Sunday, March 14, 2010

Today's Guest - Rachel Dillon

Rachel Dillon wrote and illustrated a marvellous picturebook about endangered species, Through Endangered Eyes. Each animal gets a small poem from the animal's perspective, and the illustrations are lush with a techinique reminiscent of both pointillism and Australian aboriginal art. This is a picture book that keeps on giving: Appendices in the back are richly packed with information about each species, as well as ways to help with conservation. A must read for any age group. Here is Rachel to tell how she became interested in writing such a book:

"It's amazing what inspires and motivates people. For me it was a book. I was 16 when my Aunt and Uncle from Australia sent me Endangered Animals of Australia. I had already travelled twice to that country and loved it very much. I had never seen a book geared specifically to animals in trouble. That book really heightened my awareness of the issue.

"The issue followed me in college. In my last year, at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, I had an independent study. My project choice was to photograph, research, write and design a book about the endangered species at the Henry Vilas Zoo. I had no idea how big the project was and only completed a draft of the booklet.

"In the process of making the booklet, the zoo allowed me to get up close to some of the animals to photograph them. I climbed in the ringtail lemur's cage; got hissed at by an angry lioness; felt the size and power of a tiger as I stood next to its cage; and got to peek at a baby giraffe that was 24 hours old. All of these experiences have molded and shaped my desire to help animals.

"When my daughter was just a baby, that passion and motivation became as clear as day. I didn't even know I was starting a book when I sat down and wrote a poem about an elephant. The poem was fun and lyrical, so I decided to write one about the green sea turtle, and the process continued as I picked seven more species. I had already painted a green sea turtle, and tiger, and thought maybe there could be a book.

"When I read my book to kids at schools I tell them that no one asked me to write and paint my book. I tell them that I followed my heart, because children give me hope. They are filled with wonder, and passion, and immediately want to fix a problem when they hear it exists. It’s hard to share with children the issues endangered and threatened species face, but I don't want to sugarcoat it either. I want children to know there are many habits humans need to change or the planet will become irreversibly unbalanced.

"I hope to continue my series of endangered species books by breaking them down by ecosystem. I just finished the manuscript for my second endangered species book, Through Desert Eyes. It is written about 15 desert endangered and threatened species."

If you want more information about Rachel's book you can go to:
It is also available for sale at: and

For people who live in the Sacramento area, it can be purchased at Discovery Museum; Folsom Zoo; and Borders in Folsom and Roseville.

1 comment:

Rachel Dillon said...

I will send a signed copy of my book to the person that can come closest to guessing how many hours it took for me to paint the cover of my book. Here are three pieces of information that might help your guess: 1) The painting is 8" x 8"; 2) I had been painting with dots for at least 10 years; 3) I use acrylic paint.