Wednesday, August 30, 2023

Welcome STEM Author Laurie Wallmark

Science rocks! And so do these new STEAM books from Laurie Wallmark highlighting extraordinary women in STEM – one looking to the sky and the other facing opponents across a chess board. Laurie is also the author several other biographies, so she isn’t new to introducing readers to fascinating women who have made an impact in our world.
Welcome, Laurie! Tell us about the inspiration for these latest biographies, HER EYES ON THE STARS and THE QUEEN OF CHESS. I keep an ever-growing list of possible women in STEM to write about. At the time I chose Maria Mitchell, there was only one picture book out about her. This was an older title which fictionalized some of her life story. I thought kids deserved to learn the facts. So, I dug in, did the research, and wrote my book. But before HER EYES ON THE STARS came out, two more picture books about her were published! As far as I’m concerned, though, there’s always room for more good books about an important woman in STEM like Maria Mitchell. The inspiration for THE QUEEN OF CHESS was completely different. In this case, an editor who knew about my other women in STEM biographies, asked me to write about Judit Polgár. The editor (and I) felt that it was important to showcase the achievements of a woman chess player. Since chess is so mathematical, I felt writing her story would be right up my alley.
These two biographies feature two very different women. Are there similarities that connect them? There is one big similarity between both women—passion. From a young age, both pursued their fields with intense focus. Night after night, Maria Mitchell looked through a telescope on her rooftop observatory and studied the heavens. Judit Polgár spent hours each day practicing her chess moves and studying the patterns the pieces made.
Judit certainly faced a number of challenges as she became the youngest grandmaster in the chess world. Did you face any challenges writing these biographies? Writing about Maria Mitchell wasn’t too challenging. There were plenty of reference materials and, for the most part, they agreed with each other. Judit Polgár was a different story, thought. Writing about her presented two challenges. First, there weren’t a lot of references I could use. Yes, her games were well documented. But a biography consisting only of game descriptions wouldn’t be that interesting. Second, she was such an amazing chess player that she rarely lost a game. It’s hard to add tension to a story when the person always wins.
Both books are such inspirational STEM titles, Laurie. Please tell teachers how they can use them in the classroom. Teachers can download a free curriculum guide for HER EYES ON THE STARS from my website THE QUEEN OF CHESS includes back matter that discusses the mathematics of chess.
These STEM ladies led extraordinary lives. You have a knack for digging these stories out of the past, these women out of obscurity. Who will you feature next, Laurie Wallmark? Can you give us a hint? I have another women in STEM title coming out next February—HER JOURNEY TO THE STARS: KALPANA CHAWLA, ASTRONAUT. Kalpana Chawla set her sights on flight at an early age. But achieving her dream of being among the stars took dedication, perseverance, and patience. Forging her own path, she became the first Indian American female astronaut, an inspiration for all girls to follow their dreams.
Check out Laurie's website for more about her and her books.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Good News and Bad News ---For Wolves

There was good news and bad news recently for our country's gray wolf population, as you see below. While the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Ser...