

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June 7, 2010

I surprised myself with the answer to a question I was asked at a recent conference. The question was: What is your favorite animal? My initial instinct was to say that it’s impossible to say which is my favorite animal…’s like having favorites among your own children.

Then I realized, to my surprise, that I do have a current favorite animal. It’s the BUTTERFLY! And why are butterflies my favorite? Because I’m writing a new book on butterflies. The manuscript is finished, I’m now researching the accompanying photos, and the book will come out early in 2011 as part of my Collins/Smithsonian series. My editors really pushed me to write about butterflies, and I must confess that at first I resisted. But, as I started to learn about them I became fascinated by these gorgeous creatures that children can observe in the wild, right in their own neighborhoods.

So I suppose the answer to the question regarding "what is my favorite animal" depends on what I am writing at the time. The truth is, the more I learn about a particular species, the more interested I become. That’s the fun of being a science author and also a science reader- constant exploration!



Posted by: Seymour Simon

(0) Comments  •   Labels: Animals, Animal Books, Butterflies, New Books   •  Permalink (link to this article)

March 22, 2010

Photo Credit: Liz Nealon

The next book that I’m writing for my Smithsonian/Collins series is a book on butterflies. This is a photo of a monarch taken when we were visiting the monarch butterfly trees in Pacific Grove, California. The trees were filled with monarch butterflies; they looked like autumn leaves rustling in the wind. It was magical-realism, something like a scene out of Marquez’s A HUNDRED YEARS OF SOLITUDE (the book is for adults and may not be appropriate for children). Sad to say, but the population of Monarchs is way down probably due to a number of reasons, not the least is the fact that milkweeds (whose leaves the monarch caterpillars eat)  are being destroyed as a weed alongside some state highways around the country.

Maybe it’s time for butterfly lovers to begin planting a few milkweed plants in butterfly gardens?

Here’s a link to the story (similar to one sent to me by my friend, the cat lady, Carrie Smelser): Female monarch butterflies on 30-year decline in eastern North America 

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(0) Comments  •   Labels: Animals, Animal Books, Butterflies, New Books   •  Permalink (link to this article)

July 30, 2009

I was excited to receive a package in the mail the other day from my publisher HarperCollins. It contained three new books of mine: DOGS, CATS, and GLOBAL WARMING. The first two are reissues and updates of my books in their new uniform editions from Smithsonian/Collins. GLOBAL WARMING is not really a book yet, but printed sheets which are not yet bound. (Publishers call them f&g’s,  which stands for "folded and gathered sheets.") I’ll post photos of the covers soon. 

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(0) Comments  •   Labels: Animals, Animal Books, Cats, New Books, Dogs, Global Warming, Pets   •  Permalink (link to this article)

July 21, 2009

I have had a number of comments recently from readers who want to know what my next book is about. My next new book to be published is GLOBAL WARMING (Collins/Smithsonian). The official publication date is February 23, 2010. Bet you didn’t know how long it takes a book to be published even after you’ve researched and written the manuscript!

Even before this book is published, two books of mine are being republished in updated editions. They are DOGS and CATS (Collins/Smithsonian),  September 29th, 2009. Catch the new cover photograph of the Portuguese Water Dog!

(Have you ever seen President Obama’s new dog?  He’s a Portuguese Water Dog and his name is Bo. Here he is running around the White House with the President.)


Posted by: Seymour Simon

(1) Comments  •   Labels: Animal Books, Cats, New Books, Dogs, Global Warming, Pets   •  Permalink (link to this article)

February 15, 2009


Posted by: Seymour Simon

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