As I raise awareness about my new book When Sleeping Birds Fly: 365 Amazing Facts About The Animal Kingdom, the same questions have been coming up from various individuals and organizations. I thought it would be helpful to do a quick Q & A to answer some of the most common questions. Here we go.
Describe your new book When Sleeping Birds Fly: 365 Amazing Facts About The Animal Kingdom.
When Sleeping Birds Fly is a collection of 365 interesting, wacky, or amusing facts about all kinds of animals: birds, reptiles, mammals, insects, fish, and more. The book, which is 128 pages long, is divided into sections such as “From Here To There,” “Home, Sweet Home,” “Pregnancy and Birth,” and “Amazing Senses.” The book is intended to get readers thinking about the amazing world of animals, and how the human world connects with nature; and while it is a fun read in and of itself, I do hope that readers will be prompted to do their own research about a topic that particularly interests them. There are questions at the back of the book to test readers on what they have learned too.
Who is your intended audience?
While ostensibly written for middle years students, the book will appeal to anyone who likes nature trivia. In fact, based on pre-sales, as many adults are buying the book for themselves as they are for kids! The book is of particular interest to families, schools, children’s and science museums, and zoos, as well as anyone looking for an easy, fun summertime read.
How did you do your research for the book?
I spent hundreds of hours over the course of five years scouring books, magazines, newspapers, and television programs to find the most interesting/fun/amusing facts I could about the animal kingdom. Once I had over 400 facts, I started to whittle the list down. Anything that wasn’t interesting enough, or was too similar to another fact, or I couldn’t verify from a secondary source, was discarded. All of the facts in the book were verified by at least two sources, and in many cases, my further research ended up clarifying or expanding upon my knowledge.
What qualifies you to write a non-fiction book about animals?
I believe that curiosity is the main attribute needed to write a book such as this. However, I also happen to have two science degrees--an MSc in Geology and a BSc in Chemistry and Geology. While those degrees aren’t obviously biology- or zoology-related, the important skills of how to do research and then communicate those results clearly are a strength of mine. And having worked with kids in many science topics over the past 20 years qualifies me to know what kids will enjoy reading.
What was the biggest challenge in writing the book?
The biggest challenges were: 1) simplifying difficult concepts or detailed descriptions down to a form that was understandable by kids as young as eight years old; and 2) fact verification. It wasn’t that these are particularly difficult for me to do, it was that they, especially verification, was more time-consuming than I had expected.
You mentioned your book is divided into sections. Is there a section you particularly like?
The section on “Dating and Mating” is hilarious. You can’t even make this stuff up! I also learned a lot from the section called “Body Parts.” And who can resist a section called “Poo, Pee, and Gas Tales?”
Can you share some of your favourite facts in the book?
That’s a tough one because there are so many to choose from! How about these:
The young smooth fan lobster hitches a ride on a moon jellyfish and eats its host as they travel around together.
The male starling weaves fresh herbs into its nest to help boost the immune system of its babies.
The sunburst diving beetle carries an air bubble with it when it swims underwater so it can breathe.
Some butterflies drink turtle tears.
Do you have any special events coming up connected to the release of the book?
I am still in discussions with several Saskatchewan venues, but I can tell you for sure that the Saskatoon launch of the book is happening on July 25/18 from 6:00 to 8:00 pm at Wild Birds Unlimited at 330A – 2600 8th Street East. I will be doing a brief reading/discussion and then I will have hands-on activities for the kids (and kids at heart) to do.
Where can readers buy the book?
It is best for me if you buy directly from me; click here to purchase. However, it will be available starting around July 6/18 at select bookstores and gift stores in Saskatchewan and Manitoba; ones confirmed to date are Wild Birds Unlimited, McNally Robinson Booksellers, and Turning the Tide (all in Saskatoon), as well as on amazon.
What do you have planned next?
When Sleeping Birds Fly is the first in a series of three books about amazing science facts. My publisher, Siretona Creative, and I are in discussions to also create an art book based on the first book in the series.