Complementing my daily blog interviews, today’s Author Spotlight, the one hundred and seventy-sixth, is of children’s author and photographer Jannifer Powelson.
Born and raised on a farm in West Central Illinois, Jannifer Powelson’s interest in conservation and the natural world was sparked at an early age, and she always enjoyed writing stories. Powelson’s education in nature continued at college, and she graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Biology from Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois and a Master’s Degree in Biology from Southern Illinois University – Edwardsville. She conducted thesis research in Northern Illinois, where she also practiced identifying and photographing prairie plants. Many of these plant photos are featured in the first book in the Rachel Raccoon and Sammy Skunk Series, “Rachel and Sammy Visit the Prairie”. The main characters, Rachel Raccoon and Sammy Skunk, were derived from Powelson’s wildlife research on raccoons, when she also experienced a few interesting and stinky incidents with skunks.
“Rachel and Sammy Visit the Forest – A Guide to Spring Woodland Wildflowers” is the second book, and “Rachel and Sammy Learn About Trees” is the third book in the series. The fourth of these fun and educational books, “Rachel and Sammy Learn to Conserve” will be released in the spring of 2013.
Jannifer is employed as a conservationist and resides in Princeton, Illinois with her husband and two daughters. She enjoys reading, writing, photography, nature, and travel. In 2012, she and two partners formed the Rising Phoenix Press, and they are busy publishing and promoting a wide variety of children’s and young adult books. Show More
And now from the author herself:
All four books in the “Rachel Raccoon and Sammy Skunk Series” combine my passions of writing, photography, nature, and education and connect all aspects of my life. My goal with Rachel Raccoon and Sammy Skunk books is to educate children about nature by using a combination of cute characters, educational and fun storylines, realistic illustrations, and vivid photographs. I take the photos myself and try to capture the true beauty of nature and rely much on bright colors to help showcase nature’s spectacular (but often overlooked) magnificence. Kalpart does a wonderful job of creating illustrations that are very realistic and attractive. Working for years in the conservation field, I gained much information on plants, natural resources, and conservation, and I used these tidbits to write the books.
I started taking the pictures for “Rachel and Sammy Visit the Prairie” long before the idea to write this book popped into my head. After my first daughter was born in 2003, I decided to use prairie photos I took in the early 1990s in a children’s book, featuring Rachel Raccoon and Sammy Skunk.
After this book was published, it was a great tool to use in my established conservation education programs at work, and in my spare time, I use the books to conduct educational programs at nature centers, state parks, and for school groups.
Some information on my four books:
“Rachel and Sammy Visit the Prairie” is a great tool for teaching children to identify 20 common prairie plants. Readers follow Rachel Raccoon and Sammy Skunk, as they hike through the prairie learning about the prairie.
“Rachel and Sammy Visit the Forest” again features Rachel and Sammy taking a nature hike, but this time, children will learn to identify 15 common spring woodland wildflowers.
“Rachel and Sammy Learn About Trees” features new characters. Rachel and Sammy, along with their classmates, teacher, Mrs. Doe, and Doc Opossum, take a field trip to the forest, where they discover interesting tree facts. This book teaches children about tree identification, parts of trees, photosynthesis, and much more!
“Rachel and Sammy Learn to Conserve”, scheduled to be released soon, brings back Rachel and Sammy’s classmates, and everyone is excited about the last day of school, as students present their final projects on conservation. Learn simple ways to conserve natural resources in this book.
With four educational children’s books under my belt, I am excited about the future. Soon, I hope to start writing a new educational children’s chapter book series and plan to incorporate plenty of nature photos. I like using vibrant and colorful pictures to help draw readers into the beauty of nature. I feel that if children begin to enjoy nature’s beauty early, they will appreciate it more later.
In 2012, I took a big leap and broke away from my publisher and co-founded the Rising Phoenix Press, along with two partners. This is a challenging undertaking has been a great learning experience, but it will be very worthwhile.
You can find more about Jannifer and her writing via… her website www.janniferpowelson.com.
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