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Barb Rosenstock

Barb Rosenstock photo

Dive into History with Otis & Will Discover the Deep

 

“How come you write about famous people?” asked a third grader.

 

There I stood at another school visit stumped by a young person asking a question I’ve heard over and over again. You’d think that by now, since I write picture book biographies, I’d have a handy answer. But each time, that “fame question” throws me. I guess it’s because I don’t choose my subjects because they’re famous.

 

Instead, I’m drawn to stories about people who’ve changed history. For me, history has never made sense as a series of facts or dates (which I still rarely remember!). Instead, I tend to agree with the quote attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson, “There is properly no history, only biography.” In my books, I try to show students that history, whether in science, politics, or the arts, is made by regular people. People who pursued a dream or a skill in a deep way—not because someone forced them, not because they wanted to be popular; but usually just because they were curious and liked the work. In other words, the young Abraham Lincoln didn’t know he was gonna be ABRAHAM LINCOLN. He was just Abe, that tall kid; the one who loved to read and made friends easily.

 

This view of history holds true for my new book, Otis & Will Discover the Deep: The Record-setting Dive of the Bathysphere, illustrated by Katherine Roy. It’s the story of how mechanical engineer, Otis Barton, and natural scientist, William Beebe, worked together to create the bathysphere—the first submersible craft that took human beings into the deep ocean.

 

William Beebe is well-known in scientific circles, but hardly a household name; and Otis Barton’s name is kind of off-the-grid all together. I didn’t know about either man ahead of writing the book. Instead, a few years ago, I read a small news item that used the word “bathysphere,” which I’d never heard, and became fascinated with the men who built it. I learned that Otis Barton started as a curious kid who built homemade diving equipment to see deeper into the ocean. And Will Beebe was so in love with nature’s mysteries that once he dove into the ocean for the first time, he never studied anything else.

 

Early on in the research of Barton and Beebe’s amazing adventures, the universe cooperated. My generic request to the Library of Congress website happened to be answered by a librarian, Constance Carter, who’d been Beebe’s assistant in the 1950’s. Photos, film, diaries, and archives were uncovered. There were historical accounts of at least nineteen bathysphere dives over four years. The challenge became how to winnow that much information into one picture book story. I decided to concentrate on a single bathysphere dive in June, 1930—the first time Otis and Will saw the deep ocean they’d dreamed of visiting since they were kids.

 

These childhood dreams drove Otis and Will to great discoveries. To satisfy their own questions, they struggled with scientific and mechanical problems. Most impressively, they put their lives on the line over and over again. Otis and Will became the first to see what lived below the ocean’s light level, or as the book’s refrain puts it, down, down, into the deep.

 

So, are Otis and Will famous? Well, none of the Kardashians have to worry that Otis Barton or Will Beebe will ever have more Instagram followers. At least not yet. But I hope you will agree that Otis and Will are better than famous; they are important.

 

And from now on that’ll be my answer. I don’t write about “famous people.” I write about “important people.” Why? Because each child is important and deserves role models with the same questions, curiosities, and feelings. Because each student is history’s future.

Claymates

Claymates cover

Claymates

By Dev Petty

Illustrated by Lauren Eldridge

Genre: Juvenile Fiction

Curriculum Subject: Humor: General, Personal Development: Friendship

Grades: Pre-K-3rd

 

What can you do with two blobs of clay? Create something amazing! But don’t leave them alone for too long. Things might get a little crazy.

 

In this photographic friendship adventure, the claymates squish, smash, and sculpt themselves into the funniest shapes imaginable. But can they fix a giant mess before they’re caught in the act?

 

Claymates in the Classroom Activity Kit

 

PRAISE

★ “The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted fun of their own. ” —Kirkus

 

★ “Petty’s punchy, dialogue-only narrative and newcomer Eldridge’s expressive sculpture give these clay buddies a surplus of personality…. a giddy mix of naive and naughty.” —Publishers Weekly

 

VIDEOS

 

What the Dinosaurs Did At School

What the Dinosaurs Did at School cover

What the Dinosaurs Did at School

By Refe and Susan Tuma

Genre: Juvenile Fiction

Curriculum Subject: Family Life: School, Humor: General, Adventure: Animals, Personal Development: Self-Discovery

Grades: Pre-K-3rd

 

Every November, writer and social media master Refe Tuma and his wife, Susan, work into the night to bring their four children scenes from the secret lives of their toys–specifically the nighttime antics of their plastic dinosaurs. But in the follow-up to the hit What the Dinosaurs Did Last Night, these scampish dinosaurs make the trip to school, hidden in a kid’s backpack. Each scene is photographed in meticulous detail, letting viewers joyfully suspend disbelief and think to themselves–just LOOK at what these diminutive dinos did at school!

 

 

 

PRAISE

“The husband-and-wife team of “Dinovember” fame pose their plastic dinosaurs with props and use perspective masterfully to stage their scenes. Those new to school will be treated to a rather different view of the place and some clever uses of the supplies they have waiting for their own first days. Better add plastic dinosaurs to the shopping list—kids will want in on the fun.” —Kirkus

 

“The compositions are excellent, the props adorable (tiny lab coats in the science room, a mop-turned-wig for a T. rex), and the hyperbolic narration sustains a fever pitch.” —Publishers Weekly

 

VIDEO

 

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Storyboarding and the Origami Dinosaur Battle that Almost Was

Location Scouting and the Curse of the Flooded 3rd Grade Hallway

Shine!

Shine coverShine!

By Patrick McDonnell

Illustrated by Naoko Stoop

Genre: Juvenile Fiction

Curriculum Subject: Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance; Emotions & Feelings; Animals: Marine Life

Grades: Pre-K-3rd

 

Hoshi the sea star looks up in the sky and sees the stars shining. She wishes that she too could be in the sky amongst the brilliant stars—and as she imagines how much better it would be up in the air, she fails to appreciate the beautiful world that surrounds her underwater. It takes Hoshi’s friends, old and new, to help her realize that her shine comes from within. With gorgeous illustrations depicting colorful underwater life, Shine! teaches about the wonders that can be found inside ourselves.

 

Naoko’s gorgeous use of plywood as the canvas for her work offers the perfect texture and pattern to evoke waves and sea currents in the underwater scenes.

 

 

PRAISE

“Stoop’s art imbues Hoshi with humor and a sweet appeal…  This title will be useful in helping children identify and resolve difficult feelings.” —Booklist

 

“Stoop’s mixed-media artwork adds richness and depth. The many sea creatures, painted on wood grain, are identifiable—scarlet coral, a green crab—and the scenes gain beauty from graded washes of sky and water.” —Publishers Weekly

 

“The use of a plywood canvas—to which acrylic, pencil, pastel, and ink have been applied and digitally manipulated—cleverly allows the grain of the wood to become the irregular lines of the ocean current or the heat radiating from the sun. The artist employs pattern, color, and scale to create surprises as the pages turn when Hoshi is imagining the wonders in the heavens (while missing the school of minnows, the vibrant coral, and the enormous whale passing by)… Lovely.” —School Library Journal

 

VIDEO

You DON’T Want A Unicorn!

You Don't Want A Unicorn coverYou Don’t Want a Unicorn!

By Ame Dyckman

Illustrated by Liz Climo

Genre: Juvenile Fiction

Curriculum Subject: Family Life: Pets, Humor: General, Personal Development: Responsibility

Grades: Pre-K-3rd

 

Storytime Kit

Be careful what pet you wish for in the newest picture book from fan-favorite author Ame Dyckman and rising-star illustrator Liz Climo.

 

When a little boy throws a coin in a well asking for a pet unicorn, he has no idea what kind of trouble he’s in for. Unbeknownst to him, unicorns make the absolutely worst pets: they shed, they poke holes in your ceiling, and they make a big mess. With a knowing wink from Ame Dyckman, creator of Wolfie the Bunny and cheerful illustrations from Rory the Dinosaur creator and Tumblr star Liz Climo, this rollicking story shares all of the ways a pet unicorn can ruin your life, and is sure to have readers in stitches.

 

PRAISE

“Imaginative fun throughout.” —Booklist

 

“The tone of the wry, bemused narrator is perfect…and the target audience will likely be eager for a repeat listen.” —Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

 

“Climo’s rainbow-bright illustrations take Dyckman’s silly premise to a whole new level of absurdity…. This is a crowd-pleaser, complete with cupcake poops and rainbow burps, and…a welcoming and unobtrusive gender-nonconforming vibe.”—The Horn Book

 

“Climo creates gleeful unicorn havoc… a lot of mischievous fun.” —Publishers Weekly

 

VIDEOS

The Three Billy Goats Gruff

Three Billy Goats Gruff coverThe Three Billy Goats Gruff

By Jerry Pinkney

Genre: Juvenile Fiction

Curriculum Subject: Adventure: Animals, Folk Tales/Fairy Tales/Classics: Animals, Personal Development: Conflict Resolution, Adventure: Monsters

Grades: Pre-K-3rd

 

Jerry Pinkney puts his indelible stamp on another beloved folktale in the same vein as the Caldecott Medal-winning The Lion & the Mouse and the highly acclaimed The Tortoise & the Hare and The Grasshopper & the Ants.

 

When the three billy goats Gruff are hungry, they see bountiful grass to eat across an old bridge. But the bridge is home to a terrible troll, who is peckish himself, and looking for a tasty morsel to gobble up. In his interpretation of the timeless tale, Jerry Pinkney shows there’s little good to come from greed–but in the end, redemption for even the most trollish bully is possible. A dramatic gatefold heightens the climax of this brilliant rendition.

 

PRAISE

★ “Pinkney’s creative interpretation adds drama and a touch of morality to this well-known tale… Beautiful, exciting, and memorable retelling.” —Booklist

 

★ “This will be a sterling introduction to a classic for young kids—the human kind. An excellent and informative note explains Pinkney’s adaptation choices, and the closing endpaper gives a peek at the new goat-friendly troll. ” —The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

 

★ “Pinkney’s graceful note invites readers to ponder issues of forgiveness, redemption, and peaceful coexistence in a terrific tale well-suited to family and group read-alouds.” —Kirkus

 

★ “Pinkney is generous with his gifts; his paintings are splendid, nuanced, and unfailingly entertaining.” —Publishers Weekly

 

★ “With a seasoned storyteller’s ear for language and an extraordinary mastery of his medium, this wise and gentle bookmaker helps readers see that cleverness, community, and confrontation all have a time and place in dealing with a bully. Sure to become a storytime staple.” —School Library Journal

 

VIDEO

One Minute till Bedtime

One Minute Till Bedtime coverOne Minute Till Bedtime

60-second Poems to Send You Off to Sleep

Selected by Kenn Nesbitt

Art by Christoph Niemann

Genre: Juvenile Fiction

Curriculum Subject: Songs/Poetry/Nursery Rhymes: Anthology, Songs/Poetry/Nursery Rhymes: Language Development

Grades: PreK-3rd

 

It’s time for tuck-in, and your little one wants just one more moment with you–so fill it with something that will feed the imagination, fuel a love of reading, and send them off to sleep in a snap. Reach for a one-minute poem!

 

Former Children’s Poet Laureate Kenn Nesbitt presents a blockbuster collection of all-new poetry penned by some of the most beloved and celebrated poets of our time, including Jack Prelutsky, Jon Scieszka, Mary Ann Hoberman, Nikki Grimes, Lemony Snicket, Jane Yolen, and many more. Illuminated with dreamlike wit and whimsy by New York Times illustrator and award-winning artist Christoph Niemann, here is a new bedtime classic.

 

When the busy day is drawing to a close and the whole family is ready for rest, take a minute for poetry and send your little one off to sleep.

 

PRAISE

★ “These pithy poetic observations and Niemann’s engaging illustrations prove at once antidote and anodyne for the sleep-averse child demanding just one more…. A dreamy collection of bedtime poems and witty illustrations that’s anything but sleepy.” —Kirkus

 

★ “With a broad range of voices and sentiments, the collection delivers poems to meet any mood.” —Publishers Weekly

 

★ “Exuberant for the most part (with some serious musings to lend ballast) and in perfect harmony with its cartoonish, color-washed illustrations, this sleepy-time volume is just the thing for the rhyme-loving child who has graduated from Mother Goose.” —School Library Journal

My Washington DC

My Washington, DC coverMy Washington, DC

By Kathy Jakobsen

Genre: Juvenile Fiction

Curriculum Subject: Social Studies: America, Social Studies: Patriotism

Grades: PreK-3rd

 

Educator Guide

Vibrant, lush paintings full of elaborate detail bring the capital city to life! A young girl and her friend explore all their favorite places in Washington, DC, from the White House to the Lincoln Memorial. They peek inside the National Air and Space Museum, glimpse the Declaration of Independence at the National Archives, and bask in the beauty of the cherry blossoms surrounding the Tidal Basin.

 

With two giant foldout pages, a map of the city, fun facts, seek-and-find challenges, and a poster of the Bill of Rights on the underside of this jacket, My Washington, DC is endlessly fun and educational. Kathy Jakobsen’s lavish paintings invite readers to return again and again to this dazzling tribute to America’s capital!

 

PRAISE

★ “Even children too young to read the text can get lost in these illustrations and become engrossed in searching for the three travelers as well as the cat that can be found in each scene… A star-spangled introduction to the nation’s capital.” —Booklist

 

VIDEO

The Darkest Dark

Darkest Dark coverThe Darkest Dark

By Col. Chris Hadfield

Illustrated by The Fan Brothers

Genre: Juvenile Fiction

Curriculum Subject: Science: Astronomy/Space/Aviation, Personal Development: Self-Discovery

Grades: PreK-3rd

 

Inspired by the childhood of real-life astronaut Chris Hadfield and brought to life by Terry and Eric Fan’s lush, evocative illustrations, The Darkest Dark will encourage readers to dream the impossible.

 

Chris loves rockets and planets and pretending he’s a brave astronaut, exploring the universe. Only one problem–at night, Chris doesn’t feel so brave. He’s afraid of the dark. But when he watches the groundbreaking moon landing on TV, he realizes that space is the darkest dark there is–and the dark is beautiful and exciting, especially when you have big dreams to keep you company.

 

PRAISE

★ “The idea that a famous astronaut was once afraid of the dark may win some recalcitrant bed-goers’ hearts, and readers with dreams of space travel will jump at this.” —Publishers Weekly

 

VIDEO

Tek

Tek: The Modern Cave Boy coverTEK

The Modern Cave Boy

By Patrick McDonnell

Genre: Juvenile Fiction

Curriculum Subject: Personal Development: Self-Discovery, Family Life: Daily Life and Play

Grades: PreK-3rd

 

Listen to Author Interview Storytime Kit

Tek is a cave boy in love with tech: his tablet, videogames, phone, and TV keep him deep in his cave, glued to his devices, day in and day out. He never sees his friends or family anymore—and his ability to communicate has devolved to just one word: “UGH”! Can anyone in the village convince Tek to unplug and come outside into the big, beautiful world?

 

A distinctive package and design cleverly evokes the experience of using an electronic device that eventually shuts down… and after a magic page turn, Tek (and the reader) reconnects with the real world.

 

PRAISE

★ “McDonnell’s ever-cute creatures deliver the story’s tech-addiction message with a grin, and clever references abound, from the fish that crawls up on land and evolves into a fanged cat to the buffering icon that accompanies Tek’s ‘reboot.'” —Publishers Weekly

 

“McDonnell blends the prehistoric with the present to send a clever reminder to young readers that beyond their electronic realm there is a world waiting to be explored. In an uproariously absurd plot—right down to little Tek’s caveman beard—pages reflect the differences between Tek’s technological world and the great outdoors, shifting from limited scenes set in a tablet format (complete with connectivity and battery icons) to colorful full-page illustrations. Good, snarky fun for parents and kids.” —Booklist

 

VIDEOS