top of page
Search
  • Writer's pictureAndrew Hacket

The Backstory: SUPERDADS!

I am so happy to welcome the dynamic duo of Heather Lang and Jamie Harper to The Backstory today with the second book in their Animal Heroes series, SUPERDADS! Written in a comic format, this book offers facts and fun that will astound child and adult readers alike. Keep reading to discover what collaboration looks like for Heather and Jamie and for a sneak peek at some of the creatures you can expect to find between the pages of SUPERDADS!

AH: Welcome to The Backstory and thank you for joining us and sharing the inspiration behind SUPERDADS!


First off, please tell us a little bit about your story.


HL & JH: Packed with cool facts in a fun comic format, SUPERDADS! is a humorous and fascinating look into parenting in the wild. From seahorses to gorillas, this picture book explores how dads feed, protect, nurture, teach, and even incubate their babies. A great horned owl dad brings home tasty prey to his young, while a sandgrouse dad carries precious water on his feathers across the desert for his thirsty chicks. Wolf dads love a game of tug-of-war with their rambunctious pups, glass frog dads protect their eggs from predators with powerful kicks, and kiwi dads sit on their eggs for eighty days, keeping them safe and warm. 


Lively art and cheeky comments from offspring make for an engaging read. Back matter includes bonus super facts about each animal and recommendations for more children’s books, websites, and episodes to explore. 



AH: What’s the story behind the story? What was your inspiration? Where did the idea come from?


HL & JH: Since this is the second book in our Animal Heroes series, the story behind the story goes way back to 2020, when we submitted the first book, SUPERMOMS! Along with the manuscript, we included a list of possible follow-up titles. SUPERDADS! actually didn’t make the cut since we thought the variety of super animal dads seemed limited. But once we decided to work with Candlewick, they made it clear they were looking forward to a second book about animal dads IF we could make it work. 


AH: Well it certainly seems like you were up for the challenge! That is wonderful that from the start Candlewick had a vision and was willing to let you give it a shot. I am now wondering what the other potential follow-up titles were.


How did you approach going from this seed of an idea to what is now SUPERDADS!? Was it something undeniable you had to write immediately or did you need to sit with this idea and let it grow for a while before it found its way to the page?


HL & JH: We loved the idea of celebrating animal dads but weren’t sure if we could come up with enough variety of animals and behaviors. Luckily, we both love a good treasure hunt, so we dug deep into the research. We watched countless nature documentaries, talked to experts, and read scientific publications. And we’re so glad we did because the dads we found are incredible. Take the seahorse dad, for example, he’s the one who goes through labor and delivery! The Darwin’s frog dad keeps his tadpoles in his throat and “burps” them up when they turn into froglets. Amazing! While it’s true that moms do most of the parenting in the wild, we were excited to celebrate these unsung heroes who go above and beyond to take care of their young. As it turned out, most of the superdads were birds, and it was fun to discover some spectacular frog and fish dads.


AH: Amazing! That must have been fun to research and the animals dads you found are going to blow kids and their grownups away.

SUPERDADS!: ANIMAL HEROES. Text copyright Ⓒ 2024 by Heather Lang and Jamie Harper. Illustration copyright Ⓒ 2024 by Jamie Harper. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA.


AH: What does the process of co-authoring a book look like for the two of you?


HL & JH: We’ve had a lot of fun working on this series together. We’ve been friends for thirty years and critique partners for almost as long. You could say we know each other SUPER well. It also helps that we both love books, animals, tea, and chocolate! 


Working together isn’t hard because we’re so compatible. Having a similar work ethic is key when juggling multiple books in a series at different stages of development. We always give each other honest feedback and listen. We’re both open-minded and willing to make concessions. And I think we have the same drive and desire to keep pushing until we know we’ve achieved our best. Over the years, we’ve studied thousands of picture books together. Those conversations about how books are structured, what works, and what doesn’t all feed into our brainstorming sessions.

 

Collaboration has so many benefits, and for these books we take advantage of every one. We divide up the main research and writing tasks so we can get to a first draft faster. We always have a new set of eyes available to review something if one of us gets stuck. When it comes to writing speech bubbles, our best ones come from back-and-forth brainstorming. We’ve had so many laughs thinking about what our kids would have said in each situation and remembering some of our own super (and not-so-super) parenting moments. 


Having a buddy to help brainstorm ideas, to go on research excursions with, and to face the typical ups and downs of making a book may be the very best part of collaboration. Because of the tight schedule, we communicate by phone, text, email, and Google Docs, and we meet in person regularly. That isolated feeling we often have as creators disappears.

 

Collaboration isn’t for everyone. It can be tricky when two people ultimately have different visions for a book. But when everything aligns, the back and forth can yield something magical that neither person could have created alone. These books combine our collective experiences as friends, creators, readers, children, and parents. And what could be more fun than promoting a book with a friend? Having said that, we are always looking for ways to make our collaboration even stronger. 


AH: Making a book with a friend sounds incredible! It is clear that the two of you make a great team and have found a system that best facilitates your collaboration. While I am sure there could be moments of disagreement, the idea of going through the rollercoaster of publication with an equally invested friend sounds like a wonderful experience.


Did SUPERDADS! undergo any major changes/revisions from the original version? If so, what led you to make these changes?


HL & JH: You would think that since the format of this book was already established by SUPERMOMS! there wouldn’t be tons of revision work. Nope . . . we found it took a lot of revision to come up with just the right facts that would work with the art and speech bubbles. Since the speech bubbles are integral to the art, they always evolve as the art develops. I think they were the hardest part of the writing. And we had to make them work for those readers who go straight to the art and speech bubbles before reading the main text. During revisions, we also added a new element to the art–onomatopoeias. 


AH: I hadn't considered the need to factor in the order in which a child would read the text. That adds a whole other layer of complexity to puzzle through. I love that even though you had an existing format to base SUPERDADS! off of, you still found ways to bring in a new element!


Do you have any upcoming projects or news you would like to share with us?


HL & JH: Making these books together has been one giant collaboration, so writing a book about animals that team up in the wild seemed like the perfect choice. SUPERSQUADS! will be flying into the world in late 2025!


AH: SUPERDADS! seemed like such a natural next choice following SUPERMOMS!, but I wasn't sure what would come next. I love the concept of SUPERSQUADS! Congratulations on this third book in the series. I am sure readers are going to love it!


Where can people connect more with you?


Jamie: jamieharper.comInstagram: jamieharperillustratorFacebook: https://www.facebook.com/jamieharper


Twitter/X: @hblang  

Instagram: heatherlangbooks 


AH: Readers be sure to connect with Jamie and Heather on their socials and at their websites for all of their latest publishing news and for a peek at the wonderful books they already have on the shelves. While you are at it, please consider supporting Jamie and Heather and SUPERDADS! in any way you can.


This could include:


- ordering from your favorite indie


- marking as want to read on Goodreads  


-leaving a review


- making a library request


Heather and Jamie thank you so much for sharing all about SUPERDADS! I loved learning the inside scoop on how this book came as well as what collaboration looked like for the pair of you. I am looking forward to picking up my copy and adding it to my classroom library right next to SUPERMOMS!

 

GIVEAWAY!


Heather and Jamie are happy to offer a copy of SUPER DADS! to one winner. (US only)


Ways to enter:

1. Retweet my tweet about this blog post. Additional entry for tagging friends!

or

2. Leave a comment on this post.

or

3. Post about this interview on social media and tell me in the comments that you did.


Each method earns an extra entry!

 

ABOUT HEATHER LANG


Heather Lang writes picture books that celebrate our natural world and biographies about women who overcame extraordinary obstacles to follow their dreams. Her award-winning books include SWIMMING WITH SHARKS: The Daring Discoveries of Eugenie Clark and THE LEAF DETECTIVE: How Margaret Lowman Uncovered Secrets in the Rainforest, an NSTA/CBC Best STEM Book and Green Earth Book Award winner. To research her books, Heather has observed animals in the Serengeti, climbed to the treetops of the Amazon, and gone scuba diving with sharks.


 

ABOUT JAMIE HARPER



Jamie Harper is the creator of many books for children, including MILES TO GO and MILES TO THE FINISH, the BABY BUNDT board book series, and four books about the indomitable Miss Mingo and her kindergarten class of lovable animals. Among them is MISS MINGO AND THE FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL, about which, in a starred review, Publishers Weekly said: “Young animal enthusiasts won’t soon forget these unique students or Miss Mingo’s enthusiastic celebration of their diversity.” Jamie is also the illustrator of two chapter book series by Sally Warner. She lives outside Boston with her husband and their French bulldog, Louie. Now that her children have grown up, she plans to fill the house with dogs.


 

ABOUT ANDREW HACKET


Andrew Hacket  is a writer, second-grade teacher, and father of three. He is also the author of the upcoming Ollie, the Acorn, and the Mighty Idea,  Curlilocks and the Three Hares, and Hope and the Sea. Andrew recognizes that being a kid is hard and he writes to create ways for kids to see themselves in stories and characters, to accept and overcome their insecurities, or to escape for just a little while through the power of their imaginations. 

52 views5 comments

Recent Posts

See All

5 Comments


KatieLeeReinert
5 days ago

Loved Supermoms and looking forward to reading Superdads!

Like

buschman.deb
buschman.deb
May 16

Love this. So much fun and so informative. I love learning new facts about wildlife. Congrats!

Like

seschipper
May 16

Super post as usual! Looking forward to reading these PB's!😊

Like
seschipper
May 16
Replying to

I also tagged 2 on Twitter!

Like

Becky Scharnhorst
Becky Scharnhorst
May 15

What a great interview! I enjoyed reading about your collaboration. I also very much enjoyed Supermoms, so I’m thrilled to discover there’s a Superdads book out now and other one on the way. I look forward to reading both!

Like
bottom of page