Local Author Spotlight: Kathy Stinson

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Kathy has loved reading all her life but was almost thirty before she discovered she loves writing too. She has become the author of over 30 books for young people including the classic Red Is Best and the award-winning The Man with the Violin based on the imagined experience of a child hearing Joshua Bell play in a Washington metro station.

Mother, stepmother, and grandmother, Kathy is still an avid reader. When not reading or writing, she enjoys photography, jigsaw puzzles, crossword puzzles, and walking her dog in the woods and fields near her home in Rockwood, Ontario.

Her most recent book, The Girl Who Loved Giraffes and Became the World's First Giraffologist, was published by Fitzhenry & Whiteside in May 2021.

What made you choose to write about Anne Innis Dagg? 

Anne's passion for giraffes from a very young age, her determination to pursue her dream to study them in the wild despite gender-related obstacles, her achievements that took decades to gain the recognition they deserved, her ongoing desire to help save this magnificent endangered animal -- I knew that all these aspects of her life story would appeal to kids as much as they did the adults like me who saw the documentary about her, The Woman Who Loves Giraffes. Also, Anne was on a panel after the screening and I sensed she'd be great fun to get to know, and writing a book about her would be a good way to get to do that.

Can you tell us the process of writing a children’s book about a real person?

First I had to convince Anne that I was the writer that she wanted to write her story for kids, because with the increasing popularity of the film, there were a number of us vying for the privilege. Naturally, I read the books that Anne herself had written about herself and about giraffes. I interviewed Anne's daughter and her childhood friend (they are still, in their 80s, friends) to find out more about her. Sadly I could not fit all I learned into the book, which is 56 pages long as it is, much longer than publishers usually allow for a picture book. I also visited Anne on numerous occasions through the development of the project, to gather information, and to have her check for accuracy. Because I wanted the book to also be about giraffes, I read quite a few books and online resources about them too. What I wrote to start with was much too long, so there was a lot of cutting back to keep the focus on the giraffe and gender discrimination aspects of Anne's story.

What do you hope that readers will take away from your book?

I hope readers will be inspired to pursue their own dreams with the same passion Anne did, fight injustice wherever they see it, as Anne did, and come to love giraffes as much as she does, if they don't already! And whether or not they choose to follow in her footsteps to become giraffologists, I hope they will want to do what they can to contribute to efforts to save these magnificent creatures who are in danger of vanishing from the wild.

What is your favourite animal?

The giraffe, of course! 😊

Purchase a copy of The Girl Who Loved Giraffes and Became the World's First Giraffologist from your local independent bookstore.