Jane Clarke’s Lottie Loves Nature series are an effective mix of fact and fiction, starring young wildlife fan, Lottie. With book three out now, Jane answers our questions about the series.
Can you sum up the Lottie Loves Nature series for us?
Lottie wants to be a wildlife presenter and conservationist like her hero Samira. Every little thing matters, so she’s starting by helping the wildlife in her garden, from bugs to hedgehogs. This gets her into trouble with her neighbour Mr Parfitt, who doesn’t like nature at all.
The books mix stories with wildlife facts and project suggestions. How did the idea come about?
The Lottie books follow the format of the Al’s Awesome Science Books (Al is Lottie’s twin brother), so we established the mix of story and fact pages there. I love research, so it’s great fun to do, but tricky to put together. Luckily there’s a whole team at the publishers, Five Quills to help! As well as the ideas for projects and tips for helping wildlife, the Lottie books also contain techie insights from Mr Parfitt’s son, Noah, who wants to be one of the first people to live on Mars – he knows that technology and science can help save planet Earth, too.
Lottie has a dog, Einstein, but also a parrot called Nacho. Why did you decide to give her such an unusual pet?
When I was younger, I lived in South America for a while, and got to know a friend’s parrot. Like Nacho, it was a Macaw that had been rescued as a fledgling, and was a free-flier. It was also very good at imitating things. So it popped into my mind that Lottie could have inherited a parrot, from a Great Aunt, and that Einstein and Nacho’s relationship would be difficult to start with, and add to the fun and chaos, but over the course of the series they would gradually learn to become friends.
Have you had feedback from children on the books?
It’s always lovely to hear from readers – especially when they put a big smile on my face with comments like these!
NR (age 6) ‘I liked that Lottie said that she liked nature because nature is good! I also liked that she planted sunflowers in the garden and that she showed us how to use jars to catch little creatures so we can learn about them.’
Freya (age 6) ‘It’s about bees. Lottie looks after them which is cool. I want to look after them too.’
And Mia (age 7) ‘It is very, very good. I liked it because I found out that I could make a pond out of a bin lid!’
Did you have a special love of nature as a child? Do you think children today have the same contact with the outdoors, or have things changed?
I loved nature when I was a child, and I still do. I spent loads of time outside, but then there weren’t any computers, or mobile phones, or so many wonderful things on TV to distract me! My grandchildren spend more time indoors than I did, but they still love nature – and even if they don’t get out into the countryside much, nature’s all around, in parks, playgrounds, gardens – and balconies.
You said that The Wind in the Willows was your favourite book as a child. What was it that you liked so much about it?
I loved the characters, especially Mole and Ratty, and the chaos that Toad caused made me laugh. It was easy to imagine I was there because the setting was very like the countryside of my childhood walks.
Will there be more adventures for Lottie?
Yes! I’m very excited to say that the next book will involve Lottie helping nighttime creatures including moths, bats and hedgehogs! Like all the other books in the series, it will be illustrated by James Brown, and I can’t wait to see first pictures!
Lottie Loves Nature: Bird Alert is illustrated by James Brown and published by Five Quills, 978-1912923090, £6.99 pbk.