Sharktober has been a fantastic month, full of family, friends, new readers, school visits, and most of all full of my favorite predatory beasties and my very first picture book! The week-long Bay Area book tour for Neighborhood Sharks kicked off with a launch party at Books Inc. in Mountain View, followed by talks at Hicklebee’s in San Jose, Copperfield’s in Petaluma, and Books Inc. in San Francisco. Who knows a white shark fact? Who knows a white shark myth? What is a white shark’s favorite food, and why? Over the course of the tour, I spoke to over 1,850 kids and grown-ups, explaining the biology and behavior of Farallon whites and answering as many questions as I could about sharks and making picture books. Here are a few of my favorite questions, along with some photos from the trip:
Question: How big are baby sharks?
Answer: Baby white sharks are about four feet long at birth. That sounds pretty big for a baby, but it’s hard to be a white shark. They get no help at all from mom and are completely on their own from the first moment they’re born!
Question: So if sharks love eating elephant seals, do they have taste buds?
Answer: Huh. Great question. I don’t think so. I don’t think they need taste buds, because they have such a good sense of smell, and so many other senses that they use to hunt. But I’m not sure!
Question: How long did it take you to make the drawings in this book?
Answer: Well, it’s hard to say, because it didn’t happen all at once, and a lot of thinking goes into each piece of final art. But it took somewhere around 3 to 4 months to plan out and create the final images, something like 800+ hours of work. A lot of work!
Question: How did you get so good at drawing?
Answer: What do you think?
Question: Umm… practice?
Answer: Yep!! LOTS of practice. I’ve spent many many thousands and thousands of hours drawing.
Question: My dad got bitten by a great white shark. He has a big scar right here (points to torso).
Answer: Wow! Really? Is everything okay now?
Answer: Whew! Okay, good.
Question: If sharks don’t hunt humans, why do humans hunt sharks?
Answer: Well… that’s a great question. I think some people who hunt sharks hunt them for food, and sometimes sharks die accidentally from fishing practices and things like that. But… people sometimes lash out at the things they are afraid of, and we are designed to be very afraid of predators, for good reasons. If you think of all the Grimms’ fairy tales, many of the “bad guys” in those stories are top predators, like bears and wolves. If we think of predators as our equals, our competition, maybe killing a shark is to win, to defeat something? …And capitalism.
Thanks for reading, and thank you to everyone who attended a signing or school visit—I am honored to be kicking off my career as an author with you!