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Friday, April 27, 2018

One Day Until BACK FROM THE BRINK Launch

One more day. As I type I hear the Les Miserable music in my head. Tomorrow's celebration is the culmination of years of research and writing, but actually a beginning, because a launch is just that -- the book is beginning its journey into classrooms, libraries, and bookshelves -- into the hands of my readers.



I spoke about the the creation of BACK FROM THE BRINK earlier this month and shared lots of the photos I took during the research phase, but tomorrow I'm going to do something a little different at Oblong Books & Music. I'm going to show behind-the-scenes photos. These aren't the photos you are likely to see in a blog or school visit, although one or two might pop up. These are the photos of the back story. The photos taken during the research, for me only, that show another side of publication, often gritty, fun, and thoughtful.

Oh, like all great book launches there will be yummy treats and also a fun activity. I hope you'll join me on this special #IndieBookstoreDay to celebrate how we can all make a difference for endangered species!
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Thursday, April 26, 2018

Happy Birthday, John James Audubon



Anyone who has ever picked up a bird guide certainly knows who John James Audubon is….don't they? Well, they know he stuffed a lot of birds and made beautiful drawings of them, but there is so much more to this great naturalist.  

He loved birds all his life and said,"When I had hardly yet learned to walk, and to articulate those first words always so endearing to parents, the productions of Nature that lay spread all around, were constantly pointed out to me. They soon became my playmates; and before my ideas were sufficiently formed to enable me to estimate the difference between the azure tints of the sky, and the emerald hue of the bright foliage, I felt that an intimacy with them, not consisting of friendship merely, but bordering on frenzy, must accompany my steps through life." 

Jacqueline Davies captures that boy in her book, The Boy Who Drew Birds, beautifully illustrated by Melissa Sweet.  It's the perfect read to pull out on Audubon's birthday and any other day you'd like to inspire a young person's creativity and love of the outdoors!  






Here is another Audubon biography. This one, by Nancy Plain, is for older readers. The text is beautiful and captures both Audubon's life and his wildlife art. 




Now that you are inspired by the life and art of John James Audubon, it's time to get outside and observe what he loved best -- birds!

More "birdy" titles to share with young readers:





Lastly, take a look at all of Audubon's artwork to get a real appreciation for his contribution to the study of wildlife in early America. As I researched BACK FROM THE BRINK, I went back to his writings and paintings for information and inspiration.

Happy birthday, John James Audubon --- and thank you!


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Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Green Earth Book Award

As a former Green Earth Award recipient, I know what an honor it is to be included on this list. Congratulations to all the book creators on the 2018 list! It is so very important to emphasize environmental literacy. Thanks to The Nature Generation for their efforts each year to promote these terrific books! 



The Nature Generation Announces National Green Earth Book Award Winners
Modern day storytellers shed light on complicated environmental issues 
 April 20, 2018– Arlington, Va. — The Nature Generation, an environmental nonprofit, has announced the winners of its United States’ 2018 Green Earth Book Award.
The national award recognizes books that best convey the environmental stewardship message and inspire youth to grow a deeper appreciation, respect, and responsibility for their natural environment.  Winning authors and illustrators in these categories will receive the $1500 award:  Picture Book, Children’s Fiction, Children’s Nonfiction and Young Adult Nonfiction.
“These winning and honor books are tools that offer young and old alike a way to bridge the environmental literacy gap,” said Amy Marasco, founder and president of The Nature Generation.  “I encourage schools, librarians, youth groups and families to make these books available and accessible to our youth.”
Picture Book
 Creekfinding: A True Story, Jacqueline Briggs Martin, illustrated by Claudia McGehee
(University of Minnesota Press) Ages 4-9.
A true story about a man who brought a creek and a whole world of nature back to life after it was long buried under fields of corn. This heartening tale of an ecosystem restored in the Driftless Area of Iowa unfolds in a way that will charm and inform young readers.

Honor Winner:
Out of School and Into Nature: The Anna Comstock StorySuzanne Slade, illustrated by Jessica Lanan
(Sleeping Bear Press) Ages 6-9.  
  Children’s Nonfiction
 Sea Otter Heroes: The Predators That Saved an Ecosystem, Patricia Newman
Why did one inlet grow healthy seagrass while other ones suffered? Sea otters!  With both irresistible otter photos and scientific diagrams, this book explains ecosystems and how its inhabitants affect it at every level.  Explains the often-damaging effect humans have and ways in which young people can help the environment on a daily basis.  (Millbrook Press) Ages 9-14.
Honor Winners:
The Hidden Life of a Toad, Doug Wechsler  (Charlesbridge) Ages 4-8.
This Book Stinks! Gross Garbage, Rotten Rubbish, and the Science of Trash, Sarah Wassner Flynn (National Geographic Kids) Ages 8-12.
Children’s Fiction
Forest World, Margarita Engle
Award-winning author’s lively novel in verse tells the story of a Cuban-American boy who visits his family’s village in Cuba for the first time. Weaved throughout is the message of importance of biodiversity, and how Cubans are trying to save their own flora and fauna from tourists, poachers, and climate change.  (Atheneum Books for Young Readers) Ages 10-99.
Honor Winner:
The Last Panther, Todd Mitchell
(Delacorte Books for Young Readers) Ages 8-12.
Young Adult Nonfiction
Trashing the Planet: Examining Our Global Garbage Glut, Stuart A. Kallen
Globally, humans create around 2.6 trillion pounds of waste every year. What can we do to keep garbage from swallowing up Earth? Reducing, reusing, recycling, and upcycling are some answers. Learn more about the efforts of government, business, research, and youth as they work to solve our planet’s garbage crisis. (Twenty-First Century Books) Ages 10-16.
 Honor Winner:
Geoengineering Earth’s Climate: Resetting the Thermostat, Jennifer Swanson (Twenty-First Century Books) Ages 13-18.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Back From The Brink Book Birthday!

It's here! Today is BACK FROM THE BRINK's book birthday!

As my author friends know, this is a major event. We celebrate milestones in a book's creation. For me, it starts with the acceptance of a proposal from my publisher. The next milestone, for one of my nonfiction books, is the completion of the first draft, followed by a bunch of small milestones that aren't celebrated with the same fervor, but might just be marked by a piece of chocolate or a glass of wine or a walk outdoors. The final milestone is the release of the finished book out into the public -- THE BOOK BIRTHDAY!

As with all books, it takes a village to get to this day. In my case, a fabulous agent named Jennifer Laughran, who I adore, an editor who always seems to get me and what I'm trying to say, named Erica Zappy (Like I say to students during my school visits - she's the one who really helps make my book the best it can be), and countless others along the way, including copywriters and book designers, who are invaluable. (Not to mention...all of the dedicated scientists and conservationists who I wrote about in the book!)

Today is THAT special day. BACK FROM THE BRINK is now out in the world and on Saturday I'll be celebrating that birthday at Oblong Books and Music in Rhinebeck, NY with a launch celebration!

I can't wait to see this book out in the wild, in the hands of my readers. If I've succeeded, the stories I've included of these endangered species will bring them hope and inspire them to care for our planet.




Here is what the reviewers have said (And yes, if you are wondering, waiting for reviews are the hold-your-breath-moments of book creation):

"[Castaldo] offers solid, meaningful suggestions for young readers [...] including many, many learning opportunities: things to watch and read, organizations to investigate, websites and parks to explore. Challenging but important reading for the intended audience."--Kirkus, STARRED review 
 "An intimate and optimistic look at humans’ ability to protect the planet’s biodiversity."--Publishers Weekly 
 "Readers will be moved by Castaldo’s appreciation for these animals."--Booklist, STARRED review 
 "Middle school students will find this a topical, timely affirmation that nurturing the planet’s biodiversity is not a lost cause."--School Library Journal
I do hope you enjoy it. Please let me know if you do! Thanks for reading! 

Monday, April 23, 2018

Get Ready for Endangered Species Day!

Earth Day 2018 is over, but you can continue to spread the love of nature and our environment with Endangered Species Day - May 18, 2018.  Start planning now to make an impact this year. 

This is an international celebration of endangered species. It's an ideal day for teachers and community leaders to educate students about the importance of protecting the Earth's biodiversity. 

There are so many ways to engage in the celebration. Here are just a few:


*Plan a school-wide Endangered Species Day fair with exhibits.
*Arrange a special display in the school library or cafeteria.
*Invite a local expert to speak to the school/class.
*Work with a community/environmental group on a habitat restoration project.
*Attend an event at a local zoo, aquarium, botanic garden or other location.

Once a specific activity is planned, your class can register it on the Endangered Species Day website.


Read more about how we can join together to save endangered species in BACK FROM THE BRINK, releasing tomorrow from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt


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Sunday, April 22, 2018

Earth Day - 7 Things Kids Can Do To Help Endangered Species


Happy Earth Day! 

      Today is the day to think of the ways we can contribute to the health of our planet. You can make a difference by helping endangered species. It doesn’t matter where you live or how old you are, every choice we make impacts our environment and the wildlife around us.
     Here are seven ways you can help today and everyday:

Learn About Local Endangered Species — It is hard to help creatures we know nothing about. Find out what animals might be having trouble where you live. Pick one and become an expert. Spread the news about it and how we might be able to keep it safe! You might even be able to volunteer in a local nature center or wildlife refuge. 





Throw Micro Trash In The Trash!  — Tiny items of trash, like bottle caps and small pieces of plastic are harmful to many species of wildlife. It’s hard for an animal to tell the difference between a piece of food and a piece of trash. Sea turtles and California condors are just two endangered species that suffer from tiny bits of litter. You can help by spreading the word and making sure that micro trash finds its way into the trash! 

Conserve Energy!  — Every time we use energy, we add pollution to the environment. You can help by turning off the lights when you leave a room, by carpooling with your friends when you go somewhere, and even buying less stuff wrapped in plastic. Every small thing you do can bring big results if we all work together. 

Be Wildlife Friendly — Make your home wildlife friendly by placing decals on your windows to prevent birds from flying into the glass, planting native plants that provide food and shelter for wildlife, and by keeping your home pesticide and herbicide free. Also, keep cats indoors. Many birds and small animals are killed cats each year. These easy steps make a huge impact in the lives of your local wildlife! 

Take the Plastic-Free Challenge —  Did you know that people produce millions of tons of plastic garbage every year? That includes plastic bags, plastic drinking straws, water bottles, coffee stirrers, and all sorts of packaging that we use only once and then throw out. All of this garbage ends up in our landfills and our waterways. It not only harms wildlife, it also harms us. You can make a big difference if you swap out your plastic for reusable glass bottles, cloth bags, and recycle the plastic you do use. So the next time you order a beverage in a restaurant, ask for a glass and don’t use a straw.  

Campaign for Wildlife!  — Write a letter to your local newspaper about endangered species. Attend a town board meeting and speak up for wildlife. Create a website to promote conservation. Join an environmental organization. Become a voice for the creatures you care about. 

©Nancy F Castaldo

Pay Attention — Sometimes we just don’t know what’s going on until it is too late. If you start to pay attention to the plight of endangered species and other wildlife you’ll be one step ahead. Once we know what is happening we can take action and together we can make a difference. Become informed and stay informed. And when you are old enough — VOTE! Voting is an important way to make your voice heard. 

We can make a difference if we all work together. Perhaps, then we can even prevent animals from becoming endangered in the first place. 
Earth Day, Every Day! 





Friday, April 20, 2018

COVER REVEAL - Stretch to the Sun by Carrie Pearson

I am so very excited to share with you the cover reveal for author, Carrie Pearson's new title -- STRETCH TO THE SUN: FROM A TINY SPROUT TO THE TALLEST TREE ON EARTH, releasing from Charlesbridge this fall.  This is the perfect title to pre-order this Earth Day weekend.  
Welcome, Carrie! 

Thanks, Nancy, for offering to reveal the cover of my next book. 




I say ‘my’ next book but like all books, it is a culmination of many – from the scientists and experts who found the tallest tree and shared its story, to Yolanda Scott, my fabulous editor at Charlesbridge who believed in the manuscript, to the amazing illustrator, Susan Swan, and the design team at Charlesbridge who brought the unique and vibrant ecosystem to life visually, and finally to the readers who I hope will love it! 
The book launches in October 2018 and is what I’m calling a tree-ography

I love that term, Carrie. What is a tree-ography? 

It’s a biography in that it is a life story, but it’s the life story of a very important tree. In my mind, all trees are important, but this one even more so because it is the tallest tree on earth. Just think of that! Of all the trees in all the places in the world, this tree has grown to be the tallest! 

WOW, the tallest? It is amazing that we even know that to be true. 

Plus, it is estimated to be over 1200 years old and has endured despite everything Nature could toss its way (such as fire, drought, storms, space to grow, etc.). However, the biggest challenge to this tree’s survival was people.  Over 95% of old-growth coast redwood trees have been harvested and in 1978, this tree was almost cut down. Thanks to the work of many people (who you will learn about in the book), the tallest tree, and other ancient coast redwoods, continue to grow. 

What an interesting and valuable story to share with young readers. 

STRETCH TO THE SUN: FROM A TINY SPROUT TO THE TALLEST TREE ON EARTH is a story of survival and a story of strength. 
While the tallest tree lives on protected lands, not all old-growth coast redwoods do. We can all do our part to protect coast redwoods and trees in our own backyard. My hope is that this tree-ography will inspire young naturalists and citizen scientists to learn more -- and do more -- on behalf of our natural world. 

My hope too! We all can make a difference. Let's hope that this book inspires young people to look at all their trees with appreciation and a desire to conserve them. 
You can pre-order STRETCH TO THE SUN: FROM A TINY SPROUT TO THE TALLEST TREE ON EARTH  now through  your favorite bookseller. 
Thank you, Carrie, for sharing this important and beautiful book with us today! I can't wait to add it to my shelf. 

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Happy Birthday, Jane Goodall

Happy Birthday, Jane Goodall!






Jeanette Winter's  The Watcher: Jane Goodall's Life with the Chimps and Patrick McDonnell's Me...Jane both are perfect books to introduce young readers to the life of groundbreaking researcher, Jane Goodall. 

 Me...Jane focuses more on Goodall's childhood, while The Watcher focuses on Goodall's early days in the field observing chimps. 

Beautifully illustrated and well-researched, The Watcher is a wonderful celebration of Goodall's tireless efforts in chimpanzee conservation.  Both titles are a must for an elementary classroom collection!

Anita Silvey's Jane Goodall biography, Untamed,  is the perfect biography for older readers. It not only is filled with many beautiful photos, but goes deeper into the life of this extraordinary researcher and her conservation efforts.