Welcome to STEM Tuesday: Author Interview, a repeating feature for the fourth Tuesday of every month. Go Science-Tech-Engineering-Math!
Today we’re interviewing Nancy Castaldo, author of THE WOLVES AND MOOSE OF ISLE ROYALE: Restoring an Island Ecosystem. “Stimulating reading for young naturalists and eco-activists,” says Kirkus.
Mary Kay Carson: How did you come to write The Wolves and Moose of Isle Royale?
Nancy Castaldo: This is a book project that began decades ago in my college ecology class. That is where I first heard of the important predator/prey study on Isle Royale. I was intrigued by this long study and have followed it ever since. When I found out that wolves might be released on the island I started to formulate the book project.
MKC: Care to share a favorite research moment from your time on Isle Royale?
Nancy: Spending time on the island was wonderful. I truly can understand why so many people return to the park after visiting. Photographer Morgan Heim and I stayed on the island, got up super early every morning, and hiked well past 10 pm each night to complete this book. The remoteness of the island provided some travel challenges, but they were well worth it. It is an exceptional place that deserves protection. I only wish we had more time there. It was a great experience. My favorite moment? Perhaps when we were in the forest with Cara as she was investigating wolf pings and we came across a spot where a moose had bedded down. We could see where it had folded its legs to rest. And beside this spot we found one where a wolf had bedded down. They were side by side. Of course, it is highly unlikely they were there at the same time. I couldn’t resist curling my body up to fit in those spots where they had rested. And then, I coaxed Cara and Morgan to do the same. It filled me with lots of feelings of connection and also fun. Those moments were so unexpected.
MKC: To whom did you imagine yourself writing to while drafting the book?
Nancy: Wolves and moose are two of my favorite animals and I’m sure many of my young readers feel the same way about them.They are wildlife icons. Aside from writing this book for my young readers, I’m sure my ecology professor would have loved to see that his words mattered to me so much that I held on to them all this time. I know I thought of him often as I was writing this.
MKC: Did you chose a particular angle or slant or the book? Why?
Nancy: I loved following the Scientists in the Field first person-travelogue format for this book. It is one of my favorite book series and I’m so pleased to have a book included among the rest. This approach enabled me to bring my readers along on the adventure with me.
Wolves have always been maligned throughout history and I love sharing their importance with my readers. All wildlife is essential, including these predators. I chose to show their importance while providing the science and alternative views around their reintroduction to the Park. I hope my readers can develop their own thinking about these issues with a broad amount of information.
MKC: Any book suggestions for kids who loved The Wolves and Moose of Isle Royale?
Nancy: If readers enjoyed The Wolves and Moose of Isle Royale, they will probably want to dive into some of the other Scientists in the Field titles. Wolf Called Wander by Rosanne Parry, Pax by Sara Pennypacker, and Endling: The Last by Katherine Applegate would be great fiction companions.
MKC: Why do you choose to write STEM books?
Kirsten: I have a STEM background, having double-majored in biology and chemistry during my undergraduate college years. Aside from writing, I’ve worked as an environmental educator and substitute science teacher. I’m also a National Geographic Certified Educator. I love writing books for curious kids.
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