The query letter
From the first sundial that divided daylight into hours, to today’s atomic clocks that literally “split seconds,” mankind has sought to measure and control time. We can’t see time—or perceive it through any of our senses. We can’t define it—except in relation to its measurement. Yet time can be measured more precisely than any form of matter.
My book of approximately 22,000 words, Keeping Time: The Quest to Measure and Control It,
accomplishes two goals. First, stories related to the mystery of time and the history of timekeeping, written in a conversational tone with anecdotes, entertain and inspire. Second, I show how these inventions have affected the lives of the people. The subject matter is related to the social studies and science curriculum of middle school students, the audience for whom the book was written.
Each invention that moved time measurement forward, dividing it into smaller and smaller segments, changed society. The problem of establishing a workable calendar, the invention of the mechanical clock, the struggle to invent a clock that would work on the rolling sea, the need for exact time measurement in our modern world—these are but a few of the challenges that are encountered in this story.
Ironically, although we have learned to measure this invisible, immaterial entity more precisely than any concrete matter, time has the power to control us. The closing chapter of Keeping Time
is devoted to ways in which we can protect ourselves from becoming slaves to time—a concern relevant to the stress-related lives of today’s children.
James Cross Giblin considered the concept of Keeping Time
marketable, and invited me to use his name when ready to submit. In 1992, when I began my research, most of the books for this age level were over 30 years old. The millennium spurred the publication of a number of time-related books, mostly picture books for early elementary students. A few were written for this age level, but I did not find one that addressed the effect of time measurement on lifestyle, the theme of Keeping Time
I am a member of [Blank] and a graduate of two [Blank] courses. I have a master’s degree in child development and education, and taught in public and private schools for 30 years. After retiring, I spent nine years as a feature writer for [Blank] newspaper, and have published two adult nonfiction books. My juvenile publications include stories in [Blank] and [Blank], and poetry in [Blank] and [Blank]. I continue to keep in touch with children by teaching sixth and seventh grades in a church setting.
If you are interested, I will send the entire manuscript, which I will revise as directed.