Alyssa Satin Capucilli is the author of the Katy Duck series, Tulip Loves Rex, as well as the bestselling Biscuit books and many other beloved children’s books. She lives in a book-filled home in Hastings-on-Hudson, New York. Alyssa participated in the Authors for Earth Day event recently at West Nyack Elementary, and the kindergarten students voted to support Koko and The Gorilla Foundation as the beneficiary of part of her speaker’s fee. We are both grateful and moved by her and their support.
An Author Who Loves Animals, Koko & Earth Day!
Growing up in an apartment in Brooklyn, NY, it was not always easy to be in touch with nature. Sure, there were the billowing roses that a neighbor let us smell on the walk to school, there were the summers spent in “the country” — (actually New Jersey) — where hour after hour was passed creating magical worlds and stories as we romped unattended over steep paths and through tall grasses. Closer to home, there were Sundays spent in the rolling green grass of Prospect Park and the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens. The Brooklyn Public Library was my haven for learning about every kind of creature big or small.
Fast forward to nearly 20 years ago when after living in a small village outside of NYC for over a decade, I wrote my first story about a young girl and a small yellow puppy named Biscuit who loves nothing more than to follow at the heels of his owner, no matter where their adventures take them. Of course, I couldn’t let my character have all the fun, so I convinced my not-so-sure husband and my totally-on-board children that we should rescue a pup of our own. Huckleberry, a loving Chocolate Labrador Retriever, thrust me into the heart of the natural world with all four enthusiastic paws. His energy and love of the outdoors brought us to a quiet woods near my home where we would walk, no exaggeration, 365 mornings a year. How, I wondered, had I not walked these trails before?
In the fall, I discovered the awesomeness of the foliage as Huckleberry romped through a carpet of gold and yellow leaves from birch, hickory, and poplar trees. When the snow and ice fell, I strapped on my “Yak Trax” and headed over the hills and paths. As Huckleberry gleefully discovered the joys of stepping out onto the frozen pond and rolling with abandon in the snow, I noted the tracks of squirrels, raccoons, deer, and the occasional quiet trickle of water running over the rocks. In the spring we sat at pond’s edge and listened to the song of the migratory birds — okay so Huckleberry did go for a splash and a swim every now and then with the ducklings! And in the summer, we visited the now dry Vernal Pond, where the deer stood silently, looking at their once full watering spot, and the summer hare sat quietly nibbling in the grass. Day after day, year after year, I walked with Huckleberry, most joyfully at my heels. The more we walked, the more stories about Biscuit that tumbled out!
And while Huckleberry may have helped me become an author who celebrated Earth Day, it is Biscuit who brings me regularly into classrooms with children who are eagerly and enthusiastically celebrating Earth Day in myriad ways. And it is here that a group of thoughtful, compassionate, and wonderfully inquisitive kindergarteners recently researched, studied, and ultimately voted to support Koko and The Gorilla Foundation following my 2017 ‘Authors for Earth Day’ visit.
On Earth Day we protect, celebrate, and discover our place in our planet’s wondrous story. And judging from those kindergarten students who marveled at the story of Koko, and who already see themselves as protectors of our planet, we are in good hands!