This week on the blog, I am featuring Tonya Trimble and her new novel Curiosity with a Capital S is published by Tell Me Press and is currently available in hardcover, paperback, and e-Book versions, wherever fine books are sold or downloaded.
A children’s educator of 45 years, you have released your first book for kids. Tell us about Curiosity with a Capital S and why you decided to write it.
Curiosity with a Capital S is based on the true happenings of my brother’s and my adventures on Lady’s Island. This island is directly across the channel from Beaufort, South Carolina. During WWII our father was in the Navy and sent to Parris Island. Due to a shortage of housing, we ended up renting a summer cottage on Lady’s Island, which was sparsely inhabited. There were lots of woods, a creek, one hotel, a pier, and many opportunities for adventures and interesting experiences. My book is based on these happenings.
The reason I decided to write this book was rather interesting. I did not set out to write a book. Rather, early on, as a teacher, I was asked to instruct the children in creative writing. With each new skill I taught, I would write up an adventure from my childhood on Lady’s Island in order to demonstrate the skill I was teaching. After a year, I had many of these adventures already written. Soon, I decided to put them together with a bit of editing, additions, and a number of rewrites to form a manuscript that I was to use in my classrooms over the years until it was submitted and accepted for publication by Tell Me Press.
The book is deliberately “old-fashioned.” What made you want to take that route in writing this story?
I took this route simply because the actual adventures upon which the book was based took place during the 1940s during WWII. Thus, in order to keep and strengthen the tone and feel of the book it was only natural to keep it “old-fashioned.”
An historical novel for children, at what age and classroom level can young readers can enjoy Curiosity?
The book is primarily for ages 8-12. Fourth graders, especially, seem to relate to the main characters, Stan and Tracy. However, I have had numerous adults tell me that they started to read it, prior to giving it to their children, and found it interesting enough to keep reading. They wondered why it was tagged as a young adult book.
Kids are offered so many learning opportunities in your book, including the history of the World War II era and the differences in life between then and now. Talk to us about some of the social and environmental topics explored in Curiosity.
Curiosity lends itself to learning about an element of history many children of today have not explored. It touches on the customs of the era, speech, manners, and acceptable behavior for children of the time. The home unit was a safe and secure place. The father was the head of the house and bread-winner, the mother was the home-maker who also cared for the children, and the children were expected to be well mannered, respectful, and obedient. It also mentions war rationing and shortages. Due to the war efforts, life style changed radically. Women were taken out of the home setting and worked in jobs that men usually handled because most men were across the ocean fighting for our freedom. In many ways, life was simpler and less rushed. There were less modern inventions to speed up life.
Ted Enik, the artist responsible for the illustrations in the popular children’s books Magic School Bus, Eloise and Fancy Nancy, drew the images in Curiosity. What was it like to see your book brought to life through these illustrations by such a master of the craft?
I feel so privileged that Ted Enik, after reading my book, was willing to illustrate it. He was able to get the exact tone and “old-fashioned” feel that we were looking for. His sketches relate the simplicity of the times, yet, the vigor and stamina of life in the 1940s.
Do you think your background in education helped you write a story good for teachers to share in a classroom?
I wrote what I knew, and what I knew was what inspired young people to read and open their imaginations to new ideas and discoveries. This book gives children an opportunity to “travel” to a different era. A good teacher can take this book and integrate history, culture, and way of life, to her/his students. As a teacher, I recognize this to be an excellent approach to learning.
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