I love getting books in the mail, and even better when they’re books that I worked on — like these advance copies of the new Smithsonian Institution young readers series that showed up recently. I wrote one chapter or mini-book in each of these gorgeous, hardcover volumes (my topics: reptiles, nocturnal animals, predators, and sharks). While I’ve been writing about animals for years as editor of Zoo View, the magazine is geared toward adult readers. I had a blast tackling some of the same topics but for a younger audience.

What a privilege to have been asked to contribute to these books! Not only do they bear the impressive “Smithsonian” stamp of approval, each is beautifully designed, and packed full of information and fun facts. (Kudos to the other writers and the graphic designers who worked on these books.) Look for them in stores next month.