Nancy's Books

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Laura Crawford, Nonfiction, Contests

This week I have a guest author, Laura Crawford, who has written a fact-filled and beautiful picture book, The American Revolution From A to Z. Pelican Publishing Company, 2009. Grades 2-5. ISBN: 1-58980-515-1.

In The American Revolution From A to Z, history comes to life with the ABCs of America's fight for freedom. From B's Battles of Lexington and Concord to H's John Hancock, this alphabet book provides an exciting and interesting history of the American Revolution. The colorful pages feature George Washington, the Redcoats, the Constitution, and Mary Hays, who brought pitchers of water to the soldiers. Female readers will like learning about Betsy Zane and Deborah Sampson, two brave young women. Each page has detailed, lively illustrations and fun facts about the war that earned the United States its independence from England.

As writers, we need to tap into storytelling when we tackle a nonfiction book. The facts must be included in a way kids will enjoy. Add the OOH, AH, EW, PHEW, or COOL factor and you’ll hook readers from the first paragraph. A story about llamas will interest kids, but if you tell them llamas spit at people and often hit the mark, you added the EW! factor that will make them want to read more. An interesting format is another way to tackle nonfiction storytelling. Instead of a straight narrative, present the subject matter in the form of a diary, top ten list, or other interest-capturing design. That’s just what Laura Crawford did when she used an ABC format to tell her story, and the manuscript landed her a contract.

Teachers, Laura offers this classroom activity for students to create their own books:

Make your own ABC book for any topic. Staple 30 pages together. The first and last pages will be the covers. The second page will be the title page, with a dedication. On each of the following pages, write a letter of the alphabet. You can write in cursive, print or calligraphy (like in my book). You can research your own topic by looking through your science, social studies, or other textbook. A good place to start is the index! Remember not to copy directly from the book-you need to write the story in your own words!

The cover and additional pages will be set up this way:

[Cover page]
The ABC Book

Written by _________________
Illustrated by _______________

[First page]
A is for______________


Sylvia K. Burack Scholarship Award Contest
Are you age 18 or older and a full-time undergraduate student at a university or college in the U.S. or Canada? Enter The Writer's 2010 Sylvia K. Burack Scholarship Award essay contest! This year's theme: Select a work of fiction or poetry that has influenced the way you view the world and the way you view yourself. Discuss the work and explain how it affected you." The winner receives $500, publication in The Writer and a year's subscription to the magazine. New deadline: April 1.

Haiku Competition for High School Students
Entries must be received by this date: March 25th.
Contest offers six prizes of $50 for the best haiku by students in grades 7-12 as of the previous September (no homeschooled students). Send 1-3 haiku, typed in triplicate on 3"x5" cards, with author's name and contact information on only one copy. No simultaneous submissions. Sponsored by the Haiku Society of America.


  1. I like your interview of the book. This would help kids learn about history in a fun way. Great classroom activity too.

  2. I've seen that book before, but I was in a hurry and couldn't look through it. Thanks for sharing - it sounds like one my kids and I would enjoy reading together!