HAWK RISING, an interview with Maria Gianferrari, + a giveaway!
Maria Gianferrari has another beautiful nature book hitting shelves this Friday, Hawk Rising (Roaring Brook Press, illus by Brian Floca).
I started writing this post three or four times, but I kept getting hung up … where to begin, where to begin… because the book has so many great elements and I didn’t want to leave anything out, and then I decided to read its reviews, and … phooey. There was everything I was trying to say. But, you know, BETTER. So I’m going to be a little lazy in the top half of this post, but only because I’ve interviewed Maria below.
School Library Journal gave Hawk Rising a starred review and said that it “…powerfully demonstrates the wonder that can be found in observing the natural world.”
Yes, that. And whether or not your kiddos are little naturalists, this book holds extreme appeal, partly because the POV alternates between you, down there on the ground watching, and the hawk itself, soaring in the sky.
In its starred review, Publishers Weekly said: “…. Muted hues illustrate moments from Father Hawk’s day as he scans for prey, sunbathes, dives after a chipmunk and sparrows, and finally snags a squirrel to bring back to the nest. All this plays out under the scrutinizing eyes of two young bird-watchers: a girl and her younger sister in a suburban neighborhood, who use binoculars to follow the progress of the feathered hunter…. Painted from varying angles, dynamic spreads and vignettes present the shifting perspectives of bird-watcher, hawk, and prey. The clever pacing and placement of text match the bird’s actions across, up, and down the page. This captivating introduction to the red-tailed hawk concludes with more than a half-dozen facts about the common bird of prey and further reading.” See? Pretty much covers it all, doesn’t it? So let’s get to that interview.
Welcome, Maria Gianferrari!
JE: First of all, why hawks?
MG: I am an animal lover, and ironically, though I am very emotional about animals, I am also completely fascinated by predators and raptors in particular—they’re doing what they’re meant to do, and they are such a critical component for maintaining ecosystem health. I am pretty much obsessed with red-tailed hawks—they’re the most common hawk in North America, and live in all kinds of habitats, even big cities, like New York. Urban ecology is a passion of mine, and I have a deep appreciation for hawks’ adaptability and ability to live so close to humans. My favorite past-time is searching for perching hawks while driving, and watching them on webcams like Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s All About Birds. And Brian Floca’s art soars—it brought these majestic creatures to life.
JE: That’s for sure! (Also, Cornell’s site is amazing. I’ve used it for research myself.)
The language in HAWK RISING made me swoony, Maria. I couldn’t help but marvel at your lyrical, poetic lines, so tight and evocative. Was this the format from the very beginning stages of drafting, or do you revise your material down to this point as you go along?
MG: That is very kind of you to say, Jill—thank you! My general process for writing narrative nonfiction is to try to be as spare as possible in my approach and to leave a lot of white space. I think it starts off a bit wordier, and then gets pared down and distilled through the drafting process to its most basic form.
JE: Because people always want to know…Do you stick to a writing schedule?
MG: My dog, Becca, is my writing companion, so every day starts with a walk and time to reflect, rain or shine, before I sit down at my computer to write. I try to write every day during the week, and occasionally on weekends. I am also a perennial napper, so I take nap breaks between writing sessions.
JE: I seem to remember a mention, the last time you visited, of a bobcat book. When will that arrive, and are there other animal bios we can look forward to?
MG: You are correct! I don’t yet have a release date, but I am very excited to be collaborating once again with Bagram Ibatoulline, illustrator of Coyote Moon, and editor Emily Feinberg at Roaring Brook Press on A Home for Bobcat. Emily is also the editor of Hawk Rising as well as Hello Goodbye Dog. I love working with her!
My book on great horned owls, Whooo-Ku, illustrated by Jonathan D. Voss, will be published in the spring of 2020 by Putnam. It’s a narrative title told in haiku poems. Here’s a glimpse from Jonathan’s website:
JE: What else do you have in the pipeline, Maria?
MG: My next fiction picture book is near and dear to my heart: Operation Rescue Dog, illustrated by Luisa Uribe and published by Little Bee.
I’m a dog lover, which is pretty obvious: all of my current fiction picture books star dogs as main characters. Woof!
Thanks for having me on Picture Book Builders, Jill! It’s an honor to be here, since this is one of my favorite blogs.
JE: Thank YOU for saying that, Maria! 🙂
Maria has another new book out, too. Don’t miss Terrific Tongues (Boyds Mills Press, illus by Jia Liu).
Also…ONE lucky commenter will win a copy of Hawk Rising! Open to residents of continental U.S. only.
The WINNER of Josh Funk’s How To Code a Sandcastle is Danielle Dufayet! Congratulations, Danielle, and thanks to everybody who entered!