Monday, August 1, 2022

Curiouser and Curiouser ~ by Laura Zimmermann

Laura and Tivy
When I think of STEAM, I think of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Without curiosity science wouldn’t exist. And wonders? You don’t need a white rabbit to tumble into those. The natural world is filled with them. Take fungi. They are bizarre and mysterious life forms with new mysteries uncovered with each new finding.

As a scientist and professor, I gravitate to STEAM topics. I’m always down one research rabbit hole or another. The e-books my university students and I created for children in Uganda, Ghana, and Sierra Leone led me to nonfiction writing for children—a path that created new rabbit holes that have led to the most unexpected places. 

For example, Mushroom Rain. Reading Beatrix Potter’s journal led me to mushrooms, which primed me to read articles about them and drew me to one, in particular, on how mushrooms help create rain. I had fallen into a world every bit as weird and wonderous as Wonderland.

In writing nonfiction picture books, I share things about the natural world that excite me and I hope will encourage my readers to follow their curiosity. For me that often begins with spare, lyrical language to draw readers in. For Mushroom Rain, Jamie Green’s wonderful illustrations captured that vision and took it in a direction more magical than I could have imagined. 

The back matter builds on this by adding more details and ways to engage with the material. Back matter is where my research side shines through. I love it. With a sparse story, I use backmatter to further explain things and fill in the blanks. I want to provide support to build young readers’ understanding. Then I consider what else my readers may want to know and what will spark them to discover more. I include fun facts and STEAM activities to help make that happen.

Reviewing Mushroom Rain, Jen Forbus wrote, “Together Zimmermann and Green prove how fascinating—and beautiful—science and nonfiction can be.” And there is nothing more wonderous than that.

You can read a wonderful interview with Laura over at the GROG blog. And I'll be reviewing her book here at Archimedes this Friday.

Laura K. Zimmermann is a college professor by day and children’s writer by night. She has a PhD in developmental psychology and has published numerous academic articles as well as nonfiction stories in children’s magazines. Mushroom Rain is her first picture book. When she’s not writing, Laura can be found teaching and conducting research at Shenandoah University or wandering through nature with her Goldendoodle, Tivy. You can find Laura online at laurakzimmermann.com and on Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest at @LauraK_PBwriter.

2 comments:

  1. Bless you, Sue, for pointing out this interview. I agree that science investigation is like Alice in Wonderland. Look, be curious, observe! TY.

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  2. Thank you Kathy! And thank you, Sue, for inviting me!

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