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When I Grow Up: A Young Person's Guide to Interesting and Unusual Occupations

When I Grow Up: A Young Person's Guide to Interesting and Unusual Occupations

by Jessica Loy

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What do you want to be when you grow up? Consider all your options. How about being a game designer and creating computer action games similar to the ones you play? Or, if you like chocolate, you could become a chocolatier and make delectable treats. There's even the possibility of studying fascinating bugs for a living—as an entomologist. The choices are


What do you want to be when you grow up? Consider all your options. How about being a game designer and creating computer action games similar to the ones you play? Or, if you like chocolate, you could become a chocolatier and make delectable treats. There's even the possibility of studying fascinating bugs for a living—as an entomologist. The choices are endless. So come read about fourteen professionals and the unusual and satisfying work that they do. Maybe some of these career paths will inspire ideas of your own.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“Children in search of a unique answer to the question 'What do you want to be when you grow up?' will appreciate this book.” —School Library Journal
School Library Journal

Gr 4-6

Children in search of a unique answer to the question, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" will appreciate this book. Unusual occupations such as lobsterman, chocolatier, kite designer, and pet photographer are described. Each spread introduces someone in the trade (most are Caucasian), includes "on the job" photographs, and provides a brief, introductory description of what it is like to be an alpaca farmer, robotics engineer, etc. This title may spark some readers' interest with its quirky careers, but it includes very little detail. The contact information for special-interest summer camps might be its most helpful part. The "Virtual Apprentice" series (Ferguson) is a better resource for more in-depth information.-Christine Lindsey, Lake Superior Primary School, Ashland, WI

Kirkus Reviews
Fourteen unusual, if not alternative, careers are highlighted in this colorful photo-essay filled with inspiring and intriguing facts behind the people and their vocations. From Jerry the entomologist and the Meade/Gilman alpaca farmers to Jamie the master cheese maker and Mark the kite designer, the lively presentation guides youngsters through some offbeat and creative ways to earn a living. Education, skills and talent are stressed for even the coolest digital game designer, as are encouraging words expressing the possibilities of following a dream to a productive reality. Women in nontraditional roles, such as Linda the lobsterman (the industry resists gender neutrality), are included, as well as artists in such roles as set designer and junkyard percussionist. Vivid photography showcases individuals within their work environments, complementing the engaging, informative content within the crisp, efficient layout. By necessity a bare introduction to the careers portrayed, this stimulating presentation should appeal to those kids wondering what they might be when they grow up. (Nonfiction. 7-11)

Product Details

Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
Publication date:
Edition description:
First Edition
Product dimensions:
8.10(w) x 10.10(h) x 0.50(d)
IG1000L (what's this?)
Age Range:
7 - 11 Years

Read an Excerpt

When I Grow Up

A Young Person's Guide to Interesting & Unusual Occupations

By Jessica Loy

Henry Holt and Company

Copyright © 2008 Jessica Loy
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-250-10652-0



Jerry Dievendorf

The study of bugs and insects is called entomology. This is Jerry Dievendorf, and he's been crazy about entomology his whole life. In fact, his license plate reveals his favorite insect. "Insects are vital to the health and well-being of our planet," says Jerry.

Insects make up 80 percent of the species on the earth. It is estimated that 85 percent of insect species have never been collected or identified. But insect habitats diminish as the human population grows, making it even more important to find new species before they become extinct. Insects are also closely tied to human food crops and other food sources. Understanding insects, both the good and the bad, is important to our own survival.

Jerry has a collection of 200,000 insects from all over the world and has collected from Central America, Belize, Trinidad and Tobago, New Guinea, and around the United States. "You don't need to go anywhere special, though," says Jerry. As a kid, he would collect insects off truck radiators.

Jerry encourages drawing as a good way to focus students' attention on insect details.

Not all insects have common names. Those without are known by their scientific name, which describes them by genus and species.

Jerry raises moths and butterflies by enclosing caterpillars in netting he wraps around branches of trees that they like to eat. The caterpillars feed on the leaves, pupate, and hatch into adults in captivity.

Kids are naturally curious about insects. Jerry enjoys working with them to teach an appreciation and enthusiasm for science and nature.

There are many ways to entice insects into a trap. This bait trap uses fruit on a bottom tray. Insects always fly up to escape, so once they feed from the tray, they fly up into the netting and can't get out.

This is a Malaise trap. Insects fly into the tent and up to the bottle, where they are collected.

Ending the life of an insect and then mounting it the right way is critical to displaying every detail of the species. This allows entomologists to preserve and study the many varieties and discover new ones.

The hard part of the job is the responsibility of preserving insects properly so that their sacrifice is for a good cause.

Jerry uses a spreading board and pins to spread out the wings and legs of insects.

Once the insects dry, they will keep their shape and can be put in a display box.



Riverside Alpacas began in 1996 and is run by three generations of the Meade/Gilman family in Jordan, New York. Their job is to breed, raise, and care for alpacas, shear their wool, mill the wool into a variety of yarns, and create garments. They also mill wool sent to them by other alpaca farmers and attend county fairs, where they display their work, teach people about alpacas, and show their beautiful animals.

Alpacas originated in Chile, Peru, and Bolivia. These gentle animals are raised for their fine, soft wool, which can be woven into clothing. Alpaca wool is considered seven times stronger and more durable than sheep wool, and it is as soft as cashmere.

Alpacas come in twenty-two natural colors and are shorn once a year in the spring. Shearing is a job for the whole family because it takes many people to hold the animal, shear its coat, and trim around the face.

Keeping the alpacas healthy and happy is very important.

Alpacas come in twenty-two natural colors and are shorn once a year in the spring. Shearing is a job for the whole family because it takes many people to hold the animal, shear its coat, and trim around the face.

It's a lot of work to care for a herd of animals, but it is a job the family loves.

Making Yarn

Chris runs the picker, which opens and loosens the alpaca fiber.

Next, the carder aligns the fibers.

The draw frame stretches the fibers to prepare them for spinning.

Fibers are spun into yarn on a computerized spinner.

Beverly uses a loom to weave the yarn for a sweater.



Andrea Lain

Andrea Lain is an archaeologist at the New York State Museum in Albany. When she was eight years old, her great-grandmother gave her a set of books entitled Wonders of the Past. They were filled with pictures of old treasures from around the world. She decided almost at once that she would grow up to study times gone by.

"Archaeology is important because it is one of the only ways we have to learn about human existence in the past," says Andrea. "History books give a basic outline of what people did, but they mostly focus on the wealthy or famous. Objects found in archaeological excavations can tell us a lot about average people's lives. Food remains can show what they ate; a button or buckle can show what they wore; and pieces of broken dishes can tell us their economic status."

Excavating (or digging up) a site can be slow work, but finding bits and pieces of history is very exciting. It's important to record exactly where the objects were found, including their relationship to other objects and their depth in the soil.

After the pieces are brought back to the museum or lab, the real work begins — trying to understand what the objects mean.

One of Andrea's jobs is to make sure everything at the museum is stored properly so that other archaeologists can continue to revisit and reinterpret artifacts and their meanings far into the future. The past can help us to understand the future, but our understanding of the past is always changing as archaeologists ask new questions and find new answers.


Master Cheese Maker

Jamie Miller

Meet Jamie Miller. He's the master cheese maker at Shelburne Farms in Shelburne, Vermont. He and his crew make premium cheddar cheeses, which age for six months to three years. They make an amazing 125,000 pounds of cheese a year by hand. It is sold to people all over the nation.

Jamie was trained as a restaurant cook. Wanting to try something different, he became an apprentice to a cheese maker. Now Jamie is responsible for carrying on the Shelburne Farms tradition of creating award-winning cheddar cheese.

Cheese making is physically demanding. This hands-on job starts at 7:30 A.M. with driving the tractor to the dairy to pick up fresh milk. The milk is then hauled back and pumped into the cheese-making vat.

Creating top-quality cheese means making sure all the steps are followed to perfection. Jamie says, "It's rewarding to put yourself completely into a product and be pleased with the results."

There is a lot of science used for cheese making. Good-tasting cheese requires the maker to continually check acidity levels and control the work of the bacteria cultures.

Jamie loves cheese. "Cheese is like superfood. It's all the good stuff in milk, concentrated." The basic ingredients are milk, bacteria (the friendly kind), rennet, and salt.

Visitors to Shelburne Farms can watch the step-by-step process through a viewing window in the Farm Barn.

1. The cheese process begins with milk from Shelburne Farms' very own brown Swiss cows. The cheese makers collect the milk fresh every morning from the dairy.

2. A bacterial culture is stirred into warm milk to start the fermenting process. An hour later, rennet, an enzyme, is added to thicken the mixture.

3. The coagulated milk is cut. This cutting results in the separation of milk into curds (solids) and whey (liquids).

4. The whey is drained and used to fertilize the farm fields.

5. Stacking the curds helps drain the moisture and gives the bacteria time to multiply. This is called "cheddaring."

6. When Jamie determines that the acidity level is right, he mills the slabs into "fingers."

7. Salt is mixed into the cheese fingers to stop the bacteria from growing.

8. The fingers are poured into molds called hoops and pressed overnight.

9. The next day, solid cheese blocks are removed and wrapped up to begin the aging process.

10. Mark slices and weighs aged cheese ready to be packaged.

11. The packaged cheese is labeled.

12. The cheese is ready to be sold.


Research Biologist

Nafeeza Hafeez

Nafeeza Hafeez is a cell biologist and researcher at Infinity Pharmaceuticals in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where she is working to find a cure for a variety of cancers.

Nafeeza is studying a protein called Bc12 that's present in all cells but is especially abundant in cancer cells. Bc12 prevents cancer cells from dying. If Nafeeza can find a way to reduce Bc12 in a cancer cell, then the cancer cells might be able to be killed.

Nafeeza works in a team made up of chemists who create the molecules that will reduce the protein, biochemists who look for molecule interactions with the protein, cell biologists who look at the effects of the molecules on the protein in cancer cells, and pharmacologists (scientists who study how drugs work) who look at the effects of the molecule in test subjects.

Nafeeza enjoys the challenges. Sometimes she finds successful solutions, but sometimes she hits dead ends. That's the gamble of research, but it's always intriguing.

"There is no better feeling," says Nafeeza, "than finding a cure for an ailment or helping to improve someone's life." Sometimes people even send her thank-you notes.



Peter Seungtaek Lee

Peter Seungtaek Lee has been designing digital and nondigital games for eight years, but he's been an avid game player all his life. As cofounder and president of Gamelab in New York City, he spends every day creating new games for kids and grown-ups.

Peter was educated both as a visual artist and as a programmer, but he says his love of games was the best training of all. "Creating a game requires many people with different skills. You need programmers, writers, project managers, designers, illustrators, and sound designers." These skills are used to create the story-boards, background art, character art, texture design, animation, 3-D modeling, and all the other complex elements that make up a digital game.

How is a game built? First someone comes up with an idea. Then a playable prototype is created, which begins to test the basic interaction and game logic to see if the game is fun. Once the game tests positively, full production begins by bringing in visual and audio elements. Throughout the process, people play-test the game many times. The hardest part is the problem-solving.

Peter admits, "The fun part of playing a game comes after long days of work. Making a game is very challenging, but it is also very satisfying."

The games Gamelab creates are played online or distributed over the Internet.

Peter's favorite game that he developed is Diner Dash. It's about a waitress trying to keep her customers happy. Gamelab also creates many games for the LEGO Web site.

"I love to hear how much people enjoy playing the games I helped to create."



Lissa D'Aquanni

"When I was young, my aunt Loretta had a chocolate shop. I remember it was a magical place ... a place I loved to visit," says Lissa D'Aquanni. Years later Lissa began experimenting with making her own chocolate and in 1998 started The Chocolate Gecko — with Aunt Loretta's blessing.

The best part of making chocolate, says Lissa, "is creating something special for people who are going through a difficult period. It is said that chocolate has medicinal properties and that, combined with the love that we put into our creations, helps to sweeten even the most bitter times." Lissa makes chocolates for happy times, too, such as weddings, anniversaries, birthdays, and other special occasions.

The secret to her gourmet creations is play. Lissa starts by combining ingredients from favorite recipes until she finds a tasty new treat. Customer favorites are the Galapagos Turtles, made with maple syrup caramel, and her fruits, hand-dipped in white and dark chocolate.

Lissa says the hardest part of the job is keeping up with the demand of big orders. She once had to make 2,500 dipped strawberries for the governor's inauguration to be delivered the morning of January 1. It was a long New Year's Eve!

Lissa takes orders through her Web site, but she prefers when people come into the shop so she can meet them. Lissa likes to see people enjoying her treats. ]7



Donald Knaack

Donald Knaack is the Junkman. He is an accomplished percussionist who started his career in the Louisville Orchestra. One year every orchestra member needed to play a small scrap of metal for a contemporary piece.

Donald's job was to go to the junkyard and get the necessary metal. "It was my first time in a junkyard, and I was overwhelmed by the amazing variety of sounds that junk materials possessed." Donald found what he needed for the orchestra and a carload of junk for himself. He has been collecting and using junk to compose and perform music ever since — bringing an environmental theme to his work and to the world.

What kind of junk does Donald look for? "Unusual sounds — beautiful sounds like bells, ugly sounds like thunder, strange sounds like rasping a metal staircase." He finds it in all types of wood, metal, plastic, paper, glass, and cardboard. Then Donald puts the junk together to create an instrument that is both fun to play and to watch.

The Junkman tours all over the world. He has composed music for Twyla Tharp and the American Ballet Theatre, and performed in schools, colleges, universities, and big events such as Boston's First Night celebration.

Donald spends time at schools as a visiting artist, teaching kids about rhythm and recycling while helping them build their own Junk Music play station. The play station becomes a permanent part of their school, to be enjoyed for years to come.



Linda Greenlaw

Linda Greenlaw has been fishing most of her life. She began her career fishing for swordfish and eventually became captain of her own boat. After an adventurous seventeen years, she decided to fish closer to home in Isle au Haut, Maine. Now she catches lobster off the coast of the island. Her boat, the Mattie Belle, is named after her grandmother.

The lobster season runs from May to December. When the weather gets cold, the lobster move to deeper can no longer be caught. During the winter months, Linda prepares her gear and paints her buoys for the next season. "This is the hardest part of the job," says Linda, "because it's a lot of tedious work without the fun of being on the water."


Guitar Markers

Julius Borges and Steve Spodaryk

Julius and Steve love to play and build guitars. They produce only twenty guitars a year because each one must be perfect. Steve says the work is enjoyable since he is always doing something different, and Julius is proud of the unique sound people have come to expect from his instruments.

"Building instruments is a wonderful outlet for creativity. You start with a pile of wood and end up with a beautiful tool for making music — one that will give joy to people for generations to come," says Steve. But making guitars is also physically demanding work. You have to love what you do and work hard for many years to become a successful builder.

Guitar making requires excellent woodworking skills, problem solving, math and science, curiosity, patience, and a musical background. The best way to learn is by working as an apprentice with an expert builder.

Guitars are made from a variety of woods such as spruce, maple, mahogany, and rosewood. What makes a great instrument? The careful selection of wood and its processing to create the guitar parts. The soundboard (large top part of the guitar) is critical because it's responsible for the tone of the instrument.

Julius handles all the design and development. Steve's job is to assist Julius in the construction. This can include the body and neck, decoration, and inlay work. Selecting materials, voicing the instruments, and the critical finish work is what makes the instrument play properly.

Because the guitars are custom built, most are bought by collectors and professional musicians who have the skill to bring out the best in a great guitar.


Kite Designer

Mark Reed

Mark Reed is the owner and designer of Prism Designs. He creates single-line and two-line sport kites for people addicted to flying kites. Mark spent his early years working to understand the physics of sport kites, and he continues to refine his designs with each new project.

"I have always been a builder of things and for most of my childhood fancied myself either an inventor or a mad scientist," says Mark. "When I discovered stunt kites, the sport had barely gotten off the ground. It was exciting to experiment with design ideas knowing that I was making things that had never been built before."

Two-line sport kites are not the same as traditional kites, which go up on one string and stay in one part of the sky. Two-line sport kites are maneuverable, can fly up to speeds of 100 miles per hour, and do cart-wheels, somersaults, and backflips.


Excerpted from When I Grow Up by Jessica Loy. Copyright © 2008 Jessica Loy. Excerpted by permission of Henry Holt and Company.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

JESSICA LOY is the creator of Follow the Trail: A Young Person's Guide to the Great Outdoors. An accomplished graphic designer and painter, Ms. Loy is an associate professor at the Center for Art and Design at the College of Saint Rose where she teaches graphic design. She lives in Delmar, New York, with her family.

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