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Kids inspire Calverstown woman’s book on Irish animals

Juanita Browne with her family dog 'Paddy'.

Juanita Browne with her family dog 'Paddy'.

A Kildare woman has embarked on a project to raise funds that will enable her to write a book on Irish animals for children.

When Juanita Browne’s two young sons, Ben (8) and John (5) were younger, she realised that they weren’t terribly sure of which animals were which.

And she noticed while there are books out for children, they were mainly the product of British authors and publishers. Britan has a slightly different set of animals, so she felt that there would be a market for a uniquely Irish book.

From Ballysax, but now living in Calverstown, Juanita, is a zoologist and is a regular contributor to wildlife publications as well as television and radio documentaries.

She decided to write a book called ‘My First Book of Irish Animals’, specifically aimed at children. “When I was reading to my boys, I found there were no books out there for children,” she told the Leinster Leader.

“Ireland has a more limited selection of animals than Britain, and it’s thought that this is because we’ve been separated from continental Europe for longer. But that’s not not to say that we don’t have interesting animals here. We have bats and whales and dolphins!”

Juanita, who claims to hve a soft spot for hedgehogs, also feels that a lack of interest in and understanding of Irish animals feeds into the debates on their conservation.

‘My First Book of Irish Animals’ is a picture-book for young children to introduce them to the wonderful wild animals we have in this country.

“The book is illustrated by the hugely talented Aoife Quinn, from Co. Wicklow.

“The motivation for this book came from reading to my own young children. I would have loved to have been able to show them a book like this with big drawings and information about our Irish wildlife but unfortunately could find none.

“In bookshops today there are lots of picture books available about sharks and bears, big cats and spiders from all over the world, but there are none that focus specifically on the Irish fauna.

“Children today have an impressive knowledge of exotic wildlife from around the world, but when it comes to what is found in their own country, that knowledge is sadly lacking!

“I wanted to produce a really beautiful book that would capture the imagination of young children and hopefully sow a seed that will grow with them into adulthood.”

What’s interesting about this project is that she has turned to fundit.ie, a website which allows the public to invest in the project, and enables Juanita to raise finance for it.

“In 2005, I self-published another wildlife book called ‘Ireland’s Mammals’ – which was aimed at older readers - teens and adults, and I really enjoyed the whole experience.

“Having worked in graphic design and magazines, I had experience of the printing process, and doing that book taught me so much. It’s an awful lot of work but I love the buzz you get from self-publishing.

“I sold all 7,000 copies of ‘Ireland’s Mammals’ so it was wonderful to see that people really liked this idea I had for a book. I’m hoping to produce a second edition on its 10-year anniversary.”

“I became interested in the concept of crowd-funding after I met a few people who had sought crowd-funding for film projects and they had a good experience, so I thought it might be a good way to gauge interest in a book like this,” she explained.

Anybody who contributes a few euros to the project gets a copy of the book, and can even get their name in it.

“It’s proving popular with some people who want to put their kids names in it.”

For more information, see http://fundit.ie/project/my-first-book-of-irish-animals

All going well, the book will be published, written, done and dusted and out by Christmas.

 

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