In my opinion, books are the best accessory.
Quite honored to connect with Gail Hedrick and get the chance to interview, read, and review her book.
My thoughts on Something Stinks!: Appreciated every minute of this book. This is a wonderful coming of age story with a friendship dissolving and main character trying to figure out who she is outside of the friendship. She is also discovering her strengths, interests, and passions as well. I loved the overall actions in this story that center around Emily trying to find out why dead fish are washing ashore along the river. Appreciated how organic farming and various factories located along the river are scientifically investigated. Also, thought how the investigations led to finding out the answer to a mystery adults could not figure out was quite brilliant. This is a perfect science inquiry book for a classroom to read and discuss and perhaps gain inspiration to experiment with water, practice data collection and analysis, and discuss contamination and what quality water is in the local neighborhood.
Summary from Publisher: ““Something Stinks!” is an exciting tale of pollution and detection. Dead fish are washing ashore on the Higdon River, and seventh grader Emily Sanders wants to find out why. Mocked by fellow students and abandoned by her best friend, Emily investigates farms, a golf course, and local factories. Gradually she persuades friends to help her test the waters. Their investigations lead them into trouble with the law and confrontation with the town’s most powerful citizen. Can a handful of determined seventh graders find out the true source of the stink in the Higdon River?”
“Environmental stewardship is a common topic of concern to students in grades 5-8,” said Pendred Noyce of Tumblehome Learning, the book’s publisher. “Emily is a reluctant science student until her investigation introduces her to the science practices of persistence, skepticism, experimentation and discourse.”
Gail Hedrick is a former physical education teacher who writes on fitness and etiquette as well as middle grade mysteries. She grew upon a lake in Michigan, spent many years on rivers in Virginia and North Carolina, and now lives in Bradenton, Florida. “Something Stinks” is her first science book. “”I grew up experiencing pristine freshwater lakes and rivers. I hope that would be the same for our children. Then, fish began to die in the rivers, and I couldn’t understand why people weren’t more concerned. I bet kids would be, and that’s where ‘Stinks’ began.”
“Something Stinks!” may be purchased on Amazon or from Tumblehome Learning, Inc. ISBN-13: 978-0985000899
Honored that Gail Hedrick agreed to an interview:
What inspired you to write this eco mystery?
I was a lifelong water baby. From competitive swimmer, sailor, water skier, water safety instructor, and boater, mostly on fresh water lakes and rivers from Michigan to Texas, North Carolina, then Virginia, where we lived for over seven years. We had moved to Florida, but my connections to the waters of Virginia remained strong. As a children’s writer, your radar is always up for topics of interest to kids. I saw reports through the southeast of fish kills. We have them in Florida related to red tide, and they’re studied a lot. The fish kills in Virginia were mostly in fresh water, and (according to the articles I read), no one seemed terribly interested in getting to the bottom of the problem.
I’d just finished a mystery for kids set in North Carolina and thought, hmm, Virginia kids might want to know why the fish were dying, so there was my start. Also, I have an uncle who was with the Fisheries and Wildlife Department at Michigan State for twenty-five years, two uncles who had a water quality company for folks who had ponds or lakes on their property, a cousin who leads fishing expeditions on Lake Michigan, and parents who cared about the outdoors, wanted us always to ‘get outside’, and knew well before their time, we all had to help take care of whatever outside it was, be it a lake, river, or rhubarb patch!
Have you read any children’s literature books recently?
Battered Brain by Penrod Noyce; The Watcher by Joan Hiatt Harlow; Smile Pout Pout Fish by Deborah Diesen and Dan Hanna; Stuck Toast and Mud Pies-Poems for Kids by June Estep Fiorelli
Are you in a writers group?
I have been blessed by writing for many years and only not been in a critique group for nine months out of all those years!
If so, has it helped you?
Yes, definitely! For me, a critique group is everything your family can’t be. By that I mean, families don’t want to hurt your feelings, and might say ‘Good job, Gail’ or ‘Cute story, Mom’. And, while those comments are wonderful, they might not always be totally true. But, a critique group is not so concerned with making you feel good as much as they are concerned with helping you be the best writer you can be, and sometimes they have to be a bit blunt in their comments and/or be ready to show you where your story went sideways, and what you might do to steer it back on track.
I agree, a critique group is so helpful at providing you with honest, helpful feedback!
Do you have a key writing tips for kids? Or adults?
Go ahead and get some words down on paper. Daydream about your subject, get some thoughts in your head, and just start writing. Then, let whatever you wrote sit awhile, come back to it later and read it out loud. It may be terrific as is, but most likely it won’t be, and that’s when the real writing begins-with revision. Learn to love and relish revising because that’s when your writing starts to sing!
Do you have a new book being released in the next year?
Maybe! First, I have to finish it, but hopefully, I’ll have new science-based mystery ready in 2015!
What truly influences you as a writer?
I guess it would have to be reading. I read the newspaper every morning, starting with the sports pages. I love the stories behind the scores, and am most happy to read the inspiring ones. I read product labels-you’d be surprised at the facts you can learn from reading a ketchup bottle or cereal box! I read books for little tiny kids, novels-mostly mysteries and some chick-lit, some non-fiction and mostly from the children’s area in the library, and lots of blogs. I love the feeling of ‘wow’, and that’s what I get from reading which then makes me want to write more! Does that make any sense?
If you weren’t a writer, what occupation would you be working in?
Editor, paralegal, or voice-over actor.
Did any teacher or mentor specifically influence you in your career?
There have truly been many, and I’m so lucky to have had them all in my life. Faye Gibbons, whose wonderful books are set mostly in the South, (but are filled with characters who anyone, anywhere can identify with and love), was teaching a children’s writing course at John C. Campbell Folk School in the North Carolina mountains. I learned a lot about writing that week, but the biggest thing was that success can come later in life, and that if something speaks to you, moves you, makes you laugh or cry, or go ‘huh’? then you have something to write that other people might want to read about.
*Do you have any favorite topping you like on your pizza? What fun!! One of my favorites is actually two – ham & pineapple!
The best advice I’ve received for my profession was ‘you have a gift, and should be doing this full time’.
The habit I never break for my writing practice is write something every day-three pages, a paragraph, the grocery list, a note to a friend, an idea for a new article, words on paper…
If someone had told me four years ago that I’d be at a national science teachers conference on an author panel made up of writers who are also scientists (I’m not!), I would have laughed out loud. But, there I was in Richmond, VA in October 2014 at the Celebration of Literacy and Science doing just that!
Why do people always assume science is scary, boring, or only for intellectuals?
Debbie, you forgot to ask me: where I get my ideas? The short answer is ‘everywhere’! Really-here are two goofy examples. I saw a notice in our paper about a button collectors club meeting and thought, really? People actually collect buttons, and they have a club? Oddly, I made a little note (my house, desk, car, and many pockets have notes in them with writing ideas), and a few years later ended up making a phone call and finding out there is a huge junior button collecting group in the U.S. and I wrote an article about this really neat hobby for Kiki magazine. I got the idea and ultimately the title for an article from listening to our kids interact – it was called ‘Pick Your Choose’, and had to do with making decisions. Sorry, this was not really a short answer-but really your life is full of articles, short stories, and maybe even books!
I appreciate the long answer, thank you!
Thank you again to Gail for agreeing to this interview!
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