Terry Catasús Jennings

   Terry, a freelance writer from Reston, Virginia, is the author of Gopher to the Rescue: A Volcano Recovery Story, (Sylvan Dell, 2012). The book, named Outstanding Science Tradebook for Students K-12 by the National Science Teachers’ Association and the Children’s Book Council, is based on the recovery of the ecosystem after the dramatic eruption of Mount St. Helens volcano in May 1980. Her second book, The Women’s Liberation Movement, 1960-1990, was released in November, 2012. Terry is also a contributing writer for the Science and Technology for Children and Science and Technology Concepts for Middle Schools series, books published by the National Science Resource Center, a consortium of the Smithsonian Institution and the National Academies. Her work has appeared in the Washington Post, Long Island Newsday, Ranger Rick, and other publications. She wrote a family humor column for her local newspaper, the Reston Connection, for four years.

   While her children were in school, Terry was a very active volunteer–a Girl Scout leader for twelve years, and the cultural arts chair for her children’s elementary school. As cultural arts chair, she instituted a program to bring writers and artists to the school for every grade level.

   Terry now presents her own engaging and interactive programs for elementary school students focused on volcanoes, the recovery of ecosystems after a natural disaster and the surprising role gophers played in Mount St. Helens’ healing. As a nonfiction writer, Terry has developed a program for fourth through sixth graders featuring her research and writing process and emphasizing use of the five paragraph essay structure. Her favorite part of an author visit is having lunch with a small group of students and trading stories about writing and reading.

Selected Reviews of Terry Catasús Jennings’s Books

Gopher to the Rescue
Terry Catasús Jennings
Illustrated by Laurie O’Keefe
   By all appearances, the gopher is capable of saving the earth after a disaster-at least after a natural disaster like the eruption of a volcano such as Mount St. Helens. Following a volcanic eruption, most of the animals and plant life are lost, while most bugs and underground animals survive. Over time, the plant life returns; animals begin returning after decades. Throughout, the gopher is seen as burrowing in his tunnel and surviving underground. Where this is a bit inaccurate is that gophers only live an average of 4 years, although some live as long as 7 years. The illustrations in this book make it appear that this particular gopher has been burrowing in this particular spot over decades, providing aid to the regrowth of vegetation and others who can find sanctuary in his burrow. The life-like, yet colorful illustrations of dead animals may be disturbing to younger readers. Presented in large, easy-to-read black type, the four “For Creative Minds” learning activity pages at the back of the book contain materials that are above the reading and interest level of the book’s younger readers. The materials are useful in a classroom setting, with discussion and follow-up, rather than at home for individual reading. 2012, Sylvan Dell Publishing, Ages 4 to 9, $9.95. Reviewer: Debra Lampert-Rudman (Children’s Literature).

Finding a Voice: Women’s Fight for Equality in U.S. Society: The Women’s Liberation Movement, 1960-1990
Terry Catasús Jennings
   The value of remembering the names and faces of women who fought for their modern day equality is at the very core of this book. In the 1960s when the American culture’s status quo pegged a woman’s “place” strictly in her home, women began to remember the past. They remembered women like Lucy Burns and Alice Paul who risked their lives to fight for the right to vote. The hardships of unequal pay in the workplace and inequality in employment became a challenge to women who decided to stand up like the women who had gone before them to fight for legislation in a nation which guarantees equality to all citizens. They won on many fronts. The work of Betty Friedan through her penning “The Feminine Mystique” is detailed for the reader and an excellent resource for the researcher. The efforts and names of numerous women during these thirty years of pivotal change for females are recorded here. The seven chapters are well-organized with interesting Fast Facts and sidebars that keep the reader’s attention. A timeline, complete index, glossary, suggested reading for young and older readers, and internet resources for further research are all included at the back of the book. This is one of nine books in the series entitled “Finding A Voice: Women’s Fight For Equality in U.S. Society.” 2012, Mason Crest/National Highlights, $22.95. Ages 12 up. Reviewer: Krisan Murphy (Children’s Literature).

Program Details

Heroes Can Come in Small Packages: (Grades K-3) Based on the recovery of Mount St. Helens after the devastating volcano of May, 1980, this is an interactive presentation where students learn about the recovery of an ecosystem after a natural disaster. In addition to highlighting the needs of each part of an ecosystem to be able to return to normal, the emphasis of this presentation is on gophers and their surprising role in the mountain’s recovery. (45 minutes)

Gopher to the Rescue, A Volcano Recovery Story: (Grades 4-6) As above, but in addition to highlighting the needs of each part of an ecosystem to be able to return to normal, the emphasis of this presentation is on the geology of volcanoes and plate tectonics. (45 minutes)

The Making of Gopher to the Rescue: (Grades K-6) The presentation features the authors journey from idea to publication,including research, interviews with scientists at the scene, review by experts, marrying the text with the illustrators pictures, working with the editor, further review by experts and reviewing the galley. The author adapts this presentation to the audience. (45 minutes)

The Author and the Five Paragraph Essay: (Grades 4-6) Being a nonfiction writer allows the author to parallel her research and writing methods to the students’ experience in writing papers and assignments. Using the analogy of constructing a building, the author stresses the five paragraph structure as well as touching on research. The students begin the process of “constructing” an essay describing a three story doggie spa. (45 minutes)

Women’s History: (Grades 6-12) Based on the author’s latest book, Women’s Liberation, 1960-1990, (Mason Crest, November 2012) this interactive presentation highlights the struggle for women’s rights and stresses the danger of attributing good or bad qualities to any group whether the group be based on gender, ethnicity, religion or any manner which will result in discrimination. (45 minutes)

Fees: $150 per session plus expenses. $400 for a full day (4 sessions plus lunch with students/teachers) plus expenses.

Additional Information

To learn more about Terry Catasús Jennings and her publications please visit www.kcswildfacts.com.