Eleven Questions with Laura Perdew!
Meet Laura Perdew! She’s the author of more than 30 books for kids, including her newest set, Picture Book Science: Adaptations!
- How did you get started writing for kids?
I was a middle school teacher for many years and rediscovered my passion for words when I modeled the writing process for my students. When my twins came along, I left the classroom and eventually pursued writing for the education market so I could work at home. Since then, I’ve written more than 30 books for the education market and have continued to pursue publishing fiction, both picture books and middle grade novels.
- How did you get the idea to write about animal adaptations?
The idea wasn’t mine—it came from Nomad! But I jumped at the opportunity to get kids excited about nature and animals. I worked with my editor to figure the angle and tone for the books. I already knew some pretty amazing things about animals just from being outdoors and watching documentaries, but after I started my research, I learned a whole lot more. The more I learned, the more I wanted to continue researching.
- Why will kids find animal adaptations interesting?
It is an amazing world out there that goes beyond webbed feet for swimming, camouflage, and migrating with the seasons. My research led me to some wonderful, wacky, strange, disgusting, and unbelievable adaptations. I’m hoping that kids will find stink fights, nests made of spit, leaf costumes, walking on water, and frogsicles just as interesting as I did!
- What do you hope readers will take away from your books?
I hope that the books will make kids go, “WOW!” And that the amazement they discover about the natural world will not only inspire them to go learn more, but will also inspire them to help protect it.
- Tell us about your research process.
I start by surfing the internet to get introduced to a topic I’ve been assigned for a project. When I do this, I try not to take any notes but instead focus on getting my brain around the subject and just seeing what’s out there. Eventually, I start bookmarking websites that are informative and reliable. I go to my local library, too—librarians are the best! They often point me to resources I hadn’t even considered. In addition, I reach out to experts in the field and ask if they’d be willing to answer some questions. Most people are happy to help. Documentaries are another great source of information and inspiration. As I’m doing all this, the format of the book starts to take shape in my head. Then, it’s time to write!
- Do you love nonfiction?
Here’s the funny thing about that—I didn’t much like writing OR reading nonfiction when I was a kid. And when I began writing seriously as an adult, I wrote fiction. Then I got started writing for the education market, all nonfiction, and I found I really enjoyed it. I especially enjoyed writing about nature and the environment. The other thing is that nonfiction for kids is really changing nowadays. It’s much more exciting and engaging than it used to be, which means I get to use my own voice in my writing and talk directly to the reader. So the answer to the question is, YES! I do love nonfiction!
- What was difficult about writing this series of picture books?
The hardest part of this series was figuring out what animals to include! There’s only a certain amount of space in a book, so I had to choose carefully. Some of my choices were based on how interesting the adaptation was to me (and what I thought would be interesting to kids). Other choices were based on how the animals fit together in each book. I also wanted to do a variety of animals from all over the world and from different habitats. Unfortunately, I had to leave out a lot of amazing animals that were just as interesting as the ones in the books, like pink fairy armadillos, hairy frogs, and the monkeyface prickleback fish.
- What was your favorite part of writing these picture books?
That’s easy: Research. It was SO. MUCH. FUN! Every day I learned new things about amazing animals. And some of it was pretty funny and disgusting. Everyone I shared my facts with loved them as much as I did. Then, I visited some second grade classrooms to get a sense of what they already knew about adaptations and what they might want to learn. They were REALLY enthusiastic about all the crazy and funny facts I had for them.
- Do you do author visits?
I do! When I can, I do in-person visits and I also do virtual presentations. Since I stopped teaching, I’ve missed being in the classroom. Visits are an excellent way for me to connect with kids and share with them what I do and what I’ve learned. I also want to get kids excited about nonfiction and help them find the hook and the fun in research and writing. I look forward to bringing adaptations into schools, and to bookstores, and libraries.
- Which place would you rather visit, the Arctic or Antarctica?
Neither! I don’t like the cold at all. When I travel, I’m always happy to go into the mountains near me or to go to the ocean. What I would really LOVE to do is to visit the Galapagos Islands . . . there is so much biodiversity there. It’s on my bucket list.
- When you are not writing, what are your favorite things to do?
I spend as much time outdoors as possible. I love to run, hike, camp, and explore. Colorado is an especially great place to live and play. That said, I may be a mountain girl, but I also love the ocean. I always look forward to spending time by the water or in the water with the turtles and fish.