With Paul Meisel

Today we take a look at the teaming of Anne Rockwell and Paul Meisel. They’ve done many titles in the Let’s-Read-and Find-Out series, plus other action-filled stories like “Brendan and Belinda and the Slam Dunk!“, and “Chip and the Karate Kick,” all from HarperCollins. Paul is also an author/illustrator. Find out more about him at www.paulmeisel.com.


Illustration by Paul Meisel, from "What's So Bad About Gasoline?"

Illustration by Paul Meisel

5. “What’s So Bad About Gasoline?: Fossil Fuels and What They Do” is your most recent collaboration. This is such a topical subject! Was this proposed by you, or through your agent? Is there a set procedure when working on a Let’s-Read-and-Find-Out (LRFO) book? Is it more rigorous? Do you get to view the tight dummy or sketches for factual accuracy? Or is there an alternative protocol that happens at the publisher’s end?

Cover from "What's So Bad About Gasoline"


Anne Rockwell: I love working with Paul Meisel, for while I do the writing, he’s such an intelligent and thoughtful researcher that he often comes up with things that weren’t in the text, and wonders if they add something. And you know what? They almost always do. And he brings a different observation and wit than I have, and enriches the story.

Paul Meisel: Anne is a delightful author, and person, with a clear, consistently friendly, and informative voice. Anne is able to convey fairly complex concepts in accessible language for the early science reader. I really enjoy our collaborative relationship.

Phoebe Yeh, at HarperCollins, is the ultimate authority on all things LRFO! On these books, I work directly with Phoebe and her assistant, the very helpful Amanda Glickman. They give me a lot of room to design and conceptualize the interior spreads.

Naturally, my sketches come back with comments and suggestions for revisions. LRFO‘s are also vetted by experts in the field, to assure the accuracy of the material.

“Why Are the Ice Caps Melting? The Dangers of Global Warming” was the first LRFO on an environmental theme that Anne and I did together. The reviews on Amazon are somewhat amusing, since there is a fair amount of political posturing about the topic of Global Warming. With that in mind, we aim—I think successfully–to present these “hot-button” topics without any bias. We offer a positive message about how children and grown-ups can take action to help solve problems.

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23 responses to “With Paul Meisel

  1. Marvelous thought exchanges today! Thank you, Paul Meisel, for visiting, and for your sparkling art. Hugs to you, and Anne, for all your great work towards enlightening kids and the rest of us.

    Browse Inside this book

  2. Thanks for stopping by and your kind words, Suzanne.

  3. I am really learning a lot from these interactions. I love the concept of curriculum guides and it’s nice to know that there is a place in San Diego to look to for help.

    Great job.

  4. And hey, the door is open 24/7 for quips and queries, Everyone!

  5. Thank YOU, Anne! And Paul, too!
    Thank you, Andrea and Sarah 🙂

    and thanks also to all of you out there reading and sharing our thoughts. . . .

  6. That’s so great, Anne! They really are such a fun way for a teacher or parent to take the concepts in the book a step further. 🙂

  7. Hi Sarah,
    Thanks for stopping by! Hannah tells me the hits on the guides exceed anything else on the site, which is great news.

    I’m having so much fun with this get-together Joy organized, and hope everyone else is, too.

    Thanks again, Joy.
    — Anne

  8. San Diego may be far from New York, but it’s a great place for picture books!

  9. Hi all!
    Anne, thanks for the kudos on the curriculum guide we made for WHAT’S SO BAD ABOUT GASOLINE?

    I’m delighted to hear from Paul here! I love your artwork in that book!! 🙂 And I am THRILLED to hear you two are working on an Oil Spill book!

    Sad that it’s a reality of life these days, but glad that you all will tackle this complicated issue and explain it to kids (and adults!). I learn a ton from these LRFO books myself!

    Andrea, I’m not sure if you remember Barbara Fisch and me, but we were the associate directors of publicity at Harcourt Children’s Books for 15+ years and worked on your adorable MY DOG TOBY and DIG! (Small world, indeed, Joy!)

    Barb and I are now Blue Slip Media and the curriculum guides we do are some of our favorite projects! We work with a PhD curriculum specialist and a top notch designer to create the guides. 🙂

  10. Hi Andrea,
    So nice to hear from you. “The Cow Buzzed” was a fun book, and so relevant! (Think we could get the CDC to issue a special Swine Flu edition?) I hope Sue Hill (the delightful editor at HarperCollins at the time) is doing well.

    Illustration from "Chip and the Karate Kick"

    Illustration from "Chip and the Karate Kick"

  11. Hi Andrea,
    Blue Slip took care of everything, and I think did a great job. Apparently they are getting a great many hits on my website, and I assume those hits turn into printable downloads. I would get in touch with Blue Slip. I recommend them highly!

    • Thank you Paul, for calling attention to one more gaffe by Tony Hayward. What is coming out about that rig is very, very scary. Irresponsible, greedy people manning the ship, I’d say.

      And you know that out of this disaster I’m sure with you hoping that we can do our part, however modest, in making the public aware that things like this don’t have to happen–and call on we the people!

  12. Hi Anne,
    Sounds like a great (working) title for our next LRFO — I’m excited to know it’s coming along. I doubt if anyone, even if they work in the oil industry, will take issue with that title.

    It’s interesting that Tony Hayward just came out with some statements recently:

    The former boss of BP, Tony Hayward has admitted that the company was “not prepared” to deal with fallout over the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig disaster in the Gulf of Mexico and the media “feeding frenzy” surrounding it. . . .

    Hopefully out of that disaster some good will come in terms of industry preparedness as well as the public’s greater awareness of environmental concerns and things that all of us can do in our daily lives. Of course our book will help!

    Thank you Joy, for providing this great forum!

  13. Could you folks detail the making of the curriculum guides? What was the process of creating them? How much back and forth was there with Blue Slip? Any advice on approaching making curriculum guides? Thanks.

  14. Hi Paul,
    Thanks for doing such a great job illustrating our story, “The Cow Buzzed!”

  15. And that brings me to the book Paul and I are currently working on, WHAT’S SO BAD ABOUT AN OIL SPILL? (working title). My first sight of salt water and the sea was the Gulf of Mexico from the shores of Biloxi, MIssissippi, so the damage to the grass marshes and wildlife of the gulf coast hits home with me.

    This book will be as upbeat as possible however, since it will deal with what we can and are doing to help the habitat and wildlife of this environment.

  16. Hi Paul, Hi Joy,

    Thanks for calling attention to the Curriculum Guide for WHAT’S SO BAD ABOUT GASOLINE. It’s a terrific resource to extend the usefulness of this book.

    Paul’s reference to the political posturing on the subject of global warming made me smile, in spite of the gravity of the situation.

    I had one interviewer ask me, re WHY ARE THE ICE CAPS MELTING if my conscience wasn’t troubled by writing a book that would scare children so. I kind of had to take a gulp to catch my breath when I realized she was serious.

    I admitted that I probably hadn’t given it enough thought, being that I’d been born during the Great Depression in the deep south, an area particularly hard hit, spent my elementary school years during WWII being told to look at the sky during recess to make sure there were no planes with rising sun or swastika insignia on them (never mind that there were no planes, period).

    Adolescence brought on The Bomb, The Cold War, Korea and Vietnam. Talk about scaring kids!

    My feeling is that whether everyone is right or wrong re global warming, it doesn’t harm any of us to give it the benefit of the doubt, and do all we can to cut down carbon emissions, etc. The anger that the subject brings forth puzzles me….

    Illustration from "What's So Bad About Gasoline?"

    Illustration from "What's So Bad About Gasoline?"

  17. Curriculum guides also serve as a great book promotional tool. The ones on Anne’s website were put together by the folks at Blue Slip Media.

  18. Incidentally, there is a Curriculum Guide available for “What’s So Bad About Gasoline?” You can go to Anne’s website to download it. It’s a terrific way to inform kids, parents, and teachers on this important topic, and about the book itself.

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