Brynie, Faith H. 1946–
Brynie, Faith H. 1946–
(Faith Hickman Brynie)
PERSONAL: Born July 7, 1946, in Bluefield, WV; daughter of Cleland Henry (in U.S. Air Force) and Helen Freda Mace; married Lloyd Earl Brynie (a teacher), July 28, 1989; children: Ann Paige Hickman. Ethnicity: "White." Education: West Virginia University, A.B., 1967; University of Colorado, M.A., 1981, Ph.D., 1983.
ADDRESSES: Home—Bigfork, MT. E-mail—[email protected]
CAREER: Biological Sciences Curriculum Study, Boulder, CO, staff writer and project director, 1969–82; Colorado Alliance for Science, Boulder, cofounder and codirector, 1982–86; Department of Defense Dependents Schools, England, teacher, 1986–91; freelance writer, 1991–. Curriculum writer for Turnstone Publishing, Agency for Instructional Technology, and others; developmental editor of chemistry textbooks and other nonfiction works.
MEMBER: National Science Teachers Association, Colorado Biology Teachers Association.
AWARDS, HONORS: Presidential Scholar, 1964; recognitions for the "101 Questions" series and its individual titles include citation for "outstanding science trade book," Children's Book Council and National Science Teachers Association, citations for "best of the year" and "editors' choice" by American Association for the Advancement of Science, citations for "best books for the teen age" by New York Public Library, citation for "best of the year" by Bank Street College, annual selections of International Reading Association, and additional recommendations of National Science Teachers Association.
Genetics and Human Health: A Journey Within, Millbrook (Brookfield, CT), 1995.
Six-Minute Science Experiments, Sterling (New York, NY), 1996.
AIDS: Facts, Issues, Choices, PPI Publishing (Kettering, OH), 1997.
Painless Science Projects, Barron's Educational Series (Hauppauge, NY), 1998.
101 Questions Your Brain Has Asked about Itself but Couldn't Answer … until Now, Millbrook (Brookfield, CT), 1998, 2nd edition, 2007.
101 Questions about Skin that Got under Your Skin … until Now, Twenty-First Century Books (Brookfield, CT), 1999.
Six-Minute Nature Experiments, Sterling (New York, NY), 1999.
101 Questions about Your Immune System You Felt Defenseless to Answer … until Now, Twenty-First Century Books (Brookfield, CT), 2000.
101 Questions about Blood and Circulation: With Answers Straight from the Heart, illustrated by Sharon Lane Holm, Twenty-First Century Books (Brookfield, CT), 2001.
Perception, Blackbirch Press (Woodbridge, CT), 2001.
Physical Brain, Blackbirch Press (Woodbridge, CT), 2001.
101 Questions about Food and Digestion that Have Been Eating at You … until Now, Twenty-First Century Books (Brookfield, CT), 2002.
101 Questions about Sex and Sexuality: With Answers for the Curious, Cautious, and Confused, illustrated by Sharon Lane Holm, Twenty-First Century Books (Brookfield, CT), 2003.
101 Questions about Reproduction, or How 1 + 1 = 3 or 4 or More, Twenty-First Century Books (Brookfield, CT), 2004.
Parent's Crash Course: Elementary School Science Fair Projects, Wiley (Hoboken, NJ), 2005.
101 Questions about Sleep and Dreams that Kept You Awake Nights … until Now, Twenty-First Century Books (Minneapolis, MN), 2006.
101 Questions about Muscles to Stretch Your Mind and Flex Your Brain, Twenty-First Century Books (Minneapolis, MN), 2007.
Contributor to periodicals, including Odyssey, Super-Science teacher's edition, and Odyssey teacher's guide.
SIDELIGHTS: A writer specializing in life science and health books for young people, Faith H. Brynie once told CA: "Textbooks make science seem so static, so dull. I wanted to help young people participate in the excitement of science as it grows and changes with each new research effort. I wanted to show that science works to answer questions we encounter in daily life; and I wanted to show that answers are always open and tentative—invitations to still more questions. I have always defined science as a way of asking questions and looking for answers. I hope my '101 Questions' series captures the essence of that definition. If even one young person can read something in one of my books and say, 'Oh, yeah, I get it!' then I have achieved something worthwhile in my career."
One of Brynie's books for young people, Genetics and Human Health: A Journey Within, explains inheritance in a lively and interesting way. In Appraisal: Science Books for Young People, contributor Karin Prosky commented: "Books like this are part of the joys of being a librarian…. Would that more books on supposedly dry subjects could be written with such verve and insight." Meg Wilson, writing in Voice of Youth Advocates, observed: "Her style is readable, informative and never condescending," and added that young readers "may catch themselves reading on beyond what they need for their reports." School Library Journal contributor Christine A. Moesch called 101 Questions Your Brain Has Asked about Itself but Couldn't Answer … until Now "a clear and lively addition that incorporates much of what scientists have learned about the brain in the last 10 years."
The "101 Questions" books use a question-and-answer format that gives a reader the flexibility to read the entire book or scan for topics of special interest. The content of the questions ranges widely, sometimes crossing from the realm of pure science into areas that might be categorized as myth, speculation, entertainment, or trivia, but the author clearly identifies them as such. The important thing is that she addresses the real questions that real people have asked, even if the answers cannot be subjected to rigorous scientific validation. For example, Brynie's book on sleep and dreams covers, not only the scientific descriptions of sleep and its relationship to the health of brain and body, but also commentary on the interpretation of dreams and the relationship of sleep to personality. Brynie adds material designed specifically for young readers, such as, in this case, how much sleep is necessary and why, the potential dangers of using non-prescription sleep aids without supervision, and the importance of visiting a doctor when conditions warrant it. According to reviewers, each books provides a substantial overview of the subject, with supplementary information in the forms of charts and tables, diagrams, glossaries and bibliographies, as well as a list of additional resources such as Internet Web sites and organizations devoted to various aspects of the subject.
As advice to aspiring young writers, Brynie told CA: "Love to learn. Love to search for new knowledge. Express yourself clearly and concisely. Never write in vague generalities. Look for the details that tell the story. Rewrite, rewrite and rewrite. Then, when you think you are finished, rewrite."
Brynie recently added: "I've always felt driven to understand things. When I write, I read complex scientific research and translate it into terms that young people (and I) can understand. Writing fulfills my need to learn, grow, and share what I learn with others who may feel just as driven to understand as I do.
"Scientific research and the people who do it influence everything I do. I've read that knowledge doubles every three to five years. Much of that growth in knowledge comes out of scientific research. I always want to know what's new and what implications new knowledge has for how we live."
In describing her writing process, Brynie commented: "I once took a learning styles test. I'm a 'concrete random.' I latch onto a fact or idea from some sources and then find that I am thinking about it, asking questions about it. Then I go looking in other places for related ideas and answers to my questions. Gradually I weave one strand with another until I have what feels like a piece of 'whole cloth.'
"As for managing my writing, when I get up in the morning, I go to work just like everybody else. Never mind that my office is just down the hall. I think ninety percent of writing is sitting down and doing it. I work every day, including weekends, holidays. I start early in the morning and usually quit in mid-afternoon, when I begin to feel 'brain dead.' I follow Hemingway's advice. I know where I will begin the next day before I stop. I can't imagine a day without writing, although I accomplish more some days than others."
In discussing her inspiration for writing, Brynie related: "When I went to college, they asked me to declare a major. I had no idea what to choose, but I had liked English and biology in high school. English seemed too easy, though, so I chose biology. I have never regretted that decision. I find the study of life infinitely fascinating, and my writing career has allowed me to combine my love of writing with science. The first book in my '101 Questions' series was about the brain. I chose the topic because I thought there could not possibly be anything more exciting than a brain trying to understand itself. I wrote the manuscript and gave it to an agent. She kept it for a year and returned it to me as 'unpublishable.' I wrote query letters on my own and ended up selling that manuscript to Millbrook. It subsequently earned a 'best of the year' designation from the American Association for the Advancement of Science. That series now includes several additional titles, including a second edition of the book about the brain. Moral of the story: don't believe agents."
Brynie concluded: "The Internet has changed so much for me. All the research material that was inaccessible or difficult to come by fifteen years ago now lies at my fingertips. I can get in touch with scientists in minutes, not weeks—and no more telephone tag! I hear people criticize the Internet because of all the trash that is on it, but it is full of treasures, too. You just have to know how to find them."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Appraisal: Science Books for Young People, spring-summer, 1995, Karin Prosky, review of Genetics and Human Health: A Journey Within, p. 13.
Booklist, January 1, 2003, Carolyn Phelan, review of 101 Questions about Food and Digestion that Have Been Eating at You … until Now, p. 874; May 15, 2006, John Peters, review of 101 Questions about Sleep and Dreams that Kept You Awake Nights … until Now, p. 41.
School Library Journal, April, 1999, Christine A. Moesch, review of 101 Questions Your Brain Has Asked about Itself but Couldn't Answer … until Now, p. 144; November, 1999, review of 101 Questions that Got under Your Skin … until Now, p. 169; September, 2000, Mary R. Hofmann, review of 101 Questions about Your Immune System You Felt Defenseless to Answer … until Now, p. 240; April, 2001, Christine A. Moesch, review of 101 Questions about Blood and Circulation: With Answers Straight from the Heart, p. 156; March, 2003, Augusta R. Malvagno, review of 101 Questions about Food and Digestion that Have Been Eating at You … until Now, p. 247; June, 2003, Joyce Adams Burner, review of 101 Questions about Sex and Sexuality: With Answers for the Curious, Cautious, and Confused, p. 155; January, 2006, Joyce Adams Burner, review of 101 Questions about Reproduction, or How 1 + 1 = 3 or 4 or More, p. 148.
Science Books and Films, April, 1997, review of Genetics and Human Health, p. 65; September-October, 1999, review of 101 Questions Your Brain Has Asked about Itself but Couldn't Answer … until Now, p. 213; November, 1999, review of 101 Questions Your Brain Has Asked about Itself but Couldn't Answer … until Now, p. 248.
Voice of Youth Advocates, October, 1995, Meg Wilson, review of Genetics and Human Health, p. 242.
NSTA Recommends: National Science Teachers Association, http://www2.nsta.org/recommends/ (April 19, 2006), Claudia Fetters, review of 1010 Questions about Sleep and Dreams that Kept You Awake Nights … until Now.