‘Honkity Hink! Focus and Think.’
For the three authors of Chocolate River Publishing’s newest children’s book, ‘Follow the Goose Butt, Camelia Airheart!’ it all began with getting lost on the way to a writer’s workshop in Saint John.
En-route to the workshop Beth, Colleen and Odette discussed writing a children’s book together. As Colleen states, “We wanted it to be about an iconic Canadian animal and we decided it would be funny to write about a goose with no sense of direction. By the end of the trip, we had an idea for the book and we decided the goose would be named ‘Camelia Airheart’, after Amelia Earhart due to her love of flight.”
The authors got to their destination just fine and ideas for the book took flight over the summer. All three of the authors are teachers and their ultimate goal was to create a book which students and teachers would find enjoyable and educational. The end result was an early chapter book about a young Canada goose named Camelia Airheart.
Camelia has a faulty GPS or Goose Positioning System and gets into trouble keeping in line with the rest of the flock. She is easily distracted in a delightful way and her journey takes her to meet a humpback whale in the Bay of Fundy, a herring gull on Grand Manan, a sandpiper flock at Hopewell Rocks, a lobster on the Acadian Peninsula, a chickadee and a moose at Mount Carleton, a deer near the Hartland Covered Bridge and finally another iconic Canadian animal, a beaver near Mactaquac. During each part of her journey Camelia captivates the reader with her engaging language and simple desire to find her way home to her flock.
Each author brings her own talents to the book. Odette Barr’s background as a former nature interpreter in Fundy National Park provided a foundation for the scientific knowledge in the book, as well as her beautiful illustrations. Beth Weatherbee’s musical talent inspired the creation of a song called the ‘Branta Bog Ballad’, which is available as a free download from Chocolate River Publishing at chocolate-river-publishing.myshopify.com/products/branta-bog-ballad-free-download, and Colleen Landry, known for her humorous blog and published articles provided a comical air.
Even though the book is suitable for children ages 5-12 it entertains any age reader. The authors have done several readings across the province and they are thrilled with the response from children and adults. As Colleen says, “We strived to use sophisticated language for older students and for adults, but we included a lot of humour for all age groups. Teachers like it for the educational value - Camelia travels across the province and there are lots of teaching opportunities.” The book includes themes like geography, social studies and science, along with life skills, such as following your own internal GPS, asking for help when you need it and having a ‘stick to it’ attitude when running into trouble.
Another flavourful consequence of the book is ‘Goose Joose’, a blueberry maple port that was produced by Beth’s family of Winegarden Estates Winery and Distillery in Baie Verte for the launch of the book. You can order Goose Joose through their website at http://winegardenestate.com .
The book has been so successful that the authors are currently working on a prequel: a picture book based at the Tantramar Wetlands Centre, near the head of the Bay of Fundy, where Camelia participates in a waterfowl banding program, as well as, a sequel chapter book where Camelia gets lost in Nova Scotia.
This summer, you and your family don’t have to travel far to explore our beautiful province. Simply read ‘Follow the Goose Butt, Camelia Airheart!’ to your child or surprise them with a copy of their own to read. The book is available at the Tidal Treasures Gift Shop at Hopewell Rocks, Fundy Guild Nature Boutique in Fundy National Park and Grays Landing Gift Shop in Hillsborough, New Brunswick.
In fact, if you are available on Tuesday, July 26th between 2:00 and 4:00 p.m. you can attend a reading of the book by the three authors at Gray’s Landing, Hillsborough, complete with the Branta Goose song, illustrations, dramatic readings and lots of laughs.
So fly away with Camelia this summer! Who knows where her journey will take you and with the skills of ‘Honkity Hink! Focus and think’, you can go anywhere!
Susan A. Dean is from Moncton, New Brunswick. She has worked as a writer and a teacher across Canada and abroad. However, she likes nothing more than hiking the trails of Fundy National Park and watching the tides on a moonlit night over the Bay of Fundy. Great beauty lies within her shores.