Within the spring of 2017, Theanne Griffith was a brand new mother on maternity depart together with her first child woman, Violeta. It was onerous. Breastfeeding was a lot more difficult than Griffith ever anticipated, and sleep deprivation was no joke. Nonetheless, the pause from her demanding position as a postdoctoral neuroscientist at Columbia College gave her a while to assume.
All her life, Griffith had two constant loves: science and books. She’d all the time dreamed of changing into a youngsters’s ebook creator — a purpose that stored being placed on maintain as her scientific profession flourished. Why was she letting that occur, although?
“I keep in mind sitting there on my sofa, breastfeeding my 1-month-old, and I assumed, ‘Theanne, you realize what, simply do it,’” Griffith, 34, advised TODAY Parents. “I began a website and altered my Twitter handle to say I used to be a youngsters’s ebook author. … I simply went full throttle forward.”
These bold strikes — which Griffith attributes in hindsight to “postpartum hormones” — turned out to be fortuitous: An editor from Random Home Kids’s Books noticed Griffith’s Twitter deal with and cold-called her about writing a sequence of science-themed chapter books for younger readers, and “The Magnificent Makers” series was born.
Launched this yr, Griffith’s “Magnificent Makers” books function two science-loving greatest pals — Violet and Pablo — who get transported to an alternate world the place they’ve epic adventures fixing scientific issues collectively. Every ebook explores a distinct topic — similar to ecosystems, brain biology and senses — whereas additionally tackling points similar to managing failure, demonstrating teamwork, exhibiting braveness and overcoming jealousy. As every story progresses, the third-grade characters come to understand simply how curious, artful and intelligent they are often.
“These are enjoyable fiction books the place science is the backdrop,” Griffith mentioned. “Children find yourself studying the science with out even realizing they’re studying it as a result of it’s woven into the story.”
In every journey, Pablo, Violet and accompanying classmates remedy riddles to achieve entry to the “Maker Maze,” an superior lab full with robots, an anti-gravity chamber, unusual crops, creepy bugs and extra. Entry to the Maker Maze is granted by Dr. Crisp, a tall lady with rainbow hair, vibrant purple pants and a white lab coat — a modern-day model of Ms. Frizzle, the science trainer who took college students on adventurous subject journeys in “The Magic School Bus” books.
“Dr. Crisp is the kooky scientist main the best way, however she provides the children company to do the science,” defined Griffith, noting that she named Dr. Crisp after the CRISPR-Cas9 gene modifying expertise.
Tailor-made for 7- to 10-year-olds who can learn independently, the illustrated chapter books are also in style read-aloud books for folks of youngsters as younger as 4 and 5.
And, throughout this time of remote learning amid a global pandemic, “The Magnificent Makers” books are a boon for mothers and dads who wish to assist their youngsters do science initiatives utilizing stuff they doubtless have already got at dwelling. Every ebook comprises DIY directions for hands-on initiatives similar to constructing a rubber-band-powered boat, making a mannequin eardrum or baking a “brain” (that’s, a brain-shaped cake) — and fogeys are consuming it up.
Within the books, Violet is a vivacious Black girl with wild kinky hair, Pablo is a considerate and pragmatic Latino boy, and the assorted classmates who be part of them on adventures have traits which may make them really feel totally different. As an example, in “Using Sound Waves,” the third ebook within the sequence, a personality named Henry is on the autism spectrum and processes senses in a different way than different youngsters.
“I wished everybody to really feel seen by these books,” Griffith mentioned. “I don’t know if I’ve the precise phrases to say what it means to me to see brown and Black youngsters studying science books with characters who appear to be them. … It additionally actually warms my coronary heart to see white youngsters studying the books and never even caring what Violet and Pablo appear to be. They’re seeing this as regular, too.”
As deliberate as Griffith was about inclusivity in her books, she by no means makes an overtly large deal about race in any of the story traces.
“I would like these to be carefree, joyful books with out the burden of racism,” she defined. “I simply need these books to display that science is for everybody, regardless of the place youngsters are from or what they appear to be or what their ethnic background or socioeconomic standing is perhaps. All youngsters have the potential to be scientists and to be actually good at science.”
Griffith moved from New Jersey to Woodland, California, earlier this month together with her husband, Jorge Contreras, and their two daughters, Violeta, 3, and Lila, 1. Griffith and her husband are each taking positions at College of California, Davis — Griffith as an assistant professor within the Division of Physiology and Membrane Biology, and Contreras as an affiliate professor in the identical division.
The fourth and fifth books in “The Magnificent Makers” sequence — about germs and area — are due out within the fall of 2021 and spring of 2022. Griffith described the ebook sequence as a “dream come true” and a love letter to her youthful self, her two daughters and to all types of youngsters all over the place.
“Violeta and Lila, I began writing once more due to you,” Griffith writes in her acknowledgements on the finish of her third “Magnificent Makers” book. “I wished youngsters such as you to see themselves occurring enjoyable and thrilling science adventures. I like you each a lot.”