Hey, it’s something new! Mr. E, Colonel Mustard, and I have been emailing some of the authors and illustrators of books they’ve loved. We’re posting the results here. It’s kid-friendly interviews by two friendly kids! Take a peek, then go track down these books.
First up, S. Terrell French, author of Operation Redwood.
Here are her stats:
Operation Redwood (one of Mr. E’s favorite books of the summer!) is about a boy, Julian, who stumbles upon an email to his uncle, the head of a big company. The email is a plea from a girl who lives next to a redwood forest—Julian’s uncle’s company is about to tear down her forest. When Julian emails her back, he gets caught up in the fight to save the forest.
The book has been called, “a satisfying eco-adventure starring a group of young people…gratifyingly diverse in age as well as experience and ethnic background. A highly enjoyable read.” –Kirkus Reviews
And, “fast paced and full of fun . . . .” –School Library Journal
And here’s what she said:
What were you like as a kid?
I loved to read. I generally enjoyed school but liked summers even more, when I got to go to camp and kayak and run around barefoot.
What’s the grossest or most embarrassing thing that’s ever happened to you as a kid?
Once, I was rehearsing for a play at camp and, without turning my head, smacked what I thought was a mosquito on my left arm. It turned out to be a large, fat caterpillar and I still remember the horror of seeing all that yellow green caterpillar smoosh smeared over my arm.
If you weren’t an author, what would you be? Why?
I’d probably keep doing environmental law because I think it’s important work.
What’s one place you’d like to visit in the world? Why?
I’d love to go to Bali or to eastern Africa because the lifestyle there is so different from here. I always feel a little uncomfortable in the role of tourist, so in my perfect trip, I’d be doing something useful or visiting people I knew there.
What’s the coolest place you’ve ever been?
I spent one summer in southern India and another in Alaska, but the redwood forests along the coast of Northern California are some of the coolest places on earth!
How did you get the idea for Operation Redwood?
My first image of the book was of a lonely boy discovering an e-mail from a faraway girl, which would introduce him to an environmental issue he knew nothing about. I decided to make it about redwoods because they’re so beautiful and because children seem to have an intuitive love of playing in forests and climbing trees.
How long did it take to write?
It took me about 9 months to write to write the first draft. Once I had an editor, I spent another year and a half doing revisions.
Where do you like to write? What time of day?
I write at my kitchen table when my kids are in school or asleep.
What character in Operation Redwood are you most like?
Not surprisingly, I’m probably most like Julian (the main character). Like me, he’s a little reserved and worries about doing the right thing. And he relies on his friends to make him laugh and spur him to action.
You’re an environmental lawyer, too. What environmental issue do you feel the most strongly about?
Climate change worries me the most because there are so many uncertainties and the impacts could be so grave.
We loved your book! Is there a similar book from a different author that you’d recommend for kids who liked yours?
Jean Craighead George writes lots of great books about kids in nature (My Side of the Mountain, for example) and Carl Hiaasen‘s books for kids also have environmental themes. Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell and The Birchbark House by Louise Erdrich are other favorites of mine. For younger readers, I’m currently reading from the Akimbo series by Alexander McCall Smith, which addresses African wildlife. I list some other books on my website.
Finally, what’s next?
I’m working on another book set in San Francisco.
Other blog interviews with S. Terrell French: