Roberta (Bobbie) Raymond, the founder of the Oak Park Regional Housing Center, took on a new career after retiring from that organization: children’s author. Raymond will be speaking at the Oak Park Township dining room on Friday, Dec. 18, at 11:30 am. Some of her watercolor illustrations from her latest book, Three Sea Tales, are also on display there.
Without being preachy, Three Sea Tales teaches children about loyalty, hard work, perseverence, and empathy. Composed of three separate but related stories, Raymond’s second book is a mixture of fact and fantasy. Gus the Flying Gurnard, Frenchy the Cleaner Fish, and Sylvia the Squid Who Couldn’t Change Color lead children on sea adventures that are captivating and charming. Chosen by the Ocean Conservancy, the national group that promotes effective practices to save our seas from pollution, acidification, and overfishing as their children’s book favorite, the book’s last page was written by the Conservancy.
Young readers from around the country like the characters, who were observed by the author/illustrator during 40 years of snorkeling in the Caribbean. Unfortunately, the loss of diversity in the sea has made it more difficult to find all three of the featured species.
Raymond observes, “I used to be surrounded by squid, intelligent and curious, who would surround me in a semi-circle in large numbers. Now I really have to search for just a few reef squid. And gurnards have also become scarce in places where they were plentiful. I want to encourage children to be interested in sea creatures and to understand that once we lose species, it is hard to bring them back.”
In painting the watercolor illustrations, Raymond relied on her observations and hundreds of underwater photos she had taken over the years.
Three Sea Tales was published in 2015, and Raymond donated books to Hepzibah, the Children’s Clinic, schools, and libraries. It is sold in local bookstores The Book Table and the Magic Tree Bookstore, as well as Brookfield Zoo’s Seven Seas Gift Shop, and many bookstores outside of the Chicago area.
“My original plan was to donate about half of the books to organizations that serve economically disadvantaged children so they could own their own book,” states Raymond. “We have done that and continue to donate books to area not-for-profit groups.”
Raymond will be speaking on Dec. 18 at 11:30 am, at the Oak Park Township, 105 S. Oak Park Ave. The watercolor illustrations will be on display until Dec. 30.