Welcome to #SeasonsOfKidLit, Trick-or-Treaters! Tomorrow, little ones all around will be Trick-or-Treating! But have you ever wondered if animals Trick or Treat, too? I'm excited to have the incredibly talented Tracy Gold here today as she's written a book about just that - a Trick-or-Treating bat! Trick Or treat, Bugs to Eat (illustrated by Nancy Leschnikoff), follows a little bat on Halloween night collecting its very own treats. Want to know how bats would collect treats on Halloween Night? Read on...
Q: Hi, Tracy. Thanks so much for joining #SeasonsOfKidLit! I'm excited to have you and hear all about your not-so-spooky STEM book for the season: Trick or Treat, Bugs to Eat. Can you share a little about yourself and how you got inspired to write such a fun title?
A: I love animals and when I was a kid, I wanted to grow up to be a farmer. Well, I'm a writer and a freelance editor for work, but I do have an adopted dog, a retired racehorse horse I am retraining for a new career as a jumper, and a senior horse who was also a racehorse about 20 years ago. So it only makes sense that lots of my picture book ideas are about animals. This one actually came about when my agent said editors were looking for Halloween books. I thought about Halloween animals and remembered visiting Congress Bridge on a trip to Austin, Texas. Hundreds of thousands of bats fly out from underneath the bridge at sunset. It is stunning! So I wrote "Trick or Treat, Bugs to Eat" while thinking about those bats.
Q: In your book, an adorable little bat is out searching for the perfect treat: bugs! What other STEM facts can readers expect to see in the story?
A: I had to include echolocation in the book! Kids seem to really love saying "echo" when I read the book aloud. The illustrator, Nancy Leschnikoff, did a wonderful job showing this invisible navigation system using a few basic symbols, and it's also explained in the non-fictional back matter. The back matter also covers bats' roles in keeping mosquito populations under control and pollinating plants.
Q: Picture books and board books are seemingly easy to write, however we authors know a lot of effort goes into them. What kind of research went into finding all the fun facts about bats?
A: With "Trick or Treat, Bugs to Eat" and my next animal book, "Hide and Seek, Nuts to Eat," about squirrels stashing food, I have very tight rhyme and rhythm schemes. For me, I like to know way more about the animal I am writing about because I might need to swap out words and fun facts to make the rhyme work. With both books, I probably wrote 30-40 stanzas and winnowed them down to the 10-20 that ended up in the book (I am not sure how many will be in the final version of "Hide and Seek!"). That means lots and lots of research! I start out with online resources, and watching YouTube videos of the animals, which is super fun. Once I actually had the book deal, I then reached out to experts in bat and squirrel biology, respectfully, and made changes to the books based on their feedback. (Thank you, Liz Mering and Rebecca Rimbach!) I have many picture book ideas going at all times, and since it's never quite certain which book will get published, I do wait to ask for an expert's time until I know that I will really need it. I also needed to refresh my research a bit between revising "Trick or Treat, Bugs to Eat" and doing virtual school visits, because I wanted to be able to answer questions, and there was about a year gap.
Q: What advice can you give to any writer who’s looking to blend STEM and Fiction together in a fun way?
A: There are so many different approaches to this! For me, I am a huge fan of back matter, and believe that even books which are more purely fiction can often have non-fictional back matter, or recipes, or activities, that help give the book more of an extended life for a classroom, library, or family. For example, Mary Quattlebaum's '"Jo MacDonald Had a Garden" is a sing-song book about a kid's garden which includes non-fictional back matter about the animals who visit the garden.
Q: What makes Trick or Treat, Bugs to Eat the perfect book for readers of all ages?
A: Well, I'm not sure I would swap it out for a spooky mystery novel for an adult at Halloween, but it is a great family book during Halloween or year-round because it is so fun to read aloud due to the "Trick or Treat, Smell my Feet" rhyme scheme! The back matter is short enough to be appreciated by older and younger kids (and parents who are reading it at bedtime). And who knows--maybe kids will even see bats flying in their neighborhood.
Thanks again for joining us, Tracy! We can't wait to swoop up a copy of you book!
Q: Would you like to leave a Trick or a Treat for the readers?
A: A treat! I'd like to give either a free copy of "Trick or Treat, Bugs to Eat"! OR offer a picture book or query critique.
Thanks so much for such sweet treats!
Contest Details: To enter to win one treat of your choice, comment below and let Tracy know why you're excited to read her fun book! The winner will be announced on or about November 4th.
*Note: Book giveaways will be shipped in the US only.
About Tracy Gold:
Tracy C. Gold loves bringing characters to life. She is a writer, freelance editor, and mom living in Baltimore, Maryland. Her picture books include “Everyone’s Sleepy but the Baby” from Familius, “Trick or Treat, Bugs to Eat” from Sourcebooks, and two forthcoming books, “Hide and Seek, Nuts to Eat,” from Sourcebooks and “Call Your Mother” from Familius. She also writes short stories, essays, novels, and poems. Her work has been published in several magazines and anthologies. Tracy earned her M.F.A. in Creative Writing and Publishing Arts at the University of Baltimore and earned her B.A. in English from Duke University. When she’s not writing or editing, she’s playing with her toddler or hanging out with horses and dogs. You can find out more about Tracy at tracycgold.com, by following her on Twitter and Instagram at @tracycgold, or by liking her Facebook page.
For more about Tracy, check out the below links:
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