4 Questions and 2 Sentence Starters with Lynne Cox

Elizabeth, Queen of the Seas was sent out into the world yesterday. Lynne Cox dropped by to celebrate Elizabeth's book birthday with me! Thank you, Lynne! 

Mr. Schu: I’ve read Elizabeth, Queen of the Seas five times. I cannot get enough of that adorable elephant seal and her fascinating story. When did you first learn about Elizabeth? How did you come to tell her story? 

Lynne Cox: Thank you so much! I’m so happy you enjoyed the book! I traveled to New Zealand to attempt to be the first person to swim across three glacial lakes: Takapo, Pukaki, and Ohau, located at the foot of Mt. Cook on the South Island of New Zealand. After I completed the three swims, I flew to Christchurch, New Zealand. When I was walking along the Avon River banks, Michael, a young boy and Maggie, his sister, shouted to me from a bridge over the river. They asked me, “Are you looking for Elizabeth?” I thought they were asking about a girl and when they told me that Elizabeth was a lovely elephant seal I walked up to the bridge and listened to the story told to me by the children, their parents, and some friends, who were standing on the bridge, looking for Elizabeth. 

Mr. Schu: What ran through your head the first time you saw Caldecott Medalist Brian Floca’s illustrations for Elizabeth, Queen of the Seas? (I think he’s brilliant.)  
Lynne Cox: When I saw Brian’s illustrations I thought his illustrations are perfect. I love what he’s done! He has captured the sweetness of Elizabeth and so many of her expressions. His images make the reader feel the connection to her, the way the people in Christchurch felt about her, and the strong bond she had with them. Brian’s images made the story come to life. I especially loved the water color of Elizabeth stretched across the road beside the stamp of the Queen of England. It was a perfect way to convey Elizabeth’s namesake.
Image retrieved from here

Mr. Schu: What resources do you recommend to readers who are interested in learning more about Elizabeth? 
Lynne Cox: There are some wonderful stories on the web and photos of Elizabeth. There is one story Memories of Avon River’s sea elephant that is very good. If you use a search engine on the web and input: “Images for elephant seal Christchurch, New Zealand,” you will see a lot of photos of Elizabeth. There are elephant seal colonies in Central California in San Luis Obispo County in Piedras Blancas, along the shores of San Simeon near Hearst castle where you can see elephant seals during some times of the year. The State Park of San Luis Obispo County has information about when the elephant seals will be coming ashore. 

Mr. Schu: While this is your first children’s book, you’ve published several nonfiction books for adults. How was your experience writing a book for children different from writing a book for adults? 
Lynne Cox: Writing for children is like writing poetry filled with action, love, awe, excitement, and delight. There is no space for extra words. The story has to be very clear and fast paced. Writing for adults is very different. There is so much more space to express thoughts, and actions, and there is so much more time to tell the story. It was really wonderful to be able to have the opportunity to tell this story, and had Anne Schwartz as my editor. She edited the Olivia books, and many others. She is a fantastic editor/coach 

Please complete these sentences: 
Reading is what connects us to the past, present, and future, and it fuels our thoughts and nurtures our imagination. 
Mr. Schu, you should have asked me what’s next?

Lynne Cox was born in Boston, Massachusetts, and grew up in Los Alamitos, California, where she presently lives. She has held open-water swimming records all over the world, for among others, the fastest crossing of the English Channel (at age 15), the Santa Catalina Channel, the twelve-mile Oresund between Denmark and Sweden, and the Kattegut between Norway to Sweden. Cox was the first woman to swim across the Cook Strait in New Zealand, the first to swim across the Strait of Magellan, the Beagle Channel between Argentina and Chile, Lake Baikal in Russia, and around the Cape of Good Hope. In 1987, Cox crossed the Bering Strait to the Soviet Union, and in 2002 swam more than a mile in the 31°F waters off Antarctica. Cox has been inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame. She is the author of Swimming to AntarcticaGrayson,South with the Sun. Her articles have appeared in many publications, among them The New Yorker and the Los Angeles Times Magazine.

I am giving away one copy of Elizabeth, Queen of the Seas
Rules for the Giveaway

1. It will run from May 14 to 11:59 p.m. on May 16. 

2. You must be at least 13. 

3. Please pay it forward.  

Borrow Elizabeth, Queen of the Seas from your school or public library. Whenever possible, please support independent bookshops. 


  1. I'd never heard of Elizabeth the seal before, this is amazing! Definitely going to the top of my TBR pile -- happy book birthday, Lynne!

  2. I love true stories brought to life in PB's for kids. Wisdom The Midway Albatross is another good one that comes to mind. Thanks for a great interview.


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