Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Jamie Hogan's Illustrations from A WARMER WORLD at the University of Southern Maine

Golden Toad, Illustration by Jamie Hogan for A WARMER WORLD
Illustrations from A Warmer World will be included in “Tell Me a Story: A World of Wonders,” an exhibit of children’s book illustrations by Maine artists at the Atrium Gallery, University of Southern Maine, Lewiston-Auburn College from June 22 - August 3, 2012.

When Boston children's book publisher Charlesbridge Publishing called to ask Peaks Island, Maine, illustrator Jamie Hogan to illustrate another book for them, she didn't know how much it would focus her attention on global warming. Taking up her pastels to depict writer Caroline Arnold's text about the effect of warming on the world's animals made her reconsider her responsibilities as an artist and a citizen.

“It changed my radar,” she said.

Hogan's first task in illustrating A Warmer World: From Polar Bears to Butterflies, How Climate Change Affects Wildlife (Ages 8-13) was to draw the golden toad, a creature that used to inhabit the cloud forests of Costa Rica. When the weather became too warm in the region, the pools where its eggs hatched dried up and the species was lost.

"I have never drawn dinosaurs, but here I had to depict a similar animal lost to us forever," said Jamie Hogan. "I found photos of them in my clipping file. Just in recent decades, the last golden toad vanished. I was oblivious, as was most of the world. Things are disappearing in our lifetimes.”

The golden toad is just one of several species spotlighted in A Warmer World, a thought-provoking and informative account of how global climate change has affected wildlife over the past several decades. Species by species, acclaimed nonfiction children's author Caroline Arnold describes how warmer weather alters ecosystems, forcing animals to adapt or risk extinction.

Charlesbridge Publishing suggested the book could be laid out like a nature journal, with the text appearing on torn pieces of notebook paper.

"I hunted down various notebooks and tags. Each animal is labeled with an actual tag collaged over the drawing. Somehow the journal theme helped me see myself as more involved in the reporting of global warming, as if I were in the field taking down these notes or drawing beside the author Caroline Arnold in Costa Rica or on the polar icecap. I wanted kids to pick up a tactile sense of participation, too—that they, too, could study these effects, and their attention could lead to change."

Instead of a traditional marketing approach, Jamie considered how a young reader or classroom teacher would feel after reading the book. Would they want to do something to prevent further warming? All the websites she reviewed advocated reusing and recycling, crucially important tasks. She thought readers might also want to voice their concern for the featured animals and for global warming. Hogan created a website to support the book (, which allows young citizens to send electronic postcards that say they are "worried about a warmer world" and provides links to Congresspersons' email addresses.

"Some see global warming as no more than a fluctuation in our environment and suggest that kids need not care about the effects, but it’s their world. Improving our stewardship of the planet can only help.”

Jamie Hogan and her fellow Peaks Islanders live almost on a small planet of their own. Trash must be carted off island, and many things are reused, repaired, and even incorporated into artwork by the island's many creators. People walk, bike, and share rides every day to keep car use low on the island.

"Surrounded by a bay full of creatures we see (the brief bobbing head of a seal) and those that we do not makes us aware we are part of the environment, not distanced from it. When you take the ferry to town, you recognize we are simply all on the same boat."

A Warmer World: From Polar Bears to Butterflies, How Climate Change Affects Wildlife may help young readers become young citizens who see humans and animals as "all on the same boat."
Nesty Nook for Reading at the Atrium Gallery

Jamie Hogan's Website:
Jamie Hogan's Blog:

With thanks to Kirsten Cappy for this terrific piece about Jamie and news of the exhibit in Maine.  I love the giant nest where children can read books at the Tell Me a Story: World of Wonders exhibit.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Podcast: Interview for ReadWriteThink with Emily Manning

In April, when I was at the IRA conference in Chicago, I was interviewed by Emily Manning of ReadWriteThink, Chatting About Books.  The interview focuses on my new book A Warmer World (Charlesbridge) but also discusses Global Warming and the Dinosaurs,  A Bald Eagle's World, Birds: Nature’s Magnificent Flying Machines, and Dinosaurs with Feathers.  A podcast of the interview was posted on May 16.  It is number 45, World of Animals.  The post also includes some terrific resources for kids, teachers and parents.
Questions that Emily asked me:
1.  An interesting fact that you give in your books is that “in the last century the average world temperature has risen more than one degree Fahrenheit.”  Even though this seems like a small amount, can you talk about the big impact it is having on wildlife?
2.  Another interesting point that you make is that while animals can move to new locations, plants don’t have that option.  How are plants adapting to the warming climate?
3.  What was something that you found out through your research of this book that you didn’t know before?
4.  What is one thing that a family can do this week that will help make a difference?
5.  You have written many books about animals.  What are some of your favorite animals that you have written about?

    It was a pleasure to chat with Emily.  You can listen to my answers to her questions and find links to her many other chats with authors at .
Emily Manning has a master's degree in reading education from the University of North Texas. She taught in the primary grades for several years before taking a reading intervention position that focused on working with struggling readers in grades 3rd-5th. In 2006, Emily Manning began teaching reading education classes in an adjunct capacity at Texas Woman's University. And most recently, she has taken a position as an Instructional Specialist at Lee Elementary in Denton, Texas.Emily is a member of the Advisory Board. She also belongs to several professional organizations including the International Reading Association and National Council of Teachers of English.

ReadWriteThink is sponsored by the International Reading Association and the National Council of Teachers of English

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Project: Finger-Painted Animals

Hand-printed and finger-printed animals
A week ago I did an author visit at Fullbright Avenue Elementary School in Los Angeles.  When I arrived, I found the auditorium filled with wonderful art inspired by my books, ranging from dioramas of African wildlife and zoo maps to camouflaged tigers and polar bears to a butterfly tree.  The curtains on the stage were decorated with a menagerie of animals–zebras, giraffes, an elephant, a chimpanzee swinging from a branch–all cut out and finger-painted by the pre-K students at the school.  The children had made the zebra’s stripes by dipping their fingers in black paint and drawing lines across the zebra’s body with their fingers.  The spots on the small giraffes were fingerprints of brown paint.  The large giraffe’s spots were created with hand prints.  All of the animals had manes made of glued on strips of yarn.  Glued-on googly eyes completed the creatures.  I was delighted to see the individuality in the animals and the creative use of materials–letting the children use their fingers as “brushes”.  While many of my books lend themselves to projects for older children, here is an excellent example of how my books can be used with younger children as well.
I thank Najma Hussain, the librarian at Fullbright, for introducing the students and teachers to my books, for preparing them for my visit, and  for organizing the day.  It was a successful and fun day for everyone! 

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Global Warming and the Dinosaurs: New Fossil Discoveries

My newest book, A Warmer World, details how climate change, or global warming, is affecting wildlife today. Our planet has gone through many periods of warming and cooling.  In the Dinosaur Age, the Earth was MUCH warmer than it is today--so warm that there was no permanent ice at the poles.  It was global warming big time!
     In my book Global Warming and the Dinosaurs you will learn about dinosaurs that thrived in Earth's polar regions. New discoveries in Alaska, Antarctica, Australia, and elsewhere are revealing how these ancient reptiles not only survived at Earth's extremes but were well adapted to live there. Evidence from bones and teeth to trackways and skin impressions raise important questions. How did polar dinosaurs cope with three months of total darkness in winter? What did they eat? How cold was it? Today, as we face the consequences of global warming, dinosaur fossils are helping us to understand what a warmer Earth was like long ago.
You can see a preview of Global Warming and the Dinosaurs in this book trailer on YouTube.