3 Things I Learned From Writing Hibernation Station
During the winter, I Iove wearing pajamas and curling up in a blanket with pillows, snacks, and books. I remember learning about hibernation when I was in elementary school, and it sounded wonderful. Take a long winter nap and emerge in the Spring. Sign me up! I worked on the text for Hibernation Station (Simon & Schuster) on a snowy day. Here are three things I learned:
1. Rejection letters can be helpful.
In the year before I wrote Hibernation Station, I wrote a collection of silly animal poems and submitted the collection to various publishers. The poetry collection never sold, but over time I noticed a pattern – several editors commented that they liked the poem about hibernation. So I pulled that poem out and focused on it for a picture book.
2. Some animals are light sleepers in winter and others are deep sleepers.
When editor Kevin Lewis said that skunks and raccoons should be included in Hibernation Station, I wasn’t so sure at first. I had done research about the animals considered to be the “true hibernators”, and skunks and raccoons were not on my list. True hibernators are the animals that experience a dramatic drop in body temperature, heart rate, and breathing. But after talking with Kevin, I dug deeper. I discovered that some animals, such as bats, are considered “deep sleepers”, and there is another category called “light sleepers”. Raccoons and skunks fit into this category. While not true hibernators, light sleepers get sluggish in the winter and often curl up in groups to sleep. After discussing this with Kevin, we agreed this would be interesting information for children to learn. Raccoons and skunks were included in the book, and I added the light sleeper/deep sleeper information to the author’s note in the book’s back matter.
3. Research can give fiction a boost.
I wasn’t the only one who did research for Hibernation Station. A steam locomotive built in 1829 inspired the image of the Hibernation Station train. Illustrator Kurt Cyrus thought about what sort of train forest animals would ride. For inspiration, he went back to one of the earliest steam locomotives. He found a model kit of “The Rocket”, which gave him the angles he needed. Kurt says The Rocket only went 29 miles per hour. He thought that was just right for the animals on the Hibernation Station train.
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Author Michelle Meadows blogs about reading, writing, and publishing children’s books.