Q&A About Books
Q: Why did you write SHARKS?
A: When I was a new scuba diver, my husband Marty and I were resting on the dive boat, between dives. Our son, Jim, came up to say that we had to go diving again to see a nurse shark below. He said it was a harmless “nurse shark.” Like most people at that time, I thought all sharks were dangerous. But we went diving down and I did see the shark but the shark didn’t even bother to look at me. It didn’t bite off my toe or do anything sharky I thought it might do. That encounter led to more research and reading and asking questions and I learned that only a handful of sharks out of over 300 species are harmless. I wrote SHARKS to tell children the truth about sharks.
Why did you write QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS ABOUT SHARKS?
I wrote SHARKS 20 years before scientists had the information they know today. This book has all the up-to-date info about sharks, including the deep-water sharks — the Frill shark, the Pacific Sleeper shark (that may be bigger than a great white shark) and the Cookie Cutter shark.
Q: Why did you write GREAT GORILLAS?
A: My husband Marty and I were supposed to go to Rwanda, Africa and hike to see the great mountain gorillas so that I could write a book about them. But Marty was ill and the doctor said we couldn’t go. I had read Diane Fossey’s book, Gorillas in the Mist, and had seen the movie about her. I had done a lot of research and knew enough about mountain gorillas to write a book. I asked Diane Fossey in Rwanda to read my work so that I could be sure it was true. She agreed!
A real letter from Diane Fossey
Q: Why did you write ELEPHANT BABY?
A: When I was in Africa, I saw a herd of elephants huddled around a tiny elephant baby. I saw lots of elephant families on the safari and I became very curious about their behavior. So when I got home, I researched and read about elephants for months and wrote the book. Fred Brenner beautifully illustrated it.
An elephant baby is well protected by its family.
Q: Why did you write SWIMMING WITH SEA LIONS AND OTHER ADVENTURES IN THE GALAPAGOS ISLANDS?
A: I made two trips to the Galapagos Islands to write this book. Again, my adventures are written as a girl’s diary. She sees a bird with a bright red balloon under its beak, climbs through sticky mud to see the giant tortoises, is frightened by creatures that look like dragons, and so much more. My photos illustrate the book.
A sea lion investigates my camera bag.
Q: Why did you write PLAYING WITH PENGUINS AND OTHER ADVENTURES IN ANTARCTICA?
A: Everyone loves penguins! I went to Antarctica two times to write this book. I never thought I would see hundreds of thousands of penguins and have so many adventures. I turned my adventures into a story of a young girl who sails on a ship with her grandmother “to the white bottom of the world.” She writes about her many adventures in a diary. I took most of the pictures in the book, too.
An Emperor penguin tobagganing through the snow!
Q: Why did you write THE PILGRIMS’ FIRST THANKSGIVING?
A: Thanksgiving is one of our most important holidays. I wanted to write a book about it for 2nd and 3rd graders to read by themselves.
Celebrating the first Thanksgiving.
Q: What is your favorite question in IF YOU LIVED WITH THE SIOUX INDIANS?
A: “Was there time for fun?” Everyone played ball — girls, too. But boys played rougher. In the winter, boys and girls would spin homemade tops on the ice and go sledding in sleds made of buffalo ribs.
Q: What is your favorite question in IF YOU LIVED IN THE DAYS OF THE KNIGHTS?
A: “Would you be comfortable in a castle?” Not in the winter. Even the drinking water in the castle’s birdcages froze! The floor was covered with straw that got dirty from spilled food and dog droppings. New straw was sprinkled with sweet-smelling herbs to hide the bad smells.
Q: What was your favorite question in IF YOU LIVED 100 YEARS AGO?
A: “What were the streets like?” Garbage sometimes piled up four feet high. One visitor said “New York City looked like a huge dirty stable.” The main streets were a mess of noise, dirt, horse manure, and traffic – horse-drawn trucks, carts, wagons and coaches. Wild drivers drove two-wheeled delivery carts in white coats.