The Soul of an Octopus is a finalist for the 2015 National Book Awards

National Book Awards finalistThe Soul of an Octopus is a finalist for the 2015 National Book Awards. The other four nonfiction books that made the cut from the “Longlist” are: Ta-Nehisi Coates, Between the World and Me; Sally Mann, Hold Still; Carla Power, If the Oceans Were Ink: An Unlikely Friendship and a Journey to the Heart of the Quran; and Tracy K. Smith, Ordinary Light.

The winner will be announced November 18.

Man, octopus - there is none so close to us
“Man, octopus – there is none so close to us” – or so says Google Translate.
At your news kiosk now – if you are in Germany, Das Magazin. On the cover: “Man, octopus – there is none so close to us” – or so says Google Translate.
Sixth and Seventh Printings. Simon & Schuster has ordered two more printings of The Soul of an Octopus.

Utah Chapter of the International Reading AssociationLast week Sy had the great pleasure of returning to Utah to visit a great group who are dedicated to putting children together with books that they’ll love. Sy spoke at the annual conference of the Utah Chapter of the International Reading Association. She was introduced by Lauren Aimonette Liang. Professor Liang teaches in the Department of Educational Psychology at the University of Utah and she has the kind of home in which reading flourishes. Professor Liang’s introduction:

In my life, Sy Montgomery is a superstar.

Sy has written over 20 books for children and adults. Her books have won several awards and her newest title, The Soul of an Octopus, is on the nonfiction long list for the National Book Award. Her children’s books have introduced thousands of children around the world — including my own— animals they may never have heard of otherwise, and helped them to love and care for these often endangered animals.

In my home it started with the kakapo. In first grade my son was asked to read a nonfiction book on an animal and write a report. Looking through the bookshelves in my office, he found and fell in love with Sy’s Kakapo Rescue book. This was the start of an avid interest in our house not just in the kakapo but in tree kangaroos, pink dolphins and more animals highlighted in Sy’s books. When my son’s class pet “Fang” suddenly became our family pet this past summer, we were prepared for the new “Fang Liang “ thanks to Sy’s book The Tarantula Scientist. Her writing is captivating, as she combines facts about her animal subjects with stories of her research and the adventures of the scientists she joins.

In my undergraduate and graduate children’s literature classes, many students read Sy’s works as an example of outstanding children’s nonfiction. A year ago while a small group was examining which sections of a page from The Snake Scientist were pure expository text and which were more narrative nonfiction, one student looked up at me and said, “I know this is narrative nonfiction here, but I think Sy makes it come alive so much that it’s almost persuasive text—I am suddenly loving snakes!”

In an interview Sy said “We are on the cusp of either destroying this sweet, green Earth—or revolutionizing the way we understand the rest of animal creation. It’s an important time to be writing about the connections we share with our fellow creatures.” Sy’s books inspire exploration of these special connections. Her books also show the extreme measures she undertakes in her research to better understand the animals she meets.

My children think Sy is amazing because she knows so much about animals they have come to love.

My students think Sy is amazing because she writes such eloquent nonfiction text for children.

I think Sy is an amazing superstar because she writes books that not only teach students about animals and the work of biologists and research scientists, but that also convince children — and adults— that the absolute coolest job in the world is being a nonfiction children’s author.