Joining us from the great state of Hawaii, please welcome award-winning author and illustrator Monika Mira, whose lifelong passion for marine conservation led her to develop beautiful educational material for children focused on marine science.
Q. Please tell us a little bit about yourself and your books.
A. I have always loved the ocean, so much so that I graduated with a degree in Marine Science and have worked on numerous projects to protect aquatic resources in Hawaii. It is my commitment to the ocean environment and my love for art that brought me into the world of writing and illustrating.
Besides those early, dry technical papers that are published by the University, my first creative work is an award-winning coloring textbook of Hawaiian Reef Fish that teaches children and adults about the anatomy and biology of the fishes and their relationship with the coral reef. Since that first work, I have published nearly a dozen titles, most of which are about the coral reef and its inhabitants.
Q. I’d love to hear about your greatest success.
A. It’s funny where your books will take you! My most successful book is a coloring book for kids about the Day of the Dead. This sugar skull coloring book was released a few years back, hitting the “hot new releases” within days and becoming a No. 1 Bestseller on Amazon within a month. This book has continued to do well along with its sequel.
Q. That’s wonderful! What about your latest success?
A. My most recent title was inspired by the movie, Finding Dory, but you won’t find any bubble-eyed cartoon characters in my book. Instead, children will learn about the real live species that inspired the characters from the movie. Finding the True Stars of the Ocean is a coloring book with realistic images of the sea life that you might find in the movie or in the ocean like: Blue tangs, clown fish, sea otters, sea lions, octopus and many others. All illustrations are accompanied by 1-page fact sheets that share scientific facts about the species. I’m kind of a science geek, so I can’t help bringing that element into my books.
Q. What have you found to be really challenging?
A. This is a funny story. When I wrote the Complete Hawaiian Reef Fish Coloring Book, publishers were often impressed with the content, but the book was rejected over and over because, and I quote, “there is no market for adult coloring books.”
Well, there is now! I believe that coloring is a great educational tool, but not everyone will agree with me. Many folks say coloring and education do not go together. The research says otherwise and I will continue to write and illustrate what I believe in.
Q. Wow! Those publishers couldn’t have been further off course! It’s funny how things change. What plans do you have for the future?
A. Most of my books have been written and illustrated for children, but I am currently working on an adult coloring book with more intricate artistic illustration of marine life. I think it’s kind of fun to be able to create my own ocean through my art, always keeping in mind what inspires me.
The other project I am working on is totally unrelated to the ocean. I discovered a unique way to help struggling readers by using a multi-sensory approach with sign language. I will be finishing up a book about how to integrate sign language into early childhood education curriculums in the next year. The book will be accompanied by some video instruction.
Q.Where can we keep up with you and buy your books?
A. Website & Author Blog: www.lucidhawaii.com
Amazon Author Page: www.amazon.com/author/monikamira
Finding the True Stars of the Ocean
Not just a coloring book! Finding the True Stars of the Ocean is a great educational tool for students (grades 2-5) and teachers alike. If your child was inspired to become a marine biologist or learn more about marine ecosystems after watching one of the blockbuster animated movies, Finding the True Stars of the Ocean is for them. Inside this educational coloring book, your child will learn about the coral reef and kelp forest ecosystems and the balance that exists between the species that live there.
They will learn about the real life version of characters from the big screen including: Clownfish, Regal Blue Tangs, Porcupinefish, Butterflyfish, Damselfish, Cleaner Wrasses, Rockfish, Octopuses, Hammerhead Sharks, Whale Sharks, Sea Turtles, Spotted Rays, Sea Lions, Sea Otters and more. Each hand-drawn illustration is accompanied by a one-page fact sheet about the species. Children will learn about species’ feeding habits, coloration, anatomy, body design, and their role in the underwater ecosystem.
Important ecological principals covered include: symbiosis, the effects of collecting fish for the aquarium trade, reef etiquette and conservation. Including these topics is intended to help children make better decisions about the world we live in.
The book is available for purchase on Amazon here: http://a.co/1RTRWKr