Eric Rohmann and I have just completed a nonfiction picture book for Neal Porter Books/Roaring Brook (Summer, 2016) titled Giant Squid. I confess I came on board late in this project. Eric had already sketched out the illustrations. In fact, he had an entire wordless dummy when he invited me to write some accompanying text. This definitely felt like a case of putting the cart before the horse. But I loved the challenge. What did I come up with? Here’s a sampling from the book’s beginning. What do you think?
Down, down in the depths of the sunless sea,
deep, deep in the cold, cold dark,
strange and fearsome,
With writhing arms and ghostly, lidless eyes
some large as buses,
some weighing a ton.
So big, yet rarely seen.
Instead, they are merely glimpsed,
now and then,
from the prow of a ship . . .
from a rocky seashore . . .
through the lens of an underwater camera.
Who are these giants of the dark seas?
How do they hunt?
How do they eat?
How do they breed?
It is a mystery.
After all, how can you know about an animal hidden from view?
You must rely on clues,
as scientists do,
clues left behind by the creatures themselves.
Pieces found around the world,
found over centuries,
and people walking the beach.
You examine each piece,
questioning and guessing,
wondering at the weirdness of these baffling beasts.
Beasts we call giant squid.
Photo Description: A plastified Giant Squid (Architeuthis sanctipauli). Natural History Museum, Paris. It is the first plastified giant squid exposed in a museum. 9 meters long.
Photo Credit: By Stephanemartin (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons