Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Fukushima One Year Later: My Children's Picture Book.

Not even the great Zoltar could have predicted my career in children's books or the world events that would affect it.  

In the aftermath of Fukushima’s nuclear disaster most people are surprised to discover I almost did not publish Nuclear Power: How a Nuclear Power Plant Really Works!, but prior to the Fukushima incident my book's topic evoked more bored yawns than invitations to visit elementary schools.

So much attention has been placed on what went wrong at the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant due to natural disasters most of us have forgotten that the Nuclear Industry had and continues to have an unsurpassed safety record.

That record is what made my book a tough sell to the general public and even some in the nuclear industry. I was contemplating paying off my illustrator and just placing my children’s book about nuclear power plants on hold when the tsunami hit Japan.    

If ever I have received a “sign” to do something, that appeared to be it.

 Nuclear Power: How aNuclear Power Plant Really Works! was released December 29, 2011. 

I no longer worry about my book’s topic being considered boring.  If anything, boredom has been replaced with irrational fear.  

Children’s picture books are never as simple and easy to write as they appear. My “Nuke Book” is a creative look at a factual subject and it had to be technically accurate.

None of the professionals I market my book to or parents who purchase my book would expect anything less than for me to have sought out the opinions and critiques of the nuclear industry.  People who have worked within the industry and understand what they are talking about. 

Unfortunately, during the aftermath of Fukushima’s nuclear disaster these industry leaders and experts have often been by-passed in favor of commentators with more sensationalized points of view.

People I would have never considered a legitimate source for even a fictional children’s picture book about nuclear power have been considered expert sources on the Fukushima nuclear accident.

Fukushima changed everything, including my mind about publishing a children’s book about nuclear power.  Public perception of nuclear power plants remains an issue for the nuclear industry and even my children’s picture book about it.  The bored yawns I encountered have been replaced by raised eyebrows, genuine interest and sometimes irrational fear.  

I am in the returning lane of my author school visits/ marketing road trip. I have lit up the roads from North Carolina to Texas with stops along the way in both Florida and Alabama.  Most educators tend to read a book before critiquing it, and these past few months I have had the privilege of meeting with many of them.  As they have pointed out, nothing eliminates fear like education. 

What better way to educate a classroom full of elementary children about nuclear energy than a book about it? 

Amelia Frahm with Bethany Cargle, Marketing Specialist for RCS Corp. and students at Steele Creek Elem. School, Charlotte, NC.  RCS donated my book  to area schools and arranged my visit to celebrate National Engineers Week.