I'm always on the lookout for new picture books to share, so when I saw that, Good Eating: The Short Life of Krill (Tilbury House Publishers, 2022) was Matt Lilley's debut picture book, I asked him if he was interested in a review. In the mini-author interview below, Matt talks about the difference between writing for the educational market and writing for the trade market.
Here's how this "I-bet-you-never-knew-these-interesting-facts-about-krill" fun book opens: The narrator observes (and the illustrator, Dan Tavis, shows) how over the next few weeks that tiny egg sinks, wiggles, grows six arms, grows a shell, breaks out of that shell and... realizes he better not think about all the other ocean creatures who want to eat him!!!
In a month's time, little krill (who is smaller than a paperclip) has swam upwards 2 miles and is HUNGRY!
So, he begins to eat any plant or animal small enough to stuff into his mouth.
But he also must watch out for...PENGUINS!
Little krill has eaten so much that now his belly is green and makes him a visible, perfect snack for hungry predators.
So, he swims down, his shell cracks again, and now he looks bug-eyed!
But, he's not a bug and although he looks like a shrimp, he's definitely NOT a shrimp. He's almost a full-grown (paper clip size) krill who continues to swim, eat, and grow.
By the time he is an adult, he has 26 legs, can scrape food off of sea ice, and has spots that light up and produce his own light! And just in case you're wondering how many millions and millions of krill there are in the world... Author Matt Lilley says there are a
Krill are good at eating...and at being eaten. Seabirds, penguins, seals and roughly a million krill make a meal for a hungry--
The back matter, which includes more wonderful illustrations, explains the life cycle of krill and how these tiny creatures are the "keystone species of the Southern Ocean." The author discusses how krill move and can even "molt and bolt"--shedding their skin when a predator is near--and swim away!
MINI- AUTHOR INTERVIEW
CAROL: Why krill?
MATT: There is something about Antarctica that I find fascinating. It's this huge, relatively untouched wilderness. After reading a lot about Antarctica, I kept coming across mentions of Antarctic krill. So much of the wildlife down there eats krill. Penguins, seals, whales, sea birds - all these cool kinds of megafauna eat krill. They are essential to that ecosystem. So I thought a book about them would make for a fun window into that world.
CAROL: This is your first picture book, but you've written several educational books for kids. Can you tell us a little bit about the difference between writing the two different genres?
MATT: When you write for the educational market, the publisher comes up with the idea. They know exactly what they want the book to be about, what reading level it should be, how many words, everything. They assign the book to you and your job is to write exactly to their specifications. For the trade market, it's the opposite. You come up with everything on your own.
For Good Eating, I decided that krill would make a good topic, did all the research, and wrote a polished manuscript before contacting a publisher. Then I had to find a publisher and convince them that my vision would make a good picture book. It's a long, difficult process with no guarantees.
CAROL: Do you have any advice for anyone else who wants to switch from writing educational books to writing for the trade market?
MATT: For anyone looking to break into the trade market, I would just say that it's very difficult, it takes a lot of time and persistence, but hopefully if you stick with it, you'll eventually find an editor who can appreciate your vision.
Leave me a comment by 9AM on January 28 or send me an email to enter. U.S. addresses only. MAKE SURE YOU LEAVE YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS if you are new to my blog. Share this on social media or start following my blog (tell me which one!) and I'll enter your name twice.
Congratulations to Tiffany Slack, who won Photo ARK ABC for the Matthews Christian Library last week.
DID YOU KNOW?
I'm now sharing middle grade reviews on Greg Pattridge's wonderful MMGM blog. Today, my post links back to a previous interview with Joyce Hostetter and explores how she wrote her prequel, AIM. Follow the links and enter that giveaway too!
This looks like a fun (well, not for the krill!) and wonderful book! Thanks for sharing.
Thanks, Katy. It is! Your name starts the list.
As a science teacher I am tickled to see a picture book about krill. The format of the book is so inviting fir kids and the illustrations are awesome. I’m looking forward to reading this book!
This book looks wonderful! I'm going to need to track down a copy for my class' sea study in the spring!
Natasha, Thanks for leaving a comment. Please leave your email address so I can enter your name in the giveaway!
Angela--Glad you are interested. I need your email address to enter your name!
So interesting to learn about krill and the difference of writing for education and trade markets. Thanks a bunch.
Thanks, Antoinette. Your name is on the list!
I love how this author chose a narrator for his nonfiction book and can't wait to not only learn about krill, but study how he succeeded doing this. As someone who has only had books published through WFH in the educational market, trying to get published in the trade market has been difficult and frustrating for me so far. I will keep reading mentor texts like this to learn as much as I can. I shared on tumblr: https://yesreaderwriterpoetmusician.tumblr.com/post/674367855214673920/good-eating-a-debut-stem-picture-book-a
Thanks for sharing the post, Danielle, and I'm so glad it was helpful to you!
Wow, this looks fascinating. I had no idea that krill were so interesting. It's wonderful to be surprised by an unexpected topic. Congratulations to Matt and Dan.
I agree, Janet!!
This is the second interview/review I’ve read about GOOD EATING. Can’t wait to get a copy so I can find out how it ends (I assume Krill gets eaten and I’m curious to see how this is handled in a picture book)! Thanks!
Thanks for your comment, Patricia. I'd like to include you in the giveaway but I need your email address.
Thanks for all the kind comments! That's a great point, Patricia - the whale scene is definitely the climax of the book. Hopefully some of y'all will check it out to see how it ends for the krill.
Nice to have this conversation with you and my followers, Matt.
I love how this book speaks to us about God and His creation even in Antarctica. A tiny krill with only six legs and a shell changes and becomes the adult that lights up. He carries that light with him everywhere he goes and can never go back to the lightless little krill he once was. Another book I need to add to my library.
Thank you Gail! I hadn't thought about this book like that--but great analysis! Your name is in the hat!
This is looks so fun and interesting! I will add it to my to-buy for the library list!
In reply to Gail, I will say that the scientific name for Antarctic krill is "Euphausia superba." As the book Euphausiids of the World Ocean says, "The word Euphausia derives from Greek eu for good or true, combined with -phausia for shining or light emitting."
thanks for the comment, Matt--thats pretty cool. I'll make sure Gail reads it. And thanks Tiffany for putting this on your library to-buy list. But I'll add your name to the giveaway too.
Thanks Matt and Carol for the added information. It’s well named.
Smiley face, Gail!
Agreed! Some animals are terribly mis-named, such as the crabeater seal (carninophaga), which eats...mostly krill :) But they got it right with Euphausia superba.
Matt-- write a picture book about the Latin or greek names and whether they fit the animal! It could be really fun!!
Ooh this book looks fun! Would like to read this to my twins! Hope I win!
What a fun concept! I love this lighthearted take on an educational topic--my five-year-old would truly get a kick out of this one. :)
Yes, Monica, she would!!
I like that idea, Carol. Maybe I will :)
And if you do...I can say, "You Heard it Here First!" :)
I guess you really can write a picture book about anything if you can just find a hook and do it well. Who would ever think of krill as a topic? Wonderful. I will have to find a copy of this and read it. Thanks for the heads up.
Thanks for your comment on this post and the AIM One, Rosi. You're in both giveaways.
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