Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Hands-on Research Tips with Author, Annette Whipple

By Suzy Leopold

Let's welcome author, Annette Whipple, to the GROG Blog today. I understand Annette thinks facts are fun. I agree. Annette writes informational books for children that include pieces of information as fun facts.

Many writers read books on the craft of writing kid lit to master the art of writing for young readers. Many writers research books and online sites. Annette spends valuable time with hands-on research.

Before Annette gives tips for hands-on research for picture book writers, let's learn more about her as she shares her story and writing journey:

Annette Whipple celebrates curiosity and inspires a sense of wonder in young readers while exciting them about science and history. She's an author of eight fact-filled children's books including:



Chicago Review Press, August 4, 2020


Reycraft Books, September 30, 2020


Rockridge Press, 

July 28, 2020

Many writers love chocolate and Annette is no exception. Annette is a fact-loving, chocolate chip cookie-baking children's nonfiction author from Pennsylvania. 

Learn more about children's author, Annette Whipple at her web site.

Tell us more about your writing and reading.

Annette loves to wind down at night and on weekends with a good book. Most of Annette's weekday reading consists of audio books while cooking and exercising. Annette enjoys reading nonfiction books across all age groups--especially kidlit. Additionally, she reads middle grade fiction.

Annette shares why she chooses to read mentor texts and how reading supports her writing in the following quotes:

"Reading great books opens the world [and fictional worlds] for me." 

Books help me connect with and understand people who live very different lives than me.

Even if the characters are fictional, the understanding translates to real people, too.

Of course reading is also huge part of my research process."

Share your writing journal . . . 

My love of writing did not begin as a child. I wrote notes to friends and letters to my penpals. My call to writing began in my thirties.

I began blogging to share my daughter's journey as she overcame a speech disorder apraxia, also known as acquired apraxia of speech [AOS] or childhood apraxia of speech. I quickly learned I loved to encourage others on similar journeys and began sharing my daughter's therapy and progress. I wrote about our home and family life, the books we read, favorite recipes, and fun activities. Overtime, I became serious about writing and took a few classes. Eventually a few magazines published my work.

In August 2014, I had an idea for a book. It was a story I knew I could write. It became my seventh published book. It is:


For more information click here

I wrote this newest publication because I think the Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder is a valuable window into American history. But understanding the historial context makes the stories even richer, especially for children. My book explores the history, people, and the context of each of the books in the Little House series. I address the racism and prejudice found within the books because reading about prejudice is difficult without a conversation. My book can serve as a conversation with others or as an awareness if the book is read independently by a child. I want the reader to understand why people felt the way they did and know it's not right. I included hundreds of pioneer terms and seventy-five activities for readers to "Live Like Laura" [FARMER'S BOY'S activities are referred to as "Live Like Almanzo".]

Children and adults are learning from my book and I've received incredible feedback about THE LAURA INGALLS WILDER COMPANION: CHAPTER-BY-CHAPTER.

I now primarly write for children and I love it. I hope my words inspire, encourage, and teach children about our amazing world.

Tell us about your special place to write and a necessary writing tool . . . 

I don't have a special writing studio or even an office. But I do have a desk made by my great uncle more than twenty years ago. It has my stacks of books and papers all around. It also has a big monitor that I use along with my laptop. Having two screens make writing so much easier. 

My favorite writing tool is probably a good pen. I prefer the Pentel EnerGel pen with a fine tip. I also love my wrist pads and ergonomic wireless mouse.

When you are not reading or writing, what do you like to do?

When I'm not reading or writing, my favorite work-related task is helping authors. I love to critique others' manuscripts and work-for-hire packages. I also love to teach. Though in-person instruction is my favorite, I'm embracing online teaching, too. You can find my on-demand writing video courses at KidLit Creatives.

To relax, you might find me vegging in front of the television or peeking at my bird feeders. Or baking chocolate chip cookies or eating the fruit of my labor. Mmm . . . My favorite!

A literary character that I would like to dine with . . . 

That's a hard phrase to complete. Maybe Ma from the Little House series or the Finch Family from TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD. Or even Jo from LITTLE WOMEN, LITTLE MEN, and Jo's boys.

I just realized all of those books and series mentioned are more or less based on the lives of authors. Interesting.

Share some hands-on research tips . . .

I write nonfiction and informational fiction for children. So, I want to share a bit of my research process.

I begin my research with books and online searches. I always try to consult with experts. But really, it's getting hands-on with my topics that really makes my writing stronger. 

When I researched and wrote THE LAURA INGALLS WILDER COMPANION, I had a question I could not find the answer to. 

So, I contacted the Wilder Homestead--Almanzo Wilder Farm in Malone, New York. During the conversation, an expert jokingly said I should hop in my car to tour the homestead. That was on a Wednesday afternoon. I planned a road trip and was on my way Saturday morning. I walked around the property with reconstructed barns. I saw Almanzo Wilder's bedroom. I even walked on the floors Almanzo once walked. It was a glorious day at the Almanzo Wilder Homestead. All of it amazed me.

For the book WHOO KNEW: THE TRUTH ABOUT OWLS, I met two owls. Alexandria and Quincy! 

Right away I noted how the Spectacled Owl, Alexandria, had tight, dense feathers. Her feathers keep her dry in the tropical forest of South America. Quincy, the Eurasian Eagle Owl, has fluffy feathers compared to Alexandria. Visting and holding these birds in-person supported my research. I don't believe an on-line photo of the owls could show such detail. 

You can read more about it here.

You can view a book trailer for WHOOO KNEW? THE TRUTH ABOUT OWLS here

Finally, I can't say enough about hands-on research to support your nonfiction writing. 

However, during a global pandemic it's a bit of a challenge. I'm working on another book in The Truth About Animals Series with Reycraft Books. I want to meet some spiders! I should take the time to study spiders I shoo out my back door! However, consulting with an expert and hands-on experience is best to support my research. 

If you want to strengthen your nonfiction writing, try hands-on research to support your manuscript. If you are interested in learning more, consider participating in an on-demand video course through Kidlit Creatives

To receive a 10% off, use this code: WRITER10

Thank you, Annette, for sharing your writing journey, success with publication, amazing book titles, and some outstanding hands-on research for nonfiction writing. 

Facts and information in children's nonfiction literature satisfy a curious young reader to ask for more. Anything with chocolate satisfies a writer to write more.

I baked these dark chocolate chip cookies with dried cranberries for you, Annette.

For more information about Annette:

Author Web Site and Writing Resources

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A Giveaway!

To be eligible for a giveaway read and follow these instructions:

In the comments below share a tip about research for nonfiction stories OR a recommendation for a currently published [2020] nonfiction picture book title. 

If you follow the instructions, I’ll put your name in a hat and draw two winners. Each winner will receive a hand crafted 4 X 4 flower cut paper creation painted with acrylics. U. S. Mail only.

The two lucky winners will be announced on the next GROG Blog.


  1. Thanks so much for interviewing me, Suzy!

    1. My pleasure, Annette.

      Thank you for sharing excellent hands-on research tools for nonfiction writing.

  2. GReat interview with Annette, Garden Girl. Those cookies look yummy. Thanks for the research advice, Annette.

  3. Thanks for sharing your insights and research tips, Annette! Great post, Suzy!

  4. Thank you, Annette and Suzy, for sharing some awesome research tips.

    1. Hi, Cute Charlotte!

      Thank you for your support of the GROG Blog posts. You are always appreciated.

  5. Lovely interview, Suzy & Annette! Congrats, again, on all your new books this year! And for your upcoming spider book!