The Children’s Book Review Interview in partnership with Michele Kee, author of Mandy Goes to the Beach
Children’s book author Michele Kee has been working with children for many years in many capacities. Kee started as a youth volunteer at American Red Cross when she was 11 years old and has volunteered at an elementary school. Most recently, she has been a teacher at a learning center for two-year-old children. Her passion for children and learning inspired her to write her first book, Where’s My House?
Dr. Jen Harrison: What prompted you to start writing books for children, and why picture books in particular?
Michele Kee: To be honest, I never considered writing books of any kind, I had an idea and I thought it would be a fun way to teach children about spiders.
So many children (and adults) are afraid of spiders. What was your motivation for choosing one as your main character?
I was sitting on my patio and a spider came down on a web, my first instinct was to get a broom. I laughed to myself because it wasn’t bothering me but I didn’t want it around. That was the birth of Mandy the house spider.
Are you afraid of spiders?
No absolutely not, especially after doing research on spiders for my books.
The first Mandy book dealt much more closely with the issue of arachnophobia because of the domestic setting. What prompted you to choose the beach as a setting for the second book? Was there a particular theme you felt this setting would help readers explore?
I have always enjoyed the beach. While vacationing in Miami I saw the seagulls and seashells, which prompted me to do more research into the different sea animals and beach creatures. Children love playing in the sand and making sandcastles; this was an opportunity for them to learn more about a place that they love.
A central message in the story is the ability to vanquish fear with education. Why do you feel this is an important message for children?
Understanding a subject makes you feel less afraid. Sometimes when you present a subject in a more creative way that removes the fear. I believe that applies to school and to life.
Are there particular authors who have inspired your writing for children?
Mo Willems and Drew Daywalt
What is your favorite children’s book, and does it explore similar themes to the Mandy books?
“The Day the Crayons Quit” and “The Pigeon Takes a Bath” are clever books. I love their humor.
I love that Mandy learns about her environment through travel, observation, and questions. Do you have a particular philosophy of education and learning that you feel underpins the book?
I feel that learning can be creative and fun. Teachers and professors that use unconventional methods for teaching get better results.
The book includes the nursery-rhyme “One, two, three, four, five, once I caught a fish alive.” Why did you decide to include this in the story and how does it support the emphasis on learning and science?
It is a cute song and was a personal favorite of one of my two-year-old students and it fits with the book. Music is a fun way for children to learn and develop their memory.
Where will Mandy be going next on her adventures?
I am not sure where Mandy will go next, but the next book will deal with diversity.
For more information, visit:https://www.itsmkeescorner.com
Mandy Goes to the Beach
Written by Michele Kee
Ages 4-9 | 36 Pages
Publisher: Mkees Corner | ISBN: 978-0578690025
Publisher’s Synopsis: “Mandy Goes to the Beach” is the sequel to the book “Where’s My House?”. After an extensive search for a new human roommate, Mandy is exhausted and is in dire need of a vacation. Follow Mandy on this journey as she meets a new friend and learns about different beach creatures. This book gives children an opportunity to explore while teaching science and mathematics.
“Mandy Goes to the Beach is a quick and easy story, perfect for introducing new or struggling readers to a range of environmental themes.” —The Children’s Book Review
Buy the Book
This interview—Michele Kee Discusses Mandy Goes to the Beach—was conducted between Michele Kee and Dr. Jen Harrison. For similar books and articles, follow along with our content tagged with Author Interviews, Beach Books, Bugs and Spiders, Math, Michele Kee, and Science.