Alison Ashley Formento is the author of the new chapter book One Alien & Four Furry Tails Tales and award-winning nature picture books This Tree Counts!,This Tree, 1, 2, 3, These Bees Count!, These Seas Count!, and These Rocks Count! Her young adult novel Twigs was featured in Publisher’s Weekly as a notable new release for teen readers. Alison has written for several national publications including The New York Times, The Writer, and Parenting. She regularly visits schools and libraries with her popular highly interactive, fun-facts research-based presentations and Writing Seeds Workshops. Alison donates a portion of book proceeds to AmericanForests.org
These Seas Count!
Illustrated by Sarah Snow
On Beach Clean-Up Day, Mr. Tate’s field-trip-loving class heads to Sunnyside Beach to remove the old tires and trash people have dumped in the sand. Local ocean advocate Captain Ned tells the students the sea is sad and encourages them to listen to the ocean’s message spoken on the wind and waves. The ocean shares news of the many unique creatures that live in the water, from whales and turtles to sea horses that “gallop in a saltwater rodeo.” Captain Ned and Mr. Tate teach the children about the importance of keeping the seas clean for the sake of the food chain, the air produced by phytoplankton, and the planet. After cleaning up the beach, Captain Ned takes the class out on his boat to fish trash from the ocean so they can make the seas happy again. A hybrid counting book and environmental education lesson disguised as a story, this beautifully illustrated picture book paints a realistic picture of the impact litter has on beaches and ultimately, the world’s oceans. Though the message feels a bit heavy-handed at times, Formento’s passion for preserving nature is clear in both the text and the informative afterword. Snow’s digital collage illustrations bring a variety of textures to the page, including whimsical seagulls that look like they are made out of sock fabric. This book is part of the “Counts!” series that includes books about trees and bees, and will be most popular with teachers looking for Earth Day books or ways to tie conservation concepts into natural science studies. Reviewer: Keri Collins Lewis (Children’s Literature).
This Tree Counts!
Illustrated by Sarah Snow
Can a tree talk? Yes it can, if you listen carefully. This is the question author Formento asks of her readers. In the back of Oak Lane School, one tree stands. Mr. Tate’s students decide that the lonely tree needs some friends so they decide to plant more trees. Mr. Tate tells his students that trees can speak if one listens carefully to them. Just look at the owl who sits on its branches, and the spiders that spin their webs on a tree’s limbs. And look at the four robins sitting in their nest high up in the tree. And if one looks and listens carefully, you can see the butterflies building their cocoons and the ants crawling along the tree’s bark. This is how a tree talks. Mr. Tate then asks his students to explain why trees are great. The students answer, because they make shade, they send out air to breathe, and their wood is used to make furniture. Finally, Mr. Tate tells the children that they are ready to plant ten baby trees. One of the students waves to the lonely big tree and says, “Have fun with your new friends.” This is a lovely book filled with colorful illustrations. Reviewer: Della A. Yannuzzi (Children’s Literature).
These Rocks Count!
Illustrated by Sarah Snow
Mr. Tate’s lively class is kitted out for a field trip—a hike to discover rocks. When they spot a huge grey boulder (“the biggest rock in the world?”), Ranger Pedra joins them to demonstrate that rocks are definitely not boring as she pulls a sparkling amethyst geode from her backpack. Emphasis is on looking, touching, and listening, as the kids explore colors, weights, and textures of various rocks. Pebbles crunch under their feet, while Pedra helps them hear the boulder’s story, a counting tale from one to ten, with each number illustrated by rocks changing and being used—as material for a sculptor, cement, mounds of drying salt, a sandy nest for baby sea turtles. Others become polished gems, a slate sidewalk, rosy bricks, or windows for a house. Yes, rocks count: they are “nature’s building blocks.” Younger readers can enjoy the counting; older hikers can learn more (strata of rocks show the earth’s age; rocks and minerals are found in phones and computers, even, surprisingly, in toothpaste). Finally, the eager young geologists finding and photographing ten kinds of rocks they will take back to class to identify will inspire teachers and kids alike. Snow’s beguiling digital collages are enhanced by saturated browns and greens along the trail, her focus on textures (dripping stalactites to moss-covered stones), and the cool hiking outfits on Mr. Tate’s multicultural explorers. The author’s endnote, “Why rocks rock…,” adds information and suggests further geological topics to introduce. Kids who love field trips can join the class again in Formento and Snow’s environmental series including This Tree Counts! (1010), These Bees Count! (2012), and These Seas Count! (2013). Reviewer: Barbara L. Talcroft (Children’s Literature).
- Elementary Schools
- 50 minutes of high-energy, fun and fact-filled interactive presentations including research and writing inspirations, as well as tree, bee, sea, and rock information to support nature, science, and environmental education. Alison’s multi-award-winning picture book books support current core standards for writing, math, and science curriculum, and encourage critical thinking skills through research and writing. Her picture books are sometimes labeled in libraries as “literary non-fiction” as her stories are filled with non-fiction elements about the nature subjects she have thoroughly researched and included within a fictional story structure.
- Middle & High Schools
- 50 minutes-1 hour interactive, in-depth author presentations sharing Alison’s personal research, writing, revision techniques, and the hands-on submission and editing process for publishing magazines articles, picture books, and novels. This type of visit to upper grade students is often paired with a Writing Seeds Workshop (see below).
- Writing Seeds Workshops
- 45 minutes-1 hour writing workshops for 3rd grade through high school-aged students, and/or for teachers’ workshops or writing conferences. A writing workshop to help plant creative ideas through research tips, as well as character and plotting exercises to develop story seeds to grow stories, essays, or poetry. She shares writing techniques she uses in writing her books and in my research as a freelance journalist for publications such as The New York Times, Parenting, The Writer.
- Educator Writing Seeds Workshops
- Teacher and/or librarian workshops utilizing my Writing Seeds prompts and research skills and nature-based prompts to use in the classroom to help “grow” creative writing skills.
Fees: 3 presentations & 1 Writing Seeds Workshop OR 4 presentations
Full day visit in NY/CT/NJ $800
Out of Tri-State Area: $1,000 plus travel
Discounted rate: $200 per school if two or more schools in same area schedule consecutive visits
To learn more about Alison Formento and her publications please visit www.alisonashleyformento.com.