MICRO MANIA’s 1st Review (Buffalo News)

A few weeks ago, my mother sent a fascinating article from my hometown newspaper, THE BUFFALO NEWS, to my 8-year-old son, Finian. It was about THIS curious creature….


A star-nosed mole (as I’m sure you knew, right?) Anyway, the article was written by Gerry Rising, whom I’ve known since I was a little boy growing up in Buffalo. Gerry was a colleague of my father’s at the University of Buffalo. One of Gerry’s many pursuits is writing a weekly nature column for the Buffalo News. I contacted Gerry to tell him how much Finian and I enjoyed his star-nosed mole piece — and happened to mention that I had a new kids science book coming out, MICRO MANIA. Gerry not only expressed interest in the book – but reviewed it in his column on Sunday, November 8.

Review of Micro Mania / Buffalo News / Nov 8 2009


I was very pleased to read that Gerry liked it, and learned from it. I appreciated that he understood my goal was not only to tantalize with gross details and irreverent humor, but to educate children of all ages about “the little guys” with which we share the planet.

Any science enthusiasts who’d like to read more of Gerry nature columns (he’s written hundreds), should check out this archive.

“Nature Watch” Column Archive

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You’ll Laugh, You’ll Cry, You’ll Wash Your Hands…

Don’t you just love that new book smell? I do. Especially when the new book is one written by me!

It’s a new science book for children 6 and up, and is filled with fascinating facts, irreverent humor, and loads of disgusting photographs of creepy, crawly critters, many of which are invisible to the eye. When I was writing the book, I was urged by my editor to “make it grosser.” And so I did. In the coming weeks, I’ll be posting some of the tidbits from this book here, and invite any of you to post fascinating facts about the “little guys.” My goal was to both inspire children to appreciate the many tiny creatures that inhabit the world, and to remind folks that many of the little animals play a critical role to life on Earth. Yes, yes, when I was writing the book, I became somewhat of an obsessive hand-washer. But now that phase has passed, much to my relief.

Neat perk of this book for me — my son Finian, age 8, got to take the “Author Photo” on the book jacket:

You can read more about this book at my publisher’s web site: Micro Mania

I also noticed that it’s now on Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble.com etc… and Halloween is just around the corner…perhaps just the right gift for any kids who enjoy reading enGROSSing books.

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My Daughter, The Superhero (and Kindergartner)

For the first time in ages, I visited a comic book store. My daughter Olivia, age 4, was with me. She stared eagerly at all the superhero images. I called her over to a particular rack and said, “I think THIS comic book looks interesting. Want to read it with me?” It was the latest edition of DC Super Friends.

I explained that my friend Sholly Fisch had written this comic book. She gave me a look that said, “And your point?” I flipped to the back pages, specifically the Letters to the Editor section — and asked her to look carefully at the page:

She grinned when she saw the photo in the upper left corner. It was HER dressed up as Wonder Woman. She asked me, “Did you tape that picture in there?” When I said “no,” she asked, “Well how did it get there then?” I explained that my friend heard that she loved to dress up as WW, and suggested I email that picture to him, so he could put it in his comic book.

This fall, Olivia started Kindergarten — and frankly feels like a superhero there maybe 10% of the time. There are still sometimes tears when it’s time to say “goodbye” and she only had one ride on the bus and that was enough for her. “Too noisy!” “Too many kids” “What if I get left on the bus?”

Thinking about Olivia’s important but difficult transition, I devoted my latest parenting newsletter for Sesame Workshop about the experience of trying to ease her transition to elementary school. Hope it’s helpful to any parents out there with children facing resistance to this new experience.


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If you know any children who love dinosaurs and/or trains — please share this exciting news.

On September 7, 2009, a new preschool TV series from The Jim Henson Company will premiere on PBS. It’s called DINOSAUR TRAIN. Set in a whimsically realistic, prehistoric world of jungles, swamps, active volcanoes and oceans, DINOSAUR TRAIN will help kids ages 3 to 6 to apply scientific thinking as they discover new types of dinosaur species, compare and contrast dinosaurs to today’s creatures, and learn about paleontology and natural history. Created by Craig Bartlett (Hey Arnold!), the series aims to use kids’ fascination with dinosaurs to teach broader concepts about the natural world, and to inspire them to explore nature firsthand.

Take a peek…

Full-confession: As the Curriculum Consultant for the series, I wrote its educational goals, collaborated with writers and producers throughout the script development process, and created hands-on activities for the DINOSAUR TRAIN Web site. I even wrote one of the episodes (in which Buddy and Tiny meet a gigantic pterosaur, Quetzalcoatlus, which had the wingspan of a small airplane!)

You can check out a sample full-length sample on PBS Web site for the series, and please share any reactions. This Web site will be expanding in the coming weeks, so check back. Also, if you know of any wonderful books or other resources for dino-obsessed kids, please pass along the details.


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Celebrating Children’s Offbeat Milestones

Tra-la, it’s May, and Sesame Workshop’s Web site just published another one of my parenting columns (Click here for PDF). This one’s about a topic I’ve been mulling over for some time: encouraging parents to make a big deal out of the “lesser” milestones in their kids’ development. Whether it’s learning to crack an egg, wiggle your ears, or feed a baby lamb (see below), it’s often the little accomplishments that are the most fun for children and parents.

Hope you’re having a wonderful, productive spring!

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The Truth about Lying (Take that, Big Bird!)

I can’t believe daylight’s savings time is here again. You’re probably wondering what I did with that extra hour. Well, curious readers, I’ll tell you. First, I went to the gym, and then I started a great book (THE BOOK THIEF by Markus Zusak), and finally I… (Wait a minute — isn’t it “Spring backward, Fall forward??” You mean it’s the other way around? What? We LOST an hour…. oh, geez.)  Anyway, I thought you would enjoy my latest parenting column for Sesame Workshop. Even if you don’t have kids, you might enjoy the topic. 
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My Funny Valentine

Sesame Workshop just published my latest parenting column (link below). This one’s about my bubbly daughter Olivia’s experiences with Valentine’s Day.

My Funny Valentine…and Yours! (PDF)

As I type this in a Starbucks, I overhead a barista comment these terrifying words, “Oh, not for me. I’m allergic to chocolate!” (There but for the grace of genes go I.)

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