With a passion for environmental and animal rights issues, Nicole Godwin describes herself as a voice for those who yelp, roar, swing, moo, oink, squeak and trumpet. She writes to captivate and engage readers, and help create a generation of thoughtful, committed and passionate individuals. Her books include a jellyfish falling in love with a plastic bag (Jelly-Boy), a dolphin who discovers ocean pollution, driftnets and other distressing things (Billie), and elephants who are used to entertain tourists (Ella). Her books are published under Tusk Books as well as other publishers. Nicole Godwin is a regular presenter at schools throughout Canberra and beyond, offering engaging and thought-provoking sessions with strong links to animal rights and conservation.
Share Nicole’s answers to our five questions with your students and inspire them, whatever their age, to try their hand at creative environmental writing about animal rights or conversation issues they are passionate about.
Where do you get your inspiration, or your ideas, for your books?
I get my inspiration from issues that are facing animals and the planet we all inhabit. I want to create stories that children love, which also happen to prompt a family discussion about animals and environmental issues.
I also love doing writing exercises which help me to think about the world or situations in a different way.
Do you have any tips for children who might be struggling with the blank page?
I do! There are many ‘jump start’ writing exercises that are fun and help get the creative writing juices flowing. First up, choose three totally unrelated random words (these can be objects, places, person/animals, etc) and write for five minutes, making sure these words are included in the paragraph you write. Try unicorn, venus, skateboard. Or broccoli, wig, penguin. Another good exercise is to choose one of the following and simply write for a few minutes:
- I was so embarrassed when …
- I used to believe in …
- The dumbest thing I ever did …
- I love …
- I’m scared of…
The idea for both of the above exercises is not to write a full story, although you may end up writing the start of a story or creating an idea you want to write more about.
Which of your books is your absolute favourite? Why?
This is tricky to answer because it is like asking a parent who their favourite child is. My most recent book is always my key focus. At the moment, a lot of my time is centred around Jelly-Boy, about a jellyfish who falls in love with a plastic bag. My first book, Ella (about an elephant taken from her mum and put to work entertaining tourists) also holds a special place in my heart. Which of your characters is your favourite? Why?
Similar to the question above, this is difficult to answer because each character is so unique. I would have to say that making a plastic bag turn into the character of Jelly-Boy is something I am proud of, as it has helped shine a light on plastic pollution in the ocean.
When you think about children reading your books, how does this make you feel? What do you want their ‘take-aways’ to be?
First and foremost, I want children to engage with the book and champion the characters as they move through the book. For me, it is all about connection. If children connect with the book and characters, they will choose it off the bookshelf again and again. Through this connection, my hope is that families talk about the issues which are included in my books such as elephants in tourism, driftnets, ocean junk, ocean pollution, dolphins in captivity, plastic bags, and much more.
More information about the talented Nicole Godwin can be found on her author website, and also at Tusk Books (link above). Check out her environmental writing and teaching notes.
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School visits by authors is a proven way of engaging your students in the writing process.
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