Linda Tagliaferro is an award-winning writer and artist whose 43 nonfiction books for children, young adults, and adults have entertained and educated her readers. Her books cover a wide range of animals, plants, ecosystems and biographies. From a series on animals and their babies as well as to a series about animals and their homes, Linda’s books make it easy for even the youngest children to understand the world of nature around us.
Her books for older children include a biography of inventor Thomas Edison and an A&E Biography Book about martial arts legend Bruce Lee.
Her hands-on approach to school talks has earned her the praise of teachers who describe her visits as “an adventure and a very meaningful learning experience” with “activities that were integrated throughout the curriculum.” She has spoken at schools, libraries, and science museums and has been interviewed on television and radio shows.
Using her background as an artist, Linda helps younger children learn how to draw animals while learning about the science behind these subjects. With older children, she can set up interactive debates about the pros and cons of the new genetic technologies, or introduce students to the ecological challenges and fascinating animals in the Galapagos Islands, discuss the geography and cultural heritage of Puerto Rico, and more.
Linda was born in Brooklyn, but has lived in four of the five boroughs of New York City. She has traveled extensively and contributed to books published by National Geographic. She has lived in Denmark, Italy and Indonesia.
Linda started out as an artist, but branched out into writing 20 years ago. She was a freelance writer for The New York Times for 9 years and she currently writes a website for About.com on the topic of Long Island, New York.
How Many Fish in the Sea?: A Book about Oceans
What’s the deal with the words “ocean” and “sea”? When we view the ocean, we only see a huge expanse of blue water; what’s underneath? What could the sea floor be like? What could possibly live in the salty water, and how can humans find out since they can’t breathe underwater? What is a coral reef? Tagliaferro offers very young readers a fine introduction to the oceans in this book, part of the “First Facts” series. Using colorful photo illustrations and simple text, the book touches on what a sea is. It includes a simple science experiment for determining the density of salt water verses fresh water. It explains wave action, as well as how deep the oceans are, and it identifies the various zones, based on amounts of sunlight. The book features the geography of the ocean floor, plants and animals that live there, and how humans study the oceans. Scattered throughout the book are boxed “did you know?” factoids, such as that, in 2006, scientists found twenty-four new kinds of fish swimming near Indonesia, including a shark that “walks” with its fins. This is a good introduction to the oceans, with a simple glossary, bibliography, age-appropriate internet sites and index. 2007, Capstone Press, $23.93. Ages 6 to 10. Reviewer: Judy Crowder (Children’s Literature).
Explore the Tundra
With controlled vocabulary and short, simple sentences, this “Explore the Biomes” series is intended to engage the interest of middle readers with below-expectation reading levels and help them access information about varied ecological communities called “biomes.” Each book contains five or six short chapters defining the biome, introducing native plants and animals, exploring the role of humans in that ecology, and then offering a “field guide” (quick facts) and a profile of a scientist who works in one of the biomes being studied. Following this formula, the authors have managed to make the brief text as lively as possible; color photos are generally well selected and of much greater interest than is usual in a series from this publisher. Readers will be able to identify tundra areas on a world map and learn about plants like arctic poppies, mosses, and lichens. Another chapter introduces tundra animals; for example, the gray wolf, the caribou, the arctic fox, and the prolific mosquito. Stressing conservation, the chapter on people (including the Inuit) explains the fragility of the tundra, as global warming threatens and humans drill for oil. Especially striking are photos of an almost invisible white ptarmigan against snow and a close-up of bright red-orange cloudberries. Readers will meet ecologist Wendy Eisner, a scientist who studies frozen pollen to predict change in the tundra. These visually attractive books present biome overviews that should be colorful and appealing enough to inspire further research. Each title contains a glossary, a short bibliography, and an index. 2007, Capstone, $22.60. Ages 7 to 10. Reviewer: Barbara L. Talcroft (Children’s Literature).
The Life Cycle of an Apple Tree
Every year my class does a unit on life cycles, and I can’t wait to use this book with my younger students in a whole-group setting. It is outstanding because of its dramatic photography that accompanies each stage in the apple tree’s life cycle and repetitious large vocabulary. The photography is up-close, and children will easily see what the text is explaining. The book has eye-catching large photographs on each page as it concisely goes through the apple tree’s life cycle. There also is a two-page photographic layout of the apple tree’s life cycle. The book includes a glossary of science-specific vocabulary, a list of other recently published books about apple trees for more reading, and an index. In addition to the striking photography in the book, I also appreciated the internet resources provided by FactHound. Teachers can locate websites and other books about the particular topic by grade levels. The book is for pre-K through grade 2 and has a reading level of first Grade. Accelerated Reader quizzes will be available in the spring of 2007. The reinforced library binding is another plus. This is a common content area, recommended by the National Science Education Standards, and so teachers will be able to use this outstanding book for years to come. Grades K-2. 2007, Capstone Press, 24p, $19.93. Ages 5 to 8. Reviewer: Kimberly Elpers (National Science Teachers Association (NSTA)).
POLAR BEARS ARE COOL ANIMALS – For ages 6 and up. (1 hour) Interactive talk on polar bears, based on her book about these fascinating animals. She discusses interesting facts about polar bears, and then uses her background as an artist to teach the kids a foolproof method for drawing a picture of a polar bear’s head–using basic shapes like circles and ovals. Children are thrilled to learn how to draw well in a short time. Depending on the time frame, Linda can also help the children write poems about polar bears and help them to illustrate their creations. (This program can be done in two visits: one for art and facts about polar bears, a second one for writing about polar bears.)
THE BUZZ ABOUT BEES – For ages 6 and up.
What makes bees so special? What can beehives teach us about geometry? What would happen if bees didn’t pollinate our crops? Students learn the answers to these questions and more as Linda discusses these fascinating creatures which she wrote about in Bees and Their Hives.
WRITE NOW! – For ages 5 and up. (1 hour) Through a series of engaging, interactive exercises, Linda shows children how to have fun writing their own stories. (Younger children and those not skilled in writing will brainstorm aloud.)
WRITE AND ILLUSTRATE YOUR OWN BOOK – For ages 6 and up. (1 hour) Using group brainstorming techniques like “mind mapping,” Linda helps the children come up with a concept for a book. Each child writes a paragraph of the story and illustrates this. When they finish writing and illustrating, she collects the pages and have them spiral bound so the library will have a student book to display. (This program can be done in two visits for more thorough learning.)
HOW IS A BOOK MADE? – For ages 6 and up. (1 hour) Linda discusses the process of writing a book from start to finish. How many people work on her books? What is the role of an editor? Who does the illustrations or photographs?
SECRETS OF SUCCESSFUL SPEAKING – For ages 10 and up. (1 hour) Communication skills are a must in today’s society. In this interactive workshop, Linda teaches children how to write and present successful speeches. Among the topics included are: how to get over a fear of public speaking, the three secrets of writing an engaging speech, body language, vocal variety, proper breathing, writing entertaining openings and conclusions, and much more. (Can be presented as a four-week series of one hour/week.)
GENETIC ENGINEERING – For ages 10 and above. (1 hour) Linda talks about genetic engineering, based on her book, “Genetic Engineering: Progress or Peril?” She explains, in an easy-to-follow way, the basics of DNA and how genes are taken from one animal or plant, and put into another. Then they discuss how the children feel about these issues. Do they think it’s OK to put genes from a fish into a tomato? (This has actually been done.) Do they think it’s fair to put genes into animals and then use them to make human substances? In an entertaining way, children learn how to develop critical thinking skills.
To learn more about Linda Tagliaferro and her publications please visit www.lindatagliaferro.com.