#20Questions with WINGED WONDERS author Meeg Pincus
#20truePBs author Meeg Pincus shares about turning her own wonder into a book in this #20questions post!
Throughout 2020, we’ll be posting a #20questions interview with the author and/or illustrator of each #20truePBs book. We thought it would be fun and fascinating to hear the diverse answers from our diverse creators, about our books’ diverse topics, using the same #20questions for each author and illustrator.
By the end of 2020, our blog will host a fabulous resource for educators, librarians, and conference organizers about creating high-quality, diverse nonfiction picture books, and what makes our #20truePBs books and creators special.
Now, enjoy learning more about WINGED WONDERS and Meeg Pincus!
1. Meeg, what inspired you to write this book?
I took my kids to see an IMAX movie about the monarch butterfly migration in the San Diego science center’s great domed theater. It felt like we were there in Mexico, surrounded by millions of flapping wings. It made me cry with wonder! I went back to see it two more times and decided I wanted to write a book about the topic.
2. How did you approach the research for this book?
I first had the idea to write about one person who was part of the team that tracked the migration from Canada to Mexico, but along the way it became about all the people (scientists, citizen scientists, and everyday citizens) who contributed. So, I read every article I could written by people who were part of it (in the 1970s), a whole adult book about the monarch scientist world, many articles about the science and people involved, and I consulted with Monarch Watch, the nonprofit that keeps up the citizen science monarch migration tagging program to this day.
3. What’s something that surprised you while researching this book?
I was surprised how long it took from when one scientist started trying to figure out the migration path to when the mystery was solved—about 30 years!
4. What was your favorite part about writing this book?
Getting to be in wonder every time I worked on it. This topic just sparks such a deep wonder in me.
5. What was the hardest part about writing this book?
I’d say it was having to change directions with the focus of the book after I’d already researched and written one full version of the story. But, as usually happens with writing books, that struggle in the writing led to what I think is an even better story that I feel so good about!
6. Who is this book’s ideal reader, in your eyes?
Curious, compassionate kids who love to solve mysteries, feel connected to animals and nature, and want to make a difference.
7. What do you want kids to know about this book?
I want kids to know that there are so many ways they can make a difference and they all matter. Also, it’s almost never just one person who discovers or accomplishes something; it’s people working together and each doing something, large or small, to contribute.
8. What do you want educators and librarians to know about this book?
This book can be used both for STEM topics (studying monarch butterflies, scientific discoveries) and character education (working together, making a difference).
9. Who is the publisher for this book?
Sleeping Bear Press
10. When is the official release date for this book?
March 15, 2020
11. What do you like most about writing children’s nonfiction books?
I love getting to follow my curiosity and read all kinds of books and articles, talk to fascinating people, watch interesting films, and write lots of stories—all in the name of a “job”!
12. What’s the biggest challenge in writing children’s nonfiction books?
The biggest challenge in writing nonfiction is finding a topic that hasn’t already been written about or finding a totally fresh way to write about a topic that others have written about in our genre. It’s hard to get a book published with a big publisher, and you have to write something that really stands out as new and worth their investment. I’m grateful I’ve been able to do this with five books now, and most of me likes that it will always be a challenge!
13. How did you get into writing children’s nonfiction books?
I was a writer and editor of nonfiction books, mostly for adults (though I did edit some nonfiction books for kids). I was also a humane educator as a side gig, going into schools to teach kids about how to be “solutionaries” for people, animals and the planet. I started using picture book biographies and other nonfiction picture books in my humane education lessons and fell in love with the genre. I realized writing them was a perfect combination of everything I love to do, so I started writing them myself!
14. Which other children’s nonfiction books inspire you?
Oh, so many! I have a special connection with all the wonderful books in our www.19PBbios.com and www.20truePBs.com groups. I especially love and am committed to nonfiction books that bring diverse voices and stories to kids. I’m also inspired by nonfiction picture books that make me say “ahhhh!” with their really fresh approaches in writing and illustration—books that come to mind are Before She Was Harriet by Lesa Cline-Ransom and James Ransom, The Secret Kingdom by Barb Rosenstock and Claire Nivola, The Undefeated by Kwame Alexander and Kadir Nelson, and Giant Squid by Candace Nelson and Eric Rohmann.
15. Do you have other jobs besides writing children’s books? (If so, what?)
I’ve always been a Renaissance soul, doing lots of different jobs, with a common thread of creativity, writing, and education. Currently, I write children’s books, edit books and articles, and teach classes. I also think parenting is an important job (which I do with my two kids) and I consider myself the principal of our family homeschool (our kids have other great teachers alongside me and their dad, and I coordinate it all—a big but gratifying job!).
16. What’s something that surprised you about being a children’s book author?
I have been surprised, in the best way, at the wonderful community I have found among children’s nonfiction authors. It’s a world I didn’t know about ten years ago, and now I can’t imagine not being a part of it!
17. What’s something about you that would surprise kids to know?
I worked as a Disneyland character in my late teens and did lots of theatre through my late twenties. I spend a lot of time singing and dancing around my house!
18. What do you think makes a great nonfiction writer?
Great nonfiction writers are endlessly curious, passionate about research, and love to find unique ways to tell true stories that kids will love.
19. Do you have any advice for kids who want to write children’s books?
The usual great advice is: read and write, lots! I’d also add that it’s important to find the stories that are so meaningful to you that you must be the one to tell them, and to learn to recognize when one of those stories comes into your mind and heart.
20. Where can people find you online?
Best place is my website www.MeegPincus.com. I’m also sometimes on Twitter @meegpincus.