My students and I tromped into the Adirondack woods on snowshoes for our annual animal tracking excursion at the Visitors Interpretive Center at Paul Smiths. It was breathtakingly snowy and white, as always.
I’ve loved this field trip since we started taking it five or six years ago, but this year was extra special because I got to tell the naturalist who works with our kids that his trip inspired a picture book. You see, during last year’s field trip, we spotted a set of mouse tracks that disappeared next to a crevice in the snow, and that sparked a discussion of what goes on in the subnivean zone…the network of airy tunnels that forms between the ground and the packed snow. I was enchanted. And I loved that word…subnivean.
On the bus ride home, I dug a pencil out of my backpack, smoothed out my wrinkled attendance sheet, and on the back of it, wrote a very rough draft of a story about a girl who goes cross country skiing and learns about that secret world under the snow. I revised and tweaked and eventually sent it to my agent, who found my snowy little story a home at Chronicle Books.
Fast forward a year…
I just turned in my revision, based on a brilliant five-page editorial letter. Chronicle has found an amazing illustrator for the book — Christopher Silas Neal. This weekend, I’ll get to meet my editor in person, since we’re both attending the same retreat in Vermont.
But first, I have one more day of hiking through the snowy woods, following the tracks that tell stories in the snow.