Thursday, July 21, 2011

HOLLY WILD: Poking it with a STICK!

In my last blog, I mentioned that I was illustrating the science portion of the book. Simple science. No big gadgets or apps. Pure and simple Holly Wild curiosity and a good poking stick is all that is needed. In order to get in touch with nature, you need a few other good things like a good notebook and a good pencil. but that's it--anything else is mere icing on the nature cake. A hand lens, specimen collecting system (Ziploc bags and plastic medicine bottles) and you're in business.
A few tools of the naturalist trade
Speaking of getting in touch with nature and science, the "poke it with a stick" Holly Wildism has been around longer than she's been around. And since we are talking poking sticks, my editorial team would like me to touch on polite poking stick etiquette:
'Nuff said!
Science and nature study need not be complicated. Observation and experience is key. With homemade explorer kit in hand, I can't tell you how many trees I climbed, places I explored and how many snakes I tailed a kid. I grew up in a naturalist's heaven on five acres of pines, hardwoods and ponds and had a wild neighborhood of lakes and more woods--without NO Trespassing signs around. Ahhh--nature! Ahh-mothers! My mother had us kids watching out for wild snakes, wild badgers, wild cats, wild dogs and anything else wild that might harm, bite, scratch or otherwise maim us.

NEVER poke a snake, especially an EMR--just saying!
And, yes, we did grow up with Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnakes (EMR) and lived to tell the tail--so to speak. We knew the dangers and were careful. OK, we knew the dangers.

But in order to get kids outdoors and stay outdoors today, we need to have them out simply for adventure. Not for a specific study or learning purpose. They need unstructured time to make stick forts and eat lunch in them like explorers. OK, so explorers didn't have Kool Aid and chips, but by golly it helps add to that adventurous feel. Time outdoors for kids to collect things, dig for bones (been there--done that) and make fox traps (been there--done that and punished for it). It doesn't take much in the way of tools or cost much and the benefits are wild, crazy cool.

Notebooks hold feasther, fur, skin, leaves, and small bones nicely.
Kids (and us adults) need adventure without the push of a button or a beep of digital notes. Keep science pure and simple.
Keep it Holly Wild style and POKE IT WITH A STICK--politely! 

Monday, July 11, 2011

HOLLY WILD: The Countdown, Part 2

Even though I have been working on the "science" portion of the book right now (snake species, scientific method, tools), I wanted to introduce you to the book's lively characters. Each one is quirky, quaint and down right vibrant. These folks are the guts, the juice, the fire, and the glue--that help and hinder Holly with her adventure on Beaver Island.

Let the journey begin. And with every story and journey comes the good, the bad and ugly! First the good. Our hero, Holly needs a trusty team to help her on her adventures. Twins, Tierra and Sierra fit the bill and do a good job of keeping Holly on task. Holly's brother adds color--er--black, and ugly smell to the story. Brothers do that--proudly.
*Left to Right:  HOLLY, Boy (Holly's big bro) and the twins, Tierra and Sierra.

*Remember these faces as they are early illustrations and will change as we go along. Another clean-up act for me to do at the drawing board. Redraw the characters so they look consistent throughout the chapters.

Now, for more good. The twinkly, sparkly, nature-fairy kind. Aunt Kitty. The bigger the hair, the bigger the heart and the bigger the brain. Aunt Kitty is a sweet, smart, flower-loving naturalist with a warped sense of humor. Yikes!
"Tee-hee!" (good friends make the best characters!)
And one other good fellow who unknowingly helps direct Holly in her pursuit of saving Beaver Island--artist and storyteller, Charlie Bird.

(One never knows what kind of characters lurk behind bad art and balloons!
The lines of good and bad can often be blurred.)
And what evil are all these good folk battling? What, is right. That unwanted, unliked family who shows up like a noxious, spreading invasive plant specie that is impossible to eradicate. The Buckthorn clan. (Yes, that's where their names came from!)



Spoiled Ivy Buckthorn has been a thorn in Holly's side since the second grade. But what makes Ivy so delicious is you despise her the moment she walks on "stage". From her ponytail scythe to her sharp tongue, you can't wait until this Buckthorn specie moves on--far away.
Then there is rest of the Buckthorn clan, Mr. and Mrs. B (Fern and Alder) and their sniveling poodle pup, Queenie. Queenie is annoying and Mrs. B can be obnoxious, but it's the greedy Mr. B who is the bad seed here. And Holly must help Beaver Island
outsmart, outwit and outlast Buckthorn Builders in order to SURVIVE!


Even though no one is REALLY bad--everyone learns lessons on this adventure. And good vs. evil makes for a great tail--er tale. And everyone is needed to tell this story especially when the story has environmentally educational material in it.
The science is hidden among all the humorous antics and
adventure like a snake or herp in the grass! Which is the best way to learn.

Back to the drawing board for me. I have more good, bad and ugly species to illustrate.