Friday, August 7, 2009

An interview with Shelley Meyer, author of the new children's book "Where the Buttercups Grow"

"Where the Buttercups Grow" is a great children's book, and we're not saying it
just because we're collaborating with the publisher, Aaspirations Publishing, to plant a tree for every copy sold, but because we really think so, and that's also the feedback we got from couple of kids in the Eco-Libris family we asked to check it out.

This book is beautifully written by Shelley Meyer and vividly illustrated by her daughter Tessa Meyer (in the photo above at the first book launch in Surrey).

Here's the short version of what this book is about (the longer version can be found here):

In a beautiful field, the buttercups grow, but when two children have no respect for nature, garbage begins to pile up high. Are the days of the buttercups over, or will help come to rescue the buttercups from a fate more deadly than illness? See the difference that children can make when they set their mind to it and decide to take care of Mother Earth.

I wanted to learn more about the book and the author and I asked Shelley Meyer to join us for an interview, and here it is:

Hi Shelley. What led you to write this beautiful book?
I have 23 years experience teaching children and in that time am raising two of my own. Needless to say, I have read many books to many children, and have always thought how great it would be to write one of my own. So, having seen "The Bucket List" movie, which encourages doing things you want to do, and not just talking about it, I was motivated to get going on writing my own book.

I wanted the book to be about something that would teach children that they can make a difference to our world, one step at a time, as this is something I have always incorporated in our learning. We are part of the Adopt a Street Program, which means we pick up garbage on our street, we have been part of the Bulb planting progra
m in our community, we have always planted a "graduation tree" for the class, we recycle and we always acknowledge Earth Day.

Why of all the flowers you chose buttercups to be the center of your book?
Because most children are familiar with buttercups. You know, holding one under your chin to see if you like butter. They are also such a visible wild flower that I knew most children would be acquainted with them.

On the back of the book it says that as a teacher "you hope to teach young children values they can live up to all their lives". What are the values you hope children will learn from this book?
I am hoping that most children ultimately learn the importance of respect for their community and for each other and that all people, young and old can make a difference even in the smallest of positive acts.

What was it like to work with your daughter, who is the book's illustrator, on the book?
My daughter is such a motivated person, that is something I totally admire about her. She has always enjoyed drawing and has a natural talent for it, so for us to work on this together, was an invaluable experience and a memory that I will cherish.

Your book is filled with optimism and the notion that change can be achieved if we are ready to work to make it happen. Is it something you really believe in considering all the difficulties we face to make even the slightest changes?
I absolutely believe we can make changes even in the smallest ways. If we think of the big picture we may be discouraged. But if we can focus on what we can do, and not we cannot do, then change will absolutely happen. And more people get on board because they see the difference and before you know it, these little changes add up to big changes. I think this is a good way to pace yourself through life. Take on what you can and be proud of that!

What do you think is the best way to educate children on the importance of sustainability?
I think the best way to educate children on the importance of sustainability is "hands on." Get them out there to plant trees and flowers so they can see what needs to be done so as not to deplete our forests. Get them recycling and explain why so they can understand the importance of reducing and reusing. Reading to them, showing them pictures of "treeless areas" etc. They need visual and hands on learning in order to achieve understanding.

Who is your environmental hero?
I so admire the work of Dr. David Suzuki and Al Gore. They are renowned environmentalists who force us to take a look at our lifestyles and seek to change them in ways that protect our Earth. I also admire my little preschoolers when I see them outside picking up garbage or planting their graduation tree, know full well they are making a difference.

What are the feedbacks you receive from children and parents?
I am so lucky to have their support. They are so proud of my daughter and I and they are so glad that the book is one that will teaches their children the values that they as parents are teaching them at home. The children love that they know the author and the illustrator and they like the message and are encouraged to get out their and clean things up. I have had a few children who now bring buttercups into their homes to be put into vases. Parents especially like the Eco-Libris association because having trees planted because they purchased a book is so significant.

How do you feel about the fact that one tree is being planted for every book with Eco-Libris?
This is the best. How great to have one tree planted for every book sold. I am honoured to be associated with Eco-Libris. This fits into the message of the book perfectly and children and parents can feel they are doing something very proactive.

What are your plans for the future? are you working on any new children's book?
I am absolutely planning on writing more books. My second one is done, just needs to be polished before getting published. All my books will have a "Kids Can Make a Difference Theme." Because I know they can. Then they will carry this attitude into their adult life and hopefully pay it forward and teach other kids that they too can make a difference.

Thanks Shelley!

You can purchase a copy of the book at

Raz @ Eco-Libris

Eco-Libris: promoting green reading!