Friday, 10 May 2013

Yay! Shark Teeth! The pleasures of a picture book hobby, by Jane Clarke


For as long as I can remember, I've collected fossils.

When we lived in the south of the Netherlands, the easiest fossils to find were the fossil sharks’ teeth that washed up on the seashore near Cadzand, Zeeland. Soon I had a collection of large-ish ones to put on the shelf behind the downstairs loo:


I found out a lot of cool facts about fossil sharks and sharks in general -  for example, in a lifetime, a shark can  get through more than 10,000 teeth. When I was thinking of a picture book story that required two inseparable friends, a great white shark and a remora were the first things that popped into my head. I was thrilled when my story was paired with Charles Fuge's wonderful illustrations.


After I moved back to England, two more sharky stories came along:













On my birthday, I was given a huge fossil tooth  - no loo shelf for this one, it sits in pride of place on my desk.



It was fabulous to discover that, in Florida, you can pick up fossil sharks' teeth on a warm sunny beach! Here’s a handful of small ones I found at Manasota Key, near Venice, Florida. They're great giveaways whenever I sign a Gilbert book.


I've become a regular visitor to Florida, and I'm always discovering fake sharks and jaws you can stick your head in!





You can leap out of your canoe and pan for fossil sharks teeth on the bed of the Peace River, 


and follow that with key lime pie floating on streaks of raspberry blood and topped with a gummy shark at Sharky’s on the Pier, Venice FL! 


Do picture book related hobbies get any better than this?


Jane's website
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20 comments:

  1. I'm so pleased to be the first to comment on your exciting blog, Jane. How different and imaginative - just like you. I shall be looking out for sharks teeth from now on.

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  2. Wow! You can pick up shark's teeth from the beach? I'm off! I love the idea of relating your interest to your book, Jane. It's an inspiring path. (And your loo display is awesome).

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    1. Thanks,Moira, every loo should have one..or two..or more...

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  3. Well, I belly dance and fence and I'd love to include those in a book but I've never quite managed it....we collect fossils though ! I love near the amazing fossil beach at Bracklesham but we've only ever found 2 shark teeth! They're gold dust down here, I am so jealous!

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    1. Now there's a challenge - belly dancing and fencing in the same story :-)

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  4. Wow! Shark teeth! I wish I knew where to find those in the UK. I have a couple of amonite bits from a walk near Charmouth years ago but shark teeth are way more cool.
    I illustrated a shark pop-up book years ago, about one who had no teeth. . . maybe the teeth you found were his. . . ?

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    1. Lol Jonathan. They say Herne Bay in Kent at very low tide is the UK hot spot for sharks teeth, but I haven't checked it out yet.

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  5. I don't know if you remember taking me shark-tooth-collecting, Jane? It was one of the most exciting things I've done - at least it was after I got my eye in. That took a couple of hours, I recall, while you were picking one up every few yards. I do envy you that big birthday tooth.

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    1. I remember, Val - you'll have to join me in Florida next time :-)

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  6. A couple of places you've mentioned I've been to and I never knew you could look for shark teeth. Hopefully one day I'll go back and this time I'll be on the look out.

    My first book (A Book For Bramble) came from the work I do with rescuing hedgehogs. Not as exciting as sharks teeth and not a pleasant (hedgehogs really do smell).

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    1. Hedgehogs look a lot cuter, though

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  7. Great blog, Jane. Gilbert is a favourite with us.
    I'm staggered a single shark can get through 10,000 teeth in a lifetime. Do they go on the attack when they're teething because they want something to suck? And why can't we have a few more sets of teeth?!

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  8. Great post, Jane. The greatest inspiration is often right in front of us, found close in heart to the things we love to do. Thanks for the reminder. Off now to reflect upon and find inspiration in my own version of shark teeth!

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  9. I know nothing about shark's teeth, but I have been keeping a look out for fossilised dinosaur poo because our house is very close to where they mined for corprolates that went into fertilizer and then WW1 explosives. It intrigues me that dinosaurs presumably all did their poos in one place. Hmm. Hadn't thought of it as a picture book subject, but.....?!

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    1. Laughed. I've often thought (as you do) that dinos must have created huge piles of poo, but I didn't know the fossil remains were explosive. Sounds like a picture book with great poo-tential :-)

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    2. What a wonderful thought - a giant, explosive community dinosaur dunghill!

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  10. I love your Gilbert books! Thanks for sharing the hobby behind them :)

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  11. That's a lot of teeth, Jane, what a great collection. Loved this post.
    I have rather a lot of elephants, not life-size but made of all sorts of materials - ceramic, etched in glass, made of cork, volcanic rock, wood, cloth etc etc.. I just can't resist them.
    Possibly why the main character in 'What Colour is Love?' (Small, Smooth and Grey), just had to be an elephant.

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    1. That's a lovely hobby to go with a lovely book, Linda.

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  12. I love the fact that you give shark teeth away when you sign a Gilbert book - what a lovely idea!

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