Upcoming Events!


Here’s where I’ll be over the next several weeks (along with a lot of school visits that aren’t open to the public). I hope you’ll stop by to say hello if you’re in the area!

Monday, September 18th
6: 30 pm
The Voracious Reader
Larchmont NY


Saturday, September 23rd
11 – 4
Princeton Children’s Book Festival

Princeton, NJ

Sunday, October 1st
2 pm
Hickory Stick Bookshop
Washington CT


Saturday, October 7th
Warwick Children’s Book Festival
Warwick, NY


Saturday, October 14th
Chappaqua Children’s Book Festival
Chappaqua NY


Tuesday, October 24th
Politics and Prose
10:30 am
Washington DC


Saturday, November 4th
nErDcamp Long Island

Book Trailer Debut!

Please visit Mr. Schu’s blog here to see the unveiling of my new book trailer for Poison, which pubs September 5th!

Or just watch it here:

Booking School Visits Now!

Hey, Teachers and Librarians–

Please click through to my author visit page for details about school visits for the upcoming year. I am planning trips to California, Ohio, Missouri, Texas (I hope!), and the Virginia/DC area, and would be happy to talk about adding your school to my itinerary. Contact me for details.

Thousand Islands Book Festival

On Saturday, June 3rd, from 9 am to 3 pm, I’ll be here, at the Thousand Islands Book Festival in Cape Vincent, New York. Hope to see some of my friends and readers there!

Spring Into Summer Reading Book Festival

New England friends–

On Thursday, May 11th, I’ll be one of a group of visiting authors signing books at the Chenery (MA) Middle School Spring Into Summer Reading Author Festival. I hope you’ll stop by!

Nonfiction Joy


I had a chance to talk about nonfiction writing with educator JoEllen McCarthy and two of my favorite fellow NF writers, Loree Griffin Burns and Melissa Stewart, as part of the Educator Collaborative’s Spring gathering–and it’s been archived. If you want to listen to our session, you can watch it here.

MRA Conference

On Thursday, April 7th, I’ll be at the Massachusetts Reading Association annual conference. Author Melissa Stewart and I will be conducting a workshop called Clearing the Writing Road Blocks, One at a Time. Our session is at 1 pm, and there’s a signing and author “meet and greet” later in the afternoon, from 5 to 6:30.


Picture Perfect–How to Find and Use Images Legally

I have a guest post about how teachers and students can search for and use images for their informational writing projects. It’s here at Melissa Stewart’s blog — I hope you’ll check it out!

Cover Reveal for my Next Book!

I hope you’ll click through to my post at the Nerdy Book Club to see the cover for my new book, which is due out September 5th. I hope you like it!

A Bad Air Day

You may have seen recent news reports about London’s dangerous air quality. 

In light of the current political climate in the U.S., I thought it might be timely to re-post a blog I wrote a few years ago about the history of air pollution here in the United States. It shows pictures of what Pittsburgh and Saint Louis looked like prior to the smoke control ordinances of the mid-1940s. 

The EPA is a vital organization. I fear for its future.

On Friday I blogged about the Donora Death Fog of 1948, and alluded to the city of Pittsburgh’s smoke control ordinances. Pittsburgh’s amazing turnaround will be the subject of today’s blog.

My parents met one another when they were both in graduate school at the University of Pittsburgh, just after World War II.  I knew from having researched sanitation and pollution that Pittsburgh was once a very smoky city, but I didn’t make the connection until just recently that my parents lived there during the smoky time. And I had no idea just how smoky the city actually was. I contacted the University of Pittsburgh Archives Center, and they very kindly gave me permission to reprint these pictures from the late 30s and early 40s. They’re kind of amazing.

What’s incredible to realize is that these pictures were shot during the daytime.

Taken in 1940 at 10:35 am

This one shows a street scene in St. Louis, which is where the smoke control ordinance was first enacted and upon which the Pittsburgh program was based.

According to the University of Pittsburgh website, the smoke control ordinances regulated the burning of coal by locomotives, the steel industry, and individual citizens. The city had been trying since 1807 to control the smoke, but for decades, people believed that heavy smoke in the air indicated high productivity. They also thought smoke was good for the lungs and for the crops. So legislation wasn’t enforced until after World War II.

This final shot is quite extraordinary, and eerily beautiful. The Heinz History Center gave me permission to run it. Remember: it’s daytime.

Downtown Pittsburgh at 9:20 a.m. in the fall of 1945, before smoke control Library and Archives Division, Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh, PA

On Wednesday’s blog–the deadly London Fog of 1952.