Fostering curiosity in kids (and their parents) since 2011

Who I am

Hi! Thanks for visiting Caterpickles. (Photo: Michael Howell)

NOTE: This post contains affiliate links to, an online bookstore that provides financial support to local, independent bookstores. As of October 2020, has already raised $7.4m for local bookstores. If you use the links in this post to purchase my books on or through the Caterpickles Bookstore, I’ll earn a commission on your book purchase, as will your preferred independent bookshop. Regardless of whether you use my links or visit the Caterpickles Bookstore, I’m glad you spent part of your day reading Caterpickles. Learn more about Affiliate Links, the Caterpickles Bookstore, and why I decided to become a Affiliate. (Although this post also contains Amazon links, I am not an Amazon Affiliate.)

Who I am

When I started this blog, I was finishing up my second decade helping companies like Bell Labs, Juniper Networks, and a genetic testing company that was later acquired by CVS translate some of the world’s most complicated concepts into actionable, understandable English. And I was about four years into my new career parenting a child whose question-to-declarative-sentence ratio clocked in at a healthy 5:1.

I began writing this blog as a way to chronicle the wildly imaginative questions of my very curious child (and the experiments that naturally followed from them).

As a result of writing Caterpickles, I’ve become very interested in the question that lies beneath all that googling, story-telling, explaining, and light-hearted experimentation: how parents can foster their child’s curiosity and engagement in the scientific, artistic, and linguistic world that surrounds them without sacrificing their own sanity.

My first book, What’s That, Mom?, focuses on how parents can use public art to strike up conversations with their child about the world around them–without being an artist themselves. I’ve also released a companion journal for parents who would like a place to capture their interactions with their children around public art.

My next book will focus on the larger question of critical thinking, and how parents without a science degree can use their child’s curious questions to teach them the vital critical thinking skills so essential to life after childhood.

Where to find me online

In the meantime, you can find me:

  • Blogging about life with a very curious Fifteen(!)-Year-Old here at Caterpickles
  • Prattling on about books and the writing life at BostonWriters
  • Tweeting about books, writing, science, & things that make me smile at @shalahowell
  • Tracking my annual reading on Goodreads

Contact me

  • Email me at shalahowell {at} gmail {.} com
  • Sign up for my mailing list
  • Or leave a comment below

8 Responses to “Who I am”

  1. Nona Estrin

    Hi Shala, from East Montpelier, Vermont. Just happened upon your great review of our book, In Season, and thought your discription of exploring the world with a 4 year old was wonderful. Loved the picture of the grackle, with the yellow eye, black bill, irridesent blue and green head, black wings….that’s some observer you have there. A picture to be proud of…great world too, around the bird. Also nice how much you were enjoying our book…and not a word about my horrible spelling! Hope you and the young person are still enjoying the world beyond the door, and still reading and writing! Nona Estrin and Charles Johnson in Vermont


    • Shala Howell

      Thank you. What a gift your book has been to us. The Caterpickles Field guide got away from us over the summer (buried under the excitement of visiting all the bunnies in the Dedham Public Art Project), but it is a wonderful way to spend time with The now Five Year Old, so I think I will revive it in the morning. It’s spring break here-a perfect time for it.

      Thanks for stopping by!


    • Shala Howell

      Well, I managed to accomplish the purchasing of it. It’s sitting on my to read shelf. What I haven’t managed to accomplish is the reading of it, because I’ve been in the mood for mysteries lately, not fantasy. It’s first on the queue for fantasy, though.


  2. rayworth1973

    Thank you so much! When you get around to it, would love to hear what you think. I go through spells like that also. Right now, I’m going through a bunch of icky bug (horror) novels that I had to special order off Amazon because the bookstores won’t carry them. One of those genres that the “big five” shun unless you’re Stephen King. Don’t get me started on him. Not a fan! Rock on!



What are you thinking?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Basic HTML is allowed. Your email address will not be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: