Meet Award-Winning Author Nancy I. Sanders—and her Publisher, Chicago Review Press

This week, I’m participating in Nancy I. Sander’s Book Launch Party for her new picture book, Frederick Douglass for Kids: His Life and Times with 21 Activities. Here, she shares insight about working with her fabulous publisher, Chicago Review Press. Hop on over to her site for more book launch fun!


Featured Book

Frederick Douglass for Kids: His Life and Times with 21 Activities, by Nancy I. Sanders

Few Americans have had as much impact on this nation as Frederick Douglass. Born on a plantation, he later escaped slavery and helped others to freedom via the Underground Railroad. In time he became a bestselling author, an outspoken newspaper editor, a brilliant orator, a tireless abolitionist, and a brave civil rights leader. He was famous on both sides of the Atlantic in the years leading up to the Civil War, and when war broke out, Abraham Lincoln invited him to the White House for counsel and advice.

Frederick Douglass for Kids follows the footsteps of this American hero, from his birth into slavery to his becoming a friend and confidant of presidents and the leading African American of his day. And to better appreciate Frederick Douglass and his times, readers will form a debating club, cook a meal similar to the one Douglass shared with John Brown, make a civil war haversack, participate in a microlending program, and more. This valuable resource also includes a time line of significant events, a list of historic sites to visit or explore online, and web resources for further study.

You can purchase Frederick Douglass for Kids here.

clip_image001Interview with the Author

How did you hear about Chicago Review Press?

When our sons Dan and Ben were in elementary school, their teachers and the librarians at our local library had these great children’s nonfiction books they were using chock full of activities and great information! I fell in love with books like Westward Ho! and Colonial Kids by Laurie Carlson and had fun making the crafts and activities with my sons. As I became more familiar with these books, I started to think, “Hey! I could try to write a book like this.” So I wrote a proposal and submitted it to them along with my resume.

They rejected my proposal. But I got a letter back from the editor along with the rejection saying that they saw on my resume that I write for the Christian market. They asked me to submit a proposal to them on the history of the Bible. That’s how my very first book with Chicago Review Press was born: Old Testament Days: An Activity Guide.

What sets this publisher apart from others in the industry?

There are two things that make Chicago Review Press children’s nonfiction books unique.

First, there are plenty of craft and activity books out there for kids. But Chicago Review Press’s activity books for kids include a phenomenal amount of interesting historical information. These activity books read like exciting history books!

The second thing is that there is plenty of great nonfiction out there for kids. But Chicago Review Press’s history books are famous for their activities that are included. These aren’t just crafts or busy work, however. These are historical based activities, the kind you’ll find at a museum for kids to do to get an authentic feel for what life was like during that era.

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Reasons to Love Writing…

One of my goals this year (first mentioned here) is to keep my eyes open for what’s going right in my writing life. It can be so easy to focus on everything else, don’t you think? On rejections, failed queries, long hours, or negative feedback…and yet, when we start looking for it, there are so many things to celebrate in the writing world as well.

I have an ulterior motive in all this: to increase my “positivity,” as defined by Barbara Fredrickson in her book of the same name. (Take the positivity quiz here.) Positivity is like a many-fingered vine, its tendrils twisting through our mood, productivity, family harmony, stress responses, creativity, and more.

So…what right in my writing world this week? I’m still glowing from that Florida trip—two weeks ago now!—and the research I was able to do there. In addition to crab observation, I also spent a day in Crystal River, Florida, where I helped with USGS’s Manatee Health Assessment—capturing, weighing, measuring the manatees that frequent the warm waters of Crystal River every winter. I got to help haul a 1946 pound female, help spot animals from a bridge, add my weight to help subdue a struggling animal before it could injure itself or someone else with its powerful tail.

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I got to touch manatee skin, which is rough in some spots and slick with algae in others.


I got to talk to all manner of researchers, wildlife rescue workers, animal trainers, and more, who had traveled to Crystal River to help with the manatee captures and health assessment.


In other words—it was a magical day, the sort of immersive research that I love. And what could be better than studying manatees?

What’s right in your writing life this week? Please share in the comments!

Reasons to Love Writing…

Reason #1: Writing is awesome!!!

Reason #2 (this week’s SPECIFIC reason): Last week, I was in Florida for research on two separate projects. Yes, this counts as work.

I spent one day at the Smithsonian Marine Station at Fort Pierce talking with scientists, looking at photographs, and touring one of their research sites.

Marsh OrgansLizard Dude on Mangrove

I spent two hours the next day sitting VEEERY still among the mangroves in order to observe crab behavior…

Aratus pisoni

…and I spent another three hours at the fantastic Smithsonian Marine Station at Fort Pierce Ecosystem Exhibit observing captive fiddler crabs and talking to their wonderful staff.

If you love to learn new things, if you love to meet amazingly cool people and learn amazingly cool things, writing lets you dip your toes into a thousand different fields. I feel incredibly fortunate to be in a position to talk to scientists who know the ins and outs of various topics and ecosystems, and then to translate what I learn for young audiences. Of course, I’m talking about nonfiction writing, but the same goes for fiction. Where does your story take place? What sort of characters does it involve? Your role as a writer gives you the opportunity to slip into someone else’s shoes for a bit.

It’s an incredible amount of fun…and rewarding as anything I’ve ever done in my life.

What about you? What makes you delighted with YOUR writing life these days?