It all started with Devon. My goddaughter was 11 when I picked up a pen to start my first kids’ book. I wanted to write something for her as a way of staying close during those important preteen years. But…write about what?
I thought about stories that had impressed me when I was her age. While I read all sorts of stuff as a kid, the books that really stuck with me had an element of fantasy. The books I liked best weren’t sci-fi exactly, but ones that revealed the magical sliding door between fantasy and reality. In these books, kids are always the heroes. They face tough challenges, but they see the magic that adults simply can’t see. They struggle, learn life lessons, develop compassion, and overcome.
OK… so I decided to write a children’s fantasy book. But about what exactly? That’s when I learned that the little trickle of water in a park near my house used to be a salmon-bearing stream. My generous friend Liz took me around to other streams in the city, some of which had been rehabilitated to support salmon again. Pun intended, but I was hooked. In a future blog, I will let you know what is happening today with this stream. (Spoiler alert: I’m excited.)
The book that came out of all of this – the first in my series – is called Water, and is (not surprisingly) about the importance of fresh water. When I wrote this book 15 years ago, there wasn’t as much talk about water shortages as there is today. Sadly, since then, climate disasters have become far more common. This year, if you live in British Columbia as I do, you can’t help but be keenly aware of atmospheric rivers, raging floods, and deadly mudslides — following the severe drought, heat dome, and wildfires of the summer. Too little water, too much out-of-control water, people in remote communities up north living without clean drinking water… water problems abound.
My children’s fantasy books obviously contain an element of fantasy. For example, the magnetic train is fictitious, although frankly, it does seem like a pretty good idea. But the books use science as a jumping off point – and the health of the planet as a primary focus.
I’ll wrap this post by saying that I still believe what I believed as a child. Kids can see magic that adults simply can’t. And while I’ve created the Under-Under World for them to play in, it will be the kids of the world who will make magic happen.