From the desk of Suzy Leopold
Do you know some names of owls indigenous to your state? My state of Illinois is home to eight owls.
- Barn Owl
- Bared Eagle Owl
- Eastern Screech Owl
- Great-Horned Owl
- Long-eared Owl
- Northern Hawk Owl
- Northern Owl
- Snow Owl
WHOOO KNEW? THE TRUTH ABOUT OWLS
written by Annette Whipple made its debut yesterday!
This informational picture book is published by Reycraft Books, 2020. The thirty-two page book is written for ages 6-10.
Check out this amazing two page spread:
When I was revising Whooo Knew? The Truth About Owls, I knew I loved most of the text. It’s a picture book in question-and-answer format. Every page spread in the informational book has one Q & A as well as a related sidebar. The sidebars bring humor to the text.
As I revised, I suspected my original first lines just wouldn’t hook a reader. But I felt a bit stuck.
“Owls are easy to recognize. They have big heads, flat faces, and hooked beaks. They’re known for their hunting skills. But do you really know these birds?”
While at a Highlights conference, the instructor wanted us to focus on first lines. I knew it was an issue with my manuscript, so I was thrilled to do so.
I scribbled and scratched until our instructor asked us to stop. Then, like in many workshops, he asked if anyone wanted to share what they wrote. Without missing a beat, I raised my hand with a grin.
First, I read aloud the original introduction/nonhook.
Then, I shared my new introduction which became…
“The unforgettable call. The glowing eyes. The fierce beak. You recognize an owl when you hear or see one, but do really know these birds?”
See the spread above Whooo’s There? in the ARC [Advanced Reading Copy].
(They actually cheered! I was shocked at that. Writing friends matter.)
Oh, the Highlights faculty member who led that session? He works with Reycraft Books, the publisher of Whooo Knew? The Truth About Owls. And next year Reycraft will continue The Truth About series. The next two books are about dogs and spiders! They are all in Q&A format and highly visual with tons of photographs. Each page spread includes an illustrated sidebar.
Now, anytime I know something isn’t working, I sit down with focus. I set the timer and don’t change tasks (or tabs) until the timer goes off.
First lines matter. Make your manuscript more enticing—and more sellable—by dedicating time to them. That’s the first lesson of this blog post. The second? Attend conferences and workshops like SCBWI and Highlights—even online. You’ll be challenged to try new techniques.
Thanks so much for having me here today. We know first lines are important, but sometimes it takes some extra effort and time to really hook the reader.
For more information about Annette click on these links:
Check out this previous GROG Blog post from August 2020.
Annette Whipple, Children’s Author, Inspiring Curiosity and Wonder
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Annette Whipple celebrates curiosity and inspires a sense of wonder in young readers while exciting them about science and history. She’s the author of eight fact-filled children’s books including The Laura Ingalls Wilder Companion: A Chapter-by-Chapter Guide (Chicago Review Press), Whooo Knew? The Truth about Owls (Reycraft Books), and The Story of the Wright Brothers (Rockridge Press). Annette is a fact-loving, chocolate chip cookie-baking children’s nonfiction author from Pennsylvania. Get to know her and learn about her presentations at AnnetteWhipple.com.