Congratulations to Austin SCBWI member Evan Griffith on the publication of his debut picture book, Secrets of the Sea: The Story of Jeanne Power, Revolutionary Marine Scientist! The picture-book biography, illustrated by Joanie Stone, tells the story of Jeanne Power, a nineteenth-century scientist who pioneered the use of aquariums to study marine life and published her groundbreaking research at a time when scientific achievements by women were rarely acknowledged. The book will be released by Clarion Books on March 9th.
“This book originated when I was a student at the Writing for Children MFA program at Vermont College of Fine Arts,” Evan says. “I first wrote Jeanne’s story as a biographical essay to submit to a children’s magazine, but my VCFA advisor at the time encouraged me to adapt it into a picture book. I’m glad she did! I was drawn to write about Jeanne because, as someone who grew up by the ocean, I related to her fascination with the sea and her desire to learn more about the creatures that live within it. As a writer, I was also intrigued by the many dramatic twists and turns of Jeanne’s life story, including the fact that she lost much of her research about the ocean during a shipwreck. There was a cinematic quality about her life that made it exciting to capture in story.”
In reflecting on the process of writing a nonfiction picture book, Evan recalls, “The research process for the book was intensive but so rewarding. I had the opportunity to correspond with scientists and historians around the world who are experts in Jeanne’s life and work. Along the way, I fell in love with researching and writing nonfiction, and hope to do more of it.”
Secrets of the Sea has been widely praised and has garnered a starred review from School Library Journal.