Guest Post by Maria Gianferrari and Terrific Tongues Giveaway

We are so excited to welcome Maria Gianferrari to the blog today to talk about her brand-new nonfiction book, Terrific Tongues! I have read Terrific Tongues and absolutely love it ~ I have purchased it and added it to my school library.

Kate Olson


More about the book…….and see below for the GIVEAWAY!

Thank you to Kate Olson aka The Loud Library Lady for her boisterous support in helping me to celebrate the release of my first expository nonfiction title, Terrific Tongues!

The Story Behind the Story

This story began long ago—in 2004 if you can believe it! At the time, we were living in Berlin, Germany for my husband’s sabbatical, and my then toddler was completely obsessed with tongues. Every tongue in every book we read, or dog we passed on the street, or creatures we saw in aquariums or zoos were enthusiastically greeted with the German word for tongue, “Zunge!” I started to wonder about tongues, and came upon some fascinating information as I began to do some preliminary research. She was right—tongues were cool!

The story actually began as a poem, and some of those elements remain on the book’s penultimate spread with the tongue’s various functions. After reading a ton of mentor texts, the one which helped me find the best and most fun way to tell the story was Steve Jenkins and Robin Page’s classic, What Do You Do With A Tail Like This?

The then toddler is now 16, so that gives you an idea how long this took from idea to finished book! The manuscript sold in 2013, and then there were some delays at the publisher—editors came and went, and then it took some time to find just the right illustrator. In the end I couldn’t be more delighted that they chose Jia Liu, and she agreed to illustrate. I love her vivid and whimsical illustrations. This is one of my favorite spreads in the book.


Here Are A Few Cool Things I Learned While Researching the Book

Woodpecker Tongues

To get at those pesky and hard to reach insects, a woodpecker’s tongue must be longer than its beak. The red-bellied woodpecker’s tongue is 3x the length of its beak. And when it retracts—get this—it forks in the throat, goes under the base of the jaw and wraps around the bird’s eye and head and into the bird’s right nostril like in this photo:

(Photo credit: Hilton Pond Center)

It gives new meaning to “tongue in cheek”😉.


Here’s a photo of an okapi eating.

I discovered an animal I didn’t know about before:  okapis! They’re related to giraffes (not zebras), and they live in Central Africa. Their tongues can be 18” long—so long that they can wash their eyes and ears like a washcloth! And they’re sticky too, perfect for grabbing leaves.

     And here’s Jia’s version of the okapi.

Photo4-Liu okapi

Nectarivorous Bats

Photo credit: Cally Harper

Nectarivorous (nectar-feeding) bats have the most AMAZING tongues! The Pallas long-tongued bat has a hairy mop-like tongue, but a specific type: a string mop. Researchers studying it discovered that the hairs lie flat until the tongue is extended. But after the bat sticks out its tongue, the stand up straight. The nectar gets collected in those spaces between the hairs when they’re drinking. Here’s a close-up eletron micrograph photo of the tongue.

And here’s a time lapse video  from the New York Times of it drinking.


Thank you Kate/Loud Library Lady for letting me celebrate cool creature tongues. And thank you Boyds Mills Press for generously donating a copy of Terrific Tongues for one of Kate’s US readers!


Processed with VSCOcam with a5 preset

Maria would love an air conditioner-like tongue to combat Virginia’s hot and humid summers, or a tongue like a straw for sipping cold ice tea! But she’ll make do with kisses from her rescue mutt, Becca. Terrific Tongues is Maria’s first book with Boyds Mills Press. She is also the author of the Penny & Jelly books, Coyote MoonOfficer Katz & Houndini and Hello Goodbye Dog. Maria lives in Virginia with her scientist husband, artist daughter, and writing companion, Becca. You can find Maria on Instagram, her website and on Facebook.


To enter to WIN a copy of this book from the publisher, please comment on this post telling us who you want to read this book to! Simple as that!

1 entry per person, US addresses only. Giveaway closes at 12 NOON CST on Friday, April 13, 2018.

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19 thoughts on “Guest Post by Maria Gianferrari and Terrific Tongues Giveaway

Add yours

  1. I would love to read this book to my 2nd grade classes! They are intrigued with unique animal characteristics and love learning new information!


  2. I’d live to read this to my 8 year old niece, as well as my fourth grade class! I’d also share it with other classes at my school.


  3. I would love to read Terrific Tongues to my preschool class! We have a few students that are also obsessed with information about tongues since we learned about them during our 5 senses unit. 🙂


  4. I would love to read this to my elementary school students. 2nd through 4th grade is currently focusing on non-fiction titles and they love Steve Jenkins titles!


  5. I would love to read this with my elementary students in the library! Specifically 2nd through 4th because they have been focusing on non-fiction text features and love Steve Jenkins books!


  6. I just had the pleasure of feedinga giraffe over break and his tongue was so long! Would love to show the picture I have to my students and then read to them more about animals and their tongues!

    Liked by 1 person

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