Real Live People

Email and Facebook make it easy for editors to correspond daily, even instantly, with their authors and illustrators. It makes for a much more enjoyable relationship than merely Fed Ex’ing manuscripts back and forth. Still, for all the advantages of electronic communication, there’s nothing like meeting someone in person. At ALA in Chicago this July, I had the pleasure of meeting Becky and Don Wojahn, the creators of Lerner’s Follow That Food Chain series.

Becky and Don came up with the idea for the series in response to their two songalapagos cover135s’ avid interest in how animals live in the wild. Each book in the series describes the complex food web in a particular habitat, and readers choose their paths through that web. After the initial design themes were ironed out, the editorial phase of the series was off and running.

After all these years, it still amazes me how much I learn during editing. Working on Follow That Food Chain, I learned how to navigate taxonomic databases and which zoo websites are best for double-checking photo information. But I also learned why some flamingos are pink, how far the voice of a howler monkey carries, and what exactly martens are. Editing and production went smoothly, and suddenly the series was done.

By the time the Wojahns and I met at ALA, all buWojahns at ALAt two of the twelve books were printed and bound. The display at the Lerner booth was the first time I’d seen the books together. They looked great—their covers all striking natural shades of green, blue, and desert red. As the Wojahn boys perused other Lerner books to read, Becky and Don signed copies of Follow That Food Chain. In between signings, I asked them the question that editors always have ready for good authors: What do you want to write for us next?