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Jody Rake (1961-) - Sidelights

writing nonfiction writer job

Writing under the pen name Jody Sullivan, Jody Rake is the author of several nonfiction children's books, including Beavers: Big-toothed Builders and Cheetahs: Spotted Speedsters, both part of the "Wild World of Animals" series. Booklist reviewer Stephanie Zvirin enjoyed the clear and colorful photographs in Cheetahs and also noted that the "'fast facts' scattered through the book" provide a lively format for readers. In addition to continuing to write nonfiction titles that draw on her interest and training in the sciences, Rake produced many educational materials for SeaWorld and has also been a scientific consultant to Capstone Press's "Ocean Life" series.

Rake told Something about the Author: "I took the scenic route toward becoming an author. It wasn't the first job that came to mind. Never in my life have I demonstrated any talent for creative writing. I came to San Diego in 1989 with a degree in zoology and a desire to work with animals. I got a job at SeaWorld, but because my practical experience was in child care and education, I was hired by the education department. I was confident that I would eventually work my way into the mammal department. In the course of my job, I was given some writing assignments, and discovered the art of nonfiction writing. I discovered that the education department had a science writer. I thought that sounded very cool, and then and there I did some serious reevaluation.

"I went back to school and earned a certificate in technical writing. I landed an internship with the aforementioned science writer, and within six months attained a permanent position as a science writer. For ten years I wrote numerous nonfiction publication for SeaWorld, mostly about marine animals. I eventually began doing some freelance projects at home, and gradually, the urge to quit my job and stay home with my children grew into an overwhelming pull. My last day at Sea-World was September 5, 2003, and I've been a freelance writer and editor ever since.

"As a mother of an elementary student, I often help gather research materials for reports and projects. While the Internet is amazing and useful, it is no substitute for quality books. Sometimes I find that resources are limited, outdated, too high-level, or otherwise unable to support the state and national teaching standards. It is a goal of mine to help contribute to the body of resources that help teachers fulfill these standards.

"My advice for aspiring writers? Read! Read much and often. There is no better way to learn how to write. I also recommend identifying what type of writer you are: fiction or nonfiction? Do you have a story to tell? Are the words just bursting out of you? Or are you better suited at expressing information? Try writing both ways—which one comes more naturally? In either case, pick a topic you are passionate about, otherwise you'll struggle. Always develop the gifts you are given—don't waste your time trying to be something you're not."


Biographical and Critical Sources

PERIODICALS

Booklist, January 1, 2003, Stephanie Zvirin, review of Groundhogs: Woodchuck, Marmots, and Whistle Pigs, p. 900.

School Library Journal, April, 2003, Susan Oliver, review of Woodchucks, Marmots, and Whistle Pigs, p. 154.

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