Whale Fall
Exploring an Ocean-Floor Ecosystem
Gorgeous painterly art and gentle, lyrical prose combine to bring a little-known, deep-sea ecosystem to life for young readers. Meet the fascinating community of creatures, from amphipods and zombie worms to squat lobsters and sea pigs, that depends on a decaying whale for shelter and sustenance for up to 50 years.
Behind the Book
“In 2019, I stumbled upon an article about zombie worms, aka bone-eating snot flower worms, while writing a book called Ick! Delightfully, Disgusting Animals Dinners, Dwellings, and Defenses. I included some information about them in the Dwellings section of that book (dozens of tiny males live inside each female), but I knew I wanted to write more about these unusual marine worms one day. So I tacked the article to my Idea Board as a reminder.
“Sometimes notes and articles stay on my Idea Board for a long time, but when the COVID-19 pandemic struck in 2020, all my school visits were cancelled and I had plenty of time for research. As I began reading more about zombie worms, my mind was blown. I was completely captivated by the incredible collection of critters that live in, on, and around a whale fall. I knew I had to write a book about them.
“I often spend years trying to find just the right structure for a book, but in this case, I knew immediately that a chronological sequence structure would be the perfect choice. This allowed me to write the book in just a few months.
“My critique group loved the manuscript, and encouraged me to send it out right away. Often, it can take many months to hear back from editors, but this time, I heard back the very next day. She loved the book and wanted to acquire it right away. I was thrilled.
“And when she sent me samples of Rob Dunlavey’s stunning artwork, I was even more excited. I knew he was the perfect artist to illustrate the book.”
Whale Fall
by Melissa Stewart
illus by Rob Dunlavey
Random House Studio, 2023
ISBN 978-0-593-38060-4
Purchase this book at your local independent bookseller or Amazon.com.
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