Mom’s Choice Awards is excited to announce another post in our interview series where we chat with the inventors, designers, publishers, and others behind some of our favorite family-friendly products.
Hi, Mom’s Choice readers! Thank you for joining us for another interview in our series! For this interview, we were lucky to get the chance to speak with Melanie Burgess, the author of our MCA award-winning book, To Be or Knot To Be! To Be or Knot To Be is a humorous tale of two flamingos who face the dilemma of becoming tied in a knot. This book is perfect for nature and animal lovers who want to teach their children about habitat conservation and includes a habitat hunt for kids to enjoy. To Be or Knot To Be also teaches fun facts about the habitats in the Everglades and is told in rhyme, making it a must-have book for bedtime! Keep reading to find out more about Melanie and her award-winning book, To Be or Knot To Be.
MCA: Hi Melanie, congratulations on your Mom’s Choice Award! To Be or Knot To Be is a wonderful story that is not only a fun bedtime story but also a story that teaches an important lesson about conservation! Can we start the interview out by having you tell us about yourself?
Melanie: I grew up in rural Western Maryland. She is a 2014 graduate of Charis Bible College, Woodland Park Colorado. I am happily married and the mother of 3 children. My husband David and I are resident camp hosts at the beautiful Rocky Gap State Park in Flintstone, Maryland. It was there that I was inspired to write and illustrate my first award-winning children’s book “Stinky Owl.” My love for God, His creatures, and His beautiful creation has helped me to discover and develop the talents and abilities God has given me.
MCA: You told us a little bit about your time as a resident camp host at Rocky Gap State Park as being your inspiration to your writing and your first book. Can you tell us more about what your path to becoming a writer was like?
Melanie: I always knew that I could draw, however, I didn’t know how to use my talents. In 2016, I listened to a teaching from Andrew Wommack called “What’s in your hand. ” The teaching was about God wants His people to prosper and He gives you creative ideas in which to do so. He mostly always uses your talents and abilities that He has already given you to do it. So right then I prayed that God would give me a creative idea to use my talents and prosper me so that I could help further His kingdom. In August 2017 my husband and I went to a program at an Aviary called “Hungry hungry hoot owls”. The naturalist was teaching about birds of prey and their diet. She explained that Great Horned Owls were one of the few birds of prey that regularly ate skunks. She said “so if you are ever in the woods and you think you smell a skunk coming from up above, look up, it could be a Great Horned Owl’s nest. I then nudged my husband and said “So he is a Stinky owl” then I said “and I bet he doesn’t have any friends because he smells so bad.” Then I thought for a moment and said “hmm, I should write a children’s book about that. My husband pointed his finger at me and said “there is your creative idea!” So I prayed about it. The more I prayed the ideas just flooded my mind and that was how I was inspired to write and illustrate children’s books. My testimony can be viewed on my webpage melanieburgessbooks. come.
MCA: That is such an interesting fact about Great Horned Owls! They do say inspiration can strike in the most unlikely of places. What then lead you to write and illustrate your second book, To Be Or Knot To Be?
Melanie: A few years prior to me listening to Andrew’s teaching a coworker said that she thought a story about flamingos getting their necks tied into a knot would make a cute children’s book. We began discussing it and I came up with a storyline. I went home and jotted a few things down about it. I wrote down some characters and my husband even drew some of the characters. Then I put it away and didn’t really think about it. After my first book “Stinky Owl” was published I began thinking about that again. I talked with my coworker, Courtney Parsons, and asked her if I could use her idea about the flamingos with their necks in a knot and she said of course. I began praying about that. One morning God awoke me flooding my mind again with ideas. The story had to rhyme, I had to have facts about the different habitats in the Florida Everglades, and He gave me the idea about the habitat hunt. So you could say my inspiration came from my two good friends! Courtney and the Holy Spirit.
MCA: Those sound like some inspirational beings! What are some of the key lessons found in To Be Or Knot To Be?
Melanie: To Be Or Knot To Be isn’t just educational. The story has a great message of making the most out of a difficult situation, working together to become a team, and deciding to stick together in tough times. I really believe that even adults may get the message and that my book could even speak to someone who may be having thoughts of divorce and decide that two are better than one and staying together is the best option.
The Everglades is a unique Florida wetland that covers 750 Square miles. It supports a rich diversity of plants and animals, some not found anywhere else. It is the only place in the world where alligators and crocodiles coexist. The 9 different habitats provide homes to 16 endangered or threatened species. This national treasure faces many threats including invasive species and reduced water flow. Some of these losses cannot be restored. Therefore taking a child on a journey through the habitats of the Everglades will help them discover the majesty of Florida’s most unique ecosystem and help them to learn about the plants and animals that call this magical place home.
MCA: Why was it important for you to bring awareness to the habitats in the Everglades?
Melanie: The Everglades is a unique Florida wetland that covers 750 Square miles. It supports a rich diversity of plants and animals, some not found anywhere else. It is the only place in the world where alligators and crocodiles coexist. The 9 different habitats provide homes to 16 endangered or threatened species. This national treasure faces many threats including invasive species and reduced water flow. Some of these losses cannot be restored. Therefore taking a child on a journey through the habitats of the Everglades will help them discover the majesty of Florida’s most unique ecosystem and help them to learn about the plants and animals that call this magical place home.
MCA: That is such an important message to send, thank you for sharing it. What has the response been like from your readers?
Melanie: I have received many pictures of smiling children that are pleased with the book. The children love the realistic illustrations, making them feel like they are actually in the Florida Everglades.
MCA: If you could ensure readers of your book walk away with one main lesson, what would it be?
Melanie: The main take away from my book is “Two are better than one.”
MCA: Two is most definitely better than one! Thank you for speaking with us Melanie, be sure to keep us posted on what’s next for you!
You can learn more about Melanie Burgess and her award-winning book, To Be or Knot To Be by visiting her MCA Shop pages.