Happy Friday! Children's author Jeanne Walker Harvey is the star of today's blog post. She dropped by to chat with me about her books, school visits, reading, and writing. I wrote the words in red, and she wrote the words in black. Thank you, Jeanne!
Astro the Steller Sea Lion tells the true story of an abandoned stellar Steller sea lion pup who was rescued by The Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito, California. However, unlike the thousands of other pups that TMMC has rescued over the years, Astro bonded to people. Every time he was released into the ocean, Astro returned to places with people, including a school’s walk-a-thon. Astro now lives at the Mystic Aquarium in Connecticut, and his trainer recently wrote me a note saying Astro is doing splendidly there. I’ve visited the Mystic Aquarium twice, and showed him his book which seemed to please him. I once introduced the children’s author, T.A. Barron, at a bookstore event, and he told me that he views Astro as “an ambassador for his endangered species.” Isn’t that a lovely thought?
Shennen Bersani’s wonderful illustrations perfectly capture the personality of Astro. All of the people who’ve been involved with him say he’s quite a character. Also, Shennen visited the places featured in the book, and then replicated the settings and people who cared for Astro. I enjoy telling children the “inside scoop” that Shennen even painted herself into an illustration. Shennen is standing on the boat when Astro is released into the ocean (but on the next page she’s not on the boat anymore!)
I would love to visit your school because the best part of being a children’s book author is sharing my books with kids! I’m always amazed by the creativity, insights, compassion, and humor students display when I visit schools. I feel incredibly lucky to be able to share my love of reading and writing with children. And I would love to visit YOUR school, Mr. Schu, because I’m impressed by the programs and projects you lead for students. Where do you get all that energy (AND read all the books you do)?
Picture books are magic because the whole is greater than the sum of their parts. Combined, the text and illustrations of a picture book create so many levels and layers of meaning that wouldn’t exist otherwise. I was truly in awe when I saw Elizabeth Zunon’s illustrations for My Hands Sing the Blues. For example, she interpreted the last words of my text, “I never know what’s coming down the track,” by painting footprints of the artist weaving a path/track between musicians and dancers. I had only thought of the train/journey connection and the power of our imagination. And, later I learned that Liz was also referencing one of her favorite illustrators, Ezra Jack Keats, who painted the boy’s footprints in the snow in The Snowy Day.
Mr. Schu, you should have asked me what I like to collect. Wind-up toys. I probably have about a hundred toys, including intricate old-fashioned metal ones, such as a Ferris wheel. I’m still trying to figure out how I can write a book about them. Then I could say “I’m working” while actually spending the day playing with wind-up toys.
Rules for the Giveaway
1. It will run from 4/12 to 11:59 P.M. on 4/14.
2. You must be at least 13.
3. Please pay it forward. :)
Borrow Jeanne Walker Harvey's books from your school or public library. Whenever possible, please support independent bookshops.