Amy S. Hansen is an award-winning author who writes science books for young readers. Her research can take some interesting turns, because to write about the science principles behind technology, Amy must really understand how things work. For one of her most recent books, she dismantled an old phone, a tape recorder, and a VCR so she could see and understand the mechanics before describing them. She also hounded her experts and read lots of information to make sure that she got her facts straight—as Amy says—“that is another story.”

   Good non-fiction has its own story and pace. It’s not just a collection of numbers or facts. Good non-fiction paints a picture, provides cool information, and invites readers to be detectives in their own world.

Selected Reviews of Amy’s Books

Bugs and Bugsicles: Insects in the Winter
Amy S. Hansen
Illustrated by Robert C. Kray
      Did you ever wonder what happens to insects during the winter months? Amy S. Hansen couples with Robert C. Kray in this enthralling and informative picture book to explain the frosty fate of numerous well known insects. A praying mantis and field cricket instinctively seek out the perfect place to lay their eggs because these adult insects will not make it through the winter. A dragonfly nymph burrows deep into the mud at the bottom of a stream, breathing through his gills and feeding on tadpoles, worms, and small fish. Ladybugs and honeybees cooperate by huddling together in a cluster for warmth. And perhaps having the most impressive adaptation of all, Monarch butterflies travel southward all the way to Mexico, laying eggs on the journey home. Each insect is illustrated with breathtaking detail; the manuscript could be incorporated in any elementary classroom. This would be a perfect book to read with children in the autumn months when insects are beginning to “disappear.” 2010, Boyds Mills Press, $11.95. Ages 4 to 8. Reviewer: Jennifer Keeney (Children’s Literature).

Time for Learning: How Things Work
Amy S. Hansen
   This is the book for any child (or grown-up) who has ever asked, “How does it do that?” Race cars and MP3s, cell phones and traffic signals, roller coasters and bridges: It’s all here with full-color photographs; screens that pull out, push in, and twirl; diagrams and cross sections, all in a spiral-bound book so the pages lie completely flat. It is not as comprehensive or as thorough as an encyclopedia but it is much more interesting to read. The writing is lively, clear, and often very visual. “So you want to know how your refrigerator operates, do you? Go on, open it up…. NO, wait!” Open the cardboard flaps on the refrigerator in the book instead. “No tools, no messy parts, no angry parents.” The author encourages young readers to nurture their own inventive spirits and acknowledges a ten-year-old girl who is the youngest female ever to receive a U.S. patent. There are often pictures making the connection between an invention and nature–for example, a maple tree seed pod next to a helicopter, an eagle next to an airplane. Interesting factoids are sprinkled throughout the text–“Recycling one soda can saves enough energy to run your television for three hours!” (printed on a tiny soda can that can be pulled out of a recycling box). Because of the many moving and even loose parts, this book will need to be handled with care, but it would be a popular pick in the classroom, library, or family bookshelf. For families, How Things Work will appeal to a wide age range, with the youngest children pushing and pulling all the moving parts. 2006, Publications International, $14.98 Ages 6 up. Reviewer: Karen Leggett (Children’s Literature).

Wild Animals
Amy S. Hansen
Illustrated by William Fraccaro
      Hansen has devised an exciting format for learning about the subject of wild animals, typically children’s favorite topic! Well-researched, this book presents wild animals in five settings: the treeless tundra, furry forests, great grasslands, dry deserts, and the world of water. Author Amy Hansen begins by stating that “this book is fun to read!”–and it is! Amy strives to make unique animals come alive to children. The text may be a bit difficult for younger children, but the illustrations will make it appealing. After all, it has photos, drawings, inserts of pop-up books, mini-books, charts, tabs, and picture dials. Each is designed to involve the reader as a participant. Illustrations are captioned and labeled. The text includes phonetic pronunciations for difficult terms, and definitions are written in italics. The text speaks to the reader as a real participant in the adventure of discovering wild animals. For example, one passage reads: “Next time you walk near a lake, river, pond, or stream, take a look into the water.” A wonderful addition to an elementary library collection or someone’s home book shelf, this book makes the animal kingdom come to life. It is the first in the “My First Time for Learning” series, designed to involve children as active readers. 2007, Publications International, $12.98. Ages 5 to 10. Reviewer: Theresa Finch (Children’s Literature)

Program Details

Take Apart Parties: A Hands-On Investigation of How Things Work. Students work in groups, use screwdrivers to take apart broken appliances. The inner workings of the appliances are compared with the writing in the book. So students might take apart a clock radio and find the speaker, then they would read about speakers and learn what the magnet does. With 15-20 minutes of hands-on work, Amy then uses their work to focus the more traditional Author visit, of reading from the book, describing the publishing process, and the non-fiction research.

  • Number of Sessions in a Day: 3
  • Target Grade(s) 4-8
  • Maximum Number of Students in each Session 35
  • Length of Presentation: 40-50 minutes
  • Cost(s) $150 for single $250 for back-to-back sessions
  • Travel and Lodging Costs to be covered if the presentation is outside the Washington Metropolitan area

The Writing Process: Going From the Idea to a Published Work. A variation on the question of “Where do you get your ideas?” This presentation takes one of Amy’s published works–books and magazine articles, and follows the process starting from the original question. Students are asked to bring paper and pens and write down their ideas and then first approaches. Amy then shows first drafts, second, third, and published work. While this presentation works with many ages, the published material being used will vary depending on the age of the students involved.

  • Number of Sessions in a Day: 3
  • Target Grade(s) K-8
  • Maximum Number of Students in each Session: Small group 30; Larger group up to 90
  • Length of Presentation: 40-50 minutes
  • Cost(s) Small group $150 for single $250 for back-to-back sessions. Larger group $200 single; $275 back-to-back session.

Telling Stories: Nonfiction versus Fiction. For young students, this presentation looks at the difference between fiction and non-fiction. Amy asks them to find similarities in the story structure. Where are the problems? Where is the challenge? Who is the protagonist, or mover in the story? And how will the protagonist meet the challenge? For older kids, the students are asked to write the challenges, a fiction work, or used prepared research to write a non-fiction story.

  • Number of Sessions in a Day: 3
  • Target Grade(s) K-8
  • Maximum Number of Students in each Session Small group 30; Larger group up to 90
  • Length of Presentation: 40-50 minutes
  • Cost(s) Small group $150 for single $250 for back-to-back sessions. Larger group $200 single; $275 back-to-back session.

Dinosaurs, Whales and Bugs, Oh My. Hands-on science and writing for young ones. Early elementary students will hear Amy read her age-appropriate science articles and books, including stories about dinosaurs, whales and bugs, and then assist the class in doing hands-on experiments to explore more. Up to three experiments and three articles and time for questions, but if the kids are fascinated, we won’t push through.

  • Number of Sessions in a Day: 4
  • Target Grade(s) Pre-K to 2
  • Maximum Number of Students in each Session 30
  • Length of Presentation: 40-50 minutes
  • Cost(s) $150 for single $250 for back-to-back sessions
  • Travel and Lodging Costs to be covered if the presentation is outside the Washington Metropolitan area

Additional Information

To learn more about Amy and her publications please visit www.amyshansen.com.