Author Showcase: Mark McDonald, Home is Where the Heart Is
By Bianca Schulze, The Children’s Book Review
Published: November 18, 2010
TCBR: Henry the Hermit Crab: The Journey Home is your first published book. It’s the story of one crab’s journey to find a place to call home—to fit in. Tell us about the book and its main character, Henry.
Mark McDonald: Like most of us in this topsy-turvy world, Henry the Hermit Crab needs to find a home that fits. Henry’s tale has elements of the bizarre and the impossible: Instead of finding a house, Henry ends up being the size of a house—this is due to his passion and friendship with Rocco the pizza maker, who, with all good intentions, feeds him pizza daily. By chance Henry discovers he is from Samoa and, as he becomes too large for New York City, he is eventually able to make the journey on the high seas to his place of birth. Once home, Henry returns to his normal size and lives in his first real shell.
Henry goes through a lot. However, even though he grows from the size of a mouse to the size of a house and back again—all because of diet—Henry maintains his friendly, happy nature.
TCBR: Is there a message or an educational value to the story?
MM: The story could be used to talk about many topics: friendship, change, the meaning of home, diet.
There is definitely a strong focus on the bond between Rocco and Henry. It’s a great one, but like a lot of relationships there are occasional downsides. Presented in a an entertaining way, Henry grows and grows due to Rocco feeding him too much pizza, creating a challenge for Henry to find his perfect-fit home. What-to-eat and what-not-to-eat discussions could easily be discussed after reading Henry the Hermit Crab.
Parents and teachers can use Henry’s tale to assist in teaching young students the art of writing a letter about a topic that is important to them—Henry and Rocco team up to write a letter to the mayor of New York City. Additionally, the fact that the story covers two very different geographical areas, a higher awareness of the world around us is easily provoked.
Finally … home. Depending on the aspect you choose to focus on: finding a home, feeling at home, or discovering about all the different homes of the world; for most of us, home is where the heart is. Without heart we would never feel at home—Henry has a lot of heart, he was always destined to find a place to belong.
TCBR: How did you develop the idea for this book?
MM: It’s a little embarrassing and may be off putting, so be warned before reading on…
I was on a surfing holiday in Samoa, and one night I had severe food poisoning. I was throwing up on the beach when all of a sudden, undeterred, these hermit crabs marched up the shore. Anyway, somehow it all popped in my head and it went from there.
TCBR: Do you have another book in the works? Can you tell us a little bit about it?
MM: I have written two sequels. The second book in the Henry series is called Island Life: Henry meets Mia and befriends a Seagull named Eaton. At first they are worried about being eaten, but, as it turns out, the crabs face their fears and become great friends with Eaton.
TCBR: And how about the third book?
MM: The Third is called Henry the Hermit Crab and the Infrontofu Monster. Each day, the colors of the characters world disappear. Mia, Eaton and Henry have to go about getting the colors of the island to return.
TCBR: Are the last two set in Samoa?
MM: Yes. The last two are essentially inspired by Samoa. I feel that the island reflects many places of the world and makes a wonderful setting for Henry’s adventures.
TCBR: What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
MM: I learned that once you start writing it leads you to more writing and greater delight in words.
TCBR: While creating your book, name one entity that you feel supported you—outside of family members.
MM: It is hard to pick out just one person or thing that kept me motivated or on track with the writing. I should, of course, thank all immediate friends and house mates that have shared the journey with Henry and I. They all know who they are.
TCBR: When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
MM: I first wrote a forty page story in sixth grade—I had a crush on my english teacher Mrs Scalon. I guess from that time on I always enjoyed writing and thought that one day I would write seriously.
TCBR: What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
MM: When I am not writing I am involved in the ski industry and love surfing and traveling to distant places.
TCBR: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
I would like to say that I hope everyone enjoys the book and the illustrations and can learn a little and laugh a little with the series of Henry the Hermit Crab.
The Author Showcase is a place for authors and illustrators to gain visibility for their works. This article is a feature in our showcase and was provided by the author. Read more …