The Lost Forest
I have a special treat today … MUF gets the exclusive opportunity to reveal the gorgeous new cover for The Lost Forest (Millbrook Press, April 2, 2024) Check this out!
What’s even better about today’s cover reveal is that this is the latest work from MUF’s very own Jennifer Swanson, and is a JLG gold standard book.
About The Lost Forest:
Dive into the unexpected! Have you ever heard of an underwater forest? They are rare, but they exist. Ancient stumps stand tall in a secret location, hidden from view for more than 60,000 years.
Take a deep dive with scientists exploring a sunken cypress forest that had been undisturbed in the Gulf of Mexico since the last Ice Age. Page Plus links lead to videos of the scientists at work.
In addition to getting our MUF exclusive cover reveal, I got a chance to chat with my friend and colleague Jen abotu writing her newest amazing book.
Interview with Jen Swanson
HMC: Congratulations, Jennifer! And congratulations on your Junior Library Guild Selection! Your book sounds really cool. An underwater forest? What is that exactly?
JS: Yes, most people don’t think that forests can be found underwater, but of course, they can. Most underwater forests are kelp, which sort of looks like big, wavy, palm trees that look like seaweed.
But the forest that these scientists studied is an ancient cypress forest. Cypress trees are normally found above ground, not under the water. That’s why this is so special. There are still partially standing trees—some as tall as 6 feet—in the water. This ancient forest is believed to have been covered by silt and sand for almost 60,000 years.
HMC: So the description says that this was a secret underwater forest. Why is it secret?
This forest was revealed in 2018 after Hurricane Ivan went through the Gulf of Mexico. It was discovered by accident by fishermen who saw that this area had a lot of fish around it. The fish were feeding off of the creatures that were living in and around the forest.
The cypress forest is a treasure trove of information about the environment in the Gulf of Mexico. It needs to be preserved and studied. But the cypress trees are also very valuable, so the exact location was initially kept secret so that companies would not harvest the wood and make furniture out of it.
HMC: How did you become aware of this story?
One of the lead scientists on the only team chosen to do research on the site is a good friend of mine. Dr. Brian Helmuth was the expert on my Astronaut-Aquanaut book. We’ve stayed in touch since that book and I’ve visited his lab in Nahant, MA. Once he learned that his team was chosen to be the ones to do the research, he called me and asked me if I was interested in writing their story. WAS I? Absolutely! It was a truly wonderful experience.
HMC: What was the most exciting thing about writing this book?
JS: The scientists on this project made me a part of their actual team. I was invited to attend several of their planning meetings, and was even invited to go out on one of their research trips to the forest. Unfortunately, I was not able to do so, but I got tons of access to them, their data, and all of their photos and videos. They made me an honorary aquanaut, which to me, is a huge honor!
HMC: What do you have coming up next?
JS: I’m excited to see my first ever narrative nonfiction picture book biography come out next year. It’s called, Up Periscope: How Engineer Raye Montague Revolutionized Shipbuilding (Little Brown BFYR). The book is illustrated by the fabulous Veronica Jameson and follow the life of the U.S. Navy’s Hidden Figure, Raye Montague. The amazing Ms. Montague was the first person to figure to develop a computer program to design a ship. Before that, everyone had to make calculations by hand and it too months and months. This is the very inspiring story of how Raye faced many challenges to accomplish this amazing feat. The book releases November 2, 2024.
HMC: Where can everyone learn more about you and your other books about STEM?
JS: You can find information about me, my books, and tons of STEM resources including free teacher guides, videos for students, and learn about my podcast, Solve It! for Kids at my website: https://jenniferswansonbooks.com/
HMC: Thanks again, Jen and congratulations!