Monday, May 2, 2022

Inspired by Wonder ~ by Debra Kempf Shumaker

photo by Yanka Photography

As a kid who grew up on a dairy farm, the natural world fascinated me. From spotting bugs, frogs, and other creatures dart around our fields and marsh, to watching a calf be born, to hearing the serenade of crickets on summer nights, nature filled me with awe.

I also loved reading—about anything and everything, especially the weird and the strange. The Bermuda Triangle, mysteries in history, strange and fascinating creatures like Big Foot and the Loch Ness monster ... I wanted to learn the truth. But if the truth was still unknown? That was OK too. Sometimes it was more fun knowing that the mystery still existed. And maybe someday, I would find the answer.

That sense of wonder, awe, and mystery is what draws me to writing about STEM topics. 

A trip to Disney years ago planted the seed for my debut picture book—Freaky, Funky Fish: Odd Facts About Fascinating Fish.

Walking around the aquarium, I became intrigued by the many fish named after animals. I initially wrote a fiction picture book about goldfish who imagined being other animals to escape a hungry cat. While that book never sold, years later I remembered the huge variety of fish species when I decided to try my hand in writing a rhyming picture book with a science connection. As I dug deeper into research, I was fascinated by how strange some fish looked or acted. A fish with a transparent head?! A fish that coated itself in snot?! Why? How? Awe, wonder, mystery. . . definitely.

Thankfully Running Press Kids felt the same. Freaky, Funky Fish was published in May 2021.

Which lead to my follow-up book—Peculiar Primates: Fun Facts About These Curious Creatures—coming out in October. This book highlights fun and fascinating ways primates have adapted to survive in their habitats—like big noses, colored butts, teeth flossing, and poisonous bites. 

I hope these books plant a sense of awe and wonder in kids. Science and nature can be cool! And who knows, maybe the readers of today will become the scientists of tomorrow that find the answers to the many questions (and problems) in our world and universe. 

Thank you for joining us today, Deb. On Friday I'll be posting a review of  Freaky, Funky Fish - drop by and check it out. You can visit  Debra's website here.

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