With Children’s Non-Fiction author, Jennifer Swanson

Friday, December 29, 2017

The ABC song is one of the first fun songs we teach our children to sing. Why? Because the alphabet is the backbone for learning to read and write. For some people, reading and writing is not fun at all. 

My new series, ABC’S OFF THE TOP OF YOUR HEAD offers a new way to have fun with the alphabet. Every week, a children’s author, illustrator, literary agent or editor will Jennifer swansonshare their ‘top of the head’ answers to the ABC category list they were given, A to Z. Following their answers, I ask a few questions to gain a little insight into their world.

Feel free to play along, maybe your answer off the top of your head will match theirs. Enjoy! 

Science is awesome and learning it is fun with books from today’s ABC contestant, children’s non-fiction author, Jennifer Swanson!



Below is a list of Jennifer’s categories from A – Z and her answers off the top of her head.


ANIMAL:  Koala

BERRY: blueberry                                         

COLOR:  green

DESSERT: apple turnover

EVERY CHILD:  should read


GAME: Battleship

HOBBY:  reading

INSECT:  spider

JAMMING SONG:  Anything by Bon Jovi

KNOW HOW TO:  detassel corn

LAUGH (WHAT MAKES YOU):  smart humor on TV shows

METAL:  gold




QUICK, A ‘Q’ WORD: quark



TREE: red oak

UNUSUAL COMBINATION:  nanotechnology and sports

VEGETABLE:  don’t like them – ha, seriously, cucumbers

WISH: for peace

X WORD:  x-ray


ZANIEST THING YOU’VE DONE:  give a chow call


ME:   The first question that came to my mind after I read your answers is what is a chow call? Do you mean a Chow dog? Or chow as in food is ready?

JS:   Ha. No, a chow call is something we had to do when I was a plebe (freshman) at the Naval Academy. You go and stand on the corner in the hallway and yell out the menu of the meal for that day. You have to do them before lunch and dinner. From memory, of course, and as fast as you can. It was a sight to see. When I tell my kids about it they just look at me and think I’m nuts for actually doing it. Hey, USNA was a great school and it was free. 😊 

ME:   HAHA! That’s awesome! What if you forgot the menu though? My guess, is that you didn’t. But I can imagine the fun your peers had if you did. (It wasn’t your peers that you had to worry about. It was the upperclass!)

Science is your forte, which is awesome! I have read some of your published books  

     and learned so much from them because you make learning science, fun! What can you tell us about your unusual combination answer: nanotechnology and sports?

JS:   I love to find science topics that are unique. For me, science is awesome! I love supergear2017-225x300the technology/engineering aspect. There are so MANY cool things that we are discovering and creating these days that I just want to write about it all. But you have to find the HOOK. For me, a lot of that is finding a unique combination, interesting angle or answering that question ‘Did you know?’ 

ME:   Did you know… I love your awesome Pirate name answer! What kind of adventures has One-Eyed Jen had while jamming to Bon Jovi?

JS: Ha. I love to ride my bike to Bon Jovi. The music is active and gets me moving faster. A nice to change to my many hours at the computer. 

ME:   Definitely music to keep you motivated. Science is not my forté. I looked up ‘quark’ to find out what it was since it is indeed a funny word. And it has to do with physics. Ugh. What can you tell us about quarks?

JS: First of all, most people don’t learn about quarks until college, if then. They are subatomic particles (think really, really small) that are believed to make up protons and neutrons. They are really cool, but complicated type of science.

 ME:   Whew! Onto less complicated science. 😀 Red oaks are beautiful in autumn. And apple turnovers are a wonderful autumn dessert. Are you a champion Battleship player?

[photo credit:] 


JS: Yes! I played this game all the time with my brothers growing up. Of course, we didn’t have video games back then—or cable. (Yikes!)  Instead, we spent MANY hours playing board games. We had almost 40 of them.

 ME:   Battleship was one of my favorites too. Like you, board games were hours of fun for me and still are! What are your favorite TV shows that make you laugh? And if you were given the go ahead to create a new TV show, what would it be about?

JS: I love M.A.S.H. I can watch that show for hours and hours. I just love intelligent humor. What would my TV show be about? Science probably. 

ME:   M.A.S.H. was brilliantly funny. Your knack for showing the coolness of science would make your TV show a smashing hit. 😊

 2017 has been a really busy year for you. And you are kicking off 2018 with 2 new books coming out: ENVIRONMENTAL ACTIVIST WANGARI MAATHAI, published by Lerner Books, and National Geographic Kids:  ASTRONAUT-AQUANAUT: HOW SPACE SCIENCE AND SEA SCIENCE INTERACT. I know you have been heavily involved with research for upcoming projects; do any of those projects have to do with the dreaded vegetables? And if not, would you consider any upcoming projects using any of your category answers?

JS:  Nope. No veggies in my books. I do have a book coming out with another unusual combination, but I can’t talk about it right now. As for the rest, who knows. I am FULL of ideas. I never know what will hit me next. 

Thanks for having me, Traci. This was FUN!

ME:  Anticipation is making me wait for your new project announcement…ugh!

However, readers are grateful that you have so many ideas and that many of them are now books. I know I am. Always looking forward to reading your books, since I discovered them. 

Thank you for playing the ABC Game with us this week, Jen and giving us a glimpse into your cool world!

Readers, thank you for stopping by. I hope you played along. If you would like to know more about Jennifer Swanson and her books you can find her on the following social media:

@JenSwanBooks  on Twitter

And on the following websites:

Don’t forget to check out the new STEM Tuesday blog! STEM Tuesday Where Jennifer, along with other kidlit science authors bring attention to middle grade STEM books.

STEM books ENGAGE. EXCITE. and INSPIRE! Join us each week as a group of dedicated STEM authors highlight FUN topics, interesting resources, and make real-life connections to STEM in ways that may surprise you. #STEMRocks!



Wishing you all a safe and wonderful New Year! See you in 2018. 











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