Who doesn’t love a 2-for-1 deal?! If you’re really lucky, the solution to your story idea that results in “too much information” just might be two books! Kid lit writer Meeg Pincus was paying attention and, in solving her manuscript problem, found two “solutions”!
And we have a GIVEAWAY! Just leave a comment below for a chance to win a copy of MAKE WAY FOR ANIMALS!
Congratulations to Linda Skeers who won a copy of TO THE FRONT! in the giveaway from Christopher Cyr!
“One Research Dive, Two Books” by Meeg Pincus
In the Before Times, when I had the time/energy currently used for pandemic parenting, I spent hours each week researching story ideas. My nonfiction picture books focus on “solutionaries” helping people, animals, and the planet, so I was sniffing out “solutionary stories” that had yet to be told.
Around 2017, a friend sent me an article about people in Los Angeles trying to get a wildlife crossing built over a major L.A. freeway to help save the area’s mountain lion population. What a solutionary concept!, I thought. And thus began my years-long research dive into the world of wildlife crossings.
My research took me in two directions:
One was to a lone mountain lion (a.k.a. cougar or puma) who somehow scaled 16 lanes of L.A. freeways and got stuck in a Hollywood city park. This puma—called P-22—had become the face of the L.A. wildlife crossing movement. I reached out to the scientists and wildlife advocates working with P-22 and that crossing, and a story began to take shape.
The other was to wildlife crossings for various species all around the globe, which were fascinating, inspiring structures. I kept seeing the alliterations in my mind as I uncovered them: A pipeline for penguins! A bridge for badgers! An underpass for elephants! (I adore alliteration!). I knew kids would love learning about these crossings as much as I did.
At first, I tried to integrate the two together. Within my P-22 story, I included the global wildlife crossings (complete with alliterations). That stayed put for several drafts, but as P-22’s story became more complex, it was clear that I needed to keep it focused—and cut the other crossings.
Two other things happened in those years: One was a SCBWI nonfiction workshop I attended, where the presenter encouraged us to find more than one story in any research dive. The other was a Lerner Books open call for a specific kind of STEM picture books, which I thought my global wildlife crossings could fit. So, I wrote a second manuscript—an expository one, very different from my narrative P-22 story—to give it a shot.
Amazingly, after many drafts of the two stories and years of swimming in this topic, offers surfaced for both within weeks of each other! They ultimately became two different books with two different publishers:
Cougar Crossing: How Hollywood’s Celebrity Cougar Helped Build a Bridge for City Wildlife came out from Beach Lane Books/Simon & Schuster in spring 2021.
Make Way for Animals!: A World of Wildlife Crossings launches from Millbrook Press/Lerner Books in April 2022. See the alliteration, alive and well in this interior spread:
I’m grateful to have worked with two wonderful book teams and to be able to share with kids two different takes on this spellbinding, solutionary topic. Now, your turn: Try finding more than one story from your next or current research dive.
Don’t forget to leave a comment below for a chance to win a copy of MAKE WAY FOR ANIMALS! (Ends 3/25. US addresses)
Meeg Pincus writes nonfiction picture books about “solutionaries” helping people, animals, and the planet—including Winged Wonders (Golden Kite Nonfiction Honor), Ocean Soup (Eureka! Nonfiction Honor), Cougar Crossing (an NSTA Best STEM Book), Miep and the Most Famous Diary (Kirkus/SLJ starred reviews), and more. A longtime nonfiction writer/editor and educator, Meeg loves teaching nonfiction writing workshops, mentoring nonfiction writers, and sharing great (yep, nonfiction) books. Sign up for her e-newsletter at http://www.MeegPincus.com.