Children's author visits Seoul Elementary
With larger-than-life photographs and accessible writing, this author embarks on a journey through the wild, his readers the companion.
Nic Bishop, a children’s author, visited Seoul American Elementary School during Read-Across-America Week. With close to 70 publications, his books cover wildlife; such as marsupials, lizards, spiders, and a number of other species. They are known for its close-up photography of the animals that he journeys to find.
At the school auditorium, the author stood on stage, a presentation slide behind him. Students sat down and listened to Bishop’s unique journeys in his life.
Bishop’s presentation began with his early childhood. When he was younger, his dad decided to take his family on an adventure to Bangladesh. He talked about the animals that he saw as a child.
“At night when I would go to sleep, there were packs of jackals that would go past my window. Sometimes when I would wake up I would see animals sitting by the house. One day I found a monkey sitting in front of the house.
. . Another day I found a snake a huge python [about the size of this room] that could have easily swallowed me.”
From Bangladesh, his family moved to New Guinea where he spent his teenage years. It was also where he first picked up photography.
“When I was 14, I had a camera. I liked taking pictures by then” he said.
“There weren’t other kids like me around. I’d hang out with the villagers. And I had learned to speak Pidgin English. And they would take me on their hunting trips up into the mountains to shoot some birds.”
Though he did not like the hunting aspect, he hoped to get camera shots of the birds.
After his experiences in New Guinea, he went to college in England for three years, an experience that he did not especially enjoy.
Fortunately, education at the University of Nottingham gave him a valuable lesson for his future career.
“Going to university helps you learn how to research,” he said.
“Writing nonfiction requires good research, and you need to make sure you get your information from proper, scientific backgrounds. So going to university means I know how to research information in university libraries.”
After his college years, Bishop relocated to New Zealand. In a new environment, he hiked extensively. On his hiking trips he took many pictures of big mountains and little animals.
He wondered what to do with the thousands of pictures he had taken.
With the photographs that he had, he published three nonfiction books in New Zealand. These specific books were written for an adult audience.
His shift towards children’s nonfiction came when a publisher suggested that he should make books for kids. He gave the idea some thought and decided to give it a try.
The change in audience worked well for Bishop. Children reacted in a positive way to his colorful and descriptive, yet easy-to-read books.
Following his success, he decided to focus on his new and younger audience.
According to him, “Grown-up books are too serious. Children’s books are much more fun to do.”
After the presentation, Nic Bishop was kind enough to answer a few questions.
When asked about his inspiration to write, Bishop stated, “Most inspiration for books really just comes from having lived overseas and seeing all these animals, and just being very fascinated by them. Obviously, I’m curious about them so I want to take their pictures, because they look amazing and I want to know about them. They have interesting life histories.”
When asked about why he wrote for children, Bishop connected the answer to his own experiences during youth.
“When I was asked to write nonfiction . . . it seemed like a good idea, because I never had good nonfiction to read when I was at school,” he said.
He also hoped that children would be interested in the nonfiction available to them and to realize how beautiful the animals in his books are.
“I guess some kids aren’t lucky enough. They just don’t see these things in the wild which is a great shame, because there’s nothing like seeing these things in the flesh,” Bishop said.
Through his books, readers were able to experience the wonderful animals.
Bishop’s journey has not ended yet. In the future he hopes to write more books about animals in cold environments.
“I’d like to do a book on penguins which might take me quite a while, because penguins live in New Zealand, Africa, and South America . . .
they’re spread out all over the southern hemisphere . . . that are often quite difficult to get to.”
He added “I’ll probably do one on big cats like lions and tigers, cheetahs, screamers, panthers, that sort of thing as well.”