You guys, I’m going to Kenya tomorrow!! Why is there still so much packing to do?!
As I mentioned in my previous post, I’m traveling to Africa to research my next picture book about elephants. I’m so excited! It’s been a great couple of months preparing for this trip. I’ve been planning itineraries, making initial sketches for this elephant book project, and sending lots of emails to elephant researchers, all while wrapping up final art for the second book in THE EXPEDITIONERS series. I continue to be humbled by the kindness of friends and strangers; since my last post, so many more people have jumped in to generously share their advice and wisdom on everything from camera lenses to packing tips. A project about elephants seems to attract enthusiasm, which is great news for the future of this book!
I’ll be in Kenya for about 16 days, following a two-part itinerary. The first part is for meeting with researchers at both the Mpala Research Centre and the Save the Elephants in Samburu, where I’ll ask tons of questions about elephant biology, behavior, migration routes, ecosystems, the recent poaching crisis, and what’s ahead for this species.
The second part of the trip will be spent on my very first safari, through Amboseli National Park (home of the longest-studied elephant population, with spectacular views of Mount Kilimanjaro), Tsavo National Park (home of the “red” elephants), and Lake Nakuru (famous for its flamingos and endangered rhino population) to spend as much time watching elephants in their natural habitat as possible. I also hope to visit a Kenyan elementary school to meet local kids, and to stop by Dr. Lucy King’s awesome Elephant and Bees Project to see bee-fencing in action—what an incredible solution to help elephants and farmers share the same spaces!
During the trip, I’ll take as many photos and videos as my memory cards can hold for use as future reference when making the sketches and final art for the elephant book. I don’t know what’s in store for me—Africa is so unpredictable!—but no matter what it will be an incredible trip that deeply informs my book.
I can hardly wait to turn the enormous cloud of elephant facts and statistics in my head into a unique story that feels like Kenya, and that shares these elephants in this place with my future readers.
In other news, there are just five months left until NEIGHBORHOOD SHARKS hits the shelves! Pre-order it now on Indiebound, Barnes & Noble, Amazon or from your local bookstore. Roaring Brook did a tremendous job with it; I’m so proud to be making my debut with them.