Posted by: Kathy Temean | June 23, 2020

Book Giveaway: BEASTLY BIONICS: Rad Robots, Brilliant Biomimicry, and Incredible Inventions Inspired by Nature

Jennifer Swanson has a new non-ficiton picture book, BEASTLY BIONICS, published by National Geographic Kids. Jennifer has agreed to share a copy with one lucky winner. All you have to do to get in the running is leave a comment. Reblog, tweet, or talk about it on Facebook with a link and you will get additional chances to win. Just let me know the other things you do to share the good news, so I can put in the right amount of tickets in my basket for you.

Sharing on Facebook, Twitter, reblogging really helps spread the word for a new book. Thanks for helping Jennifer, especially at this stressful time when authors and illustrators need to promote their books completely online.

If you have signed up to follow my blog and it is delivered to you everyday, please let me know when you leave a comment and I will give you an extra ticket. Thanks!


Discover how the natural world inspires innovation in science and technology to create the latest and greatest breakthroughs and discoveries in this exciting book.

Did you know that scientists have developed a bionic tool shaped like an elephant’s trunk that helps lift heavy objects? Or that the needle-like pointed beak of the kingfisher bird encouraged engineers in Japan to change the design of the Shinkansen “bullet trains” to reduce noise? Across multiple fields of study and methods of problem-solving, scientists are turning to biomimicry, or engineering inspired by biology or nature, to make all kinds of cool technological advancements. From robots that protect people and gather information to everyday inventions, like reflectors on the roads and ice-proof coatings for airplanes, to new sources of renewable energy, this book dives into the ways that nature can give us ideas on how to improve our world. Discover more than 40 examples of technology influenced by animals, learn about some of the incredible creatures who have inspired multiple creations, and meet some of the scientists and the stories behind their inventions.



The journey for all of my books about science start in the same way, back when I was a kid. I have loved science my whole life. When I was 7 years old, I started a science club in my garage. I used to look at flowers and leaves through the microscope my mom bought me to see if I could discover how they were made. My dad had a work bench back then and I was right there with my brothers making cars, gadgets, and all kinds of little inventions. For those of you that remember, MacGyver was one of my favorite shows growing up, too. When I began writing professionally (many years later), it only seemed natural that I write about the STEM/STEAM topics I love.

I’ve discovered that my favorite type of books to write are the ones about engineering and technology, because that’s what fascinates me. Learning how engineers and scientists identify a problem and then set about solving it is just amazing to me.

When I discovered the field of biomimicry, the science of studying nature and then mimicking it to create something helpful to humans, I was hooked. I started the research and got more and more excited. There was SO MUCH being done in this field. I knew I had to share it with young readers.

I wrote up a quick proposal and sent it to my National Geographic Kids editor. She was very interested, particularly because NGKids prides themselves on introducing awesome STEM/STEAM topics to kids. Add to that their amazing photographers and photo editors, and I’m thrilled to say that this book turned out to be a vivid and unique look at an exciting STEM field.

When you’re writing a tech-heavy book for kids, the big question is, where do you start? Of course, the goal is to present your topic in the most unique and exciting way.

For that, I always ask myself one question—

“If I were a 10-year-old kid, what would I want to know about biomimicry/bionics? ”

That question has served me well for many of my books. For example, in my Save the Crash-test Dummies book, it is the history of car safety engineering told through the lens of a crash-test dummy. And in my Astronaut-Aquanaut book it gave readers a unique compare and contrast look at two distinctly different environments.

But while those two books had some narrative in them, Beastly Bionics lent itself to a highly expository structure. For two reasons—

  1. I wanted to put in as many inventions as possible.
  2. Almost all of the inventions in the book are still in development. Not many of them have made it out of the prototype stage yet.

So I settled on an invention a spread. Each page has different sections in as you can see below. Each one explains a different part of the process.

They are:

Design Dilemma

Building Bionics

Helpful Additions

Did You Know?

Because I think STEM/STEAM books are best when they are a bit of both expository and narrative, each chapter starts out with a little story

For me, the excitement of this topic is what work is being done NOW. I felt very strongly that this book should not just include technology that has been proven, but also technology that is still in the creative process. I want to show young readers what is possible and how they can imagine something and work to make it a reality. The idea is a bit revolutionary in terms of children’s books, because most books cover information that has already been proven. Thankfully, my But National Geographic Kids editor agreed.

There is one section in each chapter that addresses more in-depth how the engineer or scientist developed the idea. This was my way of showing kids how the creator thought up this project. And hopefully, they will be surprised at just what gave the engineer/scientist their idea.

I hope they see this book as an exciting peek into the laboratories of actual science and engineering being created as they “watch”.  The book was structured to introduce the readers to the animals, and their unique characteristics that can help humans, and then how the engineers and scientists used that as inspiration to create these robots. This book will hopefully engage readers and get them to think about the world around them and be inspired by what they see. After all, nature is an amazingly wonderful template filled with awesome animals to mimic.

How would I love this book to be used by teachers/librarians? Allow your student’s imaginations to soar. Ask them to go out, find an animal, observe it, and then design a bionic invention from that animal that could help someone. I’d love to know, — What would YOU design?


Jennifer began her writing career at the age of five when she wrote and illustrated books for her kindergarten class. A self-professed science geek, Jennifer has always been captivated by the world around her and is curious to understand how it works. As a young childe she used to gather leaves and flowers and look at them under a microscope, wade through her backyard creek, and tromp through woods. She has carried that love of science her whole life.

Jennifer has a B.S. in chemistry from the U. S. Naval Academy and an M.S. Ed in K-8 science from Walden University. In addition to being an award-winning author, she is also a middle school science instructor for John Hopkins University’s Center for Talented Youth.

Now, Jennifer Swanson is the award winning author of over 40+ nonfiction books for children, mostly about science and technology. Jennifer’s love of STEM began when she started a science club in her garage at the age of 7. While no longer working from the garage, Jennifer’s passion for science and technology resonates in all her books but especially, BRAIN GAMES (NGKids) and SUPER GEAR: Nanotechnology and Sports Team Up (Charlesbridge), Astronaut-Aquanaut, and Save the Crash-test Dummies. Her books have received many accolades including the starred reviews, Booklist Best Tech books list, Green Earth Book Honor Award, a Florida Book Award, and multiple California Reading Association awards, and National Science Teaching BEST STEM awards. her BRAIN GAMES book was even #13 on the The 50 Best Science books Ever Written.

Jennifer, Thank you for sharing your book and journey with us. It seems everyone is fascinated with nature and the creatures in our world. I love that you brought science and technology together and show us how studying nature and then mimicking it can create something helpful to humans. I know kids and adults will be drawn to this book. Good luck!

Talk tomorrow,



  1. Thanks, Jennifer, for sharing all this fascinating info about how you came to write this book and how you developed a creative and informative approach to the content you wanted to include. NG did a great job with the design and stunning photos to complement your text. Kids will love this book!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Kathy, thank you for interviewing Jennifer about her book. Jennifer. wow! I love this—the approach and the information. I would have loved it when I was a kid, too. Totally fascinating for animal lovers and an inspiration for budding inventors! Knowing there are real people making these connections and developing wonderful solutions. My favorites from this entry vary by the second, they are all so compelling.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. What a fascinating topic, Jennifer! Not only will children love reading your book, but adults will, too! I know I want it in my library. This is sure to encourage kids to look at animals in a different way and show them that science is amazing.

    What a wonderful interview! I subscribe to your blog, Kathy, and look forward to reading every post.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This sounds like an excellent exploration for kids interested in STEM books and for those who don’t think they are too. Thanks for the chance to win a copy.
    I’ve tweeted a link to this post:, and pinned an image on Pinterest with a link as well:
    I also follow your blog daily by email: crs(at)codedivasites(dot)com.
    Thanks again, have a great day!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This looks so fascinating!! I’m a follower of the blog 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I *love* Jennifer’s work and this book looks amazing!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Does anyone know how to submit a book for review/giveaway to this blog? I don’t see that information anywhere.


    • Natasha,

      Send me and email kathy(dot) Tell me about the book and that you would like to be featured. You will have to write the books’ journey and send the winner a copy of the book. Put BOOK GIVEAWAY in the subject area and I will get back to you. Hope this means you have a new book coming out.



  8. This topic has always fascinated me (I even wrote about a few robotic canine inventions for a book sidebar), and I’m excited to read Jennifer’s new book–she’s definitely the perfect author for it! The colorful spreads are so kid-friendly that this book won’t remain on the shelf for long. Kathy, thanks for another intriguing interview (I also subscribe to your blog).

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I just love the NatGeoKids books. This one looks terrific. I will never feel quite the same about surgical glue, though. Thanks for the post.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. This book looks awesome! (I tweeted and I’m signed up for email updates, too.)

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I enjoyed the back story of how this book came to be. Congrats!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Fascinating! I love Jennifer’s books and how they create excitement and enthusiasm for STEM/STEAM topics!! I follow your wonderful blog, Kathy, and retweeted on Twitter.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. This is extremely interesting, Jennifer! I love the layout. For those of us who didn’t excel in this subject area (ahem!) I certainly wish we had this material when I was a kiddo. It would have been a huge motivator for me! This is fantastic for all ages! Cher 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  14. This book looks fascinating! It has also inspired me in my writing. (I am also signed up to your blog)

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Wow! Congrats, Jennifer! You should be very proud. The book looks brilliant.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. This is a pretty awesome book! Can’t wait to read it! Congrats!

    Sharing on Twitter and I follow by email. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Thank you all for your kind words about my book! I’m so glad you like it and hope that your kids will as well. I love learning about cool technology, so this book was really exciting for me to write. Enjoy! Best, Jennifer Swanson


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