Allison, welcome to the blog!
Thank you for inviting me!
I Wonder is a powerful tale with a strong environmental message of the impact of pollution in and around our oceans, whimsically told from the point of view of a discarded little toy boat. What else can you tell us about this title?
I Wonder is a beautifully illustrated tale of the human-nature relationship, of marine pollution, environmental protection and sustainability. It uses unlikely characters and personification of inanimate objects (a toy ship and pieces of litter) to tell the story of a little wooden toy boat which is left behind on the beach. Days and weeks pass as odd things roll by, tumbling and floating into the ocean. The 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 … The ending has a strong message of recycling, sustainable practices and the avoidance of careless littering.
Obviously an important topic that raises the awareness of our actions with regard to the environment, why was this story one you had to write?
I Wonder came to be after an early morning visit to my favourite beach. I was dismayed to see rubbish lining the foreshore after a family event the night before. I wondered why? Why would people leave behind such a mess which could find its way into the ocean? 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 and wanted it to become part of their Caring for Our World series!
What has been the most rewarding part of creating I Wonder?
Knowing that in a small way I am helping to care for our world. Spreading the message to encourage environmental awareness from a young age was an important motivation.
Favourite parts of I Wonder?
There are many! Nancy Bevington is such a fabulous illustrator who has brought the story of I Wonder to life with understanding and amazing skill. My favourite double page spread 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!
Tell us about the path to publication for this title.
After the initial idea I created various drafts then a storyboard. I read it aloud, over and over to make sure the flow of the story was working. Then I left it for a couple of weeks. I came back to it, took out lots of words, then submitted it to Big Sky Publishing. They loved it, we discussed the book and before long I was so excited to see a contract appear in my inbox!
Which other children’s books with a focus on the environment have you enjoyed reading?
Elizabeth Mary Cummings’ fun title Rain Shaker is a book I love and the first in Big Sky publishing’s Caring for Our World series. It is a story of drought and not giving up on hope, the illustrations of Cheri Hughes are fabulous. I also enjoy Josh Langley’s quirky little book with big awesome messages about caring for our environment. It’s called Being Wildly Kind.
Which authors have inspired you?
So many! Bryce Courtenay, Ken Follett, Patrick Carlyon, Jackie French, Peter Carnavas, Pamela Allen, Alison Lester, Aleesah Darlison … I could go on, but in a nutshell, my reading is very diverse and the authors who inspire me are too …
What are your top tips for aspiring writers?
Self-doubt leads to procrastination and truly stifles creativity. Don’t let it master you – set goals and celebrate successes, believe in your work, surround yourself by people who believe in you and write your words, let them flow. I’ve also learnt to find the gaps in the market and target those, I look carefully at the curriculum and I’m very clear about my audience!
What’s next for you?
I’m currently writing another book in the Australia Remembers series about a young Australian soldier who lost his life in Afghanistan. His name is Cameron Baird. His courage saw him awarded both the Medal of Gallantry and later, posthumously the Victoria Cross. Writing about such a tragic topic will have its challenges but it is important to support those service personnel who have sacrificed so much in conflicts of the 21st century, especially in light of recent events. I hope the book goes some way to recognising the service and sacrifice of veterans of the war in Afghanistan.
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Thank you for joining me on the blog, Allison!
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