Ten writers for children. All with something to say.
An Interview with Bonnie Doerr
I have the pleasure of interviewing Bonnie J. Doerr, whose tween novel Island Sting (Leap Books) was released on January 6, 2010. Bonnie and I were first drawn together by our similar backgrounds in south Florida, Maryland, and North Carolina and by the fact that we now both live in historic log cabins! When we met in person last September, we formed an instant friendship that I’m sure will continue for many years.
1. Bonnie, tell us about your book.
Thanks for the opportunity, Edie.
Island Sting follows fifteen-year-old Kenzie Ryan’s dramatic transition from a New York City, girls’ academy life style to that of a casual, island existence in a Florida Keys wildlife refuge. Needless to say, Kenzie is nowhere near ready for the culture shock, but when she meets sixteen-year-old island native Angelo Sanchez, things begin to look much more appealing. As the two become more involved in an undercover operation to save the endangered Florida Key deer, more than the investigation heats up.
Reading Island Sting is like taking a vacation to the beautiful, fragile Florida Keys. It’s a tour of land and sea through the eyes of a first time visitor with the best tour guide possible— a savvy local who shares all the inside scoop.
Island Sting is classified as a “tween” book by Leap Books as it is appropriate for readers 10-14 or older.
2. The setting of Island Sting took me right back to my own childhood roots in tropical south Florida. Please tell us what you liked best about your life in the Florida Keys.
That’s an easy answer—the sheer, stunning beauty of sky and water. I had a one half hour drive to work each day filled with views that fed my soul, and my home sat a few yards off a quiet bay with the white heron refuge beyond. Osprey hunted outside my windows, dolphins danced, sharks swam, herons fed. I never knew what I’d see in the water next. And the sky! The colors and clouds and rainbows… awesome. Sun and moon rising and setting. It was all breath taking. And I had the time of my life fishing in both the back country (near waters off the Gulf of Mexico) and beyond the reef in open water. I could go on and on…
3. It’s obvious to me in your writing and in your life that you are dedicated to the environment. What are some ways that your teen readers can get involved in environmental issues, even if they don’t live right next to a wildlife refuge like Kenzie does?
It’s my belief that before one becomes involved in environmental issues, an individual must have experienced quality time outdoors. Today’s children, through little fault of their own, often spend their days inside a series of unnatural boxes. It is difficult to feel any sensitivity for mother Earth and her creation when one is completely separated from her gifts. So, first I say, get outside. Even if it must be in a city park or a vacant lot. Learn to see small wonders—worms, spiders, the incredible variety of plants—as well as the more obvious marvels. Look through a magnifying glass or binoculars. Visit zoos and aquariums if you can’t observe creatures in the wild. Once you begin to experience the connection between all living things, the sharing of air and water, the source of all life, then the caring begins.
Thankfully, each day more teens are becoming environmentalists. And it’s not all hard work. Swap parties are fun ways to lessen our footprint on the earth. Teens bring gently worn clothes to the party and trade for “new” clothing. After the swap, attendees can produce fashion shows to display their new looks. Super creative teens are deconstructing clothing and combining the pieces into brand new articles.
A simple thing to do is not to wear clothing that needs to be dry cleaned since most cleaners have not yet converted to green solvents.
As for Kenzie’s fury at all the trash marring the beauty of her new island home I’m pretty sure I know what she’d tell readers, “It may not seem like much but setting a good example without preaching is the best habit of all. If you see litter, pick it up. No matter who dropped it. It’s like you toss a pebble into the water. You make a ripple and it spreads and grows and maybe soon it’ll make a wave.” She’d tell you to keep a litter bag in your car for when you can’t find a trash can. Carry garbage bags to parties where friends don’t recycle. Encourage the partiers to stash their cans and bottles in the bag so you can haul it to a recycle bin.
Green Teen organizations are springing up everywhere. Google them, join them, start a group of your own. Be the change you envision.
Thank you, Bonnie! To learn more about Bonnie and her book, Island Sting, visit her website at http://www.bonniedoerrbooks.com/index.htm and follow her blog at http://bonnieblogsgreen.blogspot.com/.