The rest of the story . . .

The Story Behind Down in the Jungle

(You can skip to the rest of the story by scrolling directly down to the line below. Or you can start from the beginning again right here, if you prefer.)


I love words. Mysterious words that conjure up different worlds. Words that let you know precisely what's happening. Chewy words that sound like what they're describing. 


For a time, I collected words on sticky notes that I stuck on my office wall. They looked down on me whenever I sat at my desk and unobtrusively wormed their way into my writing. 

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The story continues here . . . 


One day an entire phrase arrived, unannounced, in my head: 


where hyenas howl at the man in the moon


Where had that come from? I hadn't been hanging out with any hyenas. And it was broad daylight; not a moon to be seen anywhere. 


But it was such a curious, evocative phrase, I started playing with it, wondering about it, stretching it like silly putty until I could hear some of the other phrases on either side of it. 


The words that came had a certain rhythm and evoked particular pictures. I kept listening and jotting down what I heard and rearranging and adding and subtracting and whispering . . . speaking . . . singing them into the air around me until they gelled into this rollicking romp through rhythm and rhyme. The language is so much fun! And the final message is beautiful, too. 


I didn't know that following that hyena howl would result in a love song to imagination and  motherhood, but there you go. That's the magic and mystery of the writing life. 

Lyndsay's illustrations perfectly capture Jake's joyful search for the ultimate treasure.

Lyndsay's illustrations perfectly capture Jake's joyful search for the ultimate treasure.