Wendy Pfeffer, the award winning author of many children’s books, has also written Writing Children’s Books: Getting Started, for adults. She has written more than twenty-four books. Most of them are about science and nature. She gets many of her ideas by looking and listening.
She has taught elementary school, directed a nursery school and led adult classes in writing. She especially enjoys visiting schools, teaching writing workshops and leading interactive presentations with children on creative writing. “Writing,” she says, “is a challenge and a joy.”
In her presentations she shows author manuscripts, galleys, an illustrator’s dummy, press sheets and the publisher’s F & Gs (folded and gathered).
Wendy lives in Pennington, New Jersey with her husband Tom.
Life in a Coral Reef
Illustrated by Steve Jenkins
Pfeffer and Jenkins study of the formation and life of a coral reef is a fine example of how highly engaging informational picture books can be. On each page, Pfeffer’s text offers a short paragraph of information about different kinds of coral or about other forms of marine life that live on the reef. She chooses forms that are sure to fascinate, such as the puffer fish or the flashlight fish. Her prose is clear and written at a level accessible to developing readers. But it is Steve Jenkins’ illustrations that bring the science content to life. Even struggling readers will be able to extract a great deal of solid information by studying them. Jenkins uses his signature collages that depict the creatures in a highly naturalistic style. Yet they do include whimsical touches, such as the bits of print that show the camouflage used by the decorator crab. This is an excellent and inexpensive addition for home and classroom libraries. “Let’s Read and Find Out Science: Stage 2.” 2009, HarperCollins, $5.95. Ages 5 to 9. Reviewer: Mary Hynes-Berry (Children’s Literature).
From Seed to Pumpkin
Illustrated by James Graham Hale
Pumpkins always make me think of Halloween and Thanksgiving. One for the jack-o’-lanterns and two for the delicious pies. Pfeffer takes kids through the cycle of how the bright orange vegetable comes to be. It all starts in the spring when the farmer plants the seeds. The water and nutrients in the soil help the plant that tiny sprouts from the seeds grow bigger and push their way up out of the soil. The roots draw up the water while the leaves make food for the plant using energy from the sun air and water. Pumpkins hug the ground and the vines spread like a carpet. Then bright orange flowers appear. After pollination the fruit begins to grow and by fall pumpkins have gone from green to yellow to orange. Then they are harvested and used for decoration and as a food source. Even the seeds make a tasty treat. At the end of the book there is more information, a recipe and an experiment. The growth process is clearly described and depicted and will make a nice adjunct to a beginning science collection and also a perfect book for the fall. A Level 1 book in the “Let’s-Read-And-Find-Out Science” series. 2004, Harper Collins, $15.99, Ages 3 to 6. Reviewer: Marilyn Courtot (Children’s Literature).
We Gather Together: Celebrating The Harvest Season
Illustrated by Linda Bleck
Around the world, harvest time is celebrated with a variety of communal meals and rituals. Using these times of gathering, the author gives a concise look at the seasonal changes caused by the Earth’s tilting on its axis. Intended for young readers/listeners, this explanation of the vernal equinox, autumnal equinox, spring solstice, and winter solstice is very child friendly and could be useful to those who have not been exposed to this science concept. The colorful folk-art style illustrations are simplified but clear and enhance the text as it gives the roots for a variety of harvest celebrations; while providing an easily understood visual of the relationship of the Earth and sun during different phases of the Earth’s rotation and tilting on its own axis. Starting with how animals prepare for the winter during the autumnal season, readers are given a swift history of the development of agriculture and a wide range of harvest festivals, including: Sukkot (Jewish), Pongal (Indian rice festival), Lantern Festival (Japan), Moon Viewing ceremony (Japan), Nigerian Yam festival, Wheat harvesting traditions from Britain, and (of course), Thanksgiving (America and other countries). The back matter includes “Equinox Facts,” experiments, recipes, activities, and a list of international harvest festivals for further study. Further readings are cited, as well as three Web sites that are all functional at the time of this review. This will be a very useful addition to a home or school library–instructive but appealing in format and presentation. 2006, Dutton/Penguin, $17.99. Ages 6 to 10. Reviewer: Sheilah Egan (Children’s Literature).
Wendy Pfeffer is available to visit your school to help children discover the joy of writing. By sharing real-life experiences, she hopes these entertaining and informative tales will inspire the children to write, too.
She shows how her work progresses from the idea, manuscript, galleys, artist’s sketches, press sheets and F&G’s to a finished book. Wendy also leads narrative non-fiction workshops in some grades and guides the children to write a story in that genre.
Fee: $1100.00 a day. Over 50 miles from Pennington, New Jersey, $1400.00 a day.
Travel and lodging costs to be paid by sponsoring organization.
To learn more about Wendy and her publications please visit www.author-illustr-source.com/wendypfeffer.htm.