Children’s author is back with a whale tale

Linda Buckley, a retired Juneau educator, is adding more pages to the latest chapter of her life.

Buckley, who began her career as an author in her mid-70s with the release of “The Bear in the Blueberry” in 2019, is releasing a second children’s book, “The Humpback in the Herring,” Like her previous release, the book explores the way the biggest and smallest organisms in an ecosystem share connections.

“If you can see that’s inside something so small, you wonder what else is connected in our world,” Buckley said in a phone interview.

Buckley told the Empire in 2019 that “The Bear in the Blueberry” was written while reflecting on the words of Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh, whom she heard speak.

“He held up a blank piece of paper and said, ‘Can you see the logger in the paper?’ and I thought, ‘No,’ and I kept looking for a picture of a logger,” Buckley said at the time. “Then he said, ‘Can you see the sun in the paper? Can you see the rain? Can you see the forest? Everything is in the paper.’ So then I thought, ‘The bear is in the blueberry.’”

Buckley credited her son, Jim Buckley, with suggesting the sequel and its title.

And what serves as a binding agent for marine life big and small?

“It all turns out it’s about poop,” Buckley said with a laugh.

Whale poop, which tends to float at the surface of the ocean, provides nutrients, such as nitrogen, to microbes, plankton and fish, according to research by Joe Roman, a conservation biologist at the University of Vermont. That, in turn, helps support an environment rich in things that whales eat.

Like “The Bear in the Blueberry,” “The Humpback in the Herring,” was illustrated by Robin K. Robbins and Buckley spoke highly of the illustrator. Also, as the previous book, included multiple pages of bear facts, Buckley’s latest includes pages of whale facts that the author said may surprise and entertain older readers.

The pandemic provided extra time for research and fact-checking, Buckley said.

“Because I had so much time to work on this book, I just looked at it with a fine-tooth comb,” Buckley said.

A launch event for the book will be held 10 a.m.-noon Saturday in front of the whale sculpture at Mayor Bill Overstreet Park. The book will be available to download through Amazon, and hard copies will be available at local book stores, Buckley said.

Despite premises rooted in science, Buckley said that in her experience, children seem to grasp the concept of her books quickly.

“They get it,” Buckley said. “Kids get it right away that it’s the circle of life.”

Buckley, who is hopeful she will get to go on a book tour in support of “The Humpback in the Herring,” said directly engaging with young readers is among the most rewarding aspects of writing children’s books.

“The joy of it is just seeing the delight in kids,” Buckley said.

“The Humpback in the Herring” won’t be the last written word from Buckley. She said she is set to release poetry in May, and there’s a possibility of another alliterative animal book.

“I often thought of a trilogy,” Buckley said. “The land, the water and the air.”

Know & Go

What: “The Humpback in the Herring” book launch

When: 10 a.m.-noon, Saturday, April 9

Where: In front of “Tahku” the whale sculpture at Mayor Bill Overstreet Park, Harris Harbor Way.

• Contact Ben Hohenstatt at (907)308-4895 or bhohenstatt@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @BenHohenstatt.

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