Monday, June 13, 2011

Interview with Children’s Author Nancy Stewart

 Nancy Stewart developed an appreciation of stories for young people as a university professor specializing in children's and young adult literature. She travels throughout the world and her love of nature inspired her to write One Pelican at a Time, Bella Saves the Beach, and Sea Turtle Summer.

Hello Nancy. Please tell us about your new book, One Pelican at a Time.

Bella and Britt think it’s so cool living by the beach, and they particularly love the old crooked beak pelican that they’ve known all their lives. (Pelicans live up to forty years, by the way.) But when an oil spill occurs, everyone’s life changes, especially the pelican’s. The girls try to do something. But what?

Where did you get your inspiration for this book? Do you get any ideas from real life experiences?

My husband and I bought a condo on the water in Clearwater Beach, Florida, three years ago. Although I didn’t know it would, that decision had a profound effect on me. I watched the marine life on our daily walks and quickly grew to love it all, particularly the brown pelicans.

Bella’s name came from one of my early morning walks. I noticed a heart drawn in the sand, and the name in the heart was Bella. The tide was just beginning to take it away. About a week later, I saw a beautiful African American child playing in the surf with her parents. Britt! And Pelican was not just a wisp of an idea anymore. It was Britt and Bella, and they were coming to life.

On my beach walks, I’ve heard children ask their parents some really great questions about ecology, particularly during the spill, although Tampa Bay was mercifully spared. Many kids are more educated about green issues than their parents. I suppose there’s both good and bad in that statement. 

Each of your books teaches us a lesson about saving nature. In One Pelican at a Time, the children are trying to save the pelicans from an oil spill. What will we learn in Bella Saves the Beach?

In Bella, we learn about beach trash and what a horrible problem it is for coastal areas. Bella and Britt see what’s happening to their beautiful beach and spring into action. Again, I wanted it (and the others) to be a kid empowering book, letting children know they can not only help, but lead by example.

What lesson do we learn in Sea Turtle Summer?

Sea Turtle Summer is quite dear to my heart. In coastal areas, there is so much attention given (finally) to the plight of sea turtles, particularly with their nests being disturbed. Knowing that, it seemed natural to put the girls on the case. And again, it was written with kid empowerment in mind. When the girls see an endangered nest, they take matters into their own capable hands. The lesson? Respect marine life. The sea turtles were here before the dinosaurs. It’s human intervention that is causing their populations to decrease, and ironically, it’s human intervention that can save them.

I think everyone should know that Pelican is in Amazon's Hot New Releases and Most Wished For. Now it’s time to tell us something about the real you that we’ll never forget.

Something about the real me…hmmm. A tough one, but here goes. When I was in Kenya with my family, we were up in the Rift Valley at a place called Lake Turkana. I try to run several times a week, and I wanted to run along the shore. I noticed many crocodiles on the shore, sunning themselves. Our friend, a native Kenyan, had flown us up there in his small plane. I asked him about the crocs, and he assured me they were well fed on Nile Perch in the lake and wouldn’t bother me. So I did it, and he was right. They simply slithered into the water as I ran. Would I do it again today? Probably not. But in the moment, with the sun shining and the birds calling…Well, I was in Africa, after all.

That was great. Wow! You were quite daring, if you ask me. Now I know the real you! The daring author who runs alongside crocodiles without a care in the world!


Cheryl Malandrinos said...

Thanks for the wonderful interview with Nancy. We share the same publisher, so I’ve already read this book. I love how she tackled a tough issue and made it easy for kids to understand.

Keep up the great work, Nancy.



Kat said...

Sounds like a great book to teach and empower kids! Thanks,

katsaddress AT gmail DOT com

Margaret said...

My daughter would love this book. I have photos of pelican's from a trip to Australia and she loves to see them along with all the other animals from that trip.


Louise Pledge said...

I'm always trying to get my grandkids interested in books. A couple of them, in particular, have a fondness for marine life, so I'm thinking that this book might pique their interest.

PS. I would "Never Smile at a Crocodile", let alone get anywhere near one. You were brave (or crazy--haha).

Nancy Stewart said...

Thank you so much, Linda, for doing the interview and book giveaway! It's always a pleasure chatting with you.

All best wishes!

Lynda S Burch said...

Wow! definitely an interesting experience to know about you!

Margot Finke said...

Great interview. Every paragraph tells me more. I love that.

Margot’s Magic Carpet
Books With a WOW Factor

BarbaraB said...

Hi Linda,
Thanks for a very interesting interview.

Hi Nancy,
It's great to learn something new about you. Wow! What a wonderful memory for you.

misskallie2000 said...

I have little 2nd cousins (girls) who would love this book. Their Mom is a kindergarden teacher so they were introduced to books when they were just babies.

Linda, I have been able to post on this type comment form so it should work this time also. I hope. lol..

misskallie2000 at yahoo dot com

Gail Pallotta said...

An interesting interview. Nancy's books sound as though they'd be entertaining and educational for children.

Mutti said...

I can't wait to read these books. Like you, I love good children's literature. These books seem to be the kind that will last both with children as well as with parents and teachers who expect to provide children with books worth reading!

Cathe Olson said...

I'm in charge of an elementary school library and would love my students to read this book so they can become more aware of environmental issues.

Wise Owl Designs said...

What a wonderful book for children. My kids have a love of sea animals and asked questions about the gulf spill. This book would be a great added read and learn book for them.

wiseowldesignsinc at gmail dot com

Carrie and Spencer said...

I would love this book to be able to teach my nieces, nephews, and all the kids I babysit about such an important issue!

Linda Weaver Clarke said...

Congratulations, Mutti! You have won the wonderful children's book. Stay tuned for next weeks giveaways.