Hello Readers! I’m glad you stopped by Kid Lit Village today. This week, I’m featuring fiction picture book, EAT UP BEAR! written by Terry Pierce and illustrated by Nadja Sarell. It is new from Yosemite Conservancy and a book that every outdoorsy family needs!
It’s no secret that being outside is great for kids. Interest in family camping is at a tremendous high. And one of the best parts of spending time together in the great outdoors is…enjoying tasty camping food!
Know who else likes to eat outside? Bears! Curious, hungry American black bears just want to eat and eat.
Many people. Many bears. Sharing spaces everywhere.
But bears are hungry. Clever, too. Take care or bears will eat your food!
With bouncy rhyming text and vibrant pictures, this original board book by Terry Pierce and Nadja Sarell shows families how easy it is to keep “people food” away from bears, and how first-time campers and experienced outdoorspeople alike can do their part to help bears stay safe and thrive.
Publishing by Yosemite Conservancy, 4/13/20
Hello and welcome to the blog, Terry! Congratulations on the publication of EAT UP, BEAR! Tell us about the inspiration for your book.
My inspiration for Eat Up, Bear! is my love of bears and all things wild. There’s nothing I find more exciting than encountering a wild black bear. I live in a small California mountain town in the High Sierras, where the community has learned to coexist with these magnificent animals. Living with bears has some challenges, but thanks to the efforts of our local wildlife expert, Steve Searles (AKA, The Bear Whisperer), the town has learned some key guidelines to help keep bears wild and humans safe.
In 2018, when The Yosemite Conservancy put out a call for board book manuscripts, my agent contacted me about it. She thought I would be a good candidate because I write board books and am a huge nature-lover. Also, I’m fortunate to live only 30 minutes from Yosemite National Park. As I read their callout, the words “good stewards” caught my eye. I’ve always been an advocate of wild animals, so I instantly thought about writing a book about how to keep bears wild. I did a quick search and found no existing titles. I started writing immediately because I was excited about the idea of helping young children and their parents learn how to coexist with bears while visiting our National Parks or other wilderness areas.
As someone who grew up around bears in North Vancouver, B.C., I understand the need for learning how to coexist. It was always exciting to see a bear and we learned to respect the fact that we shared their territory, which was beautiful land.
Share a piece of advice for children’s writers?
Simply put, don’t give up! It takes time to learn the craft of writing and discover yourself as a writer. Take writing courses, read craft books, join the SCBWI, attend conferences and retreats, network with other writers, and READ-READ-READ the genre you want to write. Will you sell a manuscript on your first or even tenth try? Probably not, but if you keep at it and put in the effort, the magic will happen.
Here’s an example (because we all love real-life examples, right?). I had been writing for nineteen years when I read the board book manuscript call out from Yosemite Conservancy. By that time in my career, I had a handle on writing for children. I wrote four manuscripts for the call out, but my favorite was the one about bears. My agent subbed them all and a few weeks later, told me that the Conservancy liked my bear manuscript concept but not my approach. Did that hinder me? No way. They asked if I’d be willing to revise, so of course, I did! I tried to address their concerns and sent draft #2 to my agent. A few weeks later, she let me know that they still liked the concept, and the story was stronger, but still not quite right. They said if I was willing to give it another try; they’d be happy to read it. At this point, my agent was feeling a bit discouraged, but I was determined to get it right. I told her I wanted to make one more effort. I was super excited about the concept, and as I stated above, loved the idea of helping children learn how to coexist with bears, so I made one last try. And it worked! Yosemite Conservancy offered to acquire the manuscript and Eat Up, Bear! will come out in 2021.
No matter where you are on the writing path—at the very beginning or 20+ years into it—you keep putting one foot in front of the other, improve your craft, believe in yourself, and move forward.
I love your attitude and your perseverance, Terry. Thanks for sharing your story with us.
What do you hope readers will gain from your book?
I want readers to understand how to be “bear aware” and understand that their efforts can help keep bears healthy, safe, and thriving. Bears are curious, hungry, opportunistic eaters, so if we all do our part and secure our food when we’re in “bear country,” then bears will eat the good, natural foods they should be eating. And this is a win-win situation for humans and bears!
Sounds like readers will learn a lot from EAT UP, BEAR! Congratulations on the publication of your book. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us!
Thank you for stopping by Kid Lit Village this week! I hope you’ll find ways to support these authors any way you can: request their books at the library, share on your social media, add their book to your Goodreads to-read list, or leave them a review. And do stop by on Mondays and discover new books for children; you’re always welcome.
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