History from
the Bottom Up


Hello, friends, I’m off tomorrow to Minneapolis and the annual NCTE (National Council of Teachers of English) convention. Here’s where I’ll be Friday afternoon at 4 pm:CT-M_LfXAAA3OL2.jpg-largeAnd here’s where to find me on Saturday, at 9:30 am:


Hope to see some of you there!

More Author-izing

In the past week I’ve visited four cities, attended two book festivals, given three talks, and conducted eight writing workshops. I love my job.

Last Friday I attended the American Association of School Librarians in Columbus, Ohio. My fellow nonfiction author, Loree Griffin Burns, and I co-presented a talk about research called To the Library .  . . And Beyond!

Me and Loree

I then hopped into a car and drove from Columbus to Rochester, New York, where I attended the amazing Rochester Children’s Book … Read more

Underwear Under There

I stumbled across a magnificent illustrated manuscript from around the year 1500.  It’s exciting because it shows men in their underwear. Wait, that might have sounded a little wrong.What I mean by “exciting” is that it’s hard to find pictures of underwear from the Renaissance period.

The illuminated manuscript was illustrated by the artist Jean Poyer. It’s called The Hours of Henry VIII because King Henry of England may or may not have once owned it. (You can find the full version  … Read more

Author Events

I will be doing a lot of traveling over the next two weeks. On Friday, November 6th, I will be copresenting with Loree Griffin Burns at the American Association of School Librarians’ Annual Conference in Columbus, Ohio. Here’s a description of our talk. I’ll be signing books directly after.
To the Library … and Beyond
In this workshop, two award-winning nonfiction authors share their creative approaches to research, suggesting simple ways teachers and librarians can adapt professional methods for student writers.
Our talk is at 11:20 am. Check the … Read more

Death by Voting?


Update: Today is election day, and although most people are focusing more on the Presidential election next year, there are many important state and local decisions to be made. In honor of Election Day I am re-posting this blog about the death of Edgar Allan Poe that I wrote a couple of years ago.

On the eve of the election I am sure you’re as weary as I am of voter intimidation stories, suspiciously long early voting waiting lines, and Super-PAC-funded negative advertising. But nineteenth century political campaigns … Read more

Retro Recipes

Need some new ideas for dinner? I am here to share recipes from an eighteenth century book that was popular in colonial America. Published in 1737 by William Kendrick, it’s called The Whole Duty of Woman, or, An Infallible Guide to the Fair Sex. (Could there be a more off-putting title?) I suspect that the recipes in this volume may have been what we might today call “aspirational,” like the ones you see in modern-day cookbooks that have been written by chefs who have platoons of sous chefs at their disposal. For instance, many of … Read more

Puff Piece

I’m working on two different projects at the moment, one about poison, the other about colonial America, so I’ve been reading a lot about tobacco.By the middle of the seventeenth century, when the Jamestown colonists figured out how to grow tobacco, pipe smoking quickly became extremely popular in England. It was smoked in long clay pipes.Tobacco was widely thought to be a sort of miracle drug for all sorts of ailments, from head colds to cancer. A special kind of medicinal enema forced … Read more

Whirlwind Weekend

My whirlwind of author visits and festivals continued through this past weekend. On Friday, I visited the Friends Academy in Dartmouth, Massachusetts. Janice Griffin is the librarian there, and she planned an amazing day that began in the preschool “Farmhouse” and included the best gourmet lunch for me ever, prepared from her niece’s organic garden. Here’s the display that greeted me:And here are signs made for me by the preschoolers (including a portrait of me): … Read more

Visits, Real and Virtual

This past week has been full of opportunities to meet with and talk to kids, both in person and via Skype. On Monday I gave a talk in Darien, Connecticut, at the library, about my latest book, Why’d They Wear That? I wasn’t expecting many people to show up, as it was both a holiday and a beautiful day, but lots of kids and their parents came. I love the Darien Library, and the librarians I met who’d organized the event were awesome.Last week … Read more

Darien (CT) Library

Connecticut friends–this coming Monday, October 12th, I’m going to be speaking about my book, Why’d They Wear That? at the Darien Library at 3 pm in Darien, Connecticut. Here’s the link. Please stop by if you are in the neighborhood. I love this library so much. I’ve spent many hours researching there. It has a fantastic children’s section–and there’s even a snack bar on the first floor!


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