Testimonials and Book Reviews

Author Visits

Brain Games school visit

Thank you so much for coming to our school to talk about the science all around us, and inside us -- our brains!

How our brains respond to stimuli, and which brain regions control different body and mood functions could be dry for kids because it’s complicated. But, you made it easy to understand, super interesting, and really fun. Time flew by and the kids and teachers were left wanting more!

So many students came up to me for days after your visit and told me how cool it was. They ask me every week in Library class if we can play more brain games!

And, we have fun referring back to what we learned from you: when it’s time to quiet down, we “de-activate” the speech center of our brains; when it’s time to focus on a task, we activate the high-order thinking center of our brains; and when I want students to remember something, we activate the memory center of our brains.

Thank you again for spending the day with us. I would highly recommend to any teacher, librarian or Parent-Teacher-Organization to book a presentation with you now!

Kara LaGrassa Librarian, St. Agnes School Arlington, VA December 7, 2015

Worldwide Skype

I think that it’s pretty cool that although Jennifer Swanson is so far away we felt like she was right there in the room thanks to Skype. I think that the whole class enjoyed this experience and we all want to do it again!

Read more

Elena March 5, 2015

Thank you Jennifer for sharing your love of science and writing with our students. The students
were able to see how they can connect passions in their lives in a whole new way! Students
loved hearing about your unique science books as well as hearing about what it takes to be an
author. It has truly inspired our students to see themselves as authors as well. Thank you for
your inspiration!

Nita Hurley May 4, 2015

Skype in the Classroom!

Thank you so much for talking with grades 3, 4, and 5 today in China! My Grade 3 class made you a thank you sign. All the students loved talking and listening to you. It was really wonderful, and it got them very excited about literacy. You also mentioned editing, which is something they are all learning about in class. Very relevant! We have your picture printed out in our room so we can remember the conversation. You made our day!

Alexa Teacher in Qingdao, China March 7, 2015

Meeting a Real Author!

Thank you very much for visiting Henry F. Kite Elementary. The children were inspired after meeting a "real" author!
Your read aloud was wonderful as was your presentation on the story glove .... Thank you for taking time out of your schedule to not only share your book, but also to inspire future authors.

Michelle Stinson Instructional Coach and Duval County Teacher of the Year 2007 January 9, 2015

Thank you for your time. The kids LOVED the Skype visit. Several told me that that you helped them realize how fun it is to write nonfiction. They found what you shared to be very motivating. We've posted the photo on our school's Facebook page. I appreciated your enthusiasm and help. Thank you!

Doreen Brady Avon Grove Charter School February 2, 2016

Reading Across America

Thank you for the delightful Skype visit today. It was so interesting to learn your eeewwww facts! Kiddos and I had a wonderful experience!

Erin Preder K-5 Librarian - Romeoville, IL March 7, 2015

Writing Program

Jennifer Swanson came to visit my 3rd grade class at Jacksonville Beach Elementary School. She took the time to answer every student’s question. She also reinforced the importance of the writing process and spent a lot of time talking about editing and revising.

Mary Lee Third Grade Teacher January 9, 2015

Jennifer provided a fantastic presentation to our students. From 1st thru 6th grade, our students were able all that being an author entails.

Jennifer’s love of science as well as writing has provided her with the unique opportunity to engage students in creative way. We loved having Jennifer on campus and we would welcome her back!

Discovery Montessori School May 4, 2015

Thank you for visiting Emma Love Hardee. We were delighted to have a visit from an author with your experience. Your books inspired questions from many of our students. Your books make science and technology fun and exciting to read about. We have 3rd, 4th and 5th graders and you were able to reach our students on each level. With our current emphasis on STEM, your books were a perfect fit for our school. Our students loved the disasters, grossness and exciting new technology in your books. They are also excited about your upcoming book Brain Games from National Geographic for Kids. Thank you again for coming to our school. Your visit was a hit with our students and teachers.

Elizabeth D. Smith Media Specialist, Emma Love Hardee Elementary School Fernandina Beach, FL March 18, 2015

What Kids Are Saying.

"I really enjoyed your book. It’s just so interesting to me and my whole family. I take your book
everywhere I go. I hope you come back to show us more." -- Jada

"I learned a lot. I had a blast, my first in school!! You taught me the skills I didn’t know and they
will be in my head forever." -- Kenyan

January 9, 2015

Book Reviews

Fall of the Mongol Empire

At its greatest extent in the 13th and 14th centuries, the Mongol Empire stretched from northeastern Europe to northern China and the Pacific, and this well-written set covers its entire history, from founding to expansion and enormous influence to decline... The Mongol empire is an often overlooked part of history, and this set gives it the attention it deserves. VERDICT A first purchase for middle school and early high school students.

School Library Journal, November 2016 December 12, 2016

Everything Robotics

This book is chock full of text and visual information about robotics. It will take readers days and many close re-readings to digest all the information provided about the history of robotics, the influences of robotics on facets of our lives, and how to get involved with robotics challenges.

ILA May, 2016 June 22, 2016

Super Gear

This reader-friendly introduction to nanotechnology breaks down the science and describes the processes of nano-manufacturing in a clear and understandable way. Packed with photographs, diagrams, and text boxes, this book will appeal to athletes and sports enthusiasts—and the curious.

ILA May 2016 June 22, 2016

BRAIN GAMES is a 2016 International Literacy Association (ILA) Children’s Choice selection!

Each year 12,500 school children ages 5–12 from different regions of the United States read newly published children’s and young adults’ trade books and vote for the ones they like best. These Children’s Choices, selected from more than 900 titles, can be counted on as books children really enjoy reading.

ILA June 22, 2016

The Wonderful World of Wearable Devices

GR 8 UP—As the world becomes increasingly more tech-based, students and consumers must learn how to operate efficiently and effectively within that framework. In order to help readers become well informed, this series discusses the benefits and drawbacks of several technological advances that are permeating education and industry today, as well as ones that teens may or may not already be using in their daily lives. The books are well structured and clearly written, but the text can be extremely detailed and dense. A background in technology isn't an absolute requirement, but these books are not for total Luddites: teens need to have some awareness of context and terms. (A glossary does help with this.)VERDICT Considering the rapid evolution of tech, educators may wonder how relevant this set will be in a few years, but readers will most likely take an interest in certain topics and can certainly benefit from learning more.

Reviewed on APRIL 1, 2015 | Series Made Simple

School Library Journal April 8, 2015

Brain Games

This colorful book is full of cool optical illusions, memory tests, and pattern finding challenges paired with clear and energetic explanations of the neuroscience behind them. Swanson’s Brain Games is a fun and informative read that will propel kids to explore their own brain power.

Mary Kay Carson author of five books in the Scientists in the Field series published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. September 3, 2015

Super Gear

A highly engaging introduction to an exciting aspect of cutting-edge, real-world science for STEM collections.

School Library Journal May 2016 June 22, 2016

Super Gear

Colorfully illustrated by photos, this book introduces “the science of the very small” as applied to sports equipment and clothing… An up-to-date look at the intersection of technology and sports.

Booklist May 2016 June 22, 2016

What Kids Are Saying.

"I really enjoyed your book. It’s just so interesting to me and my whole family. I take your book
everywhere I go. I hope you come back to show us more." -- Jada

"I learned a lot. I had a blast, my first in school!! You taught me the skills I didn’t know and they
will be in my head forever." -- Kenyan

January 9, 2015

Explore Forces and Motion

Physics is fun with this colorful and informative book for students ages 7–10.Using the theme of motion, the book encourages readers to push, pull, spin, twist, and turn their way to learning basic concepts of force and motion. There are ample activities and projects throughout the book that provide the reader with ways to explore forces and motion and learn basic concepts while having loads of fun. Students will enjoy the fun graphics in the book. This book would be excellent as a textbook for young readers.

National Science Teacher Association (NSTA) June 2016 June 29, 2016

How Things Work: Hybrid Cars

Combining the popular subjects of environmentalism and new technology, hybrid cars make for an ideal topic for middle-grade readers. This volume in the How Things Work series is bouncy, savvy, and, above all, clear; it is hard to come away without a working knowledge of everything from the mechanics of hybrid engines to why dependence on foreign oil is bad. Hosting the series are two cartoons - a robot and a caveman - especially apt choices for a book couched in the concept of discarding old energy sources for new. (When the caveman plugs his PHEV car into one of the robot's sockets, the robot deadpans, "This is humiliating.") A four-page time line explains the history of the concept, while bright cutaway illustrations show how the hybrid saves gas and how a fuel cell converts hydrogen gas. But the main event is Swanson's gift for making complicated subjects crystalline. To explain greenhouse gases, she compares them to the heat that builds up inside a parked car because of the glass windows - a swift, germane metaphor. The back matter is a bit skimpy, but otherwise this is a model of how to make science appeal to young readers.

Booklist - Daniel Kraus **Booklist -- Starred Review ** January 9, 2015

Super Gear

Swanson is splendid at explaining how nanotechnology works, and boxed asides help readers conduct experiments on drag, surface area, and such.

Kirkus Reviews April 2016 June 22, 2016

I never imagined that reading about how the brain works could be such fun! Brain Games is an interactive and exciting reading experience. Readers learn as they play. Brain Games explores memory, emotion, decision-making, and physical action using real life examples and sound scientific facts. A fantastic resource for school or home.

Elizabeth Raum author of over 100 children's nonfiction books, former library director of Concordia College (Moorehead, MN), and Teaching Artist with the North Dakota Council on the Arts. September 3, 2015

Super Gear

2016 Best STEM Book Award by the National Science Teachers Association
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Best STEM Books is a joint project of several organizations: the American Society for Engineering Education, the International Technology and Engineering Educators Association, the National Science Teachers Association, the Society of Elementary Presidential Awardees, and the Children’s Book Council (ASEE, ITEEA, NSTA, SEPA, and CBC). The list provides knowledgeable recommendations to educators, librarians, parents, and caregivers about the best trade
books with STEM content.

December 8, 2016

The Challenges and the Brain Breaks games are fun for kids and adults!

Explore how your brain’s wet ware helps you create memories, experience emotions, make decisions, and control your body. Brain Games chapters begin with an intriguing Challenge to try, then explain what’s happening. The Challenges and the Brain Breaks games are fun for kids and adults! Vivid illustrations complement clear writing. Enjoy this lively read alone, in a classroom, or travelling.

Ben Reynolds Senior Program Manager, Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth September 3, 2015

How Things Work: Hybrid Cars

This vibrantly–illustrated book on hybrid cars, one of a series of 13 on "How Things Work," is very informative, with a relevant message for our society. The author (a middle school science teacher) explains greenhouse gases and global warming at an appropriate level, then connects the information to the importance of hybrid cars.

The book begins with a child and parent leaving for soccer practice. The mom must first check the battery and the hydrogen level of the car before they leave their home. The remainder of the book is divided into interesting fact–filled sections. There is a labeled diagram of a hybrid car in the text as well as a page listing the benefits of a hybrid car. An entire section which details how a hybrid car works will be very helpful to students and teachers. There is also a list of the four most popular hybrid cars on the market.

The book is not text–heavy so it will be an easy and quick read for students. There are great nonfiction features in the book, such as a wonderful timeline which begins in 1769 with the first steam–powered carriage built in France, and ends in 2011 with more than forty hybrid cars around the world. A neatly illustrated comic book style “Table of Contents”, index, glossary, and “Find Out More” section complete the book. Teachers can use the book as a supplement to a unit, librarians could use the book as a read–aloud on Earth Day, and students would find the book useful for a science report on hybrid cars.

Tracy Alley National Science Teachers Association January 9, 2015

Noteworthy Non-Fiction

Body Bugs: Invisible Creatures Lurking Inside You
The "Introduction," noting that "your body is home to more than 90 trillion microbes" will grab the attention of lovers of everything gross. Besides bacteria, mites also live on human skin, and while most are harmless, some are parasites. Viruses love nose hair, most of which the body can fight off. Another location for microbes is in teeth, but brushing will get rid of most of them. Some microbes, such as probiotics in the intestines, are helpful but others inhabiting the intestine such as E. coli, which comes from undercooked food or contaminated water, can cause severe illness. Having started with the head, Swanson finishes with feet with foot fungus and 250,000 sweat glands attracting the smelly bacteria that dine off sweat. Again, a glossary, bibliography/webliography, and index end the book.

Hilda K. Weisburg January 9, 2015

Brain Games

Brainy books aren’t for everyone, but if you’re one of those who love everything “brain” including how your brain works, how it perceives and relays those perceptions to you, and how—in many ways—it works you like a puppet on a string, there’s a new picture book just for you. It is National Geographic Kids’ Brain Games: The Mind-Blowing Science of Your Amazing Brain, by Jennifer Swanson, and for lack of a better word . . . it’s amazing! See More

Rita Lorraine Hubbard New York Journal of Books October 6, 2015

Everything Robotics

These titles are designed for casual browsers and more serious readers alike. The four chapters, introduction, and afterword offer a planned route through these ambitious overviews, while the mini-bites of information keep them friendly.VERDICT These resources present accessible fun; both will find eager audiences.

School Library Journal April 2016 June 22, 2016

Super Gear

Selected as 1 of 12 Books to Jump-Start Your Summer by the International Literacy Association (May 2016)

June 22, 2016

Body Bugs: Invisible Creatures Lurking Inside You

Girls will say, "Eww, yuck!" and walk away. Boys will say, "Gross!" and read the series. From the enlarged microphotographs on the covers, the reader's eye is drawn to the topics. Helpful study tools include bolded words defined in a word box, and labeled microphotographs. All books discuss the harmfulness of uncontrolled microorganisms, but also tell about the useful role of the critters. Food Intruders adds historical information about Salem witchcraft and bad bread, the potato famine in Ireland, salmonella contamination, etc. Though most suited for upper elementary, the books would be valuable in middle school for struggling readers. Recommended.

Marion Mueller Library Media Consultant, Rawhide Starr Academy January 9, 2015

Manuscript Critiques

Jennifer Swanson has written over twenty books for both trade and educational publishers. She is active in social networking and is keenly aware of current trends in the NF market. In critiques, she has given me knowledgeable advice in researching, using innovative writing techniques and kid friendly language. As a professional, Jennifer would be an excellent choice to critique your NF project

Kathy Tierney January 9, 2015

Jen coached me through the process of getting a contract to write for the educational market. Her comments on my cover letter, resume, and writing samples, as well as her advice about how to navigate the market, helped me craft a great package and gave me confidence. My first two books are coming out this spring.

Annette Pimentel January 9, 2015

Jen's critique of my historical fiction picture book immediately targeted the weaknesses in my manuscript. She helped me structure and refocus the story line in the form of a question, which I could use to assess the flaws or inconsistencies in my story. I would definitely recommend Jen's services!

Jarmil a del Boc ci o January 9, 2015

I want to share that I had a wonderful critique session with Jen Swanson yesterday. She gave me lots of feedback. We brainstormed appropriate publishing houses. I enjoyed working with her. I think my revised manuscript will soon be ready for submissions to editors. I can't really say enough good things about my critique session with Jen Swanson.

Jeanette Koscheski June 11, 2015

My critique with Jen this morning was fantastic! She was such a help to get me focused with what to do with my big variety of stories and where they might fit with publishers and which are the strongest. Thank you, Jen Swanson, for clear direction for my next step in this unfolding, never a dull moment journey.

Karen Dean June 11, 2015

Manuscript Critiques

Coming highly recommended and a well known author/editor in the genre of my manuscript, I engaged Jennifer to perform the autopsy. Well, it wasn't quite dead but I certainly had beat it nearly to death. What I received was amazing! She provided an in-depth constructive evaluation, identifying grammar, pacing, some developmental needs for the character and line editing. Very impressive and she was spot on. The feedback was clear and concise. Jennifer also encouraged any follow-up questions, which of course, I had; those too were promptly answered. Highly recommend. If you are needing a critique and/or edit this is your go to girl!

Linda C. Carpenter September 28, 2016

Jennifer Swanson's critiques are always helpful, insightful and chock full of fabulous suggestions. Jennifer brings an extensive writing and publishing background to the table and I'm grateful to have had her help many times over. Not only is Jennifer full of knowledge, but she's sweet and wonderful to work with. I highly recommend

Sophia Ghloz January 9, 2015

Critique Service

Talking with Jennifer for the first time when she critiqued my manuscript was like talking with a good friend who knows just what to say and just what you need. She is someone you can trust. Jennifer cheered the sections that soared and zeroed in on places where the story got lost in the writing. Perhaps more importantly, she was able to clearly explain the logic behind her reactions and suggest solutions for breathing new life into my work. Jennifer's critical judgments were informed by an intimate knowledge of the practical realities of the marketplace, publishers, readers, editors, and agents -- and they were always on target. I feel a renewed sense of promise in my work. Thank you, Jennifer.

Robert Lerose Award-winning writer October 7, 2015

I was very pleased with my critique with Jennifer. Her thoughtful line editing had great ideas and helped me see things that I needed to address. Her comments were extensive and spot on. I would highly recommend her.

Peggy Shallock February 18, 2015

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