Posted by: Kathy Temean | October 6, 2020

Book Giveaway: BIONIC BEASTS by Jolene Gutiérrez

Jolene Gutiérrez has written a new non-fiction picture book, BIONIC BEASTS, published by Millbrook Press and today is the book’s launch day. Jolene 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 other things you do to share the good news, so I can put the right amount of tickets in my basket for you. Sharing on Facebook, Twitter or reblogging really helps spread the word for a new book. So, thanks for helping Jolene.

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!


What happens when a young elephant steps on a buried land mine? What happens when a sea turtle’s flipper is injured by a predator? Thanks to recent advances in technology, we have new ways to design and build prosthetic body parts that can help these animals thrive.

Meet an Asian elephant named Mosha, a Kemp’s ridley sea turtle named Lola, a German Shepherd named Cassidy, a greylag goose named Vitória, and Pirate, a Berkshire-Tamworth pig. Each of these animals was struggling, but through a variety of techniques and technologies, humans created devices that enabled the animals to live and move more comfortably. Discover the stories of how veterinarians, doctors, and even students from around the world used 3D printing and other techniques to build bionic body parts for these amazing animals.


My Bionic Beasts book journey started in 2018 when Millbrook/Lerner Publishing editor Carol Hinz put out a call for STEM picture books. I’d never written a nonfiction picture book, but so many STEM topics are fascinating to me that I decided to give it a try! I chose to write about animals with prosthetic limbs/body parts because I grew up on a farm where animals that were injured were usually “put down.” As a girl, I read Charlotte’s Web and wanted to be like Fern. I’ve always loved animals and I wanted to share the stories of others who used science, technology, and innovation to help animals. So I wrote a 1,000 word picture book titled Bionic Beasts and explored some of these stories.

FAE Hospital

Within a few months, I heard back from Carol. She asked if I’d be willing to expand the book from a picture book to a middle grade book. She wrote, “I could envision it having, say, five chapters that each tell the story of a different animal and can get into more detail and more of the science behind how each of the prosthetics works.” Carol asked me to write up a proposal and include an outline for the book and a sample chapter. I’d never written a nonfiction middle grade book or a nonfiction book proposal, but I was excited to have more space to tell these important stories.

In March 2019, I received a contract! I’d been working on my research and connections before I received the contract because I knew the time frame might be tight. Like Carol suggested, I was writing about 5 different animals and the humans who helped them. I wanted to include a variety of animals from around the world, and I wanted to showcase various types of surgeries, prosthetic devices, and interventions. Photographs were a constant consideration. Lerner has their own photo department, so I was fortunate not to have to obtain photo permissions myself, but even so, I had to make sure that photos existed and that they were of high quality. I also needed to consider the humans involved. Some of the stories I wanted to tell weren’t possible because people didn’t want to be interviewed or didn’t get back to me in a timely manner. Some of the humans spoke different languages, and I had to get creative in my communication, including recruiting friends who speak various languages and using Google translate while I watched news videos or emailed people in languages I don’t speak.

Lola the Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle Todd – Key West Aquarium.

In June 2019, I had a chance to meet Carol in person at Highlights Foundation’s the Nuts and Bolts of Science Writing workshop. She shared some ideas for edits and told me that she really liked something I’d included in the manuscript. Tim Witoski, an orthotist who normally works with humans, designs orthoses for Pirate the pig, one of the animals featured in Bionic Beasts. Tim was explaining that the way pigs walk is like humans being on all fours and walking on their fingertips and toes. Tim had an idea for an activity that would allow readers a chance to “walk like a pig.” Carol loved this experiential component and asked me if I’d consider adding hands-on explorations for each of the chapters. I’d never written any experiential, step-by-step, or craft instructions before, but I brainstormed with my writing friend Stephanie Gibeault and tested out experiments with my own kids.

Carol got her first round of edits to me on October 30, 2019 and asked if I could have revisions back to her in a week or two. Because I work as a school librarian, I began some work on the revisions but planned to do the majority of my edits during the upcoming weekend. And then my father passed away suddenly in the middle of Halloween night. After getting the call just after midnight, I drove to my parents’ home to be with my mother and make all of the arrangements. And then I had a decision to make. I knew Carol would give me time and space if needed, but I knew that the book was bigger than just me. Lots of people are involved in making a book, and everyone needs to do their part. My dad was a man of his word, and a person who valued hard work. I knew he’d be proud of me if I could keep to my deadline. And honestly, having something that needed doing gave me a purpose, and that felt good. So I didn’t tell Carol about my dad at that time and I was able to finish my edits on schedule.

Around that same time, I started looking for sensitivity readers. I was so fortunate to connect with Karen Gilbert at NUBTribe who took the time to read my manuscript and meet with me. I had learned much in writing the manuscript and thought I’d done my homework, but Karen taught me even more about ableist language and the power each word holds. For example, in the chapter about Cassidy the dog, I’d originally written that Cassidy the three-legged dog was missing a leg. Karen asked me, “How do you know that Cassidy was missing a leg? Is it possible that he was born with three legs?” She was right—in Cassidy’s case, we had no way of knowing. Then, Karen told me that it’s important to remember that when animals or humans are born, they’re whole, regardless of the number of limbs they’re born with. She pointed out that we don’t want to send the message that a person (or animal) with limb difference is missing something or is incomplete in some way. I would never want to share a negative message like that with readers, even unintentionally, so Karen’s feedback was so important and valuable.

And now, Bionic Beasts: Saving Animal Lives with Artificial Flippers, Legs, and Beaks is here! Everyone’s hard work and input has created a book that I hope will inspire young readers. Bionic Beasts was chosen as a Junior Library Guild gold standard book and has been listed as #1 New Release in Veterinary Surgery and in Children’s Engineering Books on Amazon.

Goose Vitória with her children and partner months after receiving the prostheses. It isn’t clear how Victoria lost her beak. A 3D printed prosthetic beak was attached by veterinarians of the University of São Paulo.


Jolene grew up on a farm, surrounded by animals, plants, and history. She is an award-winning teacher-librarian and has been working with diverse learners at Denver Academy for the past 25 years. She holds a Master’s degree in Library Science. She’s a wife of 22 years and mama to two teenage humans, three preteen dogs, and an ever-rotating variety of other animals including a crested gecko, a hedgehog, and a rescue squirrel. She’s an active member of SCBWI and The Author’s Guild, a We Need Diverse Books mentorship finalist, a Writing with the Stars 2018 mentee, a Highlights Foundation scholarship winner, and the winner of the Cynthia Levinson nonfiction picture book biography scholarship to the Writing Barn. She’s an active member of debut author groups Perfect 2020 PBs, a member of the critique group 6 Ladies and a MANuscript, and a co-creator of #KidlitZombieWeek.

School librarian Jolene Gutiérrez spends her days sharing children’s books and her nights writing them. She knows their power to change and even save lives. Jolene is an active member of SCBWI, a Children’s Book Academy scholarship winner and graduate, a We Need Diverse Books mentorship finalist, a Writing with the Stars mentee (with picture book author Stacy McAnulty), a Highlights Foundation scholarship winner, and the winner of the Cynthia Levinson nonfiction picture book biography scholarship to the Writing Barn.

Jolene is the author of a picture book, MAC AND CHEESE AND THE PERSONAL SPACE INVADER (Spork, 8/20), a nonfiction middle grade book, BIONIC BEASTS: SAVING ANIMAL LIVES WITH ARTIFICIAL FLIPPERS, LEGS, AND BEAKS (Lerner, 10/20), and the biographical 4-book series STARS OF LATIN POP: SHAKIRA, OZUNA, J BALVIN, and SOFÍA REYES (Carson Dellosa, 01/21). She is represented by Kaitlyn Sanchez of Olswanger Literary.







Thank you Jolene for sharing your book and journey with us. All of us care about animals, so I love how you have shared how scientists have come up with ways to help our disabled animal friends live better lives. I wouldn’t be surprised if this book motivates many young children to want to study science when they grow up and help animals, too. Good luck with the book.

Talk tomorrow,



  1. Kathy & Jolene, what a great post and an interesting book! I just finished THE ELEPHANT’S NEW SHOE. These two are great companion books. I can’t wait to read this book.
    (I shared on FB & Twitter)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much, Maria! I’ve been waiting to get a copy of THE ELEPHANT’S NEW SHOE from my public library–it looks amazing!


  2. This is an amazing subject! I can’t wait to read more about it! Happy book birthday! Congrats!

    Sharing on Twitter and I follow your blog by email, Kathy. Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. What a fabulous book! As a nod to Maria Marshall, I just got THE ELEPHAN’TS NEW SHOE on Kindle just today! Looking forward to reading this book. Congratulations, dear Jolene and thanks, Kathy! I am a newsletter subscriber 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I can’t wait to read this book. I always get teary-eyed when I read stories about injured animals being given a second chance–thanks for writing it!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Congratulations on this wonderful book, Jolene! I’m so thrilled to have been able to read it and I have a favorite animal that you featured, but I’m not going to share which one because I know as a teacher and mom, I’m not supposed to have favorites. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much for your kind words and support, Laura! I really want to know your favorite animal–I know you’re a dog lover, so I wonder if it’s Cassidy? ❤ Thank you for reading BIONIC BEASTS!!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Jolene, 🥰 you know me so well!


  6. What a beautiful, heartfelt and educational book -congrats!!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Congrats Jolene- this looks amazing! I love the personal touch of talking about specific animals and connecting more to kids that way. Well done, would love to read and review this one!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. What wonderful stories. I love the cover photo of the elephant and the young Thai man. Thanks very much for the chance to win a copy!!
    I’ve tweeted a link to this post:, and shared 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 safe and happy day!!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Wow, I LOVED hearing more of the behind-the-scenes stories about the process of researching, writing, and editing this book. I can’t wait to read it!!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. This sounds extremely interesting, and I know a ton of research had to go into its writing!!! Congrats on your new book, Jolene!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much, Judy! You’re right, a ton of research went into the book. But that work will have paid off if this book causes kids be more compassionate or leads them to help animals. ❤


  11. Congrats, Jolene! I’m signed up for emails, and I also RTed this giveaway.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. How fascinating!! Congrats on your book!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Hooray for your new book Jolene!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I LOVE these stories! Using science to help animals lead more normal lives is so touching. Yay for making such a beautiful book, Jolene!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much, Jilanne! ❤ Yes, I'm hoping these stories will inspire a new group of kids that will advance the technologies used to help animals (and humans) even further!

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Looks awesome, Jolene!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Great book for kids with prosthetics.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much, Natasha! 😀 Yes, my sensitivity reader is a child with limb difference and she and her family were excited about the book. ❤


  17. The cover gets me every time! What a great photo. I started reading it on Hoopla, but I stopped to read it with my son. Congratulations!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much, Ashley! I love this cover, too! And I’m so excited that you’re planning to read it with your son. ❤ Thank you.

      Liked by 1 person

  18. Jolene, this is SOoooo fascinating! What a book! Of course, the first thing that came to mind was the movie “Dolphin Tale” 🙂 Great stuff! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much! Yes, Winter the dolphin’s story is so powerful! Kevin Carroll from the Hanger Clinic is the person who helped Winter. He’s also helped Lola the sea turtle–what a small world, right?

      Liked by 1 person

      • hmmm…don’t know if I”m remembering correctly, but wasn’t there a sea turtle in the sequel? Was it her?…hmmm


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