Learn more about children’s science books
For more information on children’s books by Jan Stommes, visit janstommesart.com
Pic 3- Trompe l'Oeil series piece 'The Art of Inspiration' by Jan Stommes.
A character from Jan's book The Peculiar Platypus.
OWEN — Science may be a difficult topic to explain to children, but local retired science teacher Jan Stommes has started a series of books that will change your mind and engage your children.
“I was shocked at how little basic science that my sophomore students had when I started teaching science, years ago. As a scientist, I found it appalling,” explains Jan Stommes. “Students should be learning a broad range of science through elementary and junior high, so they can explore more specific avenues in science when they get to high school.”
Jan, an internationally renowned artist, retired from her position as a biology teacher for the Spencer School system in 2012. Locally, she is noted for her storybook home, but she now aspires to be noted for a different type of storybook.
“I want to help parents educate their children about science, make science fun to learn, and enable parents to answer their children’s questions by having information sections in my books to help them out,” she adds.
Jan began writing for children during the summer of 2012, when she brought the world of the platypus to life in “The Peculiar Platypus.” She later shed some light on other mysterious mammals in “The Enchanting Echidna” and “The Puzzling Pangolin.”
In addition to her science and art background, Jan gains inspiration from her family during the creative process.
“When writing my books, I remember how my children would sit and listen to me read expressively,” she says. “I would read to them for as long as my voice held out. I think about what caught their attention.
“‘Grandma and Grandpa are Trapped in the Computer’ was written after visiting our son and his family in Palo Alto, California,” recalls Jan. “While there, our then 3-year-old granddaughter said two things: ‘Grandma ... you’re here! You aren’t in the computer anymore!’ and ‘Grandma ... you’re so big!’”
On the flight back from California, Jan was pondering the thoughts that may have been in her granddaughter’s mind and began penning her next educational series.
“I get really bored on plane flights,” she jokes. “So, these books really help me pass the time.”
These visits have inspired future volumes, including one of a young girl flying with her family and another when the father is trapped in a smartphone on a business trip.
Jan’s latest release, “Carbon is Cool,” educates children on carbon from the chemical element’s point-of-view.
“Earth is a carbon-based planet. Lack of knowledge about the function of the carbon cycle can lead to misunderstanding about the real role of carbon on our planet,” adds Jan.
Her upcoming projects include an addition to her marsupial series, on dunnarts, as well as an ABC science series.
Jan was a scientist long before she became an artist. Through her works, she ultimately strives to further future generations’ knowledge base of science. “I hope that through my artwork and poetry, I can instill a love of learning about science to children of all ages.”■