I’m the award-winning author and illustrator of How to Be an Elephant: Growing Up in the African Wild and Neighborhood Sharks: Hunting with the Great Whites of California’s Farallon Islands. I am also the illustrator for the Expeditioners series by S. S. Taylor and of Buried Beneath Us by Anthony Aveni. Forthcoming books include Otis and Will Discover the Deep: The Record-Setting Dive of the Bathysphere, by Barb Rosenstock, a nonfiction book about bears, and a nonfiction book about reproductive biology in the natural world.
I love science, history, and big adventures, and am endlessly fascinated by the way things live, so my books often focus on informational storytelling and science education. An idea for a new book begins with weeks (or months) of reading and sketching, followed by a research trip to meet experts in the field, where I study my subject in the wild and ask lots and lots of questions. Back in my studio, writing starts with drawing, but it takes countless dead ends and several terrible drafts to arrive at a story that works. A book doesn’t come into being by magic—it’s a thing that is built in layers by someone who refuses to give up—so my job is to find a way to turn information into words and pictures, as beautifully and accurately as possible.
The first book that I wrote and illustrated, Neighborhood Sharks, was named a Robert F. Sibert Award Honor Book, a School Library Journal Best Book of the Year, a Kirkus Reviews Best Book of the Year, an Orbis Pictus Recommended Title, a Horn Book Fanfare title, a Bank Street Best Children’s Book of the Year, a Junior Library Guild Selection, and an ALA Notable Children’s Book. It also received starred reviews from School Library Journal, Kirkus, Publisher’s Weekly, and The Horn Book. The second book that I wrote and illustrated, How to Be an Elephant, has been named a School Library Journal Best Book of the Year, a Horn Book Fanfare title, a 2017 Booklist Editor’s Choice title, a Chicago Public Library Best Book of 2017, and was included in The San Francisco Chronicle’s 2017 Gift Guide. It also received starred reviews from School Library Journal, Booklist, Publisher’s Weekly, and The Horn Book.