DARLINGTON – On Aug. 3, Caitlynn Nemec will be visiting the Blue Birds Nest Nature Center to read from her book A Wisconsin Bird Alphabet A to Z.
Caitlynn, the daughter of Al and Barb Nemec of Darlington, has always been an outdoor person and after not being able to find a nature book that teaches kids about real birds of Wisconsin, she did some research and made her own.
“I was looking for something more fun than a field guide or bird identification book. I wanted something everyone would enjoy, regardless of age. It’s labeled as a children’s book, but really, it’s a bird book, just a little more fun,” Caitlynn explained.
After graduating from Middleton High School, Caitlynn earned her Bachelors degree in Biology with a field emphasis and an Environmental Science minor from UW-Platteville. She then attended UW-Madison where she earned her Masters degree in wildlife ecology.
“Every summer I did field work on a variety of projects including grassland birds, small mammals, ticks, greater prairie chickens, and Kirtland’s warblers. Now, as a parent, my girls and I spend as much time as we can outdoors,” she said
The idea of the book had been playing around in her head after her second daughter was born in August 2016. Her family, husband Matt and daughters Evelyn (5) and Adeline (10 months) love to go walking around town. When on a walk, Evelyn began singing and talking about to the birds, Chickadees staying, “chicka-dee-dee-dee, cheeseburger.”
“I didn’t even notice the birds singing. But she did. I want other kids to have that. The power and self-confidence of that knowledge has no measure. And for kids to become good stewards of the land they need to have a love of nature,” Caitlynn stated.
She had her list of 26 birds, one for each letter of the alphabet, figured out by January and she got to work.
“For each bird, I collected all my facts, observations, and thoughts to pull from when creating the poems. Besides having fun little poems that children enjoy, they also portray some field guide like information such as identification, habitat, diet, and call mnemonic. For the illustrations, it was important to me that the birds had clear, correct markings for young and new birders.”
She has loved making art all her life. Each bird was made in about a day while her daughter napped. The alphabet design made it easier for little ones and those new to birding able to learn about each bird.
“It is something everyone in the family can enjoy reading with the recognition of the alphabet for the little ones and the information and rhymes for the older ones, including adults.”
It was all done and ready to print by May 1, 2017.
“I had so much fun making this book.”
Since the book was about Wisconsin birds, she looked for a Wisconsin publisher and found one in Orange Hat Publishing in Waukesha. After the artwork, edits ad cover design here approved, it was ready to print. Caitlynn had a challenge of funding but after only five days on Kickstarter, she was able to reach her goal to cover the publishing fee.
“It was such a joy to see photos of my book being read in people’s homes. The most rewarding element of this has been the interactions I’ve had with people over the book. Reading it to my daughter’s 4K class was a blast and seeing the inspiration for them not only about birds but about creating their own books was fantastic.”
Being a stay at home mom to her daughters, a nanny for her two nephews and a guardian for her dog, Jack and three cats, Willow, Charlie, and Lily, she has found time to start getting ideas for her next book.
“I have started picking my 26 mammals for the next Wisconsin Alphabet. And hope to follow that with plants and insects,” she explained excitedly.
She will be reading her book at 3 p.m. at the Bluebird Nest Nature Center in Darlington. The book can be purchased at the Cat and Crow and Driftless Historium in Mount Horeb, Orange Tree Imports in Madison, the Bruce Company in Middleton, Eidlewiess Gifts in Monroe, the Driftless Market in Platteville, Arcadia Books in Spring Green, and online at Amazon.com and Barnesandnoble.com.