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Chana Stiefel Asks: Can Dads Be Sent Back to the Depot?

Reviewing: “Daddy Depot,” By Chana Stiefel. Feiwel & Friends. Hardcover, 40 pages, 2017. ISBN-10: 1250058899.

Chana Stiefel knows children’s literature. She’s a mom, she works in a high school, her husband is a pediatrician and she has also authored over 20 books on a wide range of topics. With a background in English and art history, a master’s in journalism (not just any journalism—science and environmental reporting from NYU) and an imaginative, upbeat nature, there is very little that Stiefel cannot tackle with a pen and paper (or a laptop and a keyboard).

Now, with a long list of fascinating and entertaining children’s nonfiction books on science and history already filling her resume, Stiefel is about to enter a new world in children’s literature as she publishes her first fiction book, entitled “Daddy Depot.”

Stiefel’s most recent project was born out of some quality bedtime moments with her daughter. One night about eight years ago, her then 7-year-old daughter was angry at her dad. During bedtime they made up a story about returning the father to a store. “It’s really a story about unconditional love,” Stiefel explained.

It was a silly, good-natured tale that they enjoyed constructing together, and one that Stiefel then authored as a story. In 2013 she met her book agent at a children’s literary conference. Feiwel and Friends, a division of Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group, bought the manuscript and found an illustrator.

Stiefel’s enthusiasm for writing comes through in every conversation about the topic. She started working for Scholastic over 20 years ago. Many know Scholastic as the fun book orders that come home monthly in backpacks, and still others know them as the publishing house who plucked Harry Potter out of his cupboard under the stairs. They are also a large publishing house of proprietary children’s literature. With her background in science and writing, Stiefel was a perfect fit for many of the children’s informational books. She has thoroughly researched and written about the captivating nature topics of earthquakes, thunderstorms and tsunamis, as well as animal books and forensics on a younger reader’s level.

Stiefel’s writing talents are always at work; she currently has a project set with National Geographic for 2018 on the topic of creepy critters, and she wrote part of the Scholastic series on “Ye Yucky Middle Ages,” which strips away some of the glamour of the middle ages and describes what life was like––whether it was the sweaty armor, lack of bathing or the very different type of cuisine of the middle ages.

“Writing this book was very different from the other writing I have done,” Stiefel remarked. When she writes for Scholastic, National Geographic, ScienceWorld or any of the other magazines or publishers she works with, she is assigned a topic and researches in order to put together an informational piece.

With “Daddy Depot,” she found herself able to tell a story, but because it is a picture book, she had to tell it using very few words. This was a different type of writing challenge, but one that Stiefel enjoyed as well.

“It was fun to write a picture book using my own ideas and style,” Stiefel said. But she also described her love of the nonfiction science books. “Writing articles for science magazines, historical books and the other topics I have done has been so enjoyable. I love writing about science, and being part of the education that happens outside of the classroom.”

Stiefel’s theme throughout everything she does is to embrace the creative thinking process. Even her nonfiction books engage the reader and draw them into the wild world of science, history, weather, bugs, animals or anything else the topic may be. She is an active blogger and writes about her works, her inspiration and the process getting to where she is now. To schedule an author visit, and for information about book launches, past works or sneak previews of upcoming projects, visit www.chanastiefel.com.

By Jenny Gans

 

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