It was in a school garden that Clairemont teacher Cindy Jenson-Elliott had the inspiration for her latest book. As in many gardens, it seemed the weeds were doing better than the veggie plants. “I realized I could look at the weeds as a resource, not an irritation. Weeds were perfect example to help me teach about adaptation,” said Cindy in a recent interview. “I found there were no books about weeds, and the important role they play in nature. They needed a voice!” she told me with a laugh.
Once she had the idea, Cindy pondered it for 4 months or so, thinking about how to present the information in a way that would be easy for young children to understand and enjoy. While she sometimes does as many as 35 or 40 drafts of a book, Weeds Find a Way took 6 or 7 drafts to come together. Once it was finished, she took the manuscript to a Society of Children’s Book Writers meeting and made the contact with the eventual publisher.
To give you an idea of how long a process publishing a book can be, Cindy sold the manuscript in 2009 to Beach Lane Books, a Simon & Schuster imprint. It took a year to finalize the contract and then a year for the publisher to find the artist to do the illustrations. Fast forward to this month, and the book is for sale as of February 4th.
I was curious about how Cindy and the artist, Carolyn Fisher, worked together. Cindy had an interesting view of the relationship between the words and the images. “It’s a team effort. I found that the images created a visual narrative I wouldn’t necessarily have thought of. In a way, she added a secondary story. She is an interpreter of my words with art, and I interpret the natural world we see with words.” Cindy said.
Like most authors, Cindy is a reader as well. One of her favorite authors is Charles Dickens, but she also spends time with her family reading aloud; the Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling is one they all enjoy.
Along with some appearances to sign the book, and her “everyday” job teaching reading and gardening at Explorer Elementary School in Pt. Loma, Cindy is looking forward to working on her next project, a picture book about Ansel Adams that will talk about his ADHD and how being outside in the natural world helped him.
Weeds Find a Way is a beautiful book that will get children curious about exploring the weeds in their own environment. It will be available locally atYellow Book Road in Liberty Station, Warwick’s in La Jolla and Cindy will donate a copy to the N. Clairemont Library too.
To learn more about Cindy and her writing, visit www.cindyjensonelliott.com.