Hello and Happy Poetry Friday! Be sure to visit Mary Lee at A(nother) Year of Reading for Roundup. My friend and fellow author/poet Sylvia Liu is here to celebrate her newly released MANATEE'S BEST FRIEND. Congratulations, Sylvia!
Before we get to that, I invite you to read a letter I wrote to 11-Year-Old Me. (This was really rewarding and surprising experience. I discovered I mostly wanted to be encouraging... and I didn't want to reveal much about the future. I highly recommend each of you write such a letter!)
Yes, I also wrote a new ArtSpeak: FOUR SEASONS poem. I confess to feeling a bit weary of summer art (!)... none of the paintings I selected at the start of the season are particularly calling to me... so I found another one! You'll find the poem at the end of this post.
And now: Please welcome author Sylvia Liu, who is a kind, generous, and inspiring human! Learn more about her current and forthcoming books at her website. Today's interview focuses on MANATEE'S BEST FRIEND, which released this week!
SL: I wanted to create a unique friendship story, where my main character, Becca Wong Walker, is friend with a manatee, and where a dolphin and the manatees become friends. A challenge was to be accurate scientifically about how manatees and dolphins act, wile making it engaging and fun for readers.
SL: I loved going on a fact-finding research trip to northwest Florida, to see manatees in their natural habitat and to immerse myself in th environment. I also met with middle school students and local environmentalists to learn about manatees and the risks they face. I was lucky enough to snorkel with manatees, which I discovered were much larger than I imagined. [Note from Irene: Sylvia included a wonderful pic of her snorkeling with a manatee, but Blogger was too jealous to let me post it, apparently... could NOT get it in the post without wrecking all the text. Weird. So please use this space to imagine beautiful Sylvia floating just above a giant manatee!]
SL: I learned that manatees are a critical part of the shallow river systems. They act like lawnmowers eating the seagrass beds and encouraging grass to grow. They also stir up nutrients for baby fish to eat.
Thank you, Sylvia! I have yet to meet a manatee IRL, so this book helps meet a need for me.
And now, here's my latest art poem. Thank you so much for reading!
A Summertime Story
You'll find me in the apple tree
on hazy summer mornings. Up, up,
I climb—hand over knee.
Don't worry if I disappear.
You'll find me in the apple tree,
pockets full of cakes and tea—
and in my hand a book to read
to busy birds and beetles. Want a story?
You'll find me in the apple tree.
- Irene Latham