Closeup photo of a beaver's face, exposing its colored incisors, as it surfaces on a lake.

Jane Park—Hidden Animal Colors

Hidden Animal Colors

Hidden Animal Colors

Jane Park
Millbrook Press/ Lerner Publishing, March 1, 2922, $29.32
For K-3 readers

Park reports:

"Guess what color spider blood is!" my daughter asked me. Without waiting for my answer, she blurted out, “Blue!"

I followed up with my own fun fact. "Guess what color a beaver's teeth are. It rhymes with blorange!"

“Orange? No way!”

She insisted I show her a photo.

I knew from her delighted reaction that a book featuring hidden animal colors would thrill young readers. I recently had seen some gorgeous STEM photo picture books and dreamed about creating one.

Jane Park

Jane Park

I didn't know if there were enough varied examples and photos to back up the concept, however. I thought about where hidden colors might be, on wings or eggs, for example. Then I scoured stock image sites to see if these colors had been captured in photos.

Once I found them, I did what non-illustrator authors are not supposed to do: I created a dummy. A few weeks after I finished it, Carol Hinz of Millbrook Press had an open call for manuscripts. Carol had created the STEM photo picture book series that I adored. About a month after I submitted my proposal, Carol contacted me to say it was perfect for the series. Then I signed with my agent, Miranda Paul, who negotiated it into a two-book deal. The second, Hidden Creature Features, is scheduled for publication in Spring 2023.

I had imagined that each animal would have a full spread followed by the surprising reveal in another full spread, but picture books are only 32 pages. With several pages reserved for the title, copyright, and end pages, this format would accommodate only about six animals. Carol and my editor Jesseca Fusco devised a clever layout that ended up having the same feel and dramatic page turns, but let me include more animals. The photo research team found the stunning photos.

I include websites and other resources for further reading. I hope that this book will get kids excited to learn more about the natural world, look closer at the seemingly ordinary, and find the magic in the unexpected and the overlooked.

Contact info:

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August 8, 2022

Advance Copy

The path from idea to book may take myriad routes. The Advance Copy column, started in 2000 by NASW volunteer book editor Lynne Lamberg, features NASW authors telling the stories behind their books. Authors are asked to report how they got their idea, honed it into a proposal, found an agent and a publisher, funded and conducted their research, and organized their writing process. They also are asked to share what they wish they’d known when they started or would do differently next time, and what advice they can offer aspiring authors. Lamberg edits the authors’ answers to produce the Advance Copy reports.

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