My pleasure. Redwood trees not only are among the longest-living trees on the planet, they've also been around a very long time. A species very similar to the modern redwood was widespread during the Jurassic period! Redwoods also create their own weather; in the summer, they essentially suck fog out of the air and into the redwood ecosystem.
• Amazing! Many children spend very little time interacting with nature in any form. How important do you think it is for children to explore the outdoors?
• What do you think people would take away from a visit to the Redwood Forest National Park and Muir Woods? Do you think they might be changed by the experience?
Redwoods give you a sense of a time scale entirely different from the human time scale. Redwoods can live more than 2,000 years, so some of the trees in an old-growth forest were ancient even before the first Europeans arrived in California. Redwood forests are also wonderfully quiet and beautiful; they invite contemplation.
• I know you enjoy visiting schools. Have you been surprised by any of your school experiences?
Most kids in the San Francisco Bay Area have been to redwood forests with their family or on school trips. They are really quite knowledgeable and many have even kissed a banana slug (which, for some reason, is a popular redwood activity out here!). Everywhere I go, the kids are so attentive and polite and I'm always impressed by how much they love to read.
• Is Operation Redwood the first and last title considered for your book?
• You're better at titles than I! My books have gone through many title changes. Is there anything else you’d like readers to know about Operation Redwood?
It's a good book for kids who might be intrigued by living in a tree house!
And now, since Julian from Operation Redwood has appeared, I'd like to ask him a few questions.
Well, I never really set out to defy my Uncle Sibley. But in the end, I couldn't let Robin down. And pretty much anything we would do to try to save Big Tree Grove was going to make him angry. Unless Sibley just changed his mind about the logging. Which it didn't seem like he was going to do.
• How do you feel when you’re in a redwood forest?
I like being there at night -- looking up at the stars. And during the day, it's quiet. And beautiful. It's not at all like San Francisco with concrete and buildings everywhere.
• Julian, why was it important for you to save these trees in particular?
Robin's redwoods are special because nobody else is around. You're in the middle of nowhere, without tourists or fences or snack bars. You realize Big Tree Grove has probably been the same for thousands and thousands of years.
• What advice would you give to other kids who want to protect the environment?
That's hard. There's all the usual stuff they teach you in school -- ride your bike, recycle, turn out the lights. If somebody can make a lot of money by cutting down a forest or filling up a wild space with roads or buildings, the only people who are going to do something about it are the people who really care about that place.
• Do you think you have anything in common with S. Terrell French's own children?
We all grew up in San Francisco. We like to go to Green Apple Books and the Toy Boat Dessert Cafe.
• What would you like us to know about S. Terrell French?
She put together a cool website http://www.operationredwood.com/ ; You can get a link to a real canopy scientist climbing the world' tallest tree, Hyperion.
Julian, thanks for taking a break from school to answer these questions. And Susannah, I appreciate your allowing me to interrupt your tight schedule also.
Thanks for this opportunity, Bonnie, and I hope we meet on an eco panel some day!