Welcome to the Izzy Newton and the SMART Squad #3: The Law of Cavities Blog Tour!
Follow along as we celebrate the release of The Law of Cavities (October 11th) with behind-the-scenes looks from author Valerie Tripp, plus 5 chances to win all 3 books in the Izzy Newton series!
Writing For and About 21st Century Girls:
Similarities and differences between writing American Girl historical fiction and This National Geographic Kids Books STEM seriesa guest post by Valerie Tripp
The biggest and most delightful difference in my process was working with my absolutely fabulous Lunch Bunch, my group of insightful, articulate, kind, compassionate, very, very funny girls at St John the Evangelist School in Silver Spring, MD. We met over three years, and EVERY time I came away inspired both specifically with ideas for plots, language, and character interactions as well as globally inspired by the Lunch Bunch girls’ sweetness and smarts.
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And other differences were also exhilarating. In the SMART Squad books I’m tapping into girls’ fascination with science, technology, engineering, and math. SMART stands for Solving Mysteries And Revealing Truths and the stories are present day mysteries inspired by science, which faces the future, rather than history, which explores the ever-shifting past. Of course, as Einstein wrote, “the distinction between past, present, and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion” (don’t you love that quote?). My SMART Squad characters are eleven years old, rather than nine as the American Girls are, so they are more independent, self-aware, and mindful of their responsibilities toward others. They’re fully launched into the wide world of their school and community. Because they live in the 21st century and use the Internet, the entire universe of existing knowledge is available to them to explore, assess, and apply. I love how the SMART Squad stories celebrate being a team. The girls are a diverse group with different backgrounds, interests, talents, flaws, and obsessions. When, out of kindness and curiosity, they put their five dissimilar brains together to solve a problem, the synergy is . . . well, you’ll see.
If the differences are the visible branches and leaves, the similarities are the roots that sustain and nourish the stories. For both series, the ideas spring from my readers’ interests: I’m just listening, responding, celebrating, and organizing them. Just as the American Girl stories empowered readers by blasting through dusty old tropes and gender stereotypes that were never universally true, so too the SMART Squad stories say to readers: ‘Do what you love. You know you’re mindful, kind, goofy, creative, hard-working, brave, and smart, so go ahead and be the quirky, unique individual you are—otherwise, what’s the point? We’re all plunked down here in this abundant, complicated, and beautiful universe full of wonders seen and unseen. We’d be crazy and lazy not to explore it, right? And then shout out, “Look how cool this is!” The SMART Squad stories, like the AG stories, are fueled by humor, relatable experiences, joys, and sorrows, and by my respect and affection for my readers. The characters have no magic superpowers. In fact, they fail over and over again and learn from their failures.
Sometimes adults ask me why I write for young readers. I do because I think that there’s something about being involved in children’s literature that nurtures optimism. You just can’t help it. Children are the very embodiment of promise and potential (wacky though they are) and those of us lucky enough to be involved in children’s literature are right there, right on the spot, to witness how books and stories nourish their growth. I know that writing for children in-and-of-itself is an optimism act of cheerful trust in transformation, a leap of faith that out of chaos will emerge order, story, maybe even that ping moment of recognition and connection. And all of us who are lucky enough to hand books and stories to children know that we are changing their lives. Is there anything more wonderful than saying to a child, “You’re going to love this book! And guess what? There’s more where that came from!”?
Children’s books leave an indelible imprint. They shape and color and influence the way a child perceives the world. The books we read as children serve as a measure of all the books that follow. Children’s books construct the readers’ characters, their view of the world, their ideas of the purpose and challenge of life. Books stretch children’s brains and hearts and give them a sense of themselves as unique beings with contributions to make. Books spark interests, feed passions, ignite ambitions. They are an ongoing reliable source of entertainment, education, rest, and refreshment. The books you give children introduce those children to characters and therefore, teach the children empathy and compassion. I saw where a recent study says fiction improves one’s ability to understand others. And so does nonfiction, of course! Nonfiction stories have heart and emotion, in addition to of course providing facts that give a child a sense of mastery and curiosity, and give children a sense that they, too, can contribute to their community, whether it’s friends and family or the world. Nonfiction can teach children about other cultures, religions, tastes, mores, senses of humor so that they will connect and feel and hear and experience the excitement of discovery.
And writing books for children also helps them learn how to express themselves in written language so that they may connect with others and discipline themselves to articulate what is in their minds and hearts.
A message to readers from author Valerie Tripp:
I hope my readers will come away with this message: You are a scientist. You observe, test, evaluate, and draw conclusions constantly. STEM—Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math—is not restricted to labs or science fair booths or classrooms. You’re doing STEM stuff everywhere, all the time, when you cook, run, feed you pet, quench your thirst, dive into a wave, wash your hands, learn to do a cartwheel, spend time on your laptop, look up at the stars, cut an apple into parts and divvy up the shares. Know this, embrace this, celebrate this—and take responsibility for both exploring AND protecting this extraordinary, exciting, surprising universe. Get out there! Be active, curious, and focused. Take yourself seriously. Your actions matter because they will shape the world we all live in. Be mindful, pay attention, learn, and live fully with courage and zest. And don’t be afraid to fail. Chaos, mess, and failure are essential parts of all creative endeavors like science. Don’t worry. Things heal. Mistakes are forgiven. You have plenty of time to tidy up.
About the Book
Buy | Goodreads
Meet the characters, watch the book trailer and check out the Educator and Reader’s Guides on the series website here!
The SMART Squad is back to tackle more middle school mayhem with science, technology, engineering, math, and friendship!
In this third book in the SMART Squad series, best friends Izzy Newton, Allie Einstein, Marie Curie, Charlie Darwin, and Gina Carver set out on a mystery-filled Outdoor Adventure Camp experience.
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Now that Izzy’s finally found her voice in public speaking class and become an ice hockey star, she’s determined to conquer her “dizzy-Izzy-ness” in new situations―including caring for her brand-new braces on an outdoor education overnight and her friends ‘ good-natured teasing about her friend Trevor. But the forecast for fun turns cloudy when the girls discover their cabin chaperone is none other than Izzy’s tough public-speaking teacher, Ms. Martinez, and their junior counselor is eighth grade mean girl, Maddie Sharpe.
When an innocent exchange of harmless pranks with Maddie takes a turn for the worse, the Squad turns to science to prove their innocence. That’s nothing, though, compared with the terrifying swamp monster haunting their camps, a catastrophe befalling Ms. Martinez, and a mysterious disaster threatening the future of camp itself.
With their very survival on the line, will science be enough to save the day?
“Wholesome entertainment for preteens, offering positivity without didacticism.”
“It’s one thing to have children’s books about scientists or podcasts or stories about strong women in STEM, but it’s another world entirely when your children get to feel represented by the characters they’re reading about. The characters in the Izzy Newton and the SMART Squad series are diverse, smart, and sure of themselves the way all middle school girls are—through their dreams and newly acquired skills they’re still getting used to.”
About the Author
VALERIE TRIPP is the co-creator of the American Girl book series that includes titles featuring Felicity, Josefina, Kit, Maryellen, Molly, and Samantha. Tripp also wrote American Girl’s Wellie Wishers titles, Hopscotch Hill School titles, numerous leveled readers, songs, stories, skills book pages, and plays for educational publishers. Tripp is writer and editorial director of the Boys Camp series, and a writer, editor, and art editor for Sterling Publishing Company. Tripp received a BA and honors as a member of the first co-educated class at Yale University and a master’s of education degree from Harvard University.
- Five (5) winners will receive the complete 3-book Izzy Newton and the SMART Squad series: Absolute Hero, Newton’s Flaw, and The Law of Cavities
- US/Canada only
- Ends 11/13 at 11:59pm ET
- Enter via the Rafflecopter below
- Visit the other stops on the tour for more chances to win!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Blog Tour Schedule:
October 31st — BookHounds
November 1st — Teen Librarian Toolbox
November 2nd — Pragmatic Mom
November 3rd — A Dream Within a Dream
November 4th — From the Mixed-Up Files of Middle-Grade Authors
Filed under: Blog Tour