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Nonfiction Matters
Inside Nonfiction Matters

Ages and Grades

Lessons Assigning ages and grades to trade books is real guesswork. Authors and publishers have a general sense of kids, and of the sequence of school subject areas, but both are anecdotal and approximate. Textbook houses are very attentive to state requirements and Lexiles, but that has nothing to do with how we work. So […]

Straight From the Classroom

As You Read This, I Will Be in the Midst of a Week of Classroom Visits Years ago I remember being at some writers’ conference and a miffed parent asking whether editors ever went out and met kids. Clearly she was implying that we were out of touch. And there was something to that. In […]

History as Collage

Great Things I’ve Recently Seen Slumdog — it deserves all those awards. It is a fable, and in some ways predictable, but still a wonderful fresh wild ride. Waltz With Bashir, — also available as a Graphic Novel, I have not seen the Japanese film that won Best Foreign, but I thought Waltz was spectacular […]


A Page of Connections Anna’s mention of I.N.K. made me think of the many online links I use, or visit, as I work on nonfiction books. So I thought I’d put some faves up here, and ask for you to add any of yours. To start things off, I am listing sites I visit to look […]


We Are All Astrologers  That is, those of us who write and edit nonfiction for young readers live by the stars. Not only do we yearn to get those glittering nods of approval but we interpret them — if a book is racking up the stars, we hope it means award committees will take notice. […]

Books And — Some News From the Front

Two Articles in Today’s New York Times Hint at the New School Environment For Books Plus Did you all catch This profile of a New York City public school librarian stresses how much of her job involves showing kids how to compare and evaluate web sites, create power point presentations, or create online videos. It is […]

The Bigger Plot Problem

We’ve Been Talking About Plot Within Nonfiction, But About the Stories We Live By? When I was taking standardized tests in high school, nearly every one included a passage from Paul de Kruif’s classic Microbe Hunters, As you all recall, and the embedded review stresses, this was a book in which scientists are heroes, fighting […]

Building A Trap to Yield a Revelation

How Does Plot Differ from Organization, Or Does It? Etymology is always a good friend when wrangling over definitions — so I looked up "plot" to see where the word came from, and how it acquired its meanings. The Middle English origin is a term for "a small piece of planted ground" — or a […]

Nonfiction and Plot II

What Can Drive a Reader Into and Through a Book, If Not Plot? I am thinking about the analogy between museums and books, because of this show I am here to see. The exhibit is about Jewish book art, and so the brilliant show designer has lined all of the floors in either black or […]

Nonfiction and Plot

Have You Been Following The CCBC Debate Over "We Are the Ship"? The thread began with the question of whether it should or should not have been eligible for the Caldecott — some see the art in the book as more point for point illustration of single beats in the story, rather than as a […]