Interview with Mom’s Choice Award-Winners Patty Wolford and Deanna Cochran

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.

Greetings, Mom’s Choice readers! As part of our ongoing interview series, Mom’s Choice spoke with Patty Wolford and Deanna Cochran, the talented co-authors of Little Turtle’s Kiawah Island Journey. In this beautifully illustrated story for children ages of 4–10, Little Turtle takes a wrong turn out of her sandy nest and gets lost. When a friendly egret offers to fly her around the island to find her forever home, they meet many coastal animals and learn about their habitats, and Little Turtle learns where she belongs. Kids will not only learn about treasures of the natural world as they “explore” this beautiful island—they’ll also discover the importance of friendship and cooperation.

MCA: Patty and Deanna, it’s such a pleasure to have you with us today. To get the interview started, please tell us about yourselves.

Patty: I grew up in the Midwest and enjoyed sports and art. My college major is in Art History and studio art, specifically 3-dimensional art. My work experience included logo design and commercial graphics. Co-authoring this book proved to be a new creative expression for me. I’ve enjoyed every minute of this journey!

Deanna: I can best be described as wife, mother, grandmother, and educator. Being a teacher in the elementary setting for 30 years allowed me the privilege and joy of helping children love to read as well as write. It was such a rewarding career! After retiring, I embraced interests and goals that I never had time to pursue when working full time. These opportunities include jewelry designing, oil painting, photography, and volunteering. I love spending more time with our grandchildren and playing an occasional round of golf.

MCA: Clearly, you bring varied gifts and perspectives to the co-authoring process. How did each of you get your start in writing?

Patty: My eyes were opened to new environmental surroundings when I moved to South Carolina. The beauty of the island stimulated my creative juices. My first response was to paint what I saw. But the longer I lived on Kiawah Island, the more I became aware of its nuances. As Deanna and I talked about sharing our love of the island, a story emerged and our book was born.

Deanna: Reading coupled with writing was always an integral part of my planning and instruction as an educator. I loved reading a wonderful book to the children, watching their expressions, and listening to them read their story summaries. There was always a desire throughout my career to write a children’s book that would capture a child’s interest and make them want to read the book over and over again!

MCA: You have definitely succeeded! What was your inspiration for writing Little Turtle’s Kiawah Island Journey?

We were bike riding with a group of friends around Kiawah Island and listening to the comments regarding the natural beauty. Later, we talked about how exciting it would be to write a book about the island animals and describe their homes for children.

MCA: What are some of the key lessons found in the book?

• Children will learn more about the home/habitat of a sea turtle, snowy egret, bobcat, yellow bellied slider turtle, tilapia, dolphin, fiddler crab, osprey, owl, and shore birds.
• Like Little Turtle, children will learn the meaning of the word habitat as they listen to the words from Wise Owl.
• Our illustrator, Meredith Johnson, used realistic illustrations in our book. We hope that this will help increase the children’s recognition of the animals in a realistic setting.

MCA: If you could ensure that readers of your book walk away with one main lesson, what would it be?

We hope that children will learn the basic characteristics of a habitat and recognize conservation efforts in their world to protect them.

MCA: Who knows what kind of advocates they might become as a result of reading your book! What kind of response from readers have you received?

The adults/parents have been our best advertisement. Comments such as adorable story,” “beautiful illustrations,” and “I learn something every time I read it to my child” have been all inspiring to us.

MCA: What is next for your writing endeavors? Will we be reading more tales of Little Turtle and the friendly inhabitants of Kiawah Island?

We are considering a sequel, which might have Little Turtle exploring ocean habitats.

MCA: Patty and Deanna, thanks again for joining us! We hope you will be sharing further adventures of Little Turtle and her friends. Please stay in touch and let us know how you’re doing. We hope to chat with you again soon!

You can learn more about Patty Wolford & Deanna Cochran and their award-winning book, Little Turtle’s Kiawah Island Journey, by visiting their MCA Shop pages.

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