Happy Friday! As I promised on Wednesday, today I'm bringing you an author who turned a close encounter with nature into a joyful and educational picture book. That author is Lisa Morlock.
Lisa works as a writer and educator in Urbandale, Iowa. She has taught middle school through college language arts classes, worked as a secondary administrator, and written and edited for Perfection Learning Corporation and Meredith Corporation. She has led writing workshops with TAG students and teacher workshops on the nature-literacy connection, as well as guesting for whole-school visiting author programs. In addition, Lisa currently serves as the Assistant Regional Advisor for SCBWI-Iowa.
Lisa's picture book, her first, is Track that Scat! (Sleeping Bear Press, 2012). From the publisher:
When Finn and her dog Skeeter set out on a hike to cure their restless feet, they literally take a step into nature. A big gooey step...right into scat (also known as poop). And just like the animal it comes from, scat comes in all shapes and sizes. Scat, along with foot or paw tracks, can tell a lot about the creature who produced it.
As Finn's hike takes her further into the woods, she happens along some scat and tracks from a variety of woodland creatures.
Pairing punchy rhyme with science writing, Lisa Morlock has created the perfect nature guide, providing detailed descriptions of the prints, diets, and behaviors of the animals that Finn and Skeeter encounter along their hike. Watch your step!
School Library Journal said about the book: "If the need arises to teach children how to identify wild animal scat, start with this picture book . . . The large spreads are inviting, and the dog, a basset hound, is cute, cute, cute, and the gross factor is likely to draw kids in." IndieBound.org included the book on their Spring 2012 Kids' Indie Next List.
Track that Scat! is like two books in one. Younger readers/listeners will giggle through the bouncy rhyming story, and older ones will enjoy the nonfiction info in Lisa's conversational sidebars. A winning combination! Speaking of winning, YOU can win a signed copy of the book! Details at the end of this post.
Lisa was kind enough to answer a few questions for us. (Added bonus: art by the book's illustrator, Carrie Anne Bradshaw)
What made you want to write a nature story, and Track that Scat! in particular?
As a family we spend a lot of time outdoors. Children love exploring and getting dirty and being free – all the things that happen outside.
I wrote Track that Scat! after my son and his friend managed to find a big flock of geese sitting on a pond. Once the geese saw two boys running their way, they took flight. Geese poop up to a third of their body weight per day, so guess what was left behind....
The boys' shoes were covered in green goose scat. That's when I realized it: kids love poop talk and aninals. There's so much to learn from tracks and scat.
Also, more and more research supports a nature-literacy-mental health connection, so I do like to see kids get outdoors.
From the book:
Finn lands upon a hollow log
And yells, "Come on!" to that old dog.
Five-toed tracks, like handprints–see?
A messy pile beneath the tree.
A den! Her hound plays show-and-smell–
dry leaves, fish bones, a walnut shell.
With one tromp-stomp
Finn's foot goes splat.
Right into ...
... raccoon scat!
What made you decide to write the story in rhyme?
I love rhyming stories. And good rhyming stories make great read-alouds! They're fun, kids anticipate words, and the repetition allows for participation.
As a past teacher, I look for stories that combine factual tidbits in a fun, fictional storyline. The characters pull kids in, but there's an added educational benefit that stays with them.
Where there any challenges between acceptance and publication?
After the story was accepted and edited, the publisher wanted to hear it in 3rd person rather than 1st person. At first, I didn't see how it could work, but changing the point of view made it much stronger. I'm so glad for the suggestion.
Another surprise was a character change. My son, Will, and his buddy, Jaden, were muses for the story. When the artwork came back, the main character was a girl. They were nine at the time and quite disappointed with the pigtails.
What are you working on now?
I am working on another Finn and Skeeter story, a biography, a middle grade novel, and scads of other tales.
Something to look forward to! Thanks for the interview, Lisa, and THANKS, too, for donating a signed copy of Track that Scat!
To win Track that Scat!, enter our contest below through Rafflecopter. If you aren't sure how it works, read this. And click here to learn the difference between signing in with Facebook vs. signing in with your e-mail address.
Choose one option for entering, or more (if you want to increase your odds of winning). The giveaway will run through Friday, September 6th. Good luck!
(After you've entered, head on over to Tara's A Teaching Life blog for today's Poetry Friday round-up.)
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