Simply 7 with Catherine Payne: MOLE AND TELL

Have you ever heard of the mole as a unit of measurement that’s common across the world?  Me either, until I read today’s picture book!  If you’re a science geek or a teacher of science, this book may be for you.

Payne, CatherineCatherine Payne has been a storyteller all her life. After earning master’s degrees from Harvard University and Columbia University, she worked as a journalist in Michigan and Virginia. Several years later, she returned to her native Guam, where she works as an English instructor and tutor. Catherine especially loves mentoring young wordsmiths and writing books that transport children to happy places. She draws inspiration from Pacific cultures, which help her to appreciate the interconnectedness of all things in the world. You can follow her on Twitter.

Mole and Tell_HC COVER.inddMOLE AND TELL is a story about a science classroom full of curious kids. Mr. Cantello is planning to celebrate Avogadro’s number on October 23rd.  He introduces his students to the concept of a mole (as a universal measurement discovered by Amedo Avogadro) and makes them do the work with a Mole and Tell on the special day.  This book takes a very complex topic and breaks it down in an approachable way that kids can enjoy and celebrate.  This would be a great book for teachers who are looking to celebrate the same day worldwide, or anyone who wants to find a fun science picture book to share with young readers.

Welcome Cathy!

Me: You have a journalism and teaching background.  What is it then that draws you to picture books?

Screen Shot 2023-07-17 at 3.41.27 PMCatherine: When I left journalism, I became immersed in composition and literature as an English teacher. I then wanted to try writing my own books. When I explored the synergy of text and art in picture books, I was hooked.

Me: You are a co-author of this book with your brother.  Did you work side by side to write this story together?  What did your collaboration look like for this book? 

Catherine: My brother and I have collaborated on several writing projects. We brainstorm and outline stories together. Then we take turns drafting, revising, and editing.

Me: What was it about moles (i.e., the scientific measurement) that first grabbed you and made you want to write about them?  What gave you the idea for this book? 

Catherine: I love homonyms, so I was intrigued by the idea of a mole (animal) and a mole (scientific unit of measurement). I wanted to create a book that combined my love of words and my interest in science.

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Me: That’s fun.  Did you have to do a lot of research for this book?  Can you tell us a bit about that process for this story? 

Catherine: Yes, I did a lot of research because I wanted to present accurate and current information. To that end, I read online reference sources and watched YouTube videos on scientific units of measurement. Since I wanted to appeal to readers who have different learning styles, I studied moles through various mediums to see how I could convey the concept in the most effective way.

Me: I love that.  What is your favorite fact that you learned about moles during the creation of this book?

Catherine: Pharmacists use the mole, among other measurements, in making medicines that improve and save lives.

Me: Elisa Rocchi’s illustrations in this book are delightful.  She did such a great job of illustrating a classroom environment.  Did you communicate with her at all during the creation of them?  Were there any illustration surprises for you? 

Screen Shot 2023-07-17 at 3.43.32 PMCatherine: I didn’t communicate with her during the creation process, so I was ecstatic when I saw the illustrations! I was pleasantly surprised to see each student’s unique style. I also love how they come together to explore science.

Me: Any advice for other picture book writers?

Catherine: Read widely and wisely! I learn storytelling techniques from a wide variety of genres. I also study literary works that experiment with structure and other elements because they fire up my imagination, which can lag at times. 

That’s good advice Catherine.  Thank you for stopping by my blog today.

Dear readers, if you haven’t yet had a chance to check out this book, you might want to do so.  It’s quite a complicated science concept that Cathy managed to break down into accessible information and a fun concept.

3 thoughts on “Simply 7 with Catherine Payne: MOLE AND TELL

  1. Wow, this is great! My daughter’s birthday is October 23, so I’ll have to tell her about the special mole significance! The book sounds wonderful! Congratulations!

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