Title: Grandad and the Baby Dolphin
Author: Wendy Milner
Illustrator: Naomi Bulger
Publisher: Self Published
Genre: Juvenile Fiction; Picture Books
Age Group: 4 to 7 years
Please tell us a bit of what your book is about.
Grandad and the Baby Dolphin is a true story of a cray-fisherman from WA who stumbles across a baby dolphin tangled in fishing rope.
Grandad and his friends watch as the pod take turns helping the baby to breathe, and it becomes clear to Grandad that they need help – FAST.
Grandad and his friends decide to save the baby by untangling the ropes but the pod don’t like it. They click and squeak and buzz. They thrash and bash and splash.
What happens next takes everyone’s breath away.
What kinds of themes / issues are raised in this story?
The key themes and emotions in this story are of caring and belonging.
The story is told within the context of caring for the environment but extends into family (the dolphins) and friendship (Grandad and his friends).
This story, fundamentally, is also about being kind.
How are these important to you in raising awareness to your readers?
By sharing this story, I am helping to raise awareness about our impact on the ocean. My readings have often led to discussions about paper bags and plastic rubbish as well as ropes. All of these things can hurt or injure our wildlife.
More importantly though, this book helps our young readers understand the importance of being kind.
A simple act can have a big impact in its own way. Grandad and his friends knew this.
Who or what inspired you to write this story?
Grandad “Les Brookes” was my father and a crayfisherman in Jurien, Western Australia.
My sisters and I grew up listening to Dad’s stories about the many dolphins, sharks, whales, birds and seals that he came across each day. Grandad and the Baby Dolphin was a family favourite. It has been told over and over again to my nieces and nephews, plus anyone else who had the patience for another one of Les’ yarns.
Unfortunately, Dad passed away from Motor Neurone Disease in 2009. My children were still very little and I made a promise before he died that my children would know his stories. With Naomi’s help, we are slowly keeping that promise as we work towards sharing his fables in print for a generation of future ocean lovers and fisherman alike.
What is your favourite part of the book?
That’s easy. The rest page ; “They did this all the way home … and Grandad felt great!”
It’s such a huge celebration that lasted all the way home. We can all imagine how great that would feel.
What is the worst part?
The worst part is when “the ropes are grabbing his skin … dragging him down deeper and deeper into the ocean.”
During a reading in November, I had a little boy start crying at this point in the story. It was both beautiful to watch and terrifying at the same time.
How would you describe the publishing process? Were they supportive? How long did it take?
I chose to self publish. I know it sounds very clichéd but I really did want to manage the creative process of this story. I have other titles that I would love to see traditionally published; but the Grandad series is special. These stories don’t only belong to me, but they belong to my extended family as well. I needed to stay emotionally attached to them.
The process from manuscript to book was quite long, mainly because it took me a few years to find Naomi. I simply couldn’t tell this story without an illustrator I could trust. Once Naomi and I joined forces though, we went from storyboard to finished product in just over 2 years.
What was the collaboration like between author and illustrator? Juicy gossip, please!
Naomi’s gorgeous! We met here in Melbourne at a mutual friend’s baby shower. Naomi had drawn these amazing invitations of an elephant balancing on an ice-cream cone. The colours were sensational and I knew instantly that she would do a great job; I just had to convince her of that. Once we got working together, we really did get along fabulously. I wasn’t the most efficient person Naomi has ever worked with, but she was very patient with me as I learnt “how” to be an author.
What has the feedback / audience response been like so far?
I’ve been delighted by how warmly the book has been received.
I expected it to be popular at my home town of Jurien Bay, and it HAS been very popular there. I was warmly received at the Indian Ocean Festival for my book launch, and was invited to my local primary school for a reading and class workshop with the pre-primary and year 1 classes. I have also been invited to story time at the local Jurien Bay Library and also a children’s specialist bookshop in Fremantle called Paper Bird Children’s Books and Arts.
I was lucky to receive a bronze medal in the Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards last year (First Picture Book Category). I was so excited because these awards represent one of the few opportunities to be recognised as an Independent Publisher. It felt great to get an acknowledgment that my book is GOOD as well as self published. Plus, that little bronze sticker looks great on my cover art!
Books have been sold to families in WA, ACT, NSW, NZ and London.
I have also signed with Dennis Jones and Associates as my local distributor.
What teaching and learning ideas would you suggest to complement this book?
I don’t have any teaching notes as information about dolphins and marine biology are easy to find and readily available.
However, I have prepared a 6-page activity book that includes an age appropriate rope maze, word find, how to draw and crossword. It was this activity book that we used at Jurien Bay Primary and the activities provided a good mix of unsupervised and supported learning.
Please let us know where we can find more on you and your book.
You can buy the book at //wendymilner.com.au or through my distributor //dennisjones.com.au.
All activities are free to download from my website (see //wendymilner.com.au/fun-stuff/)
Wendy Milner is a blogger, copy-writer, strategic marketer and now author. Grandad and the Baby Dolphin is her first picture book. Biographies for both Naomi and Wendy are also on the site, plus there’s some further information about Grandad Les Brookes for you to read as well.
Thank you for sharing your story with us, Wendy! 😄 🐬