For my German readers, here is Sam’s review of the German edition of Invisible Lines. He loved it!
When I do workshops on revision, I often share an example from a draft and a revision to illustrate how I work. At the request of teachers, I have created pdf pages that you can download and print (or project onto your classroom screen) to share with students.
Teachers and librarians, if your school blocks youtube you can view this on teachertube.
After writing Invisible Lines, I became enchanted with mushrooms. My friends began to send me images of mushrooms. Here’s a mushroom craft idea. Software developer and game designer Zach Barth, in Bellevue, WA, realized that screws resemble mushrooms and created this whimsical sculpture.
First find some large screws and paint them however you like. Although it may scratch off, Barth suggests using standard, hobby-grade acrylic paint. Next, find a fallen tree branch, thick enough to hold the “mushrooms” you’ve made. If the branch is too long, you can use it as an opportunity to give an impromptu and safe lesson on woodworking. Ask very young children to “work” alongside you with their pretend tools, but if your kids are old enough, you may want to teach them how to use real tools safely. Saw off the ends to make your branch the size you want. Then, drill a hole for each “mushroom.” You can still buy simple, hand-held manual drills, which are great for projects with kids. When my kids were young, I’d have them put their hands on top of mine, so that they could “help.” –Mary Amato
In Invisible Lines, Trevor Musgrove makes a spore print. If you’d like to try it, read on.
Mushrooms release spores, which are tiny, round, reproductive bodies, which you can literally “capture” in a print. Take a mushroom and gently remove the stem—you don’t want to damage the mushroom, but you do want to make sure the thin veil of flesh covering the gills is open so that the gills are exposed. Put the mushroom gill-side down on a piece of paper and cover with a glass. Wait 24 hours, lift off the glass, and carefully pick up the mushroom. You should see the spores released in a pattern.
If the spores are white, you won’t see them on white paper and should try placing a new mushroom on a piece of black paper. Some people make spore prints on half black/half white paper to cover either possibility.
Grocery store mushrooms do not work well because they aren’t fresh. Your best bet is to pick a mushroom in the wild, one in which the veil has already begun to open or has opened. You should wash your hands after handling the mushroom, but don’t worry about toxicity exposure…mushrooms that are poisonous to eat are okay to handle with appropriate caution.
If you want to keep your print, make sure to spray it with fixative.
Some people are allergic to mushroom spores, so be appropriately cautious and don’t sniff the spores. –Mary Amato
In my book, Invisible Lines, Trevor’s science class goes outside for a mushroom “foray.” Looking for mushrooms is kind of like going on a natural treasure hunt. You don’t have to be in the wild. Mushrooms grow everywhere, even in New York City!
Once you start looking for mushrooms, you will start to see them growing on trees, near trees, under leaves, near creeks, in median strips, on your front lawn, etc. Different mushrooms pop up at different times of the year. Especially after a good soak.
Looking over some mushroom identification guidebooks can be a great way to familiarize yourself with what might be out there.
Poisonous species can look remarkably similar to edible types, so don’t eat anything unless you are foraging with a mycologist. Join your local mycological association to find experts who can teach you how to identify mushrooms.–Mary Amato