Ana Maria Rodriguez is a scientist who became a writer. Her books and magazine articles are about a variety of nonfiction topics from how fingers happen in a baby to how extreme animals survive in extreme environments.
Her writing and talks are educational as well as entertaining as she combines facts with anecdotes, the latest science and technology finds, and humor, while complementing the school curriculum at the same time.
Ana Maria writes and speaks about sciences, nature, health and diseases, history, life in Spanish-speaking countries and other nonfiction subjects in English and Spanish for children and adults in an interactive way. Ana Maria has published over 85 articles in children and adult magazines like Highlights for Children, Yes Mag, SuperScience, KNOW, and Current Health 1.
She has 20 children books published, 3 of them have been selected for the Best Books List of Science Books & Films: “Edward Jenner Conqueror of Smallpox”( 2006), “A Day in the Life of the Brain” (2007), and “Autism Spectrum Disorders,” (2011).
Two of her books have received an Honor Award from School Librarians International, one in 2008 (“Secret of the sleepless whales and more”) and in 2009 (“Secret of the puking penguins and more”). Ana Maria is the recipient of the Highlights for Children History Feature of the Year Award 2000 for her article “The kids who fought smallpox.”
Leatherback Turtles, Giant Squids, and Other Mysterious Animals of the Deepest Seas
Ana Maria Rodriguez
Probably from the first time a person peered over the side of a crude boat, humankind has been fascinated with the deep oceans. What’s down there? How far down is the bottom? What all lives down there? Certainly, Jules Verne focused on this question with his imaginative Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, published in 1869. History was definitely made in 1930 by William Beebe and Otis Barton when they explored in depths of over a thousand feet in a steel submersible bathysphere. But it seems that the more scientists know, the more they want to know and the deeper they want to explore. This book, part of the “Extreme Animals in Extreme Conditions” series, discusses the conditions and challenges of deep water life, animals that make deep habitats their home and ocean dwellers that may visit. What are temperatures like? How far down can sunlight go? How does sound travel in water? One especially intriguing question is where does the water come from? The book is stuffed with information about living under extreme conditions: predator-prey interaction, dealing with frigid temperatures, and water pressure. It also introduces the young reader to new vocabulary words: endotherms (animals that make their own heat), benthos organisms (animals living on the sea floor), nektons (animals that swim powerfully enough to overcome water currents) and so on. Especially interesting is the feature about leatherback sea turtles, the largest sea turtle, which can dive deeper than any other. The book includes a hands-on activity, chapter notes, glossary, book list, internet sites and index 2012, Enslow Publishers, $23.93. Ages 8 to 16. Reviewer: Judy Crowder (Children’s Literature).
Autism Spectrum Disorders
Ana Maria Rodriguez
The number of children being diagnosed with autism is on the rise. It is a condition that cuts across socioeconomic, race and gender lines (although many more boys than girls are diagnosed with autism). The diagnosis touches many families and communities and so contact with children on the spectrum is predictable. In fact, April is Autism Awareness Month. This book helps readers understand how the autistic brain works and what day to day life is like for those affected. The text offers a blend of scientific research, anecdotal stories, and recent news articles to provide insight into this complicated condition. For readers with a sibling or extended family member on the spectrum, the book offers an overview to help understand the unique challenges faced by autistic children. Although there is no “cure” for the condition, there is hope that research, therapies and specific medicines will help many children on the spectrum lead functional lives. Case studies of individuals with the disorder are provided, some with full-color photos. For example, the text includes an inspirational USA TODAY article featuring Clay Marzo, a 20-year-old surfing champion with Asperger’s Syndrome. Full color photos enhance the accessible text. This title, which contains much useful information, is one in the publisher’s “USA TODAY Health Reports: Diseases and Disorders” series. It includes a glossary, an index, and places to go for further information. 2011, Twenty-First Century Books/Lerner Publishing Group, $34.60. Ages 12 up. Reviewer: Jeanne K. Pettenati, J.D. (Children’s Literature).
Secret of the Sleepless Whales–and More!
Ana Maria Rodriguez
Do animals have secrets? According to this lively book, aquatic creatures do some amazing things. What are their secrets? This book, part of the “Animal Secrets Reveals” series, explains many phenomena that we humans just don’t get. According to calculations, dolphins shouldn’t have enough air to dive to tremendous depths. But they do dive to depths of 200 meters. Baby orcas and dolphins swim constantly after birth. Don’t they need sleep like other mammal babies? Of course, and careful scientific observation reveals that the calves sleep with half their brain, even keeping one eye open while they swim around their mothers. Young readers can read about these and other animal secrets, such as the “bubble trick” used by Wendell seals to catch their favorite fish and the dolphin’s use of a piece of sea sponge from the ocean floor to help it hunt food while avoiding stinging prey. Illustrations are plentiful, and the author is careful to name the relevant scientists and explain how they learned the animals’ behavior secrets. The book includes chapter notes, a list of books and Internet sites for further reading, as well as a glossary and an index. 2009, Enslow Publishers, $23.93. Ages 10 to 16. Reviewer: Judy Crowder (Children’s Literature).
WHY THE LION HAS A MANE? Is it for protection or to convey a message?
The lion is the King of the Jungle, and it is the only wild cat that has a mane and lives in groups. This 45-minute-long talk shows why the lion has a mane. It is presented as a story of how the scientists that studied the lions solved the long-asked question of the purpose of the mane. Ana’s talk includes a slide show showing photos of the scientists working in the field as well as the toy lions interaction with real African lions. Lions are at the top of the food chain so this talk would fit nicely when this topic is discussed in class. Grades 1-5.
SCIENCE OF THE DEEP: DIVING WITH DOLPHINS. How aquatic mammals dive to amazing depths no human can challenge
This 1-hour-long talk presents a variety of aquatic mammals well-known for diving deep into the ocean. Supported by color slides, this presentation shows students why aquatic mammals are capable of diving so deep, and why humans cannot. During the talk, students learn about the physics behind deep diving with examples they can relate to and a hands-on activity at the end clearly and simply shows what happens to lungs when creatures dive beyond certain depths. Grades 4 up.
THE AUTISTIC MIND. Informative talk about autism and Asperger syndrome: diagnosis, treatments, causes and how to live positively with people affected
One of the few and the newest up-to-date book about autism and Asperger syndrome written specifically for teens. The purpose of this 1-hour-long talk is to present current information about the syndromes, separating fact from fiction or myths that have grown around them. Ana find’s this talk very useful today because more individuals with the syndromes attend main stream schools and both students and teachers have to interact with them, many times with very little information about what to expect and how to respond. After this talk, students and teachers will have a different perspective and will have in hand tools that allow them to relate to people affected in a more positive way. She wrote a chapter about ‘living with siblings with autism or Asperger syndrome,’ designed to give teens ideas on how to live with brothers or sisters that have one of the syndromes. Her talk includes interesting aspects of the history of these syndromes, up-to-date causes, diagnosis, treatments and suport organizations. Grades 8 up.
DID YOU KNOW THAT…? How to write about science and nature in a way everybody can understand
During this 1-hour-long presentation, students will read aloud at least one of Ana’s short articles about nature, science, history or cultures. Then the students will prepare to write their own version like if they were going to tell their friends about it. They will go over questions such as what was the article about? What did the scientist or historian do? Why was this topic intriguing or interesting to the student (or why wasn’t it)? If they could choose any form of illustration, how would the student illustrate the article? This activity complements school curriculum for science, social studies and history covering both topics discussed in class and writing. Grades 5 up.
HOW A SCIENTIST BECOMES A WRITER. The evolution of my career from scientist to published author
In this 1-hour-long presentation students will get first-hand information about how a career may evolve. Ana will talk about what motivated her to become a scientist and what courses she took and the experiences (funny and serious) she went through during her studies and later when she worked as a research scientist at university laboratories. She will continue with her evolution toward becoming a writer, why and how she turned into a published author. This talk could be part of career week at your school or part of courses designed to provide future college students with real examples of what a college career implies and all the doors it opens. Grades 5 up.
To learn more about Ana Maria Rodriguez and her publications please visit www.anamariarodriguez.com.