Wednesday, February 17, 2021

The Leaf Detective blog tour - 2.17.21

I am very excited to be sharing this book that celebrates a woman scientist, someone who paved the way for discoveries, conservation, and global knowledge about the rainforests.

The Leaf Detective:
How Margaret Lowman Uncovered Secrets in the Rainforest
written by Heather Lang
illustrated by Jana Christy
published by Calkins Creek

Goodreads summary:
Meg Lowman was determined to investigate the marvelous, undiscovered world of the rainforest treetops. Meg's perseverance and creativity allowed her to achieve this goal, but when this fantastic ecosystem started to disappear, Meg needed to act quickly.

Meg Lowman was always fascinated by the natural world above her head. The colors, the branches, and, most of all, the leaves and mysterious organisms living there. As a scientist, Meg set out to climb up and investigate the rain forest tree canopies-- and to be the first scientist to do so. But she encountered challenge after challenge. Male teachers would not let her into their classrooms, the high canopy was difficult to get to, and worst of all, people were logging and clearing the forests. Meg never gave up or gave in. She studied, invented, and persevered, not only creating a future for herself as a scientist, but making sure that the rainforests had a future as well. Working closely with Meg Lowman, author Heather Lang and artist Jana Christy beautifully capture Meg's world in the treetops.

What you want to know:
Meg Lowman is an amazing scientist  and I really enjoyed learning about her work in rainforests around the world.  The book absolutely comes to life in both the words and illustrations.  This is a mentor text for writing because of the way Lang selected words that makes the rainforest setting jump out of the book and come to life.  Check out some of these descriptions:
  • burst into the world and unfurled
  • wrapped herself in nature, like a soft blanket
  • stuck like sap to her passion
  • the jungle's music danced all around her
Just gorgeous!  And the illustrations by Jana Christy capture the essence of the story!  Christy used lush greens and earth tones when in the rainforest and more vibrant colors when the setting is out of the rainforest.

Throughout the story, Lang uses quotes from Lowman.  My favorite, "We had already been to the moon and back and nobody had been to the top of a tree."  That was so interesting to know!

I also enjoyed the additional facts that are spread throughout the book.  Not on every page, so the reader could be intentional how they are read - whether you read them in addition to the page or go back and enjoy them later are choices a reader has.

I had some additional questions that author Heather Lang has graciously agreed to answer!  Thank you for stopping by, Heather!

- How do you find the subjects for your picture book biographies?  I feel like I am meeting someone new, but also someone I should have already known about!  I'm grateful you're giving them a spotlight!


There are too many trailblazing women who have been forgotten, overlooked, or ignored by history. It’s always such an honor to write about them! When choosing someone to write about, I must feel a strong connection to the topic as well as the person. That connection might come from a passion, a fear, or a fascination. In the case of this book, I’m extremely concerned about the ongoing destruction of our natural world, especially our rainforests. I knew I wanted to write a biography that was also a science book about the rainforest, so I went looking for a rainforest scientist. Some online reading and a trip to the library led me to Dr. Meg Lowman—an incredible biologist, educator, conservationist, and a very special person.

- This book was full of amazing descriptions that really brought the rainforest to life.  How do you decide what tone to take in your writing?


The tone for my books usually evolves organically during my research and writing process, while I’m deciding how to focus the book and what themes I want to develop. For The Leaf Detective, I was lucky enough to interview Meg early in the process and go on a life-changing trip to the Amazon rainforest with her. Meg’s love, respect, and deep appreciation for trees was contagious. And with her as my guide, I experienced first-hand what she means when she says, “We are part of our ecosystem, not outside it.” I found myself in awe of trees and Meg’s passion and determination. I think the tone of my writing and lyrical voice reflect those feelings and revelations.


- You talk in your author's note how you decided to shape Meg's story.  What are other ways you've decided what information ends up in the book, and what doesn't?


I struggle a lot with what to include in my books and often include way too much in early drafts. I frequently evaluate whether a scene or information moves the story forward or helps develop character or serves the themes in the book. And as I grow as a writer, I’m finding that cutting those favorite lines and scenes isn’t as difficult, because I can see how eliminating them serves the book as a whole.


- Tell us something that you wished could have been in the book but didn't make it!


As you might imagine, Meg has had many exciting moments during her life as a field biologist! I wish I could have included this scary moment . . . While doing field research on giant stinging trees, Meg was busy looking up when she felt something moving on the ground around her feet. She realized she’d almost stepped on a deadly venomous brown snake. Suddenly Meg noticed it wasn’t just one snake—the ground was swarming with snakes! She’d stepped into a nesting area. Very carefully she managed to tiptoe her way out. Phew!


- If Meg could go with you on school visits, what do you think she would tell students?


I have no doubt students would be transformed by Meg’s passion, knowledge, and enthusiasm! She would inspire students interested in STEM fields, especially girls, to follow their dreams. She’d teach them about the many magical things trees do for our world—from providing oxygen, food, water, and medicine to cleaning our air. She’d show them how we are all interconnected and inspire them to help save trees, because every person can make a difference.


Students can “meet” Meg and learn some cool information about the rainforest and her journey by watching a series of short videos I took of Meg when we were in the Amazon. Check out FUN FACTS FROM THE FIELD WITH THE LEAF DETECTIVE on my website at

Grateful that you were able to stop by, Heather!

More about author Heather Lang:
Heather Lang loves to write about real women who overcame extraordinary obstacles and never gave up on their dreams. Her award-winning picture book biographies include Fearless Flyer: Ruth Law and Her Flying Machine. See more of her work at 

More about illustrator Jana Christy:
Jana Christy currently lives in the Berkshire Mountains in Massachusetts. She is the illustrator of various titles, including I'm the Big One Now!: Poems about Growing Up. Visit

Praise for The Leaf Detective:
Kirkus Reviews has described the book as "an intricate and satisfying portrait of a dedicated woman scientist, innovator, and activist", and the BCCB says the book provides coverage that showcases the "vigor and daring that boosted Lowman into the canopy...and the global activism that now leads her to propose and develop sustainable commercial uses for protected rainforests."

Read more about this book on the other stops of the blog tour:

Would you like to add this book to your library?  Boyds Mills and Kane has graciously donated a copy for giveaway!  Enter by Wednesday, Feb. 24th for your chance to win (U.S. addresses only).

Make sure you find a copy of The Leaf Detective to share with your readers!

1 comment:

  1. Very excited to read this one, Michele. I have it on request :)