WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES
INSIGHT – INFORMATION – INSPIRATION
FOR READERS AND WRITERS
We are breaking new ground on Will Write for Cookies today!
Laurie Wallmark is back! This is her second visit for a Q&A…I am so in love with her books and if you’ve read them, you’ll understand why.
Award-winning author Laurie Wallmark’s debut picture book, Ada Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machine (Creston Books, 2015), received four starred trade reviews (Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, Booklist, and School Library Journal) and several national awards, including Outstanding Science Trade Book and the Eureka Award. It is a Cook Prize Honor Book. Her recently released picture book biography, Grace Hopper: Queen of Computer Code (Sterling Children’s Books, 2017), earned a Kirkus star and was well-reviewed in several trade journals. Laurie has an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from VCFA. When not writing, she teaches computer science at Raritan Valley Community College.
I’m thrilled to welcome you to Picture Books Help Kids Soar, Laurie!
You seem to have found a wonderful niche in writing nonfiction picture books about strong women? Did you enjoy reading women’s biographies when you were a kid? If so, who were your favorites?
When I was a child, you would have thought that Marie Curie was the only woman scientist who had ever lived. There were no biographies of any other women scientists or mathematicians. I did enjoy reading books about mathematicians like Euclid, Newton, and Fermat. In fact, I was convinced I would be the one to solve Fermat’s Last Theorem. (Spoiler alert. I wasn’t.)
In your opinion, what are the most important steps in writing a great nonfiction picture book?
The most important part of writing a nonfiction picture book is research, research, research. Not only does that help ensure that your writing is accurate, but it’s through research that you find those fun little nuggets that really bring a person to life. For example, the fact that Grace Hopper couldn’t wait to ride in an airplane with a barnstormer exemplifies her spirit of adventure. Her words perfectly sum up her feelings about doing this: “I squandered all my money—it cost $10—and went up in the plane.” I found this event referenced in only one of my sources about Grace’s life.
Is there a particular era in history that you prefer to write about? When it that? Or is it more important that your subject is a strong STEM woman?
I’m more interested in the person than when she lived. So far, the women I’ve written about and/or researched for future books have lived in the 1800s and 1900s. By choice, I’m not writing about people who are still alive. Because of the limited word count of picture books, I’d rather be able to view someone’s entire lifetime of accomplishments before deciding which ones to include
Why do you write nonfiction picture books for children?
Children absorb stereotypes about who should be a scientist or mathematician at a very early age. If all the people in STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) biographies look the same, then children who are of a different sex, race, religion, etc. will assume that this is not a possible career path for them. By writing picture books, I can vaccinate children before they’ve been infected by these negative stereotypes.
If you have any special tips or thoughts for writers, teachers, parents…please share.
My best advice for anyone interested in encouraging children to enter STEM is to show the fun side of these fields. Whether it’s through writing or engaging in activities with children, we can show counteract the idea that STEM is hard or boring or, most importantly, for someone else.
Thank you so very much, Laurie…I really appreciate you coming back to provide us with more wonderful insights.
And for all of you who want to find out more about Laurie and her awesome books or get in touch with her:
Click here to join Laurie as she travels from blog to blog to introduce her picture book biography, Grace Hopper: Queen of Computer Code.
Author Website: http://www.lauriewallmark.com/
And if you have a computer-loving kid at home, why not try Laurie’s clever cookie recipe.
GEAR-SHAPED COOKIES RECIPE
Butter, softened: 1 and 1/2 cups
White sugar: 2 cups
Vanilla extract: 1 teaspoon
All-purpose flour: 5 cups
Baking powder: 2 teaspoons
Salt: 1 teaspoon
- Make dough
- Cream together butter and sugar until smooth
- Beat in eggs and vanilla
- Stir in dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, and salt.
- Prepare dough for baking
- Separate dough into four or more batches
- Mix food coloring into each batch
- Shape each batch into a thick disk
- Chill disk for at least one hour (or overnight)
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C)
- Make cookies
- Cut dough into shapes using gear-shaped cookie cutters
- Make sure to use a lot of flour to keep dough from sticking
- Place cookies one-inch apart on ungreased (or parchment covered) cookie sheets
- Bake 6-8 minutes in preheated oven.
This was so much fun! A huge confetti toss to Laurie for joining us.
Thank you all for stopping by…I love chatting with friends!
Fascinating interview with Laurie. Also interesting that she preferred to work on characters long passed so she could view all their achievements before deciding on what to incorporate into her story. I also loved the cover illustration of Ada Bryon Lovelace and the Thinking Machine. Must also check that one out. Thank you Vivian.
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I agree with you, Diane…the cover of ADA is mesmerizing. And yes, it was interesting that she picks people who have long passed so she can choose the best bit to write about. 😉
I met Laurie at a conference earlier this year and was so excited to see an early copy her Grace Hopper book~ my kids and I loved reading Ada Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machine 🙂 Thanks for the interview, ladies!
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That’s what I love about conferences, Jessica…you got to meet the BEST people. 😉
Just read & enjoyed Grace Hopper. Thanks for the interview, Vivian :)! I’m so glad Laurie’s books will be inspiring the next generation of female mathematicians & scientists!!
Great interview. And I love the gear-shaped cookies! So cute!
Wow. Two outstanding books. One I’ve read. Will add the newest to my list. Food for thought about writing about those who are deceased.