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There are always aspects of the inspiration and creation of a book that we wonder about, and how best to find the answers than with an author interview! Thanks to Allison Paterson for expanding on the journey of I Wonder…
Allison, congratulations on the release of your gorgeous, valuable picture book, I Wonder!
Briefly, tell us what this story is about.
I Wonder is a gentle story of the dangers of careless littering, marine pollution and the importance of protecting our environment. A little wooden toy boat loves days at the beach with its owner, until one day it is forgotten and left behind. Days and weeks pass as odd things roll by, tumbling and floating into the ocean. The little wooden boat wonders and worries. Is it a forgotten thing … or could it be like the chip packet, the takeaway cup and the plastic bag? Could it be waste, or litter, or even rubbish? But there is always hope for the future and the little wooden boat may just find that people really do care …
Supported by facts about marine pollution, plastics and comprehensive teacher notes, I Wonder explores the topics of environment, sustainability and conservation. Enhanced by thought-provoking illustrations it is a call to action and a tale of hope for our future.
I Wonder is a book that touches the heart and empowers its audience to gain a greater awareness of their actions and the impact on our oceans. How did this idea spark and the story develop?
I Wonder was inspired by a visit to my local beach as the sun was rising. I was dismayed to see rubbish lining the foreshore after a family event the night before. Council workers were arriving to clean up the area. I wondered why? Why would people leave behind such a mess which could ultimately find its way into the ocean? I was so very sad that no matter how much knowledge we have, we can still get it wrong. That day I wrote the story of I Wonder in my notebook. I played with it a little then submitted it to Big Sky Publishing. I’m thrilled that they loved it!
The story covers themes of pollution, neglectful waste and the power of recycling / re-using unwanted items. What is your biggest hope or message for children reading your book? How would you encourage children to be more aware of the problems facing the future of our oceans and the wildlife within, and around it?
Children and their voices are very powerful and collectively they can make a big difference to the future. I Wonder is a story to inspire individual action – perhaps for children to buy fewer toys, consider what an item is made of, where has it travelled from, and is it a need or a want? I hope that I Wonder encourages children to think daily about the small steps they can take to make big leaps in helping to care for our wildlife and the future of our oceans.
Nancy Bevington is the perfect choice of illustrator for this moving, energetic and heartfelt narrative. What do you most like about her work? How closely did you collaborate with one another?
Nancy’s work is as whimsical as it is diverse and enchanting. I was very impressed by her past illustrations and was thrilled to hear Nancy would be illustrating my story. In I Wonder, Nancy captured the mood and interpreted the story beautifully and with simplicity. Her work with watercolours is amazing. We did collaborate and chatted about initial ideas and text placement. She is a delight to work with and I hope one day to have the honour of creating another beautiful book with the talented Nancy Bevington.
What can you share with us about Big Sky Publishing’s ‘Caring For Our World’ initiative?
The Caring for Our World series is the brain child of the brilliant Diane Evans from BSP. The first book in the series is called Rain Shaker and is by the talented duo of Elizabeth Mary Cummings and Cheri Hughes. It is a fabulous story about Erin who lives on a farm in the midst of drought. Rain Shaker has a focus on global climate issues and has a powerful message of hope for the future.
What is your favourite part of I Wonder? Why?
Can I please have more than one? My favourite double page spread is that which depicts the slow decline of the little wooden boat in spot images. Nancy captured the changing mood beautifully. The concluding pages which depict the footsteps really encourage the reader to reflect and are another favourite. Providing opportunities for children to place themselves within the story and to share their reflections is a quality I was hoping we could achieve, and we did!
What kinds of curriculum ideas would you suggest educators and librarians do to engage their students alongside reading I Wonder?
I have some great teacher notes on my website but a simple challenge of reducing plastic use in the classroom or at home would be a fabulous initiative and immediately awesome for the environment.
Is there anything else you’d like to share about I Wonder or the vital environmental message underpinning this story?
Start now, don’t wait for tomorrow! Let’s start reducing our consumption and plastic use today. Individual small steps can lead to giant leaps for the future of our beautiful marine environments, and … just for caring for our world!
Thank you, Allison! I Wonder will no doubt change the world! 😊
Please follow Allison Paterson at her website: Allison Marlow Paterson – Australian Author – writing stories of our past
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