Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Ten Questions, with Sabbithry Persad

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Sabbithry Persad

Happy Earth Day! Are you and your family looking for a way to reflect on the importance of the health of our planet? You might consider picking up a copy of Where Do Recyclable Materials Go? (Firewater Media Group), the first in Sabbithry Persad's new children's series, Garbology Kids. Here, Sabbithry talks to Open Book about how she makes learning about garbage fun, what she was surprised to learn during her research for the series and where she'll be spending Earth Day.

Open Book:

What can you tell us about your new book, Where Do Recyclable Materials Go?.

Sabbithry Persad:

I’ve started a new series called Garbology Kids™ that introduces children to the concepts of waste diversion, disposal and technology. Where Do Recyclable Materials Go? is the first book in the series. The book begins with Tiana sharing with her class what she learned about recycling while trying to catch her dog Bubbles, who had run after the recycle truck. When Tiana, her mom and her brother set out to find Bubbles, they end up following the recycle truck, just missing it and Bubbles at each pickup stop until they arrive at the MURF — The Materials Recovery Facility (MRF). Along the way, they learn many things about recycling and even end up getting a tour of the MURF, where they find out more about where recyclable materials are taken and what happens to them.

OB:

Why did you feel it was important to develop the Garbology Kids™ series?

SP:

Producing waste is a huge issue in industrialized countries. In the last 60 years or so, industrial economies have moved away from being “reusable/frugal and recycling economies” to being “high consumption and disposal economies.” Most things we create, design and build are short-lived, thrown out and then taken to a landfill. This trend has silently crept up upon us, and “social education” hasn’t really kept up with this phenomenon. Until now, our consumption, disposal and waste behaviours went partly unrecognized. I wanted to try to show that we can reinvent “reusable and recycling economies.” In addition, there were some gaps in relating the issues of a “high consumption and disposal economies” and the concepts of “reusable and recycling economies” to children (and adults) and I wanted to try to provide a series to address those.

OB:

How did you make the subject of recycling appealing for an audience of children ages five and up?

SP:

Sure, waste and recycling are not the most fun and engaging topics to discuss (smiles), unless you are into learning about the environment, that is. I tried to create a book that children can relate to and remember, but mostly enjoy. My inspiration was my niece and nephew and their dog Bubbles, who the characters are based upon. My niece and nephew love Bubbles, a very hyperactive dog that loves to chase after things, and making her the centre of the story was fun. I hope other kids would enjoy the story as they did.

OB:

What were you most surprised to learn while researching Where Do Recyclable Materials Go?

SP:

Many things surprised me when doing research for the book. Some things like learning that industrial countries generate the most waste and that some of the most powerful and technologically developed countries are among the higher offenders. Other interesting tidbits are while many countries have increased recycling, landfilling remains the most predominant treatment for municipal waste, and that levels and patterns of consumption have direct relationships to the amount and composition of municipal waste we produce.

OB:

What was the biggest challenge to writing this book?

SP:

I’d say that taking the many pieces of raw data, filling the gaps and then composing all of them into a story that is simple, easy to understand, clear, follows environmental educational guidelines and at the same time remain factual and still be enjoyable for kids to read was quite the challenge. (smiles)

OB:

You are a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. How does being part of this organization benefit you as a writer?

SP:

I started my career as a technical writer so when I started writing the Garbology Kids™ series there were many things that I needed to learn about writing for children and writing educational picture books. While writing children’s books may seem simple on the surface, it is an art in itself. With this first book, I’ve only begun to touch the surface of the craft and the SCBWI offers many articles, tips and advice from veteran writers in this area to help me become better at it.

OB:

You grew up on the island of St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands. How did your childhood there help you to become the writer you are today?

SP:

I’d have to say the most influential thing in my childhood were my parents. They worked very hard to make sure that our large family had what we needed. Education was especially important to them. I remember our family bookshelf had four sets of encyclopedias, three adult sets and one children’s set. I remember always looking things up in them. Another great influence was my older siblings. They had a variety of science magazines, literature books, comics, popular music, family games and popular movies around. These different types of media were very important in embedding some of the interests I have today.

OB:

Can you name one or two books that you read as a child that made a big impression on you?

SP:

There were many, too many to mention. However, two that I do recall off hand are A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens and Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck.

OB:

What will the next book in the Garbology Kids series be about, and when will it be available?

SP:

I’m currently working on the second book in the series which is about reusing. It’s scheduled for release this September, but you know how schedules are... (smiles)

OB:

How will you be celebrating Earth Day?

SP:

This Earth Day I plan on going to a few elementary schools in the Toronto area with two other children's authors and sharing messages about recycling and art.

Sabbithry Persad shares her enthusiasm for reading and writing through publishing and authoring books. Persad’s debut children’s book is Where Do Recyclable Materials Go?, the first book in the Garbology Kids™ series. Persad is the founder and executive managing editor of Green Solutions Magazine and a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. She lives in Toronto.

For more information about Where Do Recyclable Materials Go? please visit the Garbology Kids website.

Buy this book at your local independent bookstore or online at Chapters/Indigo or Amazon.

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