Maria Gianferrari’s beautifully written nonfiction book, Whoo-Ku Haiku: A Great Horned Owl Story, is a lyrical pleasure full of science facts.
About the book:
Stunning illustrations and gorgeous haikus lead young readers through the dramatic life cycle of one of America’s most beloved wild animals.
Pip. Pip. Pip. Poking
A hole. Cracking. Cracking. Out
Pecks the white owlet.
Watch as a pair of great horned owlets peep and squeak in their feathered nest. Mama and Papa hunt for food and fend off predators while the chicks grow strong enough to hop and flap between the branches of their tree, then leap and fly away, ready to explore the wild world around them.
In this thrilling nonfiction picture book, a combination of haiku and dazzling illustration shows readers the fierce majesty of one of North America’s most ubiquitous wild animals.
My favorite part of hosting a kidlit blog is the opportunity to speak with various authors. Maria and I have chatted before and I always learn something interesting when we do. She has a big heart, a big love of the natural world, and a big passion for books. I know you’ll love Whoo-Ku Haiku as much as I did 🙂
Whoo-Ku Haiku is a gorgeous book! How did you decide to write about the great horned owl in haiku form?
Thanks, Jennifer! Jonathan’s art is so beautiful. He really brings this stately creature to life!
My daughter came up with this clever title back when she was in elementary school. We used to “write” haikus on drives to her Nonna’s house. In third grade, she gave me an illustrated Whoo-Ku book for my birthday! I still treasure it. I thought that one day I might write my own version, many years later I did. I chose a family of Great horned owls to star in it. It’s one of my few books that has begun with just a title.
How did it feel to see your text come to life with the beautiful illustrations by Jonathan Voss?
Amazed! Blessed! So lucky! I have been very fortunate to have been matched with so many talented illustrators—it’s a picture book writers dream come true, and it’s always so very exciting to get those first sketches! And once I saw the color art was in awe of how gorgeous it was. I also love how he used the insets to tell the visual part of the story.
What bird is on your bucket list to see in the wild?
That’s a hard question! One that was on my bucket list, was the pileated woodpecker, but I finally saw one while visiting Harper’s Ferry National Park several years ago. Then I began spotting them on walks with my late dog, Becca, in the wooded areas that border my neighborhood. Their calls are really loud!
Another I’d love to see is an elf owl. They’re tiny, sparrow-sized birds. They live in the southwest and often nest in saguaro cactuses.
What does your typical writing day look like?
I used to walk my dog, Becca, every morning, and then write. Walking was part of the subconscious “writing” process for me. But since we lost Becca in mid-November (sniff-sniff), I have been a bit adrift, so now I tend to write later in the day.
Do you spend equal time writing fiction and non-fiction?
I follow whatever I’m obsessed with in that moment, so it will depend upon the subject and what format that tends to dictate. I seem to be writing more nonfiction these days…
WHOO’s Maria Gianferrari? She’s a self-proclaimed bird nerd with a special fondness for raptors. Her love affair with birds began in 7th grade science class when her teacher, Mr. Lefebvre, initiated a bird count. While walking in her neighborhood, Maria’s always on the look-out for all kinds of birds, and she loves searching winter tree tops for nests in her northern Virginia neighborhood where she lives with her German-scientist husband and German speaking daughter. This is her first book with GP Putnam’s Sons. She’s also the author of another bird book, Hawk Rising. To learn more about Maria, please visit her website: mariagianferrari.com.
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by Maria Gianferrari and illustrated by Jonathan Voss
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