Author tells whale of a tale to kids
By Jenn Smith, Berkshire Eagle Staff,
LENOX -- The elementary students at The Montessori School of the Berkshires swapped questions and stories with one of their favorite authors on Tuesday.
Novelist, children's book author, editor and translator Hester Velmans spent an hour with nearly 40 children discussing her two children's novels, "Isabel of the Whales" (2006) and "Jessaloup's Song" (2011). The fictional series for juvenile readers is set in Provincetown, and explores the both joyful and perilous intertwining of the lives of whales, humans and the environment of the sea.
"It's cool because I got to learn more about her," said 9-year-old Talia McElhiney, after talking with the author.
Talia and some of her classmates also read the books with their mothers in a book club.
"It's nice for me too because I like writing stories myself," said Sachy Booth Desnoyers, 10, of meeting Velmans.
The classes recently finished reading the two books.
Meagan Ledendecker, the school's director of education and elementary teacher, said that in addition to becoming beloved stories to read, Velmans' books have inspired at least a half-dozen students to want to become marine biologists.
Velmans' praised the students for their interests and efforts, and encouraged the children to continue their pursuits of reading and writing.
"I'm not the biggest expert, but I know a little more now because I've done some research," the author said.
Velmans said her own interest in whales began after reading Berkshire County author Herman Melville's novel, "Moby-Dick."
Last week's breaking news of dozens of dolphins being stranded near several Cape Cod towns has turned people's attention to marine mammals, as has the upcoming film "Big Miracle," a rescue tale starring Drew Barrymore, based on the true story of three gray whales who became trapped in the ice of the Arctic Circle in 1988.