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Book Review: Just One Bite by Lola M. Schaefer

This fabulous, life-sized introduction to what animals eat, how they eat it, and how much they eat in a single bite is full of compelling facts and images. From the tiny sand-grain-sized bite of earth that the earthworm takes to the double-gatefold spread of a sperm whale sucking a whole giant squid down in just one bite, this book and the eleven animals in it are EXACTLY as large as life!

From a child’s point of view, Just One Bite is a very simple book-the text is short, the illustrations are big and colorful-but it hides a tremendous amount of painstaking work on both the author and artist’s part. Because all of the illustrations are life-size, Lola checked and re-checked the measurements of every detail with experts, and the artist fine-tuned the art meticulously to be sure that what the book offers children is true.

“Writing about nature is great fun!” says Lola. “Not only do I get to excite readers about the world around them, and hopefully ignite an interest that will take them into investigations of their own, but I learn so much about my topic.

“This book began during a car trip that my husband and I were taking to visit one of our sons. It started with the basic “I wonder” thought. I wonder how much nectar a butterfly actually eats in one sip. I wonder how much an elephant eats in one bite.

“Pretty soon a structure appeared-start with the smallest animal and go to the largest. I queried scientists and curators around the world to learn the size of teeth, mouths and the amount of food these animals eat. And don’t forget that even experts sometimes disagree. So, part of the research process is spent looking at the actual fieldwork of the contributors. In other words, who has had the most face time with these creatures?

The end matter of this book reflects only a small portion of the information gathered. I hope it is some of the most interesting to the reader.”


Illustrated by Geoff Waring

Chronicle Books, 2010

Picture book, ages 4-8

32 pages


Most grandparents want to pass along a love of the natural world to their grandchildren. Just One Bite captures children’s attention and ignites their interest and curiosity about these animals, as well as others. By fostering an appreciation for all life and its role in the balance of nature, we help create future caretakers of the planet.

This book has that WOW factor since Chronicle uses gatefolds to show the exact size of the larger animals’ mouths, teeth, jaw and the amount of food eaten in one bite. The artwork by Geoff Waring is bold and beautiful.


Lola M. Schaefer is the award-winning author of more than 250 books for children. Her book FRANKIE STEIN won the 2008 Children’s Choice Book Award. Lola has also published twelve Professional Resource books with Scholastic that assist teachers with writing instruction in elementary and middle school classrooms. A frequent presenter in schools, Lola enjoys the opportunity to dialogue with students, writer-to-writer, as well as offer writing demonstration lessons and coaching to the faculty.

Lola M. Schaefer was born July 23, 1950 in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Her parents read to her from an early age and she quickly become an avid reader of biographies, science books and fiction, especially adventure stories. Lola never had any opportunities to write poetry or stories while in school. At that time, the only writing she knew was reports – reports on dead presidents, dead explorers, dead inventors. She never met an author, or heard one speak. It never occurred to her that she might enjoy writing, or one day become an author herself.

Lola received her BS in Education in 1972 from Indiana University, and her MS in Education in 1984 from IU. She taught grades K-5 and 7 during her 18+ years as a classroom teacher. During this time she began offering keynotes and workshops on the art of teaching writing at national, regional and local conferences. Since 1998, Lola has been a national writing consultant, working in classrooms in grades K-8. Between 2002-2005, she was an associate professor at Indiana-Purdue University at Fort Wayne, offering graduate classes on writing instruction in the elementary classroom.

Today, Lola M. Schaefer divides her time between writing, speaking and staff development. She continues to publish books in a variety of formats. Her MITTENS series with HarperCollins I Can Read books now has five titles and is still growing. She publishes novelty board books with Little Simon (Simon & Schuster) and picture books with Marshall Cavendish, Greenwillow Books (HPC), Henry Holt, Chronicle Books and Hyperion. Book awards include several state reader awards and the Outstanding Science Trade Book for Students K-12 for ARROWHAWK. An ISLAND GROWS was a Charlotte Zolotow Award Honor Book and LOOSE TOOTH won the 2007 Garden State Children’s Book Award for Easy Reader.

Lola and her husband Ted live in the mountains of north Georgia near Amicalola Falls where they enjoy hiking, canoeing and reading. For more information, please see www.lolaschaefer.com


Christine Crosby

About the author

Christine is the co-founder and editorial director for GRAND Magazine. She is the grandmother of five and great-grandmom (aka Grandmere) to one. She makes her home in St. Petersburg, Florida.

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