LBR 042: Creating great nature books for kids

This post on Creating Great Nature Books for Kids contains affiliate links, which means that Lu and Bean Read may receive a small commission (at no additional cost to you) on products purchased through external vendors.

Episode 42 of the Lu and Bean Read podcast is all about how to create great nature books for kids. We talked with several of Minnesota’s top kids book creators about how to help kids enjoy nature through writing, illustration and photography.

About Today’s Guests

Phyllis Root is the author of more than forty books. Her middle grade novel, Lilly and the Pirates, is currently under contract. Aunt Nancy and Old Man Trouble won the Minnesota Book Award, and Big Momma Makes the World won the Boston Globe Horn Book Award. Root was awarded a 2006 McKnight Fellowship for her book Lucia and the Light. She has taught at the Loft Literary Center, in the Complete and Practical Scholar program at the University of Minnesota, and in Vermont College’s MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults program.

Betsy Bowen is an accomplished woodcut artist from Grand Marais, MN. She first encountered woodcuts as a young art student in Sarasota, FL. One of the first-ever exhibits of the northern Canadian Inuit stone cut prints was on display at the Ringling Museum of Art. Twenty-five years later, she traveled to the workshop on Baffin Island in the Canadian Arctic to see the stonecutting in progress. Betsy still lives on the family homestead in Northern Minnesota, watching the horses and chickens and the garden grow. Her art studio is tucked into a former historic Lutheran church with plenty of room for the presses and woodblock prints and books.

Marion Dane Bauer was born in 1938 in the small prairie town of Oglesby, Illinois, and had a childhood she would later describe as “idyllic.” The first work she distinctly remembers writing was a poem in honor of her teddy bear, but she wrote many stories, too, both in her head and on paper. Her interest led her to a career as an English teacher, but Bauer didn’t begin writing professionally until after her own daughter was in elementary school. Bauer is a remarkably prolific author who has received critical acclaim for her ability to step inside the viewpoint of a child — any child or young adult, in a wide variety of circumstances. She has written fiction and nonfiction, picture books, chapter books, young adult novels, writing guides, and much more; she has also edited stories and articles for periodicals aimed at young people as well as teachers and librarians. Her best-selling novel On My Honor was named a Newbery Honor Book, one of countless awards and citations Bauer has received for her work over the years. The mother of two, Marion Dane Bauer now lives in a small town not far from Minneapolis, Minnesota. She loves cats and dogs, Asian and Middle Eastern foods, and being outdoors: walking, biking, and camping.

Naturalist, wildlife photographer and writer Stan Tekiela is the originator of the popular state-specific field guides such as Birds of (state name) Field Guide, Wildflowers of (state name), and Trees of (state name). Over the past three decades Stan has authored more than 130 field guides, nature appreciation books and wildlife audio CDs for nearly every state in the nation, presenting many species of birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians, trees, wildflowers and cacti. Holding a Bachelor of Science degree in natural history from the University of Minnesota and as an active professional naturalist for more than 25 years, Stan studies and photographs wildlife throughout the United States and has received various national and regional awards for his books and photographs. Also a well-known columnist and radio personality, his syndicated column appears in more than 20 newspapers and his wildlife programs are broadcast on a number of Midwest radio stations. He is a member of the North American Nature Photography Association and Canon Professional Services along with many other professional organizations.

Thank you to these wonderful authors and artists for sharing their time and talent with Lu and Bean Read!

Books we discussed

Nature books for kids

LBR 041: All About Baseball! Rooting for Rafael Rosales with author Kurtis Scaletta

This post about Rooting for Rafael Rosales contains affiliate links, which means that Lu and Bean Read may receive a small commission (at no additional cost to you) on products purchased through external vendors.

This week we are talking all about baseball on the podcast! Not our normal subject, but we had the pleasure of interviewing author Kurtis Scaletta about his new middle grade novel Rooting for Rafael Rosales.

Rooting for Rafael Rosales

About Rooting for Rafael Rosales

From Goodreads: Rafael has dreams. Every chance he gets he plays in the street games trying to build his skills, get noticed by scouts, and someday play Major League Baseball. Maya has worries. The bees are dying all over the world, and the company her father works for is responsible, making products that harm the environment. Follow Rafael and Maya in a story that shifts back and forth in time and place, from Rafael’s neighborhood in the Dominican Republic to present-day Minnesota, where Maya and her sister are following Rafael’s first year in the minor leagues. In their own ways, Maya and Rafael search for hope, face difficult choices, and learn a secret the same secret that forever changes how they see the world. Rooting for Rafael Rosales was published by Alfred Whitman & Company in June 2017. 

About Kurtis Scaletta

Kurtis Scaletta is the author of several novels for young readers including Mudville (2009), Mamba Point (2010), the Tanglewood Terror (2011), the Winter of the Robots (2013), and Rooting for Rafael Rosales (2017). He is also the author of the Topps League series (illustrated by Eric Wight and Ethen Beavers).

Kurtis lives with his wife, Angela; his son, Byron, and five cats. In addition to writing, he teaches and manages online classes for the Loft Literary Center and writes book reviews for the StarTribune.

He is Twins fan (obviously), an avid reader across multiple genres, a crossword enthusiast, an occasional roller-skater, a clumsy but determined drawer, a long-distance runner, a frequent maker of soup, and is mildly obsessed with the Legend of Zelda video game series.

Books we discussed

Thanks for listening!

Rooting for Rafael Rosales

LBR 040: My Little Fox with author Rick Chrustowski

This post about My Little Fox contains affiliate links, which means that Lu and Bean Read may receive a small commission (at no additional cost to you) on products purchased through external vendors.

My Little Fox

About My Little Fox

From Goodreads: A little fox discovers the wonders of the world around him in this exuberant picture book that celebrates the seasons and the relationship between a parent and child.

When Mama Fox tells her new baby that it’s time to go outside for the first time, he isn’t so sure. So Mama promises to stay by his side as they tumble though Little Fox’s first year of life, a year spent splashing in puddles, trying new foods, leaping in leaves, and snuggling in snow. And then, before long, Little Fox is all grown up. But is he ready to go off on his own?

With sweet rhyming text and vibrant illustrations, Rick Chrustowski tells a tender story of parent-child love and how wonderful—and wistful—it feels when a little one leaves the nest.

About Rick Chrustowski

Rick Chrustowski grew up in a large, loud family in Northwestern Indiana. He has four sisters and one brother. They had a blast playing outside in the fields and forests near home.

Growing up near a big city like Chicago, Rick was able to go to art museums and concerts. He went to college there for a while, but decided that he was missing nature too much. He moved to Madison, Wisconsin, to get my bachelor’s degree at the University of Wisconsin.

He lived on a hobby farm for 20 years, raising chickens and horses. He also had dogs and cats and goldfish. But the wild animals that came through his backyard fascinated him the most. They inspired his art and writing. Many of them have made their way in the books he has written and illustrated.

He now lives in an old house in Minneapolis, Minnesota. One of the bedrooms is his studio. He is growing as much of my own food as he can in the backyard. And there is plenty of room for flower gardens to attract bees and butterflies and birds.

Books we discussed

Thanks for listening!

My Little Fox


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