Guest post: Charles Ghigna, the author of a Gross & Cool Book
I love books like STRANGE, UNUSUAL, GROSS AND COOL ANIMALS by Charles Ghigna. They’re so engaging and are a great way to get kids excited about reading and science. I’m very excited to welcome Ghigna here to share how he came to write this terrific book.
My Strange and Unusual Journey: The Writing of a Gross & Cool Book for Animal Planet
I had just finished spending nearly a year writing a six-book animal series for toddlers when the phone rang. It was a Time Inc editor in New York asking if I might be interested in writing a 128-page book for Animal Planet about strange, unusual, gross and cool animals for kids ages 8-12. Sure. And it’s due in nine months. Wait. What? Let me think about it. I’ve written more than 100 books, but I’ve never written a big nonfiction researched-based book. I do write a lot about animals though. Mostly in rhyme. Mostly for toddlers. Sure. What the heck. I can do that. Wait. Did you say nine months?
And so began the rollicking ride of researching and writing a book about exotic animals full of eye-popping photographs. Full of facts. No fanciful work play. No imaginative nonsense rhymes for toddlers. No looking out the window for my next bit of inspiration. My tranquil treehouse fast became the center of the universal pursuit of the biggest, baddest, best creatures on the planet. No more loose and loony alliteration. This was serious business.
Nothing like writing out of one’s comfort zone to help stretch the old writing muscles in new ways. Thank goodness for the Homewood Library and their team of enthusiastic librarians who supplied me with endless stacks of animal books. Thank goodness for my team of first-class editors at Time Inc. who helped make sense of my senseless ramblings, putting order to the wild and wondrous chaos I sent them each week. Thank goodness I’m a night owl. Thank goodness for the sofa in my treehouse.
It was the Blobfish that first caught my eye. Icky pink and bulbous looking. Voted the “World’s Ugliest Animal,” I knew that one would become a hit with the 8-12 year old crowd. And who could resist the Rosy Wolfsnail, the fastest snail on earth. Who just happens to be a cannibal from Hawaii. And who just happens to inhabit my home state of Alabama and throughout the Southeast. Or the Fangtooth Fish whose teeth are so large it can never close its mouth.
Yep. This one’s a real page turner. Just glad I was hanging out in the treehouse when the phone rang. Just glad I was caught in a weak moment and said yes. Just glad I could be a part of this irresistible collection of amazing creatures whose lives will be explored by an endless parade of curious kids who might even put down their iPhones to ponder these scary, stunning pictures of exotic animals from around the world taken by some of the world’s top photographers.
This is the book I wish I had as a kid. The kind of book a reader — even a nonreader — can’t put down.
About Charles Ghigna:
Charles Ghigna, also known as Father Goose, is an award-winning poet, children’s author, speaker, and nationally syndicated feature writer. He is the author of more than 5,000 poems and 100 books. His books have been featured on ABC-TV’s “Good Morning, America,” PBS, and NPR. Ghigna’s poetry has appeared in The New Yorker, Harper’s, Highlights, and Cricket, and has been widely anthologized. He lives in Alabama with his wife, Debra Ghigna, also a celebrated children’s author.
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