The switch from writing science and natural history books for adults to writing a children’s book was an easy one for Thor Hanson.
“It came about very naturally, really, as an aspect of parenthood,” he said.
Hanson, a conservation biologist and author of the award-winning “Feathers” and “The Triumph of Seeds,” released “Bartholomew Quill: A Crow’s Quest to Know Who’s Who” in April. He’ll be at Auntie’s Bookstore on Friday for a reading.
The story evolved from playing with his son in the yard of his San Juan Island home.
“Noah and I had been watching crows in our yard. And if you’ve ever watched crows, it always looks like they’re up to something,” Hanson said.
It looked like they were searching for something, he said. And from that, he started to create a rhyming story about a Bartholomew, young crow searching for the answers to the big questions in life: Who and what am I?
As Bartholomew talks to other animals to figure out where he belongs, readers learn about various animals, whether they have fur or feathers, what color they are, what special features they have.
“Bartholomew Quill” is one of many rhyming stories Hanson has written for his son. Hanson had no intention of publishing any until, on a whim, he decided to recite some at a reading about a year and a half ago. Booksellers in the audience encouraged him to submit his stories to Little Bigfoot, Sasquatch Books’ children’s imprint.
Rhyming verse is a good way to teach about science, Hanson said.
“It has this built in sense of anticipation and discovery,” he said. “You know something’s coming, there’s a rhyme coming and it makes us pay attention in a certain way.”
That reflects the sort of discovery we have in science, Hanson said, where “we’re asking questions and waiting for answers and anticipating the information we’re trying to gather.”
Little Bigfoot is considering publishing another of Hanson’s children’s stories. For adults, he’s working on a book about bees, likely out in 2018.
Friday night, Hanson will talk about rhymes and share some he’s written for Noah, “probably right about the same time I’d be reading to my 6-year-old at home,” he said.
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