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Melissa Stewart (1968–) Biography

Personal, Career, Member, Honors Awards, Writings, Sidelights

Born 1968, in Hartford, CT; Education: Union College, Schenectady, NY, B.S. (cum laude), 1990; New York University, M.A., 1991.


Healthmark Medical Education Media, New York, NY, associate editor, 1991; Foca Co., New York, NY, project editor, 1992–93, managing editor, 1993–95; Grolier Publishing Co., Danbury, CT, science editor, 1995–97, senior science editor, 1997–2000; freelance writer, 1991–. Member, American Institute of Physics Children's Science Writing Award committee.


American Association for the Advancement of Science, National Association of Science Writers, Foundation for Children's Books, Society of Children's Book Writer and Illustrators (director of New England conference, 2006), Massachusetts Environmental Education Society, Sigma Xi.

Honors Awards

Recommended Title, National Science Teachers Association; New York Public Library Books for the Teen Age citation, and Best Book of the Year, Science Books and Films; nonfiction research grant letter of merit, Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators.



Life without Light: A Journey to Earth's Dark Ecosystems, F. Watts (Danbury, CT), 1998.

Science in Ancient India, F. Watts (Danbury, CT), 1999.

Rachel Carson: Writer and Biologist, Ferguson (Chicago, IL), 2001.

Tim Berners-Less: Inventor of the World Wide Web, Ferguson (Chicago, IL), 2001.

Seals, Sea Lions, and Walruses, F. Watts (New York, NY), 2001.

Uranus, F. Watts (New York, NY), 2002.

Life in a Lake, Lerner (Minneapolis, MN), 2003.

Small Birds, Benchmark Books (New York, NY), 2003.

Life in a Wetland, photographs by Stephen K. Maka, Lerner (Minneapolis, MN), 2003.

Maggots, Grubs, and More: The Secret Lives of Young Insects, Millbrook (Brookfield, CT), 2003.

Sloths, Carolrhoda (Minneapolis, MN), 2005.

A Place for Butterflies, illustrated by Higgins Bond, Peachtree (Atlanta, GA), 2006.

How Do Birds Fly?, Marshall Cavendish Benchmark (New York, NY), 2006.

Energy in Motion, Children's Press (New York, NY), 2006.

How Do Fish Breathe Underwater?, Marshall Cavendish Benchmark (New York, NY), 2006.

Why Do Seasons Change?, Marshall Cavendish Benchmark (New York, NY), 2006.

How Do Plants Grow?, Marshall Cavendish Benchmark (New York, NY), 2006.

Will It Float or Sink?, Children's Press (Danbury, CT), 2006.


Mammals, Children's Press (Danbury, CT), 2001.

Amphibians, Children's Press (Danbury, CT), 2001.

Birds, Children's Press (Danbury, CT), 2001.

Fishes, Children's Press (Danbury, CT), 2001.

Reptiles, Children's Press (Danbury, CT), 2001.

Insects, Children's Press (Danbury, CT), 2001.

Hippopotamuses, Children's Press (Danbury, CT), 2002.

Elephants, Children's Press (Danbury, CT), 2002.

Antelope, Children's Press (Danbury, CT), 2002.

Zebras, Children's Press (Danbury, CT), 2002.

Rhinoceroses, Children's Press (Danbury, CT), 2002.


Minerals, Heinemann Library (Chicago, IL), 2002.

Metamorphic Rocks, Heinemann Library (Chicago, IL), 2002.

Igneous Rocks, Heinemann Library (Chicago, IL), 2002.

Fossils, Heinemann Library (Chicago, IL), 2002.

Crystals, Heinemann Library (Chicago, IL), 2002.

Soil, Heinemann Library (Chicago, IL), 2002.

Sedimentary Rocks, Heinemann Library (Chicago, IL), 2002.


Atoms, Compass Point (Minneapolis, MN), 2003.

Fossils, Compass Point (Minneapolis, MN), 2003.

Motion, Compass Point (Minneapolis, MN), 2003.

Plants, Compass Point (Minneapolis, MN), 2003.


Cells to Systems, Newbridge, 2003.

The Producers, Newbridge, 2003.

Shorebirds, Newbridge, 2003.


Animals All Around, Compass Point (Minneapolis, MN), 2004.

Down to Earth, illustrated by Jeffrey Scherer, Compass Point (Minneapolis, MN), 2004.

A Parade of Plants, illustrated by Jeffrey Scherer, Compass Point (Minneapolis, MN), 2004.

Fun with the Sun, Compass Point (Minneapolis, MN), 2004.

Use Your Senses, Compass Point (Minneapolis, MN), 2005.

What's the Weather, Compass Point (Minneapolis, MN), 2005.

Air Is Everywhere, Compass Point (Minneapolis, MN), 2005.

The Wonders of Water, Compass Point (Minneapolis, MN), 2005.

Contributor to books, including Blueprint for Life, Secrets of the Inner Mind, Time-Life (Alexandria, VA); Biology: Visualizing Life, Holt (New York, NY); and Biology, Addison-Wesley (Reading, MA). Contributor of articles and columns to magazines and newspapers, including American Forests, American Heritage of Invention and Technology, Ask, ChemMatters, Click, Highlights for Children, National Geographic World, Instructor, Math, Science World, Family Planning Perspectives, Her New York, New York Doctor, Washington Square News, Natural New England, North Maine Woods Bulletin, Northern Woodlands, Odyssey, Ranger Rick, Today's Science, Wild Outdoor World, Wildlife Conservation, Writer, ZooGoer, and New York Daily News.


In the "About the Author" section of her first published book, Life without Light: A Journey to Earth's Dark Ecosystems, Melissa Stewart related a story about walking in the New England woods with her father. Having been asked if she noticed anything different about the trees in that particular part of the woods, Stewart said she noticed that the trees were smaller. Her father told her that there had been a fire approximately twenty-five years earlier, and that all the trees were new growth. "I was hooked," Stewart later recalled. "Ever since that moment, I have wanted to know everything about the natural world." As an adult she has channeled her boundless curiosity into a career as the author of nature-focused nonfiction for children. On her home page, Stewart wrote: "Now I get paid to learn all about the natural world and share it with other people. What could be better?"

Stewart has written on a wide variety of subjects, from nature to biography to atoms. Light without Life, which was honored as the Best Book of the Year by Science Books and Film, describes for teen readers what life is like near the hydrothermal vents far below the surface of the ocean. As Carolyn Phelan wrote in Booklist. "the quality of the writing" is superior, and the title is "wellresearched." Another of Stewart's titles, Maggots, Grubs, and More: The Secret Lives of Young Insects, also presents young readers with descriptions of forms of life they normally would not observe. Insects are shown growing from eggs to young insects until they are fully mature. Karey Wehner, writing in School Library Journal, considered the title a "lucid, well-organized introduction" to the young lives of insects.

Moving to much larger creatures, Animals All Around introduces readers to techniques scientists use in scientific observation of animal species. In School Library Journal, Kathryn Kosiorek complimented the "clear, precise sentences and carefully chosen questions" incorporated in Stewart's text. Like Animals All Around, Air Is Everywhere is designed to involve readers in dialogue through questions. "The author poses questions, asks students to make predictions, and suggests simple experiments and observations that will enhance their understanding of basic science concepts," according to Sandra Welzenbach in School Library Journal.

Stewart delves into a word that is often unseen and misunderstood in Maggots, Grubs, and More: The Secret Lives of Young Insects. (Photograph by M.H. Sharp.)

Stewart's biographies Tim Berners-Lee: Inventor of the World Wide Web and Rachel Carson: Biologist and Writer describe the lives of scientists who impacted advances in technology and environmentalism. For the book on Berners-Lee, Stewart combines a limited biography of the inventor, who is still alive and is very private, with advice on getting into the computer science field. "This interesting combination of biography and career guide should have strong appeal for students," wrote Sandra L. Doggett in School Library Journal. When Stewart came in contact with the work of Rachel Carson, she "felt a deep affinity toward her life and work," as she told Sue Reichard in an interviewer for Suite 101 Online, and this connection inspired the biography. As Stewart explained in her interview, Carson originally thought she had to chose between being a scientist and a writer; then came the moment she realized she could do both. "That's exactly how I felt when one of my college biology professors suggested that I become a writer. It was a great aha moment for me, as it was for Ms. Carson."

Noting that Stewart writes articles for adults as well as penning children's books, Suite 101 Online interviewer Reichard asked Stewart about writing for multiple audi-Part of the "Investigate Science" series, Stewart's Air Is Everywhere describes air's qualities and importance and includes activities and experiments for hands-on learners. (Photograph by Kevin R. Morris.)ences. "I like the variety of writing for many different audiences and the challenges associated with each group," the author replied. "Writing for young children is fun because they are so naturally curious, and I know they will listen intently as a loving adult reads the story to them or pay close attention as they struggle to read it themselves. Middle graders and high school students can understand more sophisticated language and more complex concerns, and they have a broader view of the world. When I write for adults, I can really stretch as a writer, using my vocabulary reserves and including allusions that kids just won't get. I like doing that once in awhile."

Biographical and Critical Sources


Stewart, Melissa, Life without Light: A Journey to Earth's Dark Ecosystems, F. Watts (Danbury, CT), 1999.


Booklist, July, 1999, Carolyn Phelan, review of Life without Light, p. 1945.

School Librarian, spring, 2003, review of Sedimentary Rocks, p. 52.

School Library Journal, June, 1999, p. 154; August, 1999, Lynn W. Zimmerman, review of Life without Light, p. 180; October, 2001, Sandra L. Doggett, review of Tim Berners-Lee: Inventor of the World Wide Web, p. 192; November, 2001, Kathleen Isaacs, review of Rachel Carson: Biologist and Writer, p. 186; July, 2003, Kathryn Kosioreki, review of Fossils, p. 119; January, 2004, Karey Wehner, review of Maggots, Grubs, and More: The Secret Lives of Young Insects, p. 160; October, 2004, Kathryn Kosioreki, review of Animals All Around, p. 150, and review of Maggots, Grubs, and More, p. S43; March, 2005, Sandra Welzenbach, review of Air Is Everywhere, p. 202.

School Science Review, Terry Jennings, review of Life in a Lake, pp. 133-134.

Science Books and Films, March, 2003, review of Crystals, p. 71; July, 2003, review of Life in a Wetland, p. 167; July-August, 2004, Mary Jane Davis, review of Animals All Around, p. 180.


Melissa Stewart's Home Page, http://www.melissa-stewart.com (January 20, 2006).

Suite 101 Online, http://www.suite101.com/ (November 1, 2005), Sue Reichard, interview with Stewart.

Additional topics

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