Label: Writing

December 4, 2010

How does the new NASA announcement impact my old book, SPACE MONSTERS?

The first book I ever wrote was titled SPACE MONSTERS. I wrote it when I was in 2nd Grade in elementary school in the Bronx. It was about taking a trip to a strange planet circling some distant star way out in the Milky Way Galaxy. I made up stories about the life that you could see on this make-believe planet and even drew my own pictures of those "space monsters." Have you ever written a book like mine? Lots of kids do.

When I grew up, I wrote the book again. This time it was really published. The title is SPACE MONSTERS FROM MOVIES, TV AND BOOKS. Here’s a picture of the cover of that book. 

Would I need to change my book if I wrote it today in stead of way back when I was 8 years old? Not really. I was already imagining all kinds of life, some based on Silicon rather than Carbon. I called them "Rock Monsters." (Silicon is an element present in rocks and minerals, much the way Carbon is an element present in living things that we know.) In science fiction, you can imagine all kinds of interesting things. Sometimes an idea that you imagine in Science Fiction comes true in real Science. How about you trying to imagine a discovery in a science fiction story? Wouldn’t if be fun if your discovery came out to be true when you’re older? 

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(0) Comments  •   Labels: science news, Writing, Space Monsters   •  Permalink (link to this article)

October 20, 2010

'The Universe' cover

People often ask me how I choose the subjects for my books. Titles come about in all sorts of ways.

Sometimes it is simply a topic that I am very passionate about (hence all my books about Space and exploring our universe - this has been a fascination for me since I was a little kid). At other times, my editor and I decide what is needed to "fill out" an existing series. For example, my recent Collins/Smithsonian books have been dealing with environmental topics like Global Warming and Tropical Rainforests, and now I’m just beginning research on a third topic for that environmental strand, about Coral Reefs.

 

'Silly Dinosaur Riddles' coverOften, I will decide to do a book simply because it is on a topic that I know kids will love. I’ve just finished up a new book with my good friend, the illustrator Dennis Kendrick. It’s called Silly Dinosaur Riddles, and it hits two enduring hot spots for elementary-aged kids — they love dinosaurs, and they love to tell jokes and riddles! So, deciding on that topic was easy, and we’re delighted with the way that it came out. It’s also going to be my first original eBook - designed to read on a smartphone, an iPad, or any other tablet reader. More and more schools and libraries are buying these devices to use with kids, and I’m excited to be creating books that children can read on one of these new readers.

 

Back in 2002, I wrote two books that I knew my young grandsons would love  — Seymour Simon’s Book of Trucks, and Seymour Simon’s Book of Trains. One of the very nice things about writing for children is that books have long lives. Every three or four years, you get a new crop of kids who grow into the topic or reading level, and fall in love with your book all over again. 

That happened this week with my Book of Trains, when I discovered this lovely review by Frances Loving, a librarian who writes a thoughtful blog called Quiet Ramblings. The book may be almost ten years old, but it’s clearly still relevant for her students! Click here to read her review.

I always like to hear from readers, parents and teachers. If there is a topic that you’d like to see me cover, drop me a note here and let me know! 

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(1) Comments  •   Labels: New Books, eBooks, DInosaurs, Writing, Space   •  Permalink (link to this article)

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…..like 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

(0) Comments  •   Labels: New Books, Teachers and Librarians, Writing, Science Dictionary   •  Permalink (link to this article)

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