e-interviewed by Hilary Williamson (February, 2003)
Author and environmentalist Amanda Lumry and her husband Loren Wengerd formed Eaglemont Press to publish children's and photograpy books related to cultural and wildlife conservation. Tigers in Terai, the first in the Adventures of Riley series for kids aged four to eight, takes young Riley to Terai, Nepal ...
Q: You have a strong interest in wildlife conservation? Were you interested as a child? How did this develop?
A: My strong interest in wildlife conservation began in 1998 when my family took a tour of Africa. Even though I participated in trash pickup and recycling programs as a child, I realized during the 1998 Africa trip that I had not been educated very well about global conservation. I was fascinated and sickened at the same time by the sharp contrast between the different nations. Some countries had maintained their wildlife population and their habitats, ensuring fantastic viewing for decades to come, while other countries could barely feed their human populations. I saw that animals and their survival are a key component in creating economic sustainability. A strong and healthy animal population and a steady political system can provide a marketable trade, such as tourism. Viable animal numbers are also an indication of a vigorous habitat system, which help protect from natural disasters such as flooding, mudslides or erosion.
Q: Why take the conservation message to children? Aside from giving them interesting reading material, what outcome do you hope for?
A: I do not think we have educated our children very well in this area, if my lack of understanding as a child is any indication. I would love to see a new generation of kids inspired to pursue careers in conservation. I did not realize many of the career opportunities even existed, let alone were realistic and within reach. Virtually every field of study has some application in conservation. If we deliver an entertaining as well as educational message to young kids, we can inspire them to make a difference. Children are the future and in turn the vehicle to lasting change, so that animals will be around for generations to come.
Q: Have you been to the Terai region and, if so, what were your impressions? Will all the Riley books be about places you have been?
A: I have been to the Terai region and yes, each of the Riley books will be about places I have visited. It is much easier to create the feel of firsthand experience after having traveled to a location.
I was impressed by the terrain of the Terai. At first it felt like I was in Africa and I thought a lion would jump through the reeds. I had to keep reminding myself that I was in the land of the tigers. Riding on elephants and seeing all the different animal species was a magical experience.
Q: You have fun with Uncle Max who can't see too well, is sprayed by an elephant, and has his underwear stolen by monkeys. Did any of these things happen to people you know?
A: No, they didn t actually happen to us or anyone we know, but they certainly could have! Uncle Max's character is somewhat absent-minded yet brilliant, and these little mishaps are purely in keeping with his personality traits.
Q: If children want to delve further into the fact boxes and find out more about the animals shown in the book, will there be information and links at www.adventuresofriley.com?
A: Yes, kids will be able to continue learning about a particular animal of interest, either directly through the website or through the available links.
Q: What else do you plan for the website? What will kids be able to do there?
A: The website will be an interactive continuation of the book filled with lots of information about wildlife preservation as well as links to respected conservation and education websites. There will be games, activities, Alice's journal and further adventures, in order to ensure that the experience does not end with the book. It is an online kids club that is fun, safe and secure so that parents need not worry about their children while they are in Riley's world. Please stay tuned. A site tour will be launched shortly.
Q: Uncle Max is clearly going to be inviting Riley on further expeditions. Can you tell us anything about where he will be heading next and what he might see there?
A: Yes, Uncle Max will be inviting Riley to other exotic locations but the next one is still a secret! We will be revealing where his next travels will take him on our website, but not until summer time. Check back often! The next book in the Adventures of Riley series will be released in the fall of this year (2003).
Q: What other books do you have in the works (for all ages)?
A: Eaglemont Press publishes photographic art books and children s books that focus on the preservation of culture and heritage or animals and habitat. Please see our website www.eaglemontpress.com for more information. Find out more about Amanda Lumry by visiting her biography page at Eaglemont Press.
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