Laurence Pringle

Children's Books and School Author Visits

Click on a title below, and read the story behind the book!

"Another winner in a long series of engaging, informative invitations to explore the natural world." --Kirkus Reviews Starred Review
"Beginning on a snowy afternoon in February and ending in early autumn, this book centers on a fox named Vixen as she explores her habitat, hunts, runs from danger, and starts a family. This intimate and personal view into Vixen's life is chronicled through a beautifully cohesive relationship between text and illustration...A rich reading experience awaits those who pick up this title..."--School Library Journal STARRED REVIEW
A "picture-book equivalent of watching a nature documentary."--School Library Journal
"Budding arachnologists will find this an enlightening introduction."--Kirkus programs about writing in schools
"A coolly fascinating, nostalgic glimpse into life as it was over a century ago." --Kirkus Reviews
"A must-have addition to science collections." --Booklist
"intelligent..eye-catching..readable lodestone for researchers." Starred review, School Library Journal
Paperback--the most unusual dinosaur book ever published!
The most comprehensive children's book about these amazing insects! "Smoothly written, beautifully illustrated"--School Library Journal author meets students in elementary schools
"An amazing nonfiction children's book"--Midwest Book Review
"A especial treat for young dragon lovers." --Midwest Book Review
"Words and stirring pictures focus on the role of the powerful black man on the thrilling journey...he is hailed as a national hero." -- Booklist author visits in schools
"Pringle's succinct text provides an engaging overview of penguin life...even penguin fans will find something new." -- Booklist
"Even readers fearful of snakes may find the subject a little less strange, a little more wonderful." -- Booklist
"Presented with respect for the subject and for the audience, this is one of the best of the many bat books, especially for a somewhat younger audience." --Booklist programs about writing for kids in schools
"The lucid text and elegant illustrations march in perfect step, creating an attractive fusing of art and information." --School Library Journal
"An exemplary nature-study book--accurate, explicit, and satisfyingly complete." School Library Journal
"Full of adventure and excitement, this book contains a wonderful mix of intriguing stories and historical facts."
--Childhood Education
elementary school author visits
"A poetic text...A wonderful choice to share with children before a summer vacation or to use as an introduction to an ecology unit." --School Library Journal
"A superb, well-researched book that finds extraordinary science in the everyday life of a butterfly."
--Kirkus Reviews
school author visits
Picture Book Fiction
"A likable book that's sure to start kids romping, and maybe their parents, too."--Kirkus

Owls! Strange and Wonderful

The Story Behind the Book

How should a writer start a book about owls? At first I thought of the obvious: a scene of a owl swooping out of the night air and catching prey. (I wrote a predator-prey scene to start Scorpions! Strange and Wonderful, and one of another kind to start Octopuses! Strange and Wonderful.) But I settled upon something else, and also broke a "rule" of good writing: start sentences in different ways. Readers like that. However, sometimes breaking rules can work out well. Here is how this book starts:

They are called ghost birds.
They hunt in the night.
They fly with silent wings, and swoop down to pounce on prey with sharp talons.
They call with hisses, howls, wails, yowls, or screams that may send a shiver of fear down your spine.
They are owls.

I'm happy with this beginning. Repeating "they..." gives it a kind of rhythm and growing power. You might want to try something like this some time.

I've been lucky to meet quite a few owls in my life. Once, hiking with a friend and some of my kids in a wild forest in the Hudson River valley, I noticed a hollow in an old tree. I looked in, and a screech owl looked back at me. I stepped back and called everyone in. We all had a closeup peek without troubling the owl very much.

One of the treats of camping in a favorite place in the Adirondack Mountains of New York is abundant barred owls. It is thrilling to hear them, and try to "talk" to them at night. My fiction picture book Bear Hug, about a dad taking his two little kids on their first-ever camping trip, includes a scary but delightful encounter with a barred owl.

My home in West Nyack has some wild woods around, and we often hear the hoots of great horned owls. And in the summer, we sometimes hear the wonderful "whinny" of a screech owl. (As my book points out, screech owls do not screech--unless under attack. And, yes, a great horned owl might go after a smaller owl.) This species doesn't seem to nest very close, so we usually hear their sweet sounds in the late summer, after the breeding season. Perhaps they are young screech owls looking for new territory. In the woods around here I have a couple of well-hidden bird houses, covered with tree bark, just right for screech owls. So far, no tenants.