We’re thrilled to start a new academic year with an interview with author and illustrator Anna Terreros-Martin about her beautiful, hopeful new book!
Without giving too much away can you tell us about your new book ‘Can You See The Stars Tonight?’?
When baby puffins- pufflings – start getting lost, Nora and Puffin try to understand why. While on an adventure on Puffin Island, they realise the moon and stars aren’t bright enough to guide the pufflings safely on their way! That evening as they drink hot chocolate after sunset they finally understand the problem, the artificial lights from their town are way too bright causing light pollution! But can Nora and Puffin find a solution to reducing the bright lights in order to help the pufflings and make the stars sparkle again? On the final spread of the book there is information about light pollution and how we can do our bit at home to reduce the light we create too.
How is this book similar to your debut book ‘The Friendly Mammoth’? How is it different?
It is similar to The Friendly Mammoth because both books include characters that have strong friendships with each other and they both highlight the importance of looking after our wildlife and environments. An obvious way that the books are different are that unlike The Friendly Mammoth, where we travel back in time to the Ice Age and meet prehistoric animals, Can You See The Stars Tonight? is set in the present day. It also revolves around a specific environmental issue- light pollution – and the impact it has on wildlife, in this case, puffins.
Do you have a favourite spread or illustration from the book you can show us and tell us about?
I think my favourite spread in the book is the one where Nora, Puffin and Puffling are on Puffin Island surrounded by all the flying seabirds! This illustration was inspired by my first ever trip to see puffins in real life. I remember that just like Nora, seeing all the beautiful seabirds that were flying around us took my breathe away. From that moment I was mesmerised!
What research did you carry out while writing ‘Can You See The Stars Tonight?‘?
A few years before starting to write the book, I went on a trip to the Farne Islands to see puffins. It was on that trip that I fell in love with puffins, they have so much character and are just wonderful little birds! I spent the trip drawing them in my sketchbook which naturally formed into a character, now known as Nora’s best friend, Puffin. Drawing them in my sketchbook meant that I spent a lot of time watching the puffins carefully, their movements, behaviours and also seeing the environment and their burrows was very helpful. Once I returned from the trip I did more research into puffins and realised that sadly they are under threat from a number of different things such as over fishing and polluted oceans. One threat that I knew little about was light pollution and that is when I learnt about Puffin Patrol. Puffin Patrol takes place in some Icelandic communities that live near puffins, where groups of people including children go out and rescue pufflings that have gotten lost and flown into the local town instead of out to sea. The artificial lights can cause pufflings to get confused about which direction they are meant to be flying in. It was after reading this that I decided that I wanted to highlight the impact light pollution has on puffins (as well as other animals) in my story.
Have you got any ideas about what Nora and Puffin might be up to right now?
During late July and the start of August the puffins and pufflings that have been nesting on islands will now be starting to fly back out to sea for the winter and won’t return until Spring next year. So I think right now Nora and Puffin will be busy saying goodbye to all of their puffin friends and making sure they are all ready for their time out at sea.
(An interesting fact about puffins is that they loose the colours on their beak during the winter months when they are out at sea. Once Spring arrives their beaks become colourful again!)
Finally, can you describe Can You See The Stars Tonight? in three words?