Description from Boyds Mills Press:
Using whimsical comparisons, this brightly illustrated nonfiction picture book highlights the fascinating ways different animals—from a woodpecker, to a snake, to a bat—use their tongues. It’s a straw, it’s a mop, it’s a sword—it’s all of those things, and more! Animals’ amazing tongues have unique and unusual functions. Readers will marvel at how woodpeckers use their tongues like swords to burrow for insects under tree bark, moths use their tongues like straws to sip flower nectar, and okapis use their tongues like washcloths to wash their eyes and ears. And whose tongues can lick, taste, blow bubbles, whistle, talk, and more? People’s tongues, of course! With vivid, colorful artwork by a debut illustrator, this title includes back matter with additional information about each animal tongue as well as intriguing facts about more fun tongues.
My interview with author, Maria Gianferrari:
Maria: Thanks for letting me share Terrific Tongues with your Kid Lit Frenzy readers, Alyson!
Alyson: How did you get the idea for the book?
Maria: Like many of my books, this one was inspired directly by my daughter, Anya, then a toddler. It was 2004, and we were living in Berlin, Germany for my husband’s sabbatical. Well, Anya was obsessed with all things tongue, or “Zunge,” the German word for tongue. She greeted every tongue she saw with a happy “Zunge!” whether it was a real tongue, one in a book, or one on TV/in a movie. Her enthusiasm was infectious—I began researching tongues online and soon I too was hooked on tongues. I could no longer hold my tongue so to speak! In fact, the book is dedicated to her, “Für Anya und ihre Zungen.” (For Anya and her tongues).
AB: The facts in the book are presented humorously. Did you have any LOL moments?
MG: I didn’t really have any LOL moments per se, I was just struck by the cool factor of these fascinating tongues, like the gecko that doesn’t have eyelids, so it cleans its eyes with a windshield wiper like tongue.
Once I decided that I would make comparisons between creature tongues and common things kids would be familiar with, there was almost an inherent humor and levity to the book. Jia Liu’s illustrations took that humor one step further. I love her use of the monkey as a visual narrator or guide in the book. That amplifies the humor and silliness too such as in this illustration:
AB: Do you think that this same style can be applied to other body parts for a sequel? Will there be a sequel?
MG: Indeed I do! My editor, Mary Colgan, has since left the publisher for an around-the-world adventure, but before her departure she requested a follow up title on ears. I think there could be other books on noses, eyes, tails and feet too. I’m sort of partial to the star-nosed mole so, though I haven’t yet begun a sequel, time will tell!
About the author:
Maria Gianferrari is a picture book reading/writing, tea-drinking, dog-loving, birdwatching resident of Virginia and author of the Penny & Jelly books, Coyote Moon (an ALA Notable Book and Junior Library Guild Selection), Officer Katz and Houndini and Hello Goodbye Dog. Her newest titles are Terrific Tongues (Boyds Mills Press), Hawk Rising (a JLG selection from Roaring Brook Press) and Operation Rescue Dog(Little Bee). To learn more about Maria, visit her website: mariagianferrari.com, on Facebook and Instagram.
About the illustrator:
An animal lover, illustrator and art teacher for both children and adults, Jia Liu is the illustrator of Terrific Tongues (Boyds Mills Press) and the What Shapes The Earth series (Cantata Learning). She has two picture books, Arithmechicks Add Up and Arithmechicks Take Away releasing in 2019 and 2020. https://www.jia-liu.com/
Pick up a copy of Terrific Tongues at your local indie bookstore or community library.
Thanks to the generosity of Boyds Mills Press, one lucky Kit Lit Frenzy reader who’s a US resident can win a copy of Terrific Tongues! And thank you again, Alyson, for featuring Terrific Tongues here!
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