Posted by: nancyisanders | October 29, 2015

Nonfiction for Children’s Magazines: One Topic with Many Examples

A third format that you’ll see for nonfiction articles in children’s magazines is where you choose one “topic” and give multiple “examples.” For example, I wrote an article about “noses” and included information about a dozen or so different animal (and people) noses!

Here’s the article that I got published in Clubhouse Jr.’s March 2009 issue:

Nosey Neighbors
by Nancy I. Sanders

Imagine carrying a heavy load or digging in the dirt…with your nose!
Take a look at these useful and unusual noses, and you’ll see evidence of God’s amazing design!

Who knows what a nose can do? God does. He created most animals with noses, but not every nose was made for the same purpose. From dogs and cats to giraffes and gorillas, animals use their noses for breathing and smelling. But many noses have a unique shape and design that help their owners survive or do special things.

The star-nosed mole has 22 pink tentacles around its nose. These highly sensitive feelers wriggle non-stop to help the mole hunt for small fish, snails, and leeches along the edge of swamps or under water.

Marsupial moles tunnel through the sandy deserts of Australia. A horn-like pad on the mole’s nose acts as a shield and helps it push aside the sand as it digs.

Pigs dig around in the dirt with their noses looking for tasty roots and grubs to eat. A pig’s snout ends in a flat, round disc that makes a great little shovel for digging as it searches for food.

Many bats use echolocation to find insects or small animals when they hunt at night. Making a series of clicks and squeaks, bats measure the size and distance of their prey by echoes—or sounds that bounce back to them.

The false vampire bat has a large nose-leaf, or piece of skin, around its nose. This helps the bat focus its calls and locate dinner.

Birds that dive underwater, such as cormorants, have nostrils on their beak that are sealed permanently closed and watertight. The cormorant breathes through its mouth, instead.

Camels’ noses are specially designed for life in the hot, sandy desert. During a dust storm, their nostrils close to keep out pesky grains of sand.

The bottlenose dolphin doesn’t breathe out of its “nose.” Instead, this playful animal rises above the ocean waves to catch a breath of air through the blowhole located on top of its head. It can use its pointy nose for protection by ramming enemies.

Some whales have two blowholes. When a whale comes up for air, it blows an explosion of warm air and water out of its blowhole like a fountain.

Sniffers of the Deep
The sawfish uses its saw-like snout to slash through a school of fish. It then gobbles up the fish that fall to the bottom.

The angler has a flashlight attached to the end of its nose! In the dark ocean depths, this “light” attracts a breakfast of small fish.

A male hooded seal inflates his large nose to make a loud roar that can be heard from one end of the beach to the other.

What a Big Nose You Have!
The longest nose of all belongs to the elephant. The elephant’s trunk is a combination of its upper lip and nose. It is flexible enough to pluck leaves off a branch and powerful enough to lift a heavy log.

The elephant breathes through its trunk, which it can also use for other special things. An elephant uses its trunk like a snorkel when it swims under water. An elephant can also drink water using its trunk. To take a dust bath, it sucks up dust from the ground in its trunk, reaches its trunk up over its head, and then blows the dust over its back. This behavior protects the elephant’s sensitive skin from sunburn and insects.

The tip of an Asiatic elephant’s trunk has a fingerlike growth. The African elephant’s trunk has two. These “fingers” are useful for picking up small objects.

Your Wonderful Nose
Your own nose has important jobs to do. It helps you breathe air into your lungs and smell everything from a yummy apple pie to a stinky skunk. Your nose even has its very own cleaning system!

Just inside the two openings of your nose, called nostrils, short hairs help trap dust out of the air that you breathe. Sticky mucous farther inside your nose traps smaller pieces of dust.

This mucous provides important protection for your body by killing certain kinds of germs you breathe into your nose.

Achoo! A sneeze is a reflex or automatic reaction to help clear your clogged breathing passages. It’s also your body’s attempt to get rid of pesky germs. Cover your nose when you sneeze, or use a tissue. Otherwise your germs spread through the air or land in places someone else might touch.

*******************************************
If you decide to write and submit a nonfiction article about one topic with a variety of examples to Clubhouse Jr. like I did, here are some tips:

They like quirky, lively text.

Note how it’s written in Second Person POV (Point of View). In other words, “Imagine carrying a heavy load or digging in the dirt…with your nose!”

With an article like this, they like an engaging introduction to the topic before you start giving the examples.

When I submitted this article in 2009, 750 words was okay. Now they’re looking for nonfiction that tops at 600 words, according to their submission guidelines.


Responses

  1. Wonderful! 😉

    • Glad you’re finding these posts helpful, Tracy!

  2. Hi Nancy. Thanks you for sharing this with us. I do have an article similar to this one. I sent it to Humpty Dumpty magazine in June and haven’t heard anything. Should I wait or move on? Also I would love to find a critique group just for childrens writers. Do you have any suggestions?

    Thanks!

    • Glad you’re already going out there and submitting, Cheryl. Good for you! And in the publishing world right now, after 3 months of silence, we can assume they did not accept your submission. Yes, you can move on. If you get your article accepted by Clubhouse Jr. the typical contract say you are free to publish it elsewhere 60 days after it is published in Clubhouse Jr because they only purchase first rights. (This isn’t legal advice, lol, I’m just sharing how my contracts work with them.)

      And how to find a critique group just for children’s writers…Hmmm. I’ve started numerous ones over the years because I couldn’t find any close enough to my house to join! Here are some strategies I did:
      1) Met with 2 other children’s writers I met at a local conference
      2) Advertised in the local newspaper that I was starting a critique group at my local library for children’s writers
      3) E-mailed several writers I was familiar with in Facebook groups and invited them to join an online group I formed

      You can also contact your local SCBWI regional advisor and ask if they have critique groups meeting in your region or online. For more info, go to scbwi dot org

      Hope that helps and you can get plugged in!

  3. These posts are so practical and helpful, Nancy. Thanks for sharing your experience with us!


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