This is the latest (but not the last) of my Dinosty (get it? Dino dynasty!) books, which are all about different behaviors of naughty but nice dinos that began over twenty years ago with How Does A Dinosaur Say Goodnight?
Poems about animals that suck. No really. The ones that sip and slurp, and otherwise suck their food or use sucking for locomotion and other things. My daughter Heidi and I did a lot of research on such animals around the world, then each chose which creatures we individually wanted to write about.
This midrash was a delight for a wife and mother of bird watchers to write. It is a kind of poem, which you will notice if you read it out loud. The pictures are just stunning. Midrash is what the rabbis do by taking a story from the Hebrew Bible and finding new ways to interpret them.
I call this my sequel to OWL MOON, only forty years later! Probably I am the only one who sees the connection. I think the pictures are stunning in their own way. I hope John Schoneherr, who won the Caldecott for OWL MOON, is looking down from heaven with approval.
This book has only 22 words in the text, and more than half of them are made up! (There is a backmatter which accounts for many more words.) My husband is the one who counted the words and told me!! And I adore the paintings that look like old circus posters. It took the editor and art director more than a year to find exactly the right illustrator.
After the success (and an honor book award from the Jewish Publishers) for my first picture book midrash—MIRIAM AT THE RIVER—the publisher was eager for more. I wrote Deborah’s Tree and Mrs. Noah’s Doves at more or less than same time and what fun they were to write.
This little board book just kind of wrote itself, and the wonderful first Jewish publisher I showed it to fell in love with it and brought it out swiftly as a board book.
All books have a back story and this is a fun one. An editor I did not know (who has become a dear friend) asked me for her publisher (of a company I did not know then) if I could help edit/rewrite a picture book. They had gorgeous illustrations that told the story, but the illustrator’s writing skills were not up to his artwork. That sort of thing is always a stretch.And can be a spiderweb of good intentions that ends up killing everyone involved.
This began as an interesting quote I read in a birding magazine, moved on to a poem (I write a poem a day and send them out to over 1,000 subscribers) and at last-with some additions and fiddling– a picture book with my favorite publisher of truly elegant books, Creative Editions.
Written with my ten year old granddaughter, Maddison Stemple-Piatt, and sold ten plus years later. (She is now in law school!) And the publishing company who bought it–Magination Press–hadn’t been running yet in its current form. Both Maddison and I were young ballet dancers and dancing remained in both our lives…