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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

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