There’s nothing fishy about Nadine Poper’s newest book, Randall and Randall (Blue Whale Press)! This wonderful picture book (with its starred review!) explores symbiotic relationships in the sea…with real life lessons for us landlubbers. Read on to learn more!
Animals and our animal world are simply fascinating! And they can teach us so much about ourselves and how to live harmoniously with others in this complex world. Sometimes it seems that animals have it all figured out much better than we do. Certain species of goby fish and pistol shrimp, for example, have this amazing symbiotic relationship, or friendship as I like to call it. In my new book Randall and Randall (Blue Whale Press LLC), these two animals give readers a glimpse into what it means to have a relationship with someone in spite of differences. Randall the goby fish needs a place to live while Randall the pistol shrimp (or sometimes known as the snapping shrimp) needs protection from predators. Two very different ocean species with two very different needs come together even though at times they feel they shouldn’t be together. What a lesson to be reminded of as humans, right? When I was an elementary school child, I often found nonfiction to be my least favorite type of book to pick up. But now as a librarian, I am seeing more and more picture books providing real information done in engaging ways. I am seeing my students gravitating towards nonfiction books that include appealing illustrations and text that is easy to understand. That was my goal when writing Randall and Randall as well as my other picture book Porcupette and Moppet. Porcupette and Moppet (Blue Whale Press LLC) is a story about the real predator prey relationship between the porcupine and the fisher. Many readers are unfamiliar with a fisher, also known as a fisher cat, so instead of writing just about that particular animal, I created a plot where his prey, a porcupine, is an integral part of the story. Neither of my books is considered nonfiction because my characters talk, but their dialogue contains the information readers need to learn about the behaviors and real-life relationships between these animals.
I did extensive research about all four of these animals by consulting primary sources such as the Pennsylvania Game Commission and marine biology professors. The most memorable moment of my research for Randall and Randall was being connected to Dr. John Randall, world renowned ichthyologist. While researching for the book, I kept seeing the genus name randallii after the words goby and pistol shrimp and I figured there had to be someone who these species were named after. I reached out to Dr. Lori McRae from the University of Tampa and sure enough she told me that yes indeed she knew how I could get in contact with a Dr. John Randall. I was floored! I figured, there is no way he will even talk to me. But it turned out his email responses were prompt, thorough, and absolutely delightful. I hope to meet him someday but that proves to be challenging since Dr. Randall is in his 90s, lives in Hawaii, and no longer can travel. Well, looks like I just might find myself in Hawaii someday soon.
I worked on Porcupette and Moppet for well over a year, continuously bringing it to my critique partners. It started out as a rhyming story which it didn’t stay rhyming, and the gentle but honest advice from my critique group helped me shape it into what it is today.
When I saw that Blue Whale Press was open for submissions and looking to grow their list, I chose to submit PORCUPETTE. A few weeks later I received an email that they were interested and wanted to call me. Ironically, I was at a local zoo who just had porcupettes born and I was there to see them around this same time. Of course I took the opportunity then to mention that I also had more manuscripts which is how Randall and Randall became published with Blue Whale as well.
Randall and Randall was chosen by Kirkus Reviews Magazine as one of the top 100 indie published books of 2019.
Now with 2020 right around the corner, I need to get working on my stories of a puffer fish and a chemistry loving princess! Happy New Year!
Nadine Poper is an elementary librarian for the Reading School District. She loves how fortunate she is to be surrounded all day by books and children to share them with.
Nadine is a wiener dog fan and has 3 self-published children’s books about dachshunds and two traditionally published picture books through Blue Whale Press. She is a foster home for Coast to Coast Dachshund Rescue and donates a portion of her dachshund book sales to the rescue.
She is a mom to 3 boys and 2 dachshunds but no porcupines or shrimp. When not writing, Nadine enjoys gardening in her Blandon, PA backyard, and of course reading children’s literature.
Great idea, and love that the creatures talk. Makes science more accessible.