Through Endangered Eyes (a poetic journey into the wild) by Rachel Allen Dillon
April 20, 2009 in Books with Science Content, Books with Science Content, Dillon, Rachel, Elementary Educators, Making Personal Connections, Picture Book Tags: endangered animals, picture books, poems, Rachel Allen Dillon, Through Endangered Eyes
Reviewed by Margo Dill, www.margodill.com, email@example.com
*Picture book for preschoolers through elementary-aged students
*Endangered animals are featured in Through Endangered Eyes.
*Rating: Rachel Allen Dillon’s illustrations are remarkable, and these paintings really bring her animal poetry alive!
Today, I am honored to be taking part in a blog tour sponsored by WOW! Women on Writing for the talented author/illustrator, Rachel Allen Dillon. She is going to answer a few questions for us about her beautiful book, Through Endangered Eyes. Every time you turn a page in this book, you’ll see a beautiful painting of an animal and read a poem about this creature. In the back of the book, Dillon provides you with facts about each animal she features in the book. Leave a comment below for a chance to win a copy of this book!
Margo: What inspired you to write this wonderful book?
Rachel: After my daughter was born, I felt this desperation to do more than my marketing job. I wanted to make a difference in the world for endangered animals, no matter how small. I bought a book called Wishcraft: How to Get What You Really Want by Barbara Sher. I started compiling memories of what I loved to do as a kid–when my mind was pure and I did things just because I loved to. That self-reflection spelled out my most ideal circumstance: work from home, write, paint, teach kids and help animals. I put together all that I love in my book. Once I had the idea that if I organized my thoughts and poems about endangered animals and submitted a couple of my paintings, maybe someone would be interested in making them into a book. I researched the market on children’s books on endangered species. I didn’t see any books like mine, so I felt maybe I had a chance.
I really feel that our younger generation’s passion about wanting to help the Earth needs to be encouraged. That is why I focus on children 4-9 years old as the audience for my book.
Earth Day is April 22nd. My kids and I are really going to try to celebrate this year by starting a garden. Maybe others will celebrate by reading my book to their children and open up discussions about endangered animals.
Margo: It’s true that people are always searching for Earth Day activities, and your book is a perfect fit! What is your background as a writer/illustrator?
Rachel: I really haven’t had formal training in writing and poetry, other than college classes in English literature. I know when I was growing up, I would express myself with poems and lyrics. As a mom, I have been exposed to a lot of children’s books. I love books with clever rhymes. I can’t stand rhymes that don’t sound quite right. Rhythms have a cadence, and a rhyming poem flows or it doesn’t. I wrote what sounded right to me. I am still getting used to the idea of being an author but farther from calling myself a poet.
I feel more comfortable calling myself an artist first, since I have had training and a lot of time to build that image of myself. I have always drawn animals and started painting in college. I earned my bachelor of science degree in art and graphic design from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. I started painting in dots around 1992, and my style has evolved over the years. I like creating an image of an animal in a way most people haven’t seen.
I come from a line of published authors–my father and my grandfather. I am excited to be finding my own path as a writer and know how proud my family is of my book.
Margo: I love the dot paintings. They are so unique and beautiful! What are you working on next?
Rachel: I have started my second book, Through Desert Eyes – a poetic journey with endangered animals (working title). I have chosen 21 endangered desert species from around the world and will research factual information about them and then start writing.
My next step, after the text is done, is to start working on artwork sketches.
Then I will submit these to Windward Publishing to see if they are interested in my second book. I hope to create a series of books on endangered species with my style and writing for children.
Margo: That sounds great! What a great idea for a series and your paintings and poetry will really capture children’s attention. What are two or three activities teachers or parents could use with this book?
Rachel: a) Use the Web as a resource. If you want to check out redlist.org, you will find a list of animals in trouble to promote further awareness. I also recommend talking about habitats and food chains. I found this great website that makes it fun to do projects about those subjects.
b) Ask your kids to send a dollar to a nature conservation group. Teaching children about philanthropy at an early age helps create a foundation for future support.
c) Create paintings out of dots. Your children can use the end of a paintbrush (without the brush); dip it into acrylic paint and start painting. I recommend starting with circles, lines or rainbows. It is harder than it looks.
Margo: Thank you so much, Rachel, for talking with us today! Hey everybody, make sure to leave a comment before Tuesday at 8:00 pm CST for a chance to win a copy of this beautiful, hard-cover book!