Science lives all around us, and Barbara Lawrence is aiming to open our eyes to it through her new book series.
Lawrence, a former science teacher, released “While the Sun Shines, The Sea Urchin Sleeps” last year with artist Dale McCarthy.
The story shows a “little urchin” carrying out its day on the ocean floor. Readers can follow Lawrence’s lyric-formatted story, as they learn how the urchin feeds, roams and faces a few nasty predators. At the end of the book, Lawrence lists out some “Sea Urchin Facts.”
The story was inspired from a field trip Lawrence took with one of her former elementary school classes to the St. Joseph Bay on the Gulf Coast of Florida.
While she taught middle, high school and even a couple classes at UGA as she was getting her masters degree, she really enjoyed working with her elementary school students.
“Everything was so new to them,” she said. “You can tell they were so excited and awestruck about everything.”
“While the Sun Shines” is the first out of six planned in a sea-creature centered series, a series Lawrence has been thinking about for 20 years.
“I wanted to write a book that children will read over and over again and have a good memories about and, in the meantime, learn a science lesson,” she said, smiling and laughing about her debut story.
She chose the sea urchin to start-off with because they are “less known about animal in series but very commonly seen.” Therefore, her goal with this premiere story is to have children, next time they go to the beach, see and understand the spiky creatures, not be afraid of them.
The next story planned will focus on the “enduring” sea horses, followed by a book on hermit crabs, Lawrence said. In the works are books on sea stars, sand dollars and horseshoe crabs, though an order is not set for those.
Lawrence, per plea of her son, is thinking about drafting a book on scallops. The mollusk is her son’s favorite sea animal and, even, played a part in one of his science experiments.
To accompany Lawrence’s words, McCarthy uses watercolors to paint the book’s scenes.
The two work together at Laissez Faire Sotheby’s International Realty, which Lawrence co-owns and McCarthy works as a graphic designer.
McCarthy retired from teaching more than 20 years ago. From that retirement, she went into real estate. When she moved from Florida to Aiken with her husband Keith, she continued her real estate career and has been working at Sotheby’s for the last few years.
When it came to drafting her book, Lawrence remembered McCarthy’s artistic talent and decided to approach her. McCarthy, having grandchildren in the age group Lawrence is targeting the books at, took the idea and ran with it. Within that first weekend, she had produced seven of the pieces; she was that excited, according to Lawrence.
The pair will work together for the rest of the books. McCarthy is currently working on book two and three of the series.
“She knocked it out of the park,” Lawrence said about McCarthy’s part of “While the Sun Shines.”
McCarthy avidly does her part to make the books be great as possible. Even though Lawrence gives her a scientific basis to play off, McCarthy still does her own research.
She had “great fun doing the paintings” and collaborating with Lawrence.
“Barbara and I worked together on ideas for the illustrations and had the same concepts on how the book would look, so all went quickly and smoothly,” she said. “We were both delighted with the finished product.”
Lawrence is already planning her next series, this time on turtles and tortoises. This series is based on a personal experience of Lawrence. One night, her family and she sat around on the beach, waiting for turtles to hatch from their eggs.
Lawrence remembers that night fondly, as she remembers the kids constantly asking her questions about turtles.
“It’s a pleasure seeing students discovering things,” she said about her overall experiences.
“While the Sun Shines” is on sale at Birds and Butterflies at 117 Laurens St. N.W. and Aiken Center for the Arts at 122 Laurens St. S.W.
For more information, call Lawrence at 439-0778.