I'm happy to feature author Nadine Poper on the blog today! Nadine has not one but two lovely picture books releasing with Blue Whale Press! I enjoyed learning more about how Nadine switched from being a theater major to pursuing elementary education in college, and I'm always thrilled to chat with librarians! Read on for Nadine's thoughts about stories . . . creativity . . . and connection!
STORIES -- Discuss the inspiration for your ideas and stories, and share the process about your latest projects.
The inspiration for my two latest picture books really stems from being an elementary librarian for an urban school district. I am surrounded every day by children who are not only curious about their world, but are fascinated and drawn to books that bring them closer to this world. Both of my picture books center around unusual or not very well-known animal relationships. The inspiration too for these books came from knowing I was looking for topics or animals that are not prevalent in current children’s books. While researching, I came across the goby fish and pistol shrimp and their unique symbiotic relationship. I felt that this duo would be engaging for child audiences because as an elementary librarian, I have a first-hand glimpse as to what types of books and topics kids find engaging. I love listening to their conversations with each other and with me about what they are reading. I am often catching moments of excitement about a shark attacking another ocean animal for instance. A favorite series among my students is the Who Would Win? books by Jerry Pallotta. Many kids are so curious about the natural world and I guess I wanted to help feed that curiosity and provide answers. The same is true for my porcupette and fisher characters in that this predator and prey association is not as common as, say, a cat and mouse or lion and gazelle.
CREATIVITY -- How do you showcase your creative side through writing/illustrating and other pursuits?
I always felt that I was creative, even when I was a child. My best school assignments were the ones where I got to dig in and allow myself to just produce what felt right. I didn’t always have the confidence to push myself to go further. I have slightly more confidence now but I still struggle with doubt. When I was in college, I had a brief stint as a theater major. In my eyes, I wanted to get to NYC and be on stage. I had zero theater experience in high school, except for a small part in Our Town. I remember preparing my monologue for the college theater series audition. I had never done one before. I didn’t have guidance or coaching. I barely had the piece memorized. I walked to the very big theater on the Penn State campus, opened the theater doors, looked around for about a minute, shut the doors, and headed back to my dorm. That was a Saturday. On Monday, I switched to Elementary Education and never doubted my decision for a minute. Getting to be in front of children all day is exactly like being on stage. You have to be your best, you have to perform so the students want to learn. I do community theater to satisfy this creative side. And being an elementary librarian is icing on the cake. I am surrounded by kid lit creativity each and every day. I get to share it with young minds and to me that is my Broadway.
CONNECTION -- How do you connect to your young readers through your writing/illustrating, and how do you stay connected to the KidLit community?
I feel that I connect with the young readers by writing stories that touch the natural inquisitive side that we all have. I want my writing to make them smile and laugh and question and wonder.
I am active in my local chapter of SCBWI here in Eastern PA. I am a member of Julie Hedlund's 12 x 12 Picture Book Challenge, which provides amazing support. I attend conferences and retreats, my favorite being the annual one at the Highlights campus. Also, I am a member of the committee that chooses the books for the Pennsylvania Young Readers Choice Award through the PSLA (Pennsylvania School Librarians Association). Additionally, I follow many other authors, agents, editors, and publishers on social media. All of this helps me stay current and connected to what is happening in the children’s literature arena.
Nadine is an elementary librarian for an urban PA school district. She loves how fortunate she is to be surrounded all day by books and children to share them with. Nadine is a wiener dog fan and has 3 self-published children’s books about dachshunds. She is a foster home for Coast to Coast Dachshund Rescue and donates portions of her book sales to the rescue. She is a mom to 3 boys and 2 dachshunds but no porcupines or shrimp. When not writing, Nadine loves to travel to dog and dachshund events with her husband to promote her books. She also enjoys gardening in her Blandon, PA backyard, and of course reading children’s literature.
Porcupette and Moppet: Porcupette loves to spend days alone in the quiet forest reading. But when Moppet, a bumbling predator, comes along with his silly antics and non-stop rambling, Porcupette’s sanctuary is turned topsy-turvy. When Moppet finally makes his move, they both get a big surprise that suggests Moppet should read more, and Porcupette should listen more carefully. Alicia Young’s delightful art brings even more life and humor to Nadine Poper’s fun and educational story about a porcupine, a fisher, and their natural relationship in the wild.
Randall and Randall: Randall, the pistol shrimp, is a master at excavation. Randall, the goby fish, is his skittish, yet happy-go-lucky watchman. The problem is that both have quirks that drive each other bananas until one day their relationship is driven to the breaking point. This very funny informational-fiction story about one of the sea’s naturally-existent odd couples illustrates how certain species depend upon their symbiotic relationship for survival. It also shows children how two very different beings can embrace each other’s peculiarities.
CONNECT WITH NADINE:
Blue Whale Press website: http://www.bluewhalepress.com/
Illustrators: Alicia Young's website https://aliciayoungart.com/ and Polina Gortman's website https://www.gortmanillustration.com/