My younger brother, Michael, and I grew up going to the zoo almost every week. Michael's autism sometimes causes aversions to many things, but this was one place he truly loved and would cause his sweet smile to glow with dimples. I, on the other hand, did not find the zoo so appealing for it usually came with a hefty amount of wafting aromas that did not appeal to me.
However, the more time I spent there, I realized that it's full of magic ... and within that moment, a scene for my future children's book was being drawn in my head, years before it would ever make it to paper.
The penguins were a family favorite - Michael couldn't wait to see them waddling around in their nifty, mother nature-gifted tuxedos. They were a hoot, and they had personalities you could relate to. Hear me out! Watch penguins in their natural habitat - they are social; they show affection; they have friends; they fight; and they have an array of emotions to boot!
As a nanny, the zoo was the perfect place to teach my youngsters about colors, sounds, shapes and emotions. And, whether or not they knew it, there was so much to be absorbed when observing the tenants of a zoo - you'd be surprised to find that you are ultimately learning/teaching abouthuman nature through these encounters.
When it came time to include different scenes in Nanny and Me, I knew a zoo illustration simply had to make it in. Just like the whole book, there's a story behind each illustration - a personal story - and that's just one of the many reasons why my heart is made up of these very pages.