Okay, now in the process of wrapping up my Everything Predators book. It’s been grueling, as for every hour of writing I need to put in a few hours of research to back me up. At home, the family is getting annoyed that I’m continually watching documentaries on animals. Secret Lives of Predators, by National Geographic Channel, has been one of my faves. And there is a wall of research books preventing anyone but a mountain climber from getting to my desk.
At least things are to the point where I’m wrapping up and putting the final touches on the last chapter, chapter four, which includes fun stuff related to pop culture. And since I’m a big monster movie fan and reader of mythology, I’ve got a lot to work with.
Some movies/books/shows with larger than life predators (based on real life predators) that I mention
- Jaws—there are more deaths in one Jaws movie than there are shark-related deaths in a year.
- Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest—the Kraken has been a popular monster in Greek and Scandinavian myths, most likely the results of people seeing giant squids, which are too shy to attack people.
- Rikki-Tikki-Tavi—As a child, I loved the cartoon adaptation of this Rudyard Kipling story about mongoose who saves a family from a cobra.
- Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner—another favorite from my childhood, but know that in real life, a road runner is never going to outrun a hungry coyote.
So while working on my Everything Predators book, I’ve come across some bizarre creatures that I wanted to share.
Goblin Sharks—these beasts live in the dark, depths of the ocean, so are rarely seen. They have jaws full of needle-like teeth that shoot forward (reminding me of the monsters in the Alien movies) to snatch prey.
Amazonian Giant Centipede—okay, anything with more than four legs can be kind of creepy. But when it has almost 100 legs and can be the size of your forearm, that is scary-creepy. And these centipedes can catch bats!
Mantis Shrimp—these little guys (most are only a few inches long) pack a punch powerful enough punch to crack the shells of snails and crabs.
Archerfish—an apt name, as they shoot water at bugs, hoping to knock them into the water, where they become fish food.
And those are just a few of the cool predators that I’m including in this book.
One of my big projects this month is book about predators. It’ll be my 6th book in National Geographic Kids Everything series, and I continue to be excited to write for them, especially since I was so enthralled with National Geographic Magazine growing up.
And while I’ve done a lot of book research about animals over my years, and written many books about different critters, it’s always fun when a project helps you learn new things, or at least look at the world differently.
That is very true of this project. It has stretched my understanding of what predators are. Mostly we think of animals like sharks and lions and wolves as predators. But when looking at what truly defines them: animals that get energy from eating other animals, the definition of a predator expands to goldfish, songbirds, hornets, toads, whales, moles, etc . . . There are thousands of animals, that eat other animals, that we don’t normally think of as predators because of our fascination with the apex predators.
What makes a predator?
- Predators kill and eat the animals they hunt.
- Typically, predators are larger than their prey, with exceptions for animals that hunt in groups, like a pack of wolves or an army of ants.
- Predators have heighten senses, like a hawk’s keen sight, or special features, like a chameleon’s long and sticky tongue, to help them catch prey.
TRIVIA: Blue whales are the world’s largest predator, eating tons of krill a day.
Colorful, fascinating, and timely, this book on soccer is true to National Geographic’s reputation for excellent coverage. Non-soccer fans, whose numbers are diminishing, will enjoy this addition to the “Everything Series” for National Geographic Kids. It is an educational romp. With more than 100 pictures, interesting history about the game’s origins, and information about the worldwide coverage of superstar players, coaches, and their territories, this book will ensure that readers’ eyes do not wander. The picture book size is bold, illustrations are numerous, and the information is massive. Definitions, maps, addresses for soccer websites, and a photographic diagram of “The Pitch” (i.e., the playing area for international games) are provided. Altogether, this keeps the pressure on to keep on… reading. In 2015 the Women’s World Cup will be played in Canada, and the world again will be watching. To be in the know about soccer language and rules, place this book in your school library and your backpack.
My fourth book in the National Geographic Kids Everything series is out this month. And like all my books, I’m proud of the work I did on this one. It took a lot of research to nail down some of the facts. But also, I have an ornithologist in the family. One of my uncles is a curator at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. So I feel like I need to know my stuff. I hope he feels I did these amazing predators justice.
The introduction presents some dinosaur “what if”s: What if dinosaurs had not become extinct? What was the world really like with dinosaurs roaming around? Dr. Paul Sereno, a paleontologist, helps to answer these questions through his research. In “Explorer’s Corner” sidebars throughout the book, Dr. Sereno provides extra information from his worldwide expeditions. The four chapters cover everything from “dinosaurs rule” to “fun with dinos.” Colored illustrations and sidebars complement the text. Young readers will learn how dinosaurs first evolved as well as how they became extinct. An “Afterword” explores why we are still interested in dinosaurs. An interactive glossary tests the reader’s knowledge with four definition options for each term. Correct answers are provided at the bottom of the page. A “Find Out More” section provides “Dino Documentaries,” “Dino-riffic Reads,” a list of related websites, and information about places to visit to learn more about these creatures. An index allows easy navigation through the text. This book is part of the “National Geographic Kids ‘Everything’” series, which covers an extensive number of topics for young readers. This book would be an excellent addition to supplement the science curriculum and will open the world of dinosaurs for young readers.
In Everything Mythology, Blake Hoena and Adrienne Mayor introduce readers to a colorful and fearful world that is not entirely foreign. This book is filled with stories of Gods, Goddesses, Heroes, Monsters, revenge, love, hate, trickery and so much more. As readers and listeners journey into the world of Mythology they will quickly find characters they are familiar with in today’s world—including super heroes, wizards, princesses and characters from some favorite books. Short stories and facts are accompanied by vibrant illustrations that will engage readers. Hoena and Mayor include a map to help readers place the stories in a geographical context. This book is a great steppingstone into mythology for young readers. Each mythical story builds upon the next and soon readers will understand where terms like “Pandora’s box” and “Achilles’ heel” come from. Hoena and Mayor did an effective job at keeping the facts and stories short and understandable. All these elements lend to an educated introduction to Mythology. This book is highly recommended for use by parents with young readers who want to know the backstories of their favorite modern day heroes.
With more than 100 full-color illustrations these titles are visual treats, while providing a good deal of content. Each features four main sections with two-page chapters within those sections concentrating on specific topics. Within “Dinosaur Life,” for instance, readers will find spreads on the “Dino Nursery,” “Growing Up Dinosaur,” “Chomp or Be Chomped,” and “The Plant Eaters.” The layouts include headlines, text boxes, illustrations, and quick facts. Mythology even offers an Olympus Family Tree and isn’t limited to the gods of the Greek pantheon. Anansi, Horus, and Ganesha are all at home in these pages. The books are not only easy to read and understand, they’re also fun. Each volume includes a glossary (with an accompanying quiz to increase comprehension) and sources for more information (books, websites). Good purchases where these subjects are much in demand.
—School Library Journal
With the World Cup starting up in a little over a week, it’s great timing on my newest release, National Geographic Kids EVERYTHING Soccer. While working on this book, I even interviewed Omar Gonzalez, a star defender for Team USA.
Summary: Score! Finally, a book that explains everything about soccer—a favorite team sport played by millions of kids around the globe. From patches of dirt to gleaming turf, soccer is a game for all. Meet soccer’s superstars. Learn the rules. Get kitted up, get out on the field, and show off your fancy footwork.
The latest in the Everything series will certainly appeal to young dinosaur enthusiasts. Illustrations rule here, even though, as the text mentions, scientists aren’t sure about the color, shape, and texture of most dinosaurs. Tempesta’s illustrations present dinos of all sizes and dimensions, like the Mamenchisaurus, whose neck was 35 feet long. These pictures provide a sense of drama and danger, though the fainthearted should take note that several images depict ravenous dinosaurs feasting rather bloodily upon others. Hoena packs in a lot of facts, ranging from one-sentence “Dino Bites” to fieldwork insights from paleontologist Sereno. One intriguing section discusses how dinosaurs cared for their young and shows fossils of the long, thin eggs of meat-eating dinosaurs; the bowling-ball-sized Diplodocus eggs; and the spiral patterns that some dinosaurs used to organize their eggs. The book doesn’t delve very deeply, but like the dinosaurs, it covers a lot of ground.