"Mary batten's books for inquiring kids and their parents are not just lessons in the wonders of our amazing world. they are also impassioned prayers for its future. . . . Batten captures her audience with documentary material that surpasses by far the unpredictability of fantasy. . . . This scientific wordsmith makes kids of us all. She resurrects our sense of wonder."
Norfolk Virginian Pilot
"Batten explores the fascinating, and sometimes gross, world of spit. Well researched and intriguing, the book delves into the scientists who studied saliva, examines current research about what spit can tell us about our ancestors and how it can help diagnose illnesses, and relays impressive tales of how other animals use their spit to communicate, defend themselves, or spread disease."
School Library Journal
"A stream of information about Saliva's host of forms and functions. Why think about spit? For one thing, the biodiversity of oceans and fainforests may get plenty of notice, but as Batten writes, 'you have a diverse natural ecosystem right inside your mouth.'"
I write science books for adults and children, television documentaries, and magazine articles. My work deals with human behavior, ecology, animals, plants, health, disease, stars and galaxies – anything and everything in the natural world. I feel very lucky to be a science writer because I can follow my curiosity wherever my questions take me. I have been privileged to visit tropical rainforests, astronomical observatories, and medical research laboratories. I have had the opportunity to meet some of the most insightful, creative scientists on Earth – people who have generously shared their work and their friendship with me. They are too numerous to mention individually, but I thank them all.
The diversity of life on our beautiful planet is extraordinary but life on Earth is increasingly threatened by climate change. Oceans are warming, sea levels rising, weather becoming more extreme. In recognition of these changes, I have created a series called "Life in the Extreme." The first book in this series, LIFE IN A FROZEN WORLD: Wildlife in Antarctica, which came out in the fall of 2020 (Peachtree), explores the amazing adaptations that creatures have evolved to cope with life in the ice and the threats from warming seas and atmosphere that now imperil their survival. The second book in the series, LIFE IN HOT WATER: Wildlife at the Bottom of the Ocean, my newest book (Peachtree 2022), explores the scalding hot, toxic world of hydrothermal vents, the most extreme environment on Earth. The discovery of these vents in 1977 is one of the most greatest adventures in science.
When people ask why I write about science, my answer is sthat the real world is far more fascinating, wondrous, and bizarre than those any fiction writer could possibly invent. Imagine creatures that live in water hot enough to melt lead, fish that change sex, plants that trick and seduce insects, animals that have both male and female genitals. All of this happens, some in your own backyard!
My first "field station" was the peanut farm in Smithfield, Virginia, where I grew up. I played in the woods, waded through forest streams, and learned to respect and appreciate animals, plants, and the cycle of seasons, planting, and havesting. I believe there is something in all of us that yearns for wild nature because it is in wilderness that we can feel a connection with our ancient hunter-gatherer past encoded in our genes. In my books, I try to convey the excitement I feel about our extraordinary planet, the diversity of life, and the responsibility that humans have to care for the other species with which we share our global habitat.
My books include: SPIT: WHAT'S COOL ABOUT DROOL from Firefly Books, 2019; Aliens from Earth: When Animals and Plants Invade Other Ecosystems (Updated version from Peachtree 2016); Baby Orca (Grosset & Dunlap/Penguin 2016); Rattler (Grosset/Penguin 2016); Please Don't Wake the Animals (Peachtree); Anthropologist: Scientist of the People -- Named Outstanding Science Trade Book for Children by the National Science Teachers Association and the Children's Book Council (Houghton Mifflin); Hey, Daddy! (Peachtree); Wild Cats (Random House); Hungry Plants (Random House); Sexual Strategies: How Females Choose Their Mates, (Tarcher/Putnam, 1994' iUniverse 2008); How to Have Sex if You're Not Human (a digital book, Smashwords). I have appeared on OPRAH and various other television shows.
My magazine articles are published in a variety of publications, including Cosmopolitan, Ladies Home Journal, Modern Maturity, Shape, International Wildlife, Science Digest, Calypso Log, and the children's magazines, ASK, MUSE, National Geographic World, and Dolphin Log.
I was nominated for an Emmy for my work on the Children's Television Workshop's science series 3-2-1-CONTACT, and I have written some 50 nature documentaries for television series, including the syndicated WILD WILD WORLD OF ANIMALS (Time-Life Films) and others for National Geographic and Disney Educational Films.
My magazine article for Science Digest, "Sexual Choice: The Female's Newly Discovered Role," won The Newswomen's Club of New York's Front Page Award for best feature story.
One of my most rewarding and exciting jobs was editor of The Cousteau Society's award-winning membership magazine, Calypso Log. I was editor in chief of Breastlink.org, a website for breast cancer patients and their families. This was also extremely satisfying work because we were providing information about new research and therapies that can help people to make more informed decisions about breast cancer treatment.
My family are all in the arts: my late husband Ed Bland composed music; our son Robert Bland is a writer; our daughter Stefanie Batten Bland is a renowned choreographer with her internationally acclaimed Company SBB.