Have you ever walked through the woods and wanted so badly to see animals only to be disappointed that none were around? That is the premise of Jen Funk Weber’s new children’s book Been There, Done That: Reading Animal Signs.
In the book, Cole is visiting his friend Helena and he really wants to see wild animals. They take a hike and Helena shows Cole signs that animals are around even they are not standing in front of him.
This book shows that there is more to spotting signs of wildlife than seeing paw prints across the hood of your car or the imprint of little bird feet in the sand. In fact, tracks are a very little part of spotting signs of wildlife.
Author Jen Funk Weber has a lot of practice tracking animals. Although the animals in Been There, Done That are residents of the Pacific northwest and up through Alaska, Jen has tracked animals around the world. Read this wonderful account of leopard tracking in Africa!
To celebrate the launch of Jen’s new book we asked her a few questions about writing and tracking animal signs.
What was your incentive to write this particular book?
Having worked as a natural history guide in Alaska, I know that people want to see exciting things when they take the time and make the e ort to get out in nature, but that’s not the way nature works. Flowers and wild animals don’t perform on command. In fact, most wild animals prefer to avoid humans.
But things are happening all the time in nature, and there are clues all around that can help us “see” what’s happening, even if we don’t actually witness it. It’s fun looking for these clues and trying to figure out what happened. It’s like snooping on neighbors, except the animals don’t seem to mind. If we spend enough time out there, we might get lucky and see some of those really exciting, once-in-a- lifetime events.
And, of course, hiking, searching for animal signs, and watching wildlife are some of my favorite things to do, but you guessed that, right?
When are you most creative?
Around 4 a.m. No, really. I love getting up in the wee hours to write. Picture this: It’s zero degrees outside, snowy, and dark. But it’s warm enough inside—at least it is at my desk, two feet from the heater. e sky is full of stars and maybe northern lights. It won’t get light for hours. I turn on colored lights that rim the ceiling and light fragrant candles on the windowsills. I make a pot of jasmine tea. I sit. It’s quiet and still. I imagine. I write.
Okay, it’s not always that way, but sometimes it is.
As for what sparks my creativity; that would be new ideas and experiences. It can be something as small as a headline or a fascinating fact, or it can be a trip to someplace new, or it can be thinking about something in a new way, i.e., a new perspective. Every new thought or experience gets processed into past thoughts and experiences, and this synthesis triggers the creative process.
For instance, while converting feet to meters, I wondered why the US has never really converted to the metric system. When I was a kid, we were told we needed to switch because the whole country would soon switch.
I began to wonder why time has never been converted to the metric system, even where the metric system is used. Instead of 24 hours in a day, we could have 10 or 100 some-other-unit-of- measure.
Now I’m motivated to do some research about metrics. An old idea—converting to the metric system—leads to creative thinking when applied in a new way—to time.
Read our full interview with Jen on the Been There, Done That homepage!
Also enter to win our Goodreads giveaway that opens on February 15th!