Cathryn and John Sill’s About Habitats series is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year! To learn a little more about the creation of this award-winning nonfiction series for young readers, Cathryn Sill provides insight into the different excursions that inspire their books about the beautiful and varied habitats around the world and the emphasizes importance of encouraging younger generations to appreciate and protect the natural world.
John and I are birders, so most of our travel involves looking for birds. While we don’t often travel specifically to research the books we create, many of our opportunities for travel research have been coincidental. We crossed the prairie on a trip to an event to display John’s paintings. We just happened to be working on About Habitats: Grasslands so he was able to observe and photograph ideas to use in his illustrations.
An earlier trip to Panama during the rainy season was helpful when we were working on the book About Habitats: Forests.
Unfortunately, we aren’t able to travel to every habitat and every region in the world, but we gather information, memories, and photos from our trips to use as needed and where appropriate. Often John and I choose subjects we are more familiar with to use to illustrate the books. When we are not able to travel to gather information, we research our subject using reliable books and websites.
The About Habitats series has been around for 10 years, and in that time, concern of the many negative impacts on earth’s habitats has caused me to think of ways I might make a difference. I feel strongly that the younger generations are a definite hope for the future protection of the environment. The earlier they can develop an appreciation for the world around them, the better they can prepare to help preserve it. We are hopeful that these books will instill a love for this fragile planet that is our home and give young readers incentive to be good stewards.