Thursday, December 13, 2007

Guest Author - Holly Fretwell - The Sky's Not Falling: Why It's OK to Chill About Global Warming

Hello All...I'm excited to have Holly Fretwell with me today as guest author. She shares with us:

Kids are the greatest. To hear them laugh and see them play is heart-lifting. To listen to them and learn from them is a joy of life. And to teach them is invigorating but it can be a challenge. I have two kids of my own that I read to every night. It is a magical time where we adventure into strange and foreign lands. It is one of the ways that we share ideas with each other and a time, that as a parent, I impart life lessons in ways that may otherwise come off sounding preachy and static -- not to mention boring.

To share some of these lessons I have written a book of my own. Writing a book for kids, however, is not the easiest task, especially my chosen topic; a non-fiction book discussing science and economics for 8-12 year olds. When writing “The Sky’s NOT Falling: Why It’s OK to Chill about Global Warming,” I had to focus on making complex concepts simple to understand for kids at different comprehension levels.

Since a kids' book in particular needs to be lively and engaging I tried to weave in some basic science and economic concepts without stopping the more entertaining narrative. I knew I needed to keep it simple while at the same time giving a fair explanation of sometimes technical concepts. I also wanted to bring light to some of the misconceptions that many kids have about global warming. After lots of help from friends and family I found what worked best was keeping the sentences short and snappy, the words uncomplicated, and the information unambiguous. I knew what it was I wanted to communicate, but I had to let go of the flourishes. Kids can’t be expected to understand, much less interpret, the phrases and clich├ęs that adults use without a second thought.

I found that asking my kids and their friends to give me feedback as the chapters progressed was immensely helpful (and they let me know what they did and did not like)! Their feedback helped me refine my explanations and descriptions and gave me confidence that the manuscript I turned in was, to use that famous expression, "kid-tested and mother-approved."

Writing "The Sky's Not Falling: Why It's OK to Chill About Global Warming" was an incredible experience. It improved my writing skills by forcing me to be ever more precise, and gave me the opportunity to share the ups and occasional downs of the project with my sons helping them understand just what I do for a living as an instructor and researcher of natural resource policy and economics. In addition, if what I know can help kids relax about the natural changes in the world around them while teaching them to think critically and inspiring them to work towards the cleaner environment every community needs, then I consider the time I spent writing "Sky" to be time well spent.

Holly Fretwell is a natural resources policy expert, an adjunct professor at Montana State University, and is a research fellow at the Property and Environment Research Center. You can visit her publisher's website at

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  1. Holly, do you find that you get any flack because you're asking kids to chill about global warming in a time when it is such a - forgive the pun - hot topic?

    The Story Lady

  2. Great Question -- Of course I get flack for writing something rather, well, politically incorrect! In fact, I am a little timid sometimes to even talk with some of my own friends about the issue. Believe it or not I really don't like to be antagonistic. But I do like the facts and I do want our children to learn to be good stewards and good citizens. To do that they must know the truth.

  3. Hi, Holly. How's the tour going? Mine is going great! You book is now on my "to buy" list. I'll be busy reading for the next few months, you can be sure of that! Good reply to The Story Lady's post, by the way. You're right. If we don't teach our children to be good citizens, who will?

  4. Holly,
    How is writing for children different than writing for adults, especially since children these days are so much more informed. Also which is easier to write for children or adults?

  5. Thanks, ladies. I have found it easiest to write for about high school age. My book, however, is written more for middle school age and up. I found it difficult to address some of the more technical issues with this age group. I have written some curriculum for high school teachers, both on general economics and on global warming issues and have really enjoyed this type of writing. My passion is not so much as an author as it is a communicator.



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