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A TOUR OF THE HUMAN BODY Q&A with author Jennifer Berne and editor Harold Underdown

Do you ever wonder how a book or a series came to be – the “story behind the story”? Take a glimpse behind the curtain with this fascinating chat between Kane Press executive editor Harold Underdown and author Jennifer Berne (Manfish, On a Beam of Light, and How the Sea Came to Be). They reveal the genesis of Berne’s new series “Number Tours for Curious Kids” and the first book in that series, A Tour of the Human Body.  

HAROLD UNDERDOWN: There’s a story behind the “Number Tours for Curious Kids” series, and it starts with how we met. Do you remember?

JENNIFER BERNE: Yes! As my children’s writing career was developing, your name kept popping up. I saw you had authored The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Publishing Children’s Books. I came across your Purple Crayon website. I noticed that you ran workshops and retreats. You were friends with many of my author and illustrator friends. And then, through the Facebook KidLit411 group, we began to get to know each other. That sparked a whole bunch of side messages about everything from kids’ books to nature to cosmology to archaeology. Those mini-conversations evolved into emails, and into a budding friendship. And ultimately, to our collaborations.

HU: One of which was a secret project! How did that come about?

JB: One of our most productive side conversations started with a humorous little rhyme you incorporated into a Facebook post. I decided to write my own version of it, and before we knew it we were tossing around a book idea. That grew into a project we decided to develop together — a book not for kids, but for adults! But, because it’s still out in the world, and might even become a book someday, I’m going to keep our secret a secret for now!

HU: Then I landed at Kane Press. What was your reaction?

JB: It opened up a whole new door for me — and gave me the solution to an idea I just couldn’t work out previously.

I had been trying to write a book about numbers, and how they tell so many stories, and reveal so many fascinating details — about everything. It was obviously too much to try and squeeze into a single book. And then you started talking about series, and asking for series proposals. A lightbulb lit up in my head. Of course — my idea was too big for one book, but just right for a series!

HU: What’s the idea driving the series? Why did you take that approach?

JB: The idea was to create a book series in the form of narrated tours of nonfiction subjects — ranging from the human body to outer space to every animal and every thing that’s ever existed — using the amazing numbers found in each subject to explore and explain its most fascinating facts and curiosities.

I wanted the books to be enjoyable reading and not overwhelm kids with too many details. I would curate the information to select the most interesting and most mind-blowing facts. And I realized that using numbers was the way to bring those facts to life. For instance, did you know that our human bodies have over 60,000 miles of blood vessels, enough to circle the world more than twice? Numbers make it fun!

HU: Once we had the series concept pinned down, do you remember how we selected the specific subjects we wanted to write about, and especially which one we wanted to start with?

JB: That was one of the most challenging parts of this series. There was basically everything in the universe to select from — all of science, nature, culture and history. So where do we start? I wrote a very long list!

We decided to begin with some of the most universal and broadest subjects, and leave the more obscure or narrowly specific ones for later, even though they ALL seemed interesting! 

We narrowed our list down to two for the initial tours. The Human Body, and Outer Space. And since A Tour of the Human Body was about the readers themselves, that seemed like a great way to kick off the series.

After doing all the research, the Human Body turned out to be a great choice. Its facts and the numbers that brought them to life were even more amazing, surprising and fascinating than I had imagined. And illustrated by Dawn DeVries Sokol, the book became really exciting! So now, I can’t wait for all those readers out there, young and old, to see what we’ve created!

A Tour of the Human Body is available now!


This picture book for young readers is a tour of the human body revealing the wonders of how it all works — with some astonishing numbers and fascinating facts along the way.

From our eyes to our toes, kids will find out what makes the human body tick in this engaging STEM nonfiction book. They’ll discover that our hearts beat 100,000 times a day, which equals 36 MILLION times a year. And that our tongue’s 8,000 taste buds can detect only 5 flavors. And that we have 60,000 miles of blood vessels, enough to circle the world more than twice!

Noted children’s author Jennifer Berne shares these remarkable facts and numbers  alongside vivid informative illustrations by Dawn DeVries Sokol, resulting in a book that will transport kids on an entertainingly educational journey.