Raccoon Retreat is officially in production! That means that its illustrations and edits are complete, and it’s with layout as the final step before it’s ready for publication!
I’ve been updating its progress at Patreon, where you can find:
A preliminary cover reveal
Illustrator Christian Barratt took the concept of “baby raccoon dystopia” and ran with it, going from the lush nighttime forest of Book 1, to a stark dawn in Book 2.
Christian’s cover art is all the more poignant for the fact that as he worked on it, land and wildlife in the eastern part of his native Australia were being devastated by wildfires and later, floods. While human deforestation is perhaps less catastrophic than either of those outcomes, we’ve seen pictures shared on social media of koalas and kangaroos looking just as defeated as the raccoons on the cover of Raccoon Retreat.
In large part, this is why I’m dedicating the book to wildlife rehabbers globally (and a portion of sales to those in Australia). Reading and watching stories of their efforts above and beyond the already colossally busy “baby season” was simultaneously heartbreaking and inspiring. It’s always been my hope that rehabbers would look at these books as a way to make their jobs just a little bit easier by teaching compassion to the next generation.
A glimpse into “curriculum connection” activities
In this post, I covered the requirements for parsing a book’s key ideas and details, its craft and structure, and its integration of knowledge and ideas — mainly by analyzing the text together with the book’s illustrations. Students are asked not just to describe story events, but also how characters’ traits, motivations, or feelings contribute to the events. I included a sampling of the questions I asked for both second and third graders, which are similar to what you might expect in a book club.
The other thing I’m doing a little differently in this book is to include a maze as part of the activities. The maze reflects the story’s structure, inviting readers to engage with the journey in a much more visual and interactive way. Illustrator Christian Barratt is working on almost a “map” of the events in the story, and I’m really excited to share this.