Bats!, Sharks! and Snakes!
These are just some of the 103 books children's author Laurence Pringle has written in a career that has spanned more than 36 years.
He shared his books and his thoughts about writing, and answered some pretty tough questions from audience members when he recently visited Stevens Creek, Blue Ridge, South Columbia and Bel Air elementary schools.
"It just puts a face to a name. They realize they are real people who write these books," said South Columbia media specialist Mary Beth Spivey. "By exposing them to authors, it lets them know what's out there."
Pringle writes fiction and nonfiction, with many of his books concentrating on biological and environmental subjects.
Pringle, shown speaking at South Columbia, has written more than 100 fiction and nonfiction books.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
Among his many awards, Pringle has received the Eva L. Gordon Award for Children's Science Literature and the Washington Post/Children's Book Guild Nonfiction Award. The National Science Teachers Association and the Children's Book Council have selected nearly 50 of Pringle's titles as Outstanding Science Trade Books for Children.
"My goal is to share with them wisdom about the writing process," Pringle said. "I tell them it's hard work, which sometimes startles some of them. They think, 'It's hard for him, too."'
Pringle, a resident of West Nyack, N.Y., studied wildlife biology at Cornell University and the University of Massachusetts. He is a former teacher and magazine editor.
The following is an excerpt from his question-and-answer session with second-graders at South Columbia Elementary:
Q: Do you write by hand or use a computer?
A: Long ago I used to use a yellow legal pad to write my stories longhand, then I would go to the typewriter. Now I use a computer. It makes corrections and editing much easier.
Q: Is writing fun?
A: It's hard work. But when I get nearly finished with something, it's really great.
Q: Why did you pick to be a writer?
A: In second or third grade, I thought I would be a wildlife photographer. Then, I wanted to be a scientist, which is what I studied to be in college. Then, I got a job at a children's science magazine. When I was your age, I loved to mess around outside and explore woods and ponds.
Q: What do you like most about writing?
A: I have a lot of curiosity, so I love the research part of it. For example in Whales!, my 100th book, whenever I was reading about whales, some books said that some were big enough to swallow an elephant. But a whale expert said his mouth may open wide enough to hold an elephant, but a whale would never swallow one. I try to make my books as factual as possible.
Q: How many teeth does an alligator have?
A: I have no idea.
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