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Author Terry Pierce remains tied up, busy writing, so I asked a representative spokesbear to answer a few questions about her latest board book, EAT UP, BEAR, published last week by the Yosemite Conservancy. This spokesbear seemed to know a lot about scrumptious snacks.

Good morning, Spokesbear. I understand you’re the representative for the wild bear population of Yosemite.

That’s [chomp, gromp, mmmm] me! I’ve taken over for Yogi and Boo-Boo.

Since Terry Pierce and Nadja Sarell can’t be here today, I’d like you to answer a few questions. I realize human food is pretty tasty, Bear. Can you tell us your favorite people-only food?

Mmm-mm-yum! Bears will eat almost anything that people eat from cheese doodles to hot dogs to peanut butter. We really will eat anything humans leave out for us. But I’ll admit, one of the problems with human food is how they package it. Since us bears can’t unwrap food, we eat the packaging, too, and that’s just not good for us (oh, the tummy aches!).  And once, my cub got her head stuck in a giant cheese doodle plastic jar, trying to get to the last one. Luckily, some kind humans helped her get the jar off her head. I can’t imagine what would have happened to her if they hadn’t rescued her. It would have been un-bearable. If only those humans had stored their cheese doodle jar properly!

But you know that’s not healthy for you, Bear. What’s a good bear-food that tickles your taste buds?

You’re right, human food is tasty. And sometimes, they make it so easy for us bears! Like when they leave it out on a picnic table, or leave their ice chest out. They even leave food in their cars! A locked door won’t keep me from getting to a tasty bag of chips or nuts. Have you seen my claws and powerful arms? And speaking of nuts, that’s a good-bear-food us bears love. Nuts, seeds, grubs, ants, fresh spring grass, berries—yum! Sometimes, I’ll even catch fresh trout for a meal.

That sounds more like it! Hey, maybe you can even tell me about how Terry cooked up this book?

Yes! There’s a story here, so bear with me. In 2018, I was so “scratch-your-back-on-a-tree happy” to hear about Yosemite Conservancy’s call out for a children’s board book (you know, those chunky books meant for your littlest cubs). Well, a writer named Terry Pierce saw the call out and sent them a manuscript about how to store human food so us bears can’t get into it (and then have to eat good bear food). Terry lives not far from Yosemite National Park in the mountain town of Mammoth Lakes, California, so she knows about how to “coexist” with black bears. “Coexist” is a fancy human word that means getting along with someone, and Terry knows the best way to coexist with bears is through proper food storage.

Why is food storage important? Well, us bears are what you’d call “opportunistic eaters.” We’ll break into cars, tents, backpacks, coolers, even homes if we think food is inside. We can really make a mess of things and do a lot of damage when that happens. (My cousin once ripped the door off a car just to get to some peanuts left in sight!) But the bigger problem lands on the bears. When a bear relies on human food so much that he’ll do anything to get some (and cause the kind of damage I mentioned), humans label him as a “problem bear” and that could mean big trouble. Sadly, a “problem bear” will be put down. It’s never happened to anyone in my family, but I hear the stories. So, you can see why I was so happy to see Terry’s new book. It helps little cubs and their families see that their own actions could ultimately save the life of a bear! Proper food storage helps keep all bears eating healthy, good food that nature intended for us to eat. But I do wish that once in a while nature would make it rain hot dogs or jellybeans!

Wow, so this is really an important book, Bear! Thanks so much for letting us savor it!

Hey, I’ve got an even better way for you to get a taste! Yosemite Conservancy will give a book away!

Sweet!

Blog readers, leave one comment below to enter.

A random winner will be selected later this month!

Good luck!


With twenty-five published books, Terry Pierce has experienced the joys of being a writer in many ways. She has a B.A. degree in Early Childhood Development and an international A.M.I. teaching diploma. Terry was a pre-primary Montessori teacher for twenty-two years before deciding to follow my dream of writing for children (what she calls, “the best mid-life crisis ever!”). She’s been writing since 1999, with her work appearing in magazines and the children’s book market. She has an MFA in Writing for Children &Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts, including the Picture Book Concentration certification. She also teaches online children’s writing courses for the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program. Visit her at terrypiercebooks.com.

I have always loved novelty books—they are proof that big things come in small packages! With their brief yet powerful words, adorable pictures, and clever format, they are the book equivalent of a “fun size” candy bar. I’ve even tried to write a couple, but who knows if they’ll ever be published? I’m no Salina Yoon!

Today, author Terry Pierce tells us about her newest novelty book, illustrated by Suzy Ultman, and how it came to be.

Terry, I’ve often heard it’s extremely difficult to get a novelty book deal if you’re an author-only (and not an author-illustrator). Please tell us now that’s bunkum!

Oh, Tara, I wish I could tell you that’s bunkum, but I honestly have to say that LOVE CAN COME IN MANY WAYS (as a novelty book) was an extremely happy accident. It began as a picture book, strangely, born out of politics. After the 2016 national election, I was so saddened at the civil discourse in our country. People just weren’t being nice, in my opinion, so I found myself wanting to write about something up-lifting. Perhaps to lift my own spirits, but I wanted to create a book that would make children feel better about the world.

I decided to write a picture book about love, but wanted to make it super kid-friendly, so I used animals as the focus. For weeks, I poured over images of animals showing affection, which certainly filled my heart (and time—oh boy, what a rabbit hole it is to seek adorable animal photos online!). When I saw a photo of a mother and baby giraffe looking at each other, I had my opening line:

Nose to nose or gaze to gaze,
Love can come in many ways.

I worked on the manuscript (writing-revising-incorporating feedback from my critique group) for about three months. During that time, I realized it leaned more toward being a board book due to the sparse text and simple concept. When it was ready, I sent it to my agent, hoping she would love it as much as I did.

She held it for a few weeks before submitting it to a round of editors. Lucky for us, Chronicle Books expressed interest five days later. And it was my brilliant editor Ariel Richardson who envisioned it as a novelty book! Of course, I was thrilled! I’d always wanted to publish a novelty book, but as you wisely noted, it’s not easy for an author-only to sell one (I came close once, but ultimately it was a pass).

So was it your editor’s idea to do the felt flaps, uncovering the sweet surprises? How did that concept come together?

The initial idea was to publish it as a novelty book with various moving parts (flaps, tabs, etc.) but soon into the process, Ariel let me know they wanted to use felt flaps exclusively. She was excited about some gorgeous felt samples they’d found that were both beautifully colored and durable (to withstand the tugs and manipulations of small hands). When she emailed me the sample color palettes, I absolutely agreed!

Once we knew it would be a lift-a-flap book, it was then time for the amazing Suzy Ultman to start the rough sketches, which included possible flap placement. Suzy is such a talent for drawing “all things tiny” as I like to say, and she did a great job of incorporating the text into those sweet surprises under the flaps.

Did this concept change any of your text? Were animals brought in or moved out to make optimal use of the flaps?

We did make some slight changes to the text but not to adapt to the flap concept. Suzy was so creative in how she implemented the flap idea—some flaps were body parts (an elephant’s ear, a swan’s wing), others were part of their design (a heart-spotted giraffe has a felt heart that lifts, for example) that I didn’t need to change the text and one even became a leaf.

Where we did make some minor changes were to the types of animals. I wrote the line, “Enclosed in tender, toothy jaws” based on a photo of an alligator carrying her baby in her mouth. It was SO cool! But no matter how Suzy drew it, it looked like the mom was eating her baby! Yikes! We discussed other animals and decided pandas would work better since they have kid-appeal and do in fact, carry their babies in their mouths.

Another line I changed was, “Through soothing songs that mama sings” (originally featuring belugas) to “Through lively songs that mama sings” because Ariel thought it would work better visually to feature a full-spread pond scene with the raccoon and swan on the left, and frogs on the right.

One of my favorite flap ideas was with the final page. Originally, we were going to have speech bubble flaps, but it didn’t quite work out spatially because we really wanted to show a diverse cast of humans on the final spread. We opted for one speech bubble flap instead. Ariel had asked me to think of possible phrases and the first one that came to mind was how I always sign my first board book (Mama Loves You So), “You are loved!” The team agreed it was a great message to end the reading/snuggling/bonding experience, and with the neon pink flap over it, well, it’s perfect!

Terry, this book is sweet and adorable. Congratulations and thanks for talking about its creation!

Blog readers, you can win a copy of LOVE CAN COME IN MANY WAYS!

Just leave one (not many) comment below.

A random winner will be chosen soon!

Good luck!


With twenty-five published books, Terry Pierce has experienced the joys of being a writer in many ways. She has a B.A. degree in Early Childhood Development and an international A.M.I. teaching diploma. Terry was a pre-primary Montessori teacher for twenty-two years before deciding to follow my dream of writing for children (what she calls, “the best mid-life crisis ever!”). She’s been writing since 1999, with her work appearing in magazines and the children’s book market. She has an MFA in Writing for Children &Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts, including the Picture Book Concentration certification. She also teaches online children’s writing courses for the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program. Visit her at terrypiercebooks.com.

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illus by Mike Boldt
HarperCollins
July 2021

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Sourcebooks eXplore
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Little, Brown
2022

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