Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Behind the Books: I’m Such a Gossip!

Are you a gossip? I am. Like any gossip, I share things I overhear. I just can’t keep a secret.

Sometimes the person speaking doesn’t even know I’m listening. But my ears are always open for juicy tidbits.

And like any gossip, I share things that I think other people will find interesting. Some gossips might tell people about the crazy thing their neighbor did last week. Others might spread news about the tragic situation a friend is facing.
 
What do I gossip about? Science.

When I overhear a fascinating fact or an amazing story or a cool idea, I just can’t keep it to myself. I want to share it with EVERYONE.  And that’s why I’m a nonfiction writer. My job is to share information in a way that will make my audience just as interested as I am.

Here are a few examples. When I was at a nature center near my home, one of the naturalists told me she was working with the local electric company to create new habitat for an endangered butterfly. I immediately wanted to share that story, and eventually, I did in my book A Place for Butterflies.

When my nephew, Colin, was about 5 years old, I heard him say he wanted to know more about “kid insects, you know, insects that are still growing up.” I loved that idea, so I stole it. Soon I was telling kids everywhere how a wide variety of insects grow up in Maggots, Grubs, and More: The Secret Lives of Young Insects.

A few years later, I heard Colin arguing with his sisters, Claire and Caroline, about whether or not tamarin monkeys make barking noises. By now, you probably won’t be surprised to hear that a book grew out of that argument.

Can an Aardvark Bark? will be published in 2017. Would you like a sneak peek at the sketches? It’s illustrated by the uber-talented Steve Jenkins.

See, I told you I was a gossip. I really just can’t keep a secret.

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