Today we're joining the Blog Tour for Heather Lang's newest book. Even though there are no leaves on the trees in my neck of the woods - except the dried and brittle beech leaves that rattle in the wind - there will be leaves soon. And what better way to spend a brrr-y winter day than on a rainforest adventure?
The Leaf Detective: How Margaret Lowman Uncovered Secrets in the Rainforest
by Heather Lang; illus. by Jana Christy
48 pages; ages 7-10
Calkins Creek, 2021
theme: biography, STEM, trees
Meg loved how leaves burst into the world and unfurled. She admired their different shapes, colors, and textures.
Meg had been a leaf detective since she was a young girl. Even though most people thought there was no room for a woman in science, she went to university and conducted research in the rainforest. But trying to study leaves – especially those high in a rainforest canopy – is hard to do from the ground. Meg needed top find a way to get into the treetops.
What I like about this book: I like how Heather Lang highlights Meg’s problem-solving skills – those that led to getting up into the canopy and those that helped her understand canopy ecology. And I really like how Heather brings Meg’s voice into the story through quotes from her articles and writings. One of my favorites: “We had already been to the moon and back and nobody had been to the top of the tree.”
Last week I posted a bit from Nonfiction Writers Dig Deep
. Heather is one of the authors who contributed to that book, so this week I asked her One Question raised in the book.
Me: How did you dig through your passions and experiences and personality to come up with the way you chose to tell the story of Leaf Detective?
Heather: I began my work on The Leaf Detective with a deep passion for our natural world. I’m in awe of its sounds, smells, sights, mysteries, and wonders. Every time I encounter stories about how we are destroying nature, I feel a sense of dread and desperation. We’ve already lost more than half of our forests. I knew from the outset I wanted to write a book that was both a biography and a science book about the rainforest.
|Heather & Meg, on the canopy walk in the Amazon|
As I researched Meg Lowman, I was struck by the depth of her connection to trees—a connection that grew from profound respect, appreciation, love. And when I met Meg in person for the first time, I could literally feel this connection. It floated across the table and filled me up. Afterwards, I thought a lot about my own connections to nature, friends, family, animals, and other passions. I examined and questioned those special feelings of being inextricably intertwined. I marveled over how we are all interconnected on this planet—from ants to trees to humans.
When I sat down to start writing Meg’s story, the words came tumbling out as a love poem to trees. And that tribute to trees became the foundation for a lyrical biography about a quiet girl, whose true love for nature and plants shaped her and led her to become a pioneer in tree canopy science and ultimately a tree protector.
Beyond the Books: Be a leaf detective!
In the winter, what leaves do you find still attached to trees? Draw what they look like, or take photos. Do they stay attached all winter?
In the spring, find a limb you can easily observe and collect information on how fast the leaves grow. You might want a camera, or a ruler.
In the summer, compare leaves of different trees. What do you notice about the leaves? Are the edges nibbled? If so, what’s eating the leaves?
In the fall, compare how different kinds of leaves turn colors
, and the way they move when they let go of their twig.
Heather Lang is a member of #STEAMTeam2021. You can find out more about her at her website
. When the valentine story contest is over, we’ll rejoin Picture Book Friday, an event where bloggers share great picture books at Susanna Leonard Hill's website
. Review copy provided by the publisher.