Mary Quattlebaum is not only my friend and fellow student from William and Mary, but also my very first writing mentor. I remember sitting in her living room with other (much more talented) writers in awe of her abilities and her gentle way of critiquing my very poor drafts and, after pointing out all the beautiful bits she found (that was a monumental task), saying things like, “Might you want to consider …” and then giving me excellent advice when, really, she could’ve said things like, “Seriously, Kathy, have you ever heard the word plot?”
Her gentle insightfulness and talent appears in all her books — and she has written many — including her latest nature picture books. Mary’s JO MACDONALD trilogy riffs on the Old MacDonald’s Farm theme but with young Jo at the center. She’s an upbeat nature girl, much like Mary. The text is upbeat, too, and will have kids (and adults) singing along. They’re not only fun and adorable (wonderful illustrations by Laura J. Bryant), they’re very cleverly educational, too. In JO MACDONALD HAD A GARDEN, we see what’s needed for a garden to grow. JO MACDONALD SAW A POND explains a pond’s ecosystem. And in JO MACDONALD HIKED IN THE WOODS, we see an entire forest community. At the end of each book is an explanation (with pictures) of the items in the book and their importance to the theme. The GARDEN book also tells young readers how to plant a garden, gives advice on gardening and also gives indoor activities that can be enjoyed year round. In the POND book, there’s information on how to be a naturalist and a citizen scientist. In her latest, JO MACDONALD HIKED IN THE WOODS, Mary tells us about different types of trees, how they work, various animals, forests, and even how to be a safe and considerate hiker (along with indoor activities, etc. like in the other books). Simply put, these books are packed with great stuff for kids and all of us!
Now, for some fun for both readers and writers, here’s Mary Quattlebaum herself!