Tag Archives: Writing

My Origin of Species adaptation is out!

I am a bit late with this post. The book launched two weeks ago.

Reviews so far have been great, I’m happy to say. Publishers Weekly said: “This attractive, oversize adaptation of Charles Darwin’s classic work of science has been shortened, updated, and streamlined for clarity and readability… Vocabulary words appear in bold throughout the text, while sidebars and supplemental sections delve into related topics… Bright photographs and illustrations of plants, animals, and habitats provide an expansive and inviting visual element. With valuable modifications and enhancements, Stefoff preserves the richness of Darwin’s content for contemporary young readers.” [my excited boldface]

Kirkus said: “The bible of evolution theory—condensed, glossed, furnished with updates, and enlivened with vivid photos and images… Big, bright nature photos or period engravings and paintings on nearly every large spread… Stefoff’s frequent glosses and boxed side essays unpack major concepts, add historical context, explain how later scientific discoveries modify or support Darwin’s broad picture, and even studiously point out where the author went wrong… handsomely presented and so close to the source… a glossy edition of one of science’s most fundamental works.”

The full title is Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species: Young Readers Edition, published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers, a division of Simon & Schuster. Available now from amazon.com and the other usual sources. If you know a young person who is interested in nature or science, or if you’ve ever wished for a shorter, streamlined, illustrated version of the Origin to read for yourself–here you go!

How to make a writer happy

Today I got an email from a total stranger. She had contacted me through this website to share her appreciation of a book I wrote called Women of the World: Women Travelers and Explorers. It was published in 1994 as part of a trilogy on explorers for Oxford University Press. This book was a labor of love and is one of my favorites among my own books, so I was doubly touched that my correspondent had taken the time and trouble to write.

She’d come across a reference to my book while researching a project of her own–she is, as I learned from her website, a writer and editor–and had gotten hold of the book, and had liked it. You can be sure I’ll get hold of some of her writing now.

So that’s one thing that will make a writer very happy: someone popping up out of the blue to say, “Thanks, job well done.” If you haven’t done that lately, drop an author a note or a tweet or a post about something you’ve read recently and liked. They’ll be glad you did.

Lies for kids

Lies My Teacher Told Me is a terrific book–informative, engaging and sometimes enraging, and frequently entertaining. In it, sociologist James W. Loewen takes a clear-eyed look at American history and a critical look at the way most textbooks teach it. I’m very happy to say that my next book will be a YA adaptation of Lies, to be published next year by The New Press. It was just the project I needed at this time of polarized viewpoints, truthiness, and “fake news”: a level-headed history of our country that gives young people tools that will help them become informed citizens. I can’t wait until the YA version of Lies My Teacher Told Me hits the streets.

Great news about my YA Origin of Species

The Junior Library Guild has named Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species: Young Readers Edition as one of its selections. The book, soon to be published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers, a Simon & Schuster imprint, will be shipped to some 1,400 school and public librarians who subscribe to JLG. This is a big boost for the book, as being chosen by the JLG generally results in improved visibility and sales. I couldn’t be happier–or more eager for the book to come out.

Collaborating with Charles Darwin

Just half a year from now, Simon & Schuster will publish my young readers edition of the most important scientific book ever written.

I was twenty-three, an earnest grad student in English, when I first read  Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species. In the years that followed, as my nonfiction writing career took me deeper into writing science books for kids, I reread the Origin several times, alongside many more recent works on natural history and evolutionary biology. So once I’d published YA adaptations of books by Howard Zinn, Jared Diamond, and others, it was perhaps inevitable that I’d think, “What about Darwin?” And here we are.

A reviewer once called me “the redoubtable Stefoff.” I hope it was redoubtable, not rash, of me  to interpret Darwin’s thoughts and words for today’s young readers. (Bonus: Not just for kids. It’s for anyone who’d like to read a shortened, streamlined, illustrated version of the Origin.)