Alexandra Siy lives in New York in a cottage in the woods where she writes books and takes pictures. Over the years she has traveled widely and lived in several states including Alaska, where she was attacked by mosquitoes (revenge for my book, Mosquito Bite, no doubt). She loves to visit schools and libraries to talk about writing, science, photography, bicycling, and extremely long road trips. Her presentation is an interactive program that uses images from her books to inspire students to think creatively. The process of forming analogies is a key skill used by writers-one that is introduced and practiced by students during her presentation. Students make connections between art, science, and writing, while working through the same process she uses in her creative nonfiction work.
Her presentation is stuitable for large audiences, although she can work with smaller groups using a workshop format. She tailors her program to grade level (usually she works with student in grades 1-8, and often works closely with teachers to address specific standards or focus on particular themes. She also loves to visit Kindergarten to read her picture book One Tractor-this story time is often worked into her author visit schedule.
Her books have earned many honors and awards, including an Orbis Pictus Honor, NSTA Outstanding Science Trade Book awards, and the American Institute of Physics Science Writing Award.
Writing takes Alexandra to other worlds, most recently Mars, where she gets to know fascinating characters, such as robotic geologists and outlaw bugs (her next book is called Bug Shots). Her goal is to inspire each student to join her on the exciting path to becoming a writer-a journey available to all.
Cars on Mars: Roving the Red Planet
In 2003, two rovers were sent to the planet Mars, which was the closest to Earth that it had been in 60,000 years. In this readable and fascinating account, anyone with an interest in science and space will learn about the actual development of the rovers, their launch, the experiments they have performed, and what we have learned to date about this nearby planet. Full color pictures, artists’ drawings, and black and white imagery from the rovers bring this amazing story to life. A day on Mars is called a sol, and it is just thirty nine minutes longer than a day on Earth. Was there ever running water on Mars, and is there still water hidden on this planet? Scientists have learned so much about the rocks and what has created their various layers; all of which suggest that there were cycles of wet and dry conditions on the planet. Scientists have concluded that between 3.5 and 4 billion years ago, there was underground water at Meridiani Planum on Mars, and no one has ruled out the possibility that life once existed. Originally designed to last three months and to determine if any life existed or exists on Mars, these little engines that could are still working. That means they have been at their job for nine years. They have new software, but the mechanical parts are suffering from wear and tear–no one knows how long they will keep exploring, but each sol that they are there, new information increases our knowledge about this amazing planet. Kids who want to see what the rovers are currently doing can visit http://marsrovers.nasa.gov/home/index.html where they will find even more information. In addition, the back of the book contains references to other websites, a glossary, and selected bibliography. This is a book that will fascinate the arm chair space traveler and pique the interest of budding space scientists. 2009, Charlesbridge, $18.95. Ages 10 up. Reviewer: Marilyn Courtot (Children’s Literature).
One Tractor: A Counting Book
This counting book by Jacqueline Siy doubles as a fun-filled tribute to imaginative play. While contemplating his one toy tractor, a little boy notices two mouse-piloted planes and three small pirate ships. Soon the boy and his tiny new companions are hard at work building a town in the sandbox and adding six city buses and seven fire trucks to it. The book ends with a surprise, though, when the boy sends his small buddies on their way. The last double-page spread reveals the boy asleep on the grass and surrounded by the toys he dreamed of. Little ones will love lingering over the details–busy machines, scooter-riding buccaneers–in the watercolors by Jacqueline Rogers. 2008, Holiday House, $16.95. Ages 3 to 6. Reviewer: Mary Quattlebaum (Children’s Literature).
Sneezes–some can be heard across a room while others are more discreet. Sometimes people just have a single sneeze while with others it is a series of sneezes. What causes them, what actually happens in your body, and what is propelled out of the body are some of the fascinating bits of information in this book. There is also a lot of the gross factor which will appeal to many kids. For example, the speed of air expelled as the result of a sneeze is about 100 miles an hour, and the spray can cover an area of about five feet. The mites, viruses and allergens that can cause sneezes are truly incredible looking and seem like your worst ideas of an alien invasion, and in a way that is what they are–alien invaders into the body that are being expelled. While we cannot see with unaided eyes what is happening in our bodies, the grains of pollen, the dust mites and their fecal pellets, mold spores and the like, the pictures in this book, called electron micrographs, are able to give us a view because they were created with either a scanning electron microscope or a transmission electron microscope. Each page identifies the magnification associated with the image, and they range from a magnification of several hundred to several thousand times the original size. In spite of their alien nature, there is a beauty in many of these images, such as the picture of the inner surface of the windpipe and the cilia that line it. It leads to a better understanding of how our bodies work and an appreciation for just how complex they are. The back matter includes a collection of interesting facts and the frames from the first copyrighted motion picture of a sneeze which was made by Thomas Edison. In addition, there is a description of micrographs, a glossary, and list of resources which are mostly web sites. A book that should be picked up by most third-grade boys and anyone else interested in the subject. 2007, Charlesbridge, $6.95. Ages 8 up.
Reviewer: Marilyn Courtot (Children’s Literature).
Sample Programs: (50 minutes-1 hour; 30 minutes for Kindergarten)
From Inner Place to Outer Space: The Art-Science Connection in Words and Images (grades 1 and up) Combining images and words from several of her books that explore both the microscopic world and outer space, students will view fabulous photographs while learning about the writing process, from inspiration to publication.
Road Trip Mars! (grades 2 and up) Students will look at photographs taken on the surface of Mars while learning about the writing process.
Rhyme and Reason: Math Concepts in Rhyme and Story (grades PreK-2) One Tractor: A Counting Book, is the inspiration for this lively program for the youngest students. While listening to the story and seeing the pictures, students will discover there are more than just pirates, tractors, and trucks to keep track of in this imaginative book of numbers and word opposites.
Magnify! Exploring Hidden Worlds (grades 2 and up) Explores the science-art connection through books Mosquito Bite and Sneeze. A great program to inspire students working on science fair projects, it also addresses upper elementary and middle school science standards.
Fee: Inquire about fee reductions for multiple days or more than one visit in a district over 2 or more days
- $1,400 per day plus travel expenses for visits requiring air/train travel
- $1,200 per day plus travel expenses for visits requiring a 75-mile to 150-mile drive
- $1,000 per day for schools 75-miles or less from Albany, NY
To learn more about Alexandra Siy and her publications please visit www.alexandrasiy.com.