Noah likes animals quite a bit, and frequently picks out books about animals to read. I try to get him books about a variety of animals, rather than the same few animals all the time, and it’s actually harder than you’d expect. There are so many books about farm animals and pets, and the range for wild/zoo animals is usually limited to monkeys, tigers, lions, and elephants.
When my ex-colleague, Anita Sebastian, contacted me to let me know that she wrote some children’s books on zoo animals, I was pleasantly surprised that her books featured flamingos, leopards, stingrays, and snakes. Noah is familiar with all four, but the Ranger Anne series is the first set of books based on these four animals that he has read.
I liked that there were interesting facts worked seamlessly into the stories, and the text is not too lengthy, making it suitable for lower primary children to read on their own. There’s also an additional page at the end with more facts about the animal featured in each book, which is good for inquisitive young minds.
The illustrations are really beautiful, and I’ve noticed that Noah is often busy looking at the pictures while I read, as he likes asking questions about the different things that he spots on the pages. In fact, he was able to correctly identify Snow out of the nest of grown-up snakes, which I struggled to do.
Ranger Anne and the Active Leopard
Ranger Anne and the Proud Flamingos
Ranger Anne and the Curious Snake
Ranger Anne and the Flying Stingray
Additional interesting facts from two of the books
I asked Anita some questions to find out more about her writing process.
1. Is Ranger Anne based on you?
The stories are based on my experiences at the Night Safari. I find it easier to write from experience and ideas that I get while drawing. The leopard and snake stories are based on what really happened, so they were easier to write. The stingray and flamingo are what happened in my head, and were funnier to write. I know it’s silly but I kept smiling as I wrote those two stories. Why a little girl? Why not? Anne is a spunky little thing, and she uses reason and logic when dealing with animals, without losing her childlike qualities. There are so many avenues for women nowadays, and I wanted to showcase another one that is probably less common.
2. Why did you choose to write about animals, and in particular, these four animals, since they’re not very common/popular among children?
I chose animals that I connected with and were full of surprises. I know they are not the “usual” animals, so I thought: all the more children would want to know about them! I wanted the imagination and appreciation to reach beyond the “usual” animals, so I try to add a blend of usual and unusual.
3. How do you get your inspiration? Do you take ages to write a book, or does it come really quickly? What is your writing process like?
The stories were already planted in my head a long time ago. It was easier to write about things that happened. Then I had to edit it, so that each story wouldn’t be too lengthy. I took some time to figure out what I wanted kids to take away from the stories as well, as I didn’t want it to be a book where they would just read to learn information about animals.
What’s most important to me is that children realise that animals are beautiful and special, and that we need to take care of them. Animals do things that can surprise us. All we need to do is observe, listen, and be patient. They are so perfect and so beautiful in every way, it can take my breath away. That’s what I wanted to share.
Also I wanted children to see that Anne is not extraordinary: she is like any other child, just with a slightly different interest. I did not want not write long paragraphs explaining how much Anne loved Leonard, how much her dream bothered her, and how relieved she was that Leonard was fine and it was all just a bad dream. With simple sentences, I give opportunities for kids to think for themselves and infer the close relationship between Anne and the animals. I think children can pick up on these things and relate the stories to their parents.
There are “lessons” is the stories too, for example, caring (leopard), not everyone will be your friend (flamingo), dedication (flamingo), doing the right thing (snake), and always learning (snake/stingray). I didn’t want to state them explicitly, but I hope that the children will be able to see these “lessons” on their own.
4. We love the little snippets of information about the animals that are woven into the stories. Which animals are up next?
Next up in Jan 2016: elephant, giraffe, slow loris, and fireflies.
I’m really excited about the upcoming series, especially the book on fireflies, since we encountered them during our holiday in Taiwan, and Noah still talks about our experience with fireflies occasionally. I’m also looking forward to learning more about the slow loris, since I honestly don’t know much about it. Now who says adults can’t learn anything from children’s books? 😉
If you haven’t already gotten your set of the Ranger Anne series, you really should! They’re fun and educational, so they’ll make great gifts for Christmas too, if you’re like me, and love giving/receiving books.
Buy the Book
Ranger Anne Series (Set 1) on Armour Publishing
The Ranger Anne books are also available at Kinokuniya and Popular bookstores
Check out the previous Friday Flips posts HERE. I’ve also created a photo album on Facebook with some other good reads, and will be updating it whenever I come across more books that we enjoy. Do pop by for a look HERE.
*Disclaimer: We received the Ranger Anne books for the purpose of this review. All photos and opinions, as always, are our own.
We’ve got a set of the four Ranger Anne books to be given away, but do note that the books must be collected from Armour Publishing’s showroom in Bukit Merah Central directly. To participate, please use the Rafflecopter widget below. Terms and conditions apply.
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This giveaway will end on Friday, 23rd October 2015, at 2359h, and is open to Singapore residents only.
Please note that the books have to be collected at Armour Publishing’s showroom in Bukit Merah Central.
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