Welcome to my latest blog piece which is part of a blog tour with Uclan Publishing.
The Plesiosaur’s Neck is a fantastic non-fiction pick for curious readers and for those who enjoy learning about prehistoric creatures.
The Plesiosaurs Neck mixes factual information with a rhythmic narrative amongst spreads of expressive, scientifically accurate artwork by Adam Larkum.
After a brief introduction of what a plesiosaur is, readers are then presented with possibilities, some giggly too, as to why an Albertonectes plesiosaur had a 7 metre neck.
The great thing about this read is that the ideas presented are hypotheses, scientific possibilities that are backed with factual information but also encouraging readers to consider other possibilities.
What a great pick this is for home and for educational settings encouraging enquiry, researching and accepting that sometimes there may not be a definitive answer.
Seek this book out, it’s super.
As part of blog tour author Jonathan Emmett has shared how the book came to be.
The Plesiosaur’s Neck is my 39th picture book, but the first book I’ve written with a co-author.
I first met the book’s co-author Adam four years ago in his role as a Curator of Natural Sciences at the Nottingham Natural History Museum. The Museum is housed in Wollaton Hall, a magnificent Elizabethan country house that is a couple of miles from my home in Nottingham. I got in touch with Adam to ask if the museum would be willing to host a book launch for How the Borks Became: An Adventure in Evolution, a picture book I created with Elys Dolan that introduces Charles Darwin’s theory of natural selection to young children. To my delight, the museum agreed and Adam and I subsequently became friends.
My co-author Adam in his natural habitat
I soon discovered that Adam was also a palaeontologist specialising in the anatomy and evolution of plesiosaurs (prehistoric marine reptiles) and ran a website about them at plesiosauria.com. After we’d known each other for a while, Adam mentioned that he thought that a blog post he’d written for his web site might be developed into a children’s book. The blog post explored some of the hypotheses palaeontologists have suggested to explain why a particular group of plesiosaurs – the elasmosaurids – had evolved extremely long necks. I thought it was a promising idea and outlined how it might work as a rhyming picture book, supplemented with more detailed information, and we ended up writing it together.
Adam and I work well together as a team. I think the chief reason for this is that we both have a good understanding and appreciation of each other’s area of expertise. I’ve have a keen amateur interest in the natural sciences and, as the curator of a family-centred museum, Adam understands the need to communicate ideas in a way that children will find entertaining and engaging. When we were writing the rhyming text that forms the backbone of the book we’d often bat couplets between each other a few times until we had an appealing rhyme that scanned well and was scientifically accurate.
We went through a similar process with the book’s illustrator Adam Larkum. And – YES – it was confusing working with two people both of whom were called “Adam”, so I quickly learnt to refer to them as “Adam S” and “Adam L”.
Adam L’s immensely characterful and appealing illustrations of Poppy, the plesiosaur who is the star of the book, are based on Adam S’s anatomical drawings of a reconstructed fossil plesiosaur skeleton found in Alberta, Canada. And the other plants and animals that populate Poppy’s undersea world are all taken from the Cretaceous Period that she inhabited.
Adam S and I are both delighted with the way the book has turned out and are hoping that it might be the first of many future non-fiction collaborations.
If you are yet to read what fellow picture book enthusiasts thought of the book, do head to to their blog or Instagram for their reviews.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the publisher. This post contains affiliate links.