welcome to the Izzy Newton and the SMART Squad #3: The Law of Cavities blog tour!
Follow us as we celebrate the launch of The Law of Cavities (October 11) with behind-the-scenes looks from author Valerie Tripp, plus 5 chances to win all 3 books in the Izzy Newton series!
Girls care deeply:
Tap into girls’ deep desire to protect the environment and animals
by Valerie Tripp
Once again, my trusty Lunch Bunch girls were the source of the heart and soul of my story. With a mix of hilarity, dismay, and happiness, the girls talked about memories of their Outdoor Education weekend, including crushes, Jell-O for dessert, creepy crawlies, ancestral showers, and ghost stories. And yet, beneath the jokes, his deep concern for the outdoors, for protecting the environment and animals came through loud and clear. When I listened to this extraordinary group of high school girls, I learned that they take science seriously, and they take science seriously, too. They taught me:
- Science is neither cold nor arcane. It is a practical, humane, sometimes even humorous part of everyday life that, when applied, makes life better.
- It’s okay, in fact, it’s great! — be a smart and caring girl who is interested in science, especially the environment.
- It’s okay, in fact, it’s great! – be your quirky, unique and honest self.
- It’s okay—in fact, it’s essential—to make mistakes, learn from them, and laugh at them.
- The best solutions happen when we listen to different points of view and combine talents.
- Sometimes an idea that seems like a laugh-out-loud silly idea is brilliant.
- The steps of the scientific method (identify the problem, collect relevant data, formulate a hypothesis, test the hypothesis) can be used to solve scientific inquiry problems AND behavioral/learning/emotional/interpersonal problems.
How could I celebrate and honor my Lunch Bunch girls’ concern for the environment? Well, my Lunch Bunch girls were excited about the birds of prey, especially the owls, because “they’re so cute.” They wanted the Squad to find out that the island had recently been inhabited by a species of owl that is on the endangered animal list. I was excited: I love owls, and right here in Montgomery County we have owls that we’ve never had before. They are here because of climate change. And there are certainly owls on the endangered species list.
That central idea connected with something in my brain. In 2001, my friend, the poet Mary Clare Powell, sent me her poem “Things the Owls Ate.” Begins:
The sixth graders are dissecting them,
regurgitated waste, indigestible parts
Of things that owls ate, found where owls perch,
near the white spatter marks on the barn boards.
Kids say the idea is disgusting but once they cut
open the hard shells are soft gray feathers
and hair they first find. in the center of
from that bed appear the bones, shoulder blade and tiny skull.
Children are excited to match the bone with
bone, using a printed guide, arranging the
frames of tiny eaten things. They learn anatomy.
That quiet poem stayed hidden in my brain for 20 years, waiting to connect with the spark the Lunch Bunch girls gave me to Izzy Newton and the SMART Squad: The Law of Cavities, a story about owls, and how there are surprises hidden in people and places, just like there are in owl balls. Mary Clare illustrated for me the metaphorical link between fact and fiction, nature and human nature. My lovely and generous friend Kay Taub gave me an owl pellet to dissect, much to my delight, and a printed guide to learn. Clearly, generosity abounds in people who love owls. Bárbara Freitas and Emma Gesiriech, both raptor experts, kindly answered my questions about owls with experience and enthusiasm and came up with even better ideas to add authenticity to the story. My daughter Katherine, another owl fanatic, helped me tremendously by recalling with great humor and specificity her memories of dealing with braces and her sixth grade outdoor education experience. We laughed and laughed, while Katherine provided me with valuable pages of notes. Katherine’s professional research and writing on the benefits of outdoor education for high school students were an inspiration, as was Katherine herself. forever it is!
My friends Betsy Randall-David and Sara Jarvis sent in thoughtful and comprehensive lists and, during our video call, generated a treasure trove of outdoor and environmentally related games and activities for Camp Rosalie Edge, all tried and true from Camp Lala -Gigi, which they created for their lucky grandchildren. Essential to my story were Betsy and Sara’s observations and insights into the children’s interactions and behaviors while camping. Mary-Grace Reeves, my pen pal since she was a child, just graduated from Stanford Medical School. It was inspiring how Mary-Grace immediately grasped the idea of science affecting friendships between girls and she came up with the perfect, clever, funny idea of hair turning green from oxidation, which she loved. Becky Baines came up with the big title: Izzy Newton and SMART Squad: The Law of Cavities. Thank you, Becky! Shelby Lees and Erica Green are my partners in the joy of creating SMART Squad stories. I can never thank you enough for asking the question that tied all the elements of this story together: What if Izzy has braces?
So I simply combined the deep concern for the environment expressed by my Lunch Bunch girls with the generosity and kindness of lovers of owls and brake tests and Ta Da! Izzy Newton and SMART Squad: The Law of Cavities came to be.
A message to readers from author Valerie Tripp:
I hope my readers take away this message: you are a scientist. You constantly observe, test, evaluate and draw conclusions. STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) is not limited to labs, science fair booths, or classrooms. You’re doing STEM stuff everywhere, all the time, when you cook, run, feed your pet, quench your thirst, dive into a wave, wash your hands, learn to do a cartwheel, spend time on your laptop , look at the stars, cut an apple into parts and distribute the parts. Know this, accept this, celebrate this and take responsibility to explore AND protect this extraordinary, exciting and amazing universe. Get out there! Be active, curious and focused. Take yourself seriously. Your actions matter because they will shape the world we all live in. Be aware, pay attention, learn and live fully with courage and enthusiasm. And don’t be afraid to fail. Chaos, disorder, and failure are essential parts of all creative endeavors like science. Don’t worry. things heal. Mistakes are forgiven. You have plenty of time to order.
about the book
Buy | good reads
Meet the characters, watch the book trailer, and check out the Educator and Reader Guides on the series website here!
The SMART Squad is back to take on more high school mayhem with science, technology, engineering, math, and friendship!
In this third book in the SMART Squad series, best friends Izzy Newton, Allie Einstein, Marie Curie, Charlie Darwin, and Gina Carver embark on a mystery-filled outdoor adventure camping experience.
Now that Izzy has finally found her voice in speech class and become an ice hockey star, she’s determined to conquer her “dizzy-Izzy-ness” in new situations, including taking care of her new braces in an education at school. outdoors at night and your friends. ‘good-natured jokes about her friend Trevor of hers. But the forecast for fun turns cloudy when the girls discover that their cabin chaperone is none other than Izzy’s tough speech teacher, Mrs. Martinez, and their junior counselor is eighth grade mean girl Maddie Sharpe.
When an innocent exchange of harmless pranks with Maddie takes a turn for the worse, the Squad turns to science to prove their innocence. However, that is nothing compared to the terrifying swamp monster lurking in their camp, a catastrophe befalling Mrs. Martinez, and a mysterious disaster that threatens the future of the camp.
With his very survival at stake, will science be enough to save the day?
“Healthy entertainment for tweens, offering positivity without didactics.”
“It’s one thing to have children’s books about scientists or podcasts or stories about strong women in STEM, but it’s a whole other world when your kids feel represented by the characters they’re reading about. The characters in the Izzy Newton and SMART Squad series are diverse, intelligent and self-assured as all high school girls are, through their dreams and newly acquired skills that they are still getting used to.”
About the Author
VALERIE TRIPP is the co-creator of the American Girl book series which includes titles with Felicity, Josefina, Kit, Maryellen, Molly and Samantha. Tripp also wrote American Girl’s Wellie Wishers titles, Hopscotch Hill School titles, numerous leveled readers, songs, stories, skill book pages, and plays for educational publishers. Tripp is a writer and editorial director for the Boys Camp series, and a writer, editor, and art editor for Sterling Publishing Company. Tripp received a bachelor’s degree and honors as a member of the first coeducational class at Yale University and a master’s degree in education from Harvard University.
- Five (5) winners will receive all 3 complete Izzy Newton books and the SMART Squad series: Absolute Hero, Newton’s Flaw, Y The Law of Cavities
- US/Canada only
- Ends 11/13 at 11:59 pm ET
- Enter via the Rafflecopter below
- Visit the other stops on the tour for more chances to win!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Blog Tour Schedule:
31 October — Book Hounds
November 1st — Toolbox for Teen Librarians
November 2 — Pragmatic Mom
November 3 – A dream within a dream
November 4th — From the mixed archives of middle grade authors