Science Book a Day Interviews Lola Schaefer


Special thanks to Lola Schaefer for answering 5 questions about her recently featured book – Lifetime: The Amazing Numbers in Animal Lives

Lola M. Schaefer is an author of children’s books and a national writing consultant. She travels across the country sharing her love of reading and writing in schools, at conferences, and at workshops. For the past twenty-five years she has informed and inspired teachers and students on the craft of writing. Lola is the author of more than 270 books for children including picture books, easy readers, novelty books, classroom books and informational texts. – From Lola’s Homepage

Lola’s Homepage:

#1 – What was the impetus for Lifetime?

Typically, all of my books are my ideas and I shape them as I research and write. However, the idea for Lifetime came from my editor at Chronicle. We were having a telephone conversation one day and she suggested this concept. I was so excited and began to explore the numbers in animals’ lives right away.

#2 – How do we know these facts? What sort of research did you have to do for this book? Did you see it as important to outline to the reader how it was done?

When I write a book about information that is unique, such as in Just One Bite or Lifetime, or subjects that have to do with the natural world, I always work with experts in the field. These might be curators at zoos, directors of aquaria, college professors who have studied one aspect of nature for many years. Since science is constantly unraveling more mysteries and information about how our world works, I cannot rely on pre-published books, or the internet. To be fair to my readers, I need to find the most accurate facts that are available.

#3 – With a focus on maths and counting, how have children responded to your book? Parents? Teachers?

I have heard nothing but fun responses to the use of math in this book. The young readers, of course, love that the illustrator Chris took the time to draw all 550 alligator eggs or all of the 1,000 seahorse babies. Many adults have responded on the backmatter, and how much they appreciate those extra layers of information. So far, it appears that the page that explains how to find an average is a BIG winner with all.

#4 – How were the images created? Based on your text? Or was it a more iterative process between yourself and Christopher Silas Neal?

Most times in a picture book the author and illustrator work separately. Since the illustrator was NOT looking over my shoulder and telling me what to write, I respect his vision and do not DICTATE his art. Having said that, for a book such as Lifetime, it is my responsibility to send illustrative notes about the species of animal that I’m referencing and any physical features of that animal and its habitat. So, no, Chris and I did not communicate with one another during the production of the book. Any necessary dialogue passed through the editor and the art director.

#5 – Are you working on any new books/projects you can tell us about?

I am always working on 2-3 new projects. Right now I have six books with four different publishers that are in different stages of production. I have just received word in the past two weeks that two new pieces of nonfiction are being purchased. One book that is under production is all about the role that the acorn plays in the forests of the Cumberland Plateau. It is a book that shows the interdependency between life in an entertaining format for the youngest reader/listener.

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