Who is the target audience for your book?
Marisa Vincent: Pre-school through fifth grade. We want parents, grandparents and teachers to recognize tunes from the book and welcome the opportunity to engage children in a fun, interactive manner. These rhymes are a reminder of how our actions affect the planet and begin the discussion of how to make simple lifestyle changes to teach children and families how they can contribute to protecting our planet for future generations.
What is your experience in the publishing industry?
Angela Vincent: We self-published our book and officially launched Oct. 17. As new authors, obtaining representation from a large publishing company is challenging. After extensive research into smaller publishing companies, we decided to educate ourselves through the process of self-publishing. We are both very hands-on, and we feel that our vision for “Save Queen Green! Mother Nature’s Eco-Rhymes” will best be served by following our passion and supporting it with hard work and dedication.
How did you come up with the idea for “Save Queen Green!”?
Angela: The idea spawned from a creative writing project I did while studying abroad in Germany. It turned into my senior thesis project in college, where I studied theater, music and environmental studies. I enlisted the help of my mother, and together we created the book and album. Queen Green is our depiction of Mother Earth. By personifying our planet, children have a more realistic and urgent sense of the need to save Queen Green and thus protect our environment. Throughout the book, Queen Green either is sad or happy, depending on the careless or helpful actions of the characters.
What are the benefits and pitfalls of working as a mother-daughter team?
Marisa: The benefits of working together far outnumber the pitfalls. We have a similar work ethic and are both very driven. Being family, we are used to disagreements, arguments and discussions, so we don’t hesitate to speak our minds. This enhances the partnership, as there is no guesswork as to what each other is thinking. The biggest challenge is to put aside the mother-daughter relationship in the sense that I can’t pull the “mom card.” There are instances where we simply must agree to disagree and move on. Compromise has always been part of our relationship as mother-daughter, and it has been a useful tool throughout this process.
What inspired you to create a children’s book?
Angela: In 2010, I was studying abroad in Bonn, Germany, and was inspired by how environmentally conscious the country is. In college, I became really involved with issues surrounding climate change and was able to merge my love of music and theater with my passion for protecting the environment. Not growing up with environmental values, I quickly realized the importance of youth education on such issues. Because, in fact, it is our youths who are going to be faced with a changing planet.
Remembering that many of the lessons I learned in elementary school had a musical or rhyming theme, I was inspired. As a college student, I could still recite many of those songs and rhymes relating to math, science and other subjects.
Why do you think it’s important for people to receive an environmental education at a young age?
Marisa: My generation did not have awareness about protecting the planet. In turn, I did not teach my children. When children learn these lessons at a young age, the message becomes second nature to them. Recycling, saving water, picking up trash, etc., all become part of their normal, daily routine. Then, in turn, these children grow up mindful of protecting the planet and make choices as adults to foster that protection.
What draws children to the book?
Angela: The beautiful illustrations, hand-painted by a local tattoo artist, Serene Temple, visually attract children to the book. The familiar tunes and catchy lyrics stem from old children’s songs and nursery rhymes, whose meaning has been lost. We’ve infused relevant messages into the lyrics and a modern, upbeat flair to the tunes. In addition to the book and album, we provide environmental education by performing an interactive presentation. I dress up as Queen Green and sing and dance to the eco-rhymes while inviting children to participate. Children love to join in. They leave the event singing the tunes, remembering the environmental messages and hopefully sharing what they have learned with their friends and family.
Do you plan to write more books?
Angela: We do have plans for more books, as there are a plethora of children’s songs in the public domain and abundant issues we could tackle. But first, we would love to take the show on the road, so to speak, and create a musical or television show to reach a broader audience. Or, a Disney princess that represents Mother Earth would be even better. We also plan to work with teachers and schools to get these messages into the curriculum by correlating our messages to state science standards.
What has been your favorite experience during the process of creating your book?
Marisa: Bringing the book to life through the performances with Queen Green and her keepers. It has transformed into an interactive presentation that children love. The performance aspect was a side effect of writing the book and recording the album. Angela is a classically trained vocalist who sings on the album, and I taught dance for more than 15 years in the Las Vegas Valley. We decided to enhance the learning experience by combining music and dance with the science of protecting the environment. It is rewarding to see the instantaneous, positive feedback in seeing the children sing, dance, learn and have fun.