FIRST DRAFT

This time last year I was turning in the first draft of THE 50 STATES ACTIVITY BOOK, which was far more challenging than I thought it would be. These are some of the sketches I used to plot the book. THE FIRST STATE and MY PLACE IN THE STATES ended up pretty close to my original idea. NORTH, SOUTH, EAST, WEST was greatly simplified by my editor. WHAT TIME IS IT we figured was rather complicated and ended up on the cutting room floor. Maybe we'll revisit it for a future book!

VOTE FOR IT: Coffee Facts from Seattle, Washington

Readers, I need your help! It is time for my semi-weekly #voteforit #50Cities where YOU share your opinion to help me decide between the inspiring people, interesting foods, curious landmarks, and moments to remember to include in one of the 50 cities in our upcoming book, 50 CITIES (Wide Eyed Editions, October 2017).

VOTE FOR IT: Which COFFEE FACT should we include from Seattle, Washington?

CUP OF JOE There are about 1,600 coffee shops in the Seattle area, including the very first Starbucks, in Pike Place Market.

DO WHALES DRINK COFFEE? The coffee chain Starbucks was named after the first mate in the novel Moby Dick.

VOTE FOR IT: Animal Facts from Anchorage, Alaska

Readers, I need your help! It is time for my semi-weekly #voteforit #50Cities where YOU share your opinion to help me decide between two things to include in one of the 50 cities in our upcoming book, 50 CITIES (Wide Eyed Editions, October 2017). 

VOTE FOR IT: Which ANIMAL FACT should we include from Anchorage, Alaska?

BEAR BUSINESS Grizzly bears have shorter ears and longer claws than black bears; you can find both in the area.

MUSK OXEN were among the first animals to cross the Bering Land Bridge from Asia.

VOTE FOR IT: Transportation Facts from Newark, New Jersey

Readers, I need your help! It is time for my semi-weekly #voteforit #50Cities where YOU share your opinion to help me decide between the inspiring people, interesting foods, curious landmarks, and moments to remember to include in one of the 50 cities in our upcoming book, 50 CITIES (Wide Eyed Editions, October 2017). 

VOTE FOR IT: Which TRANSPORTATION FACT should we include from Newark, New Jersey?

PORT NEWARK
Some 8,000 shoe boxes can fit into each 40' foot container that passes through the East Coast's largest container shipping terminal.

NEWARK LIBERTY INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT
About 20,000 people work at the nation's oldest airfield, as air traffic controllers and more.  

Eagle Eyes from Pennsylvania

It's thrilling to hear from readers...especially when they offer a valuable contribution! A BIG thank you to Leigh and her family in Pennsylvania, who spotted an error in the table of contents. Can you spot it, too?

Upcoming reprints of the book will have a much-needed correction thanks to a sharp set of eyes in the Mid-Atlantic.

VOTE FOR IT: Inspiring People from San Francisco, California

Readers, I need your help! It is time for my semi-weekly #voteforit #50Cities where YOU share your opinion to help me decide between the inspiring people, interesting foods, curious landmarks, and moments to remember to include in one of the 50 cities in our upcoming book, 50 CITIES (Wide Eyed Editions, October 2017). 

VOTE FOR IT: Which inspiring person should we include for San Francisco, California?

GENNIFER CHOLDENKO b.1957 The award-winning author of Al Capone Does My Shirts writes about living near a notorious Alcatraz inmate and grew up riding horses in the area.

DANIEL HANDLER b.1970 Under the pen name Lemony Snicket, this accordion player and former San Francisco Boys Chorus member wrote A Series of Unfortunate Events.

Eagle Eyes from New Hampshire

It's thrilling to hear from readers...especially when they offer a much-needed contribution! A BIG thank you to Rebecca in New Hampshire, who, within 5 minutes of opening THE 50 STATES, spotted an error in our description of the McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center.

Upcoming reprints of the book will have this new text thanks to a sharp set of eyes in New England:

THE McAULIFFE-SHEPARD DISCOVERY CENTER
is named for the first teacher chosen for a space mission and the first American in space--both New Hampshirites!

VOTE FOR IT: Inspiring People from Houston, Texas

Inspired by the good librarians at #TxLA, today I launch #voteforit #50Cities: a new feature on my A Day in the Life blog. Once a week (or so!), I'll turn to readers for help deciding between the inspiring people, interesting foods, curious landmarks, and moments to remember to include in one of the 50 cities in our upcoming book, 50 CITIES (Wide Eyed Editions, October 2017). 

I'd love to hear what you think should be included (and why!) so please drop me a line in the comments.

Happy exploring!

VOTE FOR IT: Which inspiring person should we include for Houston, Texas?
KATHI APPELT b.1954 The award-winning author of The Underneath lives in Houston and was born in the front seat of her dad's car!

DIANNA HUTTS ASTON b.1964 The award-winning author of An Egg is Quiet was born in Houston and loved reading about dinosaurs as a child.


 

 

Do You Like Being a Snake...

...is among the questions you can ask a snake but probably won't get an answer to.
You can also ask a snake, How Many Bones Do You Have? and What Would You Like For Dinner? and while snake won't answer, Sam Brewster and I will, and you can read our answers in THE BOOK ONE BONES, coming to you from Phaidon in early Fall 2017, just in time for your Halloween stockings. In the meantime, follow along with us here wherever there is a thebookofbones tag, and also on twitter with #thebookofbones, and my bones pinterest board. Send us your bones questions on Facebook, Twitter, and at gsbwrites [at] gmail [dot] com.

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Step by Step

One of the most interesting aspects of writing and researching the suite of 50 States books has been how we have discovered what we want to do and what we should do during the process of doing it. Take the very first state we tackled, way back in November 2014: New York. We went through a good number of revisions before we ended up with something we were pleased with. What do you think?

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Rock Out to a State PlayList...Spanish Harlem Incident

You gotta have tunes while you work, and if the subject matter of the song happens to match the topic, all the better! Join me in listening to my STATE PLAYLIST, which at the moment is really a New York City Playlist, to cheer me while researching New York City for 50 STATES, coming to you in Fall 2017. 

For each city I always list a few good children's books that either take place in that city or are written in authors from that city. There are so many good choices for New York that I've had to start a pinterest board. For NYC, I listed a few of my favorite New York songs, "Spanish Harlem Incident" by Bob Dylan, for Aaron, and "Manhattan" by Cat Power, for me. They kick off the playlist.

My mom got me TAR BEACH by Faith Ringgold when Is tarted college at Barnard, on New York's upper west side. It kicks off the pinterest board.

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50 States Resources

Here are some of the resources I found especially helpful when researching The 50 States

 

It's Notable

The 50 States was selected as a 2016 Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Young People. Find a preview of the entire selection online at the National Council for the Social Studies-Children's Book Council. The May-June 2016 issue of Social Education will feature a 16-page annotated, illustrated, and National Standards for Social Studies-connected pullout reference of all K-8 books, including 28 Days: Moments in Black History that Changed the World by Charles R. Smith and Illustrated by Shane W. Evans (Roaring Brook Press), Echo by Pam Muñoz Ryan (Scholastic Press), Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Peña and Illustrated by Christian Robinson (G.P. Putnam's Sons), and many other wonderful choices.