Saturday, October 28, 2017

New Release: "Earth! My First 4.54 Billion Years," by Stacy McAnulty ~ Plus an Interview with the Author!

About the Book:
Author Stacy McAnulty has penned a hilarious yet fact-filled new picture book, EARTH! MY FIRST 4.54 BILLION YEARS (Henry Holt and Co. BYR, Ages 4-8), uniquely told from the perspective of Earth herself!

EARTH! is filled to the brim with eye-opening, kid-friendly facts about our planet, brought to life with vibrant art by award-winning illustrator David Litchfield.

More than that, the picture book, which was won at auction, is an adorable imagining of Earth's own personality, perfect for fans of Jason Chin's Gravity or Peter Brown's The Curious Garden.

Purchase on Amazon


My Thoughts:
Learning about Earth has never been more fun! I love the humor in this book. Earth calls herself "Planet Awesome" and refers to the other planets as her siblings. And, she proclaims, it's not always easy being Earth as asteroids, volcanic eruptions and ice ages arrive. But once humans arrive, Earth is happy because humans are "interested in learning about me," unlike the other animals, which are "nice," but "mostly eat and poop"! (Your kids will LOVE that line!) And this book makes a great launching point for discussions about other subjects, like dinosaurs, natural phenomena, the solar system, and conservation. EARTH! MY FIRST 4.54 BILLION YEARS is a fun introduction for teaching kids about Planet Earth and entertaining them, too.


Interview with Stacy McAnulty

How did you get the idea to write this book from the Earth’s perspective?
The idea for Earth came from a “failed” manuscript. I tried to write a story about a pet rock through history. Rock lived with a cave boy, then nomads. He survived the stone age, middle ages, colonial times, all the way to the modern era. That manuscript never worked. But what I realized was that I was trying to tell a story about time. Earth has been around awhile. We humans are rather new.

How did you conduct the research for this book?
At first, I thought I knew enough to write a kids’ book. I was familiar with how long it takes Earth to rotate and revolve. I’ve heard of Pangea. I can name the continents. But then I started looking closer and deeper. The research swallowed me up. I loved it. I dug through the internet and books. I read article after article on the status of Pluto. It’s easy to be sucked into the research especially when scientists don’t always agree. And as we were editing, some of the data changed! In June, after the book was complete and being printed, two scientific papers were published that date modern humans to almost 300,000 years ago in Morocco (not 200,000 as we have in the book). Scientists are still debating the relationship of these fossils to modern homo sapiens and ancient human relatives. So stayed tuned!

You’re a mechanical engineer! So, how did you become a children’s book author?
I was good at math in high school and that led to a STEM major in college. The summer after I graduated, I started writing in my free time. I had no idea what I was doing and tried everything from short stories to science-fiction novels. Then when I had my kids, I fell in love with children’s books. I want to write these! This is what I’m meant to do. I started writing kidlit in 2007. My first book published in 2013. This journey has taken awhile but has certainly been worth it.

What do your kids think of your books? Do they give you feedback as you write them?
My girls are teenagers now, and they read all of my manuscripts. They’ve been unintentionally trained in the world of picture books. They understand illustration notes and pagination. So having them read the text is almost like having a colleague read it. And because they’re teenagers, they’re brutally honest. My son, who is ten, prefers to see words and art together. We usually get to see near-final art about a year before the book is published. The editor will send me an electronic file, usually a PDF. That’s when my boy enjoys the book. It’s a special moment.

Who are some of your favorite children’s authors or books?
So many. I’ve been reading a lot of middle grade recently, and I love the books by Lynda Mullaly Hunt, Victoria Jamieson, Holly Goldberg Sloan, Kate Beasley, Cassie Beasley, and Kelly Barnhill.
And for picture books, it’s even harder to have favorites. But I always enjoy the books by my friends and critique buddies: Laura Gehl, Peter McCleery, Camille Andros, Jason Gallaher, and Lori Richmond. It is a treat to see their first drafts transform into beautiful finished books. I’m lucky to have them in my life.

About the Author:
Stacy McAnulty is a children’s book author, who used to be a mechanical engineer, who’s also qualified to be a paleontologist (not really), a correspondent for The Daily Show (why not), and a Green Bay Packer coach (totally!). She is the 2017 Ezra Jack Keats Book New Writer Honor Recipient for Excellent Ed, illustrated by Julia Sarcone-Roach. Her other picture books include Earth! My First 4.54 Billion Years, illustrated by David Litchfield; Brave and Beautiful, both illustrated by Joanne Lew-Vriethoff; Mr. Fuzzbuster Knows He’s the Favorite, illustrated by Edward Hemingway; and 101 Reasons Why I’m Not Taking a Bath, illustrated by Joy Ang. She’s also authored the chapter book series Goldie Blox, based on the award-winning toys, and The Dino Files. Her debut middle grade novel, The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl, will publish in 2018. When not writing, Stacy likes to listen to NPR, bake triple-chocolate cupcakes, and eat triple-chocolate cupcakes. Originally from upstate NY, she now lives in Kernersville, NC, with her 3 kids, 2.5 dogs, and 1 husband.




Disclosure: I received an Advance Reader's Edition to facilitate my honest review. This post contains my Amazon affiliate link, and I will receive a small commission on sales made through my link.

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