Six Questions with Annette Whipple
Author Annette Whipple celebrates curiosity and inspires a sense of wonder while exciting readers about science and history. She is the author of many fact-filled children’s books including The Laura Ingalls Wilder Companion: A Chapter-by-Chapter Guide (Chicago Review Press), The Story of the Wright Brothers (Rockridge Press), and Whooo Knew? The Truth About Owls (Reycraft Books) in The Truth About series. When Annette’s not reading or writing, you might find her baking for her family in Pennsylvania. Visit Annette's website or sign up for her newsletter to learn more about her and to explore her resources for teachers and writers.
1. What was the process or timeline for Ribbit!, from idea to publishing?
Ribbit! The Truth About Frogs is the fourth book in The Truth About series. Because I had the previous books to use as mentor texts, I knew it would have the question-and-answer structure. I also knew the approximate word. This book came together very quickly—likely record time for me.
I spent about two months researching (including meeting with a herpetologist) and outlining. I spent another three months drafting and revising (with some time for rest and my expert’s consultation).
2. What was the most challenging thing you faced while writing/researching this book?
This was a simple challenge, but I wanted to include how many species of frogs there are in the world. Scientists are constantly finding new frog species! It was amazing to watch my notes change from week-to-week. So instead of stating an exact number that would be out of date by the time of publication, I stated there are over 7,000 kinds of frogs and about a hundred new species are found each year. (Curious? As of May 3, 2022 there are 7,489 frogs according to Amphibaweb.org.)
3. As a nonfiction author, how do you divide your time between research and writing?
Well, I begin with brainstorming the topic. Then I dive into the research to build a solid understanding as my foundation. Because I knew most of the questions I wanted to cover in Ribbit! The Truth About Frogs, I had a pretty tight focus while researching though I certainly explored some unexpected rabbit trails. After researching, I had a pretty thorough outline which means I completed my first draft quickly. However, my first drafts stink. I spent a lot of time with the revisions to make it shine.
4. If you could tell readers one secret about this book, what would it be?
Ribbit! The Truth About Frogs has TWO covers! The book jacket showcases one cover, and under that there’s a different cover. So that’s really cool, but it gets even better. The book jacket actually unfolds to a full-size poster featuring…well, you can see for yourself in this unboxing video if you didn’t catch it on social media.
5. What one piece of advice would you like to give to aspiring kidlit authors?
My one piece of advice is if you have an idea, you can learn the skills! Take lots of courses in your specific genre and learn about the publishing industry. Study (not just read) books in your genre. It took me years to figure out one manuscript because it was well-written, but it still didn’t work. Thankfully, I was reading tons of children’s nonfiction as mentor texts during that time. I finally changed the structure, audience, and added humor. It became the first book in this series called Whooo Knew? The Truth About Owls.
6. What’s next for you? What are you working on?
I’m currently working on a book featuring 52 incredible animals for a faith-based book called Wild Wonders: Animal Devotions for Kids which should come out in 2024 with Tyndale House. I’m thrilled The Truth About series continues! Meow! The Truth About Cats releases this fall...and I just signed a contract for two more books in the series that I'm super excited about. Keep an eye on social media or my author newsletter for the announcement!