The environment and children’s literature are two things I care about passionately, so I was absolutely thrilled last Tuesday night when, at a lovely event at the Melbourne’s Little Bookroom, Rescue on Nim’s Island was awarded the Widlerness Society’s Environment Award for Children’s Literature (fiction) – and the inaugural Puggles (children’s choice) award as well!
|The Little Bookroom, photo by Elise Jones|
When I first wrote Nim’s Island, I didn’t set out to make Nim a wildlife warrior. She just ended up one because if you live in a pristine natural environment, you have to care about keeping it pure. If you have a friend who’s a sea turtle, you care about whether she and her babies will survive. If you live on a small island, you know that every part of the island works together, and if you damage any part of it, it will damage the whole. We live on a big island in Australia, and other continents are bigger still, but the principle is the same.
|Hollyburn School, Vancouver, using Nim as an environmental hero, 2008|
But the good news is that every good thing you do for the environment can have big effects too – and it’s important to remember that we need to start with what’s right around us. You can sign a heap of petitions to save whales, but if you plant the rushes that indigenous butterflies breed in, you can help to save a species in your own garden.
And that’s really what Nim does. You don’t have to be quite as dramatic as she is – it’s probably best not to look for dynamite to defuse, but I guarantee that you can make a difference. If you read the books on this list, you might find surprising ways to do it. I'm reading one of the shortlist right now: The Vanishing Frogs of Cascade Creek, by Emma Homes, and I'm learning lots!
|With illustrator Geoff Kelly, photo by Coral Vass|
|With author Emma Homes|
Check out the Wilderness Society’s blog http://www.eacl.org.au/congratulations-2015-environment-award-for-childrens-literature-winners/
for the whole list and more pictures of the great evening, hosted by the lovely Leesa Lambert, with an inspiring keynote speech by Morris Gleitzman. And a special thanks to Coral Vass for allowing me to use her photographs.
|Meeting Rescue on Nim's Island illustrator Geoff Kelly for the first time,|
photo by Coral Vass