Photo of a beroid ctenophore feeding orifice wide open against a dark sea.

Sneed B. Collard III—Little Killers: The Ferocious Lives of Puny Predators

Little Killers

Little Killers

LITTLE KILLERS:
THE FEROCIOUS LIVES OF PUNY PREDATORS

Sneed B. Collard III
Millbrook Press, March 1, 2022
Hardcover, $31.99, eBook $9.99
Interest Level: Grades 3–6
ISBN-10:‎ 1728415691, ISBN-13: 978-1728415697
ASIN:‎ 1728415691

Collard reports:

I have been fascinated with tiny predators since first looking at a ctenophore, or “comb jelly,” under a microscope in my invertebrate zoology course at UC Berkeley. Not only was the animal astonishingly beautiful, it represented an eat-and-get-eaten world almost totally alien to most people.

For decades the idea to write about ctenophores and other “little killers” simmered in my brain. I felt it unfair that sharks, wolves, and other macro-predators get the, ahem, lion’s share of attention while small predators are every bit as interesting.

One day while talking with Carol Hinz at Millbrook/Lerner, I pitched this topic for a book. Carol seemed interested—and had an open slot on her list—so I wrote a formal proposal. We signed a contract within weeks.

The book’s format allowed room to feature eight different predators. One of my first goals was to select from a wide variety of taxonomic groups, from protozoans and flatworms to spiders and insects. Creating a list proved surprisingly easy since I’d had some experience with most of the organisms and had been waiting to write about them.

Sneed B. Collard III

Sneed B. Collard III

To research each subject, I shunned general books and websites and relied almost exclusively on original scientific papers and interviews with scientists. That has always been my preference because it gives a book authenticity and accuracy that you’ll never find elsewhere. I was fortunate to connect with scientists to help me with almost every chapter. I am especially grateful to marine biologist Steven Haddock of the Monterey Bay Research Institute for reading over the entire book.

Working with a new publisher always involves a few growing pains. I had to reorganize some chapters to shape them into a consistent format, but the book turned out better as a result. I was also grateful not to have to round up the book’s photos, leaving that job to Lerner’s excellent staff of photo researchers. I felt especially proud to wrap up with a final chapter on the vital importance of tiny predators, both as useful and harmful species. I hope the book will increase awareness in both young and older readers.

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Hero photo via NOAA, public domain

June 26, 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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