Writing quote

Sure, it's simple writing for kids...Just as simple as raising them.
— Ursula K. LeGuin

Friday, August 10, 2012


Welcome to Friday Features! This is where you'll find interviews and guest blogs with and by other authors of juvenile fiction. If you're interested in being one of my guest authors, please email me.

Today's guest post is by Jo Marshall, author of an adorable series of books called Twig Stories.

Author Jo Marshall
 I’m often asked, “What are Twig Stories?” Twigs are small, stick creatures, and the stories are about how their world is changing.  Twigs showed up in our old growth forest in our back yard when my daughter, Ali Jo, first learned about climate change.  It was difficult to understand, and she felt overwhelmed.  So we made up stories about Twigs fighting to save their forests and wildlife.  In that context, climate change made sense.  Twig Stories are exciting, fantasy adventures, but each one centers on actual climate change events.  Of course we share the royalties with environmental nonprofits.
Probably the next thing people ask is, “Wow! Are you the illustrator, too?”  No, I’m not that talented!  David Murray is.  He’s a professional Disney and Universal Pictures artist.  His screen credits include Mulan, Tarzan, Curious George, Lilo & Stitch, Brother Bear, and many others. We met when I asked him for his opinion of a publisher.  David liked Twigs, and offered to illustrate the books, and do the bookjackets, too. He also gave me the rights to his art, so Ali Jo and I can use them to make puzzles and games.  We put them up on the website.
   Another question that always pops up is, “Why write for kids?”  For many years I volunteered as a literacy tutor, reading one-on-one with elementary school kids.  Working with kids who struggled through novels they had to read, helped me appreciate what they loved to read.  So, understanding their needs helped a great deal.  I write stories kids really enjoy – wild adventures with amazing illustrations in an easy-to-read format.  An important lesson I learned about young kids, is they care so much about what is happening to our world.  So when writing a story they love to read, I wanted to share what I loved, also – the great redwoods, cedars, whitebark pine, giant sequoias, and the wildlife in our forests.  Unfortunately, this world is threatened by swarms of bark beetles, out-of-control wildfires, endless drought, and heart-wrenching floods because of a warming world.  There are less than 40 woodland caribou left in the Pacific Northwest.  They will go extinct, if not protected.  The spirit bear – a rare, white bear – survives in only one place, the Great Bear Rainforest in British Columbia.  Some estimate less than 200 remain.  So when I write for kids in elementary school, I know I have an audience who cares about these things.  When they grow up, I hope they will remember the world of Twigs, and make better environmental choices than we did. 

   Coming up next for Jo is Leaf and the Long Ice due to be released Thanksgiving weekend 2012, and Leaf and Echo Park next summer. 
   You can purchase Leaf and the Rushing Waters here, and Leaf and the Sky of Fire here.

To connect with Jo Marshall and to find out more about her books, check out these links:

Twig Stories website.
Jo Marshall's Facebook author page.
The Twig Stories Facebook Fan page.


  1. Thank you, Natasha, for posting this article about Twig Stories. I hope your readers enjoy the post, and tell their kids about the wild adventures Twigs have in the Pacific Northwest. Your blog is amazing. It's a privilege to be posted here!

    best wishes, Jo

  2. I love the heart and soul and message in the Twig Stories! :)

  3. You're welcome, Jo! Thanks for being a wonderful guest, and I wish you the best success with Twig Stories.

    Joanna--me too! What a great way to teach kids about the environment and climate change!